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Gifted Reading List

Gifted Resources

The families and staff members of the Davidson Institute Young Scholars program have contributed these ideas to consider when selecting books for a profoundly intelligent young person*:

Organizations: National

Fiction for Kids
Fiction for Kids is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to bring joy to children through creative writing. The dedicated team of high school and undergraduate students collaborate to create and publish stories for donation to pediatric patients and foster children.

Printed Materials: Books

4: Fantastic Novels
This book by author D. Pinkwater is for ages 9-12 and takes everyday life and changes it so that it is just odd enough to make it implausible. Highlights include the Fish who Thought it was Drowning, the Mix, Mush, and Microwave vending machine, and the submarine whose name was ‘The Flying Piggie’. No morals in these stories! They are pure silliness. This volume contains four books: Borgle, Yobgorgle, The Worms of Kukulima, The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror.
5 Novels: Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars; Slaves of Spiegel; The Last Guru; Young Adult Novel; The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death
The next five books from author D. Pinkwater. Performing chickens, a New Jersey Martian, an orangutan orchestra conductor from Ceylon … the details are what jump out of his novels. The ice cream dish in Slaves of Spiegel, for example, consisting of an eggplant, two slabs of whole-wheat pizza dough, 16 flavors of ice cream, fresh figs, pistachio nuts, a lobster, and assorted fresh garden vegetables and fruit. (It’s served piping hot from the microwave, in a freshly laundered regulation army knapsack, to the accompaniment of Franz Liszt music.) This is what Pinkwater is all about. A junior-high schooler’s dream of an author.
A Gebra Named Al
This book by author W. Isdell is for young adults. Julie hates algebra – until she meets Al, and the Periodic horses and they journey through the Land of Mathematics, where the Orders of Operations are real places and fruits that look like Bohr models grow on chemistrees. Wonderfully written and a joy to read, it’s full of math and science basics made fun and accessible. This book is the stand-alone sequal to The Chemy Called Al.
A Puzzling Day at Castle MacPelican
This book by author S. Anderson is for ages 4-8. Welcome to Castle MacPelican where Thomas and Esmerelda have just arrived for a visit. They are going to find the castle a very puzzling place indeed! Their uncle, Hector MacPelican, has prepared a treasure hunt for each of them, but there are many other puzzles for them to solve–they are certain there is a thief in the castle.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
For ages 9-12, this series of books is about three orphans, the Baudelaire children, and can be very dark. Despite the misadventures that befall these interesting, intelligent, resourceful orphans, you can trust that the engaging narrator will make their story suspenseful, alarming and entertaining.
A Single Shard
This book by Linda Sue Park is for ages 9-12. Tree-ear is an orphan boy in a 12th-century Korean potters’ village. For a long time he is content living with Crane-man under a bridge barely surviving on scraps of food. All that changes when he sees master potter Min making his beautiful pottery. Tree-ear sneaks back to Min’s workplace and dreams of creating his own pots someday. When he accidentally breaks a pot, he must work for the master to pay for the damage. Though the work is long and hard, Tree-ear is eager to learn. Then he is sent to the King’s Court to show the master’s pottery. Little does Tree-ear know that this difficult and dangerous journey will change his life forever.
A Splendid Friend, Indeed
In this award winning humorous, read-aloud picture book for new readers, a talkative goose endears himself to a contemplative polar bear. A great book for children ages one to preschool.
A Wrinkle in Time (Book Series)
Written by Madeleine L’Engle for ages 9-12, this book is about Meg Murry, who everyone in town thinks is volatile and dull-witted, and that her younger brother, Charles Wallace, is dumb. People are also saying that their physicist father has run off and left their brilliant scientist mother. Spurred on by these rumors and an unearthly stranger, the tesseract-touting Mrs. Whatsit, Meg and Charles Wallace and their new friend Calvin O’Keefe embark on a perilous quest through space to find their father.
Abel’s Island
In this Newbery Award winner, newlywed mice Abel and Amanda are out for a picnic in the woods when they are caught in a sudden storm. As they hide in a cave, a wind scoops up Amanda’s scarf, and Abel tries to retrieve it. He is swept away and finds himself deserted on an island, where he is stuck and has different trials in trying to survive and escape the island.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
This book is a classic of children’s literature. Read about Alice’s adventures from her fall down the rabbit hole to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, Queen’s croquet match, trial of the Knave of Hearts, and many more curious events.
All About Sam
Sam’s big sister Anastasia thinks he’s weird. Their parents say he’s precocious. But Sam knows, even on the morning of his birth, when there are bright lights, and he’s cold, and someone is messing with his belly button, that he’s just Sam. And as the younger brother of the original drama queen herself Sam deserves a book all to himself. From the early moments at the hospital, to his first steps and words, to his lively days of nursery school, Sam escorts the reader through his mischief-filled life. His highly developed–and hilarious–verbal skills allow readers to get behind the fascinating logic of a toddler.
Am I Naturally This Crazy?: Poems
This book by author S. Holbrook is for ages 9-12 and contains poems about self-esteem, embarrassment, divorce, discipline, sports, dreams, pets, school, friendships, mischief, and family relationships.
And Sometimes Y (Howling Vowels) (Volume 2)
The sequel to The Howling Vowels, this fictional book continues to take a look at one group of friends and their experiences with homeschooling.
Anne of Green Gables (Book Series)
These books by L.M. Montgomery are for ages 12 and up. Anne, an 11-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her.
Another Side of Paradise
This book is about a teenage boy who moves away from home to become a writer but soon finds himself tortured with conflict over whether to return to a “normal” life with his friends or continue all alone.
Artemis Fowl (Book Series)
Who is Artemis Fowl? A genius. A criminal mastermind. A millionaire. And, he is only 12 years old. Yet as crafty as he is, Artemis may have met his match in Captain Holly Short, an elf from the LEPrecon Special Forces, when he plots to steal the richest treasure the world has ever known – the timeless treasure of the fairies. This is the first book in the series.
Babe: The Gallant Pig
Babe is a sensitive soul, deeply loyal to those who are kind to him. So when he is taken in by Farmer Hogget’s sheepdog, Fly, it’s only natural that he would want to follow in his foster mum’s paw-steps. Even with Babe’s considerable handicaps as a sheepdog — namely, that he’s a pig — he manages to overcome all with his earnestly polite and soft-spoken ways, proving once again that might doesn’t always make right. After saving the sheep from rustlers and wild dogs, Babe convinces Hogget that his idea of becoming a sheep-pig “b’aint so stupid” as it might look. But neither Hogget nor Babe, nor anyone else, could have predicted what follows.
