The Ultimate Guide: 15 Educational Fiction Series Every Parent Should Know
As a mom, I’m always on the lookout for the best ways to help my kids grow and equip them with the tools they need to succeed in life. It should come as no surprise that as much of the time as I can, I turn to books to help me do this.
But I’m not looking for just any books. Especially not boring ones that are just going to gather dust. No, they have to be exciting and books that my kids want to read. That just also happen to impart all that other good stuff—like teaching them about science, computers, the environment and more—while they’re engrossed in the story.
What are educational fiction books, anyway?
For instance, what if you could give your kid a book that teaches them about the scientific method while they’re reading an exciting story filled with magic and mystery? What if there’s one that can connect them with their heritage or teach them about a new one? What if you can help them learn about mental-health and key anxiety-management strategies for kids?
These kinds of books are known as “educational” or “informational” fiction, because they are written as fiction with true, nonfiction elements woven in. That’s why I call them double-duty books—they help my kids not only grow as readers but also in their knowledge, awareness and understanding of other disciplines, as well.
To me, those are the best books for kids!
Which is why I wanted to compile my guide to the best chapter books for kids, ages 8-12. All of the books on this list fall into that category of “educational fiction.” These are the golden years of curiosity and discovery, and these books tap into that spirit as they not only entertain but also educate and engage readers through their captivating storytelling.
And even better? These books (known as chapter books) are short and almost always come in series, so you can keep your kids hooked on them for a long time!
I’ve reviewed hundreds of chapter book series and whittled them down to the list below of my top books for kids. I’ve sorted them by the cross-disciplinary topics they incorporate into the story, such as those that teach kids about science, nature, animals, engineering, computer science, social-emotional and mental health topics, cultural diversity and history.
So, without further ado, here are my picks for the best chapter book series for kids that teach them while they read:
The Best Chapter Books that Teach Kids About Science
Through imaginative adventures with magical creatures, Zoey explores science and the scientific method alongside her cat, Sassafras. Zoey approaches each challenge with curiosity, observation, and experimentation. She asks questions, makes hypotheses, tests her ideas, and draws conclusions based on evidence—all fundamental steps in the scientific process. Each book revolves around solving a mystery or helping an injured magical animal using scientific principles. Through Zoey’s engaging investigations, young readers learn about biology, ecology, and problem-solving in a fun and accessible way.
“The Secret Explorers” series features a group of kids who go on thrilling adventures to uncover the mysteries of the natural world and beyond, introducing readers to a wide range of scientific concepts, including biology, geology, astronomy, and more. Led by Professor Botany, Luna, Roshan, and Tok are equipped with special gadgets and knowledge that allow them to delve into various scientific phenomena and explore different environments, from the depths of the ocean to outer space.
These books follow the adventures of Frankie, a curious and scientifically-minded young girl with a passion for all things STEM. Frankie’s inquisitive nature and determination to understand the world around her serve as an inspiring example for budding young scientists. The books also feature back matter with additional information and experiments related to the scientific topic explored in each story. Each book in the series centers around a different scientific concept or experiment that Frankie embarks on with her best friend, Maya, introducing young readers to various scientific principles while encouraging hands-on exploration.
The Best Chapter Books that Teach Kids About Engineering
These books introduce readers to a group of inquisitive and creative friends, including Rosie Revere, Engineer; Iggy Peck, Architect; and Ada Twist, Scientist. Each character possesses a unique passion and skill set related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Through their adventures, the Questioneers tackle various challenges that require scientific and engineering solutions. They employ critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity to design, build, and test their inventions. The books emphasize the importance of persistence, teamwork, and curiosity in the process of engineering and innovation.
This series introduces younger readers to the exciting world of engineering through the adventures of woodland creatures who find themselves in some interesting engineering challenges that they must work together to solve. Through their inventive pursuits, these friends demonstrate problem-solving skills, creativity, and the application of engineering concepts while highlighting the process of brainstorming, designing, testing, and refining their inventions. Topics align with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, making them especially fitting for classroom shelves!
The Best Chapter Books that Teach Kids About Computer Science
This adventure series blurs the lines between virtual reality and the real world with Jesse Rigsby, who finds himself trapped inside various video games, each with its own unique challenges and obstacles. Throughout the series, readers join Jesse in navigating these digital worlds, encountering puzzles, enemies, and quests that require creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Along the way, the books incorporate elements of coding and computer science concepts, seamlessly woven into the narrative. Readers are introduced to foundational ideas about algorithms, logic, and programming, making it an engaging way to learn about the basics of coding.
The Best Chapter Books that Teach Kids About the Environment
The Nature Club series invites young readers to embark on exciting adventures in the great outdoors alongside a group of curious and nature-loving friends. Through their explorations, readers learn about various aspects of the natural world, from plants and animals to ecosystems and environmental conservation. With relatable characters and vivid descriptions, “The Nature Club” encourages a deep appreciation for the wonders of the natural world, inspiring kids to become enthusiastic stewards of the environment. This series is a perfect choice for young nature enthusiasts eager to learn and explore the beauty that surrounds them.
