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Daniel Boone Regional Library

Books Every Fifth Grader Should Know

what books are 5th graders reading

what books are 5th graders reading

Fifth grade is a critical point in a student's academic career, as they read more complex texts and dive into advanced topics. A robust classroom library with a variety of books — from classic fiction reads  to comical graphic novels  — will provide students with the necessary support for reading success. Get started by refreshing your shelves with the must-have books in the list below!

For instance, historical fiction books are a great way to dive into a time period and learn social-emotional lessons from the characters’ journey. Based on a true story, Riding Freedom is about Charlotte Parkhurst breaking societal norms in the mid-1800s by pursuing a career in horse riding. What’s more, she was the first woman to vote in the state of California! Young readers will expand upon their reading comprehension skills and feel inspired after reading this novel. 

For students who enjoy vivid imagery and humorous books, Smile is a hilarious and relatable story about Raina and her mishaps during middle school. From friend trouble to getting braces, Raina is overwhelmed with what life has thrown at her. Students will be eager to find out how she overcomes these relatable challenges!

Shop more fifth grade books and series to encourage readers below. You can find all books and activities at The Teacher Store .

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40 Page-Turning 5th Grade Books Kids Love To Read

Must-reads for your tweens.

5th Grade Books

Have a group of reluctant readers? Not sure which fifth grade books to recommend? Fifth graders can be tricky to please as they’re slowly moving away from their elementary school selves and beginning to see the world in a more mature way. They’re capable of understanding and questioning texts differently than in the past. We’ve compiled a list of books that will keep your fifth grade readers engaged and chatting with one another about the lessons, questions, predictions, and thoughts they have while they read. Check out this list of favorite fifth grade books to start creating a room full of great readers!

(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)

1. Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Book cover of Smile as an example of 5th grade books

When Raina trips and falls and injures her two front teeth, she’s forced to have surgery and wear braces, making sixth grade even wilder than it already was. This graphic novel, based on Telgemeier’s life, has everything from boy problems to a major earthquake.

Buy it: Smile at Amazon

2. Holes by Louis Sachar

Book cover of Holes

Moving and funny with an edge, Louis Sachar’s Newbery Medal–winning novel Holes revolves around Stanley Yelnats (his surname is Stanley spelled backwards), who has been sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention center, to dig holes. Soon after picking up the shovel, Stanley begins to suspect that they are doing more than just moving dirt.

Buy it: Holes at Amazon

3. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Book cover of Esperanza Rising, as an example of 5th grade books

This is historical fiction at its finest. It’s the story of Esperanza, a wealthy girl living in Mexico, who must go with her family to the United States during the Great Depression. Esperanza’s life gets turned upside down, but she pushes through and learns that pleasant surprises can result from change.

Buy it: Esperanza Rising at Amazon

4. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Book cover of Wonder as an example of 5th grade books

The hero of Wonde r is Auggie Pullman, who has an extremely rare medical facial deformity. After having undergone many facial surgeries, Auggie has been homeschooled by his mother, but soon he will be attending mainstream school for the first time. This lovely story of acceptance will have every preteen rooting for Auggie the “wonder.”

Buy it: Wonder at Amazon

5. Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

Book cover of Freak the Mighty as an example of 5th grade books

”I never had a brain until Freak came along and let me borrow his for a while.” Freak the Mighty is the tale of 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!

Buy it: Freak the Mighty at Amazon

6. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Book cover of Out of My Mind as an example of 5th grade books

Words always swirl around in Melody’s head. But due to her cerebral palsy, they remain stuck in her brain. Out of My Mind is the powerful story of an intelligent young girl with a photographic memory who cannot communicate her thoughts. No one believes Melody is capable of learning, but she eventually finds her voice.

Buy it: Out of My Mind at Amazon

7. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Book cover of Al Capone Does My Shirts

Moose Flanagan isn’t growing up where most kids grow up. He is a resident of The Rock, also known as Alcatraz, the infamous prison where his father works as an electrician. In an effort to help his sister Natalie, who has autism, Moose gets help from an unlikely—and notorious—new friend.

Buy it: Al Capone Does My Shirts at Amazon

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

Book cover of I Am Malala

Want to add memoirs to your collection of fifth grade books? The inspiring story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teen who was shot by the Taliban and subsequently became an international symbol of peaceful protest, is a must. Every preteen should hear the wisdom in the words “When you’ve nearly lost your life, a funny face in the mirror is simply proof that you are still here on this earth.”

Buy it: I Am Malala at Amazon

9. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Book cover of Maniac Magee

Jerry Spinelli’s classic Maniac Magee follows an orphan boy looking for a home in a fictional town in Pennsylvania. For his feats of athleticism and fearlessness and his ignorance to the racial boundaries around him, Jeffrey “Maniac” Magee becomes something of a local legend. This timeless book is essential reading for learning about social identity and finding your place in the world. If your students haven’t yet read this classic, it’s time to add it to your collection of fifth grade books.

Buy it: Maniac Magee at Amazon

10. Baseball in April and Other Stories by Gary Soto

Book cove of Baseball in April and Other Stories

Gary Soto uses experiences from his own life as a Mexican American growing up in California as the inspiration for 11 stellar short stories, each describing small moments that showcase bigger themes. Crooked teeth, girls with ponytails, embarrassing relatives, and karate class all are wonderful fabric for Soto to weave the beautiful tapestry that is young Gary’s world.

Buy it: Baseball in April and Other Stories at Amazon

11. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Book cover of The Secret Garden

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 .

Buy it: The Secret Garden at Amazon

12. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Book cover of Bridge to Terabithia

Looking for more classic fifth grade books for students to read? In this story, Jess meets the smart and talented Leslie after she beats him in a race at school. Leslie transforms his world, teaching him how to have courage in the face of adversity. They create a kingdom for themselves called Terabithia, an imaginary refuge where their adventures take place. In the end, Jess has to overcome heartbreaking tragedy in order to stay strong.

Buy it: Bridge to Terabithia at Amazon

13. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Book cover of The City of Ember

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the lamps that light the city are beginning to die out. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. This classic dystopian tale will light up your heart.

Buy it: The City of Ember at Amazon

14. The Giver by Lois Lowry

Book cover of The Giver

Lois Lowry’s classic The Giver 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. And as you read, so will you!

Buy it: The Giver at Amazon

15. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Book cover of Number the Stars

Lois Lowry does it again! Be prepared to answer lots of questions while reading this classic must-read about Annemarie, a young girl who helps keep her Jewish friends safe during the Holocaust. The details are so precise, you will feel as if you are right in the middle of the story.

Buy it: Number the Stars at Amazon

16. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Book cover of Hatchet

This adventure tale is another classic for your list of fifth grade books. It’s also a great example of huge character growth. Brian must try to survive the wilderness after a plane crash, but he has only the clothes on his back, a windbreaker, and the titular hatchet. Brian learns how to fish, how to build a fire, and most importantly, patience.

Buy it: Hatchet at Amazon

17. The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis

Book cover of The Watsons Go To Birmingham

History unfolds in this book set during the Civil Rights Movement when the Watsons, a family from Flint, Michigan, take a road trip to Alabama. Chock-full of family dynamics, adolescent angst, and humor, this book will encourage much discussion about what Birmingham was like in 1963.

