What book should my son and I read once we're done with Harry Potter?
August 2, 2013 3:38 PM   Subscribe

We're almost done with Harry Potter. What should we read next? My son is 10 years old, and this is for bedtime reading aloud. The books have to be interesting, not too scary (I had to summarize one or two passages in Harry Potter), funny for both of us. Long is good, especially books that are in a series. There can't be any cruelty to animals (not even the slightest bit) and preferably not much cruelty to people. He doesn't like romance -- Ron and Hermione are trying his patience. The more recent the books, the better. He likes books that are for kids, not adult books that happen to be okay for kids to read.

Pratchett: We've read all the Tiffany Aching books and loved them, especially because I'm so damn good at doing the Wee Free Men accent. We sort of liked the Johnny Maxwell books, but there were things in there he didn't get (WWII, UK culture) that made them less funny for him. We tried Discworld, which I love, but he wasn't really into -- I think that, as with the Johnny books, he doesn't have enough of the background knowledge to get them.

Dark Materials: I loved them but they would be too grim for him.

He read the Wizard of Oz books on his own and loved them, but for the most part he likes books that are more modern and that have modern covers. He also liked Emily Rodda's books, which we read a few of together. I don't want to read thin chapter books that he could be reading on his own, though -- this is a chance for him to get into longer books that he might not otherwise.
posted by The corpse in the library to Media & Arts (61 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Wizard of Earthsea series? Alan Garner's novels? Susan Cooper? Rosemary Sutcliffe? Andre Norton?
posted by yoink at 3:44 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Lion Witch and the Wardrobe series?

Wrinkle in Time series?
posted by deezil at 3:49 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Richard Riordan is pretty good and age appropriate.
posted by jamaro at 3:49 PM on August 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

Diana Wynne Jones! Try "Witch Week", "Charmed Life", or "The Lives of Christopher Chant." After the HP books, she blurbed a lot as "Loved Harry? Try Diana!" She's one of my favorite authors.
posted by skycrashesdown at 3:52 PM on August 2, 2013 [18 favorites]

I came to say Percy Jackson as well. Holes? Summerland?
posted by dpx.mfx at 3:52 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fablehaven series, So You Want to Be a Wizard series,
posted by KogeLiz at 3:54 PM on August 2, 2013

I love Susan Cooper and was definitely going to recommend her The Dark is Rising series. But be warned that the fourth book, The Grey King, has cruelty to animals that I found very upsetting as an 11 year old. They're so good, though.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:55 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Was coming in to recommend the "So you want to be a Wizard" series as well - very little romance, they've been updated to this decade recently, strong female characters, strong male characters, no animal cruelty that I can recall and a very strong message of "All things deserve respect."

A few scary bits, but a lot of very cool bits too.
posted by FritoKAL at 3:58 PM on August 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

The Fairyland books - perfect for reading aloud, excellent characters, and getting your son to empathize with female protagonists would be a good thing. (They are not "girly" books, but the main character is a girl.)
posted by restless_nomad at 4:01 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Lion Witch and the Wardrobe series?

"Cruelty to animals" is decidely a feature of those stories. Sure, it is all allegorical, but it is there.
posted by yoink at 4:02 PM on August 2, 2013

Artemis Fowl! They just announced they'll be making the first two books into a movie, with the potential for a long-running series. It's a decent mix of fantasy, comedy, spycraft, globetrotting adventure, and James Bond-ish science fiction.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:02 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

They're old books, but reprinted with covers I hope are 'modern' enough: Eleanor Cameron's Mushroom Planet series.
posted by Rash at 4:04 PM on August 2, 2013

Came here to say Diana Wynne Jones. She's just the most humane person in writing, with real family dynamics and a real understanding of why her baddies fail to be good, and some great magic and many, many other things. But with magic, and in the titles skycrashesdown mentioned, boarding schools. I love The Homeward Bounders, which has the kind of perspective changer on the protagonist about two-thirds of the way through that could really jolt a 10 year old's perspective in a very good way.
posted by ambrosen at 4:09 PM on August 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

Nthing Percy Jackson! Yay for all the Olympians!
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:09 PM on August 2, 2013

Adam Gopnik, who is a staff writer for the New Yorker and the author of a number of wonderful nonfiction books for adults, got a little irritated when he realized that all the books for children seemed to tell them to turn off their intelligence and use intuition when solving problems. So he wrote a (fantasy adventure) book for his son, called The King in the Window about an 11-year-old American boy living in Paris (which describes his son at the time that the book was written) and having adventures in the war between the Windows and the Mirrors.
posted by janey47 at 4:12 PM on August 2, 2013

Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus trilogy is a lot of fun.

