The Green Ember series has sold over half a million copies. That’s a lot of families reading about bunnies with swords! Thankfully, there are lots of fabulous fantasy elementary chapter books for after your family finishes The Green Ember!
The Green Ember series is written at about a 4th through 8th grade reading level. For each book on this list, I share what the publisher recommends for the reading level. However, this does not mean that it will perfectly align with what is right for your family at that age. With fantasy and adventure chapter books, sometimes content is too intense for kids who are old enough to be in the recommended “reading level.” Overall, the content in these books should be appropriate for any family that enjoyed The Green Ember series. As always, preview before handing any book to your kids!
There are two parts of this list: secular fantasy chapter books, and faith-based fantasy chapter books. However, the faith-based section books are more allegory, and you’ll probably find some options for your family from both portions of the list.
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Secular Chapter Books Like The Green Ember
The Mistmantle Chronicles series by M. I. McAllister
Over 5 books, The Mistmantle Chronicles series tells the stories of squirrels in a medieval-type fantasy land. (Check out the covers – I literally want to cut out the squirrel warriors and hang them around my home. So awesome.)
There are strong morals, good conquers evil, sacrifice is necessary, and things like that that are so great to see in chapter books for tweens. (I’ll take a squirrel with a dagger over middle school angst any day.) I like that there is no question that the bad guys are all bad – that’s good for younger readers. Heads up that even those these are not marketed as faith-based, there is occasionally the theme of faith in a higher power of some type.
The reading level stated by the publisher is grades 3 through 7. The books have a fairly heavy story line, with murder, treachery, and intrigue. However, it is not as detailed or intense as the Redwall series, so as a picky parent I feel comfortable with the publisher’s recommended age range. The stories also delve into the legends of the animal society, and there are some very funny parts.
If you are looking for the fantasy series for elementary readers on this list that is MOST like The Green Ember series, THIS IS IT.
These can be a tad hard to get hold of because they are older, so definitely scoop them up if you find a copy!
Guardians of Ga’hoole series by Kathryn Lasky
16 books in this fantasy series for elementary students cover the legends of a society of owls. Yes, like “whoo-whoo,” owls. The stories are fast paced, and full of adventure. If The Green Ember is bunnies with swords, Guardians of Ga’hoole is owls with military strategy.
The publisher puts the reading level at 4th through 7th grade. Personally, I think you could easily push that age up through high school, or even older. Plenty of adults will enjoy the stories, even though they are shorter than many others on this list. Pro tip – there have been multiple editions of this popular adventure series for kids, and the most recent Scholastic paper back edition is so cheap. I’d say buy, don’t just get from the library! (And I don’t say that very often…)
The stories have some complicated moral dilemmas (definite BAD guys) that might not be right for all young families, and the good guys aren’t always all good. Moral dilemmas aren’t bad, especially in a series like this that encourages kids to be the good guys, but you should know they’re in there before you start reading it aloud to your preschooler.
There are also TONS of characters that can be difficult to keep straight. If your family had no problem keeping the characters straight in The Green Ember series, then they’ll probably be fine differentiating the many owls. However, heads up if you’re looking for something to read aloud to very young children, I suggest something from this list with less characters, like The Heartwood Hotel or Geraldine Woolkins.
The Heartwood Hotel series by Kallie George
4 books in this series about little animals cover 4 seasons at the Heartwood Hotel, a darling hotel for woodland creatures. Not much physical fighting in these books, but some intrigue and scary fights with nature. And, wolves, of course. I’m realizing as I’m typing up all of these descriptions that bad wolves are a theme…
The series centers around a kind mouse who is a maid at the hotel. The best part about the series is that the author describes exactly what I’d imagine a hotel for woodland creatures would be like – acorn cap bowls of raspberry soup, pine needle brooms to sweep the floor, and moss-lined beds. So darling!
The reading level is recommended for 2nd through 5th grade. They are fairly long books, however, so could be great options for older reluctant readers – they’re longer books and engaging, but accessible vocabulary. (The illustrations look feminine, but the content would be great for either gender.) They also make good read-alouds for all ages. Heads up that the main character is an orphan, and does deal with her trauma in some of the stories. Keep that in mind if some of your kids come from hard places.
Delphine and the Silver Needle by Alyssa Moon
Heads up that I haven’t read this one yet, it’s on my “to read to the girls when big boys are gone” pile, and we haven’t gotten there yet. So, take this recommendation with a grain of salt, and do a good preview before you read aloud.
