The most recommended books for 4th graders

Who picked these books? Meet our 1,303 experts.

1,303 authors created a book list with books for 4th graders, and here are their favorite books. If you are looking for chapter books, try our list of the best chapter books for 4th graders.

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Book cover of Check Mates

Alysa Wishingrad Author Of The Verdigris Pawn

From my list on for chess lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love games; board games, card games, head games*; any kind of situation in which employing strategy is the only way forward. And yet, I’m not a big game player—aside from word games. I’m also endlessly fascinated by the mechanisms of power and how societies arrange themselves. The marriage between writing and understanding politics (in the traditional, not the partisan sense) is my true north. Writing a book in which a chess-like game provides the foundation felt inevitable for me, for what game better explores the dynamics of power and strategy? *I don’t play head games, but I do find manipulation fascinating fodder for writing.

Alysa's book list on for chess lovers

Alysa Wishingrad Why did Alysa love this book?

I love intergenerational stories, and Check Mates fulfills that love with the added glory of including a chess subplot. 11-year-old Felix is constantly getting into trouble as his ADHA makes it very hard for him to focus and attend in-class. His Grandfather, who he’s never been particularly close to, is also suffering greatly following the death of his wife. The beauty and power in this story comes when the two are thrust together and the grandfather begins to teach Felix to play chess, while also sharing stories of his life during wartime. The result is a moving story filled with connection, discovering your strengths, and a fantastic immersion into the game of chess.

By Stewart Foster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Check Mates as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE UKLA BOOK AWARDS 2021

'Funny and heartfelt with a cunning twist. Stewart Foster is a grandmaster' - ROSS WELFORD

'An inspirational underdog story and a chilling mystery! A winning combination' - DAVID SOLOMONS

Some people think that I'm a problem child, that I'm lazy and never pay attention in lessons. But the thing is, I'm not a problem child at all. I'm just a child with a problem. Felix is struggling at school. His ADHD makes it hard for him to concentrate and his grades are slipping. Everyone keeps telling him to try harder, but no one…


Book cover of The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast

Christyne Morrell Author Of Kingdom of Secrets

From my list on for children with mind-blowing plot twists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I hate surprises in real life, but in fiction, nothing beats a good plot twist. As both a reader and a writer, I love to get swept up in a story, especially when I’m not certain where it will take me or what will happen next. It’s like being on a thrilling ride! Each of the books on this list kept me guessing, caught me off guard, and made me shout “aha!”  

Christyne's book list on for children with mind-blowing plot twists

Christyne Morrell Why did Christyne love this book?

I was intrigued by this book from the first page when Boy wakes up all alone on an island with no memory of who he is or how he got there. From there, Boy must piece together his identity while figuring out how to escape from the island and get back home – wherever that may be. The tone of the story is unsettling and mysterious, leading to a conclusion that is surprising, heartbreaking, and rewarding.

By Samantha M. Clark,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

"A poignant story." -School Library Journal
"An unforgettable, life-affirming tale." -Booklist

The Graveyard Book meets Hatchet in this eerie novel about a boy who is stranded on a mysterious beach, from debut author Samantha M. Clark.

A boy washes up on a mysterious, seemingly uninhabited beach. Who is he? How did he get there? The boy can't remember. When he sees a light shining over the foreboding wall of trees that surrounds the shore, he decides to follow it, in the hopes that it will lead him to answers. The boy's journey is a struggle for survival and a search…


Book cover of King and the Dragonflies

Patricia Hruby Powell Author Of Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case

From my list on how to right social injustice (especially racism).

Why am I passionate about this?

Patricia Hruby Powell’s former careers include dancer/choreographer, storyteller, and librarian. She is the author of the YA documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia which is on ALA, NCTE, Indie Pics, and Kirkus ‘best books lists’. From a young age, her parents instilled in her a social conscience and a will to try to right injustice. She attempts to do this, in part, by writing books that might shine a light on injustice, for young readers, such that they will care and perhaps become activists—for whatever impassions them. Her books have earned Sibert, Boston Globe-Horn Book, International Bologna/Ragazzi, Parent’s Choice Honors among others.

Patricia's book list on how to right social injustice (especially racism)

Patricia Hruby Powell Why did Patricia love this book?

