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Must-Read 4th-6th Grade Chapter Books

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Looking for excellent and diverse chapter books for 4th-6th graders? Consider the titles on our Children's Core Collection Lists, curated by Denver Public Library staff to ensure that a variety of reading levels, topics, themes, genres and more have been included. These lists include timeless classics, soon-to-be classics, funny books, touching books and lots in between. 

Check out our other must-read lists for kids

The Crossover
Alexander, Kwame.
Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.
My Diary From The Edge Of The World
Anderson, Jodi Lynn, author.
Spirited, restless Gracie Lockwood, twelve, of Cliffden, Maine, living in a world where sasquatches, dragons, giants, and mermaids are common, keeps a diary of her family's journey in a used Winnebago as they seek The Extraordinary World in hopes of keeping her little brother, Sam, safe against all odds.
Crenshaw
Applegate, Katherine, author.
"A story about a homeless boy and his imaginary friend that proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary" --Publisher description.
The Night Gardener : A Scary Story
Auxier, Jonathan.
Irish orphans Molly, fourteen, and Kip, ten, travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems to be, and soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and secrets of the cursed house.
The True Confessions Of Charlotte Doyle
Avi, 1937-
As the lone "young lady" on a transatlantic voyage in 1832, Charlotte learns that the captain is murderous and the crew rebellious.
The Jumbies
Baptiste, Tracey.
Eleven-year-old Corinne must call on her courage and an ancient magic to stop an evil spirit and save her island home.
The Terrible Two
Barnett, Mac, author.
When master prankster Miles Murphy moves to sleepy Yawnee Valley, he challenges the local mystery prankster in an epic battle of tricks, but soon the two join forces to pull off the biggest prank ever seen.
The Girl Who Drank The Moon
Barnhill, Kelly Regan, author.
An epic fantasy about a young girl raised by a witch, a swamp monster, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, who must unlock the powerful magic buried deep inside her.
Ruby On The Outside
Baskin, Nora Raleigh, author.
Eleven-year-old Ruby Danes has a real best friend for the first time ever, but agonizes over whether or not to tell her a secret she has never shared with anyone--that her mother has been in prison since Ruby was five--and over whether to express her anger to her mother.
Book Scavenger
Bertman, Jennifer Chambliss
Just after twelve-year-old Emily and her family move to San Francisco, she teams up with new friend James to follow clues in an odd book they find, hoping to figure out its secrets before the men who attacked Emily's hero, publisher Garrison Griswold, solve the mystery or come after the friends.
Doll Bones
Black, Holly.
Zach, Alice, and Poppy, friends from a Pennsylvania middle school who have long enjoyed acting out imaginary adventures with dolls and action figures, embark on a real-life quest to Ohio to bury a doll made from the ashes of a dead girl.
Jinx
Blackwood, Sage.
A young boy named Jinx encounters magic and danger as he grows up in the deep, dark forest known as the Urwald and discovers that the world beyond--and within--the Urwald is more complex than he could imagine.
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
Blume, Judy.
Faced with the difficulties of growing up and choosing a religion, a twelve-year-old girl talks over her problems with her own private God.
The War That Saved My Life
Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker.
A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.
The Crow-girl : The Children Of Crow Cove
Bredsdorff, Bodil.
After the death of her grandmother, a young orphaned girl leaves her house by the cove and begins a journey which leads her to people and experiences that exemplify the wisdom her grandmother had shared with her.
Children Of The Longhouse
Bruchac, Joseph, 1942-
Eleven-year-old Ohkwa'ri and his twin sister must make peace with a hostile gang of older boys in their Mohawk village during the late 1400s.
Love That Dog
Creech, Sharon.
A young student, who comes to love poetry through a personal understanding of what different famous poems mean to him, surprises himself by writing his own inspired poem.
Elijah Of Buxton
Curtis, Christopher Paul.
In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, which is a haven for slaves fleeing the American south, uses his wits and skills to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family's freedom.
The London Eye Mystery
Dowd, Siobhan.
When Ted and Kat's cousin Salim disappears from the London Eye ferris wheel, the two siblings must work together--Ted with his brain that is "wired differently" and impatient Kat--to try to solve the mystery of what happened to Salim.
Out Of My Mind
Draper, Sharon M. (Sharon Mills)
Considered by many to be mentally retarded, a brilliant, impatient fifth-grader with cerebral palsy discovers a technological device that will allow her to speak for the first time.
The City Of Ember
DuPrau, Jeanne.
In the year 241, twelve-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps even to glimpse Unknown Regions.
The Birchbark House
Erdrich, Louise.
Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847.
The Graveyard Book
Gaiman, Neil.
Nobody Owens is a normal boy, except that he has been raised by ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard.
The Inquisitor's Tale, Or, The Three Magical Children And Their Holy Dog
Gidwitz, Adam, author.
Crossing paths at an inn, thirteenth-century travelers impart the tales of a monastery oblate, a Jewish refugee, and a psychic peasant girl with a loyal greyhound, the three of whom join forces on a chase through France to escape persecution.
Wait Till Helen Comes : A Ghost Story
Hahn, Mary Downing.
