I was a 4th grade reading interventionist for two years, so I’ve had so much fun compiling this list of the best chapter books for 4th graders. In fact, this list was supposed to be just 10 books, but I couldn’t stop adding more of my favorites.
I decided to sort my list, just like the others, by guided reading level. Of course, you may have a struggling reader who is not on grade level, or a kiddo who is a year or more advanced. Not to worry; I have lists for other grade levels and topics, too.
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How to Help Your 4th Grader Choose their Chapter Books
These are the best chapter books for 4th graders; on average, they’ll read between a Q-S in the 4th grade. If your child is reading below grade level, don’t be afraid to check out my lists for 3rd and 2nd grade; you’ll still find some that will interest an older child.
If a child is super interested in the content of a book, they’ll sometimes be able to access books that are one reading level higher than you’d expect.
The reverse is also true, if the content bores them completely, they may not be able to read as well. That’s because motivation plays an important part in reading endurance and decoding ability.
For example, my daughter’s current guided reading level is an S. She’s a strong reader who will be entering 2nd grade soon. She’ll make quite a few decoding errors if she attempts to read a book on a guided reading level T. However, she absolutely loves fiction with a female protagonist and an element of fantasy or magic – books like Matilda by Roald Dahl, for example. She will push past her decoding mistakes and manage to have strong comprehension with books that fit this niche.
However, if she’s got to read nonfiction about animals like crocodiles or sharks, she will sometimes comprehend less of what she’s reading, even if it’s technically on grade level. This is normal behavior.
In other words – prioritize interest over exact reading level. The goal is to be in the ballpark on the reading level, and then choose the highest interest books for your child. This will foster a love of reading for your kiddo!
If there’s a book that I want my daughter to enjoy that’s outside her normal wheelhouse, I’ll often read the first few chapters with her at night. Sharing this family time together allows her to be more open minded about new books.
Best Chapter Books for 4th Graders on a Guided Reading Level Q
Kids at the beginning of 4th grade read at a level Q, on average. If you think your child reads more or less on grade level, start with this collection between August and November and see how it goes!
Bad Kitty Series
My daughter loves this series so much. Bad Kitty is almost a graphic novel, because there are so many illustrations, but the vocabulary is high enough to be written at a 4th grade level. Bad Kitty is entertaining because she’s just so dang naughty. Plus, you don’t have to worry that she’s a bad influence on your child, because she’s just a cat. If you’re trying to build your child’s vocabulary without having them shut the book too soon, this is a great choice.
Little House in the Big Woods
Little House in the Big Woods (and the entire series) has taken a hit lately because of their portrayal of Native Americans. But these books are absolute classics and they’re very engaging. I believe we should make sure our children understand American history rather than avoiding the uncomfortable truths therein. So read these books with your children and talk about what’s right and wrong within them. Many kids are fascinated by the pioneer lifestyle, so it’s an easy sell.
I Survived Series
This series is a huge hit with my students. These are first person accounts of disasters, told through the eyes of a child. Books include the sinking of the Titanic, 9/11, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Great Chicago Fire and many more. When I was teaching, I couldn’t keep these on my shelf!
Best Chapter Books for 4th Graders on a Guided Reading Level R
On average, 4th graders read at a guided reading level R around the winter holiday.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
There are things about Roald Dahl’s writing that don’t quite stand the test of time. For example, he can be a bit rude in his descriptions of people. However, his fanciful writing and cleverness are still very attractive to kids, and I love reading these books with my students. Roald Dahl can capture the imaginations of kids like no one else!
Because of Winn Dixie
I looked into this book the first time because the author also wrote the Mercy Watson series, which I adore. It’s also a Newbery Award winner, so I’m not the only one who loves it! The protagonist, 10 year old India, comes home from the grocery store one day with a dog. The dog changes everything about her summer, thus the title, “Because of Winn Dixie.”
Hatchet is another Newbery Award winner, and I still remember reading this book in 6th grade. It’s appropriate for 4th graders, though. The protagonist, Brian, is a 13 year old boy trying to survive in the Canadian wilderness by himself – thanks to a plane crash. It’s a page-turner, and it appeals to girls and much as boys, if they’ll give it a chance!
This is another Roald Dahl book, and my daughter enjoyed it. It might be a bit much for kids who are highly sensitive or easily unsettled because the whole concept is that real witches look like ordinary people. I think it’s fun and highly engaging, especially for certain types of kids. You know your child best, so choose wisely!
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
Here’s an uplifting story about an adorable family with five kids in Harlem. Their grouchy old landlord has decided not to renew the lease on their cherished brownstone. The siblings go to wild and crazy lengths to stay put. Bonus! This book is great to read all year, but the setting is the Christmas season in New York.
A troublemaking boy named Nick gets a wild idea that a pen doesn’t need to be named a pen; he convinces his classmates to start calling it a frindle. The idea spreads nationwide, and while his teacher wants him to put the kibosh on all the nonsense, he can’t quite seem to stop the ball that’s already rolling down the hill. Nick is a mess, but he’s a charmer!
Best Chapter Books for 4th Graders on a Guided Reading Level S
By the middle of spring, most 4th graders who are on track are reading at a guided reading level S. Here are some of my favorite choices.
You probably remember this series from your own childhood. Some kids will be too spooked by these books; others love them because of the creepy factor. They definitely stand the test of time. Even today, after all these years, Goosebumps are the perfect series to hook reluctant readers and turn them into lifelong readers.
The One and Only Ivan
My daughter and I both loved this book and couldn’t put it down. It makes heavy use of many literary elements, so it’s a brilliant choice for a classroom read-aloud. It’s a Newbery Award winner, too. Ivan is a gorilla who can’t even remember his jungle home because he’s lived in a glass cage in the mall for so long. He watches t.v. and is content with his painting and friendships. When a new elephant moves in, he sees his circumstances and art through new eyes.
The Borrowers are a family of tiny people called the Clock family, who are living underneath the kitchen floor of an old home in England. They steal household objects from above to make their own tiny lifestyle and hope to never be caught. Some kids will be initially put off by the old fashioned nature of the book, while others will stick with it and fall in love with the story. This might be a great one to try on audio for long car rides, or as a shared bedtime reading.
I hope you found something to read with your kiddos from this book list! Good luck, parents and teachers!