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Suggested Realistic Fiction by Grade Level


Sometimes we just want to read about what's familiar or what's possible. Here are some suggestions for books that feature a high level of realism. You probably won't find many dragons or wizards or outer space adventures here.  Grade levels are suggested, but remember that each Reader is different, and might find something interesting at another level. Under each grade is a link for even more titles.


Mary had a little glam by Tammi Sauer

Mary shares her glamorous style with all of her classmates.

Sam and Charlie (and Sam too!) by Leslie Kimmelman

A boy named Sam, a girl named Charlie, and Charlie's sister Sam become neighbors and friends. Find more Charlie and Sam at J FICTION KIMMELMAN.

Sidewalk flowers by JonArno Lawson

A little girl collects wildflowers while walking through town with her father.

Stella brings the family by Miriam B Schiffer

Stella brings her two fathers to school to celebrate Mother's Day.

The little red fort by Brenda Maier

Ruby wants to build a fort, but her three brothers refuse to help, so when the fort is finished Ruby will not let them join her-- until the boys come up with a few embellishments by way of making peace.

More suggestions for Kindergarten.

First Grade

Yasmin the friend by Saadia Faruqi

After carefully planning a visit with Aly and Emma, Yasmin is disappointed to see that they want to play on their own, but a creative compromise may make everyone happy.

Part of the Yasmin series.

Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke

Anna Hibiscus loves her life in Africa where she lives in a wonderful house with her entire family, but longs to see snow.

For more Anna Hibiscus, check in JFICTION ATINUKE.

Drawn together by Minh Lê

A boy and his grandfather cross a language and cultural barrier using their shared love of art, storytelling, and fantasy.

Jasmine Toguchi, mochi queen by Debbi Michiko Florence

Eager to do something her big sister has not done first, Jasmine Toguchi, eight, decides to pound mochi with the men and boys when her family gets together for New Year's.

Find more Jasmine Toguchi at JFICTION FLORENCE.

Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina

A spunky young girl from Colombia loves playing with her canine best friend and resists boring school activities, especially learning English, until her family tells her that a special trip is planned to an English-speaking place.

More suggestions for First Grade.

Second Grade

Bodega cat by Louie Chin

A cat named Chip that lives in a bodega explains how he spends his days lounging, supervising his family, and playing with the locals

Hockey Night in Kenya by Claudia (ILT) Danson/ D̀vila Eric/ Mutinda Walters

Kenyan orphans, Kitoo and Nigosi, spend their days studying, playing soccer, helping their elders with chores around the orphanage and reading from the limited selection of books in their library. When the librarian gives Kitoo a copy of "Sports Around the World" he becomes fascinated by an image of the Canadian national men's ice hockey team. But you can't play ice hockey in Kenya, can you?

In Aunt Lucy's kitchen by Cynthia Rylant

While staying with their aunt for a year, three nine-year-old cousins keep busy baking and selling cookies, putting on a poetry and singing performance, and trying to encourage a romance between their aunt and one of their former customers. This is the first in the Cobble Street Cousins series.

Keena Ford chronicles her many mishaps as she begins second grade.

Martin Bridge ready for takeoff! by Jessica Scott Kerrin

Meet Martin Bridge, a boy whose plans for a brilliant rocket, a substitute bus driver and a very old hamster go terribly wrong in this lively trio of stories. Find more Martin Bridge in JFICTION KERRIN.

More suggestions for Second Grade.

Third Grade

Book Uncle and me by Uma Krishnaswami

Every day, nine-year-old Yasmin borrows a book from Book Uncle, a retired teacher who has set up a free lending library next to her apartment building. But when the mayor tries to shut down the rickety bookstand, Yasmin has to take her nose out of her book and do something.

Eleven-year-old Ellie McDoodle illustrates her sketchbook with chronicles of her adventures and mishaps while camping with her cousins, aunt, and uncle. More Ellie McDoodle is in JFICTION BARSHAW.