Betsy-Tacy (Book Series)
The Betsy-Tacy series begins with a five year old’s birthday party and follows Betsy, her best friend Tacy, and their friend Tib through childhood, high school, and finally, Besty’s wedding.
Black Beauty
Written by Anna Sewell for ages 9-12, this book tells the story of a horse’s long and varied life, from a well-born colt in a pleasant meadow to an elegant carriage horse for a gentleman to a painfully overworked cab horse. Throughout, Sewell rails–in a gentle, 19th-century way–against animal maltreatment.
Boxcar Children
This series of books is a children’s literary franchise aimed at readers in grades 2–6. The Boxcar Children tells the story of four orphaned children who create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest. The children encounter many adventures and mysteries in their neighborhood or at the locations they visit with their grandfather.
Calvin and Hobbes Comic Book Series
The Calvin and Hobbes comic book series is about a boy and his stuffed animal that he make-believes is real.
Captain Underpants series
These books by author Dav Pilkey are for ages 7-10. The story is a superhero spoof: two misbehaving fourth-grade boys, Harold and George, hypnotize their school principal and turn him into their comic book creation, Captain Underpants. The boys have their hands full when the captain escapes and starts chasing bad guys in his underwear.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
This book is a fictionalized biography of the great American navigator Nathaniel Bowditch, whose 1802 book, The American Practical Navigator, became known as the “Sailor’s Bible.”
Mrs. Tabby’s four kittens are born a bit different: they have wings. She has always hoped they might be able to escape the harsh city slums, and their wings will make that possible. One day they do fly away to the country, only to discover that life there has it’s own dangers.
Charlotte’s Web
An affectionate, bashful pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. Wilbur is devastated when he learns of the destiny that befalls all those of porcine persuasion. Determined to save her friend, Charlotte spins a web that reads “Some Pig,” convincing the farmer and surrounding community that Wilbur is no ordinary animal and should be saved. This is a story about friendship and hardship, in which the author reminds us of the wonder and miracle often found in the simplest of things.
Chronicles of Narnia
For ages 9-12, the Chronicles of Narnia series is seven books by C.S. Lewis about four children who travel repeatedly to a world called Narnia where they are far more than mere children and everything is far more than it seems.
Chronicles of Prydain: The Book of Three (Book Series)
This is the first book in Lloyd Alexander’s five-book series; which, introduces most of the characters we come to know and love in the later books: Taran, Eilonwy, Hen-Wen, Doli, Coll, Dallben, Gurgi (with his many munchings and crunchings), Gwydion; and the evil players, Arawn, Achren, the Huntsmen of Annuvin, Gwythaints, the Cauldron Born, and the chief antagonist in this book, the Horned King. In this book a frustrated Taran yearns to go into battle like his hero, Prince Gwydion. Before the story is over, he has met his hero and fought the evil leader who threatens the peace of Prydain: the Horned King.
Danny Champion of the World
For ages 9-12, this book is about Danny who feels lucky. He adores his life with his father, living in a gypsy caravan, listening to his stories, tending their gas station, puttering around the workshop, and occasionally taking off to fly home-built gas balloons and kites. His father has raised him on his own, since Danny’s mother died when he was 4 months old. Life is peaceful and wonderful until he turns 9 and discovers his father’s one vice. Soon Danny finds himself the mastermind behind the most incredible plot ever attempted against nasty Victor Hazell, a wealthy landowner with a bad attitude. Can they pull it off? If so, Danny will truly be the champion of the world.
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
All the great gods and goddesses of Greek mythology from ancient Greece are depicted in this big, beautiful classic, lovingly illustrated and skillfully told. Young readers will be dazzled by mighty Zeus, lord of the universe; stirred by elegant Athena, goddess of wisdom; intimidated by powerful Hera, queen of Olympus; and chilled by moody Poseidon, ruler of the sea. These often impetuous immortals flounce and frolic, get indiscreet and get even. From petty squabbles to heroic deeds, their actions cover the range of godly–and mortal–personalities.
Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House Series)
This fantasy, the first in the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne for ages 4-8, begins in a mysterious treehouse filled with stacks of books. When Jack wishes to see a Pteranodon for real after looking at a picture of one, he and Annie are transported through time and have some thrilling adventures in the prehistoric past.
Dinotopia (Book Series)
Travel back in time to a land where people and Dinosaurs lived together, where your best friend might have been a dinosaur. A Englishman and his son get shipwrecked on a land known as Dinotopia. Before long they can write in the dinosaur alphabet, and tell time by a dinotopian clock. Is it fact or fiction? More books follow in this series.
Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes
Twelve-year-old jokester Gary Boone knows he was born to be a comedian, it’s the kids in his class who think he’s just a goon. Winning the school talent show would be Gary’s dream come true, but on the big night his dream nearly backfires–with hilarious results.
Dragonflight (Dragonriders of Pern Series)
Written by Anne McCaffrey, this series is set on the planet Pern, which has been colonized for centuries by humans. When humans first settled on this world, they did not take notice of its sister planet, which had an indigenous life form that attempted to land on Pern when it came within reach. These silver “threads” fell in a destructive wave on the temperate lands of Pern once every 200 years, destroying all life they encountered. To combat this menace, the inhabitants of Pern developed a species of dragon that could burn these threads out of the sky before they touched down. Now, centuries have passed between threadfalls, and the danger of thread is considered a myth. However, a dragon rider named F’lar knows that the riders are once again needed.
Drumshee Chronicles and Drumshee Timeline Series
Written by Cora Harrison for readers age 9-12, the Drumshee Chronicles and Timeline Series are historical novels for children which tell the history of Ireland through two millennia. The books include stories of Celts, monks, Vikings, and Normans; the history of the Armada, the 1798 revolution, Cromwell in Ireland, the victory of Daniel O’Connell and Catholic Emancipation, the Great Famine of 1845, the sinking of the Titanic, the War of Independence, the second World War – all these times and events are seen through the eyes of the children who inhabit the fort, castle or cottage at Drumshee.
Ella Enchanted
Written by Gail Carson Levine for ages 9-12, this book is about Ella of Frell, who at birth was the unfortunate recipient of a foolish fairy’s gift – the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, even if it’s hopping on one foot for a day and a half! But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse – once and for all.
Encyclopedia Brown (Book Series)
For ages 9-12, Encyclopedia Brown is a 10-year-old detective who solves crimes. Each book is written as a set of short mysteries that kids can try to solve along with Encyclopedia. Solutions to the puzzles are located in the back of the book. Donald J. Sobol has won many awards for his mystery books and has over 60 books published.
