Finding chapter books for fourth graders is fun, because at this stage, most nine-year-olds are strong enough readers. A few of them still like to see some pictures in their chapter books, but others can handle reading up to 200 pages of fiction (or more). Whatever your fourth-grader’s reading level, I’m pretty sure you’ll find a couple or more books for them among these 50 chapter books for fourth-graders. I’ve separated those that feature illustrations from the chapter books that do not.
The non-illustrated chapter books I’ve chosen are technically “middle-grade books” for ages 8-12. But these picks are well suited for younger readers because they feature younger protagonists, fewer pages of text, less intense subject matter, and a “young” voice.
Let’s get started. Click on the book covers to go their Amazon pages.
Disclaimer: I use affiliate links for Amazon and will make a cent or two if you buy using these links. It’s a great way to support a blog(ger) you love.
Chapter Books for 4th Graders – With Illustrations
Jada Sly, Artist & Spy
Published: May 14, 2019
Ten-year-old Jada Sly is an artist and a spy-in-training. When she isn’t studying the art from her idols like Jackie Ormes, the first-known African American cartoonist, she’s chronicling her spy training and other observations in her art journal.
Back home in New York City, after living in France for five years, Jada is ready to embark on her first and greatest spy adventure yet. She plans to scour New York City in search of her missing mother, even though everyone thinks her mom died in a plane crash. Except Jada, who is certain her mom was a spy, too.
With the stakes high and danger lurking around every corner, Jada will use one spy technique after another to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance — some with hilarious results. After all, she’s still learning.
Published: May 5, 2020
Ten-year-old Katarina is a New York City girl through and through, but the buzz of the city drives her to feel that she is meant for more than her ordinary day to day routine. Her big dream? To become a prima ballerina.
With the help of a few new friends, Katarina finally puts on her first pair of ballet shoes and she’s more than determined to make it work. But her feet don’t quite move the way she would like them to, the twirls and spins make her dizzy, and her classmates aren’t exactly welcoming. When the head of the dance studio announces that there will be a competition to earn a spot in an upcoming international dance camp, Katarina knows this could be her big chance to make her dancer dreams come true. Does this tiny dancer have what it takes to stand out in the ballet world of blending in?
Published: January 16, 2018
Ellie is an engineer. With a tool belt strapped over her favorite skirt (who says you can’t wear a dress and have two kinds of screwdrivers handy, just in case?), she invents and builds amazing creations in her backyard workshop. Together with her best friend Kit, Ellie can make anything. As Kit’s birthday nears, Ellie doesn’t know what gift to make until the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about her present–the dog Kit always wanted! Ellie plans to make an amazing doghouse, but her plans grow so elaborate that she has to enlist help from the neighbor boys and crafty girls, even though the two groups don’t get along. Will Ellie be able to pull off her biggest project yet, all while keeping a secret from Kit?
Published: March 2, 2021
A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel featuring a girl with severe allergies who just wants to find the perfect pet!
At home, Maggie is the odd one out. Her parents are preoccupied with getting ready for a new baby, and her younger brothers are twins and always in their own world. Maggie loves animals and thinks a new puppy to call her own is the answer, but when she goes to select one on her birthday, she breaks out in hives and rashes. She’s severely allergic to anything with fur!
Can Maggie outsmart her allergies and find the perfect pet? With illustrations by Michelle Mee Nutter, Megan Wagner Lloyd uses inspiration from her own experiences with allergies to tell a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and finding a place to belong.
The Great Peach Experiment 1
Published: April 6, 2021
Sweet summer has taken a rotten turn . . .
After a tough year, Lucy, Freddy, and Herb Peach are ready for vacation. Lucy wants to read all of the books on the summer reading list. Freddy wants to work on his art projects (when he isn’t stuck in summer school). Herb wants to swim every day.
Then their dad makes a big announcement: one of the inventions their mom came up with before she passed away has sold, and now they’re millionaires!
But Dad has bigger plans than blowing the cash on fun stuff or investing it. He’s bought a used food truck. The Peaches are going to spend the summer traveling the country selling pies. It will be the Great Peach Experiment–a summer of bonding while living out one of Mom’s dreams. Summer plans, sunk. And there’s one more issue Dad’s neglected: none of them knows how to bake. . . .