Buy it: The Watsons Go to Birmingham at Amazon

18. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Book cover of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

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 to read and discuss together.

Buy it: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl at Amazon

19. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Book cover of Where the Red Fern Grows

Here’s another title that tops lists of classic fifth grade books. This story is an exciting tale of love and adventure that your fifth grader will never forget. Ten-year-old Billy raises hunting dogs in the Ozark Mountains. Throughout the story, young Billy encounters his share of heartbreak.

Buy it: Where the Red Fern Grows at Amazon

20. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Book cover of Walk Two Moons

Two heartwarming, compelling stories are woven together in this delightful tale. As 13-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle takes a cross-country trip with her grandparents, a story of love, loss, and the depth and complexity of human emotion is revealed.

Buy it: Walk Two Moons at Amazon

21. Restart by Gordon Korman

Book cover of Restart

Restart is the story of a boy whose messy past gets a second chance in middle school. After falling off a roof and losing his memory, Chase must live life again and relearn who he was before the accident. But does he want to return to that boy? Not only does he ask who he was , now the question is who he wants to be.

Buy it: Restart at Amazon

22. Wish by Barbara O’Connor

Book cover of Wish

If you’re looking for fifth grade books for animal lovers, check out this title. Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese spends her time making lists of her wishes. Not sure if they will ever come true, Charlie meets Wishbone, a stray dog who captures her heart. Charlie surprises herself in learning that sometimes the things we wish for may not be the things we actually need.

Buy it: Wish at Amazon

23. Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Book cover of Fish in a Tree as an example of 5th grade books

Ally is able to fool everyone in each of her new schools into thinking she can read. But her newest teacher, Mr. Daniels, sees right through her. Mr. Daniels 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.

Buy it: Fish in a Tree at Amazon

24. Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Book cover of Home of the Brave, as an example of 5th grade books

This is a story about courage and challenges as Kek comes from Africa to the United States, where he has very little family. 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.

Buy it: Home of the Brave at Amazon

25. The Journey That Saved Curious George by Louise Borden

Book cover of The Journey that Saved Curious George, as an example of 5th grade books

Fifth grade students might be too old to read Curious George picture books, but this nonfiction book about its authors is perfect for an older audience. In 1940, Hans and Margret Rey fled their Paris home as the German army advanced during World War II. This began their journey to safety all while carrying children’s book manuscripts among their few possessions. Read and learn about this amazing story that brought the beloved Curious George to the world, with original photos!

Buy it: The Journey That Saved Curious George at Amazon

26. Rules by Cynthia Lord

Book cover of Rules, as an example of 5th grade books

Twelve year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Growing up in a home with a severely autistic brother makes things really difficult. Catherine is determined to teach her brother David the “rules of life” to prevent his embarrassing behaviors in public and make her life more “normal.” Everything changes during the summer when Catherine meets some new friends, and now she must ask herself: What is normal ?

Buy it: Rules at Amazon

27. Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

Book cover of Because of Mr. Terupt, as an example of 5th grade books

One fifth grade class is about to embark on a year like no other 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!

Buy it: Because of Mr. Terupt at Amazon

28. Mixed Up by Gordon Korman

Book cover of Mixed Up, as an example of 5th Grade Books

NY Times bestselling author Gordon Korman has done it again! Just released in 2023, Korman tells the story of two boys who are having strange flashbacks of memories that don’t seem to belong to them. At the same time, their own memories seem to be vanishing! What could possibly be happening?

Buy it: Mixed Up at Amazon

29. Posted by John David Anderson

Book Cover of Posted, as an example of 5th Grade Books.

Fifth grade is a year of growth for students. Many kids start to deal with social issues in the classroom, at recess, and on social media. This story addresses the realities most of these kids face: bullying, broken friendships, and failures of communication between kids.

Buy it: Posted at Amazon

30. Eleven by Tom Rogers

Book Cover of Eleven, as an example of 5th Grade Books.

If you are looking to learn and read about the lessons of 9/11 with your students, you must check this out. Alex Douglas’ birthday is September 11. Little does he know that turning 11 on this day will be such a big deal. Never would he have imagined so much could happen on one day. Read how Alex Douglas, the boy who always wanted to be a hero, learns an unexpected lesson.

Buy it: Eleven at Amazon

31. Odder by Katherine Applegate

Book Cover of Odder, as an example of 5th Grade Books.

Looking for new Katherine Applegate titles (The One and Only Ivan , Crenshaw ) to add to your collection of fifth grade books? Released in 2022, this book quickly became a NY Times bestseller. This is the story of a fearless sea otter who spends her days twirling and spinning underwater off the coast of central California. When she suddenly comes to face to face with a great white shark, she must challenge everything she believes about herself and the humans trying to save her. Inspired by the true story of a Monterey Bay Aquarium program that pairs orphaned otter pups with surrogate mothers.

Buy it: Odder at Amazon

32. The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

Book Cover of The Fourteenth Goldfish, as an example of 5th Grade Books.

Looking for something a bit more science- or STEM-related? Ellie is an 11-year-old who doesn’t like change. She misses her best friend, fifth grade, and even her last goldfish. One day, an odd boy shows up who reminds her of her grandpa Melvin, a quirky scientist. This book delves into the wonder of science and explores questions about life and death, family and friendship, and possibility.

Buy it: The Fourteenth Goldfish at Amazon

33. Best Nerds Forever by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Book Cover of Best Nerds Forever, as an example of 5th Grade Books.

One minute Finn is biking home from school and the next minute he is run off the road by a maniac in a big van. Now, Finn is a ghost and is enjoying doing lots of fun things that only ghosts can do. But he still has lots of questions: Who wanted him dead? Can he stop it from happening to others?

Buy it: Best Nerds Forever at Amazon

34. Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Book Cover of Shouting at the Rain, as an example of 5th Grade Books.

This is a beautiful story of learning to love the family you have. Delsie lives with her grandmother and lately wishes she could have a “regular family.” After her old friend abandons her, Delsie befriends Ronan, who has endured trouble of his own. This book is a story of their adventures, where they learn what it means to be broken versus whole, abandoned versus loved, and much more.

Buy it: Shouting at the Rain at Amazon

35. The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore

Book Cover of The Stars Beneath Our Feet, as an example of 5th Grade Books

Lolly Rachpaul and his mom are still mourning the death of his older brother in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then, Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything—bags and bags of LEGO bricks. When he is pressured to join a “crew” as his brother did, Lolly is faced with deciding what will be his safest choice. He falls back on his new gift to help him find an escape from the world he lives in.

Buy it: The Stars Beneath Our Feet at Amazon

36. The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry

Book Cover of The Worst Class Trip Ever, as an example of 5th Grade Books.

This is a hilarious adventure told in the voice of eighth grader Wyatt Palmer as he and his friends find themselves in huge trouble on their class trip to Washington, D.C. Not just trouble with their teachers, but from some mysterious men they meet on their flight. Hop on board as they try to stay out of danger and, oh … save the president of the United States!

Buy it: The Worst Class Trip Ever at Amazon

37. Linked by Gordon Korman

Book Cover of Linked, as an example of 5th Grade Books.