Justin K. (for Krzeszewski), nicknamed Justin Case, has fairly standard third-grade worries (former best friends, rope climbing in gym) and pretty typical joys (current best friends, making it to the top of the rope). He expresses all of these in diary form throughout a school year, and his traditional nuclear family, which celebrates both Jewish and Christian holidays, supports him during all of the multiplication tables, violin lessons, soccer games, and dog messes.

Luz makes a splash by Claudia Dávila

During a heat wave, Luz's favorite park is suffering a drought and, to make matters worse, her local swimming pond is dry because of the factory nearby, so she rallies her community to come up with a solution. Another Luz story can be found in Luz Sees the Light.

When Ms. Wurtz leaves a blank book in the Writer's Corner with a note encouraging those who find it to "talk to each other" in its pages, the student's entries spark a classroom-wide battle.

More suggestions for Third Grade.

Fourth Grade

Anna was here by Jane Kurtz

Three generations of the Nickel family reunite when fourth-grader Anna, her Mom and Dad, and four-year-old sister Isabella relocate to Oakwood, Kansas.

Ava and Pip by Carol Weston

When ten-year-old Ava uses her writing talents to help her older sister overcome her shyness, both girls learn the impact their words and stories can have on the world around them.

George by Alex Gino

Knowing herself to be a girl despite her outwardly male appearance, George is denied a female role in the class play before teaming up with a friend to reveal her true self.

How to eat fried worms. by Thomas Rockwell
Also available in: audiobook | video

Having accepted a bet to eat fried worms, Billy, along with his family and friends, devises ways to eat 15 worms in 15 days.

The loser list by Holly Kowitt

When Danny gets caught trying to cross his name off the "Geek" list in the girls' bathroom, he's sent to detention where he falls in with a group of bullies.  Danny enjoys his new "bad boy" status until he's drawn into a theft involving a comic book from Danny's favorite store. Can he steal it back before they get caught -- and break off with the bullies before he gets in too deep?

More suggestions for Fourth Grade.

Fifth Grade

Also available in: e-book

Seven fifth-graders at Snow Hill School in Connecticut relate how their lives are changed for the better by "rookie teacher" Mr. Terupt.

The doldrums by Nicholas Gannon

An eccentric like all Helmsleys, eleven-year-old Archer escapes his overprotective mother and recruits two friends, Oliver and Adelaide, to help him plan a rescue of his long-lost grandparents, world-famous explorers who disappeared atop an iceberg in the Antarctic.

Also available in: e-book | e-audiobook

A quirky and utterly logical seventh-grade girl named Emma-Jean Lazarus discovers some interesting results when she gets involved in the messy everyday problems of her peers.

Fish in a tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Also available in: e-book

Ally's greatest fear is that everyone will find out she is as dumb as they think she is because she still doesn't know how to read.

Rain reign by Ann M. Martin
Also available in: audiobook

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.

More suggestions for Fifth Grade.

Sixth Grade

Better Nate than ever by Tim Federle
Also available in: audiobook

An eighth-grader who dreams of performing in a Broadway musical concocts a plan to run away to New York and audition for the role of Elliot in the musical version of "E.T". Find more Nate adventures in JFICTION FEDERLE.

Canned and crushed by Bibi Belford

When his father, who is in the United States illegally, becomes injured and unemployed, eleven-year-old Sandro is determined to help his parents raise money for his little sister's heart surgery by collecting scrap metal to recycle for cash.

The question of miracles by Elana K. Arnold
Also available in: e-book

Unhappy about moving from sunny California to rainy Corvallis, Oregon, and grieving over the death of her best friend, sixth-grader Iris looks for a miracle and may find one in new friend Boris.

Sasquatch in the paint by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Eighth-grader Theo Rollins' growth spurt has Coach Mandrake trying to transform him into a basketball star, but training time is hurting the science club's chances of winning the "Aca-lympics," and being accused of stealing could mean Theo is off both teams. The Streetball Crew series continues in Steeling the Game.

Waiting for unicorns by Beth Hautala

After her mother dies, twelve-year-old Talia McQuinn goes to the Arctic with her father, a whale researcher. Over the course of one summer, and through several unlikely friendships, Talia learns that stories have the power to connect us, to provide hope, and to pull us out of the darkness.

More suggestions for Sixth Grade.