Published: May 25, 2021
Every Saturday, Pawcasso trots into town with a basket, a shopping list, and cash in paw to buy groceries for his family. One day, he passes eleven-year-old Jo, peering out the window of her house, bored and lonely. Astonished by the sight of an adorable basket-toting dog on his own, Jo follows Pawcasso, and when she’s seen alongside him by a group of kids from her school, they mistake her for Pawcasso’s owner.
Excited to make new friends, Jo reluctantly hides the truth and agrees to let “her” dog model for an art class the kids attend. What could go wrong? But what starts as a Chihuahua-sized lie quickly grows Great Dane-sized when animal control receives complaints about a dog roaming the streets off-leash. With Pawcasso’s freedom at stake, is Jo willing to spill the truth and risk her new friendships?
Ways to Make Sunshine
Published: April 28, 2020
Ryan Hart has a lot on her mind–school, self-image, and especially family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means some changes, like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. As her brother says when he raps about her, she’s got the talent that matters most: it’s a talent that can’t be seen, she’s nice, not mean!
Ryan is all about trying to see the best in people, to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. But even if her life isn’t everything she would wish for, when her big brother is infuriating, her parents don’t quite understand, and the unexpected happens, she always finds a way forward, with grace and wit. And plenty of sunshine.
Farah Rocks Fifth Grade
Published: January 1, 2020
Farah and her best friend, Allie Liu, are getting excited to turn in their applications to the Magnet Academy, where they both hope to attend sixth grade. But when new girl Dana Denver shows up, Farah’s world is turned upside down. As Dana starts bullying Farah’s little brother, Samir, Farah begins to second-guess her choice to leave him behind at Harbortown Elementary/Middle School. Determined to handle it on her own, Farah comes up with a plan–a plan that involves lying to those closest to her. Will her lies catch up with her, or can Farah find a way to defeat the bully and rock fifth grade?
Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker
Published: September 19, 2017
Hanging from trees by her knees, doing handstands . . . for Beatrice Zinker, upside down works every time. She was definitely upside down when she and her best friend, Lenny, agreed to wear matching ninja suits on the first day of third grade. But when Beatrice shows up at school dressed in black, Lenny arrives with a cool new outfit and a cool new friend. Even worse, she seems to have forgotten all about the top-secret operation they planned!
Can Beatrice use her topsy-turvy way of thinking to save the mission, mend their friendship, and flip things sunny-side up?
Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet
Published: March 24, 2009
Calvin Coconut lives near the beach in Kailua, Hawaii, with his mom and his little sister. All his friends live there, too.
Mom says: “You’re the man of the house, Cal.” Which means: Be responsible. Calvin tries, but fun—and trouble—follows him wherever he goes, even in the classroom, also known as Mr. Purdy’s Fourth-Grade Boot Camp. And how can he be the man of the house after teenage Stella-from-Texas arrives to be the live-in babysitter and steps all over Calvin’s turf?
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Published: October 24, 2017
In this imaginative adventure from Newbery Medal–winning author Beverly Cleary, a young mouse named Ralph is thrown into a world of excitement when a boy and his shiny toy motorcycle check in to the Mountain View Inn.
When the ever-curious Ralph spots Keith’s red toy motorcycle, he vows to ride it. So when Keith leaves the bike unattended in his room one day, Ralph makes his move. But with all this freedom (and speed!) come a lot of obstacles. Whether dodging a rowdy terrier or keeping his nosy cousins away from his new wheels, Ralph has a lot going on! And with a pal like Keith always looking out for him, there’s nothing this little mouse can’t handle.
Dara Palmer’s Major Drama
Published: July 5, 2016
Dara Palmer is destined to be a star, and she’s writing herself the role of a lifetime. In this book, Emma Shevah tells a heartwarming story of one girl’s experience with transracial adoption and the drama of middle school.
Dara longs for stardom―but when she isn’t cast in her middle school’s production of The Sound of Music, she gets suspicious. It can’t be because she’s not the best. She was born to be a famous movie star. It must be because she’s adopted from Cambodia and doesn’t look like a typical fraulein. (That’s German for girl.)
So irrepressible Dara comes up with a genius plan to shake up the school: write a play about her own life. Then she’ll have to be the star.