Molly and Michael dislike their spooky new stepsister Heather but realize that they must try to save her when she seems ready to follow a ghost child to her doom.
One Half From The East
Hashimi, Nadia, author.
In modern-day Afghanistan, 10-year-old Obayda is a bacha posh, a girl dressed as a boy. She has more freedom than she would as a girl, and makes a good friend of another bacha posh, but must find a way to remain free when she returns to life as a girl.
The Other Boy
Hennessey, M. G., author.
Out Of The Dust
Hesse, Karen.
In a series of poems, fifteen-year-old Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family's wheat farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Depression.
Hoot
Hiaasen, Carl.
Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy's attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site.
Full Cicada Moon
Hilton, Marilyn.
In 1969 twelve-year-old Mimi and her family move to an all-white town in Vermont, where Mimi's mixed-race background and interest in "boyish" topics like astronomy make her feel like an outsider.
Unusual Chickens For The Exceptional Poultry Farmer
Jones, Kelly (Kelly Anne), 1976-
Through a series of letters, Sophie Brown, age twelve, tells of her family's move to her Great Uncle Jim's farm, where she begins taking care of some unusual chickens with help from neighbors and friends.
The Thing About Luck
Kadohata, Cynthia.
Just when twelve-year-old Summer thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong in a year of bad luck, an emergency takes her parents to Japan, leaving Summer to care for her little brother while helping her grandmother cook and do laundry for harvest workers.
Hello, Universe
Kelly, Erin Entrada, author.
Lives of four misfits are intertwined when a bully's prank lands shy Virgil at the bottom of a well and Valencia, Kaori, and Gen band together in an epic quest to find and rescue him.
Inside Out & Back Again
Lai, Thanhha.
Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.
A Wrinkle In Time
L'Engle, Madeleine.
Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.
Dave At Night
Levine, Gail Carson.
When orphaned Dave is sent to the Hebrew Home for Boys where he is treated cruelly, he sneaks out at night and is welcomed into the music- and culture-filled world of the Harlem Renaissance.
Ella Enchanted
Levine, Gail Carson.
In this novel based on the story of Cinderella, Ella struggles against the childhood curse that forces her to obey any order given to her.
A Snicker Of Magic
Lloyd, Natalie, author.
The Pickles are new to Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, a town which legend says was once magic--but Felicity is convinced the magic is still there, and with the help of her new friend Jonah the Beedle she hopes to bring the magic back.
Rules
Lord, Cynthia.
Frustrated at life with an autistic brother, twelve-year-old Catherine longs for a normal existence but her world is further complicated by a friendship with an young paraplegic.
A Long Pitch Home
Lorenzi, Natalie Dias, author.
When Bilal's family suddenly moves to America, his father stays in Pakistan, and Bilal embraces baseball, an unexpected friend, and a new language. But this new way of life does not feel so special without Baba--will he ever get to America to see Bilal pitch a game?
Number The Stars
Lowry, Lois.
In 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark, ten-year-old Annemarie learns how to be brave and courageous when she helps shelter her Jewish friend from the Nazis.
In The Footsteps Of Crazy Horse
Marshall, Joseph, 1945-
Teased for his fair coloring, eleven-year-old Jimmy McClean travels with his maternal grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, to learn about his Lakota heritage while visiting places significant in the life of Crazy Horse, the nineteenth-century Lakota leader and warrior, in a tale that weaves the past with the present. Includes historical note and glossary.
Rain Reign
Martin, Ann M., 1955- author.
Struggling with Asperger's, Rose shares a bond with her beloved dog, but when the dog goes missing during a storm, Rose is forced to confront the limits of her comfort levels, even if it means leaving her routines in order to search for her pet.
A Mango-shaped Space : A Novel
Mass, Wendy, 1967-
Afraid that she is crazy, thirteen-year-old Mia, who sees a special color with every letter, number, and sound, keeps this a secret until she becomes overwhelmed by school, changing relationships, and the death of her beloved cat, Mango.
Saffy's Angel
McKay, Hilary.
After learning that she was adopted, thirteen-year-old Saffron's relationship with her eccentric, artistic family changes, until they help her go back to Italy where she was born to find a special memento of her past.
Greenglass House
Milford, Kate, author.
At Greenglass House, a smuggler's inn, twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers' adopted son, plans to spend his winter holidays relaxing but soon guests are arriving with strange stories about the house sending Milo and Meddy, the cook's daughter, on an adventure.
Shiloh
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds.
When he finds a lost beagle in the hills behind his West Virginia home, Marty tries to hide it from his family and the dog's real owner, a mean-spirited man known to shoot deer out of season and to mistreat his dogs.
A Single Shard
Park, Linda Sue.
Tree-ear, a thirteen-year-old orphan in medieval Korea, lives under a bridge in a potters' village, and longs to learn how to throw the delicate celadon ceramics himself.
Hatchet : A Novel
Paulsen, Gary.
After a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the wilderness, learning to survive initially with only the aid of a hatchet given him by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents' divorce.
The Best Man
Peck, Richard, 1934-2018 author.
