The Styling Librarian

In my opinion, books are the best accessory.

Styling Librarian: Top 15 Fantasy Series Recommendations for 4th/5th grade

Series books have boomed in past years and I’ve enjoyed discovering new series books that my students enjoy here in Hong Kong. In the past week, five students have come to my assistant and I and asked for book recommendations specifically requesting series books so that they had a good engaging book they can read during the break. Thought I’d collect a number of books and pop them here. I’ll identify books I feel are acceptable for 4th/5th (Y5/Y6) grade and which books I think are a stretch but will accommodate mature/stronger readers.

Here are the fantasy series books:

1. Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, illustrated by Francois Place, good for Y6/5th grade and up – Goodreads Summary: “This book presents an awards-laden adventure of heroism, friendship and survival – with a powerful ecological message – set in a captivating miniature world. Toby Lolness is just one and a half millimetres tall, and he’s the most wanted person in his world, the great oak Tree. When Toby’s father makes a ground-breaking discovery, tapping into the very heart of the Tree’s energy, he also realises that exploiting it could do permanent damage to their world. Refusing to reveal the secret of his invention to an enraged community, the family is exiled. But one man is determined to get hold of the forbidden knowledge…and his plan is to destroy the Tree. Now Toby’s parents have been imprisoned and sentenced to death. Only Toby has managed to escape, but for how long?”

2. Ingo by Helen Dunmore – Y5/6-5th grade and up – I look forward to reading this series, circulates as much as Emily Windsnap Series (fantastic mermaid series as well!) by Liz Kessler – Goodreads Summary: “Sapphire’s father mysteriously vanishes into the waves off the Cornwall coast where her family has always lived. She misses him terribly, and she longs to hear his spellbinding tales about the Mer, who live in the underwater kingdom of Ingo. Perhaps that is why she imagines herself being pulled like a magnet toward the sea. But when her brother, Conor, starts disappearing for hours on end, Sapphy starts to believe she might not be the only one who hears the call of the ocean.”

3. Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan – I’ve had 4th graders (Y4/5/6) through high school love this book series. I personally was addicted to this series and my husband read a number of the books to our son. Quite the good adventure. Goodreads Summary: “Will is small for his age, but agile and energetic. All his life, he has longed to be a warrior and to follow in the footsteps of the father he never knew, so he is devastated when he is rejected as an apprentice to Castle Redmont’s Battleschool. He’s no happier when he’s assigned instead to the Ranger Corps, the Kingdom’s secret service, as the Rangers are a mysterious group whose uncanny ability to move about unseen is thought by many to be the result of black magic. Will begins training under the dour and enigmatic Halt, and reluctantly learns all the fieldcraft and archery he will need to become a fully-fledged Ranger. But Will soon finds himself needing all his new-found skills as he and Halt set off
on a desperate mission to prevent the assassination of the King.”

4. The Dragon Chronicles- book 1- Dragon’s Milk by Susan Fletcher – 4th/5th grade/Y5/6- I was so excited to find out that these books by a favorite local Oregon author were here in Hong Kong! I also was thrilled to add her final book that was recently released to the collection – Goodreads Summary: “Before she even hears the words, Kaeldra already knows what she must do. She must search out the mother dragon whose draclings have just hatched and somehow get some of her precious milk. It’s the only way to save her foster-sister’s life. Kaeldra would rather not go. It’s much too terrifying, much too dangerous. But Kaeldra knows that she’s the only one who can do it. For she is the only one who can actually communicate with dragons.
But little does Kaeldra know what she’s getting into. She’s about to begin a journey that will entwine her fate with that of three little draclings and one would-be dragonslayer. A journey that will become a struggle for life.”

5. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke – 4th/5th grade/Y5/6- this is my favorite book overall for fantasy books. I’m not totally fond of the rest of the books, but many of my students were thrilled it is a series. Goodreads Summary: “Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can “read” fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.
Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. Meggie has had her father to herself since her mother went away when she was young. Mo taught her to read when she was five, and the two share a mutual love of books. He can “read” characters out of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart and released characters into the real world. At the same time, Meggie’s mother disappeared into the story. This “story within a story” will delight not just fantasy fans, but all readers who like an exciting plot with larger-than-life characters.”

