The best fiction chapter book read alouds for 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade students

Teacher Favorites – The 10 Best Fiction Chapter Book Read Alouds

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Fiction read alouds were essential to my education in elementary school. Almost 30 years later, I can still remember the chapter books that my 3rd grade teacher read aloud to my class. Those read alouds helped instill a love of reading in me that has withstood the test of time.

Some of my favorites as a 3rd grader were James and the Giant Peach, There's A Boy in the Girls' Bathroom, A Dog Called Kitty, and A Family Apart (Orphan Train Adventures).

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!

The 10 Best Fiction Chapter books for Reading Aloud

#1: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

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!

This is also a great book to compare and contrast to its movie version. 

#2: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo made this list more than once, but The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is the current 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.

#3: The BFG by Roald Dahl

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.

#4: Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

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!

#5: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

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.

#6: Frindle by Andrew Clements

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.

#7: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

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 to compare and contrast a book with its movie version.  

#8: Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

This is another classic that every student should read (or hear read) 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.

#9: The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C. S. Lewis

The teachers surveyed recommended different books from the series, although the favorite is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

This story contains Christian symbolism, with Aslan the lion sacrificing his own life in order to save the life of a traitor Edmund.  However, with themes of betrayal, forgiveness, sacrifice, and family, those from a different faith (or of no faith) can still appreciate this story.

#10: Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

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!

Other Favorite Chapter Book Read Alouds

While these were the 10 most popular fiction chapter books of the teachers surveyed, many other great books were recommended for read alouds for 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade students.

Some other favorites that didn't quite make the top 10 are:

What favorite read alouds are missing from this list?

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Comments 2

  1. I love to read The Twits by Roald Dahl to my students. I do it using different voices and they love it! Also, I read an old book I have had for thirty years called Shoebag by M.E. Kerr and Mary James. It is about a roach that dreams of becoming a little boy and does one day.

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