The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
Rick Riordan has melded the ancient Greek gods and twenty-first century American middle school perfectly in this book, the first of four in the series (Sea of Monsters, Titan’s Curse, and Battle of Labryinth). It is no wonder almost all of my middle school students for the past three years have loved this story about a twelve year old boy with a classic middle school wit and sense of adventure who discovers he is the son of Poseidon. Percy Jackson is a true hero: he has a set of middle school troubles-dyslexia, ADHD, poor grades, a mean step-father, teachers who seem to be against him- but once he finds out all his troubles are because he is a half-blood, son of a God and a mortal, he takes on all the tasks his destiny requires of him without flinching.
Well liked by both boys and girls, the four books in this series are written at a fourth grade reading level with an interest level of grades six through eight. Younger kids will be able to read it but may not fully appreciate the sense of middle school angst and wit that pervades the story. However, it is a great book for middle school students who have never found a book they liked as well as enthusiastic readers who enjoy Greek myth and stories of non-stop adventure. The three books that follow are as well-liked as the first which makes this an excellent book for getting a young reader started on a path of reading for pleasure.