Middle grade readers in 3rd – 5th grades especially enjoy longer fantasy books with action and more complex plots. I especially like both of these books because they are the first in a series. If a child gets hooked on the characters and suspense, they will want to read others in the series.
Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles)Gregor is drawn into a magical world underground, as he follows his 2-year old sister when she is sucked down an air vent in the basement of their New York apartment building. Gregor and his sister, Boots, enter the world Underland - with giant cockroaches, bats and rats. Gregor meets the people of the Underworld, and learns that his journey their was prophesied hundreds of years ago. He is sent on an epic quest in search of his missing father, who is being held captive by the evil rats. There is adventure and fighting, friendship and discovery. I was really drawn into this audiobook as Gregor searched for his father and cared for his little sister, in this strange and dangerous world.
by Suzanne Collins
narrated by Paul Boehmer
NY: Listening Library, c. 2006
ages 9 - 12
You can read the first chapter of Gregor the Overlander on NPR's website.
Try listening to this clip from Gregor the Overlander:
The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1)Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are orphans who must solve crimes in a town where fairy tales are real. The two sisters are sent to live with their grandmother, who tells them that they are descendants of the famous Brothers Grimm. A mystery ensues when people start disappearing with a red hand print left at the scene of the crime. Sabrina and Daphne must help solve the mystery when Granny Relda disappears, too. I agree with the School Library Journal review: "Readers well grounded in their fairy tales will get the most pleasure from recognizing the characters–Prince Charming, Jack-the-Giant-Killer, the Three Pigs, the Magic Mirror, and more–but the fast pace, sly humor, and cleverly inserted vocabulary lessons will entertain even those who are meeting the characters for the first time."
written by Michael Buckley
narrated by L.J. Ganser
by Recorded Books
I must admit, I have not listened to this whole story. It's rare that I recommend a book that I haven't read or listened to in its entirety. But my two daughters, ages 7 and 9, were so hooked by this audiobook that I have to recommend it. We listened to it (for free) through NetLibrary.com - available through our local public library. They were so enthralled that they spent hours listening and reading to the rest of the series. I wasn't able to get on audio the whole series (at least, that's what I told my daughter), so my 9 year old started reading the series. Audiobooks can be the perfect hook. This is not high-quality literature, but it's exciting and fun.