Link, Michael, and Dana live in a quiet town. One day, a swastika is found on the school property. Nobody can believe it. How could such a symbol of hate end up in their middle school? There are many suspects, and everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else. The students struggle to figure out a way to bring people together as opposed to dividing them even further.

Buy it: Linked at Amazon

38. Accidental Archaeologists: True Stories of Unexpected Discoveries by Sarah Albee

Book Cover of Accidental Archeologists, as an example of 5th grade books.

Science plus real-life mystery! Learn about incredible accidental finds that changed history. This book will take you on an adventure to find the most surprising discoveries made by ordinary people. You’ll find kings buried under parking lots, ancient skeletons, and a boy who found a bunch of old scrolls while searching for his lost goats!

Buy it: Accidental Archaeologists at Amazon

39. Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh

Book Cover of Girls Think of Everything, as an example of 5th Grade Books.

You wouldn’t believe how many everyday items and foods were invented by women! What inspired them? How did they turn their ideas into reality? This book will take you through women inventors young and old with the most gorgeous illustrations! This nonfiction title geared toward girls is a perfect addition to your collection of fifth grade books.

Buy it: Girls Think of Everything at Amazon

40. When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Book cover of When You Trap a Tiger, as an example of 5th grade books.

A magical tiger arrives in Lily’s life—straight from the Korean folktales Lily’s heard over and over. She begins to unravel a secret family history and learns her grandmother’s health depends on a deal she must make with the tigers of the past. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister, Lily must find a way to stand up to the tiger with courage.

Buy it: When You Trap a Tiger at Amazon

Love these fifth grade books? Check out our list of realistic fiction books that kids will love!

For more articles like this one, plus tips, tricks, and ideas for teachers, sign up for our free newsletters ., you might also like.

5th grade books feature

20 Chapter Books To Inspire Fifth Graders

A good book can be life-changing. Continue Reading

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what books are 5th graders reading

16 Fantastic Chapter Books for Fifth Graders

By jennifer garry.

Looking for the perfect book for your fifth grader? You’ve come to the right place!

Fifth grade sits on the cusp of so many things: it marks the end of elementary school and the beginning of middle school. It’s an in-between zone, right in the middle of being a little kid and teen. And it’s a time when kids should just be kids — and dip their toes into deeper waters, too.

These 16 books include something for everyone: mystery, humor, sports, the intersection of thoughts and feelings, and so much more.

Black Boy Joy

Black Boy Joy

edited by Kwame Mbalia

Seventeen Black male and non-binary writers share their stories of Black boyhood in this essential anthology. Authors like Jason Reynolds, Jerry Craft, and Kwame Mbalia share celebratory stories, comics, poems, and more—making it a must-have for every type of reader.

Fast Pitch

by Nic Stone

As captain of the only all-Black softball team in the league, Shenice is determined to lead her team to the championship. She gets distracted when she learns her great-grandfather’s baseball career-ending crime might have been a setup. Determined to uncover the truth about her ancestor, her focus on the game slips. Can she clear her great-grandpa’s name and help take home the championship?

The Many Meanings of Meilan

The Many Meanings of Meilan

by Andrea Wang

After life-changes and encountering injustice Meilan discovers the power of embracing every part of herself. Before, her world revolved around her beloved gradnmother Nai Nai, the bakery in Boston's Chinatown that they run together, and her love for Chinese fairy tales. When Nai Nai passes away, the family falls apart, and Meilan, her parents, and her grandfather embark on a journey to find a new home. They end up in Redbud, Ohio, a town that couldn't be more different from Chinatown. Meilan struggles to fit in, and is even given a new name at school in this heart-felt story of self-acceptance.

Midnight at the Barclay Hotel

Midnight at the Barclay Hotel

by Fleur Bradley, illustrated by Xavier Bonet

A weekend away at a haunted hotel turns into a murder mystery when the guests learn of Mr. Barclay’s demise—and that they are all suspects. Three kids team up to figure out who the culprit is, uncovering secrets about the hotel and its guests along the way. This fun and fast-paced story is an excellent introduction to mystery novels.


by Lisa Fipps

This novel in verse is about Ellie, an 11-year-old girl who struggles with self-acceptance after years of fat-shaming. The criticism comes from everywhere: kids at school, her mom, and even strangers. As a result, she tries to fly under the radar and avoids attracting unwanted attention. With a new friend by her side and the support of a few caring adults, can she learn to accept herself?

The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story

The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story

by Charis Cotter

When Alice’s parents get divorced, her mom takes a job at Blackwood House as a live-in nurse to a wealthy older woman. After they move into the big, spooky house, things quickly turn strange. First, the housekeeper’s daughter tells her that her bedroom is haunted. Then, they find a dollhouse replica of Blackwood House filled with dolls that look like real girls. Soon, Alice becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of the girls in the dollhouse and what might have happened to them.

Maizy Chen's Last Chance

Maizy Chen's Last Chance

by Lisa Lee

Maizy is faced with unexpected change as she learns that Ohio will be her family's new home. The move is even more challenging as they are the only Asian Americans in their new town. At The Golden Palace, their family restaurant with generations of history, Maizy uncovers some surprising truths. However, with each discovery comes more questions, especially after a beloved family treasure goes missing and a racist note is left behind. Determined to find answers, Maizy embarks on a quest to uncover the truth.

Harbor Me

by Jacqueline Woodson

In this book by National Book Award-winner Jacqueline Woodson, a diverse group of kids meets weekly to talk in a safe, adult-free space. They start off discussing bullying incidents and end up tackling significant, timely issues like immigration, incarceration, race, and identity. This hope-filled book is a fantastic starting point for many essential discussions.

The Night Diary

The Night Diary

by Veera Hiranandani

Told through letters to the mother she lost as a baby, The Night Diary follows 12-year-old Nisha and her dad as they escape from Pakistan in 1947, after India’s partition. Half-Muslim and half-Hindu, home and identity become complicated concepts for Nisha almost overnight.

Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Merci Suárez Changes Gears

by Meg Medina

Merci and her brother are not like the other kids at Seaward Pines Academy. While their peers come from wealthy families, Merci and Roli are on scholarship. To complicate matters, Merci must put up with mean girls, boy problems, and friendship drama at school. At home, her grandfather’s behavior becomes erratic, and she knows that her family is keeping a secret from her. While touching on classic middle school issues, this book also tackles classism, family, and culture.

Flora and Ulysses

Flora and Ulysses

by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell

Flora and Ulysses is one of my all-time favorite middle grade books. Cynical, comic-loving Flora saves an unsuspecting squirrel from her neighbor’s vacuum — only for the critter to emerge with superpowers. Hilarious and heartfelt, it follows the two unlikely friends on an adventure with comic-style illustrations.

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree

by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Ally never learned to read, but she has always hidden it by causing disruptions in class — until Mr. Daniels sees through her antics and meets her where she’s at. As Ally pushes through her shame and past bullies, her confidence grows, and she realizes she’s more than her dyslexia. This book is an uplifting read—especially for kids who struggle in school.

