These classic books for 4th graders in our list below are some of the best reads of all time! Reading classic literature is an important learning opportunity for kids because it introduces them to different time periods with different practices and social norms. Kids at a fourth-grade reading level may need some help with interpretation of the settings and language used in some of these classic books, but it’s a learning opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up. Reluctant readers may enjoy some classic books even more because they take them to an interesting and different time that they haven’t experienced. I put together a list of classic literature, fiction and nonfiction books, that fourth graders will enjoy just as much today as generations before them did.
35 Classic Books for 4th Graders
1. Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett
This beautiful story is one that is written for children but is also enjoyed by many adults. It’s an adventure of growth and discovery for an orphaned young girl who moves to India to live with her wealthy Aunt and Uncle. Now over-privileged, she goes through a series of lessons in this story and becomes a caring young woman in the end.
2. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
This book will have your 4th grader laughing at the typical relationship between two young brothers, Peter and Fudge. Peter is the “good son” and feels like his little brother Fudge is always treated more fairly than he is even though he’s a troublemaker. It’s book one of Blume’s Fudge Series of classic books.
3. Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda struggles at home because her parents think she’s an inconvenience. She is excited to go to school where she thinks it will be better, but then she’s faced with a headmistress who doesn’t like kids. It’s through her interactions with this kid-hating Miss Trunchbull that she discovers she has a remarkable power. She uses her power to fight back in this funny and charming story that kids and adults always love. This is a great story and even though it’s fantasy, it’s encouraging and empowering to little women.
4. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
This classic book is the first in a very popular 5 book series. A mix of Greek mythology and life lessons for kids and adults alike. Riordan has a way of writing about human morality that can be understood by kids and appreciated by adults.
5. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
This story is one of compassion, cruelty, redemption, and kindness. The book’s main character is a horse, but the story is realistically told. This classic tale has been enjoyed since 1877 and explores the truth of suffering and the reality of the integrity we need to stand up against it.
6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
4th graders will love diving into this 7 book magical series. Harry is a wizard who doesn’t realize it yet. He lives with his aunt and uncle who don’t want him to find out who he really is. The backstory starts unfolding after Harry is summoned to the infamous school for wizards and the magical action begins from there.
7. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
This warmhearted story full of charming animal and human characters will capture the heart of your 4th graders as it has so many others. Fern, a young girl growing up on a farm, befriends Charlotte the spider and Wilber the pig and they enjoy many adventures together.
8. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Any day with Mary Poppins is a magical day! Kids will love this story of a nanny who merges the worlds of real life and make-believe. If you have seen the movie you may be surprised at the differences in the original story. It’s a must-read classic that belongs to a series of 6 books.
9. Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
This classic story’s characters speak in Old English, which presents a bit of a challenge to young readers in a positive way. Tom Sawyer and his friend, Huckleberry Fin, get into all kinds of adventures and predicaments. These characters have been capturing the hearts of readers for over a century.
10. Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
This classic has been around since 1922, telling a story about love and loss. It’s a charming and beautifully illustrated story that teaches an important life lesson. This is a good book for boys or girls of any age but 4th graders will love it.
11. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
This well-known classic story stands the test of time for kids and adults alike. The magical world of Never Land is a favorite fantasy of many, but this book is the original story, so expect some things to be a little different than the Disney version.
12. Phantom Tollbooth
This is a fun and quirky story is a must-have for your kid’s book collection. It’s a humorous and witty play on words and numbers, puns and logic, profound insights, and delightful fun.
13. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
The story of a young boy and his insights into life. In this first book of 17 in the series, Greg Heffley has to survive middle school while dealing with his two annoying brothers Manny and Rodrick. His friendship with his best friend, Rowley Jefferson, is tested by Rowley’s intolerable behavior and this hilarious story plays out the ups and downs in a fun way for kids.
14. Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
This poignant and moving story has a little bit of sadness but an overall story of hope. A named Edward Tulane has a wonderful owner and he’s on top of the world until finds himself lost. The story follows his adventures as he adapts and learns to open his heart to new possibilities.
15. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
This is the story of an eleven-year-old orphan girl, Anne Shirley, who arrives at Green Gables, the home of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, and wins their hearts. With interesting characters and all kinds of adventures, this is another one of those classic stories that is loved by kids and adults.
16. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
A heartfelt story about a boy and his dogs, from the perspective of the boy as a grown man looking back on his memories. This one can be a little bit of a tear-jerker but it’s a great story to share with your kids.
17. Summer of the Monkeys by Stanley Yelnats
This exciting tale is all about love and adventure that teaches lessons about relationships, dreams, and the importance of hard work. This is a great one to add to your book list for some good laughs and valuable lessons.
