You know that moment when you ask your third grader what they have been reading at school and they show you The Book Thief (a phenomenal book in its own right, but maybe not the best option for an eight-year-old). Or you are the fourth grade teacher discovering that your best reader has been slowly making her way through Jane Eyre (true story).
The struggle is real.
If your child is an above-grade-level reader, then you understand. You live in the constant tension of wanting them to read at their level but knowing they are too young for some of the content in those books. It is unthinkable to make them read books too easy for them, at least on a consistent basis. And yet you know how informative and formational books can be, making you rightly wary of which books you expose them to so soon.
Here are some suggestions and resources that I have found helpful in the search. It is impossible to keep ahead of your voracious reader so we will take the “it takes a village” approach to helping each other out! As always, please add any books or authors you have found.
Common Sense Media is an excellent resource for movies, TV shows, and video games but I recently discovered that they give book suggestions as well. I strongly advise using this tool. On the right side of their home page you will see a place to select “Books” and just above that is a place where you can enter the age range of the child you are looking up books for.
Because my children have not entered the teen years yet and I did not teach high school, my knowledge of books for teenagers is lacking. I found a blog that created a list of “Clean Books for Teen Girls” that seemed very thorough and helpful. While trying to find resources for teen boys, I came across the blog Reading Rants. There are over ten years of book recommendations available just for teens, with many of the recommendations given by teenagers themselves.
With all this said, my emphasis here will be helping parents and teachers find book ideas for elementary school students. As a guide for your young reader, have them keep post it notes with them while they read so they can write down each word they do not know. If there are more than ten words per page, the book is too difficult for them. This will give them a tangible tool for finding books at their level, language wise. However, finding books at their level linguistically is not a predictor of content level. To that end:
A mere eight books per grade will not suffice for long but these are good books to start with and authors that can be trusted with their other books.