The Best Books for Gifted Young Readers

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If your son or daughter seems to be reading ahead of their grade level, congratulations. Being a gifted reader is not just good fortune but a great responsibility—having this skill requires further honing and building. Pushing their reading skills above their current grade level is the best way to do so. Here are some of the best books for gifted young readers to tackle at an early age; by challenging themselves further, their reading skills will continue to grow.

A Wrinkle in Time

This Newbery-winning classic novel melds fantasy and science fiction into an unforgettable tale of time travel and universe-hopping. The novel’s themes include embracing individuality, the power of love, and, appropriately for young readers, the pursuit of knowledge. Most 4th graders should be able to tackle the themes of this novel, but accelerated readers at younger ages should have no trouble moving ahead to read this.

Children’s Editions of the Bible

Even without its theological implications, the Bible as literature is a foundational text in Western civilization. To better understand the society we live in, young readers should begin to familiarize themselves with the teachings and concepts of the Judeo-Christian world. Children’s editions come in many reading levels, so consider which edition is right for your child before picking one that’s too simple or too advanced.

Lord of the Flies

Sometimes taught at the high school level, William Golding’s 1954 tale of marooned children’s attempt to develop a society of their own can give advanced 5th and 6th graders a lot to think about. The book explores the loss of innocence, what it means to be civilized, and asks the big question: are people inherently good or inherently evil?

Watership Down

Rabbits stand in for human beings in what is—in many ways—a modern retelling of the Homeric epics. Middle schoolers will usually explore Watership Down in their language arts classes, but independent readers as young as 3rd grade can appreciate its themes: the importance of nature, fighting authoritarianism, and a sense of home.

The Last Safe Place on Earth

Censorship has never ceased to be a hot-button topic in the American discourse. This enduring theme makes The Last Safe Place on Earth one of the best books for gifted young readers. In this 1995 young-adult novel, a family moves to a new town only to find that the “safety” of American suburbia is rarely what it seems to be on the surface—an important lesson for young urban, suburban, exurban, and rural readers alike.

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