This book, on the younger range of YA, features twelve-year-old King in Louisiana bayou country. Not only is King Black, but he thinks he might be gay. He has a special friendship with Sandy, who is white and whose father is a known KKK member. The story opens with the sudden and unexpected death of King’s big brother Khalid, a soccer star. Khalid had told King not to hang with Sandy because he would appear to be gay and be shunned by his classmates. While suffering deep grief, King complies for a time, but without Khalid, without Sandy, he has no one to help him sort out his uncertainty and loneliness. He retreats to the bayou and the many dragonflies in this poetic winner of the National Book Award for Young Readers 2020.

By Kacen Callender,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked King and the Dragonflies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A 2021 Coretta Scott King Honor Book!

Winner of the 2020 National Book Award for Young People's Literature!

Winner of the 2020 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction and Poetry!

In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one boy's grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself.

FOUR STARRED REVIEWS!

Booklist

School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

The Horn Book

Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live…


Terracolina: A Place to Belong

By Carla Kessler, Richard Kessler (illustrator),

Book cover of Terracolina: A Place to Belong

Carla Kessler Author Of Terracolina: A Place to Belong

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, one of my favorite places was in the top branches of a tree. From up there I could watch the world pass by, remaining invisible. I could make up stories about the world below and no one would challenge me. The second best place for me was inside the story of a book, the kind that took you to magical places where children always found a way to win the day. I knew when I “grew up” I would write one of those empowering books. I became a middle school teacher and have since read many wonderful books for this age. Enjoy my list of favorites.  

Carla's book list on where kids who believe in nature make a difference

What is my book about?

Where do you turn when the only adult who gets you, your grandpa, is gone, and the world seems to be in self-destruct mode?

On his 12th birthday, Thomas runs away to the forest he used to visit with Grandpa. It is dying. Will saving it from a deadly parasite bring him closer to Grandpa or make his world safer? Before he can find out, he is enticed into a magical world under an attack of a different kind.

Welcomed by a garden of talking plants, mind-reading creatures, tree-climbing, nature-loving beings, Thomas conquers the stinging, prickly hedge that guards the portal to this alternate world. At last, a place where he fits in. A place that needs him. But what about his and Grandpa’s forest?

“…a magical book...” John Perkins, New York Times best-selling author

Book cover of Waylon! One Awesome Thing

Laurie Calkhoven Author Of Roosevelt Banks and the Attic of Doom

From my list on laugh-out-loud chapters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a former book publishing professional turned full-time children’s book author. I’ve never swallowed a frog, battled imaginary bears, or had a slime war with ghosts like my character, Roosevelt Banks, but I have written more than fifty books for children. These range from beginning readers (You Should Meet Misty Copeland) and chapter books (Roosevelt Banks, Good-Kid-in-Training) to middle grade historical novels (Daniel at the Siege of Boston, 1775).

Laurie's book list on laugh-out-loud chapters

Laurie Calkhoven Why did Laurie love this book?

Waylon has lots of ideas for making life more awesome through science, like attracting cupcakes by controlling gravity. But it's impossible for him to concentrate on his inventions when Arlo Brody is dividing the fourth grade boys into two groups. His attempts to navigate fourth grade and be friends with everyone (except for one very scary new kid) are hilarious.

By Sara Pennypacker, Marla Frazee (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Waylon! One Awesome Thing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

From the creators of the New York Times bestselling series Clementine comes another chapter book collection that will keep readers engaged and laughing until the very last page.

Waylon has lots of ideas for making life more awesome through science, like teleportation, human gills, and attracting cupcakes by controlling gravity. But it's impossible for him to concentrate on his inventions when he's experiencing his own personal Big Bang.

Arlo Brody is dividing the fourth grade boys into two groups. Waylon would rather be friends with everyone. Well, everyone except the scary new kid, Baxter Boylen.

Waylon's older sister, Neon, is…


Book cover of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World

Bobbito Garcia Author Of Aim High, Little Giant, Aim High!

From my list on BIPOC Shorties for kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a parent who along with my co-parent is raising a Black and Puerto Rican child in a world that is consumed with misunderstanding our communities of people. We seek books that speak volumes to our core, and that can expand our son’s horizons so that he understands himself as well as others.

Bobbito's book list on BIPOC Shorties for kids

Bobbito Garcia Why did Bobbito love this book?

My son and I were blown away by the power of the words and illustrations contained in this book. I learned just as much as he did!

I love when we can both discover histories of women from diverse backgrounds that may otherwise go under the radar in mainstream media.

