I’m a Dad, a teacher, an author, and an avid reader… For Anyone involved in shaping the minds of our young readers, it’s crucial to understand the importance of exposing them to a diverse range of literature.
Specifically, when it comes to 5th-grade readers, it’s the perfect time to introduce them to various book genres, themes, and characters. It’s when they have usually mastered the basics of reading and are ready to explore more complex narratives, characters, and themes.
My son and I read daily and we have a fantastic nightly routine that has been unbroken for years. Sitting together with a great book and something to talk about afterward is priceless. There are huge benefits of reading from an early age and the habit will continue for years to come.
So, here’s a great list of books, from fantasy novels to remarkable historical narratives, humorous tales to graphic novels, that would captivate young readers in 5th grade and beyond! Check ’em out~~
This book is an enchanting story about a 13-year-old girl, Sal, who embarks on a cross-country trip with her eccentric grandparents. As she travels, she recounts the story of her friend Phoebe's missing mother, while simultaneously grappling with the mystery of her own mother's disappearance. The winding roads are not just physical paths but are symbolic of Sal's journey of acceptance, understanding, and healing. This poetic prose by Sharon Creech beautifully illustrates the complexities of love, loss, and the bridges between generations.
What a great read! After a tragic event claims his father and grandfather, Carlos Rodriguez and his friend Worm discover Carlos' unique 'allergy' is turning his dark hair white, a phenomenon that happens once a century. Set in the gold mining town of Eagle Creek, their summer vacation turns into a thrilling adventure filled with mystery, first kisses, and unexpected twists.
Set amidst the harsh realities of the Great Depression, this historical fiction novel by Christopher Paul Curtis follows the story of a ten-year-old boy named Bud Caldwell. Orphaned, Bud sets off on a quest to find his long-lost father, whom he believes is a famous jazz musician. Along the way, Bud encounters a tapestry of characters, each shaping his journey unexpectedly. This tale paints a vivid picture of Bud's adventures and showcases the power of tenacity, belief, and the human spirit.
Set in World War II, this historic fiction novel by Lois Lowry follows the story of a ten-year-old girl named Annemarie as her family attempts to help save their Jewish friends from the Nazis. This classic must-read is a great companion to your social studies standards, bringing the challenges and hardships families faced during the Nazi regime to life while giving students relatable characters and high-level vocabulary exposure.
'Fish in a Tree' is the story of Ally, a girl who has mastered the art of hiding her inability to read. However, her newest teacher, Mr. Daniels, sees right through her. He helps Ally realize that being dyslexic is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally sees the world in a whole new way.
This novel focuses on the unlikely friendship between Max, a strong boy with a learning disability, and Freak, a brilliant, small boy with a heart condition. Together, they are Freak the Mighty: nine feet tall and ready to conquer the world! This book is an excellent exploration of friendship, courage, and acceptance.
This heartwarming tale, awarded the Newbery Medal, is told from the perspective of a unique gorilla named Ivan. Ivan lives in a cage in a shopping mall. However, his perspective shifts when he befriends a baby elephant named Ruby, realizing they both deserve better. This tale traces Ivan's journey, his use of art to communicate, and his determined hope to create a better future for Ruby and himself.
A children's book by Louis Sachar. In the story, Marvin, a young boy, discovers that he was mistakenly switched at birth with another baby named Casey Happleton. As Marvin grapples with this revelation, he must navigate the complexities of his identity and family relationships.
In this ultimate survival fiction story, we follow Brian's transformation from a scared, unsure boy to a strong, independent survivor. After surviving a plane crash in the rugged wilderness of Canada, Brian learns to survive with only the clothes on his back, a windbreaker, and a hatchet. Paulsen's writing captures the imagination of readers, pulling them into Brian's journey.
This dystopian novel by Lois Lowry begins as a utopian tale but is later revealed to be a dystopian story in every sense of the word. Jonas lives in a world where society has eliminated memories, pain, and emotional depth. When he becomes a Receiver of Memory, he struggles with new emotions he's never before felt.
