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The Best Grade School Books for Kids

  • Mulberry Books
    Chrysanthemum
    By Kevin Henkes
    Grades: K-1

    The main character Chrysanthemum cannot wait to begin her first day of school, but when the other children hear her unique and unusual name, they begin making her schools days absolutely dreadful. Henkes has a unique talent for creating true picture stories that children everywhere will easily relate to the main character’s struggle with wanting to feel accepted by her peers.

     
     
    These book reviews were written by Karen Colville, Education Specialist for Save the Children. Karen is a former Reading Recovery-trained primary teacher who loves both children’s books and designing engaging activities for children in our afterschool and summer programs.
  • Puffin

    The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
    By Jon Scieszka
    Grades: K-2

    This spin on the classic folktale “The Three Little Pigs” is told from the Wolf’s point of view. It’s a cleverly written story that will get kids thinking as they listen to a very convincing Wolf explain his side of the story.

     

  • Atheneum Books

    Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
    By Judith Viorst
    Grades: K-2

    This classic story, published in 1972, continues to be a beloved favorite of both children and parents. Everyone has a bad day, but poor Alexander—his day goes from bad to worse. The book addresses issues all children often face, such as sibling jealousy, mood swings, and making mistakes. More important, children learn in this story that other people have bad days too.

     

  • Scholastic Paperbacks
    The Story of Ruby Bridges
    By Robert Coles
    Grades: 1-3

    This is the beautifully written story of Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old African-American girl known in history as the first child to attend an integrated school in New Orleans in the 1960s. This powerful, true story is a must-read at both home and school, teaching children the ugliness of racism and the power of forgiveness.

     
  • Putnam Juvenile

    Bully
    By Patricia Polacco
    Grades: 2 and up

    The hot topic of school cliques and bullying (online and off) is an issue children in schools across the globe often face. Polacco tackles these issues head-on in a story that is sure to spark intense but necessary discussions in both home and school.

     

  • Scholastic Press

    OWEN & MZEE -The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship
    By Isabella & Craig Hatkoff
    Grades: 2 and up

    Through beautiful illustrations the creators of this nonfiction book lead us on an unlikely journey of friendship between an orphaned hippo and a 130-year-old tortoise. This inspirational story illustrates the importance of love and friendship, leaving children and adults with an important message:  true friendship knows no boundaries.
     

  • Sandpiper

    Fly Away Home
    By Eve Bunting
    Grades: 2-5

    This story is one of a small boy and his father living in an airport because the dad is unable to pay rent. They move often from terminal to terminal, constantly in fear of discovery and eviction from the only place they now call home. The reader learns of the young boy’s loneliness, fears and anxiety through emotionally charged words such as, “Why do other people get to live in homes? What makes them so special?” This picture book brings to light homelessness and explores the real meaning of the word “home.”

     

  • Harry N. Abrams

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid
    By Jeff Kinney
    Grades: 3-6

    This first book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has quickly become a school reading favorite. Although written for 8-12 year olds, this story details the day-to-day life of a sixth grade student named Greg. Boys especially relate to the author’s use of humorous cartoon illustrations and the handwritten text used throughout the story.

     

  • Puffin

    Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing
    By Judy Blume
    Grades: 3-5

    This Judy Blume classic continues to be a favorite among elementary children, especially those who have younger siblings. The short chapter book, the first in the series of “Fudge” books, tells the story of Peter and his little brother nicknamed Fudge, who always seems to cause his older brother grief. Blume’s witty humor and accurate recounts of the typical issues siblings face are what make these characters so likeable.

     

  • Perfection Learning

    Where the Red Fern Grows
    By Wilson Rawls
    Grades: 3-6

    This chapter book describes the adventures of two hunting dogs—Old Dan and Little Ann—and their young owner Billy who dreams of training the finest hunting team Cherokee County has ever seen. But this classic tale of loyalty, love and friendship is a real tear jerker, so have the tissues handy.

     

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