Teachers and parents, do you need suggestions for good read-aloud books for the 4th grade?
Research shows that reading aloud, as you probably know, expands vocabulary, improves comprehension, develops imagination, increases attention span, and best of all, engages readers in wonderful stories!
What’s more, sharing a read-aloud story can offer a wealth of instructional value as well as spark rich discussions.
In addition, if you read aloud an instructional-level book, it can get kids started on a new favorite book series.
(*For those of you not in the U.S., 4th grade here is about 9-years-old.)
Read-Aloud Books for 4th Grade
Restart by Gordon Korman
A head injury after a fall off the roof means Chase has no memory. No memory of his mom or his friends or who he was as a person. But he starts to get clues about his personality when a strange girl dumps ice cream on his head and his little sister is scared of him and his two best friends think it’s funny to torment other kids and treat old people with disregard. Just what kind of person was he? Chase doesn’t think he likes what he’s learning about himself. Now he’ll have to decide what kind of person he wants to be going forward. Because he’s enjoying the film club and the new (“nerdy”) friends he’s made. It’s a thought-provoking novel that will challenge kids to consider how their behavior influences the way other people perceive them.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Wonderfully crafted and imagined, this 2017 Newbery winner is a fairy tale of sorts about a good witch who rescues one of the town’s many abandoned (sacrificed) babies instead of giving her to another town to adopt and love. She’s a special baby named Luna who accidentally becomes infused with moon magic. It’s also the story of the baby’s magical, bereaved mother, a wicked witch who feeds off sorrow, a woodcarver who wants justice, and most of all, an amazing girl named Luna.
Roll with It by Jamie Sumner
Ellie is a girl who loves to bake, who has CP (cerebral palsy) and who rolls through life in a wheelchair. When her mom moves them to Oklahoma to help care for her grandfather, even though Ellie’s from the so-called wrong side of the tracks, she makes friends with other trailer park kids — the first friends she’s ever had. It’s a sweet story about taking risks, the importance of finding your tribe, and growing up. I appreciate that the author skillfully shows readers that kids in wheelchairs are just like everyone else but with different challenges like accessibility (where your chair can go) and getting dressed.
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?
Cress Watercress by Gregory Maguire, illustrated by David Litchfield
With delicious figurative language and deliberate word choice, this is a stunningly beautiful story about family, community, grief, and stories which begs to be read aloud. Cress and her family leave their cozy burrow after the death of her father. They move to the Broken Arms oak tree ruled by a cranky Owl with a noisy neighbor squirrel family. Cress navigates her new environment, the natural world, and the stories around her, all of which help her understand her inner world, especially how grief waxes and wanes like the moon’s cycles. Filled with immensely lovable characters, a gentle storyline of adventure and discovery, and lavish illustrations, I adore everything about this book.
Rules by Cynthia Lord
I highly recommend reading this meaningful, coming-of-age story about 12-year old Catherine. Read it in your classroom and with your children to develop empathy and compassion for children who have autism. Catherine’s worked hard to help her autistic brother, David, learn the rules about life. But now that she has new friends, she’s feeling more embarrassed about her brother than compassionate.
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
This book hooked me from the first page, taking me on a coming-of-age story that was both heartbreaking and filled with hope. Perry is well-loved by his mother and her friends. . . in prison. That’s where Perry has lived since he was born eleven years ago. But in an unexpected and unpleasant turn of events, his best friend’s stepfather, the new District Attorney, forces Perry to leave the prison. Not only that, the DA tries to stall Perry’s mother’s parole hearing. Perry discovers the stories behind the inmates’ lives, hoping that they’ll be helpful in reuniting him with his mother.
Voyage of the Sparrowhawk by Natasha Farrant
If you want a new favorite warm-hearted adventure with brave kids, dogs, and a happy ending, you don’t want to miss this captivating and beautiful story. The war has made Ben an orphan –again. All that he has left are his dog and his dad’s boat, the Sparrowhawk. When a policeman gets suspicious of Ben’s living situation and his new friend, Lotti’s abusive guardians try to kill her rescue dog, the two friends set off on the boat for France to find Ben’s missing older brother. The boat isn’t meant for a channel crossing but the two kids are determined to make it work…but it won’t be easy. Nor will it be easy to find Ben’s missing brother in a country decimated by war.
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
(SERIES) REALISTIC / HUMOR
Most kids love funny books which means that they will LOVE this series! (Read this to introduce the series.) Besides learning valuable cow trivia, this first book is about the hilarious adventure of two pranksters who begin as rivals but later work together to pull off the biggest school prank of all time — a prank that will ensure that they get April Fool’s Day off from school.
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Hands-down one of the best life-changing books you’ll ever read. Narrated by Melody, we learn what it’s like for her, trapped in a body with cerebral palsy that doesn’t allow her to speak or take care of herself. No one except her parents think that she’s smart. Then one day, she gets a chance to prove it. Heartbreaking. Real. Inspiring. Beautifully written and sure to develop empathy.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Both Ally and her older brother have hidden that they can’t read — until Mr. Daniels who helps her learn to read and discover her value. It’s a beautiful, emotionally resonate story that will help kids either see themselves or develop empathy and compassion.
