Third, fourth, and fifth graders are growing up fast, thinking for themselves, and starting to notice differences between people, places, and things. Fluctuating between capability and dependence, they are both enthusiastic and impressionable. If we believe something seems fun, it won’t take much to convince them! Enjoy this age for all it’s worth—they might not be so easily persuaded in a few years. When they do become adults, this is the age they’ll reflect upon their first memories. Children’s innocent beliefs that “everyone is just like me” develop into the realization and understanding that “there is no one just like me.”
Fairness & Friends Matter
Eight to ten-year-old children have concrete definitions for everything. Things are right or wrong. Someone is good or bad. Don’t think they won’t notice if someone else receives a larger slice of cake. Things are judged quickly and classified accordingly. People (including themselves) are categorized as all or nothing, smart or dumb, and athletic or unathletic. Same gender friends, and especially, a best friend, are extremely important—they cherish having a trusted confidant with whom they can be their most authentic self.
Increasingly aware of their own feelings—and those of others—children start recognizing nuances, patterns, and symbolism. As they become increasingly independent and self-confident, high energy collides with impatience and sparks can fly.
By fifth grade, their bodies often start changing—especially girls. Although they are at the “top” of elementary school, the “bottom” rung of middle school looms, along with the awareness that new social realities are on the horizon. While positive attention from the right person can make their day, critical remarks from a peer can threaten self-esteem, topple fashion sense, or alter musical preference in just a few seconds. They might not admit it, but many kids are starting to be curious about or have an interest in relationships with the opposite gender.
If self-doubt creeps in, children ask themselves, “Is there something wrong with me?” Reaffirm their value as needed, liberating them from being ensnared by a struggle with self-esteem. Reinforce their awesomeness by helping them realize that nobody else in the world is just like them, we love them exactly as they are, and they are exactly as they should be.
Children like to compare movies, sports teams, and other people, leaving themselves wondering how they measure up. When fathers pay attention to their efforts and interests, they notice us noticing them. Be curious about them, encourage their efforts, and help them realize that setbacks are only temporary.
Over the course of their lives, fathers should impart to children ten virtues that require zero talent: being on time, work ethic, effort, body language, energy, attitude, passion, being coachable, doing extra, and being prepared. Teach them that effort matters more than performance.
Children who read every day grow to be the leaders of tomorrow. Mandate (and participate in) a daily reading routine, helping children continue to build foundational vocabulary, comprehension, and knowledge.
Instill the importance of strengthening our bodies with physical fitness, nutrition, and adequate rest. When dad establishes healthy routines, we set the stage for children to eat healthy food, exercise often, and get to bed on-time. Teach them about food’s nutritional value. Remember to schedule annual check-ups with the pediatrician.
Fathers Truly Matter
When children fail, help them recognize failure as a good thing. In learning to pick themself up and keep going, they’ll develop character, grit, and perseverance—key components of a growth mindset. Teach them to never “burn a bridge.” A father’s good influence during these years can reward children exponentially in the years to come. Even the slightest course correction now can literally redirect their entire future.
Be a coach in the morning, instilling a good attitude with encouraging words. Be a friend as we drive from place to place, informally interpreting life during our travels. Be a teacher during mealtimes, establishing values and building character. Be a counselor at bedtime, sharing heartfelt conversations and prayers when tucking them in at night.
Fathers safeguard their children’s potential for intimacy by teaching about the importance of appropriate boundaries. Children may express a desire for more privacy, especially as they change or bathe. Anytime we discuss sexuality, always leave room to pick things back up again later.
Online experiences can be leveraged for success in many domains of life. Explore technology with children to understand their preferred platforms. Kids are likely to love tech; there are immeasurable benefits from setting and enforcing healthy limits. American entrepreneur, Dr. Randy Kulman, wrote, “We know that kids who play video games and use technology for an hour a day are actually psychologically healthier than kids who spend 3 or more hours a day with video games and also psychologically healthier than kids who don’t spend any time at all.”
As children gain more independence, encourage them to pray independently. Continue having faith conversations with them. Remind them, “Having faith isn’t always easy, but we can trust God.” Ask them, “What do you think is the wisest decision in this situation?” Teach that trusting Jesus transforms how we show honor to God, ourselves, and the rest of the world.
