George Bernard Shaw said “Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.”
One of the best and truest ways to inspire a deep love of reading in young readers is to provide them with great books that you genuinely love.
Fourth graders are at the age where they can move into chapter books and novels, and the books on this list have stood the test of time.
A great book can leave an impression on a child that will stay with them their whole life. So here is a list of our favorite books for 4th graders in 2023.
Classic Books for Fourth Graders
Charlotte’s Web is an charming book for kids and adults alike, with lessons about friendship and death that are timeless in their themes.
The story follows a curious little girl named Fern who lives on a farm with her parents and siblings. She becomes friends with Wilbur, the runt of the litter from one of the local pig farms nearby.
As time goes by, the pig named Wilbur grows bigger, and Fern realizes that he will soon be slaughtered if no one buys him. The brave spider tries to save Wilbur from being killed.
This classic novel tells a timeless story of Tom’s adventures with his friends in St Petersburg, Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi River.
The book’s chapters are called “adventures” because they cover an assortment of different escapades that are typical to boys’ lives as they grow up along the river: such as playing pirates, going fishing, or hunting waterfowl with their guns, getting into fights, and running off from school to go swimming or attend picnics down by the riverbank.
The book offers lessons about the power of friendship, loyalty, and honesty. With all the amazing characters in this novel, you’ll be laughing out loud one moment and crying tears of sorrow or joy the next.
Phantom Tollbooth is a classic children’s novel originally published in 1961.
The story is about a bored little boy named Milo who finds a mysterious tollbooth in his room that transports him to adventures beyond his wildest imagination.
Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason. Along the way, Milo realizes life is far from boring!
The Little Prince is a small but mighty book that tells the story of a little prince who leaves his home to explore the world.
He meets people from many different planets and learns about their lifestyles, but he never finds what he’s looking for: someone who understands him as much as he understands them.
The book was initially published in 1943 and has been translated into over 180 languages since then.
The Chronicles of Narnia is an epic fantasy series that has won the hearts and minds of children, adults, and scholars alike. The stories have been translated into over 30 languages and sold over 100 million copies worldwide since 1950 when it was first published in Great Britain.
The whole series, published in six years, includes “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” “Prince Caspian,” “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” “The Silver Chair,” “The Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle.”
All the stories follow the adventures and struggles that four kids have in an enchanted world while they go on a quest to free themselves from the evil White Witch who has cast them there. Along their journey, they learn about courage, friendship, loyalty, and bravery which help shape their character for years to come.
6. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Judy Blume)
Published 1972, the book is about a fourth-grade boy named Peter. Set in New York City, the story follows Peter’s life with his younger brother Fudge, who makes life difficult for him in every way possible.
The two siblings have very different personalities but share a love for their family and each other that keeps them together even when things get rough.
It’s an excellent read for children who are looking to be entertained. With a humorous tone and some great lessons on growing up, this book is sure to keep kids engaged throughout the story.
7. Black Beauty (Anna Sewell)
Black Beauty is set in England during the 1800s, and follows the life of a horse named Black Beauty from his birth to his death.
The book is narrated from the point of view of the horse himself. He recounts his life from his birth to his old age, telling how he was passed from person to person as an unwanted pet.
Black Beauty is a story that offers hope, and teaches readers about work ethic, manners, responsibility, and the power of kindness.
8. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
If you want to introduce your kids to the world of literature, then one of the books that is a classic and will set them on their way is Little Women. This novel is full of strong female characters who deal with real-life problems.
The story follows Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy as they grow up during the American Civil War while trying to find their own identities outside of what society expects from women.
9. Magic Treehouse (Mary Pope Osborne)
First published in 1992, The Magic Treehouse is one of America’s most popular children’s books.
Based on a series of novels, kids get to explore all sorts of different adventures with Jack and Annie from their backyard. From deep-sea diving to exploring space, this book has it all.
Your fourth grader will learn many things from these adventures, including how to overcome fears, how to be a good friend when someone is feeling sad or hurt, and what it means to have gratitude in your heart, and why you should not judge someone based on appearances alone.
10. Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl)
Roald Dahl is a well-known and beloved children’s author. His books are famous for their wacky plots, interesting characters, and hilarious dialogue.
One of his most popular novels is “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.” The book tells the story of young Charlie Bucket, who lives with his mother and four grandparents in poverty. He dreams about what it would be like to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory but believes he’ll never get the chance because they’re so poor.
But when one day he finds a golden ticket inside a chocolate bar while searching through trash, everything changes for him! The book teaches kids great lessons about greed, morality, and the true meaning of being happy.
11. A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a great read for kids. This book explores the idea of good and evil, as well as trusting your intuition.
