25 Must-Read Books for Grades 4-6

I think the best book lists come from recommendations! Over the years, I’ve read many good books. And the best ones have had me engrossed from the time I started it to the very last lines. Here are my favorite books for grades 4-6.

I think the best book lists come from recommendations! Over the years, I've read many good books. And the best ones have had me engrossed from the time I started it to the very last lines. Here are my favorite books for grades 4-6.

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I think the best book lists come from recommendations! Over the years, I’ve read many good books. And the best ones have had me engrossed from the time I started it to the very last lines. Here are my favorite books for grades 4-6.

Each of the following stories are well written and have solid plot development. Each has likable, rich characters who grow as the story progresses. Each has a solid messages and themes of hope, courage, beauty, wonder, integrity, friendship, and more.

These books make great read alouds and are entertaining, thought-provoking, and enjoyable for kids and adults alike. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did!

25 Must-Read Books for Grades 4-6: My Favorites

1. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

A mouse. A princess. Soup. Thread. This is a beautifully woven tale about a brave little mouse where the characters’ lives intersect masterfully.

2. Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

Sweep is a historical fantasy novel that feels like Charles Dickens meets fairy tale. It is a beautifully written story that has a bit of something for everyone. Eleven year-old Nan Sparrow works as a chimney climber, a thankless and deadly job.

After being stuck in a chimney fire, Nan is saved by a mysterious creature. This creature turns out to be a golem, who she names Charlie. Nan and Charlie take refuge in an abandoned mansion and grow their lives together in this poignant story.

3. Frindle by Andrew Clements

This book is for every kid with a creative, active imagination! Nick Allen has an idea: why does a pen have to be called a pen? Why not a frindle?

4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I really need to give this one a reread, since it’s been years since I’ve read it! But this magical fantasy story is one of seven that involves the magical world of Narnia. While playing hide and seek in 1940s London, Lucy stumbles inside a magical wardrobe and discovers the land of Narnia. In it, she and her three siblings must defeat the White Witch who has cast an evil spell over Narnia.

5. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Inspired by true events, this Newbery Award winner is from the perspective of Ivan, a gorilla in a shopping mall. I’ve never read anything like this but it was informative and very well written!

6. Holes by Louis Sachar

This Newbery winner is one of my FAVORITE books! Stanley Yelnats’ family is under a curse and is wrongly sent to a detention camp. The boys at Camp Green Lake must dig a hole each day, but why? This adventure-filled story has a rich plot and rich characters for voracious readers and reluctant readers alike. Plus, there’s a great Disney movie to go with it.

7. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

This witty, adventure-filled Newbery follows two boys, Prince Brat and Jemmy, who is known as the whipping boy. The two have nothing in common and Jemmy is punished whenever Prince Brat misbehaves, growing an even greater tension. After finding themselves taken hostage together, the two boys must figure out a way to work together. There’s not many great books on medieval times, sparking great discussion. Plus, the name is not as violent as the name implies. 🙂

8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

This beloved children’s classic and Newbery Honor story is a story of the power of friendship, words, and grief. Wilbur is a pig and runt of the litter. Through the help of Charlotte, a spider, Charlotte weaves messages in her web for the small pig.

9. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are four orphans who find an abandoned boxcar, which they turn into a home. Somewhat old fashioned, I loved these wholesome stories filled with teamwork and adventure.

10. All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

This story tells the adventures of a poor, immigrant Jewish family with five little girls growing up in New York in the early 1900s. For anyone with a big family, many of these stories are relatable and fun. It’s also a great introduction to Judaism!

11. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Dickens’ writing is typically verbose and unnecessarily long, but I really enjoyed A Christmas Carol! It’s a classic and a wonderful story that’s a must-read during Christmas time.

12. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

During the Holocaust, the tiny nation of Denmark was known for rescuing 99% of its Jewish population by helping them find safety in Sweden. This is the story of one family’s rescue, through the eyes of Annemarie and her Jewish friend Helen. It’s an inspiring story about faith, hope, and courage.

13. Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

This Newbery Honor novel is a beautiful reminder that people may not always be what they appear and that a little bit of kindness can go a long way. Hollis Woods is a foster child and a talented artist, named after the place where she was found. After running away from a wonderful family, Hollis finds herself with an elderly woman who is beginning to lose her memory. This story is touching and rich with characters and emotion, making it a solid read-aloud choice. There’s also a great Hallmark movie to go with it.

14. The Night Flyers by Elizabeth McDavid Jones

This story is an American Girl History Mystery, which is aimed at a higher level than their original American Girl books. I particularly enjoyed this one because it brings light to pigeon carriers during WWI, and there are few books about that.

15. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Living with her single father in a new town, Opal is lonely. When going to look for groceries one day, Opal finds a dog! Through Winn-Dixie, Opal learns to make friends and discovers the truth about her mother. There’s also a great movie!

16. Refugee by Alan Gratz

I’ve loved everything Alan Gratz has written, and this one was no exception. The story is told from the point of view of three young refugees: Josef, who is escaping from Nazi Germany, Isabel, who is escaping Cuba in 1994, and Mahmoud, who is escaping modern day Syria.

