Book Suggestions for a Bright Seven Year Old

My seven year old daughter (OK, “seven and a half!”) is quite the reader. Other than some pretty popular, but good stuff (C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Rowling, and the like, which she devoured), I have no idea what might be appropriate for her.

Any suggestions?

ok… there’s a big difference between CS Lewis and Tolkien, if she’s already devouring Tolkien, that’s good. (I would have thought tolkien maybe too much for a 7 year old, but it’s been a while since I’ve been one) It’s unlikely that she’ll be ready for non-fiction yet, but maybe you could spark her interest. Harry Turtledove writes some terrific alternate histories, he’s got some of the holy roman empire, WW1, the civil war, etc. All well written and pretty good, he also wrote a series about a roman legion teleported to a fantasy land.

Other good fictional series Horatio Hornblower, based on a real person. And I’m sure others will chime in with more, I might do so myself later.

I always recommend a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth be placed within easy reach of children. When they’re older, re-reading it will remind them of so many things, and it will all be clear!

Good old Dragonlance stuff if she’s into fantasy fiction type (which is how it sounds). The Legend of Huma was my first (loved it, even though I don’t remember anything about it, heh). I liked a lot of the Xanth books too (can’t for the life of me remember the authors of these right now). I’ve never really been into non-fiction (especially not when I was a kid)…Fantasy was much more interesting to read.

Since she can read well, take her to the library or book-store and have her read the backs of the books and pick out the ones that she think sound good. Take her on a monthly (or however long it takes for her to devour a book) book trip and get a new book each time…should keep her interest up (rather than piling down 30 books and saying “read these, I’m pretty sure you’ll like them”). Nobody knows what she’s going to enjoy reading more than she does. :slight_smile:

…and because I loved it so much, Wizard’s First Rule (by Terry Goodkind) is a great book. It’s got some gruesome parts in it though, so maybe when she’s older, I don’t know, heh…

  • Tsugumo (kids can handle some surprisingly “mature” (like not Barney-related) things if their parents give them the chance to try)

Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

The Chronicles of Prydain 5 volumes Lloyd Alexander (or most books by Alexander–his Westmark series might have some themes a bit beyond a seven-year-old, but the rest are fine.)

Where the Sidewalk Ends Shel Silverstein

The 4 volume set of Mary Poppins P. L. Travers (nothing like Disney)

And any book by Holling C. Holling: Minn of the Mississippi, Paddle to the Sea, Seabird, Pagoo, and Tree in the Trail.

Larry Gonick’s Cartoon History of the Universe, Part I and Part II.

Most of these books I re-read, periodically. They are all fun.

Xanth was written by Piers Anthony. The first dozen or so Xanth books were entertaining, until he degenerated into a dirty old man (or moreso than before). It’s entirely possible that the writing style didn’t change and just became irrelevant to me as I grew up, though.

Mm, books I read at that time. If she likes Lewis and Tolkien, I’d recommend giving her some David Eddings and Raymond Feist- you’ve got an easy two dozen books there. My only complaint about Feist is that he doesn’t have the books in a nice simple series like Eddings did- when I want to go back and read them in chronological order, I usually resort to checking the copyright date of each book and hoping that counts. (Yes, I know the general order, but you know what I’m talking about.)

I strongly agree with oldscratch on Harry Turtledove. I’m rereading his US alternate history series - The Guns of the South, about the South winning the Civil War, How Few Remain, about a second war between the US and Confederacy in the 1880s, and then his series of The Great War, about World War I.

I’m trying to remember the name of his Roman legion alternate history, but all I’m coming up with is Ranks of Bronze by David Drake. Same topic, I think.

Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. I think I cried at the end of those. Hrm. (Poor Taran. At least Eilonwy stayed with him.)

Also, in all seriousness, you may want to introduce her to Disney comics. I’ve gained a surprising amount of knowledge from Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck- it became a running joke on the quiz bowl team in college that everything I knew I learned from comic books.

Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy is pretty good, although maybe a little verbose for her age.

Mm, well, back to work, and I see upon preview that tomndebb beat me to the mention of Lloyd Alexander. Teaches me to think about a post too much.

I was exactly like your daughter when I was growing up.
Try Douglas Adams. I read a lot of Kurt Vonnegut, but looking back, I don’t think that was a good idea! :smiley: Are you screening what she reads? 'Cause honestly, my motivation for trying new books written for adults was to look for the “naughty parts.” Which may be why I love erotica now… TMI, sorry.

Has she already read Frances Hodgson Burnett? (sp?)… Lousia May Alcott? Madiline L’Engle? All were very important to me…

Whoops… that should be Madeline L’Engle

Preview, preview, preview!

Actualy, I still don’t think I have it right, sorry…

Has no-one mentioned Lewis Carrol?!

I particularly second Madeline L’engle, Frances H. Burrnett, Phantom Tollbooth.

And should she develop a horsey phase, King of the Wind, The Black Stallion, Misty of Chincotegee (but only if she’s already into horses.Otherwise keep them away from her unless you can afford riding lessons.)

Also lots of bookstores have a seperate section for “Children’s Classics”, that has a lot of the best kids books plus “adult” classics that are also child-compatable. (That is, some of the great works of literature, but maybe not “Lolita” just yet.)

I’m with Tsugumo. Take her where the books are and turn her loose.

The Oz books by Frank L. Baum. I still read these. You can get them online too! I liked the Beverly Cleary books involving Ramona and Henry Huggins. I loved Edgar Eager’s magic books.

