Top 10: Best Chapter Books for Summer Reading (Incoming Grades 3-5)

Best Chapter Books for Kids

If your elementary school is like my elementary school, kids entering grades 3-5 need to read 5 or so books during the summer (and do a book project on one of the books).  It’s not normally a struggle to get my kids to read 5 books during the summer except for the selection of the books because the summertime reading has to be especially engaging to compete for their time!  These 10 chapter books should do the trick!!

p.s.  And if your child reads 5 books and fills out a form from Borders Bookstore, she or he can get one of ten selected books for FREE.  See my previous post on that.

10. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

The book is very different from the movie but equally good.  And it’s part of a series if your child loves it.  I think this is a particularly good book for a reluctant reader, particularly boys.  [try for incoming grades 3 or 4 — even 2]

9. The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan

My daughter read several of her books at school, so fans of Pam Munoz Ryan will enjoy her latest work about the fictionalized childhood of Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda.  [perfect for incoming grades 4 or 5]

8.  All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

Did you know that the American Girl Doll, Rebecca, is taken from this book series?  While there is not actually a character named Rebecca, there are 5 little Jewish girls growing up at the turn of the century in Lower East Manhattan just like Rebecca.  [perfect for incoming grades 3 or 4 — even 2 as a read together]

7.  Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles

A really wonderful, engaging and funny story about a little girl .  Ruby Lavender spends the summer dealing with the absence of her beloved grandmother, who is visiting family in Hawaii.  It obliquely deals with death, but in an uplifting way.  The book manages to be hilarious and poignant at the same time. [perfect for incoming grades 3, 4 or 5]

6.  The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

Every girl I polled who read this book LOVED this book.  Jeanne Birdsall’s first book nabbed the Newbery Award.  Need I say more?!!!  [perfect for incoming grades 3, 4 or 5]

5.  A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

The characters from Richard Peck are as memorable as superheros from a comic but are much funnier! A thoroughly enjoyable book that touches obliquely on the Great Depression but still manages to be a rollicking good time.  [incoming grades 4 and 5 — great for boys!]

4.  The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney

This is the perfect summer novel about a young boy who thinks his farming home town, Sassafras Springs,  is as boring as can be.  His dad challenges him to find seven wonders in seven days in order to be able to take the first trip outside of his hometown in his life.  It turns out that Sassafras Springs isn’t as boring as he thought!  [for incoming grades 3, 4 or 5 — great for boys and girls!]

3.  The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan

This is the first, riveting book of the Percy Jackson series.  The entire series is a pleasure to read and I have noticed as we lend out our books that the readers can NOT stop reading this series and seems to crank through it as fast as humanly possible to get to the end.  If you are not familiar with this series (and the movie is slightly different but true to the book), it’s like an easier version of Harry Potter series combined with Greek mythology.  This is pure magic.  Enjoy the 5 book journey!  [for incoming grades 4, 5, 6, and even 7 — boys and girls alike are devouring this series]

2. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Love this author.  LOVE this book — her finest work to date and her most recent.  Grace Lin weaves Chinese folk tales into a lyrical tale that is, itself, a magical realism folksy tale in which the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.  A MUST READ!  [for incoming grades 3, 4 or 5; especially appealing to girls]

1. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

This is my all time favorite book and every kid that I’ve polled who read it also gives a deep sigh of contentment when recalling this book.  A Newbery Winner and a book that is perfect for a summer read.  Perfect for dog lovers as Winn Dixie is a dog!  [for incoming grades 3, 4 or  5; girls and boys alike]

Honorable Mention

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

A great summer read appealing to both boys and girls with a similar feel to Maniac Magee by Jerry Spillini.  Any child interesting in saving the environment will appreciate this book.  [for incoming grades 4, 5 or 6]

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Jennifer

    My son has loved “How to Train Your Dragon” and all the Rick Riorden books. I also know many kids who’ve loved “Hoot” and “Because of Winn Dixie”. Great book list!

  2. Brynley

    hoot was at my book fair and i was thinking 2 git it but i changed my mind ow i want it!!! 🙂

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