Peter Lee’s Notes From the Field
Published: March 2, 2021
Eleven year-old Peter Lee has one goal in life: to become a paleontologist. Okay, maybe two: to get his genius kid-sister, L.B., to leave him alone. But his summer falls apart when his real-life dinosaur expedition turns out to be a bust, and he watches his dreams go up in a cloud of asthma-inducing dust.
Even worse, his grandmother, Hammy, is sick, and no one will talk to Peter or L.B. about it. Perhaps his days as a scientist aren’t quite behind him yet. Armed with notebooks and pens, Peter puts his observation and experimental skills to the test to see what he can do for Hammy. If only he can get his sister to be quiet for once — he needs time to sketch out a plan.
The Buried Bones Mystery (Clubhouse Mysteries Book 1)
Published: July 12, 2011
Ziggy and his friends Rico, Rashawn, and Jerome call themselves The Black Dinosaurs, and share exciting adventures. In The Buried Bones Mystery, the boys build a clubhouse in Ziggy’s backyard, where they uncover a box of bones while digging to bury their secret treasures. But when the boys try to hide their treasures, they’re swept up in a mystery more intriguing—and scary—than anything they could have imagined. Who could have buried a box of bones behind their clubhouse?
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
Published: July 8, 2008
Alvin, an Asian American second grader, is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’ s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.
Danny Chung Sums It Up
Published: September 7, 2021
Eleven-year-old Danny’s life is turned upside down when his Chinese grandmother comes to live with his family in England. Things get worse when Danny finds out he’ll have to share his room with her, and she took the top bunk! At first, Danny is frustrated that he can’t communicate with her because she doesn’t speak English—and because he’s on the verge of failing math and Nai Nai was actually a math champion back in the day. It just feels like he and his grandmother have nothing in common. His parents insist that Danny help out, so when he’s left to look after Nai Nai, he leaves her at the bingo hall for the day to get her off his back. But he soon discovers that not everyone there is as welcoming as he expected . . . Through the universal languages of math and art, Danny realizes he has more in common with his Nai Nai than he first thought. Filled with heart and humor, Danny Chung Sums It Up shows that traversing two cultures is possible and worth the effort, even if it’s not always easy.
Solving for M
Published: May 28, 2019
When Mika starts fifth grade at the middle school, her neat life gets messy. Separated from old friends and starting new classes, Mika is far from her comfort zone. And math class is the most confusing of all, especially when her teacher Mr. Vann assigns math journals. Art in math? Who’s ever heard of such a thing?
But when challenges arise at home, Mika realizes there are no easy answers. Maybe, with some help from friends, family, and one unique teacher, a math journal can help her work out problems, and not just the math ones.
The Great Shelby Holmes
Published: September 6, 2016
Shelby Holmes is not your average sixth grader. She’s nine years old, barely four feet tall, and the best detective her Harlem neighborhood has ever seen–always using logic and a bit of pluck (which yes, some might call “bossiness”) to solve the toughest crimes.
When eleven-year-old John Watson moves downstairs, Shelby finds something that’s eluded her up till now: a friend. The easy-going John isn’t sure of what to make of Shelby, but he soon finds himself her most-trusted (read: only) partner in a dog-napping case that’ll take both their talents to crack.
Lexie’s Little Lie
Published: April 2, 2019
Lexie and her cousin Eleni are super-crazy-mega-extra-seriously close. They’re like twins who aren’t actually twins, if that’s possible. But when Lexie tells a terrible, jealous lie, her whole family is split apart.
It’s up to Lexie to bring them all back together and fix her relationship with Eleni. After a few calamitous escapades, Lexie has discovered that there are all sorts of truths and all sorts of lies too…But can telling the truth be more hurtful than telling a lie?
The Real McCoys
Published: November 7, 2017
Her name’s Moxie. Moxie McCoy.
Bold, opinionated, and haplessly self-confident, the world’s greatest fourth-grade detective faces her biggest challenge! When someone kidnaps beloved school mascot Eddie the Owl, Moxie is on the case—but she’s forced to fly solo now that her best friend (and crime-solving partner) has moved away.
Moxie must interview her classmates—both as potential new best friends and as possible suspects. She finds clues and points fingers but can’t save the owl on her own. Enter Moxie’s little brother, Milton. Quiet, cautious, and boring as a butter knife, he’s a good listener.
Can the Real McCoys form an unlikely alliance and solve the crime of the century?