Ender’s Game (Book Series)
Winner of the Nebula and Hugo Awards, Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, is first of a series of young adult science fiction classics. Ender is one of a group of children bred to be a military genius and save Earth from an inevitable attack by aliens, known here as “buggers.” Ender becomes unbeatable in war games and seems poised to lead Earth to triumph over the buggers.
Eragon (Book Series)
Written by Christopher Paolini, this book tells the story of a young farm boy named Eragon, who finds a mysterious stone, which is really a dragon egg, in the mountains. A dragon named Saphira hatches. When the evil King Galbatorix finds out about Eragon and his dragon, he sends his servants after them. Eragon and Saphira are forced to flee from their hometown, and decide to search for the Varden, a group of rebels who want to see the downfall of Galbatorix.
Fabulous Beasts
This book has wonderful illustrations of magical creatures ranging from the Nile goose to Grendel to Sleipner. The creatures are all based on Egyptian, Greek, Babylonian, and other myths and legends.
Ginger Pye
Written by Eleanor Estes for ages 9-12, this book is about Jerry Pye who buys a dog, Ginger Pye, with money he earns from dusting church pews. The dog is very, very smart and everyone loves him. Then he gets stolen! This book is a very funny mystery and a Newbery Medal winner.
Girl Who Didn’t Mind / Caileag A Bha Coma
This book takes the reader on a journey through the ups and downs of one highly teachable soul at odds with the world around her. See how a connected mom rescues her unconventional child from the depths of despair. From Celtic knots to golden locks, this English/Gaelic drama is an uplifting whimsical story for free spirits of all ages!
Gulliver’s Travels
Gulliver’s Travels describes the four fantastic voyages of Lemuel Gulliver, a kindly ship’s surgeon. Swift portrays him as an observer, a reporter, and a victim of circumstance. His travels take him to Lilliput where he is a giant observing tiny people. In Brobdingnag, the tables are reversed and he is the tiny person in a land of giants. His next voyage is to the flying island of Laputa, a world of illusion and distorted values. The fourth and final voyage takes him to the home of the Houyhnhnms, gentle horses who rule the land.
Half Magic
For ages 9-12, this book is about four children who encounter a magical coin. Through a comical series of coincidences, they discover that the coin is magic. Well, it’s not totally magic–it’s only (you guessed it) half magic. That means there’s a certain logic to the wishes one must make to generate a desired outcome. Imagine the results emerging from inaccurate efforts: “half” invisible, “half” rescued, “half” everything!
Harriet the Spy
Harriet M. Welsch is a spy! She writes down everything she sees whether it be good or bad in a notebook. Her mischevious classmates find her notebook, including Janie and Sport, her two best friends, and they read it cover to cover while Harriet the Spy finds herself quite alone. With her stern, but yet loveable nanny gone, she has no one to turn to. Will she ever renew her friendship with Janie and Sport? Is she doomed to have every kid in the sixth grade hate her?
Harry Potter (Book Series)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first book in the Harry Potter series. Harry is a wizard, but he doesn’t know it, and also an orphan, so he lives with his aunt, uncle and very large cousin Dudley. They are non-magical people, so they are considered to be “muggles” by people in the wizarding world. On his 11th birthday, Harry is notified that he has been accepted into Hogwarts, the premier British school for young witches and wizards, and the excitement really begins.
His Dark Materials – Book Series
A trilogy that includes The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Follows 12-year-old Lyra as she and her daemon confront the forces of good and evil in an alternate world(s). A powerful, but dark series.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Book Series)
This book is the first in a series about hapless hero Arthur Dent who travels the galaxy with his intrepid pal Ford Prefect. In reading this you will join them getting into horrible messes and generally wreaking hilarious havoc. Dent is grabbed from Earth moments before a cosmic construction team obliterates the planet to build a freeway. The Hitchhiker’s Guide is rich in comedic detail and thought-provoking situations.
In his first novel for a younger audience (ages 9-12), author Carl Hiaasen plunges readers right into the middle of an ecological mystery, made up of endangered miniature owls, the Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House scheduled to be built over their burrows, and the owls’ unlikely allies – three middle school kids determined to beat the screwed-up adult system.
James and the Giant Peach
Written by Roald Dahl for ages 3-8, this is a book about James, an orphan who lives with his two mean aunts, is given some magical green things (which will help him) by an old man. On the way home, he trips and loses them in the dirt. Soon, a giant peach grows and James climbs inside. He meets all sorts of interesting folks inside and has various adventures.
Journey to the Centre of the Earth
This classic story by Jules Verne is a descriptive novel about a professor, his nephew, and a guide. This enthralling story is about them in their quest to the center of the earth. They run into many problems: a sea monster, food, and many others.
Junie B. Jones Series
There are currently 16 books in this comical series by Barbara Park about the adventures of a girl named Junie B. Jones. It starts with Junie B. Jones as a new kindergartner and by the last book she is graduating to first grade. Some of the books in the series include: Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly busJunie B. and a Little MonkeyJunie B. and Her Big Fat MouthJunie B. and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying, etc.
Little House in the Big Woods (Book Series)
This is the first book in the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was born in 1867. She traveled with her family by covered wagon through the Midwest and settled with her husband Almanzo in Mansfield, Missouri. This is where she wrote her story in the nine Little House books and lived until the age of 90.
Little Women (Book Series)
In 1868 in response to a publisher’s request for a “girls’ book”, a struggling professional writer named Louisa May Alcott drew upon the memory of her own family and growing up to produce Little Women. It is a Civil-war era story of a New England family.
Lizard Music
When his parents go away for two weeks, Victor goes on his own vacation — right at home! Now he can stay up as late as he wants and watch his favorite television shows! After the late, late show one night, something strange happens. A band of lizards appears on the screen, playing the most outrageous music Victor has ever heard. They’re not in the TV listings, but every night, they’re there. With the help of the Chicken Man, Victor is able to track down the lizards. The journey takes him to Thunderbolt City, on a trip that will change the way Victor sees the world forever.
Magic School Bus series
Author Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degen combine their special talents to bring many extraordinary trips to life. By blending zany humor with basic science information, they provide a fresh and entertaining approach to discovering the world around us.
Magic Tree House series