The Cardboard Kingdom

The Cardboard Kingdom

by Chad Sell

No “best of” list for kids is complete without a graphic novel that can pull in reluctant readers. The Cardboard Kingdom is a classic tale about kids being kids. Sixteen children from one neighborhood use cardboard and their imaginations to create an entire world for themselves. Through their play, the kids explore their identities and touch on friendship, divorce, bullying, and so much more.


by R.J. Palacio

Not quite a decade old, Wonder is already a classic that led to a movie, a graphic novel, and the Choose Kind movement. The story revolves around Auggie, a fifth-grader with a facial difference starting mainstream school for the first time. Told from different points of view, it’s a story of friendship, courage, and kindness.

The Apothecary

The Apothecary

by Maile Meloy

After abruptly moving from sunny Los Angeles to London during the Cold War, Janie visits her local apothecary for a homesickness cure. The apothecary’s son, Benjamin (who dreams of being a spy) quickly becomes the most exciting thing in her new life. When his dad gets kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must protect a 700-year-old book from Russian spies, save the apothecary, and prevent a nuclear disaster.

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

by John Grisham

Theo Boone might be only 13, but he dreams of being a lawyer and even gives legal advice to kids at school. But when he gets involved in a murder trial, he must risk everything to expose the truth and deliver justice. The first in a series from John Grisham, this book will catch the attention of mystery lovers and aspiring lawyers alike.

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The Simple Homeschooler

37 Popular Books That 5th Graders Love To Read!

Popular Books For 5th Graders Pin

Looking for the very best and most popular books for fifth graders?

If you’re way over the graphic novels and you want your student to dig into some good books, then you’re in the right place!

I love putting together book lists to help teachers, parents, and homeschoolers find the next great book in their kid’s life.

Because as we adults know, books can be life-giving and even life-changing in these precipice years.

The below list of books is chock full of fantasy books, adventure books, survival stories, coming-of-age tales, and so much more that will bring even the reluctant readers running! 

Many are Newberry and/or national book award winners. I also carefully check each one to make sure it is appropriate for the grade levels it is suggested. Which is a harder job than you might think these days.

Stock your classroom library, start a book club, prepare your novel studies for the year, fill in your read aloud list, and get reading!

Ultimate List Of The Best Books for 5th Graders

1. inside out and back again.

Inside Out and Back Again

Book : Inside Out And Back Again

Author : Thanhhà Lai  

Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope—toward America.

2. Wingfeather Saga

The WingFeather Saga Book 1

Book : The Wingfeather Saga

Author : Andrew Peterson

After living for years under the occupation by the evil Fangs of Dang, the Igiby children find a map rumoured to lead to the lost Jewels of Anniera – the one thing the Fangs will do anything to find. The family is thrown headlong into a perilous adventure, uncovering truths about who they are that will change their world forever.

3. Where The Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows

Book : Where The Red Fern Grows

Author : Wilson Rawls

This classic story is still good, year after year.

Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own—Old Dan and Little Ann—he’s ecstatic. It doesn’t matter that times are tough; together they’ll roam the hills of the Ozarks. Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan’s brawn, Little Ann’s brains, and Billy’s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters—now friends—and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.


Book : Hoot

Author : Carl Hiaasen

Everybody loves Mother Paula’s pancakes. Everybody, that is, except the colony of cute but endangered owls that live on the building site of the new restaurant. Can the awkward new kid and his feral friend prank the pancake people out of town? Or is the owls’ fate cemented in pancake batter?

5. Skandar and the Unicorn Thief

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief

Book: Skandar And The Unicorn Thief

Author: A.F. Steadman

Skandar Smith has always yearned to leave the Mainland and escape to the secretive Island, where wild unicorns roam free. He’s spent years studying for his Hatchery exam, the annual test that selects a handful of Mainlander thirteen-year-olds to train to become unicorn riders. But on the day of Skandar’s exam, things go horribly wrong, and his hopes are shattered…until a mysterious figure knocks on his door at midnight, bearing a message: the Island is in peril and Skandar must answer its call.


Book : Holes

what books are 5th graders reading

Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnatses. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

7. Fish In A Tree

Fish in a Tree

Book : Fish In A Tree

Author : Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

what books are 5th graders reading

Book : Hatchet

Author : Gary Paulson

Breathtaking survival story that has become a classic book.

On his way to visit his recently divorced father in the Canadian mountains, thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is the only survivor in a single-engine plane crash. His body battered, his clothes in shreds, Brian must now stay alive in the boundless Canadian wilderness.

9. The Elephant’s Girl

The Elephant's Girl

Book : The Elephant’s Girl

Author : Celesta Rimington

An elephant never forgets, but Lexington Willow can’t remember her past. Swept away by a tornado as a toddler, she was dropped in a nearby Nebraska zoo, where an elephant named Nyah protected her from the storm. With no trace of her family, Lex grew up at the zoo with her foster father, Roger; her best friend, Fisher; and the wind whispering in her ear. Years later, Nyah sends the young girl a telepathic image of the woods outside the zoo. Soon, Lex is wrapped up in an adventure involving ghosts, lost treasure, and a puzzle that might be the key to finding her family. Can Lex summon the courage to discover who she really is–and why the tornado brought her here all those years ago?

10. Percy Jackson: The Lightning Theif

The Lightning Thief

Book : Person Jackson Series: (Book #1) The Lightning Theif

Author : Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse–Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, god of the sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends–one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena–Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

11. FableHaven


Book : Fablehaven

Author : Brandon Mull

This is one of the best book series on the market, according to my sixth grade daughter. Full of excitement, magical powers, and classic themes – your 5th graders will love it!

For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite… Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most.

12. The One And Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan: A Newbery Award Winner

Book : The One And Only Ivan

Author : Katherine Applegate 

Having spent 27 years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.

13. Redwall


Book : Redwall

Author : Brian Jacques

Welcome to Mossflower Wood, where the gentle mice have gathered to celebrate a year of peace and abundance. All is well…until a sinister shadow falls across the ancient stone abbey of Redwall. It is rumored that Cluny is coming—Cluny, the terrible one-eyed rat and his savage horde—Cluny, who has vowed to conquer Redwall Abbey! The only hope for the besieged mice lies in the lost sword of the legendary Martin the Warrior. And so begins the epic quest of a bumbling young apprentice—a courageous mouse who would rise up, fight back…and become a legend himself.

14. Maniac Mcgee

Maniac Magee

Book : Maniac Mcgee

Author : Jerry Spinelli

Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn’t made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run–and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats.

15. The Westing Game

what books are 5th graders reading

Book : The Westing Game

Author : Ellen Raskin

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

16. Shadow Jumper

Shadow Jumper

Book : Shadow Jumper

Author : J.M. Forster

Jack Phillips’s allergy to sunshine confines him to the shadows, leaving him lonely and at risk of life-threatening burns every time he steps into the light. Shadow jumping on the rooftops at dusk makes him feel alive. And free. But Jack’s condition is suddenly worse than ever and only his missing scientist dad can save him. As Jack and his new friend, Beth, begin their frantic search and delve into his dad’s past for clues, they have no idea what they are about to uncover. Shocking rumours and dark secrets bombard them at every turn. Jack is brave on the roofs. But can he find the courage to face the truth?

