Find the best chapter books and middle grade books for 4th graders. These books for 9-year-old boys and girls in 4th grade are book recommendations that I’ve personally read and reviewed. They’re in every genre and are about many different themes and topics that appeal to kids in this upper elementary grade. ALL of these books are excellent.
Who am I to recommend good books to young readers? I’m a former teacher and teacher trainer with a Master’s Degree in Education, a teaching license, a Bachelor’s in English, and a parent of two. I’m also a writer and avid reader. (As you probably can guess.) I read ALL the books and share the best of the best with you.
Fourth graders are leaving chapter books and entering the world of younger middle grade books. The difference between the two is that chapter books are usually shorter, illustrated, and about less complex topics. They will overlap in themes like friendship and family or animals and identity.
However, middle grade books are about twice as long, if not three times longer, and usually don’t have illustrations. (Although you can find good illustrated middle grade books.) The topics will be more complex — about bullying and divorce and death.
If you want the BEST BOOKS for 9-year-olds in 4th grade, I’d love to send you a free printable pdf!
You might also like these book lists for 9-year-olds:
- The best books in a series for 4th graders
- Summer reading list for 4th graders
- Good nonfiction books for 4th graders
If you need harder books, go to my Best Books for 5th Graders.
If you need easier books, go to my Best Books for 3rd Graders.
Best Books for 4th Graders (9 Year Olds)
First Cat in Space by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Shawn Harris
Absurdly hysterical, this is a bizarrely perfect adventure in space! When rats eat a second of the moon, the world’s leaders send their secret weapon– a cat and a stowaway toenail-clipping robot. The two adventurers meet the Queen of Moonopolis, who leads them beneath the moon’s surface through the mine tunnels where they have more silly adventures until they GET CAPTURED. But, don’t worry — somehow they’ll escape. Right?
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
FANTASY / GRAPHIC NOVEL
This popular graphic novel series is about two siblings trying to save their mom who was taken to an underground world of elves, demons, robots, and talking animals. Beautiful artwork with compelling characters and an adventurous plot make this a sure-fire hit with young readers.
Leeva at Last by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Leeva’s horrible Matilda-like parents ask her sarcastically, What are people for? And Leeva, who isn’t allowed to go to school and does the chores, cooking, and other tasks to help her parents become rich and famous, decides to investigate the question. She discovers the library and books — but more than that, she discovers kind new friends, including the librarian and her grandson and two kids her age. She realizes that people help you not be lonely because they share life with you…and hugs are a nice bonus, too. I love the writing and the message of kindness and good things from books!
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
One of the most popular book series ever, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, shares the hilarious story of Greg, in his own words and drawings. Life in middle school is not easy. And Greg is here to prove it! One thing you’ll notice about these books is that kids will read them more than once, which is great if you have them all.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Narrated by a gorilla named Ivan, this true story will immediately grab your heartstrings. Ivan is kept in a cage in a run-down mall for 27 years without seeing another gorilla. When his maltreated elephant friend dies there, she asks Ivan to help the new, younger elephant find a better life. With the help of the janitor’s daughter, he does just that.
The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier, illustrated by Douglas Colgate
SCIENCE FICTION / PARANORMAL
This hilarious book makes the zombie apocalypse seem fun. Because that’s how Jack approaches life and zombie fights. He and his best friend, Quint, live in an upgraded, well-defended treehouse where they plan for rescuing his crush June (she doesn’t need rescuing being quite capable) and fighting zombies. Illustrations throughout make this even more appealing to read and imagine. Delightful. Who would have thought?! BOXED SET HERE.
I Survived by Lauren Tarshis
These are excellent, fast-paced adventure books for 4th graders set during significant historical events that are perfect for elementary age kids just getting comfortable with chapter books. Kids will zip through these incredible adventures, learning history in the process. The books always are about a young person trying to survive a historically significant, life-changing event such as Pompeii, the Titanic, Pearl Harbor, or the Battle of Gettysburg.
Things in the Basement by Ben Hatke
ages 8 – 12 (GRAPHIC NOVEL)
This beautifully drawn and narrated clever adventure is set in the world of…the basement. When Milo’s baby sister loses her special pink knit sock, he searches for it in the basement. The basement leads Milo to another basement, and then another basement, and to a whole labyrinth of basement worlds. He befriends a friendly skull named Chuckles, an eyeball creature named Weepie, and a ghost named Belle. Milo uses the sock’s yarn, help from his ghost friend, and his problem-solving skills to rescue his friends from the Gobbler and return home with the pink sock. This is a fantastical, magical journey of friendship, kindness, and secret worlds!
Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
Fairy tales become very real when Alex and Conner (a brother and sister) find themselves transported to the fairy tale world. To get home, they’ll need to find the ingredients for a Wishing Spell. Finding the items will be dangerous, mysterious, and life-changing. All the books in this series are compelling, magical adventures about characters you will ADORE. My kids and I couldn’t put these down.
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
Roz is a robot alone on an island with only animals. If she wants to survive, she must figure out how to live in the wild where the animals see her as a monster. That slowly changes when Roz adopts a gosling and makes a nest. It’s a meaningful story of family, love, and community that consistently garners love from teachers and students.
The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors
Ben doesn’t think his summer could be any more boring–until he rescues a baby dragon. He and his new friend, Pearl Petal, learn that the town has a secret veterinarian for… imaginary creatures. That’s when they accidentally let a Sasquatch escape. Whoops. Now the pair must lure the big guy back to the veterinarian. (Which is easier said than done.) This series is a delightful page-turner.