6. Into the Woods by Lyn Gardner, illustrated by Mini Grey –  4th/5th grade/Y5/6- entertaining fairy tale adaptation, only 2 books so far. Goodreads Summary: “Taking inspiration from numerous fairytales and weaving them into a wholly original story, INTO THE WOODS is a whirlwind of a novel, full of imaginative happenings, dastardly deeds and thrilling adventure. Our guides are sisters three: Storm, Aurora and Anything Eden. Accidentally orphaned and left to fend for themselves in a decaying mansion on the edge of the wilds, they come to the very much unwanted attention of the sinister Dr DeWilde: a scar-faced gentleman with a pied waistcoat and an unhealthy interest in rats. He’s after a tiny little musical pipe that Storm has inherited, and he’ll stop at nothing to get it. Fleeing into the woods, our courageous and eccentric sisters evade kidnap (almost), resist the temptation of sweet-filled orphanages (nearly!), and begin a treacherous journey across raging rivers, over mountains of ice, through deathly silent ghost towns and beyond the lairs of child-eating ogresses. With ravenously hungry wolves snapping at their heels every step of the way!”

7. The Shadow Children series- book 1- Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix – 4th/5th grade/Y5/6- what a successful, addicting series this is! I had the honor of meeting with Margaret Peterson Haddix years ago and having her visit my old school. Fantastic, inspiring author. Goodreads Summary “SHADOW CHILDREN Luke has never been to school. He’s never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend’s house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.
Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He’s lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family’s farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.
Then, one day Luke sees a girl’s face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he’s met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows — does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he affordnot to?”

8. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – 5th grade/Y6 and older, quite mature- this will be a series soon enough, book one for now. Goodreads Summary: “Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life…”

9. Warriors- book 1- Into the Wild by Erin Hunter –  4th/5th grade/Y5/6- Terrific series, I’m ready to see students begin reading this again. Goodreads Summary: “For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their warrior ancestors. But the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger, and the sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying– and some deaths are more mysterious than others. In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary house cat named Rusty . . . who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.”

10. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull –  4th/5th grade/Y5/6- Hugely popular series in my old school, here it circulates well enough… Goodreads Summary: “For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite … Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most.”

11. Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver – 5th grade/Y6 and older, quite mature- This barely gets borrowed but we have a few huge fans… Goodreads Summary: “Six thousand years ago. Evil stalks the land. Only twelve-year-old Torak and his wolf-cub companion can defeat it. Their journey together takes them through deep forests, across giant glaciers, and into dangers they never imagined.
In this page-turning, original, and spectacularly told adventure story, Torak and Wolf are joined by an incredible cast of characters as they battle to save their world, in this first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness.”

12. Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce –  5th grade/Y6 and older, quite mature-Tamora Pierce writes amazing books, this is a fantastic series! Goodreads Summary: “Alianne has an oppressive heritage. She is the daughter of Alanna, Lady Knight and King’s Champion – the foremost warrior of Tortall. After a stormy argument with her mother, Aly runs away, but she gets more than she bargains for when she is kidnapped by pirates and sold as a slave in the Copper Isles.”

13. The Secrets of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel book 1- The Alchemyst by Michael Scott –  5th grade/Y6 and older, quite mature-addicting, fascinating series which is perfect for those strong fantasy readers! Goodreads Summary: “Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty and Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects – the Book of Abraham the Mage. It’s the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that’s exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.”

14. The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens – 4th/5th grade/Y5/6-  How I love this book, just purchased the sequel, cannot wait to read and promote! Goodreads Summary: “Called “A new Narnia for the tween set” by the New York Times and perfect for fans of the His Dark Materials series, The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma’s extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world. These three siblings have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage. Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about. Until now. Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey through time to dangerous and secret corners of the world…a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem.  And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.”

15. The Five Ancestors- book 1- Tiger by Jeff Stone –  4th/5th grade/Y5/6- excellent series!! Goodreads Summary: “Twelve-year-old Fu and his temple brothers Malao, Seh, Hok, and Long don’t know who their parents were. Raised from infancy by their grandmaster, they think of their temple as their home and their fellow warrior monks—their “temple brothers”—as their family. Then one terrible night, the temple is destroyed. Fu and his brothers are the only survivors. Charged by their grandmaster to uncover the secrets of their past, the five flee into the countryside and go their separate ways. Book #1 follows Fu as he struggles to find out more and prove himself in the process.”

16. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place- book 1-  The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood –  4th/5th grade/Y5/6- Many students have loved this story at my old school, I haven’t had much time to promote it with students this year, expecting it to be grabbed soon! Goodreads Summary: “Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.
Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.
But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance’s holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?”

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2 comments on “Styling Librarian: Top 15 Fantasy Series Recommendations for 4th/5th grade

  1. Kathy Temean
    April 3, 2014


    Just spent the last hour enjoying this post and others. Would love to share something from you on my blog. Would you consider writing something for a guest post?


    • The Styling Librarian
      April 3, 2014

      Sure, depending on the topic I’d be honored… Send me an email through contact the styling librarian and happy to learn further about what you’re thinking…. 🙂

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