17. The Midnight Children

The Midnight Children

Book : The Midnight Children

Author : Dan Gemienhart

In the dead of night, a truck arrives in Slaughterville, a small town curiously named after its windowless slaughterhouse. Seven mysterious kids with suitcases step out of the vehicle and into an abandoned home on a dead-end street, looking over their shoulders to make sure they aren’t noticed. But Ravani Foster covertly witnesses their arrival from his bedroom window. Timid and lonely, Ravani is eager to learn everything he can about his new neighbors: What secrets are they hiding? And most mysterious of all…where are the adults? Yet amid this shadowy group of children, Ravani finds an unexpected friend in the warm and gutsy Virginia. But with this friendship comes secrets revealed―and danger. When Ravani learns of a threat to his new friends, he must fight to keep them safe, or lose the only person who has ever understood him.

18. Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Book : Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Author : Chris Grabenstein

When Kyle Keeley learns that the world’s world’s most famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, has designed the town’s new library and is having an invitation-only lock-in on opening night, Kyle is determined to be there! But the tricky part isn’t getting  into  the library—it’s getting  out.  Because when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must catch every clue and solve every puzzle to find the hidden escape route!

19. Half Upon A Time

Half Upon a Time

Book : Half Upon A Time

Author : James Riley 

Jack lives in a fantasy world. Really. He’s the son of the infamous Jack who stole the magic beans from the giant, and he’s working hard to restore his family’s reputation. He finds the perfect opportunity when a “princess” lands in front of him, apparently from the land of Punk, as her Punk Princess t-shirt implies. May is from our world, and she’s utterly confused to find herself in the midst of the fairy tale characters she has read about. But Jack and May have more in common than they realize–and together, they embark on a hilarious and wild adventure in this highly accessible, modern middle grade fantasy novel.

20. The Magic Theif

The Magic Thief

Book : The Magic Theif

Author : Sarah Prineas

In a city that runs on a dwindling supply of magic, a young boy is drawn into a life of wizardry and adventure. Conn should have dropped dead the day he picked Nevery’s pocket and touched the wizard’s locus magicalicus, a stone used to focus magic and work spells. But for some reason he did not. Nevery finds that interesting, and he takes Conn as his apprentice on the provision that the boy find a locus stone of his own. But Conn has little time to search for his stone between wizard lessons and helping Nevery discover who—or what—is stealing the city of Wellmet’s magic.

21. Frindle

what books are 5th graders reading

Book : Frindle

Author : Andrew Clements 

Is Nick Allen a troublemaker? He really just likes to liven things up at school — and he’s always had plenty of great ideas. When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he’s got the inspiration for his best plan ever…the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it a frindle? Things begin innocently enough as Nick gets his friends to use the new word. Then other people in town start saying frindle. Soon the school is in an uproar, and Nick has become a local hero. His teacher wants Nick to put an end to all this nonsense, but the funny thing is frindle doesn’t belong to Nick anymore. The new word is spreading across the country, and there’s nothing Nick can do to stop it.

22. Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising

Book : Esperanza Rising

Author : Pam Munoz Ryan

The story of Esperanza is a modern classic and already loved by many! Don’t miss it!

Esperanza thought she’d always live a privileged life on her family’s ranch in Mexico. She’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home filled with servants, and Mama, Papa, and Abuelita to care for her. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard work, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When Mama gets sick and a strike for better working conditions threatens to uproot their new life, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances-because Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.

23. Keeper Of The Lost Cities

Keeper of the Lost Cities

Book : Keeper Of The Lost Cities

Author : Shannon Messenger

This was the first book that really sucked in my oldest daughter. She has been obsessed with the series for years and even wanted to be the main character for Halloween! We are waiting on pins and needles for the next book to be released!

Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at least, that’s what she thinks…

24. Flora & Ulysses

Flora & Ulysses Illuminated Adventures

Book: Flora & Ulysses

Author: Kaite Dicamillo

Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo.

25. Peter Nimble And His Fantastic Eyes

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Book : Peter Nimble And His Fantastic Eyes

Author : Jonathan Auxier

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is the utterly beguiling tale of a ten-year-old blind orphan who has been schooled in a life of thievery. One fateful afternoon, he steals a box from a mysterious traveling haberdasher—a box that contains three pairs of magical eyes. When he tries the first pair, he is instantly transported to a hidden island where he is presented with a special quest: to travel to the dangerous Vanished Kingdom and rescue a people in need. Along with his loyal sidekick—a knight who has been turned into an unfortunate combination of horse and cat—and the magic eyes, he embarks on an unforgettable, swashbuckling adventure to discover his true destiny.

26. Forgotten Five

Map of Flames: The Forgotten Five

Book : Forgotten Five

Author : Lisa McMann

Fifteen years ago, eight supernatural criminals fled Estero City to make a new life in an isolated tropical hideout. Over time, seven of them disappeared without a trace, presumed captured or killed. And now, the remaining one has died.   Left behind to fend for themselves are the criminals’ five children, each with superpowers of their own: Birdie can communicate with animals. Brix has athletic abilities and can heal quickly. Tenner can swim like a fish and can see in the dark and hear from a distance. Seven’s skin camouflages to match whatever is around him. Cabot hasn’t shown signs of any unusual power—yet. Then one day Birdie finds a map among her father’s things that leads to a secret stash. There is also a note:  Go to Estero, find your mother, and give her the map.   The five have lived their entire lives in isolation. What would it mean to follow the map to a strange world full of things they’ve only heard about, like cell phones, cars, and electricity? A world where, thanks to their parents, being supernatural is a crime?

27. Turtle in Paradise

Turtle in Paradise

Book : Turtle In Paradise

Author : Jennifer L. Holm

In Jennifer L. Holm’s New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor winning middle grade historical fiction novel, life isn’t like the movies. But then again, 11-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She’s smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it’s 1935 and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle’s mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn’t like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida to live with relatives she’s never met. Florida’s like nothing Turtle’s ever seen before though. It’s hot and strange, full of rag tag boy cousins, family secrets, scams, and even buried pirate treasure! Before she knows what’s happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she’s spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Filled with adventure, humor and heart,  Turtle in Paradise is an instant classic both boys and girls with love.

28. The Unwanteds

The Unwanteds

Book : The Unwanteds

Author : Lisa McMan

A riveting middle grade dystopian novel from New York Times bestselling Wake author Lisa McMann that Kirkus Reviews calls ‘ The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.’

29. Winterborne Home For Vengeance And Valor

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor

Book : Winterborne Home for Vengeance And Valor

Author : Ally Carter 

April didn’t mean to start the fire. She wasn’t the one who broke the vase. April didn’t ask to go live in a big, creepy mansion with a bunch of orphans who just don’t understand that April isn’t like them. After all, April’s mother is coming back for her someday very soon. All April has to do is find the clues her mother left inside the massive mansion. But Winterborne House is hiding more than one secret, so April and her friends are going to have to work together to unravel the riddle of a missing heir, a creepy legend, and a mysterious key before the only home they’ve ever known is lost to them forever.


