How I Got my Kids to Read this Summer + Great Summer Reading Books for 3rd and 4th Graders!

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Classic, Contemporary, and non-fiction reading books for 3rd and 4th graders.

30 Summer Reading books for 3rd and 4th Grade

I love summer vacation, and I think it is safe to say my kids do too! They love not having the same kind of learning requirements each day. They love the freedom to do they want when they want to do it…mostly.

Last week I sat my boys down and we established some anti-sloth summer guidelines. While I want my boys to have a fun and adventure-filled summer, they, like most other children of their generation, tend to gravitate toward the television and tablets like moths to a flame.

Our boys are allowed to watch up to 2 hours of television/media (including video and tablet games) per day. During the summer, they earn that time by reading. For every minute my 5 year old and 7 year old spend reading, they earn 2 minutes of television, earning a maximum 2 hours of TV time per day. They can use the television minutes they earn during the mid-afternoon (when it is just too hot to send them outside to play).

This rule has been magical in our house! My 5 year old, who is a pretty resistant kid when it comes to doing something new, has just finished his phonics books and is moving into regular books. He went from seriously digging in his heals to having 30 minutes of reading done before I even get up in the morning! Even as I’m writing this, my boys, having run out of the television minutes they earned this morning are hitting the books to earn the rest of their time. I’m loving it!

My oldest is going into 3rd grade this fall so I’ve been exploring some of the great summer reading books for 3rd and 4th graders. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you.

Click on any of the books below to learn more about about it on Amazon.

Great Summer Reading books for 3rd and 4th graders


 Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia

Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. In addition to being a Newbery Medal winner, Bridge to Terabithia was also named an ALA Notable Children’s Book and has become a touchstone of children’s literature.

 43 Old Cemetary Road Series

43 Old Cemetary Road Series

Sisters Kate and M. Sarah Klise, the creators of the award-winning Regarding the . . . series, offer up this debut volume in a clever epistolary series told in letters, drawings, newspaper articles, a work-in-progress manuscript, and even an occasional tombstone engraving.

 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life! A must read for all children!



Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back.

 The BFG


The dream adventure of eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who flies above her apartment-building rooftop, the ‘tar beach’ of the title, looking down on 1939 Harlem. Part autobiographical, part fictional, this allegorical tale sparkles with symbolic and historical references central to African-American culture. The spectacular artwork resonates with color and texture. Children will delight in the universal dream of mastering one’s world by flying over it. Ages 4-8

 Charlotte's Web

Charlotte’s Web

Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.

This beloved book by E. B. White, author of Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, is a classic of children’s literature that is “just about perfect.”

Diary of a wimpy kid

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series

This is currently my 3rd grader’s favorite series! I’d also HIGHLY recommend the Wimpy Kid Do It Yourself book. Both you and your kid will be rolling with laughter as you read what your child writes in this book!

Author/illustrator Jeff Kinney recalls the growing pains of school life and introduces a new kind of hero who epitomizes the challenges of being a kid. As Greg says in his diary, “Just don’t expect me to be all ‘Dear Diary’ this and ‘Dear Diary’ that.” Luckily for us, what Greg Heffley says he won’t do and what he actually does are two very different things.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

I remember this being one of my favorite books when I was growing up!

When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run fromsomewhere she wants to run to somewhere–to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and preferably elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing that her younger brother, Jamie, has money and thus can help her with the serious cash flow problem she invites him along.

Harriet the Spy

Harriet the Spy

Harriet the Spy was a groundbreaking book: its unflinchingly honest portrayal of childhood problems and emotions changed children’s literature forever. The fascinating story is about an intensely curious and intelligent girl, who spies on people and writes about them in her secret notebook, trying to make sense of life’s absurdities. When her classmates find her notebook and read her painfully blunt comments about them, Harriet finds herself a lonely outcast. Fitzhugh’s writing is astonishingly vivid, real and engaging, and Harriet, by no means a typical, loveable heroine, is one of literature’s most unforgettable characters.



Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes.

It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something…

Judy Moody

Judy Moody Series

To start, Judy Moody doesn’t have high hopes for third grade. Her new desk won’t have an armadillo sticker with her name on it. Her new classroom will not have a porcupine named Roger. And with her luck, she’ll get stuck sitting in the first row, where Mr. Todd will notice every time she tries to pass a note to her best friend, Rocky. An aspiring doctor, Judy does have a little brother who comes in handy for practicing medicine, a cool new pet, and a huge Band-Aid collection…

Junie B. Jones

Junie B. Jones Series

Great for the emerging reader, the outrageously sassy Junie B. Jones will make young kids crave their daily dose of reading. Readers will laugh out loud at Junie B.’s hilarious mishaps and breathtakingly horrible grammar.

Justin Case

Justin Case Series


Justin Case is a story for an oft-ignored segment of kids: the sensitive, introverted, and observant. Those youngsters will see themselves in third grader Justin Krzeszewski, a full-blown worrywart with good intentions. He wants to be a good student. He wants to make friends. It’s just that sometimes things don’t work out, often with humorous results. Through his journal entries during the course of the year, readers see his changing friendships, embarrassments, a “be careful what you wish for” new pet, and the dreaded gym-class rope. His voice is authentic, and touches of playdates and “screen time” will ring true with today’s youngsters.

 Lincoln and His boys

Lincoln and His Boys

Inspired by a 200-word essay by Willie Lincoln, Wells offers a fictional account of Lincoln and his boys. Written first from Willie’s point of view, then Tad’s after Willie dies, it’s a touching account of Lincoln as a patient and loving father, ready with a story, and in possession of infinite tolerance where his sons are concerned. Conversations between him and his boys shed light on what’s happening at the time and on Lincoln’s straightforward manner.

Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie Series

LITTLE HOUSE. BIG ADVENTURE. Celebrate the original nine books that started it all! When Laura Ingalls Wilder first wrote of her experiences growing up in the 1800s, no one could have predicted the impact her stories would have on generations of children to come!

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute

Lunch Lady Series

Hector, Terrence, and Dee have always wondered about their school lunch lady. What does she do when she isn’t dishing out the daily special? Where does she live? Does she have a lot of cats at home? Little do they know, Lunch Lady doesn’t just serve sloppy joes—she serves justice! Whatever danger lies ahead, it’s no match for LUNCH LADY! This tongue-in-cheek superheroine graphic novel will hit the spot for chapter-book readers.

 House of Robots

House of Robots

Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez is subject to the most awful, most embarrassing thing ever: Egghead, his mother’s brilliant but socially inept robot will be joining him in fifth grade. Instead of being thrilled by his robo-bro, Sammy is mortified as “E” tries to enhance school bus boarding safety, fact-checks the teachers, bear-hugs Sammy at inappropriate times, and even causes a fire. Common Sense Media rates this one a great fit for reluctant readers.

Mr. Popper's Penguins

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

A classic of American humor, the adventures of a house painter and his brood of high-stepping penguins have delighted children for generations. This is the perfect read aloud book for the whole family.

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has been wildly popular with children and adults for over 50 years. Children adore her because she understands them–and because her upside-down house is always filled with the smell of freshly baked cookies, and her backyard with buried treasure. Grownups love her because her magical common sense solutions to children’s problems succeed when their own cajoling and yelling don’t.

 Nate the Great

Nate the Great Series

Beginning readers are introduced to the detective mystery genre in these chapter books. Kids can problem-solve with Nate, using logical thinking to solve mysteries!

 Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking

Astrid Lindgren has created a unique and lovable character, inspiring generations of children to want to be Pippi. More than anything, Pippi makes reading a pleasure; no child will welcome the end of the book, and many will return to Pippi Longstocking again and again. Simply put, Pippi is irresistible.

 Stuart Little

Stuart Little

E. B. White takes Stuart on a hero’s quest across the American countryside, introducing the mouse–and the reader–to a myriad of delightful characters. Little finds himself embroiled in one adventure after another from the excitement of racing sailboats to the unseen horrors of substitute teaching. This is a story of leaving home for the first time, of growing up, and ultimately of discovering oneself.

 The Borrowers

The Borrowers

Anyone who has ever entertained the notion of “little people” living furtively among us will adore this artfully spun classic. The Borrowers–a Carnegie Medal winner, a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award book, and an ALA Distinguished Book–has stolen the hearts of thousands of readers since its 1953 publication. Mary Norton (1903-1993) creates a make-believe world in which tiny people live hidden from humankind beneath the floorboards of a quiet country house in England.

The Boxcar Children

The Boxcar Children Series

The Alden children begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather. The Boxcar Children, published sixty years ago in 1942, has captured the imaginations of generations of readers.

 The Hardy Boys

The Hardy Boys Series

A favorite of young people for generations, The Hardy Boys series features brothers Frank and Joe Hardy. Due to the popularity of the original series, you can also find a more recent Hardy Boys Case Files, Undercover Brothers, and The Hardy Boys Adventures.

 The Indian in the Cupboard

The Indian in the Cupboard Series

What could be better than a magic cupboard that turns small toys into living creatures? Omri’s big brother has no birthday present for him, so he gives Omri an old medicine cabinet he’s found. Although their mother supplies a key, the cabinet still doesn’t seem like much of a present. But when an exhausted Omri dumps a plastic toy Indian into the cabinet just before falling asleep, the magic begins. The Indian in the Cupboard is one of those rare books that is equally appealing to children and adults.

 The Magic Tree House

The Magic Tree House Series

Jack and his little sister Annie are just two regular kids from Frog Creek, Pennsylvania. Then they discover a mysterious tree house packed with all sorts of books! Soon they are traveling through time and space in the magic tree house and having amazing adventures. Whether it’s watching baby dinosaurs hatch, finding a secret passage in a castle, helping a ghost queen in an Egyptian pyramid, or finding pirate treasure, readers won’t want to miss a single story! Great for kids in grades 1-4, The Magic Tree House series is a favorite of parents, teachers, and kids alike.

 The Mouse and the Motorcycle

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Ralph the mouse revs up a dream come true–his very own motorcycle. Living in a knothole in a hotel room, young Ralph has seen plenty of families come and go, some more generous with their crumbs than others. But when young Keith and his parents check in to the hotel, Ralph gets his first chance to check out. Curiosity overcomes caution, and Ralph must have a go at Keith’s toy motorcycle. Soon, the headstrong mouse finds himself in a pickle, when all he wanted was to ride a motorcycle.

 The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. . . .

 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Minli lives with her desperately poor parents at the confluence of Fruitless Mountain and the Jade River. While her mother worries and complains about their lot, her father brightens their evenings with storytelling. Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, who, it is told, may impart the true secret to good fortune. Along the way, she finds excitement, danger, humor, magic, and wisdom, and she befriends a flightless dragon, a talking fish, and other companions and helpmates in her quest.


If you liked this list make sure you check out these other great blog posts: 

25 Black History Month Books for Kids

25 Black History Month Books for Kids

Dash and Dot - Robots that teach kids to code

The Cute Little Robots that Teach Kids to Code

Borax Crystal Geode Tutorial Plus Free Printable Worksheets

How to Make a Borax Crystal Geode


About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. Nicole Dziedzic says
    Amazon is a great place to buy books, especially for the kindle. I love when they offer free ones to download too. The Pippi Longstockings is one of my kids favorites. Classic!