Legends of Lotus Island: The Guardian Test by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Kevin Hong
Plum is thrilled with the opportunity to go to a Guardian school where she hopes she’ll turn into a Guardian to protect the natural world. At the Academy, she struggles to focus; she worries that she’ll never get her animal bond like the other students. But she learns how to fight, talk to animals, and hopes she can prove herself. Readers will love the cool world-building, the captivating illustrations, and the engaging story!
Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf
Alexa and her friends learn that the new kid, Ahmed, was in a real war and has been separated from his family. So when Alexa and her friends hear that England is going to shut the borders, they decide they must go to the Queen to help Ahmed be reunited with his family. They go to the palace in person, tangling with the guards, and getting in big trouble but it eventually leads to media attention and a happy solution.
Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen by Niki Lenz
A genuinely sweet story about a girl who goes from a bully to a trying-to-do-better model citizen that will make you laugh and warm your heart. When Bernice’s mom sends Bernice to live with her nun aunt, it’s a chance for this former bully to reform her mean-spirited ways. And Bernice does it — she makes a friend, becomes nicer, and finds an unexpected home with the nuns. One of my favorites books for 4th graders!
Trapped in a Video Game by Dustin Brady, illustrated by Brady Jessee
Gamers and non-gamers alike who love exciting and dangerous stories won’t want to miss this excellent series. Jesse’s friend gets an early release of a video game — and it sucks in both he and his friend while they’re playing. They’re literally trapped in the video game! Inside the game, they meet a missing classmate who is a grown-up man in the game. Because there’s no way out. Or is there?
Cress Watercress by Gregory Maguire, illustrated by David Litchfield
After the death of her father, Cress and her family move from their cozy burrow into the Broken Arms oak tree ruled by a cranky Owl with a noisy neighbor squirrel family. There, Cress helps her mom collect moths to pay their rent, leaving her mom time to work and gather ingredients for her sickly brother’s tea. As Cress navigates her new environment, the natural world, and the stories around her, it helps her understand her inner world, especially how grief waxes and wanes like the moon’s cycles. A beautiful story about family, community, and grief.
The Magical Reality of Nadia by Bassem Youssef and Catherine R. Daly, illustrated by Douglas Holgate
Nadia unexpectedly discovers an ancient Egyptian teacher (Titi) trapped in her hippo amulet. He comes out onto a paper and TALKS! Tita helps Nadia with problems she faces at school like the new kid who is rude and prejudiced about her Egyptian culture and troubles with her friends who are working together on a school project. Totally wonderful, heartfelt, and relatable– don’t miss this new book for fourth graders.
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
If you like funny books, you’ll LOVE these books for 4th graders, 9-year-olds! Plus, in this first book, you’ll learn valuable cow trivia. But, it’s mostly the hilarious adventure of two pranksters who start out as rivals but eventually work together to pull off the biggest prank of all time — a prank that will ensure they get April Fool’s Day off from school.
Your Pal Fred by Michael Rex
SCI-FI / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Fred is a robot who brings kindness (and STICKERS!) to a dystopian world he makes better in this funny, warmhearted, and interesting story. When Fred discovers that two warlords are capturing innocent people to fight as soldiers for them, Fred knows what he has to do–ask the two bad guys to try peace. He irritates and surprises everyone he meets with his cheerfulness and positive attitude, even when he’s caught and “tortured” with drumming, which, of course, he loves. His character oozes charm, you can’t help but love him–along with the other curious characters that he meets.
Dungeoneer Adventures by Ben Costa, illustrated by James Parks
FANTASY / ILLUSTRATED
Coop is the only human at the Dungeoneer Academy. He feels alone and fears failure but it’s his lifelong dream to be an explorer. Luckily, his best friend Oggie (a bugbear) and two other new friends on his team stick together to survive the bullying Coop faces at school and the life-or-death jungle trial in which they experience trouble with their team, unexpected attacks, and a monster spider. The stakes are high–if they fail the trial, they’ll be kicked out of the school forever. It’s a fun-to-read, illustrated, and fast-paced fantastical book for 4th graders!
Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter
A well-done middle-grade graphic novel about a child with allergies! Maggie is devastated that she’s allergic to the puppy she’s finally allowed to get. But, she befriends a new girl next door who becomes a fun, safe solace in her life…until that friend gets a puppy which Maggie interprets this her new friend not wanting to be friends anymore. Eventually, the two friends work out a solution for hanging out that won’t be a problem for Maggie’s allergies. The story ends with Maggie helping with her new baby sister and feeling like she doesn’t need an animal pet anymore.
Mythics: Marina and the Kraken written by Lauren Magaziner, illustrated by Mirelle Ortega
What an exciting start to what is sure to be a smash-hit series of adventure, girl power, and mythical creatures! When Marina doesn’t get matched with a familiar like the other kids, she and four other 10-year-old girls discover their familiars aren’t everyday animals but mythical creatures and together, they’re destined to save Terrafamiliar. The girls start their search by boat to look for Marian’s familiar. But they’re chased by a golden jumpsuit lady who wants to steal their mythical powers. As they evade their pursuer, Marina discovers that her familiar is a kraken– a kraken who accidentally capsizes their ship. Now she and her kraken must save her friends from drowning and escape the sinister lady.
Elements of Genius: Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray by Jess Keating
ADVENTURE — STEM
Inventor Nikki Tesla joins a new school called the Genius Academy where she’s not the only genius and she’s supposed to start working well with others. (That will be hard!) When Nikki’s death ray is stolen from a locked safe, she and her classmates must collaborate to find it and hopefully, save the world. They follow clues around the world, thwart plots to divide their group, and capture the bad guy before he can use the death ray. Not only does this engrossing story feature smart kids who love STEM but the action and themes of friendship and growing up resonated and entertained me.
Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorell
Indian No More is an emotional, important story about when the U.S. government arbitrarily made certain Native American tribes no longer tribes without reservations or legal rights. It also shows the historical landscape of prejudice and stereotypes towards people of color. I love the close-knit, loving family based on the author’s own life, a family who values each other and their survival. This book is a must-read and must-own for all schools and libraries and would make an excellent book club selection.
Kristy’s Great Idea Babysitter’s Club Full-Color Graphix Novel by Ann M. Martin, illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
We’re loving these updated Babysitter’s Club graphic novels by the uber-talented Raina Telegemeier. It’s a good idea to start with book 1 since the stories are told in sequential order. These are funny and fun to read, maybe even more than once. BOX SET HERE.
Sparks by Ian Boothby, illustrated by Nina Matsumoto
After escaping the evil laboratory, cats August and Charlie help others in a “Super Dog” dog disguise. But their evil scientist nemesis, a diaper-wearing baby named Princess, will stop at nothing to recapture the escaped cats…and conquer the entire world. These books for 4th graders are filled with adventure, friendship, and humor!
Once Upon a Tim by Stuart Gibbs
Hilarious, illustrated, and perfect for fantasy and adventure fans! Tim and his sister Belinda are peasants who hope to improve their lot in life so they sign up as knights for a not-very-brave prince and his so-called magician sidekick to find and rescue Princess Grace from a monster. Helpful foreshadowing, a strong narrative voice, and humor throughout plus helpful life lessons from Belinda about the patriarchy and great vocabulary words (which are helpfully indicated so your parents will know the IQ benefits).
Chupacarter by George Lopez and Ryan Calejo
Fast-paced, exciting, well-written, and dynamically illustrated about friendship and monsters! Jorge gets sent to New Mexico to live with his abuelos but he is miserable. Bullied at his school by other kids and a mean big-game-hunting principal, Jorge unexpectedly makes a friend outside of school –with a chupacabra named Carter.But Carter ISN’T a monster and they have a lot in common like candy and climbing trees and playing hide-and-seek. Even still, Carter needs to reunite with his family especially because Jorge’s school principal is hunting him. Jorge and his two school friends come up with an ingenious plan to get Carter to safety–but will they be too late?
Bad Kitty Supercat by Nick Bruel
HUMOR GRAPHIC NOVEL
Bad Kitty’s owner tells Bad Kitty to get off screens and play with some other cats. But Bad Kitty isn’t happy about having playdates. Eventually, Playdate Candidate #4 (Strange Kitty) brings imagination and comic books and Strange Kitty helps Bad Kitty find his superhero persona –just in time to meet the supervillain! Playful, imaginative, and hilarious–this is my new favorite Bad Kitty book and his first graphic novel.
Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere by Elise Gravel
If you LOVE kooky books, this book fits the bill. Olga finds a most unusual, unknown creature whom she names “MEH” after the sound it makes. She uses her deductive reasoning to figure out what it is (something new!) and what it likes to eat (olives)! But what will she do when Meh disappears? Things I love about this book: 1) the illustrations — they rock! 2) the narrator’s voice — it’s believable and funny 3) the plot — especially the mean girls who aren’t so mean after all.
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Skottie Young
If you like quirky humor, then this is your perfect book. Because you will never believe, except you totally will, what happens when the kids’ father goes out to get more milk. He doesn’t even get the milk but he does run into pirates, aliens, and all sorts of incredible things! Totally hilarious and quite short–which is appealing to many readers.
Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai
REALISTIC / IMMIGRATION
Pie in the Sky is an insightful, funny, and poignant look at the struggles of immigrating to a new country (Australia) and the difficulties of learning English along with growing up and grieving the loss of a father. He misses baking with his papa so after school with his brother, he breaks his mom’s rules against using the kitchen and bakes the cakes that his father wanted to include in his dream Pie in the Sky bakery. Like Jingwen says about his new beginnings and sad losses, this is a story that is both salty and sweet.
Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
In the sweetest story of friendship, 10-year-old Livy meets Bob, a green zombie-looking monster wearing a chicken costume living in the closet at her grandma’s house. He’s been waiting for her to return for the last 5 years. Only Livy can’t remember him at all. Even when she leaves the house for an errand, she forgets. But she’s determined to help Bob find his way back home. Wherever that may be. We love this story!! This is a great family read-aloud choice!
It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit by Justin A. Reynolds
When he’s forced to stay home from the beach party because he needs to do his laundry since every single stinky piece of clothing, is dirty, Eddie hurries through the washing with quick cycles–until the power unexpectedly goes out. Eddie leaves the house to investigate and finds four other kids but NO ONE ELSE. No parents. No kids. NO ONE. It’s all very mysterious and suspenseful, especially when the street lights turn back on — without the electricity coming back on. What is going on? Cliff hanger alert!
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Forced to flee a dangerous situation in Mexico, Esperanza and her mother arrive in California and start working as migrant farm workers. The back-breaking work is only part of their new, challenging life. In this beautifully written, soulful novel, Esperanza learns to thrive no matter what her circumstances.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
This series is amazing! Greek gods still exist and so do their kids, demigods, who have incredible abilities. Unfortunately for these kids, monsters are out to kill them. But, they are also the only ones who can save the world from a war between the Greek gods the Titans. Percy goes to Camp Half-Blood where he gets trained to protect himself… that is until he’s sent on a dangerous quest. Betrayal, adventure, plot twists, and incredible mythological world-building make these stories that kids can’t put down.
Who Would Win? Whale vs. Giant Squid by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Rob Bolster
Kids can’t get enough of the Who Would Win? books that pit two ocean carnivores against each other. In this book, read facts about each creature then compare with a face-off. See if you can you predict who will win! See all the addicting informational books in the Who Would Win series.
Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle by Dana Simpson
FUNNY / GRAPHIC NOVELS
Sarcastic and hilarious, this is a laugh-out-loud story about a precocious young girl and her reluctant unicorn “best friend”. BOXED SET
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
Every Tuesday, the castle where Princess Celie and her family live, adds on a new room, or turret, or wing. Celie loves her castle and it’s living ways. So, when robbers attack her parents’ carriage, and they are never seen again, Celie takes comfort that their room is exactly the same, hoping the castle knows they are still alive. But can the castle and Celie stop the Royal Council and the foreign prince from taking over the kingdom? We LOVE this series!
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
Quirky and delightful, this is the tale of a girl named Flora who rescues a squirrel and keeps it as a friend. Together they experience the world in a unique, funny, and wonderful way, and straighten it out, too — especially Flora’s mother.
Restart by Gordon Korman
Chase has no memory of who he is or was. But he starts to get clues when straight out of the hospital when a strange girl dumps ice cream on his head. Chase soon realizes that he doesn’t like his former self. Now he’ll have to decide what kind of person he wants to be. Because he’s enjoying his new life in the film club and the new (“nerdy”) friends he’s made. This thought-provoking book for 4th grade will challenge kids to consider their choices, behavior, and life goals.
The Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck by Matt Phelan
In this illustrated historical adventure, Benjamin Franklin’s young assistant Emile teams up with a sheep, a rooster, a duck, and a girl his age to thwart a dastardly villain and a sinister secret society who want to use one of Franklin’s inventions for nefarious purposes.
Killer Species by Michael P. Spradlin
Get ready for a fast-paced adventure series about a mad scientist who creates a hybrid crocodile-dinosaur-bird killer creature to stop visitors from entering the Everglades. Emmet and his father arrive to investigate but when his father is kidnapped, Emmet and his friend, Calvin, know it’s up to them to find where the kidnapper is holding Emmet’s father. GREAT for reluctant readers — and anyone who loves an action-packed sci-fi mystery!
Garvey’s Choice: The Graphic Novel written by Nikki Grimes, art by Theodore Taylor III
Garvey’s dad wants him to play sports instead of reading. Making life even worse, everyone seems to make fun of Garvey’s size, calling him names like chunky and little piggy. Then, a new foodie friend helps Garvey enjoy food and not feel guilty about eating. That same friend also encourages Garvey to join the chorus, which he does secretly and loves it. Singing makes Garvey feel more like himself. This sweet coming-of-age story is written in tanka poetry, so it reads like a graphic novel in verse with some dialogue. It’s fast, mesmerizing, and emotion-filled.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The best selling children’s books of all time, this is a MUST READ for many reasons: the brilliant storytelling, a complex and entertaining plot, relatable characters, rich language, essential life lessons about friendship and bravery, and more. (See all my reasons for reading Harry Potter.)
Wallace the Brave by Will Henry
HUMOR / GRAPHIC NOVEL
If you like the humor in Calvin and Hobbes, you must read Wallace the Brave. It’s hilarious. You’ll laugh your way through stories of Wallace’s life on the school bus, on the playground, playing with friends, hanging with his fisherman dad, and more. I’m smiling just writing this as I think back on his antics and adventures that cracked me up.
The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg
What a lovely surprise! This Sherlock Holmes inspired book for 4th graders is well-written with a great plot. John Watson moves with his mom who has recently left both the military and John’s dad to Harlem. There he meets a very unique girl named Shelby Holmes who reluctantly allows him to tag along with her as she solves her latest crime — the mystery of a missing show-dog stolen from a classmate’s secure house.
Area 51 Files by Julie Buxbaum, illustrated by Lavanya Naidu
Sky moves to Area 51, a sanctuary for aliens, where her new guardian, her uncle. She’s sad that she can’t ever leave Area 51 or see her beloved grandma again but she makes friend with an alien boy at school. When a group of aliens is abducted, all clues point to Sky’s uncle. She and her friends try to solve who the culprit really is. It’s a funny mystery, adventure, and friendship story with aliens and illustrations!
Ride On by Faith Erin Hicks
REALISTIC / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Norrie loves horses and the low-key stables where she works and rides. She welcomes the new girl, Victoria, who rejects her offer of friendship because Victoria has decided that no friends means no drama. But another friend at the stables connects to Victoria about their friend group with a favorite science fiction show. They find common ground, forgiveness, and mutual support. It’s a beautifully knit-together, relatable story of friendship, horses, being yourself, and growing in confidence.
The Familiars series by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
My kids and I are big fans of this fantasy series. Do you know about familiars? They are the magical animal companions to wizards. And in this first story, the kids and their familiars must save the world when the wizards’ powers are taken away. Great books for 4th graders who love animals and magical adventures.
Two-Headed Chicken by Tom Angleberger
Hilarious!! If you like wacky, bizarre humor then this is your next favorite read. This is a story about the multiverse in which you are a two-headed chicken being chased by a moose…and it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Follow the two-headed chicken through the multiverse, take funny quizzes, meet a fish with deep feelings as well as a lawyer, and learn about so much more!
Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac
REALISTIC / VERSE
Because of the pandemic, Malin is sent away to live with her grandparents on the Wabanaki reservation. A rez dog named Malsum adopts her, becoming her ally and friend, which helps her adjust to living without her parents. Her grandparents teach Malin about the history of Native kids taken away by the government. Her grandparents share many other stories of their beliefs and history which help Malin connect to her heritage.
Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by Science Bob Pflugfleder and Steve Hockensmith
SCI-FI / MYSTERY BOOK
Siblings Nick and Tesla are shipped off to live with their mad-scientist Uncle Newt for the summer while their parents are . . . doing something with soybeans in Uzbekistan? When left to fend for themselves, the siblings discover something very suspicious at the old mansion down the street. Throughout the story, these STEM wizards invent gadgets and gizmos and give you directions to do the same. This adventurous STEM series makes science and technology fun!