Book : Shiloh

Author: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

When Marty Preston comes across a young beagle in the hills behind his home, it’s love at first sight—and also big trouble. It turns out the dog, which Marty names Shiloh, belongs to Judd Travers, who drinks too much and has a gun—and abuses his dogs. So when Shiloh runs away from Judd to Marty, Marty just has to hide him and protect him from Judd. But Marty’s secret becomes too big for him to keep to himself, and it exposes his entire family to Judd’s anger. How far will Marty have to go to make Shiloh his? 

31. Turn The Tide

Turn the Tide

Book : Turn The Tide

Author : Elaine Dimopoulos

Twelve-year-old Mimi Laskaris is inspired by the Wijsen sisters of Bali to turn her focus from classical piano to a new obsession: forming a grassroots, kid-led movement to ban plastic bags in her new island home in Florida.

32. A Long Way From Chicago (Perfect Read-Aloud!)

A Long Way From Chicago

Book : A Long Way From Chicago

Author : Richard Peck

This quick read is full of short stories that will have your young readers laughing and asking for more!

Join Joey and his sister Mary Alice as they spend nine unforgettable summers with the worst influence imaginable-their grandmother!

33. Pages & Co. The Book Wanderers

Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers

Book : Pages & Co.: The Book Wanderers

Author : Anna James

Since her mother’s disappearance, eleven-year-old Tilly Pages has found comfort in the stories at Pages & Co., her grandparents’ bookshop. But when her favorite characters, Anne of Green Gables and Alice from Wonderland, start showing up at the shop,Tilly’s adventures become very real. Not only can she follow Anne and Alice into their books, she discovers she can bookwander into any story she chooses. Tilly’s new ability leads her to fun and exciting adventures, but danger may be lurking on the very next page…

34. Mango Delight

Mango Delight

Book : Mango Delight

Author : Fracaswell Hyman

When seventh-grader Mango Delight Fuller accidentally breaks her BFF Brooklyn’s new cell phone, her life falls apart. She loses her friends and her spot on the track team, and even costs her father his job as a chef. But Brooklyn’s planned revenge—sneakily signing up Mango to audition for the school musical—backfires when Mango not only wins the lead role, but becomes a YouTube sensation and attracts the attention of the school’s queen bee, Hailey Jo.

35. Number The Stars

Number the Stars

Book : Number The Stars

Author : Lois Lowry

An amazing true story about a girl helping her Jewish friends escape to safety.

The unforgettable Newbery Medal–winning novel from Lois Lowry. As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

36. Superfudge


Book : Superfudge

Author : Judy Blume

Farley Drexel Hatcher—otherwise known as Fudge—thinks he’s a superhero, but his older brother, Peter, knows Fudge is nothing but a big pain! Dealing with Fudge is hard enough, but now Peter’s parents have decided to move to New Jersey for an entire year! Even worse, Peter’s mom is going to have a new baby. And if this baby is anything like Fudge—help! How will Peter ever survive?

37. Wishtree


Book : Wishtree

Author : Katherine Applegate

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”―people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood. You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experience as a wishtree is more important than ever.

More Fifth-Grade Books!

More titles you might consider for your student include: The Secret Garden, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Where The Mountain Meets The Moon (amazing story!).

There is just so much out there for your middle school readers. I wish I could include every title, but this list would get out of control!

Please share in the comments your favorite 5th-grade books that didn’t make my list!

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Hey Donna

41 Great Books 5th Graders Will Love

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We have a very avid reader in our house. In this post, I’m sharing some of our favorite books for 10-year-old girls (and boys!) These are 5th-grade reading level books that our daughter has loved and would be great books to add to your child’s library.

As a member of affiliate programs, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

Finding great books for young readers can be tricky. Our daughter is an avid reader and writer. She has piles of earmarked books throughout the house, despite my best efforts to encourage her to read one book at a time. This year, she has read dozens of books and fallen in love with several of them.

Reading has not always been easy for her. She began as a reluctant reader and struggled until 2nd grade. I’ll always be so thankful for the teacher she had when we lived in Ireland, she was devoted to helping Claire become a more confident reader. So if you’re little one is struggling with reading, I want to encourage you that there is hope and before you know it, you too could have a bookworm in your house!

Find the Right Book for Your 5th Graders

  • Historical Fiction
  • Fairy tales
  • Non-Fiction books
  • Classic Novels
  • Science Fiction
  • Graphic Novels

Take a trip to your local library and let them pick out a few from these categories to see what they like. Reading aloud helps reluctant readers to get into a good book. We’ve had great luck with book series, once they get into the first book, they will have another book to jump right into. Don’t forget one of the best ways to find a great book for your child, ask your librarian for good book recommendations to find some different options.

Great Books for Fifth Graders

  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli 
  • Pax  by Sara Pennypacker,  
  • Esperanza Rising By Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • The Ruins of Gorlan: Ranger’s Apprentice Book 1 by John A. Flanagan
  • Mr. Lemoncello’s Library By Chris Grabenstein
  • Spaced Out by Stuart Gibbs
  • Harbor Me by  Jacqueline Woodson
  • Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis
  • The Stars Beneath our Feet by David Barclay Moore
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan 
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkin 
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • Big Nate Serie s by Lincoln Peirce
  • Any Judy Blume Book! (Be sure to review “Are you There God, it’s Me Margaret” – has some mature content)
  • Stuart Little by E.B. White

5th-Grade Classic Books Reading List

Below is a list of classic books that are appropriate for kids around 10 years old. These classic novels are a great place to start and an important part of literary history.

  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Roald Dahl books
  • Where the Red Fern Grows
  • Secret Garden
  • Wizard of Oz
  • The Swiss Family Robinson
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • The Twenty-One Balloons
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • The Hundred Dresses
  • Treasure Island
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Our Favorite 5th-Grade Reading Level Books

Our daughter loves fantasy books, as you can tell from this list. If you have struggling readers I encourage you to help them discover the right book to get them excited about reading. She is a bit of an advanced reader, so these books might be a bit above grade level.

As a member of Amazon and other affiliate programs, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

Story Thieves  by James Riley

Story Thieves follows the adventures of a young girl that travels into books to find someone special. Our daughter loved this story, it was full of great adventure and exciting moments. She can’t wait to read the rest of the books in this series!

– Buy Story Thieves Here – 

what books are 5th graders reading

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson

Claire thought the characters in this story were interesting and that the story was encouraging. The book has many funny parts but also tells a great story of good versus evil. 

–  Buy On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness Here –

what books are 5th graders reading

Half Upon a Time by James Riley

This was a great find and she loved the adventure! Half Upon a Time is the story of a boy being trained to be a knight (but not a very good one!) when suddenly a girl falls from the sky. This book is sure to make you laugh!

– Buy Half Upon a Time Here – 

what books are 5th graders reading

Harry Potter by J.K. Rawling

After a year of pleading, we finally let Claire read Harry Potter. Before she started I listened to the first book just to review it and make sure I knew the content and could talk with her about it. We may not be super conservative about book choices, but I have heard that the Harry Potter books can get dark (later in the series) so I wanted to be sure that I was reading along with her.

– Buy Harry Potter Book 1 Here –

what books are 5th graders reading

El Deafo by Cece Bell

This graphic novel introduces us to Cece Bell, who is deaf, as the main character, portrayed as a bunny. Cece struggles to embrace who she is and to fit in. Wearing a hearing aid, Cece is often treated differently or unkindly. She copes with her struggles by treating her hearing aid as a superpower, adopting the secret nickname “El Deafo.” Along her journey, she learns to open up to new friends and stand up for herself, eventually learning to embrace who she is.

