Is your rising 4th grader looking forward to the lazy days of summer filled with ice cream cones, trips to the beach and afternoons in the hammock with a good book? The books on this summer reading list will transport any 4th grader into a new and exciting world. Whether your 9-10 year old loves adventure, mystery, fantasy, or even graphic novels, the books on this list are sure to delight.
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Fantasy and Science Fiction
MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
Here's a classic for every kid! Mrs. Frisby must move her children to a warmer home for the winter. But her youngest, Timothy, is sick and she needs assistance. Mrs. Frisby enlists the help of a community of rats who have been bred in a lab to have superior intelligence. Winner of the 1972 Newbery Medal.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN LIVES! (series) by Matthew McElligott and Larry David Tuxbury
This book is a kooky and entertaining blend of history, science, math and humor. Science genius Victor is working on a school project only to discover Ben Franklin, alive and living on electricity, in his basement! In some ways, this is the perfect book for summer. It is light-hearted and funny yet keeps the joy of learning in the foreground.
SKUNK AND BADGER (series) by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Badger lives alone in his aunt's brownstone. He spends his days doing Important Rock Work. But one day, his peace is disturbed when Skunk shows up, informing him that he is Badger's new roommate. Badger is none too happy about this and is determined to rid himself of Skunk. Hilarity ensues and lots and lots of chickens make an appearance. Will Badger and Skunk eventually become friends?
A DASH OF TROUBLE (series) by Anna Meriano
In her Mexican-American family, Leonora Logroño has five older sisters. Convinced that they are excluding her from something important while they tend to the family bakery in their small Texan town, Leo investigates. She discovers a book, Recetas de amor, azúcar, y magia, and then uncovers that her sisters use magic in their baked goods! Against her sisters' advice, Leo decides it is time that she learn magic, too, but things don't go exactly as she hopes! A delightful fun read for kids who would like magical realism.
THE STRANGERS (series) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Mystery and science fiction fans will be sucked into the Greystone Secrets series. Siblings Chess, Emma and Finn hear a report of three kidnapped siblings with their exact first and middle names, and birthdays. Then their mother mysteriously disappears and all the signs and clues point to the existence of a parallel world! Haddix switches the narration among the three siblings, and chapters are short, hurdling the reader towards a cliffhanger so dramatic they will be relieved to know all three books are now available.
Realistic and Historical Fiction
KEEPING SCORE by Linda Sue Park
Maggie is a die-hard Brooklyn Dodgers fan (off to a good start!) thanks to her fireman friend, Jim, who teaches her all about keeping track of the scores. When Jim gets drafted and sent off to Korea, he and Maggie correspond until he suddenly stops writing back. When he returns from Korea, Maggie is determined to help him heal. I liked how Maggie was persistent in her desire to help her friend, and made such an effort to learn about Korea. Her maps and notes are included in the story, which takes place over several years. This book is quite special.
NORTHWIND by Gary Paulsen
Paulsen's final survival story is set in an unspecified northern location in an unspecified historical period, but the setting is evocative of Norway in a pre-modern age. When a deadly illness sweeps through a ship crew's camp, 12-year-old Leif leaves in a canoe with a few supplies. Instructed to voyage northward by one of the elders, he does so. As he travels, he learns self-reliance and revels in the solitude and natural world. Paulsen's beautiful prose sets the reader on a journey of struggle and triumph. Glorious.
THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE by Kekla Magoon
Caleb and his brother, Bobby Gene, live in a small town. Caleb wants to get out and see the world, but their father insists everything they need is right where they live. But this summer, Caleb and Bobby Gene meet Styx Malone, a super cool teenager whose magnetic personality draws them in, and takes them on adventures. The three boys begin Styx's "Great Escalator Trade" in which they barter up a series of items in hopes of finally getting a moped. Most of the story takes place outdoors without phones or televisions, where relationships are paramount.
DARING DARLENE QUEEN OF THE SCREEN by Anne Nesbet
I don't think Nesbet's book is getting the buzz it deserves! 12-year-old Darlene is a silent film star whose daring adventures have captivated screen audiences. A publicity stunt meant to revive her popularity has her inadvertently getting mixed up with the orphaned heiress, Victoria Berryman, who is the object of a kidnap plot. Absolutely great fun.
SHIRLEY AND JAMILA SAVE THEIR SUMMER (series) by Gillian Goerz
New friends, Shirley and Jamila, come up with a plan for their summer which does not involve camp. Shirley has an interest in detective work and Jamila finds that she isn't half-bad at it, either. The two set about solving cases. This wonderful graphic novel is not just about detective work, it's a story of what it means to be a good friend.
TREASURE IN THE LAKE by Jason Pamment
Iris and her friend Sam discover a hidden city and a mysterious girl. Pamment's artwork and storytelling are marvelous and not all questions in this puzzling mystery are answered, but the pondering of it is utterly satisfying.
CARDBOARDIA (series) by Lucy Campagnolo, illustrated by Richard Fairgray
Four kids are transported via cereal box prizes into a parallel world where everything is made of cardboard. In this new universe, their creativity is unleashed, but they also meet the evil Grey Queen and must band together with the Carboardians in order to defeat her.