Great Books to Adore! More for Grades 3-4

Sher A Hart here, taking time off from hurricane Isaac preparations to write another post in a series about books that started with my blog partner Paul R. Hewlett’s Back to School post. On that post (about how books  helped him adjust to school) and others, we received many recommendations of books that hooked our blog readers when they were children. Of course, Paul and I have both added some favorites of our own, and today is no exception.

In his last post, Paul covered books for grades 3-4 (mostly boy books), along with the Sword of Shannara which I never heard about until I was an adult. Terry Brooks is still one of my favorite authors.  So I thought I was going to cover grade 3 through adult (mostly girl books). But there were more grade 3 and 4 books in the list than I thought, and only a couple of girl books. So I won’t get to some of my higher grade (pun intended) favorites until next time. You can click on any picture below to buy a book on Amazon, or you can go through My Amazon Store tab at the top of my blog.

Books for 3rd grade, age 8 and up:

I’m going to start with one of two 3rd grade level books from reader’s suggestions that Paul didn’t already post — because it’s a girl’s book. The Babysitter’s Club by Anne R. Martin was a favorite of Denise Zaky’s niece. Although I read everything I could get my hands on during elementary school, I missed these books because they came after my school years.

Here’s the blurb: “It all began with a great idea…Kristy Thomas’ brilliant business plan to form a club of friends who will babysit for neighbours gets off to a flying start with the help of Claudia Kishi (vice-president), Mary Anne Spier (secretary), and Stacey McGill (treasurer). Friendships are forged, adventures begun and life lessons learned in the first book of the series that took the world by storm.” 

Here’s another 3rd grade book from my own childhood that brings back fond memories. It’s hard to believe it’s been  almost 52 years since Norton Juster published The Phantom Tollbooth. I was enthralled when my aunt Barbara visited and read about Milo’s adventures in the Land Beyond to me and my older sister.

Here’s the Goodreads’ description. “For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams…”

Next we have Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, first published in 1935. But the link goes to the 2010 hardback because the paperbacks on Amazon are sold in sets. Romance author Melissa Maygrove who blogs at (surprise) Melissa Maygrove, recommended this one. I’m not sure if I remember it from reading or from the TV show.

Again from Goodreads, here’s the description: “A family travels from the big woods of Wisconsin to a new home on the prairie, where they build a house, meet neighboring Indians, build a well, and fight a fire. Includes a detailed account of how the novel was written and published.”

Real pioneer stories are also treasured in my family because many of my ancestors kept records as they crossed the plains.

That brings us to books for 4th graders, age 9 and up:

The Bobsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope was first published in 1936. Suzanne Purvis, who belongs to my SCBWI critique group and blogs at Passions and Pursuits, recommended this series of over 80 books with two sets of twins as the main attraction.  Believe it or not, you can still buy this 1950 edition (on the right) published before the author changed the book name to The Bobbsey Twins (below and left). Two b or not two b; that is the question. I can’t answer because I have no idea why the spelling changed.

Here’s part of the blurb: “…Bert and Nan, eight years old and dark and thin; and Freddie and Flossie, four years old and blonde and plump-two sets of high-spirited twins living in Lakeport, USA.  …The Bobbsey Twins sets up a winning formula, allowing us to share the days and nights of the four lovable Bobbsey children, times filled with sledding and boating; kite-flying and kitten-rescuing; a bit of fending off the schoolyard bully, the highly disagreeable Danny Rugg; and even some sleuthing as they try to solve a vexing mystery. With the nurturing love of their parents, the twins’ imagination flourishes through their sometimes glorious-and sometimes harrowing-escapades and play….”

First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton, first published in 1946, is the first of a series of English boarding school books for girls recommended by Claudine G of CarryUsOffBooks.  She loved this series because it made her excited about school again.  I had never heard of these books because of their British origin, but I sometimes wished my mother would ship me off to school.  Of course now I’m glad Mom kept me at home.

Here’s the description: “Scared and excited, Darrell Rivers has just arrived at Malory Towers. It’s fantastic – but huge. How is she going to remember everyone’s name, let alone find her way around? And will she ever have a special friend of her own?” Be aware that I saw some negative reviews because these books were about rich white girls. But that doesn’t stop the books from appealing to others.

