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If you are reading this post, chances are you have a gifted learner. Or maybe you work with one or you know some.
Gifted learners are particular about their book choices.
Not just any will do.
Gifted learners also love to read about characters like themselves.
They can spot them a mile away.
And it’s like they’ve found a best friend.
Help your gifted learner to find a kindred spirit.
Criteria for Choosing Books for Gifted Learners
When it comes to gifted readers, it’s not easy to find the right book. Here are a few commonalities for good book choices in our experience:
- Strong Characters Who Make Good Choices– there is nothing worse than a character who makes dumb choices. Sure, you can stumble into trouble once, but if you go looking for it forget it. Gifted learners cannot look past that.
- Books with Resolution– gifted learners have a strong sense of justice. Choose books which have a resolution or is at least headed in that direction. At the very least, the author needs to acknowledge the injustice and not just avoid it.
- Appropriate Emotional Content– most of the time, gifted learners can read far more than they are emotionally ready to handle. When you add in the asynchronous nature of gifted kids, the disparity can be even greater.
- Gifted Main Characters– Choose books with characters who are also stand out learners who exhibit similar characteristics as your student. Seeing people like themselves interacting with others can be a tool in your parenting toolbox.
The books we’ve chosen for our list are about more than child protagonists. These books feature kids and teens who are gifted. They exhibit behaviors and thought processes of kids who are gifted.
Books are powerful tools for working with gifted learners. Often books can keep up with their need for constant intellectual stimulation.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but the books listed are lovely.
Enjoy reading and hearing narrations from this collection.
Fiction for Young Gifted Learners
- The Magic Tree House Series– No one can doubt that Jack and Annie are special kids. They are ready to head out for adventure in every book to tackle a topic. Jack always has his book which is an important part of the treehouse mystery. There are 28 books in the original series and more in the second set of books. Of course, there are non-fiction counterparts to their adventures which share the facts about whatever it is they were after.
- The Boxcar Children– The story of four children who have lost their parents and make a home in a boxcar. This is the first in a long series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
- Nancy Drew Mysteries– Who can argue that Nancy and her friends are extraordinary youths who are very observant.
- The Hardy Boys– Another detective pair who are constantly searching for truth. Stick to books with a copyright before the 1990s. After that, the reading level is still low but the content gets edgier.
- Childhood of Famous Americans– These are a series of historical fiction written about famous men and women in American’s history. The link is to one of our favorites, Daniel Boone.
- Encyclopedia Brown– As the name suggests, this kid knows a lot and he’s a good mystery solver. Your kids have a chance to solve the mystery before the answer is revealed.
- Snowflake Bentley– a book about the life of Wilson Bentley who studied snowflakes with photography
- Matilda– the tagline says it all, “to change the world, it takes a little genius”. She loves her books and watch what happens.
- Charlotte’s Web– Fern is definitely a special girl with a strong sense of justice. Does she sound like anyone you know?
- Redwall– a series of books focused on the heroic efforts of woodland animals as they fight the vermin of the forest. Some feature young heroes and they are all epic tales.
- The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle– a girl who ends up sailing on a ship without her family, becomes a sailor.
- The Great Gilly Hopkins– the story of a determined girl in foster care who learns some hard lessons
- Harriet the Spy– The highly observant Harriet, always carries her notebook and writes things down.
- Carry On, Mr. Bowditch– the story of Nathaniel Bowditch, who wrote the first American navigation book. He was a sickly boy who studied everything and anything to become an expert and teach the common sailor navigational skills.
Fiction for Middle School Gifted Learners
- Bridge to Terabithia– a young boy who likes to run and win races makes fast friends with a new girl in town who can run as fast as he can.
- The Penderwicks– A summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits, and a very interesting boy. You’ll find some giftedness in these sisters for sure.
- The Chronicles of Narnia– The four Pevencie children are unique and chosen for a special task.
- The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place– this delightful set of books is all about a set of children raised by wolves and their governess, Miss Lumley.
