Stories for the third through fifth grade group are doing two very particular things. The first and foremost thing that this group of stories does is reinforce the comprehension and pre reading skills that are central to reading success. They often use repetition and vivid images as well as word play to create tensions that force the audience to pay attention to details.
The tales move much faster than stories for younger listeners and the plots can get complicated; the language is complex and words that are not unfamiliar are not always defined, forcing the listener to use experiential language to figure out what is happening. These tales are driven more by disastrous choices the characters make than they are about learning language patterns and establishing the visualization of words.
Social and emotional issues take center stage in these tales. The characters are tricksters, foolish powerful people, thieves, sneaks, and any other sort of person who is likely to get into trouble. Their problems revolve around either trying to avoid trouble or get away with something that is not okay. They make horrible decisions that alter their lives and sometimes there is no redemption, just a warning that making bad decisions can lead to a bad end.
The tales are a mix of fun and serious. They make the students laugh and think. It doesn't get any better than that!