Fiction read alouds were an essential part of my education in elementary school. Almost 30 years later, I can still remember the chapter books that my 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers read aloud to my class. Those read alouds helped instill a love of reading in me that has withstood the test of time.
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Although a LOT has changed in education over the past 30 years, a good read aloud still has the ability to make students love to read.
In an attempt to find the best fiction chapter book read alouds around, I surveyed over 300 teachers. The top 10 books mentioned are listed below, starting with the most popular!
Need some no prep reading response activities to go along with the book? Check out these fun activities. They can be used over and over again with any fiction book.
Teacher Recommended Read Alouds - The Best Fiction Chapter Books for Upper Elementary
It's no surprise that this was the overwhelming favorite. With positive themes of friendship, inner beauty, standing up for friends, facing fears, kindness, and family, this is an inspirational read. If your students haven't heard this book yet, they should!
There are so many fun activities that can go along with this book, but one of my favorites is this POV writing unit.
This is also a great book to compare and contrast to its movie version.
Kate DiCamillo made this list more than once, but The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is the current teacher favorite. This is a story of a china rabbit (Edward) that is well taken care of and loved by a girl named Abilene. Edward is very vain and shallow, and doesn't care for Abilene the same way she cares for him.
One day, Edward is separated from Abilene. The book describes the long journey he takes back to Abilene, which teaches him how to love and how to live a more meaningful life.
No list of the best books would be complete without a Roald Dahl book. (My personal favorite growing up was Matilda.)
In this book, a young girl from an orphanage is kidnapped by the BFG - Big Friendly Giant. Eventually this unlikely pair teams up to stop the other, less friendly giants from eating children.
One of my favorite parts of this book are the amazing words Dahl "invented," words like frobscottle and snozzcumber.
Everybody has a different favorite book from the Harry Potter series, and the teachers I surveyed listed several different Harry Potter books to use as a read aloud. However, it makes since to start at the beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone!
The magical world J. K. Rowling created is so compelling, the characters are so believable, and the theme of good vs evil is so timeless, that kids (and adults) of all ages will enjoy this. If you haven't read these books yet, you (and your students) are missing out!
After you finish reading this with your students, some of them are bound to ask you for more books like it. These books similar to Harry Potter are great for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders!
I have not actually read this book, but it is a favorite of many teachers - and it is now on my list of books to read! It is inspired by a real gorilla who was captured in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and spent 27 years of his life alone in a cage at a circus themed mall.
In this fictional take on the real life gorilla, Katherine Applegate considers life from Ivan's point of view.
This is a crowd pleaser. Nick is a class clown that likes to push his teachers' buttons. His 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Granger, is stricter than most and loves the dictionary.
Nick decides to change the word "pen" to "frindle" in an attempt to bother his teacher. This new word spreads throughout the school and community, and eventually the word "frindle" is added to the dictionary.
Nick finds out later that Mrs. Granger, who gave him a seemingly hard time throughout the book, was actually rooting for him the whole time.
Kate DaCamillo makes the top 10 list twice with this classic.
Opal, a lonely girl, befriends a stray dog she finds in Winn Dixie. Her adventures with this dog that she names Winn Dixie teach her about friendship, forgiveness, and getting to know people before judging them.
This is another great book to use if you want your 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade students to compare and contrast a book with its movie version.
This is another classic that every student should read (or hear read aloud) at least once in their life!
Wilbur is a runt pig that is saved from death by a girl named Fern. On a farm, he develops a unique friendship with a selfless spider named Charlotte. As he grows older and is once again threatened with an early death, he learns about life, friendship, loss, and sacrifice. The themes in this well-known book are timeless.
The teachers surveyed recommended a variety of different books from the series, although the general favorite is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Note: This story contains Christian symbolism, with Aslan the lion sacrificing his own life in order to save the life of a traitor Edmund. However, the story is not overtly Christian. With themes of betrayal, forgiveness, sacrifice, and family, those from a different faith (or of no faith) can still appreciate this story.
These stories can engage even the most reluctant reader. Each chapter is a different story about one of the kids at Wayside School, a school where the classrooms were built one on top of each other, 30 stories high, instead of next to each other.
The stories are funny, a little ridiculous, and captivating. If you have some boys that just don't like reading, this book might change their mind!
Need more book recommendations for students that aren't interested in reading? Check out these engaging nonfiction picture books.
No Prep Reading Response Activities for Any Fiction Book
Save time and stress this school year with these Fiction Reading Response Activities that can be used over and over throughout the school year with ANY fiction text.
3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students will respond through reading, writing, poetry, speaking, listening, drawing, interviewing, and more. This is a must have for any upper elementary teacher that does not want to have to constantly recreate the wheel.
More Fiction Chapter Books for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Graders
Teachers love a good read aloud, and the list above is certainly not exhaustive. Check out these other great books that didn't make the top 10, but are still highly recommended for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students.
- The Tale of Despereaux
- The Wild Robot
- The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson Series)
- Stone Fox
You might also like these other read aloud ideas for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms.
Never Stress Over Sub Plans Again!
Make copies, find a fiction book, and you'll be ready for any emergency that comes your way!