18. Arabian Nights by Martin Woodside
This intriguing story full of classic adventure is an important addition to a fourth grader’s reading. Especially those kids who crave adventure and excitement. The individual tales in this book are great for bedtime reading or for reading time in a classroom setting.
19. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby by Lynne Wilson-Bailey
This extremely popular classic book is easy to read for all ages and offers deep insight into life from the perspective of someone who seemingly has everything but still isn’t happy without love. The book has sparked a love of reading for many children just getting into reading.
20. Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
This book for children has a lesson for us all on how to enjoy the good things in life. We learn lessons about friendship, forgiveness, courage, sacrifice, and hospitality in this beautifully illustrated adventure.
21. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This first book in a series of eight is the story about how the Ingalls spent months on the Kansas prairie around the town of Independence. The series follows her simple farm upbringing from her childhood until her adulthood. It’s a look into a different lifestyle than most kids are privy to these days. It’s an excellent book for providing a different perspective on different experiences.
22. Stuart Little by E.B. White
This fun story is about Stuart Little, a mouse born to human parents in New York City. Stuart’s family helps him adjust to being a tiny mouse in a house made for humans. Stuart is shy and thoughtful and a true lover of adventure. This book is one that gets passed from generation to generation and is loved by all.
23. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Harriet M. Welsch is an 11-year-old girl who wants to grow up to be a writer and a spy. She “spies” on her friends and neighbors and writes about them in her notebook. This book is a great read about a really cool girl who kids will love.
24. Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight
Determination and endurance are the main themes of this classic story. It’s hard to read this story and not be a little sad, but its lessons are worth the read. Stories like this help teach children empathy and compassion and will surely be a favorite for your fourth grader.
25. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Little Prince is a story of loneliness, friendship, sadness, and love. It’s an honest and beautiful story about the unpredictable nature of adults. The prince is from a small planet in space, traveling from planet to planet seeking wisdom.
26. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
In this fantasy novel, two fifth-graders become friends and create an imaginary land called Terabithia, where they can go to forget about their problems. It’s full of adventure with a lot of imagination and a little sadness. The book deals with themes of friendship, childhood, and being an individual.
27. The Borrowers by Mary Norton
This fun story is an imaginative tale of tiny little people living in the walls and floors of a home. This quirky storyline makes for a feel-good book with short chapters for easy reading and keeping the attention of those who might not really be into reading.
28. The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
This heartwarming and encouraging story is about a trumpeter swan born without a voice. Louis the swan overcomes this difficulty by learning to play the trumpet in order to impress a beautiful swan named Serena. It’s a great message that disabilities don’t have to stop you.
29. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
Pollyanna is a young girl with exuberance and positivity in all situations. Until one day when tragedy strikes and her optimistic attitude is tested and she must learn to find happiness again. It’s a heartwarming tale that will be a valuable lesson to kids and a reminder to adults.
30. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
This is the story of a girl who discovers she has a fairy godmother. Of course, no one believes the princess and she ends up on a fairy tale adventure. It’s charming characters and storyline are still relevant and enjoyable for kids today, even though it was written in 1872.
31. King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green
This is an excellent adaptation of this story to make it suitable for kids without it being diluted so much that the story is ruined. Kids will love this Arthurian legend and appreciate the collection of stories that are easier to follow and keep their attention.
32. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Island of the Blue Dolphins is a true story about a young girl names Karana who is stranded on an island. She has to figure out how to survive after her brother is killed by wild dogs. It’s a sad but inspiring story of survival and perseverance. After several years, Karana is rescued by a ship that happened to visit the island. The story of this brave and resilient 12-year-old girl seems too wild to be true, but it’s true nonetheless.
33. Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn King
Nancy Drew is an 18-year-old amateur detective conducting interviews, deciphering clues, and upturning society’s unjust standards. These books are written at an 8-12-year-old reading level, but some situations may not be appropriate for that age range. Your discretion should be used but advanced readers will probably already be used to reading similar stories.
34. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
After Leigh’s parents separate, he moves to a new town with his mother. The book takes us through the thoughts and emotions of a young boy as he writes a letter to his favorite author, Mr. Boyd Henshaw. The honest feelings of a boy living in a single-parent home are heartfelt and an inspiration for young boys or kids in general to start journalling their feelings.
35. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Pippi is a nine-year-old girl whose mother died when she was a baby and her father was lost at sea. This is a story of the misadventures and shenanigans of this wild and carefree girl who is just trying to make it on her own.
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Hi, I’m Jessica! I am wife to Chris, and mom to Kaiper, Alana and Koa. I am a graphic designer, website developer and aspiring author. In this space, I share about everything from parenting, working from home, food we cook, and lots of things for kids! Learn more about me here.