CommonLit Elementary Classrooms 7 Engaging Reading Passages for Third and Fourth Graders

CommonLit Adds Elementary Content to Free Digital Library

The CommonLit Library is full of engaging reading passages for 3rd and 4th graders!

When I taught 3rd and 4th grade students, I was focused on making sure that I introduced students to a variety of great stories. I wanted every reading passage my studets encountered to help them develop their literacy skills, and also to be relevant and engaging. I bring the same approach to my work at CommonLit, and I am excited to showcase seven of our new 3rd and 4th grade reading passages.

“Dancing Toward Dreams” by Sara Matson

This informational 4th grade reading passage is about Misty Copeland, the first African American prima ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre.

A ballerina in a white dress dancing on a stage.

“Misty Copeland dances the role of Odette in Swan Lake” by American Ballet Theatre/Darren Thomas/QPAC is used with permission.

The text focuses on her achievements, but also how she overcame obstacles during her career as a ballerina. This would be a great text to assign as part of an African American History Month unit to start a discussion about how Misty Copeland’s resilience helped her overcome challenges. You can also use our Related Media selections to further engage students by showing them a clip of Copeland’s performance.

“Space Food” by Barbara Radner

Students who are fascinated with space and science will love reading “Space Food,” a reading passage perfect for third graders. This informational text is about how astronauts eat in space. The text uses a problem-solution structure, and students can examine how information is organized in a nonfiction text while reading about a topic they will surely be curious about.

“The Impossibles” by J. Patrick Lewis

This is a poem for 4th graders  that playfully explores the idea of possibility. It would be great for introducing imagery and how authors use different images to communicate a message in poetry. If you are already using our Shel Silverstein poetry unit, it is recommended introducing your students to J. Patrick Lewis and comparing how each author uses rhyme and imagery.

Fables and Folktales

CommonLit also has focused on developing our collection of fables and folktales because we know they are so important in lower elementary school classrooms. CommoLit has stories that would make excellent additions to your fable and folktale studies:

“Kayvan the Brave” by Elizabeth Laird

This 4th grade reading passage is an adaptation of an Iranian folktale.

The silhouette of a girl shooting an arrow into a cloudy sky.

“The ballistic shot” by Ben Gun is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

In this tale, a weaver’s assistant becomes a celebrated warrior as a result of luck and misunderstandings. After students complete a first read, they can identify the patterns in what happens to Kayvan and discuss how the patterns contribute to the theme.

“Yeshi’s Luck” from Naomi C. Rose’s collection Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas

In this reading passage for fourth graders, a young boy finds comfort in his father’s chant and discovers that things cannot be immediately labeled good or bad luck. To encourage text-to-text comparison, read this story after “Kayvan the Brave” so that students can discuss how both texts share similar structures.

“The Cave that Talked” by Jyoti Singh Visvanath

In the retelling of a fable from India, a clever jackal tricks a lion who is waiting to eat him. This reading passage for third grade provides an opportunity for students to focus on how a character’s actions drive the plot.

“The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter

Peter Rabbit eating a carrot while standing in a garden.

Students may have enjoyed the Peter Rabbit movie, and after reading Beatrix Potter’s story, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” they will be ready to compare the film to the original text. This classic fourth grade reading passage is a good choice for addressing how a character’s actions develop the plot of the story. You can also discuss the lesson Peter Rabbit learns from his adventure into the garden.

Next Steps

Check out our whole collection of 3rd-4th Grade reading passages by visiting our Library. If you’d like to learn more about CommonLit’s resources for your classroom, join us at one of our upcoming webinars!

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