Action-Packed Books: For a Nine-Year-Old

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I am sitting in Starbucks wearing my slippers. Maybe this addiction has really gone too far – my local Starbucks has become another room in my house, but one that I have to drive to. It is comfy though so this may become a regular thing.


In honor of A.A. Milne’s 132nd birthday (which was two days ago), here is one of my favorite passages from The House at Pooh Corner:

“Then he dropped two in at once, and leant over the bridge to see which of them would come out first; and one of them did; but as they were both the same size, he didn’t know if it was the one which he wanted to win, or the other one. So the next time he dropped one big one and one little one, and the big one came out first, which was what he had said it would do, and the little one came out last, which was what he had said it would do, so he had won twice…And that was the beginning of the game called Poohsticks.”

Last weekend, at the Montessori Schools of Massachusetts conference, a teacher asked me to recommend books for her son. He is nine-years-old, a strong reader, enjoys action, but nothing too violent.  During their next trip to the bookstore or library, I would suggest they take a look at these books:

The Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz (This boy is already a fan of Alex Rider, but I wanted to include the series on the list. Rider is a 14-year-old British spy. These books are full of chases and gadgets and plot twists.  Lots of action!)

Books by Rick Riordan – beginning with The Lightening Thief (Whenever a student tells me they want to read something exciting, I walk directly to our Rick Riordan shelf. Percy Jackson, the title character of the Olympians series, is the son of Poseidon, and he is, naturally, saving the world from evil!)

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (No surprise here, but the boy wizard has to be included on a list of action-packed books.)


Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville (When Jeremy purchases an egg in a magic shop, he doesn’t expect a dragon to hatch. And there are more books in this series. If your child enjoys the dragon, they can move on to The Monster’s Ring and Jennifer Murdley’s Toad.)

Spirit Animals by Brandon Mull (First book in a new series. Set in a world called Erdas, the four characters drink a nectar to find out if they have a spirit animal.)

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (Kind of scary, but addictive and spellbinding. A re-telling of Hansel and Gretel – and other Grimm fairy tales.)


The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (Russian spies, a kidnapped father, a boy who saves the day!)


The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (Another fun series. Every time I check the first novel out, I get #2  ready because I know the student will ask for it.  “Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” asks the newspaper ad.  Four children go on a secret mission – and have to solve all kinds of puzzles.)

The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (Yes, another series – but after reading the first one, and kids are hooked. More codes and clues and and mystery…)

Travels of Thelonious by Susan Schade and Jon Butler (I haven’t read this, but a colleague of mine has a son who sounds like he would like the same sorts of books as our nine-year-old reader – and he loves this series. It’s also a good way to introduce graphic novels into a child’s reading diet. The books alternate between traditional narrative and graphic novel format.)


One more to add….Johnny Hangtime by Dan Gutman (This is not the greatest work of children’s literature, but it’s loads of fun – it was one of my son’s favorite books when he was nine. What kid wouldn’t enjoy a book about stunt kid who is the “double” for a teen star!)

There are many other wonderful books that would fit this reader’s interest in adventure, but this list should get him started!

More soon….


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