By Elena Favilli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

A 2021 NATIONAL PARENTING PRODUCT AWARDS WINNER!

The third installment in the New York Times bestselling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series, featuring 100 immigrant women who have shaped, and will continue to shape, our world.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World is packed with 100 all-new bedtime stories about the lives of incredible female figures from the past and the present such as:

Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief Carmen Miranda, Singer and Actress Diane von Fürstenberg, Fashion Designer Gloria Estefan, Singer Ilhan Omar, Politician Josephine Baker, Entertainer and Activist Lupita Nyong'o,…


Book cover of The Root Cellar

Summer Rachel Short Author Of The Legend of Greyhallow

From my list on children’s books that let you step into another world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been a daydreamer on the lookout for my entry into another world. I spent a good chunk of my early elementary years imagining I was a flying pony who could travel to distant lands and perform dazzling deeds. I never got my wings—but I did discover a way to reach those distant lands. Today, I have the pleasure of creating worlds of my own as the author of three published middle-grade novels: The Mutant Mushroom Takeover, Attack of the Killer Komodos, and The Legend of Greyhallow

Summer's book list on children’s books that let you step into another world

Summer Rachel Short Why did Summer love this book?

This was one of my favorite books as a kid. One of the things I loved about it was that it featured a regular girl with no special abilities embarking on a grand adventure.

I could easily relate to Rose Larkin and imagine myself in her shoes. I was captivated by the simple way Rose entered the new world—stepping into her aunt’s root cellar and traveling back in time to Civil War-era United States.

As a kid, I loved that Rose brought modern money with her and that just a little bit was enough to purchase quite a lot in the 1860s. I also appreciated the little historical details, like how everyone in the past assumed Rose was a boy just because she had short hair and wore jeans.

The Root Cellar thrilled my eleven-year-old heart and was such a fun way to explore another time and place.

By Janet Lunn, N. R. Jackson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Root Cellar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Bestseller and an ALA Notable Book!

It looked like an ordinary root cellar—and if twelve-year-old Rose hadn’t been so unhappy in her new home, where she’d been sent to live with unknown relatives, she probably would never have fled down the stairs to the root cellar in the first place. And if she hadn’t, she never would have climbed up into another century, the world of the 1860s, and the chaos of the Civil War.
 
“Melds past and present neatly . . . suspenseful.”—Publishers Weekly


Book cover of Magic Marks the Spot

Callie C. Miller Author Of The Hunt for the Hollower

From my list on whimsical fantasy romps for middle grade and YA.

Why am I passionate about this?

After a lifetime of reading fantasy, I have a career professionally writing fantasy! Whether it’s for animation, video games, or children’s books, crafting adventures in worlds of whimsy and wonder is a treat. Writing has sharpened my senses to recognize and appreciate well-crafted stories in all their forms, and the books on this list are some of the very finest romps.

Callie's book list on whimsical fantasy romps for middle grade and YA

Callie C. Miller Why did Callie love this book?

Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate, but the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates doesn’t allow girls to join them.

I know a thing or two about being the only girl in the room, so Hilary’s refusal to accept this is both relatable and aspirational. She takes rollicking adventure into her own hands as she sets sail on a journey with magic, pirates, and an endearing talking gargoyle.

By Caroline Carlson, Dave Phillips (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Magic Marks the Spot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. But the Very Nearly Honourable League of Pirates rejects Hilary's application because she's a girl, and her father ships her off to Miss Pimm's Finishing School for Delicate Ladies instead.

Expected to wear woollen dresses (petticoats not provided) and enthusiastically throw herself into activities such as Viennese Waltzing for the Eager Novice, Miss Pimm's is every bit as horrid as Hilary feared. However, a true pirate never lets dire circumstances stand in her way, and after a mostly dreadful first week, Hilary escapes and applies for a job with a freelance…


Book cover of Izzy, Willy-Nilly

Faye Gibbons Author Of Halley

From my list on coming-of-age for almost any age.

Why am I passionate about this?

All my life I’ve been pushing against limits. Being the oldest of five children born to a farm couple who became mill workers, I was frequently reminded by family that “people like us” did not need much education, didn’t get the good jobs, and shouldn’t “rise above themselves.” Being a girl, I had additional limits. Naturally, when I learned to read, I was drawn to books in which characters broke through unfair restraints to have adventures and accomplish great deeds. I wanted to be one of those people. By the time I came of age, I knew I had a shot at becoming the heroine of my own story!