Meet Jack and Annie. Jack is an eight year old boy who seeks adventure. In every trip, Jack takes notes to learn more interesting facts. He carries his little backpack almost everywhere with his useful supplies inside. Annie is Jack’s little sister. Annie is just one year younger than Jack. These two siblings have great times together in many different places. Annie is a sweet, honest, considerate girl who looks up to Jack.
Math Curse
Math Curse is a book of one girl’s story of how that curse can be broken. “Did you ever wake up to one of those days where everything was a problem? You have 10 things to do, but only 30 minutes until your bus leaves. Is there enough time? You have 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. Can you make 1 good outfit? Then you start to wonder: Why does everything have to be such a problem? Why do 2 apples always have to be added to 5 oranges? Why do 4 kids always have to divide 12 marbles? Why can’t you just keep 10 cookies without someone taking 3 away? Why?”
For ages 7-12, this book is about Matilda, a little girl who at age five-and-a-half is knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. She has two of the most self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. Trunchbull. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.
Meet Addy: An American Girl (Book Series)
This is the first book in the American Girl series. Nine-year-old Addy Walker, a slave on a North Carolina plantation during the Civil War, overhears her parents whispering about the possibility of running away. But after Addy’s father and older brother are sold to another master, mother and daughter make the break alone. The series follows Addy through the end of the Civil War and the many changes in her life.
Millicent Min, Girl Genius
Author Lisa Yee tells the story of 11-year-old certified genius, Millicent Min. She breezes through high school and college classes, but when it comes to making friends her own age, she’s at a loss. Click here to read reviews of this book by several Davidson Young Scholars.
Mr Tompkins in Paperback: Comprising ‘Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland’ and ‘Mr. Tompkins Explores the Atom’ (Canto)
Mr. Tompkins is a bank clerk whose fantastic dreams and adventures lead him into a world inside the atom. George Gamow’s classic provides a delightful explanation of the central concepts in modern physics, from atomic structure to relativity, and quantum theory to fusion and fission.
My Name is Asher Lev
Asher Lev is a profoundly gifted artist born into a very religious family. His gift possesses its own spirit. Asher must learn to master his gift without relinquishing his deeply felt Judaism.
Nancy Drew Mysteries (Book Series)
The Nancy Drew Starter Set for young adults is the perfect gift for aspiring detectives, or longtime fans of the series! The first six books are packaged together in a collectible box set with an updated design. Titles included are #1 The Secret of the Old Clock, #2 The Hidden Staircase, #3 The Bungalow Mystery, #4 The Mystery at Lilac Inn, #5 The Secret of Shadow Ranch, and #6 The Secret of Red Gate Farm.
Nate the Great – Series
Pint-sized detective Nate the Great and his dog, Sludge, are always looking to solve another mystery. Follow their adventures, riddled with humor and suspense.
New York Is English, Chattanooga Is Creek
This children’s book, written by Chris Raschka composes a story of different people, places, traditions and their cultures. Individuality and respect are among the morals of the book.
On the Far Side of the Mountain
Written by Jean Craighead George for ages 9-12, this book is about life in the wilderness with young Sam Gribley. For the last two years he’s been living in a hollowed-out tree in the Catskill Mountains, hunting and gathering his food supply and befriending the critters in his “neighborhood.” Sam’s peaceful existence is shattered when an environmental conservation officer confiscates his peregrine falcon, Frightful. To make matters worse, Sam’s sister, Alice, who has been living with him for the past year, has disappeared. This double blow quickly puts Sam on the trail to the far side of his mountain, pursuing a multifaceted mystery.
Path Finder – The Spectrum Chronicles (Book Series)
This is the first book in a science fiction book series for young adults called The Spectrum Chronicles by Thomas Locke.
Percy Jackson (Book Series)
For ages 9-12, this book’s main character seems like just another New York kid with ADHD, who has good intentions, a nasty stepfather, and a long line of schools that have rejected him. Then, the revelation of his status as half-blood offspring of one of the Greek gods is unveiled and the adventure begins. The Lightning Thief is the first book in this series by Rick Riordan.
Redwall – Book Series
According to, as the inhabitants of Redwall Abbey bask in the glorious Summer of the Late Rose, all is quiet and peaceful. But things are not as they seem. Cluny the Scourge, the evil one-eyed rat warlord, is hell-bent on destroying the tranquility as he prepares to fight a bloody battle for the ownership of Redwall. This dazzling story in the Redwall series is packed with all the wit, wisdom, humor, and blood-curdling adventure of the other books in the collection, but has the added bonus of taking the reader right back to the heart and soul of Redwall Abbey and the characters who live there.
Rotten Ralph Series
For ages 4-8, the Rotten Ralph series is about a naughty cat, but his owner Sarah loves him anyway. These books track the adventures of Rotten Ralph as he plays at home, goes to school, and celebrates holidays. The books are funny, well illustrated, and are great beginning reading books.
Shakespeare Can Be Fun, Book Series
Lois Burdett transforms Shakespeare’s complex verse into a format readily understood by children. There are wonderful drawings and anecdotes created by her Grade 2 and 3 students in Stratford, Ontario where she has taught Shakespeare for over two decades. Series includes: A Child’s Portrait of ShakespeareMacbeth: For KidsRomeo and Juliet: For KidsThe Tempest: For KidsTwelfth Night: For Kids; and, A Midsummer Night’s dream: For Kids.
Shel Silverstein Books
For children of all ages, Shel Silverstein’s books include The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends. He will always be best-loved for his extraordinary books.
Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School
By Louis Sachar, this book is a collection of 50 hilarious stories, each filled with brainteasers, designed to painlessly teach math skills. The stories are from the Wayside School, where students laugh as much as they learn.
Sir Cumference and the First Round Table: A Math Adventure (Sir Cumference Series of Math Books)
Written by Cindy Neuschwander for ages 4-8, this book is more than just a math adventure; it has a bit of history, too. The author teaches some basic geometry lessons while relating some of the King Arthur legend. King Arthur, assisted by his knight (guess who) Sir Cumference, finds the perfect shape for his table. Some of the other books in the series are written for older students.
Skinny Bones
For ages 8-12, this tale centers on Alex, a small kid who is the class clown and loves baseball. He is a very realistic character with whom children can identify, and he does some crazy things (a lot with what he says) that result in some hilarious situations.
So You Want to Be a Wizard: The First Book in the Young Wizards Series
For ages 9-12, this series by Diane Duane is about two children who discover a book called “So You Want to Be a Wizard.” The story is about these two lonely kids who are inadvertently caught up in the never-ending battle between good and evil.
Space Brat (Space Brat Book Series)
