Summer reading is a great way to get your child interested in books, on his or her own terms. For the best books for fourth grade summer reading, we turned to the nation’s finest independent bookstores to get their favorites, from classics to new releases, swashbuckling adventures to the just plain fun, silly or sweet. Here are their recommendations for a summertime full of fantastic books:

Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville

Jeremy knows about raising animals. But he was not prepared for this baby flame-breathing dragon now in his bedroom. A fantasy for younger readers – full of laughs! Recommended by Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO. Where to buy.

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

A pregnant abandoned calico cat befriends a chained up dog in the bayou. There is love, loss, and redemption in this tale that deserves to become a classic. Recommended by Powell’s Books, Portland, OR. Where to buy.

Jack and Rebel, the Police Dog by Patricia Finney

Life is always exciting for a Labrador. Jack’s is even more so with his new friend, and we learn all about it from a dog’s unique point of view. Recommended by Prairie Lights Books, Iowa City, IA. Where to buy.

A Maze Me: Poems for Girls by Naomi Shihab Nye

The voices in this collection of poems will ring true for young female readers, and encourage them to put pen to paper with the poetry of their own everyday experiences. Recommended by 57th Street Books, Chicago, IL. Where to buy.

A Stranger Came Ashore by Mollie Hunter

While Elspeth falls in love with a stranger, Finn, her brother Robbie struggles to find out more about the mysterious young man. A gripping tale of suspense! Recommended by Linden Tree Children’s Recordings and Books, Los Altos, CA. Where to buy.

Tomorrow’s Magic by Pamela F Service

An Arthurian adventure set in a Post-Apocalyptic Britain, complete with loyal friendships, bitter enemies and two-headed, two-waggy-tailed mutant pet dogs. With battles galore, this is a great read. Recommended by Kepler’s Bookstore, Menlo Park, CA. Where to buy.

Want to see more from’s book list? Here’s a collection of our favorite books for fourth grade:

D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Parin D'Aulaires

The definitive guide to Greek mythology for children, these high-octane adventures are accentuated by full-page illustration.


The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press, 2007)

If Hugo can repair the robot-like "automaton" rescued from a fire, he feels sure its metal hand will write a note from his departed father, conveying a plan to keep him safe. Set in and out of the sewers of Paris, the cinematic quality of this novel reinvents the fiction genre for a generation of visually literate children.

book2 City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2003)

The generator that provides the life-force for the city has been running well for hundreds of years, creating a society that is ambivalent and content, few venturing into the darkness that envelopes the city's perimeter. But the flickering lights indicate that it may be time to generate some new ideas, and fast! A fantastic underground world is fully realized in this cliffhanging, heart-pumping sci-fi fantasy that even people who don't like sci-fi fantasy will enjoy, and serves as a great springboard into ecological discussion.

book4 Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Laurel Leaf, 1998)

 The Danish Resistance helps a family escape capture by the Nazis, with children playing a major role even in the most terrible of situations. (For kids who still have questions, a strong follow-up is Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy, based on the author’s aunts experience of survival in the Lodz ghettos.)


The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain (HarperCollins Children's Books , 1990)

Four creepy wishes are granted to four small-town folk, no trade-backs, no-nothing-backs. This formalistically flawless story sends shivers up a reader’s spine.

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Considered one of Dahl's most imaginative works, The BFG tells the story of the Big Friendly Giant who blows good dreams into the bedrooms of children. One night he takes an orphan girl named Sophie from her bed and brings her to the world of Giants. The other Giants, with names like Fleshlumpeater, Bonecruncher, and Childchewer, are all decidedly less friendly than Sophie's charge and hungry for "human beans". Sophie and the BFG soon develop a plan to stop the Giants by telling none other than the Queen of England. Will the plan work?

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Nothing interests or excites young Milo, until a mysterious tollbooth is delivered to his bedroom and he ventures through it to another world of curious characters and adventures. There, he explores the word market of Dictionopolis, where juicy orchard-grown words are sold, accidentally jumps to the island of Conclusions after making unfounded assumptions, and goes on to rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason. When Milo finally returns home, he realizes that adventures are all around him, just waiting to be explored, and The Phantom Tollbooth is sure to inspire young readers to take up learning adventures of their own.

The Time Traveler's Journal by Ed Masessa.

This book chronicles the time travel of narrator Lieserl Einstein, Albert Einstein's unknown daughter. She calls herself the missing Einstein because she erased all evidence of her existence in order to be free to time travel. Readers get a sneak peak into Lieserl's journals, packed with photos, sketches, newspaper clippings, a real pocket watch that runs backwards and even math equations.But, it's not all fun and games. Lieserl's narrative also warns kids about what will happen as a result of global warming, and the need for more research into destroying Potentially Hazardous Asteroids. The book is a true reading experience which inspires kids to learn by combining fact with the joys of fiction.

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