The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Grades 3–5

Connections Academy student reading during the summer break.

Third grade is an important year for reading because students are no longer just learning to read but are reading to learn. Practicing this new skill keeps that momentum going, even when online homeschool is out! 

Being a Learning Coach for children grades 3–5 also presents a wonderful opportunity to instill a love for reading in students. Having the ability to read longer fiction and nonfiction books boosts confidence, encourages students to cultivate the lifelong habit of reading, and also has mental health benefits. 

Benefits of Encouraging a Summer Reading Habit

The coaxing that may be necessary to help some children become self-motivated readers is especially important over the summer break from school. According to a 2020 study, the Scholastic Teacher & Principal School Report: 2nd Edition, 62% of teachers said they noticed a summer slide among their students in the 2019–20 academic year and, among pre-K–5 teachers, it was 69%. Educators overwhelmingly agreed (99%) that reading books for fun supports students’ academic success. 

Research cited by the New York State Library says a child’s participation in voluntary summer reading opportunities can lead to improved reading skills, motivation, confidence, and enjoyment. Additional research says that providing high-interest reading material and reading opportunities “is an especially important aspect of increasing reading proficiency among lower-income students.” 

Encouraging Summer Reading for Elementary School Children

For its latest Kids & Family Reading Report, Scholastic asked parents about the different strategies they use to encourage summer reading at home. Their top tips were: 

  • Taking trips to public libraries. 
  • Ordering from school book clubs or book fairs/shopping online or in stores for books with their children. 
  • Taking books on road trips or vacations. 
  • Putting limits on screen time. 
  • Finding a new book series their children will enjoy (to ensure multiple selections). 
  • Making reading part of their summertime daily routine. Reading the same books so they can talk with their children about them. 

The good news about summer reading for grade school students is that the majority of kids told Scholastic they understand the importance of summer reading. Better yet, 59% of kids said they really enjoy reading books over the summer. Parents of elementary school kids will appreciate that younger children and frequent readers are more likely than teens and infrequent readers to enjoy reading books over the summer, the survey found. 

Kids know why they like summer reading, too. According to Scholastic, it’s about: 

  • Getting to choose books they want to read.  
  • Enjoying reading as a fun way to pass the time.  
  • Wanting to keep their brains active. 

One of the most effective means of improving reading achievement levels is supplying students with engaging and comprehensive reading materials, according to the New York State Library. Your elementary school kids are probably ready to read several good books this summer. To help them enjoy their summer and keep their minds sharp and ready for the next school year, help them select stories and topics of interest from our Connections Academy® ultimate summer reading list for grades 35: 

 Fiction Summer Reading for Grade School

  • Because of Winn-Dixie | Kate DiCamillo  
  • Frindle | Andrew Clements   
  • A Week in the Woods | Andrew Clements   
  • A Dog Called Kitty | Bill Wallace   
  • Big Red | Jim Kjelgaard   
  • Ramona (series) | Beverly Cleary
  •   Judy Moody (series) | Megan McDonald   
  • Maniac Magee | Jerry Spinelli   
  • Everywhere | Bruce Brooks   
  • Fly Away Home | Eve Bunting   
  • Keeper of the Doves | Betsy Byars   
  • Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story | Mary Downing Hahn   
  • The Foxman | Gary Paulsen   
  • The Stories Huey Tells and The Stories Julian Tells (series) | Ann Cameron   
  • The Flunking of Joshua T. Bates | Susan Shreve   
  • Freckle Juice | Judy Blume   
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing | Judy Blume   
  • Stone Fox | John Reynolds Gardiner   
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins | Katherine Paterson   
  • Misty of Chincoteague | Marguerite Henry   
  • The Secret Garden | Frances Hodgson Burnett   
  • Goosebumps (series) | R.L. Stine   
  • In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson | Bette Bao Lord  
  • The Silver Coach | C.S. Adler   
  • The Children of Green Knowe (series) | L.M. Boston   
  • Old Yeller | Fred Gipson   
  • The Higher Power of Lucky | Susan Patron   
  • Joey Pigza Loses Control | Jack Gantos   
  • Nancy Drew (series) | Carolyn G. Keene   
  • Chocolate Fever | Robert Kimmel Smith   
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Roald Dahl  
  • Rules | Cynthia Lord   
  • The Sign of the Beaver | Elizabeth George Speare   
  • The View from the Cherry Tree | Willo Davis Roberts   
  • The Best School Year Ever | Barbara Robinson   
  • Project Mulberry | Linda Sue Park   
  • Charlotte’s Web | E.B. White   
  • Piper Reed, Navy Brat (series) | Kimberly Willis Holt   
  • Swindle | Gordon Korman  

