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Made In A Pinch Book Box: Summer Reading Lists for 3rd-5th graders

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Memorial Day has passed, meaning summer is here!

Each year at this time, I feel so excited!  I love the warm weather and summer weather activities (hiking, biking, swimming, water balloons, etc).  Summer brings the change in routines and the chance to slow things down or even get out of town on vacation that I absolutely crave by this time of year.  This year we are traveling to Yellowstone, which happens to be my current favorite national park – I am literally counting down the days!

While summer provides a break and a chance to recharge, a drawback of summer for kids is the lack of structure that can exist.  In the interest of relaxation or “taking a break”, other things can fall by the wayside: chores, sports, and anything academic.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a break!  For example, we take each summer off from sports.  We do that because our kids play a sport of some kind the rest of the year with hardly any break.  We need the summer to recharge and explore other activities: swimming, hiking, biking, camping, and anything else that we just don’t have time to do during the busy school year.

That being said, I don’t believe in taking a break from learning and reading during the summer.

Keep Learning

Every summer, we do what we call “summer learning”: workbooks, reading, and various other forms of learning. An example of this is my boys learning to play chess – something that is fun or interesting but still works our brains.  Our school year ended a little early, so we have already begun our summer workbooks.  Up next on my “to do list” is our summer reading list…

In previous years, I decided to just “wing it” (the reality is that feels like most of my life!). However, this year I wanted to try a different strategy…a little strategy called “having a plan”.  🙂  Whether we actually follow it or not is a completely different story.  And only time will tell, because I totally realize how “life” can get in the way of plans!

Last month we shared a list of books for grades K-2 full of “must-reads” for my kids (and for yours)!  If you didn’t catch that post, check that out here.

These lists are based on teacher recommendations, thousands of book reviews, and our own personal favorites that we read time and again.

Here they are:

3rd grade:

  • Foxcraft: The Taken by Inbali Iserles – perfect for kids who love fantasy adventure stories
  • The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling – perfect for kids who love classic stories
  • I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis – perfect for kids who like historical fiction
  • Tales of Magic series: Half Magic by Edward Eager – perfect for kids who love fantasy stories
  • Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo- perfect for kids who like making friends
  • Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald – perfect for kids who love humor stories
  • Humphrey the Lost Whale: A True Story by Wendy Tokuda and Richard Hall – perfect for kids who like nonfiction and animals
  • Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan – perfect for kids who like realism
  • Houdini: World’s Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King by Kathleen Krull – perfect for kids who like to read about real people
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl (or any book by Roald Dahl!) – perfect for kids who love fantasy stories

4th grade:

5th grade:

Give it a try

Ultimately, whether your family is traveling or just hanging out at home, plan some time to go visit your library or local bookstore and try these books!  I know your kids (and you) will be glad you read them!

Tell us in the comments…what has been your child’s favorite book to read (even if it’s not on this list!)



  1. I would love to have this. I would use it for many things from camping to lounging in the back yard..

  2. I’d love to use it when we go camping this summer.

  3. Amanda Northcutt

    I have always thought everyone needs a hammock. Just to have it for the backyard while reading a book. Every camping trip I think how much better it would be with a hammock!

  4. id use it to go camping and i think it would be fun in the back yard also

  5. My husband would love this for camping or just for the backyard.

  6. I would love to try it out for camping.

  7. I would use it to relax at my college campus : )

  8. i would use this when camping

  9. I would love to put this in my backyard and sleep under the stars!

  10. I would use it hanging on campus at the University of Delaware

  11. I’d like to use it for reading, and for road trips.

  12. I would LOVE to use this for when we go camping with the kiddos! 🙂

  13. I have a few add ons! Silly Doggie by Adam Stower, the Pigeon books by Mo Williams and the Elephant and Piggie books, also by him. I’ve a 9 year old, and last summer it was a struggle to get him to read. I think this summer might be too, and back before we all got sick for months, and fel out of the habit, I would read to him at night, and he would enjoy that. We actually read some things that were a little unexpected that he enjoyed. He adored Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Ben and Me, and the Logan Pryce chaper books.

  14. I would love a hammock to take on all our camping trips this summer!

  15. Miriam andrade

    Owning a hammock is on my bucket list. One of lives simple pleasures is laying in a hammock looking up at the sky. I would love to win this and lay around with my daughter and puppy. We’d read books and gaze at stars.

  16. I would love to win this so I can sit outside in the summer hear and read books. This would be so relaxing 😎

  17. So cool! The fast set up would be great for our camping trips. Only 1 lb is amazing for hiking! And I would probably have to test it out in the back yard to read a book too!

  18. Crissie Woolard

    We go camping and hiking a lot during the summer so this would be great for that. Thanks so much for such a fun giveaway

    • I’m so happy to hear that you spend so much time outside during the summer – it’s an amazing way to spend the warm months! Thanks for entering and good luck!

  19. I would love to use it when we go camping in Yellowstone! 🙂

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