Voyage of the Frostheart by Jamie Littler
BEST FANTASY BOOKS
A fantastic, illustrated adventure book for 4th grade about an orphan boy with forbidden musical powers. 4th-grade readers meet sentient creatures like the vulpi, a walrus and a yeti, not just human-kin, who live in Strongholds to stay safe from the monstrous Lurkers and Leviathans. After Ash’s Pathfinder parents disappear, Ash moves in with a strict guardian Yeti named Tobu. Unfortunately, they’re banished from their home when Ash uses his forbidden Song Weaver magic. They leave the village with a Pathfinder crew and Ash realizes that he can find his parents using the words in his childhood lullaby.
The Pear Affair by Judith Eagle, illustrated by Jo Rioux
Nell can’t wait to tag along with her horrid and neglectful parents to Paris so she can search for her beloved former nanny Pear who she’s convinced is missing since Pear hasn’t written in months. While in Paris, Nell learns about the strange moldy bread problem plaguing the city’s bakeries. She meets new friends who guide her around the underground tunnels of Paris. They help her find Nell and uncover the truth about her parents and their connection to the moldy bread. A page-turning mystery with a perfect ending!
Liberty Porter, First Daughter by Julia DeVillers
This is a light-hearted series about a girl whose dad becomes the President. We follow along as she adjusts to living in the White House, having a bodyguard, and experiences being the First Daughter. BOXED SET
Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
FANTASY / GRAPHIC NOVEL
While Jack’s single mom works, Jack takes care of his little sister, Maddy. In this modern version, Jack trades the family’s one valuable thing, his mom’s car, for seeds. Of course, everything goes downhill from there… The seeds turn in to a freaky, monster-growing garden who attacks, their neighbor friend secretly steals some 0f the seeds, a dragon appears with a dire warning; and, Maddy is kidnapped by one of the monsters! Action, adventure, intrigue, these books for 4th graders are so much fun to read! Don’t miss the sequel, Mighty Jack and the Goblin King.
Katie the Catsitter by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Stephanie Yue
If you like mystery, adventure, and CATS, you won’t want to miss this entertaining graphic novel! Katie desperately wants to join her friends at their summer camp so to earn money, she gets a job for her neighbor Madeline catsitting 217 cats. But, something is VERY weird because these are super-smart cats with destructive behaviors and powerful abilities, not to mention that Katie finds evidence that her neighbor might be the supervillain, Moustress. Then, when the Moustress gets captured, Katie decides she and the cats must take action and save their friend.
Katerina Ballerina by Tiler Peck and Kyle Harris, illustrated by Sumiti Collina
An earnest young girl loves ballet but since her dad can’t afford lessons, she watches YouTube videos and practices in her room. After a disastrous talent shows Katerina’s dad her bravery, Katrina’s dad stretches the budget for lessons. It’s not a great start though– she shows up in red swimming suit and homemade tutu! But she makes a friend who helps her learn ballet terms and adjust to formal classes. As Katrina becomes more serious in her dancing, a competition reminds Katrina that she needs to balance both working hard and enjoying dancing.
Everyday Angel by Victoria Schwab
My daughter loves these books for 4th graders about an angel named Aria who is earning her wings by helping girls who are struggling in some way. In the first book, Aria helps Gabby. Gabby’s brother is hospitalized indefinitely and her mom is totally focused on her brother. It’s up to Aria to help Gabby at her new school and discover who she is. These are sweet, uplifting stories.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Stuck in a museum with her sister and father who is working on a sword exhibit, Ophelia’s curiosity leads her to a locked room where a boy has been trapped for thousands of years. But Ophelia doesn’t believe in magic. Except– she kind of does. She remembers how her mother used to tell her stories of magic . . . This is a breathtaking journey of loss, acceptance, hope, and friendship. Go here to see my book club guide about this book.
Holes by Louis Sachar
Poor Stanley. He’s got the worst luck of anyone — and is now sent to a youth detention camp in the desert where he has to dig holes all day long. All because of his no-good, pig-stealing great-great-grandfather. This was one of my students’ favorite books (mine, too)! You’ll love the crazy adventures as Stanley and his new friend figure out what’s happening at this supposed detention camp and escape, with only onions to eat. And yes, even that has to do with Stanley’s pig-stealing grandfather. You’ll love it.
Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere by Elise Gravel
If you LOVE kooky books for 4th graders, this book fits the bill. Olga finds a most unusual, unknown creature whom she names “MEH” after the sound it makes. She uses her deductive reasoning to figure out what it is (something new!) and what it likes to eat (olives)! But what will she do when Meh disappears? Things I love about this book: 1) the illustrations — they rock! 2) the narrator’s voice — it’s believable and funny 3) the plot — especially the mean girls who aren’t so mean after all.
What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau
Mexican-American Clara Luna doesn’t know anything about her father’s Mexican heritage until she spends the summer with her grandparents in rural Mexico. There, she discovers the beauty of her grandparents’ life and culture and grows into her own identity. This is a beautiful, important book, one that I’ve read several times and highly recommend.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
I think you already know about these books but if you don’t, they’re beautifully written fantasy adventures that will hook your kids with the magical world of Narnia. We recently listened to the series on audiobook which was even more fun to hear it read in a British accent. (Since we’re American.)
The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao
ANIMAL / FRIENDSHIP
(This is the sequel to award-winning, The One and Only Ivan…I think you could read this independently but it would be richer if you read it after the first book.) Bob’s now living in a home with the girl from the mall but he’s restless and insecure, believing he’s a fraud. When Bob visits his friends Ivan and Ruby at the zoo, a hurricane hits. Ivan gets trapped under a building, and Bob can’t find his people. As Ivan says, there’s one and only Bob to help rescue everyone. Sweet, redemptive, and adventurous, this is a story of a dog who finds himself while searching for others.