Fantasy and Folklore Summer Reading List for Grades 3–5

  • Space Race | Sylvia Waugh   
  • The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse | Bruce Hale   
  • The Case of the Raging Rottweiler | John R. Erickson   
  • The Great Good Thing | Roderick Townley   
  • The Doll People | Ann M. Martin   
  • I, Houdini | Lynne Reid Banks   
  • Poppy | Avi   
  • Mean Margaret | Tor Seidler   
  • The Moorchild | Eloise McGraw   
  • The Secret of Platform 13 | Eva Ibbotson   
  • Abel’s Island | William Steig   
  • James and the Giant Peach | Roald Dahl   
  • The BFG | Roald Dahl   
  • The Wind in the Willows | Kenneth Grahame   
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe | C.S. Lewis  
  • Charlotte’s Web | E.B. White   
  • The Castle in the Attic | Elizabeth Winthrop   
  • Magic Tree House (series) | Mary Pope Osborne   
  • Going Through the Gate | Janet S. Anderson   
  • The Sea Egg | L.M. Boston   
  • The Talking Parcel | Gerald Durrell   
  • Mick Harte Was Here | Barbara Park   
  • The Cricket in Times Square | George Selden   
  • The Wizard of Oz | Frank L. Baum   
  • Whittington | Alan Armstrong   
  • Under the Bridge | Ellen Kindt McKenzie   
  • Just So Stories | Rudyard Kipling   
  • The Fiddler of the Northern Lights | Natalie Kinsey-Warnock 

Historical FictionSummer Reading List for Elementary School 

  • Linnea in Monet’s Garden | Cristina Bjork   
  • Meet Kit: An American Girl – 1934 | Valerie Tripp   
  • Love From Your Friend, Hannah | Mindy Warshaw Skolsky   
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall | Patricia MacLachlan   
  • Little House on the Prairie (series) | Laura Ingalls Wilder   
  • Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes | Eleanor Coerr   Understood Betsy | Dorothy Canfield Fisher 
  • King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian | Marguerite Henry   
  • The Birchbark House | Louise Erdrich   
  • The Night Journey | Kathryn Lasky   
  • Grasshopper Summer | Ann Turner   
  • The Midwife’s Apprentice | Karen Cushman   
  • The Borning Room | Paul Fleischman   
  • Jacob Have I Loved | Katherine Paterson   
  • The Boxcar Children | Gertrude Chandler Warner   
  • Pink and Say | Patricia Polacco   
  • The Perilous Road | William O. Steele   
  • Boston Jane: An Adventure | Jennifer L. Holm   
  • Our Only May Amelia | Jennifer L. Holm  
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd | Jeanette Winter   
  • Hattie Big Sky | Kirby Larson   
  • Show Way | Jacqueline Woodson   
  • Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie | Peter and Connie Roop   
  • When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky | Lauren Stringer   
  • Beethoven Lives Upstairs | Barbara Nichol  
  • Little House on the Prairie (series) | Laura Ingalls Wilder   

Science FictionSummer Reading for Grade School

  • I’m Out of My Body ... Please Leave a Message | Dan Greenburg   
  • Heartlight | T.A. Barron   
  • Space Garbage | Isaac Asimov   
  • The Dog That Pitched a No-Hitter | Matt Christopher   
  • The Package in Hyperspace | Janet Asimov  
  • The Computer Nut | Betsy Byars   
  • Frankenbug | Steven Cousins   
  • The Classroom at the End of the Hall | Douglas Evans   
  • My Life Among the Aliens | Gail Gauthier   
  • Nose Pickers from Outer Space | Gordon Korman   
  • The Time Warp Trio | Jon Scieszka   
  • Carrot Holes and Frisbee Trees | N.M. Bodecker   
  • Shadows in the Water | Kathryn Lasky   
  • The Sword of Aradel | Alexander Key   
  • The Moorchild | Eloise McGraw   
  • Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery | Deborah and James Howe  

Poetryfor Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade Summer Reading

  • Bird Watch: A Book of Poetry | Jane Yolen   
  • From Sea to Shining Sea | Amy L. Cohn   
  • Snow Toward Evening: A Year in a River Valley | Josette Frank   
  • Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry | Lee Bennett Hopkins   
  • Fingers are Always Bringing me News | Mary O’Neill  
  • The New Kid on the Block | Jack Prelutsky   
  • Something Big Has Been Here | Jack Prelutsky   
  • Pierre | Maurice Sendak   
  • Journey through Heartsongs (series) | Mattie J.T. Stepanek   
  • Spin a Soft Black Song | Nikki Giovanni  

Nonfiction Summer Reading for Elementary School

  • The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle | Dan Wulffson   
  • Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought) | Kathleen Krull  
  • A River Ran Wild | Lynne Cherry   
  • Look to the North: A Wolf Pup Diary | Jean Craighead George   
  • The Man Who Walked Between the Towers | Mordicai Gerstein   
  • Pink and Say | Patricia Polacco   
  • Dateline: Troy | Paul Fleischman   
  • Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? | Jean Fritz   
  • Six-Minute Nature Mysteries | Faith Brynie   
  • The Truth About Great White Sharks | Mary M. Cerullo   
  • Through My Eyes | Ruby Bridges   
  • The Story of Baseball | Lawrence S. Ritter   
  • Girls Think of Everything | Catherine Thimmesh   
  • Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader for Kids Only! | The Bathroom Readers’ Institute   
  • Meet Me in St. Louis: A Trip to the 1904 World’s Fair | Robert Jackson   Just Peace: A Message of Hope | Mattie J.T. Stepanek with Jimmy Carter  

Do you have a kid who loves to read? Reading together and discussing books is a great family activity and, by asking the right questions, you can help your child strengthen their reading comprehension.

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