The Best Chapter Books that Teach Kids About Animals
This is a heartwarming series that offers an engaging day-in-the-life look into the lives of working dogs and the invaluable roles they play in various professions. Each book in the series focuses on a different working dog from the dog’s perspective, showcasing their unique abilities as well as the impact they have on the lives of those they serve. For instance, specific jobs highlighted in the series include search and rescue, therapy and guide dogs for the visually impaired, and more.
This captivating series centers around Calpurnia Tate, a young girl with a passion for nature and animals. Set on a farm in the 1900s, it is a gentle story about a girl who loves science before her time (before it was ladylike!) and uses that knowledge to gain independence. As Calpurnia interacts with various creatures, including a skunk, sheep, owl, and porcupine, readers are exposed to realistic STEM details, learning about biology, ecology, and the natural world. The series encourages an appreciation for science and showcases the inquisitive spirit of a budding naturalist.
The Best Chapter Books that Teach Kids About Social, Emotional & Mental Health
Pippa Potter, President’s Daughter series by Elizabeth James
Available January 9, 2024
This series (yes, written and illustrated by yours truly!) uses the power of an exciting narrative to introduce kids to proven therapy techniques and provide invaluable mental health support addressing a variety of SEL topics. Interwoven with fascinating, kid-friendly research about the White House and presidency, readers will follow Pippa’s journey as she navigates life in the White House while grappling with her own emotions. Through the process, they will discover, alongside her, the best kid-friendly therapy and mental-health tools available for the issues she’s facing, whether that’s anxiety, anger, perfectionism, childhood fears and more. Download an ebook of the first chapter for FREE here.
These books feature a group of resourceful and empathetic friends known as the Fix-It Friends. This lovable crew is always ready to lend a helping hand and offer support to their peers facing various challenges. Each book focuses on different emotions and situations, from fear and grief to handling friendships in healthy ways. In this way, it provide kids with tools to navigate friendships, manage feelings, and develop empathy through its engaging narratives and valuable life lessons.
The Best Chapter Books that Teach Kids About Diversity
Jasmine Toguchi is a lovable and spirited Japanese-American girl with a determination to take on new challenges. Readers follow her journey as she learns about Japanese culture, traditions, and the importance of family bonds as she discovers that the answer to her problems can be found in her heritage, whether it’s what to do in the school talent show or how to prove herself at home to her big sister.
This series follows the adventures of Mindy Kim, a young Korean-American girl navigating the ups and downs of growing up. Through Mindy’s experiences, readers learn about Korean culture, traditions, and the challenges of being a first-generation immigrant.
Too Small Tola is a heartwarming series that follows the everyday adventures of Tola, a small but spirited girl living in Nigeria. Through Tola’s experiences, young readers are introduced to Nigerian culture, traditions, and the vibrant life of a bustling Nigerian city. The series beautifully captures the essence of growing up in Nigeria and celebrates the small but meaningful moments in Tola’s life.
The Best Chapter Books that Teach Kids About Classic Literature
Lola Jones is a spunky girl who lives in downtown Chicago with her mom, and her grouchy-but-lovable grandpa lives in the apartment downstairs. It weaves in lessons from classic books like Anne of Green Gables and Charlotte‘s Web that provide inspiration for Lola as she deals with modern problems. It is fabulously written and truly laughable, especially regarding her antics with her grandpa. . Through her escapades, readers are introduced to timeless literary works, fostering an appreciation for the classics.
The Best Chapter Books that Teach Kids About History
This is a series of historical-fiction books that transport readers back in time to some of the most significant and challenging events in history, such as the sinking of the Titanic, the attacks on Pearl Harbor and 9/11, and more unique moments in history. Each book in the series follows a young protagonist as they face and ultimately survive that specific major historical event, bringing these historical moments to life and offering readers a first-hand perspective on what it was like to live through them. The series not only educates about specific historical occurrences but also provides a glimpse into the resilience, bravery, and human spirit that prevailed in the face of adversity.
Choosing the right books for our 8-year-old, 9-year-old, 10-year-old or 11-year-old kids goes beyond just a good story.
This list of the best chapter book series for elementary-school kids features titles that are as exciting as they are educational, instilling valuable knowledge about a number of disciplines, including science, engineering, animals, mental health, and diversity. For me, that’s why “educational” or “informational” fiction is the way to go when it comes to picking your child’s next book to read.
These books are perfect for kids in third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade and sixth grade and are great for homeschoolers, parents and teachers who want to incorporate interdisciplinary learning into their ELA classroom.
I will continue to add to this collection as I come across more titles, so if you have any recommendations to add, please contact me!