10 best children's book series for grades 4 to 6

A great series can turn a reluctant reader into a life-long book lover. Here are our top picks to transform your older elementary child into an enthusiastic bookworm.

By GreatSchools Staff

Peter and the Starcatchers

Ages: 7-10

By Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Our favorites: Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow ThievesPeter and the Secret of Rundoon

Perfect for: Pirate-lovin' kids looking for swashbuckling on the high seas.

The hook: The first three books in the series chronicle the spellbinding prequel of how a boy named Peter became the Peter Pan of J.M. Barrie's classic tale. Each page — particularly in the first book — is riveting. All along the way, Peter and his friends encounter an incredible cast of characters, including flying crocodiles, vicious mermaids, and even Zeus and Michelangelo.

Cirque Du Freak

By Darren Shan

Our favorites: A Living Nightmare, The Vampire's Assistant, Tunnels of Blood

Perfect for: Kids ages 10 and up drawn to dark, twisted tales filled with eccentric characters.

The hook: Macabre, funny, and action-packed, this series follows a traveling freak show with wolf-man, snake-boy, Larten Crepsley, and a giant spider.

Artemis Fowl

By Eoin Colfer

Our favorites: Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Incident, The Eternity Code

Perfect for: Kids too jaded to be entertained by old-fashioned fairies and elves.

The hook: Artemis Fowl is no regular kid. He happens to be an evil genius — a criminal mastermind with high-tech toys — and all but 12 years old. Delve into the murky underworld of fairies, elves, and other sprites as they battle Artemis in his relentless quest for the fairyfolk's pot of gold.

Goosebumps

By R.L. Stine

Our favorites: The Curse of Camp Cold Lake, Say Cheese – And Die Screaming!, The Wizard of Ooze

Perfect for: Older elementary schoolers who want to be scared out of their wits!

The hook: This series of 62 phenomenally popular horror novels have made R.L. Stine the best-selling children's author in history. For a reason: Every tale is a spine-chilling thriller, but certainly not for the faint of heart.

Maximum Ride

By James Patterson

Our favorites: The Angel Experiment, School's Out Forever, Saving the World

Perfect for: Older kids (6th grade and up) with a taste for high-octane sci-fi.

The hook: Fourteen-year-old scrappy and sarcastic Max leads a band of flying, gifted, and genetically-altered friends in page-turning adventures. Bred as mostly human and part bird, the teen heroes battle wicked predators called Erasers in their attempt to save the world.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

By Jeff Kinney

Our favorites: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Rodrick Rules, The Last Straw

Perfect for: Older elementary schoolers and tweens who appreciate the dark humor of middle school trauma.

The hook: At his mother's insistence, an adolescent boy records his life, in all its banal and painful detail — from being forced to wrestle in P.E. to having his house TP'd by high-school bullies. A simple, yet artfully conceived graphic novel. (Skip the movie, it doesn’t stand a fighting chance.)

A Series of Unfortunate Events

By Lemony Snicket

Our favorites: The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window

Perfect for: Older kids who appreciate humor in evil adults, miserable orphans, and extravagant vocabularies.

The hook: No child has ever endured more bad luck than the three Baudelaire waifs. Over the course of the 13-book series, they endure relentless misfortune at the hands of their vile uncle, the malevolent Count Olaf. At times, it makes for almost unbearable reading, but Snicket's tangy sense of humor and masterful command of three-dollar words keep you wanting more.

Little House

By Laura Ingalls Wilder

Our favorites: Little House on the Prairie, Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy

Perfect for: Girls and boys (ages 7 and up) curious about simpler, albeit tougher, times.

The hook: An American classic, this nine-book series has been the first history class for many an American girl (long before the American Girls historical book series was born). The “through-a-white-girl’s-eyes” perspective has its critics; Ingalls Wilder’s depiction of savage Native Americans has some old-school racist chestnuts. But the children’s canon offers nary a replacement for the closely-observed, tedious and at times grueling daily life of a frontier family. In short, it’s one of those series that will teach your child a lot while she gets sucked into the story.

His Dark Materials Trilogy

By Philip Pullman

Our favorites: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass

Perfect for: Older readers drawn to an epic (and eccentric) story of good and evil.

The hook: The main heroine, Lyra Belacqua, along with Pantalaimon, Will, and a band of other brave souls, have been entrusted to save the universe. It's nearly impossible to put down each of the trilogy's three books that create a fantastical alternate reality your child won't forget.

The Chronicles of Narnia

By C.S. Lewis

Our favorites: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Magician's Nephew, Prince Caspian

Perfect for: Readers, eight and up, drawn to illusive symbols and magic.

The hook: Sure, they may have seen the movie already, but even so, this seven-book series — which deftly combines the supernatural and reality — is a classic that has influenced children's literature for a half century. The protagonists, children from the real world, are magically transported to Narnia, where under the wise guidance of the lion Aslan, they play essential roles in shaping events in this alternate world's fate (a powerful fantasy for any child). In each of Lewis's page-turning books, all crafted in masterful prose, Narnia's very fate hangs in the balance: Will good win out over evil?