Rick’s Reading Recommendations

I frequently get asked to recommend other books for kids to read after they’ve finished Percy Jackson. Below are some ideas. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these all are books that I have enjoyed, and that have been “vetted” by my sons, who are reluctant readers, or other young readers I’ve worked with. The grade levels are simply my own rough estimates. They are not set in stone.

You can find even more recommendations in the News section.


The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins. The first in the series is Gregor the Overlander. A boy falls into a fantastical world under New York. For grades 4th-6th, roughly. Both my sons devoured these.

hunger gamesThe Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Fantastic adventure novels. In the near future, children from twelve provinces are forced to fight for their survival in the ultimate reality television program. My older son loved this. Be aware the book presents some life and death situations and is meant for a slightly older audience, but the violence is not gratuitous. I would say it is appropriate for grades 7-10 (or older).

jeremy_thatcher_dragon-hatcher_hcJeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville. And many other titles in his Magic Shop series. These are easier reads, ideal for 2nd-4th grade. Both my boys loved these.

knightsofthekitchentable_000The Time Warp Trio series by John Scieszka. Again, for younger readers, 2nd-4th grade, but very funny and fast-paced. These books got my older son through a difficult 2nd grade year.

thieflordbookcoverThe Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke. My favorite by this author. It’s a fast-paced read with a great premise and interesting characters. Grades 4th-7th.

stormbreaker360The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. A teen thriller series very much like James Bond. Good action and no-nonsense prose. Grades 6th-8th.

airbornAirborn and Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel. Adventure novels in the tradition of Treasure Island and Jules Verne, but with a modern sense of storytelling. These take place in a world where airplanes were never invented, and dirigible airships rule the skies. Grades 6th-8th. Again, my son Haley ate these up.

gods-of-manhattanGods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus. An interesting new take on mythology in New York. Rory and Bridget discover a hidden world in New York City where spirits of the past live on and sometimes become gods. If you liked the Gregor books, you may well enjoy this. Grades 5-7.

artemis-fowlArtemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. Lots of fantasy and humor, perfect for middle grade sensibilities. Grades 4th-7th.

skulduggery_pleasant_book_coverSkulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy. A funny fantasy/mystery series featuring a detective who just happens to be a fire-throwing skeleton. Grades 4th-7th. I don’t “blurb” many books, but this one I recommend without hesitation. My whole family loves them.

The Bartimaeus TrilogyThe Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. The first title is The Amulet of Samarkand. A more challenging series, but brilliant stuff. A young London magician summons an ancient djinn to help him with his problems. Grades 6th-8th.

everlost-coverEverlost Trilogy, Downsiders, Dark Fusion series by Neal Shusterman. My older son loves these books – all great adventures, very accessible. Grades 6th-8th.

Diary of a Wimpy KidDiary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. I’ve never heard my son laugh so much while reading a book. These cartoon novels are real crowd-pleasers, especially for middle grade boys. I love them too. Grades 4-8.

WarriorsWarriors by Erin Hunter. Clans of cats battle for supremacy. My younger son has really enjoyed these, and he’s not necessarily into animal stories. He can burn through a book a day. Fortunately it’s a big series! This is one of those series that works well for both boys and girls, which I really appreciate. Grades 4-7.

BoneBone by Jeff Smith. A nine-book series of graphic novels. And yes, comics absolutely qualify as reading! My sons and I all enjoyed this series – fast, high-interest reads with plenty of action, humor, romance and fantasy. Pretty much everything you could want, and the coolest red dragon ever. Grades 4-8.

fablehavenFablehaven by Brandon Mull. A brother and sister discover that their grandfather is the caretaker at a wildlife reserve for mythical creatures. The first book in a series: wonderful premise, great characters, page-turning adventure. Grades 4-8.

The Mysterious Benedict SocietyThe Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Four gifted children join a secret society to combat evil. This reminds me of Roald Dahl and Norton Juster — lots of humor, puzzles, and intriguing mysteries. Some great surprises at the end, too. Grades 4-7.

the-recruitThe Recruit by Robert Muchamore. First of the CHERUB series. A young boy is recruited into a spy organization for children. Extremely popular in the UK, this series is not as well known in the US but is definitely worth checking out. Be aware there is some teenage/adult content — some drinking, crime, mild cursing, and of course a little violence inherent in a spy novel, but it is nothing that would shock the average American middle schooler. Grades 7 and up.

uglies_bookUglies by Scott Westerfeld. Tally lives in a society where everyone turns supermodel pretty at the age of 16, but there’s a dark side to the process! A good fast-paced novel. It can be a little tough convincing the guys that this is not just a book about fashion models, but it really is an excellent adventure novel. Those of us who are old enough will see definite similarities to Logan’s Run. This is the first book of a trilogy. Grade 7 and up.

alchemyst_nicholas_flamelThe Alchemyst by Michael Scott. First in a series about two siblings who are plunged into a world of immortals and mythological creatures. Fast-paced fantasy set in the modern world. Grades 5-8.

leviathan_westerfeldLeviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld. A wonderful steampunk World War I series about two great powers, the Clankers and Darwinists, who go to war. History was never this much fun! Both my sons loved the books.

And for mythology:

9780553259209_p0_v1_s260x420Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths – by Bernard Evslin. Much better storytelling than D’Aulaires, in my opinion.

gre361Greek Gods and Heroes – by Robert Graves. Another great anthology for young readers. I used this as my classroom text for 5th-6th grade when I taught English in San Francisco.

9780860209461The Usborne Illustrated Guide to Greek Myths and Legends – by Cheryl Evans. A little hard to find, but very accessible, with high-interest illustrations. And when in doubt, always ask your local librarian or independent bookseller. They are a wealth of information when it comes to kids’ books.