Print this page

Elementary: Narrative and Realistic Fiction

Send this page via E-mail

Title: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Author: Judy Blume
Copyright: 1972
Description: This classic novel is a comical and lighthearted narrative of the daily life of nine-year old Peter Hatcher.  Peter grows up in a small New York City apartment with his mother, father, and difficult, yet hilarious, two-year old brother Farley Hatcher, better known as Fudge.  Readers will laugh at Fudge’s antics and Peter’s attempts to put up with Fudge and his strange behavior.
Grade: 4

Title: The Landry News
Author: Andrew Clements
Copyright Date: 1999
Description: When Cara Landry writes an editorial piece about her burnt-out fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Larson, she starts a series of events that brings her classmates closer together in reminding Mr. Larson that he’s one of the best teachers at their school.  This book can inspire students to make a difference in their lives and other’s through the power of the written word.
Grade: 4

Title: 1001 Cranes
Author: Naomi Hirahara
Copyright: 2008
Description: This is a thoughtfully written novel about a 12-year old, Japanese-American girl coming to terms with her parents’ separation and impending divorce.  This is a great resource for children who are facing difficult changes in family dynamics and for pre-teens who are discovering themselves through their cultural heritage.  Readers will also learn about the time honored Japanese custom of origami and folding 1001 cranes for good luck and good health.
Grade: 5

Title: One Crazy Summer
Author: Rita Williams-Garcia
Copyright: 2010
Description: This engaging novel takes place in Oakland, CA during the tumultuous period of the civil rights movement.  In the midst of a cultural revolution where struggles for equality are taking place, three young black girls travel over 3000 miles across the country to live with their estranged mother for the summer and are learning what it means to have mother.  Readers will gain some insight about the civil rights movement through the eyes of young children.
Grade: 5

Title: The Dreamer
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Copyright: 2010
Description: This poetic book is loosely based on Pablo Neruda’s childhood.  Against his father’s will, Neftali Reyes yearns to be a poet and secretly writes poetry and essays in favor of the indigenous Mapuche people.  Neftali’s poetry and essays only earn disappointment and anger from his father so he eventually assumes a new name, Pablo Neruda, in order to not disgrace his father.  Readers learn what it is to honor your family while following one’s dreams.
Grade: 5

Title: Esperanza Rising
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Copyright: 2000
Description: This award-winning novel tells the tale of Esperanza Ortega, and her strengths and weaknesses as she faces challenges and difficulties in adapting to a new way of life.  After losing her father to bandits and her home in an arson fire, Esperanza and her mother relocate to a farm labor camp in central California and learn to pick fruits and vegetables in order to survive.  This is a valuable book for teaching students about California history and about the farm workers movement and their rights.
Grade: 5

Title: Wonderstruck
Author: Brian Selznick
Copyright Date: 2011
Description: Ben and Rose live 50 years apart but their stories are intertwined through text and illustrations in this book.  Ben has never met his father and dreams of knowing how his parents met.  Rose longs to be close to her mother, a famous actress, and to belong in a place where she’s wanted.  After Ben’s mother dies in a car accident, Ben is determined to find his father by piecing together clues from his mother’s belongings, taking him on a journey across New York City.  This journey brings Ben and Rose together in a touching and memorable ending.
Grade: 5

Title: The Great Wall of Lucy Wu
Author: Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Copyright Date: 2011
Description: Lucy is excited about starting sixth grade and is sure that this year will be the best one ever—until she learns that she has to share her bedroom with Yi Po, her Grandmother’s sister from China.  Lucy also finds out that she has to attend Chinese classes at her parents’ insistence.  On top of that, she has to deal with the school bully, Sloane Conners, who plans to scare Lucy away from trying out for sixth-grade basketball captain.  Lucy spends the year figuring out how to handle all these problems, and in the process, learns to think about others instead of just herself all the time.
Grade: 4

Title: Moon Over Manifest
Author: Clare Vanderpool
Copyright Date: 2010
Description: Abilene’s father sends her to his childhood town of Manifest, Missouri because he has to work on the railroads.  Initially, Abilene feels lost without her father, but she discovers new friends and a mystery to solve after stumbling across a box of old mementos from two boys named Ned and Jinx.  Who is “The Rattler” that the boys refer to in their letters to each other, and how is her father connected to them?  These questions keep Abilene busy and entertained as she adjusts to her new life in Manifest while waiting for her father to return.
Grade : 5

Title: Nerd Camp
Author: Elissa Brent Weissman
Copyright Date: 2011
Description: Gabe is so excited about taking poetry and logic proof classes at the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment.  The only drawback to Gabe’s awesome summer is that he has to hide the fact from his soon-to-be stepbrother, Zack, that the sleep away camp is also considered a “nerd” camp.  Gabe spends the summer racking his brains to prove that he definitely is not a nerd, although he does enjoy participating in activities that require heavy thinking.
Grade: 5

Title: Little House on the Prairie
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Copyright Date: 1935
Description: In this classic novel, Laura Ingalls and her family pack up all their belongings to travel west in search of a new home in Kansas.  They travel hundreds of miles in a covered wagon only to find that life on the prairie can be hard at times, with Laura’s Pa having to build their house out of logs from the woods, or digging deep in the dirt for fresh water to make a well.  In spite of the physically demanding work, Laura and her sisters find themselves in many adventures and love their life on the prairie.
Grade: 5

Title: The Red Rose Box
Author: Brenda Woods
Copyright Date: 2002
Description: Leah finds a red rose traveling box waiting for her at home in Louisiana on her tenth birthday from her Aunt Olivia, who lives in Los Angeles.  On a trip to visit Aunt Olivia, Leah discovers another world where freedom doesn’t seem so far away and more opportunities await for her.  Then, tragedy strikes at home, leaving Leah to remain with her new family and adapt to her new life.
Grade: 4

Title: The Star Maker
Author: Laurence Yep
Copyright: 2011
Description: This novel gives readers a brief insight into historic Chinese customs and traditions during the Chinese New Year.  Students will read about fascinating events of what goes on during the 15-day celebration and all the preparations and activities for this festive holiday.
Grade: 4

Title: The Dragon’s Child: A Story of Angel Island
Author: Laurence Yep
Copyright: 2008
Description: This biographical account of the relationship between an estranged father and son, and their journey to the Golden Mountain, a.k.a. San Francisco, enlightens readers to the Chinese immigrant experience of the early 20th century.  In order to help support his family in China, ten-year old Gim Lew Yep boards a stuffy steamer ship packed with hundreds of other Chinese immigrants and sails thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean hoping to find a new life and prosperity in the United States.  Before he can enter, he is thoroughly interrogated by U.S. officials and forced to stay in prison-like barracks on Angel Island.  This is a noteworthy book for teaching students about Angel Island and Chinese immigration.
Grade: 4


Kerry Lum
Children’s Librarian
Little Tokyo Branch Library

klum@lapl.org

Shirley Ly
Children’s Librarian
Lincoln Heights Branch Library

sly@lapl.org

Top