Great chapter books for grades 3-5 (Great holiday gifts!)

Parents contact me often asking for book recommendations. The books listed below are a mix of adventurous and funny realistic and historic fiction chapter books for kids in grades 3-5.

Chapter books for kids in grades 2, 3 and 4.

I Survived series

When Middle was 5, I found I Survived Hurricane Katrina at a Scholastic Book Fair. I had some concern that introducing my young guy to such a scary time in our country’s history might cause a few nightmares. But he’s always been fascinated with facts and, because it was a chapter book, I knew I’d be reading it to him to soften the blow. Plus, it’s a Scholastic book, so I trusted the publisher to tread lightly and safely. The very first chapter, we were both hooked reading how Barry’s family waited out the storm in their house, until it was too late. We were riveted to learn how Barry survived (the title kind of gave away that he’d make it.)

Now, we’re thrilled to know that there are at least 8 more books in the series, and Middle asked for all the books for the holidays. We opted to buy the books and give them to him slowly this fall as rewards instead. He already finished reading I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916, and taught me a thing or two about our neighboring state! (Who knew that sharks could (and do!) swim up river into New Jersey!!) (This series is suggested for grades 3 and up.)

13-Story Treehouse Series

Like so many other families, we read the Magic Tree House stories in preschool and kindergarten as family read alouds, and many kids are reading them in 1st and 2nd grades. This is a different Treehouse series. Recommended for grades 3-5, the 13-Story Treehouse is a book “written by kids” (not really, the author is Andy Griffiths) about two kids who live in a tree house. While this tree house has many usual house-rooms, it also includes rooms such as an indoor pool, a bowling alley and a theater. The characters are writing and illustrating books (late for deadline, of course) and the stories they write (and illustrate, with comic-style drawings akin to kids who fan Dav Pilkey and Jeff Kinney) are filled with humor that will have your child laughing out loud as he turns the pages with delight.

This book is succeeded by the 26-Story Treehouse. Middle is hoping for more to follow (and is laying his bet on the 52-Story Treehouse to come next, though I’m going to guess it will be the 39-Story Treehouse… we’ll see!)

Justin Case

I am so excited for Middle to start reading Justin Case, that I bought it without even checking with him first. The main character, Justin, is an introverted, sensitive boy, trying to make the hard change into third grade, where he won’t be with his best friend and he wasn’t assigned his first choice teacher–in other words, a normal boy. Written in diary form with a few line-drawings, it seems a bit like a younger Diary of a Wimpy kid, a book that will focus on the trials of a boy similar to those residing in many houses in middle-America. (This book is recommended for grades 2-4.)

Guinea Dog

While Rufus really, really, really wants a dog, his mom (like me) … doesn’t. And so, after Rufus begs and pleads, Mom comes home with her “logical” suggestion: a guinea pig, which, of course, is completely unacceptable to Rufus. But when Rufus discovers that his new guinea pig behaves far more like a dog than a pig, he just might be willing to accept, and love, his new pet. Filled with more hilarious elementary humor, Guinea Dog is recommended for grades 3-6.

Origami Yoda books

About two years ago, when I suggested The Strange Case of Origami Yoda to Big, he was turned-off because there was talk of (ohmygoodness!) kissing on the back cover. But this year he requested the book and flew through it, enjoying every page (he says the kissing was mentioned as a “yuck” thing in the first chapter only). The story of a 6th grade “loser” boy who communicates through a finger puppet, this book is told through an investigation of all the other classmates, trying to find out how and why this puppet is so wise and all-knowing, when the boy who wears it seems so “dorky.” Told in a variety of perspectives (first person, through all the kids), both my boys are enjoying the investigation that turns a few big surprises. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is the first in a series suggested for kids in grades 3-6.


mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel ( and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2014 – 2015, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.


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