Average fourth-grade books may have 100 pages or more, and have a fairly high proportion of multisyllabic words. An increasing number of words may not be in the students' listening vocabularies, and there is also likely to be some unfamiliar concepts introduced. Easy fourth-grade books include those written on a first-, second-, and third-grade level. Challenging books are written on a fifth- or sixth-grade level.
Reading Level: Grade 1 (Interest Level: Grade 4)
Schwartz, Alvin. In a Dark, Dark Room. HarperCollins, 1984, 62 pp. In this collection of seven frightening tales, ghosts and other scary creatures appear. In one tale, a man drives a boy home and loans him a sweater, but later finds out that the boy has been dead for a year. Although easy to read, this book would not be appropriate for children under age 10.
Reading Level: Grade 2 (Interest Level: Grade 4)
*Bulla, Clyde Robert. Shoeshine Girl. Crowell, 1975, 84 pp. Because of her troublesome ways, an angry 10-year-old Sarah is sent to live with her kindly but wise Aunt Ida during the summer. Wanting money, she finds a job as a shoeshine girl and develops into a brave, caring young person.
Reading Level: Grade 3 (Interest Level: Grade 4)
Abbott, Tony. Danger Guys. HarperCollins, 1994, 69 pp. When Zeek and Noodles attend the grand opening of a new adventure store, they wander into the back of a tractor trailer and are whisked away to an underground kingdom where thieves are attempting to steal valuable artifacts. Using brawn and brains, the two manage to make a series of escapes from danger. Part of Danger Guys series.
*Avi. Manfrom the Sky. Knopf, 1980, 117pp. When Jamie, who has a reputation as being a dreamer, reports that a man from the sky kiddnapped his friend Gillian, people don't believe him at first.
*Berends, Polly Berrien. The Case of the Elevator Duck. Random House, 1973, 60 pp. Gilbert, an ll-year-old detective, tries to locate the owner of a pet duck that was left on the elevator in his housing project. Gilbert takes the duck to his apartment, but is under considerable pressure to find the owner, because tenants caught with animals in their apartment face eviction.
Bulla, Clyde Robert. Pirate's Promise. HarperCollins, 1994, 87 pp. After their father died, Tom and his sister were sent to live with an aunt and uncle, but the uncle sold Tom into bondage. While Tom was aboard a ship bound for America, pirates captured the ship and took Tom aboard their vessel and set sail for their hideout. After his pirate master dies in an attempt to save Tom from another pirate, Tom, with the help of a slave, flees to America, where he finds a home for himself and his sister with the good pirate's family. Provides history tie-in: colonial times.
Bunting, Eve. Train to Somewhere. Houghton Mifflin, 1996, 32 pp. Sent west on a train full of children from New York needing homes, Marianne hopes that her mother will appear at one of the stations and reclaim her. But her mother doesn't show up and no one shows any interest in adopting her until the train reaches its last stop. Based on the existence of orphan trains which took homeless children west from the 1850s into the 1920s.
Clymer, Eleanor. The Trolley Car Family. Scholastic, 1947, 216 pp. When Pa Parker loses his job because trolley cars are being replaced, the Parker famil)j along with a grouchy neighbor, make their home in an old trolley car in the country, while Pa looks for another job.
Danziger, Paula. Amber Brown Goes Fourth. Putnam's, 1995, 101 pp. Distressed because her parents have gotten divorced and her best friend has moved away, Amber has some difficulty adjusting to fourth grade. However, making a new best friend helps. Part of Amber Brown series.
Giff, Patricia Reilly. Shark in School. Delacorte, 1994, 103 pp. In addition to helping Matt make the transition to a new school, J.P. helps him to become a reader by supplying him with books that are so good that he struggles through them. Matt, in turn, becomes the first best friend that J.P. ever had.
Havilaand, Virginia. Favorite Fairy Tales: Book 16, Told in Norway. Beech Tree Books (William Morrow), 1961, 1996, 96 pp. Retells in easyread form, several well-known fairy tales: Why the Sea is Salt, The Princess on the Glass Hill, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and others. Part of Favorite Fairy Tales series.
Hest, Amy. When Jessie Came Across the Sea. Candlewick, 1997, 36 pp. Chosen by the village rabbi to emigrate to America, Jessie sadly leaves her grandmother, who raised her after her parents died. Working hard, she saves enough money to bring her grandmother to America. Provides history tie-in: immigration; life in the early 1900s. Multicultural.
Hooks, William H. The Girl Who Could Fly. Macmillan, 1995, 51 pp. Adam Lee is puzzled by his new friend, Tomasina Jones. She can stop a ball in midair and read Adam's mind. Learning that their team has lost its star pitcher, Adam asks Tomasina to take his place, but Tomasina, who confesses that she is from another planet, doesn't think that would be fair. She coaches Adam and the rest of the team instead. When one of the team members falls into the water and nearly drowns, Tomasina literally flies to the rescue, thus revealing her special powers.
Kroll, Virginia. Faraway Drums. Little, Brown, 1998, 30 pp. Jamila, who is babysitting for her little sister while her mother works, is frightened by the unfamiliar noises of the apartment that the family has just moved into. To keep up her courage and that of her little sister's, she remembers stories of Africa that her grandmother told her, and pretends that each of the noises is an African sound. The banging on a nearby door becomes drums beating out a message. Noises from the street become hyenas fighting. Sirens are monkeys chattering. Excellent read-aloud.