One and Only Ruby by Katherine Applegate
Ruby is dreading Tuskday because she associates tusks with pain. She tells her uncles (Bob and Ivan) about her life before, her life in Africa when she was happy and loved until hunters slaughtered her herd. After that, Ruby was rescued, then captured again by greedy black-market animal traders, and sent to the zoo in the mall. Also, Ruby misses her beloved auntie Stella. Ruby’s new aunties help her to honor Stella, and it helps Ruby realizes that Stella was with her all along…and that she IS ready for the Tuskday growing up ceremony.
Minerva Keen’s Detective Club by James Patterson and Keir Graff
Has there ever been an exciting kid-appropriate murder mystery? Not often, that’s for sure! In this murder mystery story, amateur detective Minerva finds one person after another who has been poisoned! She is intent on helping the police detective solve the case, so she, her brother Heck, and her new school friend Santos investigate every possibility. It’s fast-paced, interesting, and engaging.
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Crenshaw is the new book from the author of The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate, and it’s another amazing story dealing with poverty. Jackson’s family is about to lose their apartment again. Although Jackson’s parents don’t tell him this, he knows the signs. He knows why they’re having a yard sale. He knows it’s not his dad’s fault for having MS but he’s mad and worried and alone. It isn’t until Crenshaw shows up and pushes Jackson to speak the truth to his parents that Jackson learns that he’s not facing this alone. Oh, and who is Crenshaw? He’s Jackson’s large, imaginary cat friend from when he was little returned to help Jackson in his time of need. I felt like it was a God metaphor. I wonder what you’ll think?
The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas
Now that her mother has died, Trinket decides to take the map her missing storyteller father left behind and try to find him. Her friend, Thomas the Pig Boy, travels with her. Each place on the map gives Trinket a new story to tell and she imagines she could learn to be a storyteller like her father. Amazing adventures ensue. When Trinket learns the fate of her father in the seventh story, she must make a very hard decision.
The Remarkable Rescue of Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos
Butternut grows up in a close-knit rabbit family with lessons, rules, and storytelling. Although, when he ignores his family’s rules, everything changes for the better. Breaking the rules, Butternut befriends a talkative, kind-hearted robin and a wounded fawn. When they discover coyote cubs without their mother, Butternut must decide how far his kindness toward others will extend — will it include predators? Metafiction elements about stories, plotting, and narrative twists add extra playful fun to this story as well. This is a sweet story of kindness, friendship, and community.
The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
Hilarious. While on a class trip to Washington D.C., Wyatt and his best friend, Matt, are positive they’ve discovered a plot to blow up the White House. Wyatt’s crush, Suzanna, helps the friends make a plan, and as you can imagine, disaster and hilarity strike. I totally loved this book and know your kids (especially those who like humor) will as well.
Batman, Robin, and Howard by Jeffrey Brown
When Damian aka. Robin is sent to a new school, he immediately clashes with a kid named Howard, probably because Howard is smart and athletic just like Damian. But if they’re going to work as a team in soccer and in science, they’ll need to figure out how to get along. Fortunately, they become the best of friends. Then, when Damian’s dad, Batman, goes missing, the two of them work together to find the missing superhero and help Batman solve his current soccer-related case.
The Kicks Saving the Team by Alex Morgan
Finally, a fantastic books for soccer girls! If you have a soccer player in your house, and I think a LOT of you do, you’ll want to get your soccer lover this book –actually, buy her the entire series. Written by Olympic Gold Medalist and U.S. Soccer team member (among other things), Alex Morgan, it’s a realistic story of life, friendship, and playing soccer. Box set here.
The Curious Cat Spy Club by Linda Joy Singleton
Three kids from seemingly different social circles band together to rescue kittens that they find in a dumpster. Now their newly formed detective club wants to discover who dumped these innocent kittens. The answer surprises everyone. Each book in this lovely, well-written mystery series is about three kind kids who solve mysteries.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Charlie is one of the five winning children allowed to tour Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. But it’s a tour unlike any other and the other not-too-nice-kids kids strangely disappear throughout. Funny and quirky, this book remains a classic for a good reason.
Anyone But Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp
You are going to ADORE Ivy and this story entirely. Ivy’s totally clueless and so very quirky. Who else would say this to her future employer, the Duchess: “You poor deluded creature . . . dying has sapped the strength from your eyes. I’m remarkably pretty, and that’s a genuine fact.” I read many parts out loud to my kids while I was reading this book – they were just so funny!! Now my kids are addicted, too. Ivy’s adventures involve a sinister ghost, a mystical jewel, and a surprising destiny.
Wild Survival: Crocodile Rescue! by Melissa Cristina Marquez
#OWNVOICES / ADVENTURE / ANIMAL RESCUE
Adrianna’s parents have an animal sanctuary and host an animal rescue that is moving from YouTube to television. On this trip, which is being filmed for the new show, the family goes to the mangrove forest of Cuba to help an injured crocodile. (The book is interspersed with factual information about all the wildlife they encounter!) Andriana messes up and gets grounded but besides saving a dog, she realizes something the grown-ups missed– that the rescued crocodile had a nest of eggs. She convinces her brother to help her save the eggs but they have a very close call with poachers, adding in suspense and a touch of danger. Engaging and interesting!
The Zombie Chasers by John Kloepfer and Steve Wolfhard
Filled with cartoon illustrations, this early chapter book series highlights the bravery of a group of friends (and siblings) who will save the world from zombies. A fun kid-powered adventure with zombies.