Delphine is a mouse seamstress working for Cinderella. Yes, that Cinderella. However, Delphine embarks on a magical adventure to save the other tailor mice from the evil rat king. It looks like a charming small-animal fantasy series like The Green Ember, I’m excited to read it to my girls next fall. (I have heard it ends on a cliff-hanger, so I’m hoping that by the time I read it aloud to the kids book 2 will be out!)
The publisher recommends it for grades 3 through 7. However, looking at some reviews, it sounds like it actually trends a little younger than that. I’ve also found in the past that Disney books’ maintain a very accessible vocabulary level, so that would also lend itself to a younger audience. Again, I have not read it personally, but I’ll come back and update this list when we read it.
Redwall series by Brian Jacques
Redwall is the animal fantasy series that I grew up on. However, their popularity with late elementary readers holds strong today, so this enduring story of heroic rodents is easy to find for your kids. (Or yourself – nothing wrong with a little nostalgic reading of a great adventure series!)
The publisher recommends this series for 5th grade and up. And I mean way up, all the way through adults. Notice that that age is older than anything else on this list. Personally, I’d stick with the publisher’s recommendation. This is an intense series, with murder and war, and I have not read them aloud to any of my kids.
Even though the books do describe violence, there are always heroes, and it does a good job giving consequences when characters make bad choices. The bad guys get their comeuppance, which is so important when you’re looking for literature to hand to your kids.
With 22 books in the series, this is a great option for your voracious reader!! Just make sure you’re well aware that the content isn’t right for all independent readers. I’d recommend a good preview of EACH BOOK before you hand it to your 5th grader.
Christian Chapter Books Like The Green Ember
The Adventures of Geraldine Woolkins series by Karin Kaufman
I listed this trilogy first because it’s one of my favorites from this list, probably because it’s perfect for my kids’ ages – 2nd grade and down.
Geraldine Woolkins is a sweet little mouse who lives with her family. She dreams of adventures, and is trying to learn to be good. The stories have moral lessons, and bravery in a world full of ravens and wolves is a theme. They’re just so good. No swords, but family-centered stories featuring a mouse.
Plus, there are color illustrations!! That’s a big deal.
Heads up that there is a deity/religious text that the mice follow. This is definitely meant to be a Christian family story. I find it similar to The Chronicles of Narnia, however, in that if you aren’t explaining the allegory to your young kids, they probably won’t catch it. However, this series is classified as “Religious” when you look for it at the bookstore, and it definitely is.
Although the reading level is recommended for 4th through 6th grade, this is an excellent read aloud series for preschool and up. Just be sure to stop and explain what is happening when the dad mouse starts telling a story-in-a-story. Also, humans are referred to as “Hands.” That’s just confusing, so I just said, “Person,” whenever the mice talked about “Hands.” God is referred to as “Very Very Big Hands.” Again, I just said, “God.” Why make it harder for my young kids to follow the allegory, you know?
The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
Ok, I’m including this 4 book series (plus one book of legends) for kids who like The Green Ember, even though the characters in these books are people. I know, I know. The whole point of the list is animal fantasy adventure stories. It’s just that this series is so similar to the top characteristics that draw people to The Green Ember – there’s a war, young people who have to save the day, moral dilemmas, and HEROES.
Even though the publisher says this series is for 3rd through 7th grade, I think it is more intense than The Green Ember. You could easily push up the age of interested readers, all the way through adulthood. However, the reading level is lower than most of the other options on this list. Older readers will be interested in the stories, but probably fly through them quickly. Nothing wrong with that, just something to keep in mind before you hand them to your 14 year old precocious reader.
There’s also some really great humorous elements that you won’t find on most of the other books on this list. That makes this a great read aloud for families with older kids, or a wide age range of kids.
(If you like The Wingfeather Saga, or it sounds like something you’d like, I also highly recommend The Wilderking Trilogy. It isn’t as funny as The Wingfeather Saga, but it is the same concept: war, kids, heroes, and sort-of faith based. It’s a retelling of the story of David from the Bible, and God is in the story. Adventures, good moral lessons, and CLEAN. Do you know how hard that is to find in a modern tween book??)
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
The 7 books in The Chronicles of Narnia are sort of the OG of fighting animal stories. You’ve probably heard of them. There are talking animals, swords, and great battles. There is some violence and the occasional death, but nothing is gruesome.
They’re written at a 3rd through 6th grade level, but they are fairly British, so you might have to explain some words, even to older kids. Also, the literary merit is above anything else on this list, so they’re easily enjoyed by all ages. They make excellent read aloud books for younger kids. My kids have loved these books. I recommend reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe first, even though it isn’t the one that’s “first” in the series.
(Pro tip: the audio books are super British. My sweet mid-western children couldn’t understand what the reader was saying. If your kids also struggle with the audio books, still try reading them aloud!)