The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee
Published: April 3, 2018
India Wimple can spell. Brilliantly. Every Friday night, she and her family watch the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee on TV. When the Wimples suggest she enter the next Bee, India feels nothing but trepidation. She’s sure she’s not good enough—but with the support of her family, India finds the courage to sign up.
There are plenty of obstacles to reaching the finals, like Summer Millicent Ernestine Beauregard-Champion, a spoiled rich girl who isn’t afraid to step on anyone who gets in her way of winning. India also needs to overcome stage fright, shyness, and anxiety. Full of lovable characters, new vocabulary words, and more, this is the perfect spelling bee book for girls 8-12.
The whole thing seems rather calamitous to India. But with hope, hard work, and a little bit of heart, something splendiferous might be on the horizon…
Published: April 23, 2019
Olive is sure she’ll have the best time at summer camp with her friend Willow – but while Olive makes quick friends with the other campers, Willow struggles to form connections and latches on to the only person she knows – Olive. It’s s’more than Olive can handle! The stress of being Willow’s living security blanket begins to wear on Olive and before long…the girls aren’t just fighting, they may not even be friends by the time camp is over. Will the two be able to patch things up before the final lights out?
TheNew York Times bestselling author-illustrator Kayla Miller has created an emotional and honest story about navigating new experiences, learning to step outside one’s comfort zone, and the satisfaction of blazing your own trails.
Pie in the Sky
Published: May 14, 2019
When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he’s often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao.
To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she’s at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they’ll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama.
Twig and Turtle: Big Move to a Tiny House
Published: October 20, 2020
8 and 6-year-old sisters named Twig and Turtle are excited and curious about their new small town in Colorado, and for their cool new tiny house. Their family is united in living more simply and not stressing out the earth’s resources. And enjoying nature. But for Twig, that means leaving her BIG adopted Great Dane with her grandma. In the tiny house, there’s barely enough room for a few books and games!
Friendly and outgoing Turtle rolls with the move, and new life. But Twig struggles without her beloved dog. At school, Twig has to write about an opinion. And that gets her mind cooking. Twig is going to use her writing project to get her big dog back!
Mystery on Magnolia Circle
Published: August 3, 2021
What happens when two best friends take on the world’s worst summer?
On the first day of vacation, ten-year-old Ivy Crowden falls down the stairs and breaks her leg. Stuck in a plaster cast, she’s certain her summer is doomed. Not even Teddy, her neighbor and best friend, can cheer her up because he’s dealing with his own pain: the loss of a beloved dog.
But when Ivy witnesses a possible burglary from her living room window, her summer takes a sudden turn from meh to mysterious. Who are the criminals? Might a classmate be involved? And . . . uh-oh. A second mystery is nipping at Ivy’s heels. Cue the best friends, the best dog, and the best chance that summer can be saved!
Chapter Books for 4th Graders – Not Illustrated
Rescue at Lake Wild
Published: April 27, 2021
Everyone knows that twelve-year-old Madison “Madi” Lewis is not allowed to bring home any more animals. After she’s saved hairless mice, two birds, a rabbit, and a stray tom cat that ended up destroying the front porch, Madi’s parents decide that if they find one more stray animal in the house, she won’t be allowed to meet Jane Goodall at an upcoming gala event.
But when Madi and her two best friends, Aaron and Jack, rescue beaver kits whose mother was killed, they find themselves at the center of a local conspiracy that’s putting the beavers and their habitats in danger. As Madi and her friends race to uncover the threat targeting the beavers, Madi must put her animal whisperer skills to the test in both raising the orphaned beaver kits and staying out of trouble long enough.
Manatee’s Best Friend
Published: August 3, 2021
Becca Wong Walker may be so shy that most people at school think she doesn’t speak at all, but why should she care? She has more important things to worry about. Missy, the manatee who visits the dock in Becca’s backyard, and Becca’s only friend, hasn’t been seen for a long time. When Missy finally does return, she has a new baby with her! Becca wants to be excited, but more than ever inconsiderate boaters are speeding through the river, putting the lives of Missy and her baby in terrible danger.
One day, Becca spots a dolphin in the river too! By bonding over the dolphin and manatees, Becca finally starts to make friends at school. But when Becca takes a video that goes viral, it seems like it will be harder than ever to save the manatees… and trying might just tear Becca’s new friendships apart.