Far away on the planet Splat lives a boy named Blork whose temper tantrums are nothing short of galactic in their scope. That is, until Blork discovers that tantrums do not ensure that he will always get his way and that, in fact, tantrums are a truly ugly sight. Because the story is set in a foreign time and place, readers can easily perceive his obnoxious, offensive behavior and laugh at his misfortunes. The distance between Blork and young readers will help them to confront their own misbehavior while preserving their dignity and confidence. As in the author’s bestselling My Teacher Is an Alien, honest, straightforward language blends with a keen sense of humor. An upbeat fantasy which will amuse children of all temperaments.
Squids will be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables
Written by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith for ages 4-8, Squids will be Squids is, to quote its cover page, “a book of fresh morals and beastly fables”. This book contains hilarious, irreverent fables and scrumptious cartoon-like illustrations. The book claims it is what Aesop would have written, had he been alive today.
Stuart Little
E. B. White takes Stuart on a hero’s quest across the American countryside, introducing the mouse–and the reader–to a myriad of delightful characters. Little finds himself embroiled in one adventure after another from the excitement of racing sailboats to the unseen horrors of substitute teaching. This is a story of leaving home for the first time, of growing up, and ultimately of discovering oneself. At times, doesn’t everyone feel like the sole mouse in a family–and a world–of extremely tall people?
Tale of the Toa – Bionicle Chronicles (Book Series)
Written by C. Hapka for ages 9-12, this book, which is the first in the series, is set in the time before time when a great being watched over the ancient land of Mata Nui, protecting it from harm. A powerful entity, Makuta, has arisen, and a dark and evil shadow has fallen over the land. Just when all seems lost, six heroes emerge from the darkness with a single destiny: Destroy Makuta and restore peace to the land.
The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat
Written by Theoni Pappas for ages 9-12, Penrose is a cat with a knack for math who takes children on an adventurous tour of mathematical concepts from fractals to infinity. When the fractal dragon jumps off the computer screen and threatens to grow larger than the room itself, Penrose must find out if fractal patterns can work in reverse, getting smaller instead of larger.
The Big Orange Splot
For ages 4-8, this book is about letting your dreams become your reality, being who you are, and bringing joy and a sense of freedom to all who come in contact with you. Mr. Plumbean turns the disaster of the “big orange splot” of paint dropped on his roof by a sea gull into an opportunity to break away from the constraints of conformity. You will smile as you read how his daring actions liberate his whole “neat street”.
The Black Stallion
First published in 1941, Walter Farley’s best-selling novel for young readers is the triumphant tale of a boy and a wild horse. From Alec Ramsay and the Black’s first meeting on an ill-fated ship to their adventures on a desert island and their eventual rescue, this beloved story will hold the rapt attention of readers new and old.
The Chemy Called Al
This book blends fantasy with learning, weaving science and math facts into a fast-paced adventure story. When Julie travels to the Land of Science, she meets Al the Chemy-lion, discovers the relationship between alchemy and science, learns more about the Periodic Table, explores the States of Matter, and ultimately uses her knowledge of chemistry to save her friends from danger. This book is a stand-alone sequel to A Gebra Named Al, reuniting Julie with the “Periodics.”
The Chosen
Written by Chaim Potok for young adults, this book is the coming of age story of two gifted boys. In 1940s Brooklyn, New York, an accident throws Reuven Malther and Danny Saunders together. Despite their differences (Reuven is a Modern Orthodox Jew with an intellectual, Zionist father; Danny is the brilliant son and rightful heir to a Hasidic rebbe), the young men form a deep, if unlikely, friendship. Together they negotiate adolescence, family conflicts, the crisis of faith engendered when Holocaust stories begin to emerge in the U.S., loss, love, and the journey to adulthood. The intellectual and spiritual clashes between fathers, between each son and his own father, and between the two young men, provide a unique backdrop for this exploration of fathers, sons, faith, loyalty, and, ultimately, the power of love.
The Color of Magic: A Discworld Novel
This is the first in a series of books that are wild, rip-roaring, clever, and very very funny. They take place on a disc-shaped planet, with many amusing and delightful characters: wizards, witches, trolls, dwarves, elves, but all with a new twist and difference. Not scary, but sometimes suspenseful. Very appealing to profoundly gifted children in its laughing disrespect of foolish authority.
The Fantastic Voyage
Written by Isaac Asimov, this book is about four men and a woman who are reduced to a microscopic fraction of their original size, sent in a miniaturized atomic sub through a dying man’s carotid artery to destroy a blood clot in his brain. If they fail, the entire world will be doomed.
The Giggler Treatment
Written by Roddy Doyle for ages 9-12, this is a humorous book about tiny furry creatures that like kids and can change color.
The Giver (Giver Quartet)
Written by Lois Lowry, this book is set in a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy. Twelve-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy.
The Hardy Boys Series
Written by Franklin Dixon for ages 9-12, this book series is about two brothers who solve mysteries.
The Hello, Goodbye Window
This 2006 Caldecott Medal winner, written by Norton Juster, is about a young girl who girl tells us about her everyday experiences visiting her grandparents’ house. The rich illustrations and vibrant colors suggests a world filled with affection and humor.
The King’s Equal
Written by Katherine Patterson for ages 9-12, this is a book about a grumpy prince who wants to marry so that he can become king. He wants a princess who has his wisdom, beauty and wealth. A farmer’s daughter comes to the town to seek him out.
The King’s Shadow
Written by Elizabeth Alder for young adults, this book is a fictional story based upon the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, particularly the three years leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Told from the perspective of Evyn, a Welsh Serf, the personal companion to Earl Harold of Wessex, this story is an excellent accounting of British history and culture during the middle ages.
The Lord of the Rings – Book Series
Written by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings is an epic series of books and movies encompassing The Fellowship of the RingThe Two Towers, and The Return of the King, as well as the precurosr book entitled, The Hobbit.
The Midwife’s Apprentice
Written by Karen Cushman for ages 9-12, this book is set in the Middle Ages and in it, a girl is adopted by a midwife as an apprentice. This book tells the story of her rise from a homeless and nameless girl to her new place in society.
The Neverending Story
By Michael Ende, The Neverending Story is about small and insignificant Bastian Balthazar Bux is nobody’s idea of a hero, least of all his own. Then, through the pages of an ancient, mysterious book, he discovers the enchanted world of Fantastica, and only Bastian himself can save the fairy people who live there. For ages 9-12.
The New World of Mr Tompkins
