20 Books for 5th Graders

Fifth grade marks a significant turning point in a student’s life. They’re still in elementary school and, in some ways, still children, but they’re also about to begin the middle school trip. Students must be exposed to particular novels as they reach adolescence—books that teach essential lessons, generate important conversations, simply make them smile, or all of the above.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite fifth-grade titles. 

  1. Smileby Raina Telgemeier

Raina is forced to have surgeries and wear braces after tripping and falling and hurting her two front teeth, making sixth grade much more chaotic than it always is. From boy difficulties to a catastrophic earthquake, this graphic novel based on Telgemeier’s life has it all.

  1. Holesby Louis Sachar

Stanley Yelnats (his surname is Stanley, spelled backward) has been sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention center, to dig holes. Stanley Yelnats (whose surname is Stanley, spelled backward) is sent to Camp Green Lake to dig holes in Louis Sachar’s Newberry Medal-winning novel Holes. Stanley suspects they’re doing something other than moving dirt soon after trying to pick up the shovel.

  1. Esperanza Risingby Pam Muñoz Ryan

This is historical fiction’s apex. Esperanza, a wealthy Mexican girl, forced to relocate to the U.s with her parents during the Great Depression, is the film’s protagonist. Esperanza’s world is turned upside down, yet she perseveres and discovers that change may bring pleasant surprises.

  1. Wonderby R.J. Palacio

Before you can see the movie, read the book! Auggie Pullman, the protagonist of Wonder, has an incredibly unusual medical facial abnormality. Auggie has been homeschooled by his mom following numerous facial operations, but he will soon attend regular school for the first time. Every pre-teen will root for Auggie, the “wonder” in this sweet story about acceptance.

  1. Freak the Mightyby Rodman Philbrick

“Until Freak came around and let me use his for a bit, I didn’t have a brain.” Max, a powerful child with a learning problem, and Freak, a clever little boy with a heart issue, form an unusual bond in Freak the Mighty. Freak the Mighty is their combined height: nine feet tall and ready to take over the world.

  1. Out of My Mindby Sharon M. Draper

Melody’s mind is continually whirling with words. They are, however, locked in her brain due to her cerebral palsy. Out of My Mind is a gripping narrative about a bright little girl with a good memory who cannot articulate her feelings. Melody is not thought to be capable of learning, yet she finally discovers her voice.

  1. Al Capone Does My Shirtsby Gennifer Choldenko

Moose Flanagan isn’t growing up like other kids. His dad works as an engineer at The Rock, commonly known as Alcatraz, where he lives. Moose enlists the support of an unlikely—and notorious—new acquaintance to assist his autistic sister, Natalie.

  1. I Am Malala(Young Reader’s Edition) by Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban and became an international icon of peaceful protest, shares her remarkable story. “When you’ve started losing your life, a silly face in the mirror is just proof that you’re here on this earth,” every pre-teen should hear.

  1. Maniac Mageeby Jerry Spinelli

The classic Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli depicts an orphan kid looking for a new home in a fictional Pennsylvania town. Jeffrey “Maniac” Magee becomes a local legend for his athleticism, recklessness, and lack of awareness of racial boundaries. This classic is required reading for anybody interested in social identity and finding their place in the world.

  1. Baseball in April and Other Storiesby Gary Soto

Gary Soto draws inspiration for eleven great short stories from his childhood as a Mexican American growing up in California, each detailing minor incidents that highlight larger issues. Soto uses crooked teeth, girls with topknots, embarrassed relatives, and karate practice to create the gorgeous fabric that is young Gary’s world.

  1. The Secret Gardenby Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is a popular children’s novel that will appeal to fifth graders. Mary Lennox is a privileged orphan who is taken to live with her uncle at his secretive home. This novel, which exemplifies the genuine meaning of the word “family,” is beloved by both young and old generations.

  1. Bridge to Terabithiaby Katherine Paterson

After beating him in a race at school, Jess meets the bright and intelligent Leslie. Leslie changes his life by teaching him how to face adversity with courage. They invent a kingdom named Terabithia for themselves, an ideal haven where their exploits take place. To stay strong, Jess must confront tragic sorrow in the end.

  1. The City of Emberby Jeanne DuPrau

The city of Ember was constructed as a last resort for humanity. The city’s lighting is starting to go out two hundred years later. Lina is convinced that when she discovers a fragment of an ancient message, it contains a secret that would save the city. This timeless dystopian story will warm your heart.

  1. The Giverby Lois Lowry

The Giver, by Lois Lowry, begins as a utopian novel but ends up being a dystopian narrative in every word’s meaning. Jonas lives in a world where memories, sadness, and emotional depth have vanished. He fights with new feelings he’s never felt before when he becomes a Receiver of Memory. And as you read, you’ll understand why!

  1. Number The Starsby Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry has done it yet again! While reading this famous must-read about Annemarie, a little girl who helps keep her Jewish friends safe during the Holocaust, be prepared to answer many questions. You’ll feel right in the heart of the story since the details are so accurate.

  1. Hatchetby Gary Paulsen

This adventure story is also a fantastic example of significant character development. After an aircraft disaster, Brian must try and survive in the forest with only the clothing on his back, a jacket, and the eponymous hatchet. Brian learns to fish, construct a fire, and, most importantly, be patient.

  1. The Watsons Go to Birminghamby Christopher Paul Curtis

History unfolds when the Watsons, a household from Flint, Michigan, take a road trip to Alabama during the Civil Rights Struggle. This book, which is full of familial relationships, teenage angst, and humor, will spark a lot of conversation about what life was like in Birmingham in 1963.

  1. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girlby Anne Frank

This iconic diary chronicles Anne Frank’s life while she and her family were hiding during the Nazi takeover of the Netherlands. The journal has been transcribed into almost 60 tongues since then. It’s a riveting and devastating story that both youngsters and adults will enjoy reading and discussing.

  1. Where the Red Fern Growsby Wilson Rawls

This is a thrilling love and adventure narrative that your fifth-grader will never forget. Billy, a ten-year-old boy from the Ozark Mountains, raises hunting dogs. Billy, the young protagonist, has his share of heartache throughout the novel.

  1. Walk Two Moonsby Sharon Creech

This lovely story weaves together two heartwarming and engaging stories. Salamanca Tree Hiddle, 13, embarks on a cross-country vacation with her grandparents, revealing a story of love, tragedy, and the depth and importance of human emotion.

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