Summer is right around the corner, and that means summer reading programs are starting up at libraries, schools, and bookstores.
My boys have a hard time pulling themselves away from video games and YouTube in the summer, but I make sure they do a little bit of reading every day before they can get screen time. And if they’ve got an exciting story to dive into, they don’t put up too much of a fight! 🙂
Check out all of our Summer Reading Lists!
The books on this list have been chosen with upcoming fourth graders in mind. These books are about all kinds of kids, and they cover a wide range of genres, from sci-fi to historical fiction to fantasy to short stories. No matter what your child likes to read, there’s something on this list that will both interest and challenge them.
Diverse Summer Reading List for 4th Graders
The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles
It’s the last day of summer vacation, and Sheed and Otto can’t agree on how to spend it. They’re yearning for one more adventure before they head back to school.
The perfect mission comes along when a strange man shows up in their town. The man has a camera that freezes time, and the boys realize they must work together to save their town and save the last day of summer.
Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh! by Umi Krishnaswami
Maria Singh is an “adi-adi;” half Indian, half Mexican. More than anything, she longs to play softball, but her parents don’t think a girl should be playing sports. Softball isn’t Maria’s only worry; she also has to navigate prejudice, economic hardship, and the impact of World War II on her Yuba City, California community. Set in 1945, this book is an eye-opening look at a little-known time and place in history.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
I loved, loved, LOVED this book, even though it broke my heart into a million little pieces.
Jerome is a young boy who is shot by a police offer while playing with a toy gun. As a ghost, he sees the affects of his death on his family, friends, and community. He encounters the ghost of Emmett Till, and connects in the living world with the daughter of the police officer that shot him.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Beneath Ally’s mischief-making and distractions, she hides a secret: she can’t read. She’s been able to fool teachers for years, but her new teacher Mr. Daniels isn’t willing to give up on her like other teachers have. With Mr. Daniels’ help, Ally is able to see that maybe she isn’t a lost cause, and that having dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of.
George by Alex Gino
George’s teacher says George can’t try out for the part of Charlotte in the class production of Charlotte’s Web, because George is a boy. But George isn’t a boy. She looks like a boy to the outside world, but she knows that she’s really a girl. With the help of a good friend, George comes up with a plan to play the role of her dreams and show her friends and family who she really is on the inside.
Flying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Ho
In this anthology, a diverse collection of authors comes together to share powerful short stories. Authors like Jacqueline Woodson, Kwame Alexander, and Tim Tingle share works that will resonate with all children, no matter their background. This is a book that belongs in every child’s library!
Sanity and Tallulah by Molly Brooks
Sanity and Tallulah are two totally normal, smart, creative best friends…except they live on a space station and have just accidentally spawned a three-headed kitten that grows at an exponential rate! A fast-paced, action-packed story filled with smart, leading women of color, Sanity and Tallulah is the perfect read for a feminist tween.
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte
Mary Lambert has always felt safe in her insular deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her brother dies. Mary is heartbroken over the loss, and she’s starting to become nervous about the disputes between the English settlers and native Wampanoag people.
When a curious scientist arrives on the island to learn more about the deaf community there, Mary soon finds herself in the middle of a dangerous situation. She must call upon all of her strength and intelligence to save herself.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Mia Tang dreams of being a writer, but her mom wants her to stick with math, since English isn’t her native language. While working the front desk at the Calivista Motel, Mia dreams about her future, and worries about the present. The boss Mr. Yao doesn’t know that her parents are hiding immigrants in empty motel rooms. She knows they’re doing the right thing, but if her parents get caught, the Tangs will lose everything. Set in the 1990s, this book is fun and uplifting, despite the serious subject matter. This book is one of my favorites!
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Min longs for adventure and excitement, instead of her boring life of chores and annoying family members. Her home planet is boring, and her mother insists that they must act human at all times, even though they are fox spirits.
When Min hears that her older brother Jun has left his assignment in the Space Forces to search for the Dragon Pearl, she can’t believe it. She knows Jun would never do something like that, so she runs away from home to find the truth and clear her brother’s name. The quest takes her on an adventure she never could’ve imagined.
How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle
This haunting story is told from the perspective of Isaac, a Choctaw boy who died on the Trail of Tears. We see, through Isaac’s eyes, his life in Mississippi with his family and his dog Jumper, and how his life is changed forever and ultimately ends when his close-knit community is forced west on the Trail of Tears. Readers know from the beginning that Isaac is a ghost, but seeing the painful events that led him there is humbling and heartbreaking.
This is a powerful book that I recommend adults read alongside their children; it’s a story we all need to hear.
Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Merci Suarez is a Cuban-American girl who attends a ritzy private school “on scholarship” as her not-so-nice peers like to point out. The story follows Merci as she navigates her new middle school life and identity, as well as issues within her own family.
My favorite aspect of this book is the portrayal of Merci’s extended family, who live in a duplex-like apartment complex, where they help each other in a myriad of ways.
Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renee Watson
Betty Shabazz is probably best known for being married to activist Malcolm X, but she was living a life of activism long before she got married. This fictional account of her childhood follows her childhood in Detroit, her rocky relationship with her mother, and her work supporting black-owned businesses as a junior member of the Housewives League.
This work of historical fiction, written by Betty’s daughter, is full of fascination facts about her life, and paints a realistic picture of life in Detroit in the 1940s.
Once Upon an Eid edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed
The short stories in this book all revolve around the Muslim celebration of Eid, but they all show different aspects of the Muslim experience. Each story is wrapped in the joy and happiness that Eid represents, and readers will learn much about both the Muslim faith and the values that bind us all together. This anthology features stories from Hena Khan, G. Willow Wilson, and other amazing Muslim authors.
The Usual Suspects by Maurice Broaddus
Thelonius Mitchell is a “bad kid.” Or at least, that’s what he’s always been told. He’s placed in a special education class because he has “issues.” Thelonius gets the message loud and clear: he doesn’t fit in. So he does his best to embrace the image he’s been assigned, and can usually be found causing trouble with his friends.
But when someone brings a gun to school, everyone is looking to bad boy Thelonius and his friends. But Thelonius isn’t that kind of bad kid, and he’s definitely not responsible for the gun. So Thelonius decides to solve the case himself, and show his peers and his teachers that he has more to offer than anyone thought.