3 series I'm giving my 9-year-old after "Harry Potter"

He says nothing will ever be as good again. So I'm handing him "How to Train Your Dragon" and "The Lord of the Rings."

The "Percy Jackson" books aren’t as involved as J.K. Rowling’s by a long shot, but they’re fun and punchy and spur interest in ancient legends.

My 9-year-old spent endless hours this summer in the idyllic perch of our magnolia tree, working his way through one Harry Potter book after another. He confided one night that he didn’t expect he would be reading so much anymore after turning the final page of Book 7. How could any other book ever be so good?

That was a challenge I couldn’t resist.

Here are three answers we found together as to what he can read after that last Potter book – maybe not entirely “as good,” but certainly capable of enveloping a child (or adult) in enticing other-worlds throughout the golden days of fall:

1. The How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell: This series featuring Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, a heroic misfit of a Viking lad, manages to be adventurous, hilarious, and warm-hearted, with just a dash of bathroom humor thrown in to leaven any thought-provoking moral lessons. The series, we found to our surprise, has almost nothing in common with the movie of the same name. (Really – even less than most movie adaptations). It’s far lighter reading than "Harry," but it’s cleverly plotted and written with aplomb, and its heart is true.

2. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan: A brash update of the Greek myths, featuring the son of Poseidon and other “half-bloods” born from unions between mortals and gods. Like Harry at Hogwarts, Jackson starts out (in a summer camp setting) being educated as to how to tap his previously unknown powers, but much of the action takes place off the grounds. The books aren’t as involved as J.K. Rowling’s by a long shot, but they’re fun and punchy and provide a welcome way to spur a kid’s interest in ancient legends.

3. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: No caveats here. It took me a while to realize that if my boy was old enough for Harry and Dumbledore and Voldemort, he could probably handle Frodo and Gandalf and Sauron. We started off reading The Hobbit out loud, which he found delightful, and we’re now nearing the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. He chants Tolkien’s poems along with me, and thinks the words “Khazad-dum” have a marvelous ring. Every night he asks me if Gandalf could have escaped his fall with the Balrog. I think he’s hooked. And he sees that there is indeed something out there as good as Rowling, or, perhaps, even better.

Next on our list: Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series. What else would you recommend for a young Potter-phile?

Seattle writer Rebekah Denn blogs at

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