The “Tales from Moomin Valley” series by Tove Jansson. Brilliant—like a darker, melancholy “Winnie the Pooh.” With much less Pooh.

Wow, thanks! I knew the Dopers would be of help. When it rains, it pours. Where to start?

I am going to print out your suggestions and then it’s off to Indigo* on the weekend, list in hand.

In passing, I feel compelled to say that there’s no way she can be understanding all the stuff she reads. At least I don’t think so. Still, I’ve gotta give her credit. She most definitely perseveres. I am continually amazed by her interests and accomplishments. She’s been tested and, last September, in the first weeks of Grade 2, was said to be reading at a Grade 7 level. Didn’t get it from me. The only novels I read when I was in the single digits were Classic Comics. Forever ruined my love of the classics (but you’d be surprised how robust and helpful such a superficial acquaintance with great literature can be in passing junior high school exams).

Thanks all.

[sub]* the local brand of megabookstore doing its bit to bankrupt the ‘independents’.[/sub]

“Little House in the Big Woods”
“Little House on the Prairie”
“On the Banks of Plum Creek”

All by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Any of the Pippi Longstocking Books

Any of the Ramona Books by Beverly Cleary (Warning: these get monotonous if you read several in a row!)

Our daughter (age 7) likes the Tintin books by Herge.

Others that we’ve read have already been listed above.

A good rule of thumb when getting into reading longer books with your children: the main character should be 2 to 3 years (maximum) older than your child or they’ll have trouble following the story. Yes, yes; there are exceptions (our daughter loved “The Hobbit” and Thorin, Gandalf, and Bilbo were all much older) but it’s a rule of thumb, after all.

Caddie Woodlawn is another great book.

I’ve got to agree with Mr. Cynical. The Phantom Tollbooth (by Norton Juster) was my favorite book when I was a kid. I first read it at seven and now my seven year old is reading it for the first time.

I would also recommend James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. In addition, see if you can find any of the old Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series (some may be hard to find)…

Zev Steinhardt

A few other suggestions:

Maud Hart Lovelace, the Betsy-Tacy series. This is good for girls who like that “old fashioned girl” sort of stuff. The reading level of the books goes up as the main character ages, so read the backs to find out which seems to be the best fit.

Anything by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, especially The Egypt Game, The Witches of Worm or The Headless Cupid. These are mysteries.

John D. Fitzgerald The Great Brain and sequels.

Anything by Daniel Pinkwater, especially Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death and Alan Mendelson the Boy from Mars. There are two collections available now, one with four of his novels and one with five.

Susan Cooper’s *The Dark is Rising * series. I have usually found this to be popular with kids who like Narnia. They are a little dark, so maybe wait a year or so on these if your daughter is the kind who gets so wrapped up in the book that she gets scared.

Diane Duane’s So You Want to be a Wizard series. Good for fans of Harry Potter, especially nice for girls because the main character is a girl.
If she likes to read, she will soon bankrupt you if you shop at the mall. The library can be her best friend, and libraries often have sales where they sell their discard for $1 (and less) a book. Library sales and used bookstores are also excellent places to find all those great old kids’ series that are now out of print, like the Three Investigators mentioned by Zev Steinhardt, and the Scott Corbett Trick books.

“I Saw Esau” by Maurice Sendak. Good poetry.

BTW, I hear they are reissuing “The Great Brain” books which I so fondly remember. Good suggestion, delphica! They may not be as advanced as the other stuff you’ve listed, but they’re engaging.

Did anyone mention Anne of the Green Gables?

And you might ask your local children’s librarian. They live for this type of question.

I was just about to suggest Anne of Green Gables, but Cranky beat me to it. One of my moms favourites, and I started reading the series in the third grade.

I also adored Enid Blyton books when I was younger. Her books are written for a variety of ages, so you may want to glance through the book to make sure that it is at an appropriate reading level. Buying one of her books written for a pre-school level may not go over well. The adventure series was the first set I read, and I also read the series to my boys. Try http://www.blyton.com/ or http://www.blyton.net/ for more information.

I read the complete adventures of Sherlock Holmes while in the fourth grade. It started me on a life long love of mysteries.

Also in the fourth grade, I read Watership Down. Great book, as I recall.

I started reading Nancy Drew in the second grade. The series certainly kept me rather absorbed for a couple of years.

Gordon Korman was also a huge favourite. I suggest checking out http://member.newsguy.com/~korman/gkpages/welcome.htm for more info. He was probably quite influential in my developing sense of humour.

I’ve mentioned the grades that I was in because I was tested at a grade 10 reading level in fourth grade, and I imagine that your daughter is probably on a similar level, with her grade 2 - grade 7 difference.

I enthusiastically recommend The Westing Game – I loved it as a kid and still enjoy re-reading it to this day.

Recently published “chapter books” for girls that I would recommend would be Katherine, Called Birdie and The Midwife’s Apprentice (both by the same author, whose name I can’t recall), and Ella Enchanted (by another author whose name also escapes me).

When I was a kid, I also really loved the books by Madeline D’Angeli – A Door In The Wall and We Be Scots among them – but I understand they can be tough to find these days.

And I’d second the recommendations for Alcott and Lovelace, if she likes girly-girl books.

I would NOT recommend the “Dark is Rising” series – not that anyone else has mentioned it, but I thought the series was very, well, dark, and rather pointless in the end, as the epic battle between good and evil ended up to not really have a meaning. I only list it because while I would allow older children (say, ten or over) to read that series, I wouldn’t allow my seven-year-old to do so – if I had one, which I admit I don’t.