- The Trumpet of the Swan– Louis is a 2E swan, but
- The Mysterious Benedict Society– this is a story about gifted kids and an invitation to pass brain teasers in order to complete a task.
- The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate– a growing girl at the turn of the last century learns to be a naturalist and enjoys a close relationship with her grandfather
- A Series of Unfortunate Events– the story of three kids who lose their parents. The kids are gifted, including the baby who has some unusual talents.
- Harry Potter– While younger kids may start reading this series, as the kids age, the action is a little more edgy as well.
- The Mixed of Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler– Kids stay the night in a museum and end up with a task they must complete
- The Green Ember– an epic tale of good vs evil where rabbits are the protagonsits
- Inkheart– the story where the characters watch books come alive
- Nim’s Island– Nim and her dad live on an island and she is left alone when her dad gets caught in a storm at sea doing research.
- A Wrinkle in Time– a girl travels to another planet to save her brother’s mind with the power of love.
- A Wind in the Door– next in the series, the sister again saves her brother by traveling into her sick brother’s mitochondria
- A Swiftly Tilting Planet– this time the brother and his now grown sister travel through history to save “might have beens” in time to avoid a disaster in their own time.
- My Side of the Mountain– Sam Gribley leaves NYC to find the family farm in the Catskill mountains. He learns to live on his own for a year. There are two sequels to his story.
- Swallows & Amazons– the classic tale of kids on summer holiday in England’s lake district and their adventures in sailing
Fiction for High School Gifted Learners
The Book Thief– Set during World War II, this book tells the story of a girl who steals books. It’s an interesting perspective as the narrator is death himself.
- Rocket Boys– inspired the film, October Sky about a WV teen who designs rockets
- The Wizard of Earthsea– The life of a careless boy named Sparrowhawk who becomes a wizard’s apprentice.
- Little Women– We often think of the story of the four March sisters as a story for young girls, but the truth is that it’s a delightful coming of age story of four sisters. I highly recommend it as requisite reading for you and your teenaged daughters!
- Anne of Green Gables– in this series we meet Anne Shirley, who is a delightful character and throughout the books we see her come of age and move into adulthood. She wrestles with her own personality and her emotional overexcitabilities are unmistakable.
- Ender’s Game– The story of a race of child geniuses bred by the government to be used as soldiers in a war against aliens. It follows one boy in particular and his struggle to fit in and succeed in a traditional family.
- Fahrenheit 451– in this dystopian future, fireman start fires and no one is allowed to read because books are banned. Fireman burn them. During the story, the main character meets a teenage girl who is clearly different and questions those in authority.
- Clan of the Cave Bear– features several characters who stand out in their prehistoric clan. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that an adopted girl is more advanced than those around her.
Resources for Choosing Books for Gifted Learners
Some of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers– If you were to pick just one book to help you with your gifted reader, make it this one. Not only will you find book suggestions and annotations, but you will learn more about your gifted student.
Honey for a Child’s Heart– a classic in the world of books about books, this one sheds light on the best books for kids.
Read Aloud Handbook– one of my all time favorite books on books and an especially compelling book about the benefits of reading aloud.
Read for the Heart: Whole Books for Wholehearted Families– another book about the reasons to engage your kids with books and for gifted kids it’s an important way to mentor them.
Caught up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children– you will be inspired to keep your kids reading stories for a long time
Give Your Child the World– Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time. If you are looking to expand your kids’ experience with world cultures, this is a must have in your books about books library.
More Posts on Reading with Gifted Learners
How to Keep up with Your Accelerated Reader– If you have a gifted reader, then you know it can be a challenge when they are young to keep them in books and especially appropriate books. This post includes tips on how to navigate the waters when your child’s ability to read outpaces his emotional maturity.
100 Books You Should Read by the Time You Turn 20– a book list for teens by teens. Which ones have you read?
The Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home– how do you build into your family culture a priority on reading? We’ve been raising four voracious readers, all of whom are different.
How to Engage Your Teens with Books– a post all about reading with teens and if you subscribe you can get the free ebook on the same topic.