Books like Hunger Games, but for 4th & 5th Graders

I am often asked for book recommendations. It is one of my favorite parts of my job. I am fortunate to work with a population that reads very high. But just because a student CAN read something, doesn’t mean that they SHOULD read it. I love the Hunger Games trilogy. I think it is fantastic. I don’t however, think it should be read much below Sixth Grade. (Maybe the second half of Fifth Grade, depending on the student.) In light of that, here is my list of books for fourth and fifth graders to read instead of Hunger Games:

Are there any others that you recommend? Let me know and I will add them to the list.

Important Blog News: Newbery Award Committee 2015

You may be wondering why we are over three months into 2014 and I still have not posted a review of a single 2014 book on this blog. The answer is, I can’t. I have the extreme honor of serving on this year’s Newbery Award Committee, and as such I cannot post online anything about any books that meet the eligibility requirements. Not even that I read them. This blog will keep on going however, so not to worry. I will be posting reviews of books published prior to 2014 as well as books by authors who are not eligible to win. (You must be American to win the award.) I may also publish book lists and other fun book related items. After the award is announced at the end of January 2015, I will absolutely flood the list with all kinds of book reviews. I’ve been reading like a maniac! (I’ve read close to 50 eligible books so far.) So stick around. As always, you can use the box on the right if you want to subscribe and get my blog posts via email. Happy reading!

The Year of the Baby

The Year of the BabyThe Year of the Baby
by Andrea Cheng
Grades 3-5

In this sequel to The Year of the Book, Anna’s parents are back from China with her new baby sister. Both her parents and the doctor are worried, though, because Kaylee refuses to eat much and is not gaining any weight. With fears that she is failing to thrive, Anna takes it upon herself to try to get to her sister to eat more. The friendship issues with Laura and Camille were worked out in the first book, and now they stand beside Anna, as they figure out a solution to the problem and come up with a great science fair experiment besides. Fans of the first book will want to read this, but you do not have to read it to appreciate this one.

The Grimm Conclusion

The Grimm Conclusion (A Tale Dark & Grimm, #3)The Grimm Conclusion
by Adam Gidwitz
Grades 4-8

This story continues in the same style as the first two in the series. A string of fairy tales, told in all of their original gruesome glory, are put together with the two main characters (this time Jorinda and Joringel) move from tale to tale. There is death, despire, and the dark side of human nature. Since it is a children’s book, though, there is also hope and redemption. The first two books (and some recurring characters) are mentioned in this one. It is not essential to have read them, but it helps. Recommended for fans of the first two.

Amber Brown is on the Move

Amber Brown Is on the MoveAmber Brown is on the Move
by Paula Danziger
Grades 2-4

It is the end of fourth grade and Amber Brown has a lot going on. She, her mom, and Max are moving into a new house together. The state standardized tests are coming up, and she hasn’t been doing well on the practice tests. And now there is a ball room dancing at school. Amber makes it through these difficult situations in ways that will be reassuring to others facing them as well.


by John David Anderson
Grades 4-8

Andrew Dean (aka The Sensationalist)is in training to be a super hero’s sidekick, along with a handful of others at his middle school. And not just any superhero’s sidekick, but The Titan’s sidekick, arguably the greatest superhero of all, at least until he disappeared from the scene six years earlier. Andrew’s powers are his sharpened senses — he can see, smell, hear, and taste with much more precision than the average human. Or any other human for that matter. But when The Dealer comes back to town and breaks The Jacks out of prison will it be enough to save his city?

Penny and Her Marble

Penny and Her MarblePenny and Her Marble
by Kevin Henkes
grades K-2

Oh the guilt! In this third easy reader about Penny, she finds a shiny blue marble on Mrs. Goodwin’s lawn. Penny takes the marble home, even though she knows that it isn’t her. That entire evening she feels out of sorts. She has bad dreams that night, all because of the marble. In the morning, Penny decides to return the marble. Young readers will relate to Penny and her sticky situation. An excellent book that will also work well as a discussion starter.

The Truth of Me

The Truth of MeThe Truth of Me
by Patricia MacLachlan
Grades 4-6

This is a sweet story of a boy coming to terms with who his parents are. Robbie and his dog Ellie are sent to spend the summer at his grandmother’s house while his parents who are half of the Allegro Quartet tour Europe. He uses the time to learn more about himself and his grandmother, and gain a better understanding of why his mother acts the way she does. A quiet and introspective book.

The Real Boy

The Real BoyThe Real Boy
by Anne Ursu
Grades 4-8

Oscar is a hand to Caleb, the greatest magician in the Barrow. He works to gather and prepare the herbs that Caleb needs, and does his best to stay out of the way of Wolf, Caleb’s cruel and aptly named Apprentice. Oscar prefers trees to people, and would rather spend the days in the pantry than anywhere else. But when Caleb goes to the continent for business and Wolf disappears, it is up to Oscar to run the shop. He forms an alliance with Callie, the healer’s Apprentice. Together they do their best to run the business. When the children of Asteri, the shining city on the hill, mysteriously become ill, and rumors of a strange and savage beast start scaring the Barrow, it is Oscar and Callie who must find a way to help them. An exciting adventure in a magical world.

Little Blog on the Prairie

Little Blog on the PrairieLittle Blog on the Prairie
by Cathleen Davitt Bell
Grades 5 & up

This is a fun read for teens & tweens who had been fans of Little House on the Prairie when they were younger. The summer after eighth grade, Gen’s mother books their summer vacation at Frontier Camp, where everyone lives as if it was 1890. Gen is not looking forward to the trip at all, but even her mother is surprised to learn just how hard life was back then. A really fun look at pioneer living through the eyes of today’s teenagers. It includes plenty of high school social drama as well.