As they ascend through elementary school, children begin to understand different points of view. Stimulation from their peers influences attitudes and behaviors, often more than any other factor. They still need dad, just in different ways from when they were younger. Engage their interests, coach relational skills, and encourage them to develop and maintain healthy friendships.
Excellent Reading for 3rd Graders
A classic of American humor, the adventures of a house painter and his brood of high-stepping penguins have delighted children for generations. Here is a book to read aloud in groups of all ages. There is not an extra or misplaced word in the whole story.
For Milo, everything’s a bore. Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams!
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.
Spunky, strong-willed eleven-year-old Mirka Herschberg isn’t interested in knitting lessons from her stepmother, or how-to-find-a-husband advice from her sister, or you-better-not warnings from her brother. There’s only one thing she does want: to fight dragons! A delightful mix of fantasy, adventure, cultural traditions, and preteen commotion, Hereville will captivate readers with its entertaining new heroine.
When her best friend is abducted by aliens, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don’t even phase her. Neither do ancient prophecies, doomed planets, or even a friendly con man who takes a mysterious interest in Zita’s quest.
A classic celebration of childhood, A. A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young is a collection of poems that have touched the hearts of readers for more than 90 years. His verses sing with a playful innocence, weaving together the worlds of reality and enchanting make-believe.
The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant. None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Their interpretation of the tale — the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating — has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year’s pageant the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever.
Come visit Wayside School! Kids zoom through these chapter books—laughing their way through the fast, funny, silly but relatable stories.
Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Though he’s shy and thoughtful, he is a true lover of adventure. His greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the very first time in his life. He finds adventure aplenty. But will he find his friend?
This unforgettable novel from renowned author Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, as told from Ivan’s point-of-view.
A quirky, imaginative tale about creative thought and the power of words that will have readers inventing their own words.
Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!
A rabbit named Edward Tulane was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost. This extraordinary journey takes the reader from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.
Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a pet monkey named Mr. Nilsson. Whether Pippi’s scrubbing her floors, doing arithmetic, or stirring things up at a fancy tea party, her flair for the outrageous always seems to lead to another adventure.
On San Nicolas Island, dolphins flash in the surrounding blue waters, sea otter play in the vast kelp beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches. Here, in the early 1800s, a girl named Karana spent eighteen years alone. Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that killed her younger brother, constantly guard against Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply. Her courage, self-reliance, and grit has inspired millions of readers in this breathtaking adventure.
The perfect introduction to the Harry Potter series, this Box Set contains the first three books in the series (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) with gorgeous full color illustrations by award-winning artist Jim Kay.
Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.
Excellent Reading for 4th Graders
El Deafo is a book that will entertain children, give hearing-impaired children a hero of their own, and challenge others to consider an experience unlike their own. Like other great works for children, it provides the opportunity for young readers to consider how they would act or react in a similar situation, helping to build empathy and understanding through the power of story.
Sharon Creech intricately weaves together two tales, one funny, one bittersweet, to create a heartwarming, compelling, and utterly moving story of love, loss, and the complexity of human emotion.
Sam Gribley is terribly unhappy living in New York City with his family, so he runs away to the Catskill Mountains to live in the woods—all by himself. With only a penknife, a ball of cord, forty dollars, and some flint and steel, he intends to survive on his own. Sam learns about courage, danger, and independence during his year in the wilderness, a year that changes his life forever.
The Borrowers is the award-winning tale of three tiny people who are big heroes.
Accompany the son of the sea god Poseidon and his other demigod friends as they go on a series of quests that will have them facing monsters, gods, and conniving figures from Greek mythology. Do they have what it takes to save the Olympians from an ancient enemy?
Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.
When disaster strikes, heroes are made. I Survived books are perfect for any young reader who enjoys an action packed, page turning thriller. Each book contains a true story, encouraging readers to further explore the historical topic.
Two independent stories, set fifty years apart. Weaving back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry, how these stories unfold and intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder.