This classic novel is a story of friendship and loss, revolving around a fifth grader, Jesse, who becomes friends with a girl from school after she beats him in a race. Despite their divergent life experiences, the pair becomes inseparable, and through the friendship, Jesse learns to be brave and manage his emotions.
Take a cool adventure to Camp Green Lake with the main character, Stanley Yelnats. "Holes" follows Stanley, sent to a juvenile camp where boys dig holes daily. He discovers a mysterious connection between digging and hidden treasures. Through friendships and secrets, the story explores fate, friendship, and the impact of choices, revealing hidden connections and unexpected outcomes. One of my favorite books with great character development.
This fantasy based on Greek mythology follows the tale of Percy Jackson as he learns he is not just a typical 12-year-old boy. This book is a must-read for fans of the Harry Potter series and it's just the first in a whole series.
This action-packed book is perfect for young readers who love adventure. The story follows Greyson Gray, a fun-loving kid with a competitive streak, who finds himself in the midst of a mysterious plot while at a sports camp. With lots of action, excitement, and relatable characters, young readers will be hooked.
In this novel, Twelve-year-old Catherine tries to teach her autistic brother the “rules of life” to prevent his embarrassing behaviors in public and make her life more “normal.” However, everything changes during the summer when Catherine meets some new friends, and she must ask herself: What is normal?
A tale about a young prince who travels from planet to planet, meeting diverse characters and learning valuable life lessons. Through his adventures, the story explores themes of love, friendship, and the wonder of seeing the world with a childlike perspective. ++I'm embarrassed to say that I never heard about this book until I moved to Korea 23 years ago. It's a very popular book and the character is known by most people here. There's even a small outdoor park named after "Le Petit Prince."
In a city built as the last refuge for the human race, the lamps that light the city are beginning to die out. It's up to Lina, a young girl, to save the city from darkness. This dystopian tale is a testament to courage and tenacity.
This is a story about courage and challenges as Kek, a refugee from Africa, comes to the United States. America is a strange place to him as he sees and learns about things like snow for the first time. Slowly, Kek builds new friendships and learns to love his new country as he toughs out the Minnesota winter.
"Charlotte's Web" is a heartwarming tale about a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a clever spider named Charlotte. Charlotte saves Wilbur from being slaughtered by weaving words in her web to praise him. The story explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and the beauty of selfless acts.
This novel revolves around a fifth-grade class who embarks on an unforgettable journey as their teacher, Mr. Terupt, changes the way they view school. While Mr. Terupt helps each student achieve their fifth-grade goals, the students learn it’s Mr. Terupt who needs their help the most. This book is the first of a three-book series your students will not want to put down!
This historical fiction novel takes us back to the Civil Rights Movement when the Watsons, a family from Flint, Michigan, take a road trip to Alabama. This book is chock-full of family dynamics, adolescent angst, and humor, this book will encourage much discussion about what Birmingham was like in 1963.
Fifth graders will enjoy Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s novel The Secret Garden. Mary Lennox is a spoiled orphan sent to live with her uncle at his mansion full of secrets. Generations young and old love this book, which showcases the true meaning of the word family.
A great story of an aging fisherman named Santiago, who catches a giant marlin but loses it to sharks during his journey home. The novella explores themes of courage and the battle between man and nature.
This classic diary documents the life of Anne Frank while she was in hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The diary has since been published in over 60 languages. It’s a gripping and heartbreaking tale for kids and adults alike.
You might disagree with having this one for your 5th grader but trust my opinion. Yes, it's reserved for older teens, but if your boy is mature enough he'll be able to handle it...It is about Andy Dufresne, a man wrongfully imprisoned, who befriends inmates and orchestrates his escape from Shawshank State Penitentiary. The story highlights themes of hope, friendship, and resilience.
This Newbery Medal-winning novel follows an orphan boy looking for a home in a fictional town in Pennsylvania. Jeffrey "Maniac" Magee becomes something of a local legend for his feats of athleticism and fearlessness and his ignorance of the racial boundaries around him.