Faye's book list on coming-of-age for almost any age

Faye Gibbons Why did Faye love this book?

Izzy is a nice girl. She’s pretty, popular, and smart. But one ride with a drunk driver changes her entire life. With one leg amputated, she must embrace a new life and find new friends who see her as more than a girl with a handicap. I liked Izzy so much, and it was thrilling to see her believably move on with her life. I see disabled young people with different eyes since reading Izzy’s story.

By Cynthia Voigt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Izzy, Willy-Nilly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10.

What is this book about?

One moment can change a life forever.
Fifteen-year-old Izzy has it all -- a loving family, terrific friends, a place on the cheerleading squad. But her comfortable world crumbles when a date with a senior ends in a car crash and she loses her right leg.
Suddenly nothing is the same. The simplest tasks become enormous challenges. Her friends don't seem to know how to act around her. Her family is supportive, but they don't really want to deal with how much she's hurting.
Then Rosamunde extends a prickly offer of friendship. Rosamunde definitely isn't the kind of girl Izzy…


Book cover of Hilda and the Black Hound

Liam Francis Walsh Author Of Red Scare: A Graphic Novel

From my list on graphic novels for adventurous kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my opinion, a good adventure story does two things at once: it compels you to turn pages, while, paradoxically, also enticing you to get off the couch and go out into the beautiful, magical world, pregnant with unlimited possibilities, right outside your door, just waiting for you to notice it. I’ve hitchhiked, I’ve been lost in the jungle, I’ve sailed, I’ve run whitewater rivers, and I’ve written and drawn New Yorker cartoons and picture books. I hope these books are as hard for you to put down as they were for me, and when you do put ‘em down, it’s only to throw on your rucksack and head out in search of adventure!

Liam's book list on graphic novels for adventurous kids

Liam Francis Walsh Why did Liam love this book?

I wish I’d known someone like Hilda as a child. Heck, I wish I’d been Hilda! She’s adventurous, she’s kind, she’s unafraid to right wrongs. She makes mistakes – how else is one to learn and grow? – but her heart is true, and she admits her errors and becomes an even better version of herself. This book is great for making you see the magical potential in truly mundane things (like the space beneath your sofa or behind your bookshelf!). The story is beautifully illustrated. I never want to leave Hilda’s world, and I’m always eager to return.

By Luke Pearson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hilda and the Black Hound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

The fourth in Luke Pearson's acclaimed series of magical adventures starring Hilda, our favourite blue-haired heroine.

Hilda stumbles upon Tontu, a lost house spirit. Plunged into the secret world of the Nisse, Hilda discovers hidden passages that only the house spirits can navigate. and something has been ransacking them all! Will Tontu find his true home? And could this all be linked to reports of an elusive beast haunting the city?


Book cover of Hatchet

Casie Bazay Author Of Not Our Summer

From my list on YA books featuring teens in the great outdoors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer with a passion for nature and the great outdoors. As a child, my family vacations centered around camping in various locations around the U.S. We spent plenty of time hiking, swimming, exploring caves, and sitting around a campfire. My mom and I also frequently camped with our horses, sometimes even sleeping in the back of our horse trailer. Those are some of the best memories of my life. To this day, my family and I still enjoy exploring the great outdoors. Some of our favorite destinations include the Grand Canyon, the beaches of Key West, the Pacific Northwest, the Redwood forests, and Yellowstone National Park.

Casie's book list on YA books featuring teens in the great outdoors

Casie Bazay Why did Casie love this book?

This is one of the first young adult books I remember reading as an adult. I read it in college when I was preparing to become a teacher, and then I read it to my students once I was in the classroom.

I love the survival aspect of the story and Brian’s perseverance to push through after his plane crashes in the wilderness of snowy northern Canada. I also love that this book features a younger teen, which we don’t often see in YA books.

The story kept me fully engaged and I was rooting for Brian the whole time.

By Gary Paulsen,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Hatchet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

This award-winning contemporary classic is the survival story with which all others are compared—and a page-turning, heart-stopping adventure, recipient of the Newbery Honor. Hatchet has also been nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.

Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson, haunted by his secret knowledge of his mother’s infidelity, is traveling by single-engine plane to visit his father for the first time since the divorce. When the plane crashes, killing the pilot, the sole survivor is Brian. He is alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother…