Specific Book Recommendations for You! – Part 1

October 21, 2021

I often get asked for specific book recommendations. Whether your child loves to read or you are trying to entice a reluctant reader – you need to find them the right book!

Everyone is different and has different tastes and life experiences. So what you find fascinating, might be intensely boring to your child. Find material that gets them excited. When my son Riley was small, I noticed a pattern in his chosen reading material. He only liked non-fiction UNLESS there was a mouse involved. So we read Poppy, Ralph S. Mouse, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, The Tale of Despereaux, Mrs. Frisby, and the Rats of NIHM. As he got older, and his tastes changed, I noticed his favorite books were set in space, so we read lots of science fiction, which is his preferred reading material even to this day. By giving them more of what they love to read, you are both expanding their palate – there is a range of genres when it comes to “mice stories,” for example – and you are getting them excited for new stories.

Everyone loves stories, that is a universal human trait. So we just need to find stories our children love to inspire them to enjoy reading. Finding the right stories is the key to encouraging a love of reading.

My youngest prefers graphic novels and is much more receptive to new material if it is presented in comic format. So we love things like Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, the Science Comics series, Don Brown’s books – and things of that nature. Nearly all her favorite books that she read on her own have been graphic novels. Graphic novels are fantastic for reluctant readers. They have less text than a novel which makes them less intimidating. And these are great books! Don’t discount them just because they are comics. They are literature too. Reading is reading. If they are excited about it, it’s absolutely worth their time.

In my recent Tea with Emily Facebook Livestream,  I asked you to give me specific book requests so I could help you find the right book for your child! Below, I’m going to list the requests,  divided into three blog articles for easier browsing, and offer at least one recommendation for each. To make this an even more helpful resource, I encourage you to add your own recommendations in the comments!

Middle-Grade Books similar to Harry Potter:

The Percy Jackson series (or anything by Rick Riordan)

The School for Good and Evil series

A Wizard of Earthsea

The Okay Witch series (Graphic Novels)

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Books similar to Harry Potter for a younger audience:

The Worst Witch series

Dragonbreath series

Zita the Space Girl  series (Graphic Novel)

Books for art, nature, and music-loving 7-year-old:

The Art Lesson

Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories

Slow Down: 50 Mindful Moments in Nature

Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends

A Child’s Introduction to the Orchestra

Animal Rescue and Veterinary stories with a hint of magic:

Zoey and Sasafrass series

Magical Animal Rescue series

Vet Volunteers series

Books about cats that aren’t fantasy:

Kaspar the Titanic Cat


The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof


Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

Mystery books for a 5th-grade boy who loved video games:

Click Here to Start

The Gauntlet

Knights and Bikes

Books set in Japan for both elementary and middle grades:


My First Book of Japanese Words

Grandfather’s Journey (immigration story)

The Boy Who Drew Cats

Middle Grade:

While I Was Away

A Place to Belong

Soul Lanterns

Young Adult about psychology (similar to Girl Interrupted and The Bell Jar:

The Degenerates 

Challenger Deep

Get Well Soon

Highly Illogical Behavior

Graphic Novels/Manga for Teens:

I Kill Giants

Anya’s Ghost

Yona of the Dawn

Young Adult Horror similar to Not Even Bones:

The Corpse Queen

This Mortal Coil

Books like Goosebumps for an older reading level:

Middle Grade:

Ghost Squad

Spirit Hunters

Small Spaces

The Jumbies

City of Ghosts

Young Adult:

Vampires Never Grow Old: Tales With Fresh Bite

The Babysitter’s Coven

Anna Dressed in Blood

Undead Girl Gang

Fantasy and/or Mysteries YA or Middle Grade with no romance:

Middle Grade:

The Golden Compass (fantasy)

The Parker Inheritance (mystery)

The Mysterious Benedict Society series (mystery)

Young Adult:

This Savage Song (fantasy)

The Knife of Never Letting Go (fantasy/mystery)

Jackaby (mystery with supernatural elements)


Related Article(s) in this series:

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.

Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

Have you seen my new book?



Browse the course work
people are raving about


About Build Your Library

Have you been looking for a literature based homeschool curriculum that is secular? How about a way to incorporate narration, copywork, dictation and memory work into your child’s education? Or art study that ties into history?

Read more