I’m not gonna lie. I’ve had three kids do this going-into-fourth-grade summer reading assignment and the book report portion is painful. My kids simply are not in homework mode at the end of the summer, so it takes a ridiculous amount of effort (accompanied by an equal amount of whining) to get it done. My son did his book project over a week with three failed attempts before eventual success.
The reading portion of the homework, however, was a different story. My son and I cranked through three books the first week of summer vacation. The five books need to be different genres and I may have taken some liberties in naming genres … but I tacked on a few more outside-the-box books at the end including poetry and an easy chapter book.
How about you? Did you kids get summer reading assignments? Please share!
1. 4th Grade Realistic Fiction
The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney
My third reading of this books with my kids makes me realize that this book only gets better with every re-read. It was, by far, our favorite book of the summer reading books. And it makes it even more fun that it’s also set during the summer; another seemingly impossible assignment. Birney’s book has a feel of a true old-fashioned classic though it was published in 2007. For a book summary, please see my son’s homework write-up (he didn’t get it exactly right but it’s pretty close). [chapter book, ages 7 and up]
2. 4th Grade Graphic Novel
Sidekicks by Dan Santat
Aging superhero needs sidekick partner to tackle bad guys and his animal pets are unhappy about being overlooked. What to do? They take matters into their own hands and crash the sidekick auditions. A wonderful graphic novel adventure for a wide range of ages; nothing too scary or graphic involved! [graphic novel, ages 6 and up]
3. 4th Grade Non-Fiction Advanced Picture Book
The Story of Salt by Mark Kurlansky, illustrated by S. D. Schindler
I purchased this non fiction picture book when I saw it on the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award list years ago, but this is the first time we actually read it. I like salt as does my son but we weren’t really aware of its place in history as something wars were fought over until we read this entertaining and well designed picture book. My son gives it a thumbs up! [advanced picture book, ages 7 and up]
4. 4th Grade Classic
Esio Trot by Roald Dahl
Personally, I think Roald Dahl should be its own genre, especially for 3rd and 4th graders. He’s wonderful. PickyKidPix was particularly enamoured by Dahl so we have an extensive collection but this is the first one I read with my son. I chose it because it was new to me but we both really liked it. Bonus points: it’s extremely short!
Esio Trot is a love story about two neighbors and a tortoise. It’s quirky vintage Dahl and I found it charming. I’ll say no more except that it has a happy ending. [chapter book, ages 7 and up]
5. 4th Grade Action Adventure
The Staff of Serapis by Rick Riordan
My son is a huge Riordan fan so this was an easy sell. Our issue is that he’s read all of Riordan’s books but thankfully this eBook just came out. It’s Annabeth meets Sadie Kane in a girl version of his other eBook Son of Sobek (Carter meets Percy Jackson). It does not disappoint and it’s much shorter than his other Kane Chronicles or Percy Jackson chapter books. I actually think it’s better than Son of Sobek. [chapter book, ages 7 and up]
6. 4th Grade Poetry Picture Book
Firefly July and Other Very Short Poems by Paul B. Janeczko
Poetry is outside our comfort zone, but this lovely picture book of very short and famous poems is a good way to get a toe in the water. The illustrations tie the poems from different poets into a cohesive whole. We’re still working on getting through it as poetry is not my son’s favorite genre. It makes for a lovely bedtime story though, by simply reading a few poems a night! [poetry picture book, ages 6 and up]
7. 4th Grade Ninja Historical Fiction Action Adventure (yes, I totally made up this genre)
Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja by Simon Higgins
I could not get either Grasshopper and Sensei nor PickyKidPix to give this page-turner a chance. I really wanted them to read about the Shogun period of Japan but Grasshopper and Sensei do not care for ninja stories and PickyKidPix does not read Action Adventure. Luckily my son and I LOVE it and this series does not disappoint!
It helps that my son loves martial arts to draw him into this ninja spy warrior adventure set during the dawn of peace during unified Japan. Moonshadow is the youngest in a secret ninja organization (The Gray Light order) who seeks to preserve the peace while a hungry warlord makes a bid for power using a new powerful weapon from the West. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]
8. 4th Grade Anthropomorphic Animal Fantasy Adventure
The Capture: Guardians of Gahoole series by Kathryn Lasky
Personally, anthropomorphic animal action adventure series are not my thing. Grasshopper and Sensei loved the Warriors series by Erin Hunter but I would beg her to let me read a different book aloud to her. Those feral cats were too violent for me.
But, The Guardians of Gahoole is different. Owls yes, not cats. Anthropomorphic yes but strangely not irritating. In fact, this series is pulling us in. We’ll update as we finish the book; the first two books of Moonshadow are taking precedence. If you like the picture book, Owl Babies, this is like its spiritual older sibling. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
9. 4th Grade Picture Book
Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!: A Gamer’s Alphabet by Chris Barton and Joey Spiotto
Did you read about how Microsoft is trying to buy Minecraft for $2 billion? So it makes me think that all the gaming that my son is doing is perhaps not completely a waste of time. Still, we are trying to stringently limit his screen time to 2 hours a day. He generally does not spend his non-screen time reading (yet!) but he could not stop reading this Gamer’s Alphabet! I sent him off to bed at letter “O” and he carefully marked the page and returned to it the next day. This is an alphabet book that gamers of all ages love!
I would also like to note that most of the terminology is new to me! Do you understand this?
This open beta game is in third-person but first-person is unlockable if you know the cheat code or install this mod, but either way, for the best attack on the boss at this level, try to grab that power-up — if you can’t, a guy in a walkthrough showed how you can advance by plugging in a yoke, but then you won’t get to see the developer’s cool Easter egg that turns the whole game into armored-chihuahua kart racing for a few seconds — or instead we could play this new RPG that’s the greatest thing since vectors and joysticks, if you can find an instance where there aren’t any griefers trying to disrupt your quest and there are other nOOBs to help you zerg the enemy while you rack up to XP, unless you’d rather just play sandbox mode.
Either way, what do you want for your handle?
My son said that this totally made sense to him! I need to re-read this alphabet book! [advanced picture book, ages 6 and up]
10. 4th Grade Easy Chapter Book
Fish Finelli (Book 2: Operation Fireball) by E. S. Farber, illustrated by Jason Beene
We read the first Fish Finelli last year so I wanted to read the second one together, but I think my son aged out of easy chapter books but it is a well written gentle adventure that is perfect for ages 6 and up.
I have two copies of this gentle adventure chapter book geared towards boys so I’m giving them away. [easy chapter book, ages 6-9]
Fish Finelli GIVEAWAY: 2 Winners!
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.