It’s Omri’s birthday, but all he gets from his best friend, Patrick, is a little plastic Indian toy. Trying to hide his disappointment, Omri puts the Indian in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that once belonged to his great-grandmother. Little does Omri know that by turning the key, he will transform his ordinary plastic Indian into a real live man from an altogether different time and place! Omri and the tiny warrior called Little Bear could hardly be more different, yet soon the two forge a very special friendship. Will Omri be able to keep Little Bear without anyone finding out and taking his precious Indian from him?
Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull, she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!
Jack hates poetry. Only girls write it and every time he tries to, his brain feels empty. But his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, won’t stop giving her class poetry assignments—and Jack can’t avoid them. But then something amazing happens. The more he writes, the more he learns that he does have something to say.
C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia has captivated readers of all ages for over sixty years, enchanting them with fantastical talking creatures, epic battles between good and evil, and magical doorways into new lands.
Excellent Reading for 5th Graders
Why do the storks no longer come to the little Dutch fishing village of Shora to nest? It was Lina, one of the schoolchildren who first asked, which set others to also wonder. Sometimes, when you begin to wonder, you begin to make things happen. So the children set out to bring the storks back to Shora. The force of their vision put the whole village to work until at last the dream began to come true.
One summer’s day, ten-year-old Opal goes to the local supermarket for some groceries – and comes home with a dog. Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie.
A tesseract is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe. They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.
Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that pride and human decency is possible even in the face of terror and war.
Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson, haunted by his secret knowledge of his mother’s infidelity, is traveling by single-engine plane to visit his father for the first time since the divorce. When the plane crashes, killing the pilot, the sole survivor is Brian. He is alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present. At first consumed by despair and self-pity, Brian slowly learns survival skills—and even finds the courage to start over from scratch when a tornado ravages his campsite. When Brian is finally rescued after fifty-four days in the wild, he emerges from his ordeal with new patience and maturity, and a greater understanding of himself and his parents.
Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy in this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.
It would be easy to ignore the strange messages, except that whoever is leaving them has an uncanny ability to predict the future. If that is the case, then Miranda has a big problem—because the notes tell her that someone is going to die, and she might be too late to stop it.
When the Watson family—ten-year-old Kenny, Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron—sets out on a trip south to visit Grandma in Birmingham, Alabama, they don’t realize that they’re heading toward one of the darkest moments in America’s history. The Watsons’ journey reminds us that even in the hardest times, laughter and family can help us get through anything.
Eleven-year-old Melody is not like most people. She can’t walk. She can’t talk. She can’t write. All because she has cerebral palsy. But she also has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but NO ONE knows it. Most people—her teachers, her doctors, her classmates—dismiss her as mentally challenged because she can’t tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by her disability. And she’s determined to let everyone know it…somehow.
Four kids. One mountain. They come from all across America to be the youngest kid ever to climb Everest. But only one will reach the top first. The competition is fierce. The preparation is intense. The challenge is breathtaking. When the final four reach the higher peaks, disaster strikes-and all that separates the living from the dead is chance, bravery, and action.
The Skandians, who are known for their size and strength, want nothing to do with Hal, Stig, and the others, who are labeled as the outcasts. That doesn’t mean they don’t have skills – and courage – which they will need to do battle at sea against the other bands, the Wolves and the Sharks, in the ultimate race. The icy waters make for a treacherous playing field… especially when not everyone thinks of it as playing.
Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.
When Marty Preston comes across a young beagle in the hills behind his home, it’s love at first sight—and also big trouble. It turns out the dog, which Marty names Shiloh, belongs to Judd Travers, who drinks too much, has a gun, and abuses his dogs. When Shiloh runs away from Judd to Marty, Marty just has to hide him and protect him from Judd. But Marty’s secret becomes too big for him to keep to himself, and it exposes his entire family to Judd’s anger. How far will Marty have to go to make Shiloh his?
This award-winning, modern classic reminds readers that adventure is right around the corner-or just under your feet!
Snicket is a harried, troubled writer and photographer who is falsely accused of various felonies and continuously hunted by the police…
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist. Some of the information in this post was inspired by Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner and Parenting Your Third Grader, Parenting Your Fourth Grader, and Parenting Your Fifth Grader available on www.parentcuestore.org.