As a child moves through fifth grade, it’s a big change in his or her life. Still, they’re kids. At the same time, they’re going through middle school. As they get older, it’s important for students to read certain books. Books that teach important lessons, start important conversations, make them laugh, or all of the above are important.
They are some of our favorite books for 5th grade. Run, don’t walk, to your local library or bookstore right now to get this important reading.
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
She has to have surgery and wear braces after she trips and hurts her two front teeth. This makes sixth grade even more crazy than it already is. Based on Telgemeier’s own life, this comic book has everything from boy problems to a big earthquake.
Holes by Louis Sachar
Holes, a Newberry Medal-winning book by Louis Sachar, tells the story of Stanley Yelnats, who has been sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention center, to dig holes. His last name is Stanley spelled backwards. Soon after Stanley picks up the shovel, he starts to think that they aren’t just moving dirt.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
In this book, you can read about history at its best. During the Great Depression, wealthy girl Esperanza and her family have to move to the United States with their family. Esperanza’s life is turned upside down, but she fights through and learns that good things can happen when things change.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Before you watch the movie, read the book. This is how it works: August Pullman, the main character in Wonder, has a very rare medical facial deformity that makes him look very different from other people. After having a lot of facial surgery, Auggie has been homeschooled by his mother. Soon, he will be going to a regular school for the first time. Pre-teens will fall in love with this story of acceptance. Auggie, the “wonder,” will be a favorite of all.
Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
My brain was never there until Freak came along and let me borrow his for a while. A story called Freak the Mighty tells the story of Max, a strong boy who has a learning disability. He and Freak, a small, brilliant boy with a heart condition, become friends. Each one is nine feet tall and ready to take over the world when they work together.
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Melody always thinks of words. However, because she has cerebral palsy, they are stuck in her brain and can’t be moved. Out of My Mind is a powerful story about a smart young girl who has a photographic memory but can’t talk about it. Everyone thinks Melody can’t learn, but she eventually finds her voice.
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
When most kids are growing up, Moose Flanagan isn’t growing up where most kids grow up, but he is. Alcatraz, also known as The Rock, is the prison where his father is an electrician. His son lives there. His sister, Natalie, has autism, and Moose wants to help her. He meets someone who isn’t what you’d expect.
I Am Malala (Young Reader’s Edition) by Malala Yousafzai
The story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teen who was shot by the Taliban and became an international symbol of peaceful protest, is very good. “When you’ve almost died, a funny face in the mirror is just proof that you are still here on this earth.” These words should be told to every pre-teen.
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
In Jerry Spinelli’s best-known book, Maniac Magee, an orphaned boy is looking for a home in a fictional town in Pennsylvania. Jeffrey “Maniac” Magee is a local hero because of his athleticism and fearlessness and because he doesn’t know where the racial boundaries are in the area where he lives. This timeless book is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn about social identity and find their place in the world.
Baseball in April and Other Stories by Gary Soto
Gary Soto is a Mexican American who grew up in California, and he used those experiences to write eleven short stories that are both heartwarming and thought-provoking. He can use crooked teeth, girls with ponytails, embarrassing relatives, and karate class to make Gary’s world into a beautiful piece of art.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Fifth graders will enjoy the classic children’s book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. spoiled orphan Mary Lennox is sent to live with her uncle at his mansion, which is full of hidden things, but she doesn’t like it. People from all over the world love this book because it shows the true meaning of the word “family.”
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
She meets Leslie after she beats him in a race at school. Leslie changes his world by teaching him how to be brave when things go wrong. They make their own kingdom, called Terabithia, which is an imaginary place where their adventures take place. After a heartbreaking tragedy, Jess has to be strong even though she can’t help but be broken.
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
When the human race was going to die out, the city of Ember was built as a last refuge. When the city was a lot darker two hundred years ago, the lamps that lit it were going out. A long time ago, Lina found a piece of a message. She thinks it has a secret that will save the city. This dystopian story is one of the best. It will warm your heart.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver, a classic by Lois Lowry, starts out as a utopian story, but it turns out to be a dystopian story in every sense of the word. Jonas lives in a world where memories, pain, and emotional depth aren’t important anymore because they aren’t important anymore. A Receiver of Memory is someone who gets to feel things that they haven’t felt before. As you read, you will, too!
Number The Stars by Lois Lowry
Is Lois Lowry back? Annemarie, a young girl, helps keep her Jewish friends safe during the Holocaust. Be ready to answer a lot of questions while you read this book. The story will make you feel like you are right in the middle of it.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Another great thing about this adventure story is that it shows how a person grows a lot.
A plane crash leaves Brian with nothing but the clothes on his back, a windbreaker, and the hatchet. He has to try to survive in the wild after that. Brian learns how to fish, how to build a fire, and most of all, how to be patient, which is the most important thing.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
People from Flint, Michigan, go on a road trip in this book set during the Civil Rights Movement. This book is full of family dynamics, adolescent angst, and humor. It will lead to a lot of talk about what Birmingham was like in 1963.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
This is a well-known diary that tells the story of Anne Frank and her family when the Nazis took over the Netherlands. There have been more than 60 translations of the diary since it was first published in 2009. It’s a great story for kids and adults to read and talk about together.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
They will never forget the love and adventure in this story. Billy, who is 10 years old, raises hunting dogs in the Ozarks. Throughout the story, Billy has to deal with a lot of heartbreak.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
It’s a lovely story that tells two heartwarming, compelling stories. By the time Salamanca Tree Hiddle is 13, her grandparents have taken her across the country for a vacation. They show her how much love and loss there is in people’s hearts, and how complicated and deep they are.