Read Alouds for Upper Elementary Students

Teachers are always on the hunt for good book recommendations! Here you will find read alouds for upper elementary students that can be used for a variety of occasions in the classroom+ FREE reading printables.

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I started my teaching journey as a 2nd grade teacher. My younger kiddos loved when I would read out loud to them.

When I moved to teach 4th grade, I assumed the older kiddos were too cool for that—boy was I wrong!

Why Do Read Alouds for Upper Elementary Students Matter?

Read-alouds give students of all ages a chance to see what good readers do. 

As I read out loud to my kids, I model reading strategies that I expect them to use when they read.

So the read-aloud serves two goals: a great mini-lesson AND enjoyment for my kiddos! Not only do they enjoy it, but it builds their reading comprehension skills as well.

Related Post: Teaching Strategies for Reading Comprehension in Upper Elementary Classrooms

How Read-Aloud Time Works in my Classroom

In my school, our older students are departmentalized. I only teach Language Arts and Social Studies for 4th grade in 60-minute blocks. (I have a co-teacher who teaches Math and Science.)

So I strategically plan read-alouds to my kids when I create lesson plans. I mention this in my post here on how to plan your entire school year in advance. 

Instead of randomly whipping out a book, I read for specific reasons like:

  • Introducing concepts or reading strategies that I will go over in our small groups.
  • To review something we have already learned together.
  • Addressing character topics like growth-mindset, inclusion, etc.
  • Going over class procedures.

Then I place the books for that topic on display with this shelf in the class so that the students can check it out to read on their own.

Since we are an AR school (Accelerated Reader), many of these books are AR books and may fall within the range of their reading level.

Grab some FREE Read-Aloud Printables!

We also complete novel studies in class, and I will read some chapters out loud to my kids—but that is an entirely different post!

I’ve broken down different categories of books that work as great read-alouds for upper elementary classroom.

Great Upper Elementary Read Alouds for the Beginning of the Year:

The Recess Queen by Alexis O’neill

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi (This book would be a beautiful book to help end name-shaming in our schools.)

I Am a Booger… Treat Me With Respect! by Julia Cook ( I use this book to talk about manners and hygiene with my ‘not-so-mannerable’ boys—ahem, I mean students)

This School Year Will Be the BEST! by Kay Winters

My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook–A great book for helping older kids understand impulse control. FREEBIE for this included!

What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick (Wonderful book to read out loud when you are introducing your policies and procedures. Hello Harry Wong! #firstdays)

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneburg

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon (Free Printable for this book included)

Grab some FREE Read-Aloud Printables!

Grammar/ELA Related Read Alouds:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! by Lynne Truss (This is my favorite book to introduce why grammar is important. So this could also fit under Beginning of the Year.)

Don’t Say Ain’t by Irene Smalls (This book not only does a great job with grammar, but it is also great for helping to teach some cultural aspects.)

Little Truck Without A Load by Andrea Syvrud Crooks (Warning-This one is an extreme tear jerker!)

Perseverance Read Alouds:

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris Jordan

After the Fall: The Story of How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again: by Dan Santat Be sure to sign up for the free printables because it includes a sheet for this read-aloud book. 

STEM (all by Andrea Beaty) Read Alouds:

As much as possible, I integrate reading with other subject content in my classroom.

Students need practice reading anding writing while also learning other skills in science, social studies, and math. These STEM-themed read-alouds by Andrea Beaty work so well for upper elementary students to get practice in these areas!

My kiddos give these books big cheers! And they read them repeatedly.

Community Building Books for Read-Aloud Time:

My Teacher’s Secret Life by Stephen Krensky

Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt makes the community building list because it is just awesome to read! FREE Printable included for this book in the Read Aloud Set. 

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco (I love the illustrations in her books! I usually read this one during Black History Month as well. Great book for teaching empathy!)

The Bad Seed by Jory John does a beautiful job helping students understand empathy! The FREE Printables download includes a worksheet for this goodie!

End of the Year Read Alouds for Upper Elementary Students:

Wrapping up the final days of school can be bittersweet. They can also be wacky! Teachers and students are ready for the summer.

So reading out loud to your kiddos during the last days of school can bring calm and reinforce routine when you need it most.

I’ve dedicated an entire post to end of the year read alouds PLUS tips for keeping your class calm during the final days of school:

Ways to Make Virtual Reading More Fun

Using read-alouds to keep upper elementary students engaged is great, but it can be challenging during distance learning.

If you’re wondering about things like:

  • How do I share books with students online?
  • What are effective ways to teach reading online?
  • Can virtual reading be fun for students?

I’ve got you covered on these topics and more with this post:


Take the book recommendations from this post and combine them with these easy virtual reading tips.

Plus, my teacher friend Marissa from Creative Classroom Core has a wonderful post on Building a High Interest Classroom Library!

I recommend checking her out for suggestions on how to build a library collection your kiddos will enjoy.

Don’t Forget Your FREE Printables:

2 Responses

  1. Hey, I absolutely love your page. I subscribed to your blog but cannot access the freebie fir the read aloud.

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