No list of books for young readers would be complete without the mention of the Harry Potter series. This magical series, which begins with 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone', has captured the hearts of millions of kids (and adults) around the world. It's a must-read for every child who loves fantasy and adventure. These are just a few of the many fantastic books available for fifth graders. Whether your young reader is a fan of adventure, fantasy, humor, or historical fiction, there's a book on this list that they'll love. And who knows, while helping them discover these books, you might just find a few new favorites of your own!
This one follows Ordinary, a character who embarks on a journey to pursue his dreams after encountering the Dream Giver. The book inspires readers to overcome fear and pursue their passions, emphasizing the importance of courage and self-discovery in fulfilling one's true calling.
"Riding Freedom" is an empowering historical fiction novel based on the true story of Charlotte Parkhurst, a girl who defied societal norms in the mid-1800s by pursuing a career in horse riding. The story takes readers on a thrilling journey of courage, perseverance, and self-discovery, teaching them that it's okay to challenge the status quo.
This is a hilarious and relatable graphic novel that perfectly encapsulates the trials and tribulations of middle school. The protagonist, Raina, navigates the challenges of friendship, self-esteem, and the dreaded braces. This comic-style book is perfect for children who love visual storytelling and humor.
You probably remember the 90's movie that was a 'flop' at the box office... But the book is fantastic. The story of a boy, Gilbert Grape, who juggles family responsibilities after his father's death, caring for his obese mother and mentally impaired brother, Arnie. The story explores Gilbert's struggles and his relationships, highlighting themes of love, acceptance, and family bonds.
The Alchemist follows Santiago, a shepherd on a quest for hidden treasure. Through his journey, he learns about destiny and follows his dreams. The novel explores themes of self-discovery and the transformative power of pursuing one's personal legend. ++Yes, not the most exciting book on here, and is somewhat complicated but it is still a classic.
The Hedgehog is an enchanting tale that combines elements of "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Incredible Journey". It follows Marcel, a lost hedgehog trying to find his way back to his beloved owner, Dorothy. Along the way, Marcel befriends other lost animals and together, they embark on a remarkable adventure.
This awesome book is geared toward older teens and might be too much for some 5th graders, but it all depends on your child and his/her reading levels. The movie is a classic and the book is equally great. This novel follows students at a conservative boys' school inspired by their English teacher, Mr. Keating, to appreciate poetry and seize the day. Mr. Keating encourages them to embrace individuality and pursue their passions, challenging societal norms. The story highlights the transformative influence of a teacher on his students' lives. ++Note that the topic of suicide is included in the story. So, thread this one carefully.
"365 Days to Alaska" is a touching story about a young girl named Rigel who must adjust to a new life in Connecticut after leaving her off-the-grid home in Alaska. Rigel's emotional journey as she navigates change, homesickness, and new friendships makes for a compelling read.
In "Best Babysitters Ever", three friends decide to start a babysitting club to fund their dream birthday party. However, they soon discover that babysitting is not as easy as it seems. This book is a fun and light-hearted read that combines humor, friendship, and entrepreneurship.
The Story of Success is another great one. It's a classic book for all to read. Malcolm Gladwell examines the elements that lead to exceptional success. It challenges the notion of self-made success, highlighting the influence of culture, opportunities, and practice hours. Gladwell argues that external factors significantly shape high achievement.
"Take Back the Block" is a powerful story about a young boy named Wes who fights to save his neighborhood from being bought out by a real estate developer. This book explores themes of community, gentrification, and activism, teaching children about the importance of standing up for what they believe in.
"Honey and Me" is a heartwarming tale about friendship and self-discovery. It follows the journey of Aurora, a girl who feels overshadowed by her charismatic best friend, Honey. As Aurora navigates the ups and downs of friendship and family, she learns the importance of finding her own voice.
"Always, Clementine" is the latest book in the popular "Clementine" series. It continues the adventures of the quirky and lovable Clementine as she navigates the ups and downs of life. This book is a perfect blend of humor, warmth, and life lessons.
