Intermediate: Grades 3-5
By now most children have become independent readers and have established reading preferences, including favorite authors and genres. Reading demands in these grades transition from learning to read to being able to read to learn. Comprehension strategies and opportunities to engage with and talk about texts in meaningful and purposeful ways should be the main goals in these grades. If you feel your child is up to it, it is an ideal time to encourage your child to try new genres or authors and to reach outside his/her reading repertoire/comfort zone. This is also a time of tremendous growth and maturation for students. More sophisticated themes like the loss of a parent or friend, World War II and the holocaust, and the mistreatment of animals are dealt with in some more advanced texts for readers that are ready to take on these topics. Mature themes/content are identified by an *.
*The One and Only Ivan, (2013)., Applegate, K., Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla named Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla, this Newbury Award winning book is from Ivan’s perspective and tells the story of his life at the mall with other animals and how he leads them to a better life. Poignant and beautiful!
*Because of Winn Dixie, (2000), DiCamillo, K. A moving story about a girl named Opal who adopts a stray dog and how the dog impacts her life, from making new friends to helping Opal and her father grow closer.
The Cricket in Times Square, (1960), Selden, G., The classic story of a cricket that finds himself in Times Square and the friends that help him adapt to city life and eventually return home to Connecticut.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blume, J., Hilarious story told from the point of view of older brother Peter Hatcher. His little brother, Fudge, is a handful and is the catalyst for many of life’s events.
All About Sam, Lowry, L. Make way for your little brother, Anastasia. Here for the first time is Sam Krupnik’s life story. What a life! This is Sam’s big chance to tell things exactly the way he sees them. He has his own ideas about haircuts, nursery school, getting shots, and not eating broccoli. Sam thinks a lot about being bigger and stronger, about secret codes and show-and-tell.
The Boxcar Children, Warner, G.C., The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather. Classic story, first of the series.
Pippi Longstocking. Lindgren, A., Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!
Harriet the Spy, Fitzhugh. L., Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together?
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Konigsburg, E. L., When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere 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. Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie, find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at an auction for a bargain price of $250. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it? Claudia is determined to find out. This quest leads Claudia to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.
Spider Boy. Fletcher, R., Humorous story about a boy’s adjustment to new surroundings and kids in a new school. Packed with fascinating facts about spiders, the story is told through journal entries and scenes of events. Contains a spider bibliography.
The Bad Beginning, (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1), Helquist, B. & Snicket, L., From the darkly humorous writer that’s been likened to the late Kurt Vonnegut comes the outlandishly wonderful brainchild of Lemony Snicket. This is the inaugural book that launched dark, yet comic series featuring the misadventures of the Baudelair orphans, their devious guardian and their madcap efforts at darting the dangers around them.
The Indian in the Cupboard, Banks, L. R., A young man receives two presents that will change his life: a plastic miniature Indian that magically comes to life inside a mysterious old cupboard.
*Charlotte’s Web, (1953), Williams, G. Another classic and winner of the Newbury Award. “What the book is about is friendship on earth, affection and protection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and treachery, pleasure and pain, and the passing of time. As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way that it is done.” –Eudora Welty, The New York Times Book Review
*Shiloh, (1991), Naylor, P.R., Another Newbury Award winning book. 11-Year old Marty discovers a mistreated dog. He finds himself in a difficult situation when the dog runs away to him and has to determine what is the right thing to do. A story of courage and discovery.
Danny, the Champion of the World, Dahl, R., Danny has a life any boy would love—his home is a gypsy caravan, he’s the youngest master car mechanic around, and his best friend is his dad, who never runs out of wonderful stories to tell. But one night Danny discovers a shocking secret that his father has kept hidden for years. Soon Danny finds himself the mastermind behind the most incredible plot ever attempted against nasty Victor Hazell, a wealthy landowner with a bad attitude. Can they pull it off? If so, Danny will truly be the champion of the world.
My Side of the Mountain, George, Jean Craighead, Terribly unhappy in his family’s crowded New York City apartment, Sam Gribley runs away to the solitude-and danger-of the mountains, where he finds a side of himself he never knew. Classic survival story, first in a series based on the main character Sam.
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lewis, C.S., Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.
A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle, M., A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.
*Bridge to Terabithia, Patterson, K., This Newbery Medal-winning novel by bestselling author Katherine Paterson is a modern classic of friendship and loss.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. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.
*Sarah, Plain and Tall, (1985), MacLachlan, P., This Newbery Medal–winning book is the first of five books in Patricia MacLachlan’s chapter book series about the Witting family. Set in the late nineteenth century and told from young Anna’s point of view, Sarah, Plain and Tall tells the story of how Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton comes from Maine to the prairie to answer Papa’s advertisement for a wife and mother. Before Sarah arrives, Anna and her younger brother Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she sing? Will she stay?
Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear, (1994), Namioka, L., Everyone in the Yang family is a talented musician except for nine-year-old Yingtao, the youngest Yang. Even after years of violin lessons from his father, Yingtao cannot make beautiful music. Now that his family has moved from China to Seattle, Yingtao wants to learn English and make new friends at school. Still, he must make time to practice his violin for an important family recital to help his father get more students. Yingtao is afraid his screeching violin will ruin the recital. But he’s even more afraid to tell his family that he has found something he likes better than music. Together he and his new friend Matthew think of a sure way to save the recital. They are certain nothing will go wrong.
Holes, Sachar, L. This winner of the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award features Stanley Yelnats, a kid who is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys “build character” by spending all day, every day, digging holes five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake: the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.
The Tale of Despereaux, DiCamillo, K., Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other’s lives. What happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.