An early intermediate library is such fun to build. Students are ready for longer chapter books with more complex and compelling story lines but they still adore silly and engaging stories that some early graphics and picture books might offer them. Picture books can be clever and witty and nonfiction can be managed quite independently. So many possibilities!
What twenty titles from 2016 do I think are must have books in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom library?
This book love is inspired by my students’ reading passions and my own reading journey as I source books for them.
Listed alphabetically by author:
Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol
Kids this age are beginning to understand that alone time is precious and sometimes hard to achieve. This is wonderfully humorous!
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
How a story about a robot can be so tender, I don’t know. Heavily illustrated which makes it wonderfully rich. Themes of compassion, kindness and connection.
Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
Achy and real. This book will squeeze you heart. A beautiful, teary emotional ride. But full of hope, not sad. At least not too much sad. The hope wins.
Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann
Such a book. I love the images, the rhythm of the text and the mystery of the still not known that is conveyed.
When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad
Just pure poetry perfection.
Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart
Some kind of everything in this book. Fantastic, engaging, emotional, full of heart, full of adventure. This is the read aloud I am starting with in January.
Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
This book! Ben Hatke is a super hero in my classroom. This will become the “it” book in the room. Prepare to never see it again except when a child holds it wailing, “When does the next one come out?” (Fall of 2017) Relatable and fantastical all at once.
Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
There are so many reasons to share this story with children. It is a story of hope, of change, of perseverance, of the power of music and the beauty of community. A story of transformation.
Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins
A book to explore endlessly. Infographics are an incredible source of information. Use this book to teach how to access this information correctly.
Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand
This title features a number of “pink” creatures from around the world and shares some of the wild and wacky facts about each one. Every page also includes specific information under these headings: Name, Species name, Size, Diet, Habitat, Predators and threats.
Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth
Learn about the different kinds of teeth you have in your mouth: incisors, canines and molars. Find out how other mammals use their teeth and why they are different sizes and shapes. How are human teeth similar and different compared to other mammals? How do the teeth of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores differ?
Ida, Always written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso
Big emotions is a tiny book. Necessary for young readers. All about the challenging process of saying goodbye.
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
Who would think that ice fishing, Irish dancing, magical elements and heroin addiction could be combined to create a story that is impossible both to put down and then impossible to keep from immediately recommending? I have much gratitude to Kate Messner for writing this book.
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Readers will fall hard for this story of Peter, Pax and Vola. Beautiful, emotional and raw. This would be a fantastic read aloud or an engaging read alone.
Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
Oh, the kid appeal! I chuckled through this and did a lot of head shaking. There is one scene that involves a pile of dog poop that I know I never would have thought of – thankfully! This book continues to be read and reread in my room. Kids LOVE the step by step drawing pages in the back.
CaveBoy Dave: More Scrawny than Brawny by Aaron Reynolds and Phil McAndrew
Highly appealing. A relatable underdog main character. Lots of poop. Again, the poop! Prehistoric creatures. Action. Adventure. Humour. And . . . a series! What more could kids want?
Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff
Because fairy tales can be incredible. Reimagined and retold can go wrong but Shurtliff always gets it right (add Rump and Jack to your collection too!)
The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh
A gorgeous book – Tonatiuh gives us an interpretation of the Mexican legend how the volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl came to be.
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Ravi has just moved from India. Joe has been here for what seems forever. They share a few things in common – a relationship with a bully and the daily classroom and lunch room experiences of middle school. Alternately narrated by both characters, this book reminds us that it is challenging for all kids to fit in, to find your way and to be noticed for who you are.
The Thank You Book by Mo Willems
Willems is more than brilliant and doesn’t disappoint in any way in this last Elephant and Piggie title. Students this age have had Willems as a staple of their reading lives. This book is a must have. They will grieve that there will be no more Elephant & Piggie and then get back to celebrating all the ways Elephant & Piggie are part of who they are!
Intermediate libraries? They need a mix of everything!
Love books. Give your students lots of time to read. Let them choose books so they can read widely and obsessively. Read aloud daily. Share often. Gush and be ridiculously demonstrative with your book love!
Build your library.
Invest in your readers.
Awesome !!! Do you think any of those are good for 3rd?!!! I have Kate messners book Any other?!
Absolutely! All of the picture books as read alouds or read alones. The graphic titles also great for 3rd grade. I read Rump and Jack aloud to a 2/3 and a 3/4 class so that entire series! Counting Thyme might be a little old as would Some Kind of Courage. The Wild Robot would be a great read aloud at this age.
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