The Hobbit.

I wouldn't say the Narnia books contain cruelty to animals. There's occasional fighting, and animals take part in it, but that's not the same thing.
posted by zeri at 4:12 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, also: when I was in fourth grade, our teacher read The Gammage Cup aloud to us and I LOVED it and was ecstatic when I learned there was a sequel, The Whisper of Glocken.

This review of The Gammage Cup on Amazon will give you a good idea of what it's about and why kids like it.
posted by janey47 at 4:18 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't say the Narnia books contain cruelty to animals. There's occasional fighting, and animals take part in it, but that's not the same thing.

The White Witch's treatment of Aslan is pretty cruel. One could skip that book, but it's sort of important in terms of continuity.
posted by jedicus at 4:19 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Shout out for the Kane Chronicles (also by Rick Riordan). Egyptian mythology needs love too!

What about Edward Eager? Try Half Magic. Many of the books are connected, if not exactly sequels.

L.M. Boston's Green Knowe books might work. The first one is The Children of Green Knowe.
posted by mogget at 4:24 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

The White Witch's treatment of Aslan is pretty cruel. One could skip that book, but it's sort of important in terms of continuity.

You're right -- I'd forgotten about that scene (I guess I wasn't thinking of Aslan as one of the animals). Sorry to derail the thread.
posted by zeri at 4:26 PM on August 2, 2013

Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series was read aloud by my 5th grade teacher. The entire class would sit quietly with rapt attention.
posted by quince at 4:28 PM on August 2, 2013 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, we're read Percy Jackson (liked it a lot) and A Wrinkle in Time (because I am raising my kids right dammit). He didn't like the Lion, the Witch, and the etc.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:36 PM on August 2, 2013

Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series was read aloud by my 5th grade teacher. The entire class would sit quietly with rapt attention.

Oh God, I loved those at that age!
posted by yoink at 4:36 PM on August 2, 2013

Strong seconding of Lloyd Alexander's quintet the Chronicles of Prydain -- thank you, quince, I was taking too much time looking up each individual book. They are fantastic in every sense.
posted by vers at 4:37 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh man YES a thousand times to Edward Eager ("Magic by the Lake" and "Knights Castle" were my favorites) and the Green Knowe books. Though to this day little freaks me out more than the thought of a human-shaped topiary coming alive in the night and fumbling blindly toward me during a horrible storm. Excuse me, I have to go dig those out of my parents' basement now.
posted by skycrashesdown at 4:39 PM on August 2, 2013

My little brother moved from Harry Potter to The Ranger's Apprentice, a series about a medieval-ish/fantasy set of kids. They are thin-ish, the first book is about 250 pages?
posted by jacalata at 4:42 PM on August 2, 2013

What about The Sword in the Stone and the other Once & Future King books?

Would Ender's Game be too adult for him? There is some violence you'd have to edit out, but you could stick to the shadow series after that and just read about the kids.

When I was a kid I loved the Aldo series by Johanna Hurwitz...I think the first one is Much Ado About Aldo.

Also, the Ramona Quimby books are pretty great.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 4:44 PM on August 2, 2013

Have you done the Phantom Tollbooth already? Because if not, you should!

I enthusiastically third the books of Edward Eager (I was about to post them myself but mogget beat me to it). There is a box set of four of them, and Seven Day Magic is great as well. I endorse the Green Knowe books and Prydain as well.
posted by gudrun at 4:45 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

My mom read me The Chronicles of Prydain (starts with The Book of Three) when I was around that age and I've remembered them forever. Fun adventure books, pretty light on romance, though I guess they don't quite fit the "modern" qualification.

Edit: Of course I now see two other people have already mentioned The Chronicles of Prydain. Well, consider me +1!
posted by Zephyrial at 4:49 PM on August 2, 2013

Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.
posted by Cog at 4:54 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing Diana Wynne Jones, especially the Chrestomanci books, and the Merlin Conspiracy.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 4:55 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not a series, but a very good book which blows all the fantasy world stereotypes out of the water: Un Lun Dun. No romance. Not too much scary--no cruelty to animals, although there's a magic companion who faces peril.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:57 PM on August 2, 2013

Another Nthing for both Diana Wynne Jones (A Tale of Time City is a personal favorite) and Diane Duane's Young Wizards series.
posted by chaosys at 5:01 PM on August 2, 2013

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart and the sequels are awesome read aloud. We recently read the first three Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy books to the kids (with some parental edits) and they loved them. Powerless by Matthew Cody. The Neddiad by Daniel Pinkwater.
posted by Malla at 5:06 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Any of the Asimov Robot short stories.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series

Good Omens (That's Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman both) - The main character is a kid, so added bonus (and he's the anti-christ too, but still a kid)

The Discworld series is all good in itself, outside of the Tiffany Aching series. The Guards/Watch series gets dark toward the end, but certainly no worse than books five, six and seven of Harry Potter.