Charlotte Spies for Justice A Civil War Survival Story (Girls Survive) by Nikki Shannon Smith
Based on the true story of a courageous female spy in the South during the Civil War. Charlotte is a servant girl in Elizabeth Van Lew’s house, who becomes a spy for the Union. Readable, compelling, and interesting.
Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson
I thought this was not just a great story but I loved that the main character (the ninja) is a girl. The story is easily read, written in a combo of text and comics. Great books for 4th graders!
Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds
Miles’s spidey sense is whacking out when he’s at school, especially in his history class. Add to that, he’s worried he will turn out like his criminal uncle. So, Miles, who is Puerto-Rican and African American, stops being Spider-Man. Until he discovers a chilling plot of men named Chamberlain who work under the control of The Warden. Now, he must use all his skills to save the world from a racist threat. You’ll love the diversity, the two-parent family, and the complexity of Mile’s character– this is a GREAT book.
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale & Dale Hale
One of my favorite books EVER! This Rapunzel story is set in the wild west — she uses her braids to lasso bad guys while searching for her mother with her sidekick Jack.
Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley
GRAPHIC NOVEL / SLICE OF LIFE / DIVORCE
After her parents’ divorce, Jen moves to a farm with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend whose kids visit on the weekends. It’s a huge transition — she doesn’t love how bossy and whiney her stepsisters are and how annoying her mom’s boyfriend is. But she loves the chicks she takes care of and the farmer’s market. Well, she loves it until her math skills aren’t good enough to be helpful. This story gently shows the ups and downs of living with a new family in a new place.
Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior by Cube Kid, illustrated by Saboten
ADVENTURE / SCI-FI
Runt is a 12-year old with real problems. He doesn’t want to be a typical villager with the typical boring life. He wants to be a warrior like Steve. So he’s excited when his school finally agrees that the villagers might need warriors to fight back against the nightly attacks. When Steve loses everything and moves in with Runt’s family, Runt hopes that Steve will help with his warrior training. Runt’s a relatable, mostly serious, character who just wants a different life — like most kids his age and is competing for a dream opportunity. BOXED SET
Dragon Vs. Unicorns: Kate the Chemist by Dr. Kate Biberdorf with Hillary Homzie
Exciting from the first page (a fire breathing science experiment!!), these awesome new STEM chapter books for 4th graders are hard to put down. There are many things happening in Kate’s busy life every day but no matter if she’s dealing with science, the school play, or friends, she’s a determined problem solver. When she tries to figure out who is sabotaging the school musical, it’s going to take all her skills to find the culprit.
Timmy Failure by Stephan Pastis
Timmy is a clueless detective with a polar bear sidekick. Their adventures will make you laugh out loud!
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, illustrated by Todd Harris
FANTASY / HUMOR
The princes in the fairy tales aren’t as famous as their princesses but in this story, it’s all about them! Kicked out of their castles, these princes turn from bumbling idiots into heroes and save their kingdoms with hilarity and adventure!
Hero Rescue Mission by Jennifer Li Shotz
In this Hero story, Ben’s dad is captured by escaped convicts. Ben and police dog, Hero, set off to find Ben’s dad. Ben’s already injured and Hero’s too emotional to track the scent so they’re going to need help if they’re going to find his dad. Action from the first page to the last. Kids who love adventure and animals will love these books for 4th graders.
Gold Rush Girl by Avi
14-year-old Victoria sneaks aboard a ship with her father and younger brother bound for stinky, muddy San Francisco and the hope of gold. She’s surrounded by mostly men and no other kids and soon realizes that no one is getting rich but ships and people keep pouring in. Their dad leaves them in a tent for months while he searches for gold. Victoria makes the best of it but her 10-year-old brother doesn’t. Then he gets kidnapped and sold and Victoria and two friends race to rescue him. It’s an interesting, exciting story that gives readers a strong sense of setting and historical perspective.
Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake
If you like sweet stories of friendship, you won’t want to miss this new story. Prickly Badger’s life and rock studies are the most (and only) important thing in his life. Unexpectedly, he’s rudely interrupted by a new roommate, the helpful, philosophical, and curious chicken-loving Skunk. Badger wants Skunk to leave but he’s surprised when he enjoys Sunk’s cooking and company. Then after a spray incident and cruel comments he regrets, Badger fixes his mistake the two friends find that they’re better off together.
Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe
You will love this captivating main character an apprentice witch who struggles with insecurity, bullying, and self-doubt. She doesn’t have a lot of magic but does have strength, even if she needs a few reminders about it. She will be able to help her city even with semi-magical skills. A sweet, magical story.
Lunch Lady by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
If you haven’t read these addictive and hilarious graphic novels, they are a must — anyone who has eaten lunch in school will appreciate the humor, even parents love these books.
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
Clayton feels happiest with his grandfather, playing the blues. Unfortunately, his mom hates everything about the blues because it represents her father’s abandonment of the family. When Clayton’s beloved grandfather dies and his mom takes his harmonica, Clayton ditches school to find his grandfather’s old band. Instead of musicians, he encounters a gang of boys and gets picked up by the police. This is a superbly crafted chapter book for 4th graders is about grief, family, and forgiveness.
Secret Coders: Get with the Program by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
SCI-FI GRAPHIC NOVEL
What’s happening at Hopper’s new school? She and her friends discover something very amazing about the birds — they’re robotic and can be controlled by numbers. Which leads the kids to go up against the scheming, evil janitor. Readers learn some basics of how to use the programming language Logo with sequence, iteration, and selection, and must apply their knowledge to help the characters. I love the interactivity, the diverse main characters, and the progressive way the authors teach the logical thinking of programming. Very well-done!
