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Reading Beyond

Reading Beyond

Chosen for children who are reading at an advanced level

Here are 75 books chosen by the ALA-CBC (American Library Association & Children’s Book Council) Joint Committee to provide guidance to parents, caregivers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and anyone interested in discovering books for children who read at an advanced level and are seeking more challenging, but still age-appropriate, books.

Downloadable handout
Reading Beyond downloadable handout with full annotations

“The READING BEYOND lists celebrate the power of books to lift and expand children’s minds, providing reading experiences beyond levels and limits.” —Susan Polos and Janet Wong, co-chairs of the ALA-CBC Joint Committee

The READING BEYOND book lists are comprised of 25 titles in each of three age categories. These books were chosen from over 600 submitted for evaluation by the ALA member librarians of the committee and were chosen for their content, quality, and variety of genre and format. All the book annotations in the handouts available below are original descriptions written by librarians.

The full list of the 75 books are available four ways: as a downloadable handout with full annotations, a simple list as a flyer, individual bi-fold handouts (one per category), and a title and author listing by category (below).


The 2017-2018 READING BEYOND book lists

Title, author and publisher info only; full annotations are in the printable handout above.

Kindergarten-1st graders reading at a 3rd grade level


Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
by Laurie Wallmark; Illustrated by April Chu (Creston Books, 2015)

Ada Twist, Scientist
by Andrea Beaty; Illustrated by David Roberts (Abrams, 2016)

*Anna Hibiscus
by Atinuke; Illustrated by Lauren Tobia (Kane Miller, 2007)

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos
by Deborah Heiligman; Illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan, 2013)

Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings
by Douglas Florian (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007)

*Detective Gordon: The First Case
by Ulf Nilsson; Illustrated by Gitte Spee (Gecko, 2015)

Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths
by Marilyn Singer; Illustrated by Josée Masse (Dial Books for Young Readers / Penguin, 2016)

*Eyewitness Explorer: Bug Hunter
by DK (DK, 2015)

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled
by Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins, 2016)

How We are Smart
by W. Nikola-Lisa; Illustrated by Sean Qualls (Lee and Low Books, 2009)

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
by Debbie Levy; Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

*Juana & Lucas
by Juana Medina (Candlewick Press, 2016)

Mathematickles!
by Betsy Franco; Illustrated by Steven Salerno (Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster, 2003)

*Mighty Jack
by Ben Hatke (First Second / Macmillan, 2016)

*A New Class (Star Wars Jedi Academy #4)
by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Scholastic, 2016)

Pugs of the Frozen North
by Philip Reeve; Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016)

Tiger Boy
by Mitali Perkins; Illustrated by Jamie Hogan (Charlesbridge, 2015)

Toys Go Out
by Emily Jenkins; Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky (Yearling Books / Random House, 2008)

The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk
by Jan Thornhill (Groundwood Books, 2016)

Tricky Vic
by Greg Pizzoli (Viking Books for Young Readers/ Penguin, 2015)

Trombone Shorty
by Troy Andrews; Illustrated by Bryan Collier (Abrams, 2015)

Twenty-Two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank
by Paula Yoo; Illustrated by Jamel Akib (Lee and Low Books, 2014)

Weekends with Max and His Dad
by Linda Urban (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems
by Bob Raczka (Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan, 2016)

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop
by Laban Carrick Hill; Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III (Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan, 2013)

* Asterisks denote one book of a series.

2nd-3rd graders reading at a 5th grade level


Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart
by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade / Random House, 2011)

A Black Hole Is Not a Hole
by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano; Illustrated by Michael Carroll (Charlesbridge, 2012)

Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet
by Alexandra Siy (Charlesbridge, 2009)

Dash
by Kirby Larson (Scholastic, 2014)

The Dreamer
by Pam Muñoz Ryan; Illustrated by Peter Sís (Scholastic, 2010)

*Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
by Chris Grabenstein (Yearling Books / Random House, 2014)

Flashback Four #1: The Lincoln Project
by Dan Gutman (HarperCollins, 2016)

Genius!: The Most Astonishing Inventions of All Time
by Deborah Kespert (Thames and Hudson, 2015)

The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend
by Sharon Robinson (Scholastic, 2016)

Mountain Dog
by Margarita Engle; Illustrated by Aleksey and Olga Ivanov (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers / Macmillan, 2013)

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom!
by J. Patrick Lewis, Photographs by National Geographic (National Geographic Society, 2015)

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
by Karen Foxlee (Random House Children’s Books, 2014)

*The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
by Jeanne Birdsall (Knopf Books for Young Readers / Random House, 2005)

Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse
by Leslie Bulion; Illustrated by Mike Lowery (Peachtree, 2015)

Raymie Nightingale
by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, 2016)

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
by Jen Bryant; Illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans, 2014)

Save Me a Seat
by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan (Scholastic, 2016)

*Secret Coders
by Gene Luen Yang; Illustrated by Mike Holmes (First Second / Macmillan, 2015)

Sisters Grimm
by Michael Buckley; Illustrated by Peter Ferguson (Abrams, 2007)

*A Snicker of Magic
by Natalie Lloyd (Scholastic, 2014)

Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White
by Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

The Way Things Work Now
by David Macaulay (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

What Elephants Know
by Eric Dinerstein (Disney-Hyperion, 2016)

The Wild Robot
by Peter Brown (Little, Brown and Co. Books for Young Readers, 2016)

Wonderstruck
by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2011)

* Asterisks denote one book of a series.

4th-5th graders reading at a 7th grade level


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (Dial Books for Young Readers / Random House, 2016)

Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot”
by Michael O. Tunnell (Charlesbridge, 2010)

Earthrise: My Adventures as an Apollo 14 Astronaut
by Edgar Mitchell and Ellen Mahoney (Chicago Review Press, 2014)

*Everland
by Wendy Spinale (Scholastic, 2016)

Falling Over Sideways
by Jordan Sonnenblick (Scholastic, 2016)

Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time
by Tanya Lee Stone (Wendy Lamb Books / Random House, 2016)

Gracefully Grayson
by Ami Polonsky (Disney-Hyperion, 2014)

Hour of the Bees
by Lindsay Eagar (Candlewick Press, 2016)

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog
by Adam Gidwitz; Illustrated by Hatem Aly (Dutton Children’s Books / Random House, 2016)

Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music that Changed the World
by Robbie Robertson, et al. (Tundra Books, 2013)

The Lightning Queen
by Laura Resau (Scholastic, 2015)

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers
by Steve Sheinkin (Scholastic, 2013)

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95
by Phillip Hoose (FSG Books for Young Readers / Macmillan, 2012)

One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance
by Nikki Grimes (Bloomsbury USA, 2017)

Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls
by Tonya Bolden (Abrams, 2017)

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution
by Ji-li Jiang (HarperCollins, 1997)

*The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice #1)
by John Flanagan (Scholastic Inc., 2007)

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story
by Caren Stelson (Lerner / Carolrhoda, 2016)

Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune
by Pamela S. Turner; Illustrated by Gareth Hinds (Charlesbridge, 2016)

Splendors and Glooms
by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick Press, 2012)

A Time to Dance
by Padma Venkatraman (Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2014)

The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic
by Allan Wolf (Candlewick Press, 2013)

This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World
by Naomi Shihab Nye (Simon & Schuster, 1992)

Unidentified Suburban Object
by Mike Jung (Scholastic, 2016)

We Will Not Be Silent
by Russell Freedman (Clarion / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

* Asterisks denote one book of a series.


Also available:


• the “Building a Home Library” list: recommendations for assembling a library for children at home
• the “Books to Grow On” list: classic books for children up to age 3.
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