I heartily recommend Sewer, Gas and Electric - The Public Works Triology - Cruelty to a walking, flying, man eating shark if that counts. It's a crazy fun book.

I second The Hobbit.
posted by smallerdemon at 5:09 PM on August 2, 2013

I will say this, whatever you do, don't read this one if anyone suggest it or you see it listed for kids: Rumo: And His Miraculous Adventures It's a great book, but if anyone recommends it, be aware that there's a death in it that straight up is the death of what amounts to a dog who is a pacifist teacher and it's excruciating to read and I felt like I had lost a friend. It's a great book otherwise when he gets older, though.
posted by smallerdemon at 5:13 PM on August 2, 2013

Hugo Cabret. Dealing with Dragons.
posted by ansate at 5:17 PM on August 2, 2013

I'm not sure how well these fit but a few authors that haven't been mentioned:

William Sleator
H.M.Hoover (though it looks like her books are only available in old editions, so his cover preference might not be meetable)
Kate DiCamillo
Walter Moers
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:18 PM on August 2, 2013

Charlie Bone is another one of those "if you liked Harry Potter" series.
posted by kayram at 5:22 PM on August 2, 2013

Kenneth Opel's Silverwing trilogy.
posted by angiep at 5:26 PM on August 2, 2013

I just realized that Daniel Pinkwater hasn't been mentioned and he would be perfect. Maybe start with the Snarkout Boys books.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:29 PM on August 2, 2013

He's ten years old? Well then it goes without saying: The Phantom Tollbooth.
posted by Liesl at 5:30 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Andrew peterson's wingfeather saga
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:30 PM on August 2, 2013

Eleanor Estes' Witch Family
posted by brujita at 5:53 PM on August 2, 2013

Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy is really good. It definitely has a lot of cruelty to people, but I'd say it's no worse than Harry Potter. (I don't remember about cruelty to animals.)

The May Bird series by Jodi Lynn Anderson could also be a good choice, if he doesn't mind books with girl main characters.

And I second the suggestions of the Mysterious Benedict Society and Silverwing series.
posted by Redstart at 5:57 PM on August 2, 2013

Response by poster: If this helps recommendations: He didn't like The Phantom Tollbooth (I am a failure as a parent after all). I didn't like The Hobbit.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:10 PM on August 2, 2013

Best answer: My partner and I, and our 12-year-old and 9-year-old, have really enjoyed the Septimus Heap books. They are humorous, and have a great mix of male & female characters who actually do important stuff.
posted by not that girl at 6:54 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

He didn't like The Phantom Tollbooth (I am a failure as a parent after all).
I don't think that book works as a read-aloud. It's very punny, so you miss a lot of the jokes that way.

I recommend the Septimus Heap series written by Angie Sage. Eight books, a Harry Potter-ish feel, funny.

Seconding the Amazing Benedict Society books.

My 10-year-old daughter loves the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books.
posted by jeoc at 6:56 PM on August 2, 2013

The author of the Percy Jackson series has also written a similar series focused on the Egyptian pantheon. My kid feels that the Egyptian series is the funnier and more interesting one.

We saw the author give a talk a few months ago, and he said he's working on a series about the Norse gods, so that's something to look forward to.

Hey not that girl - good book choice!
posted by jeoc at 6:59 PM on August 2, 2013

I came in here to recommend Diane Duane's So You Want to Be a Wizard (and the rest of the Young Wizards series, but it looks like people already beat me to it.

I think I first read it when I was around your son's age. It's great. So, so great. There are two versions: The original published version and the New Millenium editions, which you can only buy as ebooks from the author's website. I downloaded the Millenium editions as they came out, and they're...not as good. There are these sort of gratuitous references to cell phones and iPads and Kindles in there that don't really work in the context of the lives of the characters. There are also some scene additions and subtractions, and the whole thing just sort of screams for an editor. Get the original. You might have to explain why being unable to afford a color TV is a big deal, and you might have to explain the ancient Apple computer in the third book, High Wizardry, but it's not particularly jarring. The fact that the kids learn magic from regular books in the beginning of the series helps, and the series gets more current as it goes on (later non-Millenium-edition books have iPods and stuff; there's no real timeline, so the books are just set at the times they were written, even though it's the same characters). It's also written in a really engaging way, and I think they updated the book covers to look more modern within the last few years. Each book is also pretty long. Also, there are space pens.