Aleca Zamm Is a Wonder by Ginger Rue, illustrated by Zoe Persico
I enjoyed this well-written, fast-paced adventure book, new chapter books for 4th graders. On her 10th birthday, Aleca accidentally discovers if she says her full name, she can STOP TIME. Which helps her on her math test. Then her Aunt Zephyr arrives and explains a few things about being a Wonder. One, other Wonders who aren’t very nice could use those time stops to find Aleca. And two, she needs to learn how to control her power so it won’t control her. And three, a 10-year old shouldn’t be in charge of the world clock.
Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, illustrated by Emily Balistrieri
As a huge fan of the movie, I was so impressed at how true to the original book, the film stayed. This sweet story is about a 13-year-old half-witch named Kiki who leaves home for her year-long apprenticeship to a town. She flies with her cat and they find a seaside town that needs a witch. There, Kiki settles above a bakery and uses her wits and magic to endear herself to the town as a helpful delivery girl. Lovely, lovely, lovely!
The Supervillain’s Guide to Being a Fat Kid by Matt Wallace
COMING OF AGE / BULLYING
An outstanding, surprisingly philosophical, poignant story about dealing with bullies, growing in confidence, and the complexities of human beings. Matt doesn’t think he can survive 3 more years of middle school bullying so he writes supervillain Master Plan who is also a “gentleman of size”, asking for help. Surprisingly, Master Plan emails back with helpful, sage advice but is Master Plan actually looking out for Max or for himself?
Wing & Claw: Forest of Wonder by Linda Sue Park
Step into the world of a talented apothecary named Raffa. He’s horrified to discover that someone in the capital city is using the rare plant he and his cousin found to forcefully control animals. Not only that, whoever is doing this is removing baby animals from their mothers and training a bear to be a killer. When Raffa discovers who is behind it, he, his friend, and the animals he saves must escape from the city and the horrible truth.
King of the Bench No Fear! by Steve Moore
HUMOR / SPORTS
You’ll laugh out loud, no joke, at the musings and life of Steve, our narrator. He’s totally hilarious as he shares about life getting on the baseball team but developing a fear of baseball. His coach (Coach Earwax dubbed thusly because of well, you can imagine) calls everyone babe, a cool girl named Becky tries out and gets on the team, and all Steve’s teammates have the most interesting stories. Fantastically funny illustrations.
Magical Land of Birthdays by Amirah Kassem
Amirah lives in Mexico and loves cooking and baking. When her neighbor gives her an old cookbook titled The Power of Sprinkles, Amirah knows it’s the perfect cookbook for her upcoming birthday cake. Strangely, the cookbook transports her to the Magical Land of Birthdays where she meets other kids with her exact same birthdate as her who are from different areas of the world. Together they have an exciting, magical adventure that includes finding a missing B-Bud girl, parties, unicorns, and of course, cake.
Rosetown by Cynthia Rylant
REALISTIC / WHOLESOME
This is an atmospheric, small-town slice-of-life story that takes place in Rosetown, Indiana. A big part of 4th grader Flora’s life is her friendship with Yury and reading in the used bookstore where her mom works. Flora’s struggling to adjust to her parents’ separation and two different homes. No matter where she goes, she brings her cat, Serenity. Flora does things like take piano lessons and help Yury with his dog training classes. The story ends with Flora’s parents working things out and starting their own business together.
The Jolly Regina: The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Jen Hill
ADVENTURE / HUMOR
Even before their parents disappeared, Jaundice and Kale Bland loathed excitement and adventure. But their boring existence is rudely disrupted when they are kidnapped by all-female pirates. Who would have thought they could adapt to pirate life, search for their long-lost pirate parents, and return home with the exact same desire for boring as when they left? Funny and very entertaining!
Elephant Secret by Eric Walters
REALISTIC / ANIMALS
You’ll zip through this lovely story about a girl named Sam who lives on an elephant sanctuary with her father. A mysterious benefactor has paid for an elephant to become pregnant — but it’s not actually an elephant that she births, it’s a wooly mammoth cloned from DNA. Sam’s connection with the elephant is amazing, especially the baby mammoth whom she names Woolly. Things go very wrong when their benefactor forces she and her father to leave the sanctuary. As she deals with this, Sam must also come to terms with her father’s long-term girlfriend. It’s a great story that will keep animal-lovers enthralled with new knowledge about elephants and their behavior.
Of Giants and Ice by Shelby Bach
When Rory finds out that her new after-school club, Ever After School, is a fairy tale training school for characters. In fact, on her first day she fights a real dragon! We learn that all the kids will be assigned their own character in a familiar tale – and the chance to prove themselves. It’s also the beginning of acceptance for Rory – finding friends for the first time and learning about herself. Love it
If the Magic Fits (100 Dresses) by Susan Maupin Schmid
Darling Dimple is thrilled to be moved from a kitchen scrubber to an upstairs dress presser for the princess. One day, she discovers a special closet of enchanted dresses. When Darling suspects a plot against the princess she uses dresses magic to help her investigate. Who is trying to free the dragons? Who wants to take over the kingdom? This lovable heroine and a charming magical plot will enchant 9 year old readers.
The Loser’s Club by Andrew Clements
Ever been called a bookworm or a loser? Well, Alec has been called both — because he IS an avid reader. In fact, he gets in trouble for reading during class. As far as the loser comment? Alec decides to claim that word. He makes an after-school care club just for reading (not a book club because who wants to talk?), calling it the Loser’s Club. Surprisingly, the club attracts other kids (despite the name). As it does, Alec starts noticing life outside his stories — the cute girl, the needs of other kids, the feelings! Book lovers, you’ll want to read this genuine story with all your favorite books, relatable characters, and the growing pains that happen when we look up from a book.
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