Novels for Growing Readers
As your students get older, the way they read will evolve – as will their manner of looking beyond themselves to the outside world. For this age range, recommend books that incorporate the theme of learning about and connecting with the complexities of the world.
The Lucky Baseball Bat by Matt Christopher (3–4)
Martin is the new boy in school and wants to play little league baseball. One day an older boy gives him his old bat and Martin soon finds that he is a great player, but out of the blue someone steals Martin's bat and he loses confidence in his ability to play. Will Martin still help win the school championship?
The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor (3–5)
Mountain Girl wishes that her parents made more money, but her parents show her and her brother that they are rich because of their natural surroundings and each other's company.
Shiloh by Phyllis Naylor (3–6)
This Newbery Medal Winner about an eleven–year–old boy who stumbles upon an abused beagle follows the relationship that develops between boy and dog. Phyllis Naylor based Shiloh on her own experience of finding an abandoned dog in her neighborhood.
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (4–6)
This Newbery Medal Winner is a heartwarming tale of a girl's indecision between a new lifestyle and her heritage in the Eskimo world. Young readers will love finding out about the ways of her culture and environment.
Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan (4–6)
This inspirational historical novel follows the life of Charlotte "Charley" Parkhurst. Charley was looked down on for being a tomboy when she was younger, but she proved herself to everyone by becoming a legendary stagecoach driver and the first woman to vote in California.
My Name is Brain Brian by Jeanne Betancourt (4–6)
This book tells the dramatic story of a boy named Brian who feels he must hide his dyslexia from his friends. Betancourt based Brian on her own experiences as a child.
Jack's Black Book by Jack Gantos (4–7)
Based on some of Gantos'own struggles as a teenager, this is the third installment of the Jack Henry series. Realizing that many of his experiences have been bad, Jack decides to turn his turbulent life into money by writing a book about his wacky life, which includes his crazy family, his dead dog, and a flunked IQ test. Jack delivers these moments with confidence and humor.
Holes by Louis Sachar (4–7)
This Newbery Medal Winner is a funny and entertaining tale of a bunch of male juvenile delinquents sent to a camp to dig holes as punishment. The boys soon realize that digging holes may have been devised not as a way for them to learn their lesson but as a scheme by their tough–as–nails warden.