The best books for fourth-graders can be hard to find. A read-aloud, a novel study, or even just reading on your own can be hard to find high-quality books with interesting storylines that encourage deep conversation and critical thinking about the text. This list of the 20 best books for fourth grade is why I did it.
The Best Books for 4th Graders
Then, buy them for your school library. Then, read them aloud. In ELA, you can make them into novels, or you can do them on your own. These 20 books are great for fourth-graders to read. To help you figure out which books are best for your class, I gave you a short summary of the plot. I also sent you links to the trifold novel study pack, which will help you cut down on your prep time. Find out more about what a trifold book study is here.
If your reading level is below, on, or above 4th grade, I’ve included a variety of 4th grade level books. Your fourth graders will love these great stories, and you’ll be ready to rock your year with a great book list for 4th grade!
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
My favorite 4th-grade book is this one. I can still remember reading it when I was a child, and it was just as good when I read it again as an adult.
You can read more about the plot here. Karana is a young girl who was left behind when her family left their island village. She has to show courage and learn how to live on her own. With a lot of action, heartbreak, and great language, this book will make your students want to read it. Bonus: The text is based on a true story, which means there are lots of chances to talk.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Another favorite book for 4th graders is one that I read when I was younger. This book is full of adventure and independence without the risks that come with it.
During the class, students follow Claudia and her little brother as they run away from home and decide to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City instead. Read about how they carefully avoid being seen by the security at the museum, how they manage their day-to-day lives (including budgeting), and even how they solve a mystery!
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
When I’ve taught this book to students, I’ve found that they all love it. In fact, it is always a favorite when we do our book showdown at the end of each year.
In Canada, Brian survived a plane crash in the wild and rugged wilderness. Now, he is in the fight of his life. As students read this story, they will see how Brian grows from a scared, uncertain boy to an independent, strong survivor. From making things: Brian makes a lot of mistakes as he tries to stay alive, and Paulsen’s writing draws readers into Brian’s story, letting them join him on his journey.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
This is a great book for kids because it teaches them to look past their differences and see what is important. We could use more of that in the world today!
The story of a young boy named Auggie who was born with a facial deformity, Wonderweaves together a story of how he sees the world and the world sees him as he transitions into public school. The author’s writing helps readers examine Auggie’s experiences from several lenses, and there are so many great opportunities for discussion about respecting individual differences, kindness and growing up. In the past few years, this book has been made into a movie. It has become an instant classic that your 4th graders will enjoy reading.
James & the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
There should be at least one book by Dahl on every list of books for 4th graders, and James & the Giant Peach is sure to please.
When James Henry Trotter goes on adventures, the story takes place on (and inside of) a huge peach that travels across the countryside and even farther! A lot of the characters in this story are insects with a lot of funny habits, so your students are sure to have a good time with this story.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
This one is a little easier to read than some of the other books on this list, but when it comes to getting people to read, it should be the first one on the list. There is a 30th-floor classroom at Wayside School. Each chapter tells a story from inside that classroom. With a wacky host of characters and a school that was built sideways (with one class on each floor), your students are sure to get a giggle out of the zany things that go on here! As long as it’s not the most complicated story ever, it’s a great way to talk about character traits, make inferences, and a lot of other important reading comprehension skills.
Frindle by Andrew Clements
If you ask my students, this would be one of the most important books for 4th graders to read.
In the end, Nick Allen decides to come up with a new word on his own. Of course, his teacher doesn’t take too kindly to this act of rebellion, and students spend the book experiencing the tension that results from this conflict Frindlei is a great story that really helps students think about conflict and the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist. You and your students will enjoy reading it together. Just be prepared. By the time your students finish the text, you might be hearing students using “frindle” in your room!
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
If you want to teach social studies through language arts, here’s a great book to start talking about world history.
Based on a true story, this book is about the adventures of a group of children living in Norway during World War II. In this book, Peter and his friends work against the Nazi regime to smuggle $9 million worth of gold right in front of their eyes. You can connect history and reading by reading this heroic story.
Save Me a Seat by Gina Weeks & Gita Varadarajan
This is a newer novel, but it is a great book that is written on a 4th grade reading level. In this story, you can talk about friendship and kindness. New student Ravi’s point of view changes from time to time in the story. Joe, who has a hard time with sensory processing, also changes. There is nothing in common at first between the boys. They come to learn that they aren’t so different after all.
A good book for talking about learning differences, how to fit in, and not making assumptions. Fourth-graders will love Save Me a Seat because it has characters they like and stories that could happen in their own school or classroom.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard & Florance Atwater
This story about Mr. Popper and his penguins is about a very different man and his very different pets. It shows Mr. Popper as he does things. In this story, we follow Mr. Popper after his life is turned upside down when he gets a penguin from the South Pole and takes it home. To start, this book will show you how to care for a penguin and how to have your own traveling troupe of penguin performers.
For a winter book study or read-aloud, this book is a great choice because it has a lot of interesting words and a lot of opportunities to talk about reading comprehension skills. These include cause and effect, inferencing, and character traits.