A cool and delightful tale of two fourth-graders, Billy Hamilton and Sam Baptiste, who unintentionally create a slime monster that threatens to turn their town's adults into mindless "slimebies". This book combines humor, science, and friendship in a way that will keep young readers hooked till the very end.
Being a Canadian it's hard not to know the story of this book. The story of a girl, Anne Shirley, an imaginative orphan who wins over her adoptive family and the town of Avonlea with her lively personality. The story highlights her adventures and friendships, showcasing her resilience and optimism.
Rita Williams-Garcia shows a poignant story about three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. This award-winning novel beautifully captures the essence of the Civil Rights era and the complex dynamics of family relationships.
Wow... This one is a great one. Go online and purchase it today and add it to your library. You'll thank me later~~ The movie is also very realistic and equally as good as the book. "Wonder" follows August Pullman, a boy with a facial deformity, as he attends mainstream school. The story emphasizes acceptance, empathy, and kindness, highlighting the beauty of friendship beyond appearances. Incredible stuff...The Halloween part will make you cry!
"The Unforgettable Logan Foster" is a delightful tale about Logan, a mouse living in the abandoned balcony of The Emerald City Theater. When he gets discovered, Logan embarks on an adventure to find his way back home. Along his journey, he learns valuable lessons about friendship, courage, and the importance of never giving up.
Good book and a moving story about Amara, a girl who travels to New York City to meet her distant relatives. Along her journey, she discovers the rich history of her family and learns valuable lessons about identity and belonging.
"Elfie Unperfect" is a poignant story about Elfie, a girl who struggles with her self-image and self-worth. When she's forced to repeat the fifth grade, Elfie must navigate her feelings of failure and embarrassment while learning to accept herself just as she is.
This one centers around Rafe Khatchadorian, a middle schooler rebelling against strict rules. With his friend Leo, he challenges authority, aiming to reintroduce creativity into their lives. The book humorously explores middle school challenges, friendship, and the importance of creativity.
A great uplifting story about Isaiah, a young boy who dreams of becoming a famous rapper. Despite the challenges he faces, Isaiah never gives up on his dreams and learns that one person can indeed make a difference.
"Not Your All-American Girl" is a thought-provoking story about Lauren, a half-Jewish, half-Chinese girl who struggles with her identity. When she's not selected for a lead role in the school play because she doesn't look like an "all-American girl", Lauren learns to embrace her uniqueness and challenge stereotypes.
This is a captivating tale about two best friends, Milla and Honey, who set out to save a dying language. The girls navigate friendship, school, and their shared passion for linguistics, learning that sometimes you need to get a little lost to truly find your way.
My Last Words…
These are just a few of the many great books you can find to read in 5th grade. Just make sure to choose a book that’s right for your child’s current reading and grade level.
That’s it! I hope you found this list helpful. This is simply a Dad’s guide and is not meant to be a substitute for professional advice, so always talk with your child’s teacher about the best books to read for him or her.
Every child has different interests, and your child’s reading level will determine which books they’ll be able to enjoy the most. We minimize screentime in our home as much as possible and focus on plenty of activities to keep us active and busy, including reading.
However, there is one thing that is true for children: many love to read! And, when they’re reading, they’ll pick up new skills and pick up on new ways of looking at things.
PS…I’m a huge James Patterson fan but I was reluctant to add any of his books here…They might be a little too much for younger children. But, as mentioned above, I’ve included only one that is easily geared toward 5th graders. As a parent, if you’re a reader, I highly recommend that you hit up your local library and get any one of his novels. They are ALL great.
Good luck and good reading~~ Remember they are only young once, enjoy every moment.
Patrick Cloutier is a French-Canadian Father, Author, and Dad Blogger who has thrived as an entrepreneur in South Korea and Canada since 2000.
With a diverse background in owning businesses, freelancing as an English teacher, writer, and actor, he now dedicates himself to helping fathers find balance and joy through his popular dad blog, Daddysimply.com. When he's not attempting to eat scrambled eggs with chopsticks, he enjoys quality time with his wife and son, engaging in exercise, Korean language studies, and immersing himself in a good book