To Tell You the Truth
Published: June 8, 2021
Trixy needs a story, fast, or she’s going to fail the fourth grade—that’s a fact. But every time she sits down to write, her mind is a blank. The only stories she can think of are Gran’s, the ones no one else ever believed but Trixy gulped down like sweet tea. Gran is gone now, buried under the lilac bush in the family plot, so it’s not like Trixy’s hurting anybody to claim one of those stories as her own, is she?
That stolen story turns out to be a huge success, and soon everybody in town wants Trixy to tell them a tale. Before long, the only one left is the story she vowed never to share, the one that made Gran’s face cloud up with sadness. Trying to find a way out of this tangled mess, Trixy and her friend Raymond hit the road to follow the twists and turns of Gran’s past. Maybe then Trixy can write a story that’s all her own, one that’s the straight-up truth.
Elvis and the World As It Stands
Published: August 24, 2021
Most shelter animals dream of going home with a forever family. But for Elvis, being chosen by Mrs. Pemberton is a nightmare. He’s been separated from his sister, Etta, and is determined to get back to the shelter to find her. In spite of himself, Elvis becomes curious about ten-year-old Georgina Pemberton, who builds LEGO skyscrapers in her bedroom while navigating her parents’ separation. The longer he’s in his new home, the more he starts recognizing new feelings: admiration for Georgina’s creations, affection for the other pets, and even empathy for the Pembertons—despite their inability to listen.
As Georgina sets out to build her most important skyscrapers yet—the Twin Towers—Elvis realizes that maybe both humans and animals can take a page from Georgina’s Big Book of American Architecture and “build a world of their own choosing,” even if the choices aren’t what they’d initially expected.
President of the Whole Fifth Grade
Published: October 5, 2010
Start counting your votes . . . and your friends.
When Brianna Justice’s hero, the famous celebrity chef Miss Delicious, speaks at her school and traces her own success back to being president of her fifth grade class, Brianna determines she must do the same. She just knows that becoming president of her class is the first step toward her own cupcake-baking empire!
But when new student Jasmine Moon announces she is also running for president, Brianna learns that she may have more competition than she expected. Will Brianna be able to stick to her plan of working with her friends to win the election fairly? Or will she jump at the opportunity to steal votes from Jasmine by revealing an embarrassing secret?
This hilarious, heartfelt novel will appeal to any reader with big dreams, and the determination to achieve them.
Just Right Jillian
Published: February 1, 2022
Fifth-grader Jillian will do just about anything to blend in, including staying quiet even when she has the right answer. After she loses a classroom competition because she won’t speak up, she sets her mind on winning her school’s biggest competition. But breaking out of her shell is easier said than done, and Jillian has only a month to keep her promise to her grandmother and prove to herself that she can speak up and show everyone her true self.
A warm and relatable middle-grade debut novel about family, friendship, and finding the confidence to break free from the crowd and be who you truly are.
Words with Wings
Published: September 1, 2013
Gabby’s world is filled with daydreams. However, what began as an escape from her parents’ arguments has now taken over her life. But with the help of a new teacher, Gabby the dreamer might just become Gabby the writer, and words that carried her away might allow her to soar. Written in vivid, accessible poems, this remarkable verse novel is a celebration of imagination, of friendship, of one girl’s indomitable spirit, and of a teacher’s ability to reach out and change a life.
The Magnificent Mya Tibbs
Published: January 26, 2016
Nine-year-old Mya Tibbs is boot-scootin’ excited for the best week of the whole school year—SPIRIT WEEK! She and her megapopular best friend, Naomi Jackson, even made a pinky promise to be Spirit Week partners so they can win the big prize: special VIP tickets to the Fall Festival!
But when the partner picking goes horribly wrong, Mya gets paired with Mean Connie Tate—the biggest bully in school. And she can’t get out of it.
Now Naomi is friend-ending mad at Mya for breaking a promise—even though Mya couldn’t help it—and everyone at school is calling Mya names. Can Mya work with Mean Connie to win the VIP tickets and get her best friend back?
These Unlucky Stars
Published: March 2, 2021
Ever since her mother left a few years ago, Annie has felt like the odd one out in her family. Her dad and brother are practical and organized–they just don’t understand the way she thinks, in lines and color. Everywhere she turns, she feels like an outsider, even at school, so she’s been reluctant to get close to anyone.
