Best Books for Elementary Readers

This post includes a listing of great books for elementary readers as well as writing links to keep kids busy all summer long.

It is hard to believe that we are approaching 4th of July Weekend, so how about a few book ideas to fire up those readers who are joining you for summer school.  I did a little research for newer book series options for each grade as well as books that seem to hit several summer reading lists. I love finding new options, and I hope you see a few that peak your interests too.

First to Second Grade

Students going into second grade will range typically between the primer level to the fourth grade level, so selecting books for this range depends greatly on the child. The books above are on a first to second grade level. Some have only been released in hardback, so you will have to locate them at the library. I have a few favorites from this list including the Fly Guy series (Kids love them!) and Diary of a Worm (Doreen Cronin). The "new to me" picks are Stick and Stone and Claude at the Beach. I also like the looks of The Chicken Squad series.

Writing Lessons from The Writing Fix

During summer school, teachers need to keep students writing too.  I absolutely love The Writing Fix website for resources, ideas, and model papers.  Diary of a Worm was one of the mentor texts selected, but there are many others.  I also thought The Deep Blue Sea and The Summer My Father Turned Ten looked interesting.  You can look for fun summer options [here].

Third Grade

With the second to third grade list, I was looking for beginning chapter books and a variety of genres. My girls this year loved the books by Nikki Grimes. She was a speaker a few years ago at the VSRA conference, and our librarian purchased several to share with the kids after we returned.  They loved them and several more have been added. Another series from my collection that the kids love is the My Big Fat Goldfish series. They are longer and at the upper end of third, but they are funny. Finally, I thought the Guinea Pig Pet Detective series looks fun. I think this age group enjoys mysteries, so bringing out Nate the Great, The Haunted Library, or Cam Jansen's would be fun.

Writing Lessons from the Writing Fix

For all students, keeping a daily journal is a great way to do "quick writes".  These are timed writing sessions where you tell the student they have ten minutes to write about... It can be a picture or an oral prompt.  I have used many of the mentor text lessons on The Writing Fix, but there are also other options on the site.  
Check out the many photos and ideas for using them as your writing prompt.

Fourth to Fifth Grade

Oh goodness!  I had difficulty limiting this list to ten. There are so many GREAT options, and by this point, students know their niche. They have strong reading preferences, so having a deep knowledge of writing styles and what I'd call Book Alikes.  You know, that's what you'd call a book you should get if you like this book.  Anyway, these will give you a few to check out. Out of the list, several have received wonderful reviews, but I want to point out, Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts.  Dr. Watts is from my community and is a professor in the education department at the University of Virginia. The book is about Kizzy's first year in an integrated school in Lynchburg, Mississippi, and it too has received great reviews.

Writing Ideas from the Writing Fix

For the upper grades, we expect much more detail and substance in written work, and for many divisions, we begin state assessments at this level.  Have no fear, there are lots of options for the upper grades too. Teachers can use excerpts of wonderful read alouds to model the Six Traits as well as the many picture book options from such greats as Patricia Palocco, Patricia MacLachlan, and Dav Pilkey.  Below are a few of the options I love for summer.
Picture Books:
Chapter Books:
Whether you are teaching summer school this summer or not, I hope I gave you a few options to check out, to recommend to your kids, or to add to your collections.  I am totally a book addict and need to be part of book buyers anonymous as evidenced by the 14 milk crates of books I brought home from my classroom. :-)

Do you have titles that I should add?  I can't wait to find out.  You can link up with us using the image at the top of my post.  Just grab it, write up your post, and come back to link up.  

Next week's topic is Creating Critical Thinkers. We will be sharing ideas on how to improve reading comprehension and thinking skills. The image we will use next week is below for those who'd like to plan ahead. 
Have a wonderful week and come back soon!


  1. What a great list of books! I was having a hard time narrowing my list down too! There are just too many great ones - old & new! I also love that you included teacher lessons with the writing fix links! I love that resource! Thanks!

    1. Isn't it a great site?? I'm amazed at the depth of the lessons and that I can easily implement their plan with all the apps and anchor papers.

  2. Great post! I love the widget. It allows for so many options! I love love love "Tough Boris." It is one of my favorites!!

    1. It's a great one for the summer with beach trips in mind. :-)

  3. This post is packed with so many great ideas and resources. You've outdone yourself, Carla. Thanks for sharing your expertise! -Janiel
    P.S. Max and I just read Stick and Stone for the first time last night...we'll, then we read it again and again! Loved it. So many great books, so little time!

    1. I tried to share newer titles, and that was one I really liked too. Thanks so much for dropping in and commenting!

  4. What a terrific blog post Carla - I have shared the link with all our QLD teacher year level FB groups - thank you! Kylie


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