Decades ago physicist Gamow presented scientific ideas to the layperson through a fictional character, C.G.H. Tompkins, a bank clerk interested in modern science. Gamow produced two popular books featuring Tompkins and then combined them in one paperback. Now science writer Stannard presents a revised version of that book. Tompkins is still a willing if rather dim learner in his associations with a physicist identified only as ‘the professor.’ Gamow and Stannard deal with such concepts as relativity, quantum theory and the structure of the atom.
The Parrot’s Theorem: A Novel
French mathematician Guedj’s novel contains an interesting (strange) plot, lots of mathematical history, and good mathematical subject material. An 11 year-old French boy, Max, and his family live with a reclusive Parisian bookseller. When Max rescues a parrot from a flea market he soon discovers that the bird has a tremendous knowledge of math and will discuss math with anyone who wants to listen.
The Phantom Tollbooth
Written by Norton Juster for ages 9-12, this book is about Milo, a young boy who thinks that everything is boring. Then, a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room and he drives through, only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions, (you get there by jumping), and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason. Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull.
The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks
This is a funny story by Nancy McArthur for ages 9-12 about two brothers who share a bedroom and have some very interesting pet plants.
The Princess Diaries Series – Volume 1
By Meg Cabot, The Princess Diaries, Volume 1 is about a girl named Mia who discoveres that she is the heir to a small country called Genovia. The thing is, she dosen’t want to be queen! This book is written in the form of a diary which Mia keeps. The book can be confusing, but it is very interesting. It is also a movie, but the book’s better.
The Replica Series
The Replica series is about a girl named Amy, who is a clone with 11 identical sisters. She and her sisters are the results of an experiment called Project Crescent. The clones are being tracked by an organization who wants to create a “master race” to take over the world. The series is about Amy’s escape from the organization.
The Roman Mysteries
The Roman Mysteries is a collection of eight novels by author C. Lawrence and is for ages 9-12. Four additional books are planned in the series. Welcome to Ostia, the port of Rome, and the world of Flavia Gemina in 79 AD. The daughter of a Roman sea captain, she embarks on thrilling adventures with her friends Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus.
The Search For Delicious
For ages 4-8, this story by Natalie Babbit is about a kingdom which is having a civil war over the definition of the word delicious. No one can agree about what delicious is. The prime minister’s adopted child is sent to poll the kingdom about delicious.
The Secret Garden
Written by Frances Hodgson Burnett for ages 9-12, this book is about Mary Lenox, a young orphan in the late 1800s who moves in with her uncle in a huge house in Yorkshire, England. There, she meets Dickon, a country boy from nearby, and finds a secret garden that hasn’t had a person in it for 10 years.
The Secret of Platform 13
Written by Eva Ibbotson for ages 9-12, this book is about the entrance to a magical kingdom located under Platform 13 in one of London’s busiest train stations. A woman kidnaps the prince, and it’s up to a hag, a wizard, an ogre and a fey to save him, and return him to the king and queen.
The Shipwrecked Sailor: An Egyptian Tale of Hieroglyphs
For ages 4-8, this book will fascinate children who are interested in ancient Egypt and hieroglyphs. This story is based on a tale, which was originially written in hieroglyphs, found on an ancient Egyptian papyrus scroll from the 19th century B.C. This mysterious story tells of a sailor’s shipwreck on the Island of the Soul in the Red Sea, where he meets a magical serpent.
The Solitaire Mystery: A novel about family and destiny
author Jostein Gaarder had an unlikely international success with Sophie’s World, a novelized exploration of western philosophy through the eyes of a young girl. This is an earlier work, translated from the Norwegian, as a fable-like story that dabbles in philosophy as well. It tells of a Norwegian boy traveling across Europe with his calm and reflective father in search of his long lost mother. The boy finds a tiny manuscript that reveals the secret of a magic deck of cards that can tell the future.
The Story of Ferdinand
For ages 4-8, this book is about Ferdinand’s day in the arena that gives readers not only an education in the historical tradition of bullfighting, but also a lesson in nonviolent tranquility. The Story of Ferdinand closes with one of the happiest endings in the history of happy endings–readers of all ages will drift off to a peaceful sleep, dreaming of sweet-smelling flowers and contented cows.
The Three Investigators Series
Originally published in 1964, the “Three Investigators” is a series containing 43 books where Jupe, Pete and Bob whose motto is “we’ll investigate anything” venture into mysteries. Each book is written to have the three investigators conduct their investigations in a logical, methodical fashion. Clues are planted throughout the text to give the reader a chance at solving the mystery.
The Three Questions
Author Jon Muth based this story on a short story of the same title by Leo Tolstoy. Nikolai is a boy who believes that if he can find the answers to his three questions, he will always know how to be a good person. His friends–a heron, a monkey, and a dog–try to help, but to no avail, so he asks Leo, the wise old turtle. “When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?” Leo doesn’t answer directly, but by the end of Nikolai’s visit, the boy has discovered the answers himself.
The Tiger Rising
Written by Kate DiCamillo for ages 9-12, this book is about a 12-year-old boy, Rob, who finds a caged tiger in the woods behind the motel where he lives with his dad. The tiger is so incongruous in this setting, Rob views the apparition as some sort of magic trick. Indeed, the tiger triggers all sorts of magic in Rob’s life–for one thing, it takes his mind off his recently deceased mother and, ultimately, helps Rob deal with his grief.
The Transall Saga
Written by Gary Paulsen for ages 10-15, this book is about a boy who gets warped to a future time. While trying to find a way to survive on this startling planet, he discovers his own surprising powers.
The Trolls
Written by Polly Horvath for ages 9-12, this book is about siblings, Amanda, Melissa, and Pee-Wee, whose parents have non-refundable tickets to Paris, but no one to take care of the kids. There’s only one person who can, and that is Aunt Sally. The kids love her. But why doesn’t their Dad?
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
In this adventure novel for ages 9-12, Charlotte Doyle, a very bright, strong-willed young lady, finds herself alone on a ship with a mutinous crew as they cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1832.
The Trumpet of the Swan
Although he lacks a voice in the traditional “Ko-hoh!” sense, trumpeter swan Louis learns to speak to the world with a trumpet stolen from a music store by his father. With the support of an unusual boy named Sam, who helps Louis learn how to read and write, the swan has some rather unswanlike adventures and ultimately wins the love–and the freedom–of a beautiful swan named Serena, in this book for ages 4-8 by E.B. White.
The View from Saturday
