Read aloud books for 4th graders
by: Roald Dahl, illustrated by: Quentin Blake - (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1982) 224 pages.
The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is not a bone-crunching, child-eating beast like his vicious relatives — he’s a vegetarian. He even makes a human friend — an 8-year-old orphan named Sophie. This hugely entertaining, fast-paced fable is written in a garbled, whizz-popping, “giant” dialect that’s wonderful to roar, grumble, and listen to.
Perfect for: Kids who like making friends.
Find The BFG at your local library.
Poetry for Young People: African American Poetry
by: Arnold Rampersad, Marcellus Blount, and Karen Barbour - (Sterling Children's Books, 2013) 48 pages.
Accessible and impressive anthology that showcases the powerfully expressive language of African-American verse. Contains 34 poems by 27 poets, including Phillis Wheatley, James Baldwin, Countee Cullen, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and Gwendolyn Brooks. With biographies, mixed media illustrations, a glossary, helpful annotations, and an explanatory introduction. An ideal intro to poetry for young readers.
Perfect for: Kids who like poems.
Find Poetry for Young People: African American Poetry at your local library.
The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set
by: Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by: Garth William - (Harper & Row, 1971)
Pioneer family classics describing 1800s life on the frontier viewed through the eyes of a girl growing up. Covered wagons, log cabins, frozen blizzards, loyal pets, hostile beasts, a blind sister, rural relationships, and the constant struggle to survive in the woods and prairies of Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and the Dakotas.
Perfect for: Kids who like stories about pioneers.
Find The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set at your local library.
Babe the Gallant Pig
by: Dick King-Smith, illustrated by: Mary Rayner - (Yearling, 1995)
When Fly the sheepdog adopts the piglet Babe and raises him with her puppies, the polite, gentle pig naturally assumes he’s a sheepdog, too. Farmer Hoggett intends to fatten Babe up and eat him for dinner, but his plans change when Babe saves the flock from sheep rustlers and wild dogs. Babe’s sweet and genuine spirit is infectious and the quaint details of country life are compelling, especially for city kids.
Want to see the movie? The 1995 adaptation, Babe, has something to offer all ages.
Perfect for: Kids who like Charlotte’s Web.
Find Babe the Gallant Pig at your local library.
by: Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by: E. B. Lewis - (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012) 32 pages.
Maya is a new student in a rural school. No one will play with her — Chloe and her friends exclude Maya because she is poor. After Maya leaves the school, the teacher explains how even a tiny act of kindness can change the world. Gentle watercolors reinforce the anti-bullying message.
Perfect for: Kids who are different.
Find Each Kindness at your local library.
by: Neil Gaiman - (HarperCollins Publishers, 2002) 208 pages.
Coraline’s world is full of frustrating things: her boring bedroom, her dad’s bad cooking, and the fact that everyone mispronounces her name. Rain frustrates her too, because when it rains her mother won’t let her go outside. One especially rainy day she has nothing to do so she explores her new house and discovers a world much like her own, only better. Coraline is thrilled at first, until she learns that this new world is full of dark secrets that threaten her family and her future.
Want to see the movie? Young or sensitive kids may find the deliciously creepy 2009 adaptation to be a bit too frightening.
Perfect for: Kids who like the thrill of being scared.
Find Coraline at your local library.
The One and Only Ivan
by: Katherine Applegate - (HarperCollins, 2012) 320 pages.
Ivan is a trapped gorilla exhibited behind glass in an American mall. He doesn’t recall his jungle past, and he thinks he’s happy, until his friendship with a baby elephant re-awakens his stifled emotions and memories. This sweet, heart-breaking-but-funny tale presents unforgettable characters and raises profound questions about how humans treat animals. Based on a true story.
Perfect for: Kids who like animal stories and stories based on something that really happened.
Find The One and Only Ivan at your local library.
Bridge to Terabithia
by: Katherine Paterson - (HarperCollins, 1977) 176 pages.
Terabithia is a secret kingdom that Jess creates with his friend Leslie in the woods outside her house. The two retreat there to vanquish giants and zombies, and to escape the tedium of school and the cruelty of classmates. In Terabithia, it doesn’t matter that Jess’s family is very poor, or that he and Leslie are considered losers at school. But one day an accident changes everything and Jess has to deal with the pain and permanence of loss.
Want to see the movie? The 2007 adaptation sensitively covers the mature themes in the book, including the death of a main character.
Perfect for: Kids who like intense friendship.
Find Bridge to Terabithia at your local library.