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Recommended Reading List for Elementary School Children

Ella Rain
Book list

Recommended reading lists for primary children can help parents narrow down their search for high quality children's books. Some resources offer different options to consider, but some books for primary school kids make more than one list.

Recommended Reading Lists for Primary Children

Many children's books have been written over the years. Selecting which ones to include in your child's library can be overwhelming. In addition, several lists of book recommendations for young students have been developed. It helps to look at the list in terms of age when making selections.

Primary school, known as elementary school in North America, typically involves children in kindergarten through fourth grade, or ages 5 to 12 years. Books that are appropriate and enjoyable for first graders usually won't appeal to preteens, as chapter books probably will. Organizing the recommendations according to age can help to sort through the options quicker.

Book Recommendations

A good place to begin your search for children's book recommendations is your local elementary school or education district. Many districts offer lists of recommended reading for students that are not necessarily part of the school's curriculum and that may be included in a summer reading program for kids. Some ideas may be available online if the school district has a website. Books found on lists developed by school districts may be organized by grade level:

  • Kindergarten and First Grade
    • Curious George books
    • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
    • Light in the Attic
    • What's Under My Bed?
    • Runaway Bunny
    • The Napping House
    • I Can Read with My Eyes Shut
    • Something Beautiful
    • It Could Always Be Worse
    • New Adventures of Mother Goose
  • Second Grade
    • Growl, A Book About Bears
    • The Grandma Mix Up
    • Did You See a Mouse?
    • Teacher Trouble and Other Stories
    • Young Cam Jansen and the Dinosaur Game
    • Nate the Great and the Snowy Tale
    • Madeline
    • Arthur Meets the President
    • A Glass Slipper for Rosie
    • Henry and Mudge in the Green Time
  • Third Grade
    • Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing
    • The Frog Prince Continued
    • The Case of the Barking Dog
    • Sarah Plain and Tall
    • Magic School Bus Inside the Earth
    • Jumangi
    • Helen Keller's Teacher
    • Nothing's Fair in the Fifth Grade
    • Storm in the Night
    • Ming Lo Moves the Mountain
  • Fourth Grade
    • Little House series
    • Nancy Drew Mystery series
    • Borrowers series
    • Amber Brown is not a Crayon
    • If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad
    • Charlotte's Web
    • The Family Under the Bridge
    • Where the Red Fern Grows
    • Nighty Nightmare
    • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Fifth Grade
    • Call it Courage
    • If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King
    • Rain Forests Secrets
    • My Side of the Mountain
    • The Trouble With Tuck
    • 53 and a Half Things that Changed the World
    • Chronicles of Narnia
    • Beetles, Lightly Toasted
    • Children of Summer
    • Ordinary Genius: The Story of Albert Einstein

    Book Awards

    Book awards can offer insight into great choices for elementary school reading. Award-wining books often include important aspects of developing a love of reading, including sight words weaved into imaginary tales. Award winning books for elementary school children include:
  • Lon Po Po: A Red Ridinghood Story from China
  • The Polar Express
  • The View from Saturday
  • River Boy
  • The Giver
  • The Summer of the Swans
  • Jacob Have I Loved
  • Holes
  • Walk Two Moons
  • Golem

Creating a Reading List

You have a great opportunity to develop a reading list for your child, whether based on recommended reading lists for primary children or not. Consider book awards and reviews, as well as the books you enjoyed as a child.

Recommended Reading List for Elementary School Children