Many of Konigsburg’s books feature highly gifted young people; all include interesting situations. This one is of particular interest because it is about four brillant, shy 12-year-olds and the tea party they have each Saturday morning.
The Wanderings of Odysseus
A companion to Rosemary Sutcliff’s Black Ships before Troy, this volume retells Homer’s Odyssey with thrilling drama. Odysseus, a Greek king, is returning from the Trojan War. He braves many perils, though none of his shipmates survive the voyage. Sutcliff’s narrative style fuses epic grandeur with a simplicity that will bring the universal story home.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham
Written for ages 9-12, Christopher Paul Curtis’s alternately hilarious and deeply moving novel, winner of the Newbery Honor and the Coretta Scott King Honor, blends the fictional account of an African American family with the factual events of the violent summer of 1963. Fourth grader Kenny is an innocent and sincere narrator; his ingenuousness lends authenticity to the story and invites readers of all ages into his world, even as it changes before his eyes.
The Westing Game
For ages 9-12, this Newberry Award book by Ellen Raskin is about the mysterious death of a millionaire that brings together his heirs for the reading of his will. They must solve the mystery of his murder before they can inherit his money.
The Wheel of Time series
This book series is by author Robert Jordan. Set in a world where two kinds of magic exist, one female and the other male, the Wheel of Time series features as its hero Rand, who begins the first volume as a simple shepherd. A visitor soon sends Rand on an epic journey to unite the people of his planet against the Dark One, who threatens vast destruction. Rand’s quest takes him through a dazzling array of meticulously detailed alien cultures and such unforgettable characters as the mysterious and lovely Egwene, the sorceress Moiraine, and Moiraine’s companion, Lan.
The Whole Story Series
This collection of classics is unabridged, lavishly illustrated in color and in black and white, featuring drawings, maps, photographs, diagrams and paintings, many are dated from the era in which the stories were written. There are hundreds of extended captions offering lively explanations of history, geography, culture, customs, animal world, architecture, literature and science. Titles include: Around the World in Eighty DaysThe Call of the WildHeidiThe Jungle BookTom SawyerTreasure Island; and, Little Women.
The Wind in the Willows
For ages 4-8, Kenneth Grahame’s classic book is about the adventures of several riverbank characters.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Written by Elizabeth George Speare for ages 9-12, this book is set in the late 1600s as the main character Kit Tyler is forced to leave her sunny Caribbean home for the bleak Connecticut Colony. What this spirited teenager doesn’t count on, however, is how her aunt and uncle’s stern Puritan community will view her – she is in grave danger of being regarded as a witch. Then, Kit befriends an old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
One of the true classics of American literature, this book by L. Frank Baum for ages 9-12 has stirred the imagination of young and old alike for more than four generations. Originally published in 1900, it was the first truly American fairy tale, as Baum crafted a wonderful out of such familiar items as a cornfield scarecrow, a mechanical woodman, and a humbug wizard who used old-fashioned hokum to express that universal theme, “There’s no place like home.”
Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon
A 1940s Newbery Award winner for ages 9-12, this book by Ruth Stiles Gannett was reprinted for its 50th anniversary (with its two sequels in the same volume). In the first book, Elmer Elevator runs away with an alley cat to rescue a flying baby dragon who is being exploited on a faraway island. Elmer outwits the various animal residents of the island using his own ingenuity and cleverness, and frees the dragon. Read more about their adventures in the two sequels.
Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York
This wonderful story, written by Adam Gopnik, is about the Gopnik family who moves to New York and tries to find their way, and joy, within the city.
Tituba of Salem Village
Written by Ann Petry for ages 9-12, this book set in the late 1600s is about the life of a slave named Tituba who found out she was going to America and would belong to a minister in Salem Village. In the village, several girls have been taken with fits, and there is only one explanation: Someone in the village has been doing the devil’s work. All eyes are on Tituba, the one person who can tell fortunes with cards, and who can spin a thread so fine it must be magic.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Ala., during the Depression, this book follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus. These years are punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child.
Tuck Everlasting
Written by Natalie Babbit for ages 9-12, the Tuck family discovers a spring which grants eternal life, decides to protect it for the sake of humanity, and finally meets challenges to their goals in the form of a 10-year-old’s inquisitive mind and a greedy stranger who suspects their secret.
Usborne Time Traveler
In this book the reader travels back in time to visit a castle in the days of the Crusades, visits a band of Viking raiders in Norway, explores Rome at the height of the Roman Empire, and takes a trip down the Nile during the time when the pharaohs ruled Egypt. The reader follows a fictional character over a few days, and each section is follwed by a brief synopsis of the ‘real’ history of that time.
Watership Down
Written by Richard Adams, this book is a saga of courage, leadership, and survival about a band of rabbits forced to flee the destruction of their fragile community and the trials and triumphs they face as they pursue a glorious dream called “home.” It is a rich story that can be read (and reread) on many different levels. The book is often praised as an allegory, with its analogs between human and rabbit culture.
This children’s book describes the concept of what culture is through a story about a boy who starts his own “civilization” in a garden. He finds his garden provides him with food, clothing, shelter, and even recreation. An ALA Notable Children’s Book and a Parent’s Choice Silver Honor winner.
Wild Magic book series
In this first volume of a series for young adults, Tamora Pierce returns to the world and characters she introduced in her Song of the Lioness fantasy epic. Here, she tells the story of Daine, a 13-year-old orphaned girl with an extraordinary talent for communicating with animals. The teenager is swept up in the first skirmishes of a war, and is forced to master her fears and learn how to marshall her magical abilities.
Wishbone Classics Series
A dog named Wishbone retells classic works of literature for young readers, ages 9-12. There are severa books in the series, including: Don Quixote (No. 1); The Odyssey (No. 2); Romeo and Juliet (No. 3); Joan of Arc (No. 4); Oliver Twist (No. 5); The Adventures of Robin Hood (No. 6); Frankenstein (No 7.); The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (No. 8); A Journey to the Center of the Earth (No. 9); The Red Badge of Courage (No. 10); The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (No. 11); and, Ivanhoe (No. 12).
Zack Files 01: My Great-grandpa’s in the Litter Box
For ages 9-12, this is the first book in the humorous Zack Files series about Zack, a normal 10-year-old boy with a knack for getting into weird situations. In Litter Box, he plans to adopt a kitten but instead acquires a cantankerous talking cat that claims to be the reincarnation of his great-grandfather.

