Ever struggle to find the best books for your 4th graders? Whether it is read alouds, novel studies, or independent reading, it can be challenging to find quality novels with engaging storylines that support deep conversation and critical thinking about the text. That’s why I compiled this list of the 20 best books for fourth grade.
The 20 Best Books for 4th Graders
Buy them for your classroom library. Add them to your read aloud list. Build them into novel studies during ELA, or just use them for an independent study. These 20 novels are amazing reads for your fourth-grade students.
To help you determine which books are the best fit for your class, I shared a short summary of the plot. I also shared links to the trifold novel study pack to help save you prep time. (Read more about what a trifold novel study is here.)
I know your fourth graders will love these great stories! (Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. While it doesn’t cost you any more to purchase books via the links provided, I earn a small commission from purchases.)
1. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
With lots of adventure, some heartbreak, and great descriptive language, this novel will capture the imagination of your students. An added bonus is that the text is based on a true story, giving plenty of opportunities for discussion.
Buy the book: Island of the Blue Dolphins
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Island of the Blue Dolphins Novel Study
2. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Students follow Claudia and her little brother as they decide to run away from home and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Read how they carefully avoid detection by the museum security, manage their day-to-day existence (including budgeting), and even end up solving a mystery along the way!
Buy the book: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Get the No Prep Novel Study: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Novel Study
3. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
After surviving a plane crash in the rugged wilderness of Canada, Brian is in the fight of his life. This story is the ultimate in survival fiction as students follow Brian’s transformation from a scared, unsure boy to a strong, independent survivor. From making
From creating a fire to gathering food, Brian makes a lot of mistakes in his quest to survive, and Paulsen’s writing captures the imagination of readers pulling them into Brian’s journey.
Buy the book: Hatchet
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Hatchet Novel Study
4. Wonder by R. J. Palacio
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.
Recently made into a movie, this book has truly become an instant classic that your 4th graders will love to read.
Buy the book: Wonder
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Wonder Novel Study
5. James & the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Centered around the adventures of James Henry Trotter, this spectacular fantasy novel takes place on (and inside of) a giant peach as it travels across the countryside and further!
With a host of supporting characters that are all insects with a variety of hilarious quirks, your students are sure to get a giggle from this silly story.
Buy the book: James & the Giant Peach
Get the No Prep Novel Study: James & the Giant Peach Novel Study
6. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
This one is a slightly easier read than some of the others on this list, but when it comes to engaging readers it should be #1. Each chapter shares the story from inside the classroom on the 30th floor of Wayside School.
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!
While it isn’t the deepest plotline ever, it is a great opportunity to discuss character traits, make inferences, and so many other important reading comprehension skills.
Buy the book: Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Sideways Stories from Wayside School Novel Study
7. Frindle by Andrew Clements
After a little too much time doing dictionary work, Nick Allen decides to take matters into his own hands and invent a new word. 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.
A great story that really helps students dive deep into conflict and the protagonist-antagonist relationship, Frindle is a realistic fiction novel you will love reading with your students.
Just be prepared. By the time your students finish the text, you might be hearing students using “frindle” in your room!
Buy the book: Frindle
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Frindle Novel Study
8. Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
Your students will love following the suspenseful adventures of Peter and his friends as they work against the Nazi regime to smuggle $9 million in gold right past their noses. This heroic tale is a great way to link social studies and reading.
Buy the book: Snow Treasure
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Snow Treasure Novel Study
9. Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Another novel focused on kindness and being your true self, Fish in a Tree is the story of a girl named Ally who has mastered the art of hiding her inability to read…that is, until her new teacher, Mr. Daniels, figures it out and helps Ally see that she doesn’t need to be ashamed of having dyslexia.
A great novel for talking about learning differences and individual talents. With likable characters and situations that could be happening in your own school or classroom, Fish in a Tree is sure to be a winner with your fourth graders.
Buy the book: Fish in a Tree
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Fish in a Tree Novel Study
10. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard & Florance Atwater
The story follows Mr. Popper after his life is turned upside down when he receives a penguin from the South Pole. From figuring out how to care for a penguin to having his own traveling troop of penguin performers, this book is sure to entertain.
Lots of enriching vocabulary along with opportunities to discuss reading comprehension skills- like cause and effect, inferencing, and character traits – makes this book a winner for a winter book study or read aloud.
Buy the book: Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Mr. Popper’s Penguins Novel Study
11. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
When Pippi moves into the old, abandoned house next door to Tommy and Annika, they’re excited for a playmate. Little do they know the adventures that will soon unfold. With her monkey and horse by her side, Pippi turns life in their neighborhood (and community) upside down in this hilarious tale.
