What You Should Read in Elementary School

Great list of what to read in elementary school—good ideas for homeschool readalouds

We're helping you navigate the transition from kindergarten to elementary school in the summer issue of home/school/life, but you know we're all about the reading lists. Whatever else you read, make time for these classics before middle school.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Don’t let the hype stop you: This book about a boy who discovers he’s been accepted to a school for wizards is pure read-aloud goodness, with plenty of adventure and a good mix of conversation starters.

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Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wilder’s later books deal head-on with the challenges of frontier life, but Laura’s life in the Big Woods is a love story to the gentle rhythms of life before the automobile and electricity.

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Stuart Little by E.B. White

The adventures of a determined little mouse, born and bred in New York City, are related with matter-of-fact charm in this book for early readers.


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Sure, the allegorical angle adds another level to this tale of four siblings who find themselves in a strange world, but the story is good reading all by itself.

(More books like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.)


The BFG by Roald Dahl

A big friendly giant teams up with a little girl to take down naughty giants in this lesser-known Dahl tale that’s ideal as a readaloud or an early read-alone.

 


The Fairy Books by Andrew Lang

All those classic fairy tales are brand-spanking-new to your young child, and Lang’s color books are a great introduction. If you’re skeptical, remember that centuries of writers were reared on versions of these stories, so they show up across western literature.

 


The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The rollicking adventures of Rat, Mole, and Toad contrast perfectly with slower, more meditative moments in this classic that makes an ideal introduction to the specific pleasures of reading a book.


D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths by by Ingri d'Aulaire and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire

The classics of Greek mythology have major kid-appeal. Chances are, this book, which contains a good mix of myths, will be raggedy and dog-eared by the time your child hits middle school.

(In love with mythology? Get our 52-week world mythology reading guide.)


Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet’s upper-class Manhattan freedom is thrilling to kids who yearn to explore, and her stubborn, sentimental, misbehaving ways make her one of the most relatable characters in children’s literature.

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Half Magic by Edward Eager

Most kids have a tiny window where they almost believe in real magic, and Eager’s charming story about four siblings who discover a magic talisman is just the right read.

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

This American fairy tale is so much better than the movie — and the movie’s pretty great. Resourceful, intelligent, and kind, Dorothy is the kind of heroine every child wants to be.

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By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman

Even kids who claim to “hate reading” will find it hard to resist Jack’s Gold Rush adventures. (Yes, kids who love to read will love it, too.)