Books like Harry Potter are hard to come by.
When once has finished a beloved series, it’s can be hard to move on. For Harry Potter fans, the pain is real. The other day, one of my students gently closed the last Harry Potter book, looked up at me, and smiled. “I finished, Ms. Fleming,” she said with a dazed look.
And you understand her pain, right? Because, now what? It’s hard to find books like Harry Potter that transport you. Luckily, this list of hard-to-put-down books like Harry Potter will get your students addicted to new worlds.
Mind you, when I state these are books like Harry Potter, I don’t mean they are read-alikes. You won’t find wizarding schools with villains who remain nameless. But they will settle into your bookshelf and become well-worn favorites.
Books Like Harry Potter
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
The Greenglass House may be one of the most unusual tales out there. Imagine a cozy mystery, enveloped in mountain top snowstorm. Young Milo only wants to read his books on winter vacation. Unfortunately, a sudden onslaught of guests appear at his adopted family’s inn.
This book is not all it appears to be. That’s all I’m going to say. Whenever a student finishes reading it, we give each other meaningful looks and ask, “Did you figure it out?” Nobody — myself included — did before the spectacular ending.
In fact, the waiting list for Greenglass House got so long, I got a Donors Choose grant to buy a set for reading groups.
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (The Books of Beginning series)
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
Gregor is stuck at home for the summer in his hot apartment in New York City. He takes care his grandmother (and her failing memory) and his little sister Boots. His father disappeared many years ago, and rumor has it he left them for someone else. Everything changes, though, when Boots starts exploring the laundry room. There, she tumbles downward through a grate, far below the city itself. Gregor follows and they make some discoveries!
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
Echo follows a harmonica that threads its way through several lives. Each story is seemingly independent of the others. Until you get to the end. Then you realize you were a little ant walking across a quilt, completely missing the big picture.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Three Times Lucky has that southern, summer feel of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s not like Harper Lee’s classic, nor does it pretend to be. But it radiates that same safe, heartwarming feeling, mixed with the hard knocks of growing up.
Mo, short for Moses, is our spunky sixth-grade heroine. She lives with the Colonel and Miss Lana, who found her in a basket floating down the river. She and her best friend, Dale, are shocked with the rest of their small town when there is a murder of one of their own. While solving this mystery, Mo dreams of finding her “upstream mother.”
This story has heart and is super fun to boot! It’s sweet without ever trying to be so. The audiobook of this story (and its sequels The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, The Odds of Getting Even, and The Law of Finders Keepers: Mo and Dale Mysteries) is perfection. Get yourself an iced lemonade or iced tea, and settle back.
The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
The Mark of the Dragonfly is so hard to describe! It’s s dystopian tale set on another planet with poisonous meteor showers. Piper, an orphaned girl who deals in scrap metal and who has an uncanny mechanical ability — machines seem to start working around her — suddenly becomes the caretaker of a young amnesiac with a dragon tattoo, who is in danger from someone very bad. They board the old 401 steam train and things get interesting.
When you’ve finished this tale, continue with the sequels:
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Confession. After reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a child, I was broken-hearted by the ending. I didn’t want the story and that particular setting to be through. So I refused to read the rest of the series. Which doesn’t make sense, right? Why not read the next book to find out what happens next? I know. But it made sense at the time.
Last summer, though, I decided to read the rest of the series, and what a great decision that was. I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to keep reading it! She would have been so pleased! Particularly with all the connections from story to story. I especially loved The Magician’s Nephew. While C.S. Lewis wrote it after The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the story takes place before. And it’s a real thrill to see how it births the series. (Hint: pay attention to the tree.)
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
I can’t. So if you love love love surprises and a whomping of a good ending, read this. Once you finish book one, there will be no stopping you — you’ll just have to read the whole series. And don’t read anything about book two or beyond. It will make the first book that much more fun.
This has been a classroom read-aloud staple for years. The kids go bonkers at the end and rush for the next book in the series. Luckily, I stocked my classroom library with about five copies of book 2. (My favorite of the four-book series? The third book.)
The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove
Next is The Glass Sentence. What a treat! In the late 1700’s there was a disruption of time. Now each continent is in a different time. Enter Sophia Tims, a Boston-based girl who is born into a family that is trying to map this new world. (The maps are CRAZY COOL.) Then her cartographer uncle gets kidnapped. Left alone, her only chance of finding him means trekking out into the unknown world. Phenomenal world-building.
The Time Travelers by Linda Buckley-Archer
Now It’s Your Turn!
Tell us in the comments below:
- How do you see online books improving your classroom?
- OR … What titles did you discover on these sites you think other 4th grade teachers should check out?
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