When a “Ding-Dong-Ditch” attempt goes wrong, Annie finds herself stuck making amends with Gloria, the eccentric elderly lady she disturbed. As she begins to connect with Gloria and her weird little dog, it becomes clear that Gloria won’t be able to live on her own for much longer. But it’s this brief and important friendship that gives Annie the confidence to let people in, and see how rich life can be when you decide to make your own luck and chart your own path to happiness.
Stef Soto Taco Queen
Published: January 17, 2017
Estefania “Stef” Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family’s taco truck. She wants nothing more than for Papi to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be a distant memory. Then maybe everyone at school will stop seeing her as the Taco Queen.
But when her family’s livelihood is threatened, and it looks like her wish will finally come true, Stef surprises everyone (including herself) by becoming the truck’s unlikely champion. In this fun and heartfelt novel, Stef will discover what matters most and ultimately embrace an identity that even includes old Tia Perla.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Published: May 26, 1998
Accidentally built sideways and standing thirty stories high (the builder said he was very sorry for the mistake), Wayside School has some of the wackiest classes in town, especially on the thirtieth floor. That’s where you’ll meet Bebe, the fastest draw in art class; John, who only reads upside down; Myron, the best class president ever; and Sammy, the new kid—he’s a real rat.
More than fifteen million readers have laughed at the clever and hilarious stories of Wayside School. So what are you waiting for? Come visit Wayside School! Kids 7 to 13 will zoom through these chapter books—laughing their way through the fast, funny, silly but relatable stories.
Jayla Jumps In
Published: September 1, 2020
When eleven-year-old Jayla finds out that her mother used to be a Double Dutch champion, she’s stunned. Her mom, who’s on doctor’s orders to lower her blood pressure, could move like that?!? Jayla decides to follow in her mom’s footsteps, thinking that maybe double Dutch can make her stand out in her big, quirky family. As she puts together a team at school and prepares to compete, Jayla finds that Double Dutch is about a lot more than jumping rope―and it just might change her life in ways she never imagined. Full of hilarious family dynamics and plenty of jump rope action, Jayla Jumps In follows one girl’s quest to get her mom healthy and find her place in her community.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
Published: October 3, 2017
The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.
Not If I Can Help It
Published: July 30, 2019
Willa likes certain things to be certain ways. Her socks have to be soft . . . and definitely can’t have irritating tags on the inside. She loves the crunch of popcorn and nachos . . . but is grossed out by the crunch of a baby carrot. And slimy foods? Those are the worst.
Willa can manage all these things — but there are some things she can’t deal with, like her father’s big news. He’s been keeping a big secret from her . . . that he’s been dating the mom of Willa’s best friend Ruby. Willa does NOT like the idea of them being together. And she does NOT like the idea of combining families. And she does NOT like the idea of her best friend becoming her sister overnight. Will she go along with all of these changes? NOT if she can help it!
The Fourteenth Goldfish
Published: August 26, 2014
Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?
Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?
Something to Say
Published: July 14, 2020
Eleven-year-old Jenae doesn’t have any friends—and she’s just fine with that. She’s so good at being invisible in school, it’s almost like she has a superpower, like her idol, Astrid Dane. At home, Jenae has plenty of company, like her no-nonsense mama; her older brother, Malcolm, who is home from college after a basketball injury; and her beloved grandpa, Gee.
Then a new student shows up at school—a boy named Aubrey with fiery red hair and a smile that won’t quit. Jenae can’t figure out why he keeps popping up everywhere she goes. The more she tries to push him away, the more he seems determined to be her friend. Despite herself, Jenae starts getting used to having him around.
But when the two are paired up for a class debate about the proposed name change for their school, Jenae knows this new friendship has an expiration date. Aubrey is desperate to win and earn a coveted spot on the debate team.
There’s just one problem: Jenae would do almost anything to avoid speaking up in front of an audience—including risking the first real friendship she’s ever had.
A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Published: April 14, 2020
Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton—almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday.
Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild.
Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?
All Four Stars
Published: July 10, 2014
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)
Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.
But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?
Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero
Published: August 18, 2020
Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it’s a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too many questions, and Mama’s gone totally silent.
Good thing Isaiah can count on his best friend, Sneaky, who always has a scheme for getting around the rules. Plus, his classmate Angel has a few good ideas of her own–once she stops hassling Isaiah.
