The Princess in Black, Shannon Hale.
Here are my picks for the best elementary level books of the last five years.
Early Elementary (K-2) – Beginning readers.
These kids are heavily reliant on pictures to tell the story, and although they can read anywhere from key words to full sentences they need pictures to follow the story. Answering questions about what just happened and what might happen next really helps these readers’ comprehension. They are probably excited to read on their own but it’s still a challenge.
The Princess in Black. (featured image) Shannon Hale. 2014.
Princesses aren’t supposed to wear black, but they also aren’t supposed to fight dragons during tea time.
Mercy Watson series. Kate DiCamillo. 2006 (Book 6 released 2010).
Mercy Watson is a talented problem solver, a loyal family member…and a hungry pig.
Fly Guy series. Ted Arnold. 2006 (Book 15 released 2014).
Can a fly really be a pet? Buzz is determined to prove it can by winning the Amazing Pet Show.
Elephant and Piggie series. Mo Willems. 2007 (Book 23 to be released 2015).
Piggie is crazily optimistic and Elephant is overly cautious, but together they’re the perfect team.
Late Elementary (3-5) – Partner readers.
Although their ability to read is growing, they still need you to ask them questions about their books in order to comprehend subplots or larger themes. They will begin to distinguish character’s choices as part of a character and not just part of the story, which is important to future reading abilities. Some illustrations will help reluctant readers stay invested in the story. Books for this age group should stay fairly short to mid length so they can feel like they’re making progress in it.
Cody and the Fountain of Happiness. Tricia Springstub, Eliza Wheeler. 2015.
Cody’s summer is full of ups (the fountain of happiness) and downs (the dreaded whim-whams.)
Flora and Ulysses. Kate DiCamillo. 2013.
When Flora performs CPR on Ulysses the squirrel, he comes back to life with superpowers.
I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus! Jack Prelutsky. 2012.
A collection of poetry in the footsteps of Shel Silverstein, with new jokes for a new generation.
Spirit Animals Series. Various Authors. 2013.
Four kids summon Great Beasts instead of regular spirit animals and must work together with the mystic Greencloaks to defeat a great evil.
Wonderstruck. Brian Selznick. 2011.
The stories of two deaf kids weave together through time and across cities into modern day NY.
Fortunately, the Milk… Neil Gaiman. 2013.
Dad has a perfectly good reason why it took him so long to get milk from the corner store.
Janitors series. Tyler Whitesides. 2011.
When Spencer can suddenly see monsters at every turn, he learns what janitors really do.
The Candy Shop War. Brandon Mull. Book 2 released 2012.
Could candy that gives the eater magical abilities possibly have a downside?
My Sister the Vampire. Sienna Mercer. Book 16 released 2014.
Olivia is surprised to find Ivy, an identical twin, in her new hometown. Well, not exactly identical.
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians series. Brandon Sanderson. Book 5 expected 2016.
Breaker-of-stuff Alcatraz Smedry must face a cabal of librarians bent on hiding the truth.
Wonder. R.J. Palacio. 2013.
August wants a normal 5th grade year, but that’s unlikely considering his 27 past surgeries.
Beast Quest. Adam Blade. Book 82 released 2014.
Tom is sent on a quest to save his town, but it turns out his isn’t the only city that needs saving.