Check out our picks for best realistic fiction books for kids, both on and off our platform!
Realistic fiction is a powerful way to help young readers gain a deeper understanding of real-world challenges and relationships. It’s also a great way to let kids see themselves in, and empathize with, characters in similar circumstances to them. The best contemporary realistic fiction books spark imagination while giving kids a realistic glimpse into different aspects of what it means to be human.
From picture books and graphic novels to audiobooks and chapter books, check out our favorite realistic fiction books for kids below!
Realistic Fiction Books for Kids on Epic
By: Jerry Spinelli
Illustrated by: Larry Day
This spirited picture book is all about celebrating America’s birthday, the Fourth of July. On the big day, a little boy wakes up to the sounds of parades, drums and cymbals. But as the other kids cascade down the street waving their flags, he sets to work helping his mother get ready for the big picnic.
Little ones will love following the boy as he joyfully partakes in the festivities and activities throughout the day. The story will fill them with excitement as it builds to the main event (the fireworks show!) and parents will get a kick out of reliving nostalgic moments from their own childhoods.
Third Grade Angels (Audiobook)
By: Jerry Spinelli
In this warm, funny prequel to the bestseller “Fourth Grade Rats,” George (AKA “Suds”) is starting the third grade. He knows the rhyme about “first grade babies, second grade cats, third grade angels and fourth grade rats,” but what’s that supposed to mean? For him, it means being awarded Mrs. Simms’ “halo” for kindness and good behavior. Suds is determined to win, but will the pressure to always be good prove too difficult?
Henry’s Freedom Box (Audiobook)
By: Ellen Levine
In this stirring true story about hope and holding on to your dreams at all costs, a young slave named Henry Brown yearns for freedom. One day his family is sold and he’s put to work in a warehouse. Then he grows up and marries a young woman, who is also a slave. But when she is also sold, he risks everything to mail himself to the North, making the arduous journey in a crate toward freedom.
By: Beverly Cleary
Illustrated by: Jacqueline Rogers
Whether she’s speaking her mind to her third-grade teacher or befriending the school bully, Ramona Quimby’s life is filled with relatable childhood moments. After she turns eight, she’s faced with more expectations and responsibilities. Her mother goes back to work so her father can go back to school, and it’s up to her to behave for Mrs. Kemp and ride the bus all by herself. Your kid will relate with Ramona’s ups and downs and laugh along with her timeless adventures.
By: Kashmira Sheth
Illustrated by: Jenn Kocsmiersky
This own-voices chapter book is part of a series that follows Nina, a lovable but scatterbrained Indian American girl as she grapples with real-life challenges. In this first book, Nina’s dealing with a lot. She’s got a writing assignment due and has no idea what she’ll write about, her best friend is angry because she accidentally destroyed his project and her little sister Kavita’s birthday is coming up. Can she manage to keep track of it all and come out on top?
By: Elizabeth Doyle Carey
Your kid can dive right into the lives of Jenna, Piper, Selena and Ziggy in this realistic chapter book about friendship, community, female empowerment and of course, some serious beach fun. In this edition of the Summer Lifeguards series, Piper’s excited to be a junior lifeguard, but she’s self conscious about wearing a bathing suit. Filled with challenges many older elementary and middle-school kids can relate to, this heartwarming story shows kids the importance of self love and being there for others.
Save Me a Seat (Audiobook)
By: Sarah Weeks, Gita Varadarajan
Joe is white and Ravi is Indian American. Joe’s lived in the same town all his life, and Ravi is the new kid who just moved to the U.S. They don’t think they have much in common until they realize they have a common enemy: the class bully. The two form a friendship, and support one another as they both navigate the challenges of friendship, family and school.
By: Kerry O’Malley Cerra
Jake Green & Sam Madina are inseparable, until after the tragic events of 9/11, when Sam and his family face anti-Muslim hostility in their community. It’s discovered that one of the attackers lives in their town, and as the kids at school process their emotions, their classmate Bobby beats up Sam just for being an Arab Muslim. Things go from bad to worse when Sam’s father is interrogated by the FBI and Jake’s own parents suspect that he’s guilty of the crimes. This touching story will show your kid the meaning of sticking by your friends, even when times get scary and tough.
Main Street #5: The Secret Book Club (Audiobook)
By: Ann M. Martin
Friends Flora and Ruby are about to spend their summer in Camden Falls when a mysterious person begins leaving well-loved books on their doorstep. The books come with instructions to read and discuss them. Their friends Olivia and Nikki also get books, so the foursome decide to start a summer book club. Things get interesting when they discover connections between what’s happening in their books and challenges they’re facing in real life.
Like our list of realistic fiction books for kids? Check out a few more of our picks, all available on Amazon.
Because of Winn-Dixie
By: Kate DiCamillo
One summer’s day, 10-year-old India Opal Buloni comes home with a dog that she names Winn-Dixie. But Winn-Dixie’s no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal starts making new friends. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally asks her father about her mother, who left when she was little. Just about everything that happens this summer is because of Winn-Dixie in this charming book by Kate DiCamillo.
Dead End in Norvelt
By: Jack Gantos
In this imaginative piece of historical fiction, young Jack Gantos has big plans for an exciting summer. But his plans come to a screeching halt when he’s grounded “for life.” He’s in for more excitement than he thinks, though, when he’s ordered to help an elderly neighbor with an odd task—writing obituaries. Flowing from surreal to slightly off kilter, to laugh-out-loud funny, the story follows Jack on a strange adventure involving molten wax, a homemade airplane, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, Hells Angels and other unexpected things.
Fifth-grade Auggie Pullman is an ordinary kid with an extraordinary face. So going from being homeschooled to a mainstream public school for the first time won’t be easy. He just wants to be treated like everyone else, but it’s hard for his classmates to get past his abnormal facial features. This critically acclaimed graphic novel will teach your kid the importance of empathy, compassion and appreciating one another’s differences.
By: Andrew Clements
Principal Kelling’ has a folder that’s as fat as a phonebook, and always growing. This is because every time Clayton breaks the rules, a new incident report gets added to the stack. But when he decides it’s time to change his ways, he finds it harder than expected to shake his troublemaking reputation. Your kid will chuckle at this good-humored book about the difference between harmless mischief and dangerous behavior.
That’s our list of best realistic fiction books for kids! Did you enjoy these children’s book picks? Check out our post: “Best Books to Read Online.”