– Buy El Deafo Here –

what books are 5th graders reading

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart

This book is about a 9-year-old orphan boy with lots of troubles. He has an unfortunate-looking nose, narcolepsy (he falls asleep constantly!), and many enemies. This book follows Nicholas in his adventures as he tries to find the mysterious treasure.   

– Buy The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict Here –

what books are 5th graders reading

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

A gripping mystery that takes us along a young girl’s search for the truth about her father, who she has never met. Imprisoned for a crime he says he did not commit, Zoe is determined to find the truth. She hides her investigation from the rest of her family who thinks she is focused on her bakery internship. Along the way she questions everything and does what she believes is right 

– Buy From the Desk of Zoe Washington Here –

what books are 5th graders reading

The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolken

Originally written in 1937, The Hobbit remains popular even today and is recognized as a classic in children’s literature. This book takes its reader on a quest that is both entertaining and intense with Bilbo Baggins to win a share of a guarded treasure. Along the way, your young reader is introduced to new creatures and places while the main character grows in maturity and wisdom.

– Buy The Hobbit Here –

what books are 5th graders reading

These are just a few of our favorite books! Are you surprised to hear that I just read Harry Potter for the first time this year? I think it’s easy to say we’re hooked!

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Differentiated Teaching

Differentiated Teaching

The 20 Best Books for 5th Graders

Looking for the best books for your 5th graders? From read-aloud to novel studies to independent reading, there are so many different options that it can leave you wondering, what books should a 5th grader read? Even if you're familiar with the typical 5th grader's reading level, it can be challenging to find quality novels that engage your students while supporting critical thinking about the text. That's why I've compiled this list of some of my favorite chapter books for 5th graders to help you begin to build a collection of great reads for your learners! Keep reading to check it out!

Best Books for 5th Graders

What you'll find on this page:

20 Amazing 5th Grade Books You Need to Get Now

Whether you grab a single copy for your classroom library or read aloud or buy a whole class set for a large group novel study, these 20 novels are fantastic for fifth grade students.

For each chapter book for 5th graders I am sharing below, I've included a short plot summary to help you determine whether it fits your classroom well. I also shared links to the trifold novel study pack to help save you prep time and ensure you cover those essential comprehension standards.

I've included various 5th grade books to help you meet the needs and interests of your below, on-level, and above-level readers. I know your fifth graders will love these great stories, and you'll be ready to rock your year with a great 5th grade book list!

1. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

I purposefully put this title first out of all the 5th grade books on this list because it is truly an AMAZING story. The kind that you just can't put down, and it is truly deserving of the awards it has received.

Embarking on a cross-country journey with her eccentric grandparents, 13-year-old Sal recounts the tale of her friend Phoebe's missing mother, all while 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. Through Creech's poetic prose, this story beautifully illustrates the complexities of love, loss, and the bridges between generations.

Reading Level:

  • Lexile: 770L
  • Guided Reading: W

2. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Emotions surge and hope remains unwavering in this captivating story. Every page immerses readers in the resilience and determination of a young boy named Bud.

During the harsh realities of the Great Depression, 10-year-old Bud Caldwell sets off on a journey after being orphaned. Carrying only a suitcase filled with mementos of his mother, he's on a quest to find his long-lost father, whom he believes is a famous jazz musician. Bud encounters a tapestry of characters along the way, 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.

  • Lexile: 950L
  • Guided Reading: U

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Bud, Not Buddy Novel Study

3. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=0547577095&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=thethiwhe 20 books for 5th graders,5th grade books,chapter books for 5th graders

Set in World War II, this historical 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.

When her best friend is left to live with her and must pretend to be Annemarie's dead sister, they face the most dangerous challenge of their lives.

As a companion to your social studies standards, this story brings the challenges and hardships children and families faced during the Nazi regime to life while giving students relatable characters and high-level vocabulary exposure.

If you are looking for an amazing historical fiction novel, you won't find any more engaging and thought-provoking than this one! It is a definite must-read.

  • Lexile: 670L

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Number the Stars Novel Study

4. Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Another novel focused on kindness and being your true self, Fish in a Tree is the story of a girl named Ally who has mastered the art of hiding her inability to read…that is, until her new teacher, Mr. Daniels, figures it out and helps Ally see that she doesn't need to be ashamed of having dyslexia.

It is a great novel for talking about learning differences and individual talents. With likable characters and situations that could be happening in your own school or classroom, Fish in a Tree is sure to be a winner with your fifth graders.

  • Lexile: 550L
  • Guided Reading: X

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Fish in a Tree Novel Study

5. Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

Freak the Mighty

When two boys who might otherwise be considered misfits team up, they become unstoppable.

The topics built into the plotline of this story include physical disabilities and learning disabilities, making it a great chapter book for 5th graders to start discussions about inclusion and kindness toward others.

A great book about the development of a friendship against the odds, there is lots of action and adventure in this great novel, but there is also some sadness at the end…so be prepared.

  • Lexile: 930L

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Freak the Mighty Novel Study

6. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

Old Yeller

Old Yeller is a classic novel set in the post-Civil War era. It is so popular that you probably already know the gist of the plot, but in case you don't, here are the (general) details.

After unsuccessfully trying to drive away the old golden retriever he found, Arliss ends up being saved by him. Despite the dog's naughty antics, this act of heroism endears him to the family and forms a bond between dog and owner. This act of heroism won't be Old Yeller's last.

With highs and lows throughout, this touching story is one that has held up over time. Strong writing and excellent characters make it a perfect novel study for your 5th grade class.

  • Lexile: 910L
  • Guided Reading: V

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Old Yeller Novel Study

7. Rules by Cynthia Lord


Another Newbery winner, this realistic fiction book is a great read and includes a cast of characters that could be the kid in the next seat over. The story focuses on Catherine, a twelve-year-old struggling with her brother's autism and her desire to have a “normal life.” As the story unfolds, Catherine realizes that normal isn't always what you think it is.

A great story for analyzing change across time, this story will connect with students on a number of levels and spark great discussions in your 5th grade classroom.

  • Guided Reading: R

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Rules Novel Study

8. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Where the Red Fern Grows

Get your tissues ready because you're likely to cry reading this one. (No, seriously, be sure the tissue boxes aren't empty if you assign it to students.)

A great book for those animal lovers in your classroom, this novel is the story of Billy and his two hunting companions. A classic story full of adventure, emotion, and heartbreak, this book is a must-read for every student.

While tears will likely be shed, there will also be great discussions that help build students' skills in literature analysis, including characters and their relationships, how the setting impacts the plot, and more.

  • Lexile: 700L

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Where the Red Fern Grows Novel Study

9. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Tuck Everlasting

Would you want to live forever?

This book makes students think about whether this is such a good thing as they read about the Tuck family as they explain their life challenges to a ten-year-old girl named Winnie Foster after she discovers their secret. However, when a stranger follows Winnie to locate the mystical spring that brings eternal life, they must face the challenges that arise.