By the end of the book, your students will be wishing they had a friend like Pippi and be begging to read the rest of the series.
Buy the book: Pippi Longstocking
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Pippi Longstocking Novel Study
12. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
This is the story of a well-loved china bunny who is quite full of himself early on but ends up on the adventure of a lifetime that changes him. Through these experiences Edward becomes cynical and begins to doubt whether love exists, and students are guided through his inner thoughts as he is lost or left behind time and again.
Full of emotion and told from Edward’s point of view, the novel has many twists and turns as well as some heartbreak. Throughout his many misadventures, students will have many opportunities to explore character change and relationships.
A beautifully written story that touches both the heart and imagination, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a true star among novels for this age group.
Buy the book: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Get the No Prep Novel Study: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Novel Study
13. The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
This is the story of Roz, a robot who accidentally ends up stranded on an uninhabited island. Over time Roz begins to learn from the creatures around her and even becomes the surrogate mother for an orphaned gosling. However, it takes quite some time for the natural world to accept her as one of their own.
The 2017 Global Read Aloud selection, this story is a great science fiction selection for fourth grade students.While it is a relatively easy read that includes some illustrations, it is a story that many of the boys I work with absolutely loved, which can sometimes be a challenge to find.
Buy the book: The Wild Robot
Get the No Prep Novel Study: The Wild Robot Novel Study
14. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
A classic tale that brings every child’s fantasy to life, this is the story of Charlie Bucket. After winning a once in a lifetime contest to tour Willy Wonka’s factory, Charlie is drawn into a world of wonder and imagination.
With vivid description and a silliness that only Dahl can bring to a children’s novel, this story is a sure favorite. There are so many great opportunities to discuss character traits and practice visualization, inferring, and more.
While the text has some challenging vocabulary and made-up words (as do nearly all Dahl’s books), the plotline draws readers in and encourages them to overcome these challenges because the story is just that good.
Buy the book: Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Novel Study
15. Sarah, Plain & Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
It is the story of Sarah, a woman who responds to an ad of a widower seeking a wife, and how she acclimates to life on the plains and two children. It is also the story of how the family adjusts to her after already losing their mother.
This is truly a sweet story and gives students so much to talk about. I highly recommend it for your fourth graders. (Just a word of warning – if you decide to show the movie after reading this one it has a pretty hardcore birth scene near the end. Preview it to make sure you feel it is appropriate before you show your class.)
Buy the book: Sarah, Plain & Tall
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Sarah, Plain & Tall Novel Study
16. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
This is the story of a runty pig, named Wilbur, and his unlikely friendship with a spider who eventually saves him from slaughter. With opportunities to discuss character traits and relationships, visualizing, and so many more important reading comprehension skills, this book is a winner for both the students and all those essential standards you’re required to cover!
Buy the book: Charlotte’s Web
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Charlotte’s Web Novel Study
17. The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
Another text that I would consider on the easier reading side of things, this is a story set to the backdrop of sibling rivalry. With a topic so many students can relate to, this realistic fiction is highly engaging for fourth graders.
Students will love following the juicy drama between Evan and Jessie as they try to prove just who is the better at running a lemonade stand. With lots of ups and downs and plenty of opportunities for higher level reading comprehension skills like inferencing, this novel is always a favorite in my classroom.
Buy the book: The Lemonade War
Get the No Prep Novel Study: The Lemonade War Novel Study
18. Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
After seeing his neighbor abusing a dog, Marty discovers the pup has run away and decides to keep him. When his stern father discovers that he has the dog, things go from bad to worse leading Marty down some troublesome paths in his quest to protect his new best friend. Along the way, he learns a lot about life and how things are never quite as simple as they seem.
Buy the book: Shiloh
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Shiloh Novel Study
19. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Who could write a list of great novels for fourth grade and NOT include at least one Judy Blume book? Seriously, she’s a fabulous writer and has some great realistic fiction that is perfect for your students.
This is the story of Peter Hatcher and his little brother, Fudge. Despite everyone else finding Fudge adorable, Peter isn’t smitten with his shenanigans…especially when Fudge eats his pet turtle!
Buy the book: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Novel Study
20. The One and Only Ivan by K.A. Applegate
The story of a gorilla living in a roadside mall and arcade, Ivan has become accustomed to life behind glass. Instead, Ivan spends his time thinking about television, his friends Stella & Bob (an elephant and a dog), and art. Everything changes for Ivan upon the arrival of a new baby elephant, Ruby. As a result, Ivan’s perspective on his world is turned upside down.
Buy the book: The One and Only Ivan
Get the No Prep Novel Study: The One and Only Ivan Novel Study
If you are looking for some more great novels, check out these 20 books that are great for 5th graders!