Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Fourth Grade

Reading books with children at the elementary age not only helps them better prepare for school, but it also opens their minds to new cultures and experiences. Exposing children early to both “mirror” and “window” books – that is, books in which they can see themselves, and books in which they can learn about others- is the best way to create engaged readers and support social and emotional growth.

Lee & Low Books offers hundreds of great books for fourth graders. Our books include English, Spanish, and bilingual titles; books about many different cultures; books that span a wide range of subjects and themes; and both fiction and nonfiction. Browse our 3-6 classroom collections to see what we offer, and check out our other book lists by grade:

While we have hundreds of titles to choose from, here are 10 of our absolute favorite diverse books for fourth grade! 

 

Favorite Multicultural Books for Fourth Grade1. Capoeira by George Ancona:

capoeira cover

It’s a game, a dance, a martial art! It’s a way of expressing oneself through movement and music. With action-packed photographs and accessible text, readers are introduced to this exciting, popular game. See the Teacher’s Guide.

2. Etched in Clay by Andrea Cheng:

etched in clay cover

Sometime around 1815, an enslaved young man named Dave was brought to Edgefield, South Carolina, the center of a pottery-producing area known for the alkaline glazes used on the stoneware. Dave was taught how to turn pots and jars on a pottery wheel by one of his first owners. He also somehow learned to read and write, in spite of South Carolina’s strongly-held fear of slave literacy. And then Dave did something even more incredible—he began to sign his jars and carve many of them with sayings and poems that reflected his daily life and experiences. See the Teacher’s Guide.

3. Mama’s Window by Lynn Rubright and Patricia McKissack: 

mama's window cover

After his mother dies, “Sugar” Martin is sent to live with his gruff uncle Free. As Sugar struggles to adjust to his new surroundings, the only bright spot in his life is watching the building of the new Sweet Kingdom Church, which will be adorned with a beautiful stained glass window his mother had scrimped and saved for. See the Teacher’s Guide.

4. How We Are Smart by W. Nikola-Lisa, illus. by Sean Qualls:

how we are smart cover

Readers will learn that being smart is about more than doing well in school. There are eight ways to be smart, and they are reflected in how a person uses his or her body, relates to the natural world, responds to music and art, and more. When readers see how the people in this book used their smarts, they will learn about themselves too, and their own unique ways of being smart. See the Teacher’s Guide.

5. Game, Set, Match, Champion Arthur Ashe by Crystal Hubbard, illus. by Kevin Belford:

game set match champion arthur ashe cover

Here’s a picture book biography that is a heartfelt, action-packed tribute to one of the most compelling athletes and humanitarians of the twentieth century. An example of quiet grace and dignity on and off the tennis court, Arthur Ashe set a shining example for us all. See the Lesson Plan courtesy of the Library of Virginia.

6. Chess Rumble by G. Neri, illus. by Jesse Joshua Watson:

chess rumble

In Marcus’s world, battles are fought everyday—on the street, at home, and in school. One punch away from being kicked out of school and his home, Marcus encounters CM, an unlikely chess master who challenges him to fight his battles on the chess board. Guarded and distrusting, Marcus must endure more hard lessons before he can accept CM’s help to regain control of his life. See the Teacher’s Guide.

7. Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming by Jan Reynolds:

cycle of rice cover

With lush photographs and captivating text, Jan Reynolds explores the traditional world of rice farming on the beautiful island of Bali. Readers of all ages will come away with an enhanced awareness of how we farm, eat, and live today, and the effects these practices have on the world of tomorrow. See the Teacher’s Guide.

8. Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad by Emma Otheguy, illus. by Beatriz Vidal:

marti's song for freedom cover

As a boy, José Martí believed freedom was the inherent right of all men and women. But his home island of Cuba was colonized by Spain, and some of the people were enslaved by rich landowners. Enraged, Martí took up his pen and fought against this oppression through his writings. By age seventeen, he was declared an enemy of Spain and forced to leave his beloved island. Martí traveled the world, speaking out for Cuba’s independence. But throughout his exile, he suffered from illness and homesickness. He found solace in New York’s Catskill Mountains, where nature inspired him once again to fight for independence. Download the Activity Kit.

9. Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki, illus. by Dom Lee:

passage to freedom cover

As a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania in the 1940s, Chiune Sugihara had a chance to help thousands of Jews escape the Holocaust through Japan, but it was against his government’s orders. When his five-year-old son Hiroki asked, “If we don’t help them, won’t they die?” Sugihara decided to assist the refugees. See the Teacher’s Guide.

10. Life of a Genius: Su Dongpo by Demi:

life of a genius

Su Shih grew up to become a leading scholar and statesman, eventually taking the name Su Dongpo. Integrating his love of natural order and humanity into his writings and civic works, Su Dongpo promoted justice and condemned corruption — often at his own peril. His life was rife with reversals of fortune; but through it all he retained his grace, his humility, and his compassion.  See a Character Analysis using Su Dongpo.

Further Reading

What Does Close Reading Look Like in Fourth Grade?

How to Compare and Contrast with the Common Core in Fourth Grade

Using Dual Language and Bilingual Books in Third and Fourth Grade

Also check out our amazing Grade 3-5 collections:

kindness and compassion collectionAsian/Asian American English Collection Grades 3-5

Black History Collection Grades 3-6

Realistic Fiction Grades 3-5

Pedro Noguera Diverse Collection Grades 3-5

Kindess and Compassion Collection

Cinderella Around the World Collection

One thought on “Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Fourth Grade”

  1. I am so glad Marti’s Song of Freedom made the list. I would add a few female main characters to this list such as Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story by S. D. Nelson and Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh. I love using picture books with these upper elementary kids. They won’t admit it, but they love it too.

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