And when things get really tough, there’s Daddy’s journal, filled with stories about the amazing Isaiah Dunn, a superhero who gets his powers from beans and rice. Isaiah wishes his dad’s tales were real. He could use those powers right about now!
Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray (Elements of Genius #1)
Published: July 9, 2019
“Let the official record show that, I, Nikki Tesla, did not intend to destroy the world.”There are only so many times a kid can invent an instrument of global destruction without getting grounded. So when Nikki’s death ray accidentally blows up her bedroom (if you can call a pet ferret with an itchy trigger finger an accident), she’s sent to the only place that can handle her. Genius Academy is a school for history’s greatest brains. Leo da Vinci? Charlotte Darwin? Bert Einstein? All extraordinary. Yet even among her fellow prodigies, Nikki feels like an outsider thanks to a terrible secret she can’t let anyone discover. Ever.But when her death ray is stolen, Nikki must stop worrying about fitting in and learn to play nice with her new classmates. Because it doesn’t take a genius to track a thief around the world, outwit the authorities, and keep a French fry-fanatic ferret happy. It takes all of them.
Published: September 22, 2015
Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.
Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?
Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.
Save Me a Seat
Published: May 10, 2016
Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they’re both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL.
Joe’s lived in the same town all his life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own.
Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in.
Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common — but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.
Susie B. Won’t Back Down
Published: October 5, 2021
Susie B. has a lot to say. Like how it’s not fair that she has to be called Susie B. instead of plain Susie. Or about how polar bears are endangered. Or how the Usual Geniuses are always getting picked for cool stuff over the kids like her with butterflies in their brain. And it’s because Susie B. has a lot to say about these very important things that she’s running for student council president!
If she’s president, she can advocate for the underdogs just like her hero and fellow Susie B., Susan B. Anthony. (And, okay, maybe the chance to give big speeches to the whole school with a microphone is another perk.) But when the most usual of Usual Geniuses also enters the student council race, Susie realizes this may be a harder won fight than she thought. Even worse, Susie discovers that Susan B. Anthony wasn’t as great as history makes it seem, and she did some pretty terrible things to try to help her own cause. Soon, Susie has her own tough decisions to make. But one thing is for sure—no matter what, Susie B. won’t back down.
Published: May 8, 2018
Fourth grader Zayd Saleem has some serious hoop dreams. He’s not just going to be a professional basketball player. He’s going to be a star. A legend. The first Pakistani-American kid to make it to the NBA. He knows this deep in his soul. It’s his destiny. There are only a few small things in his way.
For starters, Zayd’s only on the D-team. (D stands for developmental, but to Zayd it’s always felt like a bad grade or something.) Not to mention, he’s a bit on the scrawny side, even for the fourth grade team. But his best friend Adam is on the Gold Team, and it’s Zayd’s dream for the two of them to play together.
His mom and dad don’t get it. They want him to practice his violin way more than his jump shot. When he gets caught blowing off his violin lessons to practice, Zayd’s parents lay down the ultimate punishment: he has to hang up his high tops and isn’t allowed to play basketball anymore.
As tryouts for the Gold Team approach, Zayd has to find the courage to stand up for himself and chase his dream.
The Care and Keeping of Freddy
Published: October 5, 2021
Georgia Weathers’s worry machine has been on full blast since her mom, Blythe, took off in Lyle Lenczycki’s blue sedan. Earlier that same day, Blythe gave Georgia a bearded dragon named Freddy. Georgia is convinced that if she loves Freddy enough, Blythe will come home.
Georgia isn’t the only one with family predicaments. Her friend Maria Garcia’s parents have merrily moved out of the house and into a camper in the yard. Roland Park is the new boy in town. As a kid in the foster care system staying with the Farley family, he’s sure his stay is temporary. When the three friends discover an abandoned glass house in the forest, it becomes their secret hideout: a place all their own, free of parents and problems. But glass can be broken.
When everything around them feels out of their control, the question becomes what can they hold on to? And what do they have to let go? It turns out, there are some things—and lizards—they can count on.
There they are: 50 of the best chapter books for fourth graders, including illustrated and non-illustrated options. Whether you’re looking for sports books, food books, books about blended families, dance books, or books about death and grief there are options for every reader on this list.
Which are your favorite fourth grade chapter books? Which of these picks are you excited to read? I’d love to know!