"Archer has four important role models in his life--his dad, his grandfather, his uncle Paul, and his favorite teacher, Mr. McLeod. When Uncle Paul and Mr. McLeod get married, Archer's sixth-grade year becomes one he'll never forget"-- Provided by publisher.
The Red Pencil
Pinkney, Andrea Davis, author.
"After her tribal village is attacked by militants, Amira, a young Sudanese girl, must flee to safety at a refugee camp, where she finds hope and the chance to pursue an education in the form of a single red pencil and the friendship and encouragement of a wise elder"-- Provided by publisher.
Heart Of A Samurai : Based On The True Story Of Nakahama Manjiro
Preus, Margi.
In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a terrible shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, fourteen-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States.
Ghost
Reynolds, Jason, author.
Aspiring to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school's track team, gifted runner Ghost finds his goal challenged by a tragic past with a violent father.
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone
Rowling, J. K.
Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School for Wizards and Witches.
Esperanza Rising
Ryan, Pam Muñoz.
Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.
Echo
Ryan, Pam Muñoz, author.
Lost in the Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and finds himself entwined in a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica--and decades later three children, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California find themselves caught up in the same thread of destiny in the darkest days of the twentieth century, struggling to keep their families intact, and tied together by the music of the same harmonica.
Holes
Sachar, Louis, 1954-
As further evidence of his family's bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself.
Lizzie Bright And The Buckminster Boy
Schmidt, Gary D.
In 1911, Turner Buckminster hates his new home of Phippsburg, Maine, but things improve when he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from a poor, nearby island community founded by former slaves that the town fathers--and Turner's--want to change into a tourist spot.
The Invention Of Hugo Cabret : A Novel In Words And Pictures
Selznick, Brian
When twelve-year-old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931, meets a mysterious toyseller and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized.
Shooting Kabul
Senzai, N. H.
Escaping from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the summer of 2001, eleven-year-old Fadi and his family immigrate to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Fadi schemes to return to the Pakistani refugee camp where his little sister was accidentally left behind.
The Great Wall Of Lucy Wu
Shang, Wendy Wan Long.
Eleven-year-old aspiring basketball star and interior designer Lucy Wu is excited about finally having her own bedroom, until she learns that her great-aunt is coming to visit and Lucy will have to share a room with her for several months, shattering her plans for a perfect sixth-grade year.
The Case Of The Missing Marquess : An Enola Holmes Mystery
Springer, Nancy.
Enola Holmes, much younger sister of detective Sherlock Holmes, must travel to London in disguise to unravel the disappearance of her missing mother.
When You Reach Me
Stead, Rebecca.
As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1980s television game show, "The $20,000 Pyramid," a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.
Ballet Shoes
Streatfeild, Noel.
Determined to make a name for themselves, three adopted sisters living in London train for the ballet and the stage and in the process discover that each has a special talent.
The Amulet Of Samarkand
Stroud, Jonathan.
Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice, summons up the djinni Bartimaeus and instructs him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from the powerful magician Simon Lovelace.
Song Of The Trees
Taylor, Mildred D.
During the Depression, a rural black family deeply attached to the forest on their land tries to save it from being cut down by an unscrupulous white man.
One Came Home
Timberlake, Amy.
In 1871 Wisconsin, thirteen-year-old Georgia sets out to find her sister Agatha, presumed dead when remains are found wearing the dress she was last seen in, and before the end of the year gains fame as a sharpshooter and foiler of counterfeiters.
Three Times Lucky
Turnage, Sheila.
Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now eleven, and her best friend Dale turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a café and co-parent of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder.
Frazzled : Everyday Disasters And Impending Doom
Vivat, Booki, author, illustrator.
Nervous about middle school because her family does not get her and her friends know exactly what they want to do, Abbie Wu searches for her own passion before discovering a knack for leadership when injustices in the cafeteria come to light.
A Path Begins
White, J. A., author.
When twelve-year-old Kara discovers her mother's grimoire in the dangerous forest, she must decide if she'll use it, even though such magic is forbidden.
Countdown
Wiles, Deborah.
"Franny Chapman just wants some peace. But that's hard to get when her best friend is feuding with her, her sister has disappeared, and her uncle is fighting an old war in his head. Her saintly younger brother is no help, and the cute boy across the street only complicates things. Worst of all, everyone is walking around just waiting for a bomb to fall. It's 1962, and it seems the whole country is living in fear..." --from dust jacket.
One Crazy Summer
Williams-Garcia, Rita.
In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.
Wolf Hollow : A Novel
Wolk, Lauren, 1956- author.
"Twelve-year-old Annabelle must learn to stand up for what's right in the face of a manipulative and violent new bully who targets people Annabelle cares about, including a homeless World War I veteran" --Publisher description.
Feathers
Woodson, Jacqueline.
When a new, white student nicknamed "The Jesus Boy" joins her sixth grade class in the winter of 1971, Frannie's growing friendship with him makes her start to see some things in a new light.
Breaking Stalin's Nose
Yelchin, Eugene.
In the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, ten-year-old Sasha idolizes his father, a devoted Communist, but when police take his father away and leave Sasha homeless, he is forced to examine his own perceptions, values, and beliefs.

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