Kroeger, Mary Kay, & Borden, Louise. Paperboy. Clarion, 1996, 31 pp. In the depression days of 1927, Willie helps his family by selling newspapers. The big news is the "long count" fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney. Provides history tie-in: depression; life in the 1920s.
Lears, Laurie. Ian's Walk: A Story about Autism. Whitman, 1998, 28 pp. Julie gets a little irritated with her autistic brother's strange behavior as they go for a walk. But she gives him a big hug when he slips away and she finds him.
Little, Emily. The Trojan Horse: How Greeks Won the War. Random House, 1992, 48 pp. Because the Trojans have kidnapped Helen, King Meneelaus' wife, and demanded tolls from Greek ships, the Greeks declared war on Troy. The war went on and on without any winner. Having fought the Trojans for 10 years without overcoming them, the Greeks built a huge horse and tricked the Trojans into taking it into their walled city. The Greek soldiers hidden inside then conquered the Trojans.
Louie, Ai-Ling. Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China. Philomel, 1982, 28 pp. Raised by a jealous stepmother, Yeh-Shen is forced to do most of the housework and is not allowed to attend the spring festival where young girls meet future husbands. But the magical bones of a fish that she once took care of provide her with a beautiful outfit. Admired by those attending the festival, Yeh-Shen leaves in a hurry when she fears that her identity might be discovered. On her way, she loses one of her golden slippers, which is given to the king. The king starts a search for the owner and eventually locates Yeh-Shen. Students might compare this with other versions of Cinderella story. Multicultural.
*Lundell, Margo (Retold by). Lad: A Dog. Scholastic, 1997, 44 pp. In this excerpt from Terhune's classic tale, Lad, a collie, befriends a crippled child. When the child is threatened by a copperhead, Ladd defends her and is twice bitten, but recovers.
MacLachlan, Patricia. Skylark. HarperCollins, 1994, 87 pp. In this sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall, a drought and wildfires hit the prairie. After their wells run dry, some of the families leave, but Jacob says he will never leave because their names are written on the land. After the drought worsens, Sarah, Anna, and Caleb travel to Maine to visit Sarah's aunts. Jacob stays behind to watch over the farm and hope for rain. Provides model for journal writing.
Moore, Floyd C. I Gave Thomas Edison My Sandwich. Whitman, 1995, 30 pp. While on a field trip, Floyd Moore shook hands and briefly spoke with Thomas Edison. After Edison commented on Moore's sandwich, Moore gave it to the conductor to give to Edison. Provides history tie-in: Thomas Edison, early days of twentieth century.
Pinkwater, Daniel. Mush: A Dog from Space. Atheneum, 1995, 40 pp. Kelly begs her parents for a dog, but, having just moved into a new house, they want to wait a while. Meanwhile, Kelly finds a dog who can speak and cook. As the dog explains, it is from another planet and very well educated.
Pinkwater, Manus. Blue Moose. Putnam, 1975, 47 pp. Although Mr. Breton served a large number of customers in his restaurant on the edge of the big woods, no one made any comments about the food. The first patron to compliment him on his cooking was a blue moose who wandered in one day, and said that the food was the best he had ever eaten. The moose then became a waiter for the restaurant and encouraged people to offer compliments if they liked their meals.
*Sachar, Louis. Wayside School Is Falling Down. Avon, 1989, 179 pp. Instead of being built horizontally to accommodate its 30 classrooms, the Wayside School was built vertically so that it is 30 stories high. Its teachers and students are as strange as its construction. The book is a collection of 30 wacky stories. For instance, when Mrs. Jewls gets a new computer, she uses it to demonstrate gravity. She pushes it out the window of her thirtieth-floor classroom. Part of Wayside School series.
Sachar, Louis. Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger. Avon, 1995, 168 pp. After being closed for 243 days, Wayside School reopens and is stranger than ever. Students are forbidden to use the word doors. They must call a door a goozak and the meal of the day is liver in purple sauce. The students are also given weird voices by Mr. Gorf, the husband of a former teacher. Part of Wayside School series.
Sobol, Donald J. Encyclopedia Brown Saves the Day. Bantam, 1970, 114 pp. Fifth-grader Encyclopedia Brown uses his powers of observation and deduction to find a stolen telescope, catch pignappers, and solve an assortment of other crimes. His father, the chief of police, believes that his son might be the II greatest detective who ever climbed a tree." Fosters comprehension: students are invited to come up with their own solutions to crimes. Encyclopedia Brown's solutions are provided at the end of the book.
Steptoe, John. Creativity. Houghton Mifflin, 1997, 28 pp. Charles is surprised to learn that he and Hector, the new boy from Puerto Rico, share a similar heritage. Both have a mixed ancestry that includes African Americans. Charles helps Hector adjust to his new surroundings. Multicultural.
Willis, Meredith Sue. Marco's Monster. HarperCollins, 1996, 118 pp. When Marco's best friend Tyrone is chosen to star in the class play, Marcos is jealous. But the two make up and help each other. Tyrone helps Marcos fend off a gang of bullies and find his little sister, who has run away from home, and Marcos helps Tyrone stay out of trouble so he won't lose the lead part in the class play. Provides possible writing topic: how friends help each other.
Wilson, Nancy Hope. Old People, Frogs, and Albert. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1997, 58 pp. Fourth-grader Albert, who struggles with his reading, is helped by Mr. Spear. But when Mr. Spear has a stroke and is sent to Pine Manor, a nursing home that Albert passes every day, Albert is afraid to visit him. Fortunately, Albert overcomes his fear and his reading problem.
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