The story follows three children named Meg, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and friend Calvin who are on an adventure to find Meg’s father through time and space after missing for four years. The book tells how these three children use their intelligence and love to combat evil forces on their rescue mission.
12. Stuart Little (E.B. White)
Stuart Little by E. B White is a children’s book about the adventures of an anthropomorphic mouse named Stuart. The story is set in New York City and begins with the birth of Stuart to human parents, George and Margret Little.
The story follows the life of Stuart as he explores his surroundings, gets into trouble, has fun with his family and friends. After growing up, he eventually leaves home to seek out new experiences. Stuart goes to school with his friends and learns lessons about being kind, having empathy for others, and making good decisions. Stuart also must deal with sibling rivalry when he visits his cousin’s house.
13. Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone (J.K. Rowling)
Fourth grade is the perfect time to enter into the magical world of Harry Potter!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first book in this series and the perfect introduction to the genre.
The book is about a young boy named Harry Potter who finds out he is a famous wizard. He will be attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year with his faithful friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
It’s a story of overcoming obstacles and facing the unknown, with exciting twists and turns around every corner.
14. The Secret Garden (Frances Burnett)
The Secret Garden was written in 1911. The main character is the selfish and not-so-agreeable 10-year-old Mary Lennox who lives in India with her wealthy British family. She’s been spoiled by the family help and neglected by her parents. Mary is orphaned when a cholera epidemic takes the lives of her parents and servants, and the story becomes one of self-healing.
15. Brown Girl Dreaming (Jacqueline Woodson)
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is made up of vibrant poems where the author shares her experience growing up as a Black girl in the 1960’s and 1970’s amid lingering Jim Crow laws and an emerging Civil Rights movement. Each poem depicts a child who is searching for her identity and place in the world.
16. James & The Giant Peach (Roald Dahl)
The poor orphan James lives seaside with his evil aunts and doesn’t have a friend in the world until he meets the Old Green Grasshopper and other insect friends who live on a magical giant peach. His surreal adventures are sometimes frightening, but they’re peppered with unforgettable characters and classic literary excitement.
17. The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame)
The Wind in the Willows is a book of animal tales that takes place in the English countryside. The stories are primarily having to do with Mole, Rat, Badger, and the rich and generous Toad, who talk among themselves and act like humans, but also have some distinctive animal features. They work together to save Toad Hall from weasels, finding adventures and obstacles along the way.
18. The Boxcar Children (Gertrude Warner)
The Boxcar Children is an accessible series about that tells the story of four orphaned siblings who create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar. They eventually begin living with their grandfather, and use the boxcar as a playhouse in his backyard. Throughout the series, they embark on a number of adventures, experience plenty of mishaps, and encounter exciting mysteries to solve. The Boxcar Children is best for ages 4th grade and up.
19. The One & Only Ivan (Katherine Applegate)
This captivating novel is inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla, Ivan, and is told from his point of view.
Ivan has spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, with humans watching him and far from his life in the jungle. He has grown used to watching television, painting, and spending time with his friends.
But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.
This is a story about unexpected friendship and how it can transform us.
20. Number The Stars (Lois Lowry)
This Newberry Medal-winning novel is an unforgettable story told through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie as she watches the Danish Resistance smuggle the Jewish population out of Denmark. Her family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.
It’s a story about heroism and courage during a time of war.
21. Esperanza Rising (Pam Muñoz Ryan)
A historical fiction novel about Esperanza, a Mexican girl from a wealthy, privileged family who suddenly has everything taken away from her during the Great Depression. When her mother gets sick, she must find a way to rise above the difficult circumstances she finds herself in.
22. The Mouse & The Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary)
“The Mouse and the Motorcycle” is a 1965 children’s novel about Ralph S. Mouse, a mouse who can speak to humans.
23. Sarah Plain & Tall (Patricia MacLachlan)
“Sarah Plain & Tall” is a story about coping with change, told from young Anna’s point of view, set in the late nineteenth century.
24. Beezus and Ramona (Beverly Cleary)
This wacky chapter book is focused on Beatrice Quimby, 9, and her 4 year old sister Ramona. Newberry Award winner Beverly Cleary presents a funny portrayal of the ups and downs of sisterhood.
25. Prairie Lotus (Linda Sue Park)
Prairie Lotus is a powerful and touching book about half-Asian girl in middle America determined to fit in and realize her dreams of getting an education and making friends.
26. Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred D. Taylor)
Set in Mississippi during the Great Depression, this book is an unflinching portrait of family and self-worth.