This is such a great novel for discussion. With lots of amazing characterization and a plotline that pulls young readers in, your students will have so much fun discussing this story and deciding whether they want to live forever.

Learn more about the skills you can teach in a Tuck Everlasting Novel Study.

10. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Maniac Magee

For starters, Jerry Spinelli writes some great books for 5th graders…so it was tough to decide which to include in this list. However, Maniac Magee rose to the top because it digs deep into a number of themes that are engaging and important to talk about with students.

After becoming an orphan, Jeffery Magee becomes a local legend due to his athletic ability and fearless nature. Despite this he still faces numerous conflicts (both internal and external) within the small town of Two Mills. From bullies to racism, this story covers many deep topics that are just as top of mind today as they were in the story.

Full of rich detail and opportunities to think beyond the text, this is a great choice for your fifth grade readers.

  • Lexile: 820L

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Maniac Magee Novel Study

11. The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

The Sign of the Beaver

This is the story of an unlikely friendship and coming of age.

While his father is away, Matt must learn to coexist with nature in order to survive. With the help of the Beaver clan, he begins to adapt to his new life on the frontier, but he also realizes the challenges the tribe is facing from the new settlers and the changing environment they bring.

A Newbery winner, this book is engaging and captures the reader's imagination with lots of great vivid details. Students can really imagine themselves in Matt's shoes as he learns to survive.

  • Lexile: N/A
  • Guided Reading: T

Get the No Prep Novel Study: The Sign of the Beaver Novel Study

12. Holes by Louis Sachar


If you haven't read much Louis Sachar, prepare to laugh! He truly writes some funny children's books.

This particular story has won numerous awards and is the tale of Stanley, a boy who is sent to a juvenile correction facility called Camp Green Lake.

Full of irony (the camp is in the middle of the desert) and some interesting characters, this story captures readers early on and takes them on a wild ride as Stanley begins to wonder if the holes they are being forced to dig to “build character” are really a hunt for something else.

  • Lexile: 660L

Learn more about the No Prep Novel Study: Holes Novel Study

13. The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver

Another great science fiction story (and Newbery Medal winner), this is the story of Jonas.

While it seems his life is perfect, this all changes when he is given the job of Receiver of Memory. Soon he discovers that his colorless world is not the calm, peaceful place that he grew up knowing. Instead, he must consider whether this existence is really what is best for society and face the challenging decisions that lie ahead.

There are three companion books that go along with this great novel, and I guarantee your students will be hooked once they've read this story. With great plot twists and unexpected events, the discussions you can have about The Giver are truly limitless.

  • Lexile: 760L
  • Guided Reading: Y

Get the No Prep Novel Study: The Giver Novel Study

14. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising

Tragedy transforms Esperanza's life from one of great riches to one of hard labor in this historical fiction novel.

A young girl faced with the death of her father ends up having to overcome great challenges as she learns to survive without all the things she had become accustomed to (including incredibly low paying migrant work).

A great novel with a multicultural lens, Esperanza Rising is beautifully told with many great opportunities to explore sensory details and other aspects of writer's craft.

  • Lexile: 750L

Learn more about the No Prep Novel Study: Esperanza Rising Novel Study

15. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Bridge to Terabithia

A story of friendship and loss, this amazing novel is the story of a fifth grader (Jesse) who becomes friends with a girl from school after she beats him in a race.

Despite having very different life experiences, the pair is soon inseparable, and through the friendship, Jesse learns to be brave and manage his emotions.

The title comes from the kingdom they create for themselves in the woods, which they name Terabithia.

  • Lexile: 810L

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Bridge to Terabithia Novel Study

16. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

One of the most fun on my list of books for fifth graders, this story follows a group of children who win an essay contest held by the nation's most famous game maker. As winners, the group gets the chance to be the first to see their town's new state-of-the-art library and the ability to compete in a contest for even bigger and better prizes.

Unlike the rest of the winners, Kyle Keeley, a fun-loving kid with a competitive streak, gets in on a last-minute entry. Lucky for him, he's Lemoncello's biggest fan and the ultimate gamer.

EscapefromMr.Lemoncello sLibrary RebeccaD 1478 books for 5th graders,5th grade books,chapter books for 5th graders

The best part about this book is students get to play along with the characters as they try to solve the puzzles that will win Mr. Lemoncello's contest and let them escape from the library.

Full of drama, excitement, and adventure, this story is great for even reluctant readers.

  • Lexile: 720L

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library Novel Study

17. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Hearts resonate deeply with this poignant story by Katherine Applegate. As you flip through the pages, you'll find yourself looking at the world through the eyes of a unique gorilla named Ivan.

Living in a cage at a shopping mall, Ivan has accepted his lot in life with humans watching his every move. However, his perspective shifts when he befriends a baby elephant named Ruby, realizing they both deserve better. This tale traces Ivan's heartwarming journey, his use of art to communicate, and his determined hope to create a better future for Ruby and himself.

  • Lexile: 570L
  • Guided Reading: S

Get the No Prep Novel Study

18. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen


After surviving a plane crash in the rugged wilderness of Canada, Brian is in the fight of his life. This story is the ultimate in survival fiction as students follow Brian’s transformation from a scared, unsure boy to a strong, independent survivor. From making

From creating a fire to gathering food, Brian makes a lot of mistakes in his quest to survive, and Paulsen’s writing captures the imagination of readers, pulling them into Brian’s journey.

  • Below-level
  • Lexile: 1020L

Learn more about the novel study: Hatchet Novel Study

19. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=0689710682&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=thethiwhe 20 books for 5th graders,5th grade books,chapter books for 5th graders

A fantasy tale about a widowed mouse and her small children. In this story Mrs. Frisby is faced with a move…or certain death.

With a young son suffering from pneumonia and numerous other challenges, Mrs. Frisby lucks out when she encounters the rats of NIMH. These (as luck would have it) highly intelligent problem-solvers develop a brilliant answer to Mrs. Frisby's unfortunate situation.

A great read with lots of high-quality vocabulary!

  • Lexile: 790L

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH Novel Study

20. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief

Looking for some great fantasy books for 5th graders? Check out the Percy Jackson series.

This fantasy based on Greek mythology is a great novel that follows the story of Percy Jackson as he learns he is not just a typical 12-year-old boy. After discovering he is a demigod, Percy winds up on a quest to find Zeus' stolen lightning bolts.

Great for students who love the Harry Potter series, this book is just the first in a whole series.

With lots of action, excitement, and relatable characters, your students will be begging to read the rest of the series after they finish this one.

Learn more about the Novel Study: The Lightning Thief Novel Study

Now that you've got a 5th grade reading list…

While you're here, grab my free novel study planning roadmap to get step-by-step support to plan a high-quality literature unit for your fifth-grade students, whether you're in the classroom or homeschooling. Whether planning your first novel study or looking for new ideas, you'll love this great tool.

Have enough chapter books for 5th graders?

Need more great books to add to your classroom or home library? If you've got a broad range of reading levels or are trying to diversify your classroom library, here are some of my favorite books for other reading levels.

If you've already filled your book list for 5th grade, don't worry! I've got you covered. Check out the links below to access more great novels for other grade levels.

Books for 6th Graders

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what books are 5th graders reading


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