Printed Materials: Online Documents

The Howling Vowels
This fictional book takes a look at one group of friends and their experiences with homeschooling.

Websites & Other Media: For Fun

Official Harry Potter Website
This site is dedicated to the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Features games, videos, book reviews and message boards. Discussion guides are available for parents and teachers.
The Worlds of T.A. Barron
This website is by fantasy author T.A. Barron and contains information about the author and his books, as well as some games based on his books.

Websites & Other Media: Informational

Author Jacqueline Woodson
Author Jacqueline Woodson writes stories for young adults and middle grades. Her latest book “Show Way”, based on her own family history, tells the story of her maternal ancestors who were quilters, artists and freedom fighters.
BookCrossing is a global book club that crosses time and space. It’s a reading group that knows no geographical boundaries. Do you like free books? How about free book clubs? According to BookCrossing’s web site, their goal is to make the whole world a library.
International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL)
The mission of the International Children’s Digital Library Foundation is to excite and inspire the world’s children to become members of the global community – children who understand the value of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas — by making the best in children’s literature available online. On this website, you will find children’s books from various countries, in various languages.
Storyline Online
Reading to children has been repeatedly shown to improve their reading, writing and communication skills, logical thinking, concentration and general academic aptitude, as well as inspire a love of reading. The SAG-AFTRA Foundation records well-known actors reading children’s books and makes graphically dynamic videos so that children around the world can be read to with just the click of a Storyline Online video book image.

Websites & Other Media: Learning Tools

Open Culture
Open Culture compiles free cultural and educational media resources for public use. Some resources include over 950 free online courses, 550 free audio books, 600 free eBooks, free language learning resources, and more.

*Some links on this page go to and are affiliate links. While these books are available from many retailers, all links that go to help support the Davidson Institute’s mission and continuing work to support profoundly gifted students and their families.


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