Another 4th grade book comes from Jessica Haight at The Secret DMS files of Fairday Morrow. Her teacher read aloud The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I’m surprised I missed this book when my hubby reads many Native American books.  Goodreads says: “Scott O’Dell won the Newbery Medal in 1961 for his unforgettable novel Island of the Blue Dolphins, based on the true story of a Nicoleño Indian girl living in solitude between 1835 and 1853 on San Nicolas Island, only seventy miles off the coast of Southern California. … Indians lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind. This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs.”

And the last 4th grade book suggestion comes from Melissa Maygrove.  Who could forget Judy Garland as Dorothy in the movie version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum? In case you’ve been living under a rock since before MGM made the movie in 1936, here’s the Goodreads blurb: “In a terrifying instant of darkness, a tornado snatches up Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto, whirling them on the wild wind out of Kansas and straight to Oz. In this wondrous world of sorcery and danger, Munchkins, flying monkeys, talking mice and fighting trees, all Dorothy wants to do is go home…

Together with the Scarecrow who wants a brain, the Tin Man who wants a heart, and the Cowardly Lion who wants courage, Dorothy and Toto must follow the Yellow Brick Road to find the Wizard of the Emerald City. But before the wizard of Oz will grant their wishes, Dorothy and her friends must do the impossible–Destroy the all-powerful Wicked Witch of the West….”

Since I just discovered the entire series of  Oz books are on kindle as one download, I think that may be my next purchase.

Sorry I couldn’t get to the books for 5th graders on up, but this post is long enough and I have to sleep sometime. I hope you enjoyed reviewing your childhood favorites and discovering new ones as much as I did. Please tell me what you think, and while you’re at it, include your favorite book list for junior high and high school. I could spend all day telling you about my own favorites, but I have a lot more fun when I hear yours. Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading during the storm even if it’s by flashlight! As for me, I’m now on the far eastern edge so I shouldn’t have any problems.

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. I enjoyed the Little House books- they’re a reminder that we don’t need the Internet and TV to find interesting things to do.

    • You’re so right, Cynthia. I expected to be without internet because of the storm by now, yet here I am. In my defense, I walked a mile and a half with a book this morning before the rain started. And reading is still my favorite activity, along with writing! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I can’t believe you found the Bobsey Twins books. I had no idea there were over 80 of them. Now you have me wishing I had kept the few hardcovers that I owned as a child. I read many, many more from my local library. Loved your post.

    • Thanks, Suzanne! Those old books prove that others did keep their old books a long time. I can keep my eye out at garage sales if you want. I go out “sale-ing” at least once a month, LOL.

  3. Thanks for the mention. 🙂 The Little House books I have, but I also watched the show growing up. Same with The Wizard of Oz. I read the book once for an assignment, but my favorite was watching the movie every spring when it would air.

    • You’re welcome, Melissa. I think watching the movie was my favorite too. I remember thinking the book was wrong because I read it after. And I still haven’t read all the others, so it’s high time. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. What wonderful books! I loved The Litle House series growing up (and the show, too). I have not read anything by Enid Blyton yet- but have heard so much about her books that I must read one soon. I also need to read the Phantom Tollbooth.

    Thanks so much for the mention! I hope you enjoy Island of the Blue Dolphins. Some other great Native American books that come to mind- are The Warriors and Skeleton Man (a little spooky) for MG readers. Both are by Joseph Bruchac. 🙂


    • Thanks and you’re welcome, Jess! I already told my hubby the names of the other two books so he can check them out. And you won’t be sorry you read the Phantom Tollbooth. I reread it a few years ago and probably had more fun than the first time because none of the wordplay went over my head.

  5. Hi Sher and Paul, thanks for recommending Malory Towers to your readers. The boarding school stories were a hot favourite amongst my sisters and me. And ‘Little House on the Prairie’ was the first thick volume I remember lugging from the library shelf and reading while the family was still asleep one Sunday morning. Great books here!

    • You’re welcome, Claudine! Isn’t it funny how those favorites stick with us over the years in the form of knowing exactly where we read them? I will always remember hiding under my bed to read The Fellowship of the Ring at age 9, at least the part when the ring wraiths rode by the hobbits who were also hiding under the ditch bank. I saw some fun books on your website too!

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