Space Case and Spaced Out by Stuart Gibbs
review written by 11-year old JJ
This series was AMAZING! It was a murder mystery on the moon. I can never turn down a good, realistic sci-fi PLUS murder mystery. It has it all! It was placed in 2040 and their second-in-command had died. He had walked out the airlock (to the moon’s surface) with his space suit on wrong– he died in seconds. Everyone thought he had gone crazy, but Dashiel Gibson suspected differently. Murder. The first book is almost mirrored in the second –the base commander this time disappears. With just enough breaking the rules, they can figure out where she is and who did it.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Kyle and a few classmates win a sleepover at the town’s newly created library by game-creator Mr. Lemoncello. The silly Mr. Lemoncello devises a fun way to get OUT of the library — you can only get out if you solve the puzzles around the entire library. Will the kids work together or will it be every child for himself? Kids can’t put this literary adventure book down, nor it’s the subsequent books in the series.
Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
They’re not supposed to be in the woods, but to avoid Chad the bully, Tamaya and Marshall go there anyway. Tamaya discovers the weird-looking “fuzzy mud” and throws it at Chad’s face. When Chad goes missing, and Tamaya’s hand gets a bloody rash, it’s clear that the mud is not just mud. Fast-paced and adventurous, this read aloud book introduces 4th-grade kids to the science fiction genre and environmentalism.
One-Third Nerd by Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Eglantine Ceulemans
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
On her 12th birthday, Zoe, a girl who loves to bake, discovers a letter to her from her incarcerated biological father, Marcus. She decides to write him back, even daring to ask him about the murder he’s in jail for — did he really do it? Marcus writes to Zoe that he’s innocent and he can prove it which sets Zoe on a quest to find out the truth for herself, even if her mom and dad forbid it. She enlists the help of her Grandma and her best friend, Trevor. You won’t be able to put down this winsome story with a heroine you can’t help but adore; a story that illuminates social justice with themes of family, friendship, and love.
Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart
It’s the 1890s and after losing his entire family, Joseph also loses his horse when it’s sold without his permission. He journeys to find and buy back his horse, which he considers his only family left alive. As he travels, he develops a friendship with a Chinese boy who speaks no English, wins a horse race, helps deliver a baby, and fights an outlaw. It’s excellent writing — your students won’t want to stop reading this story.
Patina by Jason Reynolds
Patina’s anger sometimes gets the best of her but running helps make it better. She’s mad about her dad dying, her mom’s legs being amputated, and her new school. When her track coach makes Patty work with her teammates in a relay, she’s forced to rely on them. And that changes things. Patina is a beautiful coming-of-age story that will tug at your emotions.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Like The Penderwicks, you’ll fall in love with this quirky, wonderful family from the first page. The Vanderbeekers’ landlord wants them out by the end of December but the Vanderbeeker kids are determined to change his mind, even though he hates noise, kids, and their family. But it’s almost Christmas and their efforts are only making things worse. What will they do? Charming and heart-warming.
Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
(SERIES) HUMOR / MAGICAL REALISM
A funny but poignant read aloud book of middle-school angst and discovery! Unpopular Dwight can make origami Star Wars characters. When his puppet of Yoda comes to life, just like Yoda, the origami Yoda is wise and helpful during the many trials of 6th grade.
Refugee by Alan Gratz
This book is a tween must-read book about what refugees experience. Follow three distinct stories about being displaced from your country, on the run, and in danger. First is a young Jewish boy who escapes from Nazi Germany on a ship to Cuba. Next is a Cuban girl in the 1990s who flees in a homemade raft to the United States. Finally, is a story about a Syrian boy whose home is bombed in a country at war. Gatz skillfully connects all three stories with a satisfying, realistic conclusion.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
Like the Harry Potter books, I’ve read this book so many times, often as a read-aloud choice for my 4th and 5th-grade students because it’s so well-written and interesting. This is a wonderful adventure of two siblings who run away from home and live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC where they discover a mystery. While unraveling the clues about of who created the angel statue, the brother and sister duo discover that a Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler will help them with more than the mystery, but with growing up and going home, too.
Set in Victorian London, this is a beautiful, bittersweet story about a plucky girl and her protector golem which in the telling, illuminates the horrifying lives of chimney sweep kids as well as the world’s anti-semitism. Young Nan’s Sweep father-figure is gone so she works for a cruel chimney sweep who uses children to make himself richer. When another sweep tries to burn Nan alive, a charcoal golem, formerly a piece of charcoal left to her by Sweep, emerges to save her. She and her growing protector golem, Char, find a new place to live but must stay vigilant so her old master doesn’t find them. On their own, they are helped by a street boy and a kind Jewish teacher. It’s an irresistible story that will expand your heart…and your definition of what makes a monster.
Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin
Snow and Rose are two sisters who with their mother live in the woods after their father disappeared in those same woods. The girls befriend both a young boy from a mushrooming family and a large bear. Danger comes from the Huntsman and the sinister Little Man who seeks to enchant them or kill them. Surprisingly, this is a Grimm story with a happy ending . . . which I won’t spoil. Marvelous storytelling!
Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt
REALISTIC – FAMILY, COMING-OF-AGE
Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres
In a sweet story of figuring out who you are and taking pride in your culture, Stef Soto feels embarrassed by her dad’s taco truck, especially when he picks her up at school. But that changes when she learns that new city regulations could force her dad to sell the truck and get a different job. Filled with relatable middle school angst, Spanish words, Latinx culture, friendship troubles, and a loving family, this yummy read is a savory treat.