27. Otherwise Known as Sheila The Great (Judy Blume)
Published in 1972, this classic novel is part of the Fudge series, and follows relatable Sheila Tubman. Sometimes she feels like confident Sheila the Great, and other times she’s shy and fearful, afraid of spiders, swimming, and dogs. Follow her on a summer adventure with her family where she makes new friends and learns more about herself.
28. Ramona (Beverly Cleary)
Another wacky chapter book focused on Beatrice Quimby, 9, and her 4 year old sister Ramona. This book is best for ages 6-12.
29. Mary Poppins (Pamela Lyndon Travers)
“Mary Poppins” is a classic tale about a magical nanny.
From the moment Mary Poppins arrives at Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane, everyday life at the Banks house is forever changed.
This classic novel continues to enchant readers of all ages! A day with Mary Poppins is a day of magic and make-believe come to life.
30. Peter Pan (James Matthew Barrie)
“Peter Pan” is the enchanting 1911 book about a mischievous boy who refuses to grow up.
31. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is an 1865 English children’s novel about a young girl named Alice who falls through a rabbit hole and into a whimsical fantasy world.
32. Matilda (Roald Dahl)
Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. Matilda was the last long kids’ book that Roald Dahl wrote before he passed away in 1990.
33. The Hobbit (J.R.R Tolkien)
“The Hobbit” is a classic children’s fantasy novel published in 1937. The journey through Middle-earth begins here with J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic prelude to his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
34. The Never Ending Story (Michael Ende)
When Bastian finds an old book called The Neverending Story, he’s swept into the magical world of Fantastica. In fact, he finds he has actually become a character in the story. “The Never Ending Story” is a classic tale about one boy and a book that magically comes to life.
“The Babysitter’s Club” is a beloved series that follows a group of girlfriends and their homegrown babysitting business.
There’s also a version of the series now that are graphic novels!
36. The Giver (Lois Lowry)
“The Giver” is a 1993 American young adult dystopian novel, set in a society which at first appears to be utopian, but eventually proves to be far from perfect.
37. Nancy Drew (Carolyn Keene)
Nancy Drew is the classic master series that follows a fictional sleuth character on a series of mysterious adventures.
38. The Hardy Boys (Franklin W. Dixon)
The Hardy Boys is a classic mystery and adventure series with a group of boys as the main characters.
39. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (L Frank Baum)
The Library of Congress declared this book to be “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale.” The classic children’s novel was published in 1900 and endures as a popular book and movie today.
40. A Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket)
This catchy series takes readers on – you guessed it – a series of unfortunate events for three recently orphaned siblings.
The Velveteen Rabbit is a story of a toy rabbit who gets worn out and shabby. He’s been loved so much by his owner that he becomes real. But when the boy decides to take him to the woods, where all old things go, it looks like this might be the end for our little velveteen bunny.
This book is great for children because it teaches them the power of love and the importance of letting go.
First published in 1950, Pippi Longstocking is the beloved story of a spunky young girl and her hilarious escapades. With her signature upside-down braids and no parents to tell her what to do, Pippi has delighted kids for decades.
43. The Incredible Journey (Sheila Branford)
This heartwarming story follows a cat and two dogs who journey hundreds of miles to find their human family.
44. The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)
This classic book is the actual diary of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl in hiding from the Nazis during World War II.
45. The Great Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
Follow the adventures of the world’s most well-known sleuth in this classic series.
46. A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
“A Christmas Carol” is the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by ghosts of his past.
47. The Story of Dr. Dolittle (Hugh Lofting)
“The Story of Dr. Dolittle” is a magical story about John Dolittle and the crew of animals he befriends.
48. Wonder (R.J. Palacio)
“Wonder” is a powerful, tear-jerking story about a boy with a disfigured face.
49. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Jeff Kinney)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a modern classic. This is the first book in this beloved series that was first introduced to the world in 2007. Follow Greg Heffley, his family, and his best friend Rowley on their adventures through middle school.
50. Where the Sidewalk Ends (Shel Silverstein)
This classic collection of poetry is both hilarious and profound. It’s a perfect introduction to poetry for fourth graders.
More poetry books for 4th graders:
The Light in the Attic (Shel Silverstein)
Poems to Learn by Heart (Caroline Kennedy)
Words With Wings: A Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art (Nikki Grimes)
Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back: A Native American Year of Moons (Joseph Bruchac)
Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymed (Roald Dahl)
We hope you loved this list of the best 4th grade books as much as we love compiling it!
Reading classic literature together is a great way to spend quality time with your kids. The benefits of reading with them are endless, and we wish you many cozy moments reading together this year.
What other classic chapter books for kids should we add to this list?
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