17. Escape Into the Night by Lois Walfrid Johnson

Libby Norstad is sent to live aboard her father’s steamboat, the Christina, named after her deceased mother. With the help of a mysterious cabin boy, Libby finds herself entangled in the Underground Railroad, helping a boy named Jordan reach freedom. This is the first in a series of six. There is a faith-based slant, but this series is great for everyone who loves a historical adventure!

18. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

If you haven’t read this great story yet, you’ve probably seen the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This whimsical story is about five lucky children who receive the opportunity of a lifetime: to visit Willy Wonka’s famed chocolate factory. This simple story has great lessons on the virtues of honesty and integrity, proving you don’t need anything fancy to be a good kid (or human being).

19. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

This is one of the best children’s novels. Keith and his family move into a motel. When he’s gone, Ralph, a mouse, tries out the boy’s motorcycle. The plot flows well and it’s filled with fun adventures!

20. A House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff

I have three of Giff’s stories on this list, simply because I love the diversity in her stories and their rich characters and plots. Thirteen year-old Dina Kirk hates sewing. When she is offered the chance to move from her home in Germany to a new life in America, she takes the opportunity. Unfortunately, she finds herself sewing again. This story is very well written and has many relatable moments as we see 1870s Brooklyn from the eyes of a young girl.

21. Wonder by RJ Palacio

Auggie Pullman was born with a facial deformity that has prevented him from attending traditional public school. In fifth grade, Auggie walks into Beecher Prep for the first time. This wonderful story sparks great discussions on kindness and friendship.

22. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

I haven’t read many stories written in free verse poetry, but I remember really loving this one. The story is told from the perspective of a boy who initially hates poetry but grows to love it.

23. Bridge to America by Linda Glaser

In the 1920s, this novel is based-on-a-true-story of a young Polish boy’s journey to America. It’s a really engaging look at European immigration in American history and can shed some light on immigration today.

24. Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff

Giff is one of my favorite children’s authors. Eleven symbolizes many things to young Sam, including his age and the place where he lived after his mother died. After finding a mysterious newspaper clipping, Sam is determined to find out more of his identity. The cover seems “scary,” but there’s nothing scary in this mystery.

25. I Am David by Anne Holm

I Am David is my favorite children’s novel of all time and it’s had a profound impact on my life. It got me interested in WWII and history, which played a major part in why I began my blogging career. 12 year old David has grown up in a Stalinist labor camp and when he is given the opportunity to escape, he seizes it and heads on a mysterious journey to Denmark. There’s something poignant about someone who discovers the world’s beauty for the first time, and Anne Holm captures it beautifully.

Honorable Mentions:

The following are books I really enjoyed, but have some slight hesitations with recommending wholly. Read on. 🙂

Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz

I cannot speak highly of this novel. Michael is the son of the Irish Ambassador to Germany during WWII. Taking after his parents, he goes undercover in the Hitler Youth, as a spy. Although it does not deal with the Holocaust and is not particularly graphic, there are some heavy themes of betrayal and sacrifice, and some excellent discussion points on morality. I would highly recommend this one for those looking for a thought provoking read.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This is a Newbery winner and a brilliantly written premise, but it’s been challenged and I think it’s best appreciated by older or more mature students. Jonas lives in a perfect world free of pain and heartbreak, but also void of color, happiness, or free will. As he begins to unravel the truth of his world, Jonas must come to grips with the reality of his world. This is an excellent thought-provoking novel tackling pain and a perfect world.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ada is a 10 year old with a clubfoot. She lives with her little brother Jamie and her abusive mother who never lets her outdoors. As Hitler threatens to bomb London, she and her brother are sent away. This Newbery Honor book tackles some pretty tough subjects: child abuse, PTSD, overcoming difficult pasts. There are subtle hints of lesbianism as a main plot point and the word “slut” is used. Still, this novel was very well written and had great messages of overcoming a difficult childhood or past.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

This is the true story of one of the lost boys of Sudan. It was a short story and tackles an issue that’s important in today’s society. It’s told from a dual perspective, a girl in 2008 and our main character, Salva, from 1985. I’ve read dozens of stories of refugee children (fiction, non-fiction, semi-autobiographical) and did not like this one nearly as much as some of the others I’ve read. I didn’t enjoy the dual perspective as I thought it drew away from Salva’s story. I also thought it was too short and was wanting several spaces in Salva’s life filled. Still, it’s worth the read on an important, modern topic.

Books That I Haven’t Read But Need To:

The Invention of Hugo Cabaret by Brian Selznick

Stuart Little by E.B. White

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

4 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you!!!!!!!!!

    I have been following you since, probably, the beginning of your blog and I just admired all that you did. I think you are such an amazing young women with many talents. Your posts and printouts, etc, have been very helpful over the years. As a homeschooling mother, I am trying not to compare my kiddos to you, lol. I’m sure we are all just good at different things, right? 😉

    I hope it’s not creepy, but it has been kinda fun seeing you “grow” (what you show of yourself online, anyway). And you are absolutely ridiculously beautiful!

    Keep being awesome and doing the good that you do!

    xo Virginia

  2. What a great list of books you have listed. There are a few that I haven’t heard of that I will have to look into for my daughter.

    Just to let you know that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. The Magician’s Nephew is the first book.

    Thank you for compiling such a great list.

    • The LWW was originally the first (it was published first.) I’ll edit for clarity. 🙂

      I hope you enjoy the other books!

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