This summer, my eight-year-old nephew Riley decided that he wanted to start reading the Harry Potter books. I thought he would probably do well with the first two or three, but that the fourth book and beyond might be a little difficult for him. He got off to a bit of a slow start and found the first book confusing, but then he got hooked and just kept going, reading the entire series in about three months. When he finished, he called me and said, “I’m kind of sorry I read them so fast, since there aren’t going to be any more, but I just couldn’t stop.”
Being a voracious reader runs in the family, and for Riley, it was like someone turned on a switch and suddenly he wanted to read as much as possible. He still spends time with his friends, plays video games, and builds Lego creations, but any spare minute he can read, that’s what he does. I told him the best advice I could give him was to always have the next book ready to read, and that I would try to help him find new books.
This has led me to a whole new world of books. I read a lot, but not really anything that appeals to an eight-year-old boy. So based on recommendations and what I had read online, I decided that the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan might be a good place to start. I found out what I could about the series and found out that it was based on Greek mythology. I knew Riley hadn’t studied Greek mythology at all so I figured that I would tell him a little about what I remembered when I gave him the first book in the series.
I gave him The Lightning Thief and told him the basics that I remembered about Greek mythology, and then I said something like, “So Zeus was pretty much the ruler of all the other gods. As I recall, his father swallowed him when he was born, and then he came back out, but I don’t remember how.”
That’s when I realized that Riley was giving me a look that said something like, “Aunt Sara has finally lost it,” and I realized I should probably do some more research. So I told him it probably didn’t matter to the story, and that I would read the book too and we could talk about anything he didn’t understand.
It turned out that he didn’t really need anything to be explained to him in order to read the book. It is a book full of adventure, and the Greek mythology is used in a clever way that adds to the story without really needing to be understood. He’s on the third book in the series now (and is very happy to be ahead of me, as I just finished the second).
I still feel like I have only scratched the surface of what books are out there for kids Riley’s age, so I thought I would ask if anyone out there had any recommendations. Are there any great series or individual books Riley and I should know about?