Bonus: The animals are freaking awesome. Ponch (a dog), Machu Picchu (a bird), and Ed (the best shark ever and a total freaking badass) are some of my favorite characters in those books. But you might want to skip Deep Wizardry, which features Ed, because there is some shark-related blood and some injuring of whales. The rest of the books are animal-friendly.

I'm also going to second Artemis Fowl. The first one was released when I was nine, and I thought they were just the best. I also really liked The Supernaturalist.
posted by topoisomerase at 7:47 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

More books:
* Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series
* Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle (there's the tiniest bit of romance at the end; most of it is Sophie being awesome)
posted by topoisomerase at 8:01 PM on August 2, 2013

Roald Dahl. Be careful with some of his books (I feel his characters can be a little nasty and odd) but they are amazingly easy to read, and funny, and interesting. 'James and The Giant Peach' and 'The BFG', would be great. I personally really liked The Witches growing up, but it's pretty scary. And there's always the Willy Wonka books.

Also Paul Jennings -- if you like Pratchett (so do I!) you may like some of his stuff. It's been a long time since I've read them, though, but if I recall his short stories are especially fun.

When he gets a bit older, I really really recommend Garth Nix, especially The Old Kingdom series. 'Sabriel' is a good starter book, because it was originally standalone. But it can be a bit dark (no more than HP gets in the end) and there's a tiny bit of romance. Also I've heard a lot good things about his Keys to the Kingdom series, which appears to be his answer to HP, but I have never read it myself, so I can't say whether it's good or not.
posted by Dimes at 8:01 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

perhaps the lemony snicket series?
posted by kerning at 8:47 PM on August 2, 2013

John Bellairs, The House with a Clock in its Walls and sequels.
posted by zadcat at 9:24 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yes yes yes to Diana Wynne Jones and Diane Duane (though the first one scared me a lot when I was that age; mind you I scared easily). Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom is pretty spot-on age-wise too. Also Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:54 PM on August 2, 2013

I'd suggest Eva Ibbotson - especially The Secret of Platform 13, which has some similarities to the first Harry Potter book. I also remember enjoying The Haunting of Hiram C. Hopgood, Witch Week and The Great Ghost Rescue at age ten. Ibbotson tends to write magical stories with a lightly humourous tone. They are on the shortish side though (they're definitely not chapter books, but at around 150 pages of regular print they're considerably shorter than the Harry Potter novels).
posted by Ballad of Peckham Rye at 4:28 AM on August 3, 2013

Oh, and while I nth the Diana Wynne Jones recommendations, the ending of The Homeward Bounders is bleak and would be too much for a reader who finds Dark Materials grim.
posted by Ballad of Peckham Rye at 4:31 AM on August 3, 2013

I remember at that age loving four books by Joan Aiken: "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase", "Black Hearts in Battersea", "Nightbirds on Nantucket" and "Midnight is a Place." There may have been other kids' novels by Joan Aiken that escape me now but those four were thrilling and i read them over and over.
posted by Ginesthoi at 5:36 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just finished reading Good Omens. If you do read it, be prepared to explain a lot of why things are funny (the name of Anathema Device, for example) which may take some enjoyment out of the book.

I'm a 31 year old lady and I am certain that 50% of the very good jokes in the book went right over my head.

It was a fantastic read though! (And the dog is awesome!)
posted by bilabial at 8:58 AM on August 3, 2013

Thirding The Mysterious Benedict Society. My 10 year-old boy finished it recently and loved it. I loved them too!

Also, The Candy Shop War. He just finished it last week and loved, loved, loved it! He can't wait to get the next in the series.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:21 AM on August 3, 2013

Artemis Fowl, Artemis Fowl, Artemis Fowl! The books have a feel that is a lot like Harry Potter (even though the plot is very different). There is a lot of action and adventure but the books aren't very dark (any violence is about the same as in Harry Potter) and there is only a tiny bit of romance. There are several strong female characters (including one of the main characters) and a lot of humor.

Also n-thing Percy Jackson.
posted by kassila at 9:47 PM on August 3, 2013

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