Best Books for Fourth-Graders

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“Holes” is a fantastic adventure mystery novel that will have kids loving the characters and the way the story unfolds. As the boys dig holes that are five feet deep and five feet wide in a dried-up lake every day, Stanley begins to wonder why the warden is so single-minded about the project and what she’s actually looking for. With the help of some new friends, Stanley starts to uncover a complex and fascinating narrative. This book is a funny, engaging and entertaining read.

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Almost any reader will relate to the characters in “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing,” in which young Peter is driven to distraction by the antics of his two-year-old brother, Fudge. The book is funny, captivating and applicable to many students’ struggles in school and at home. It teaches students big lessons and validates their feelings through an understandable plot and wonderful writing. If students aren’t a fan of Judy Blume books yet, they’ll adore this one — and want to read the rest of the series, too.

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“The Ogre of Oglefort” is lighthearted, has a steady pace and is an ideal novel to read aloud. All of the characters have cartoonish, over-the-top personalities, and humor and twists are interwoven throughout the story to keep children laughing while on the edge of their seats. The story takes an unconventional twist when the princess doesn’t want to be saved from the ogre that captured her, and the cast of characters ends up working together to restore the ogre’s castle instead.

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This endearing story captures the complexities of sisterhood, encouraging readers to think about their own siblings as they read. It illustrates the darker side of schools, which can be places where students sometimes pick on one another, and offers answers on how to deal with bullying and a lack of self-confidence. Students will find the wordplay in “Ava and Pip” fascinating.

Teachers and counselors can also use this book as a way to communicate the power and permanence of words and how they can be misinterpreted. The subtly embedded advice offers a learning experience appropriate for fourth-graders.

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The four Penderwick sisters are delighted to learn they get to spend their summer holiday on the lovely Arundel estate, where, in addition to finding their way around the gardens and meeting the tame rabbits, they befriend the owner’s young son, Jeffrey. “The Penderwicks” is modeled after a 1960s classic, with a charming plot and an imperfect family whose kids easily find ways to get themselves into mischief and adventure while ultimately learning important life lessons.

Birdsall’s writing clearly celebrates family and close friendships — as well as siblings who squabble with each other — and is ideal for reading out loud.

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Kids will love the colorful characters and the creative candy in this fun, imaginative read. “The Candymakers” follows four different children, each one a compelling character, as they experiment with making candy. Not only do the kids learn how to make creations such as chocolate pizza and gummy treats, but they also attempt to advertise it. Underlying the candy-making is a mystery that will keep readers engaged in this playful journey.

The writing is descriptive, helping readers feel like they can see and taste the candy. On a deeper level, the book shows the importance of being a leader instead of a follower and teaches children not to dwell on problems for too long.

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Stuart is born into a family of humans in New York City and lives a happy life — until his friend, Margalo, goes missing. Stuart reveals how committed he is to those he cares for, which makes him a great role model for children. This book’s twists, turns and surprises will keep readers guessing.

Because it was written in 1945, some of the vocabulary will provide a good challenge for fourth-graders, but the sentence structure is uncluttered, and black-and-white illustrations in this edition will help keep young readers engaged. With a classic plot that is thrilling, warm and endearing, “Stuart Little” will stimulate children’s imaginations and their love for reading.

Expert Commentary 

“In fourth grade, children are forming deeper habits around reading and what it means to them. It is a pivotal time to continue growing their reading skills, regardless of their current stage of development. At this point in time, expanding vocabulary, introducing new genres, authors and types of books can be helpful. If you have not encouraged or recommended a classic yet, now is a great time to start.”