Books for grade 5. This list of recommended reading books for grade 5 has been curated and compiled by teachers and librarians to appeal to elementary school children in the 5th grade, aged 10-11. There is a range of exciting and thought-provoking books to suit all abilities, including easy readers and more advanced texts. This list of 5th grade reading recommendations contains titles by Erin Entrada Kelly, Jason Reynolds, Kate Messner, James Patterson, Madeleine L’Engle, Tod Olson, Christine Day, R.J Palacio, E.B. White, and more.
Books for Grade 5 – our recommendations
We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly
Siblings Cash, Fitch, and Bird navigate the challenges of family turmoil, school and life in the midst of waiting for the exciting upcoming ‘teacher in space’ shuttle launch. Set against the backdrop of the Challenger disaster in 1986, this award-winning middle-grade novel explores themes of family, identity, and never giving up on your dreams. A memorable read.
Historical fiction | Science
Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White
The Sinister-Winterbottom twins, Theo and Alexander, and their elder sister, Wil, spend the summer at Fathoms of Fun Waterpark in this creepy middle-grade horror. Strange things happen, park officials vanish, and the twins are plunged into danger. Will they solve the clues and unravel the mystery? It’s ideal for pupils who enjoy “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
Horror | Mystery
Stamped (for Kids) by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
Through engaging storytelling, Stamped (for Kids) encourages young readers to talk about racism, social justice, and equality. It explores the history of racism and antiracism in the United States with clear arguments and examples, making complex concepts accessible for 5th graders. Ideal for book clubs.
I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day
A middle-grade story of self-discovery. Edie finds a box in the attic – full of letters – and a photo of a woman that looks like her. But her mother, who was adopted, refuses to explain further. So begins a quest to find the truth, full of difficult moments, tragedy and revelations. An important book that provides a good starting point to discuss the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act.
Historical | Diverse
The Red Tree by Shaun Tan
Filled with beautiful and evocative images, and sparing yet moving text, this picture book captures the sense of hopelessness and despair that children can sometimes feel. After walking through dark and disturbing landscapes, a beacon of hope appears in the shape of a red leaf. When dawn breaks, a red tree is revealed as a symbol of hope and renewal.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
When a mysterious stranger arrives at the Wallace household, Meg and Charles’ world is changed forever and they set out on a quest to find their missing father. A great science fiction mystery story.
Science fiction | Classic
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
A fascinating story told from the point of view of Ivan, a captive gorilla. One day, after years in a cave, Ivan sees life differently when a baby Elephant arrives at the zoo. A great story about friendship.
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Magee is an orphan child who lives with his aunt and uncle. One day he decides to run away and start on a series of heroic and unexpected achievements which change his life and his town forever.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
The classic story of Pippi, who has wild hair and an even wilder, sassy outlook on life, getting up to all sorts of mischiefs. A very funny book and ideal for reluctant readers.
Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
A stunning set of stories about the orphaned Baudelaire children and the increasingly dark situations they manage to scrape through, including avoiding the money-grabbing clutches of the evil Count Olaf.
Adventure | Mystery
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
An inventive and slightly scary graphic novel about a young girl looking for new adventures who gets caught up in a strange situation that requires all her courage to escape from.
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
A modern classic about little people who live unnoticed in the walls and under the floors in a country house. Charming, this book is a great read full of twists and turns.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The original and timeless pirate adventure story, full of cliffhangers and plot turns. A thrilling read from start to finish and full of unforgettable characters.
Adventure | Classic
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
A classic fantasy and allegory story, written at the turn of the 20th century. The timeless story of Dorothy, The Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Toto, The Wizard and the Wicked Witch of the West will still resonate with middle-grade children. There’s also a series of lesser-known sequels.
Classic | Fantasy
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
When Jess and Leslie become friends through a shared love of track running, they spend time creating an imaginary world – Terabithia. But when Leslie goes there without Jess, something terrible happens and life will never be the same. A modern classic.
Wonder by RJ Palacio
A touching and thought-provoking story about Auggie, who wants to be like everyone else but struggles with how the other fifth graders react to his unique face. A great book to help children empathize with differences and understand the importance of inclusion.
Descendants series by Melissa de la Cruz
This gripping and imaginative spinoff from the Disney movies Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent is set in the world of Maleficent. High fantasy adventure and strong characters dominate this series which is great for reluctant readers who can watch the films first.
Fantasy | Adventure
Narnia series by CS Lewis
C.S. Lewis’ classic series of children’s fantasy books – best known for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – has captivated young readers for generations. Fantasy, good vs evil, and adventure underpin these parallel world adventures where the lead characters are middle-grade children. This is an ideal 5th grade reading book series for the classroom.
Fantasy | Classic
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
This beautifully written novel flits between two characters and time periods – Nya, a girl in 2008 and Salva, a boy in 1985. Both live in Sudan, searching for their families and safety from war.
Historical | Diverse
The Tapper Twins by Geoff Rodkey
Set in the modern digital world, the Tapper Twins Claudia and Reese are always looking to prank each other in school and online. A very funny and easy-to-read graphic/illustrated novel but also thought-provoking.
The Water and the Wild by KE Ormsbee
Elliot is ill and gets more and more sick by the day. Lottie doesn’t know what to do until she discovers a route to another world through the roots of an old apple tree. Although there’s plenty of danger, she hopes to find a magic cure.
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
A must-read modern classic for middle-grade children. Omri was hoping for a little more than a cheap plastic toy for his birthday. But through unexpected and old magic, the toy is turned into a real person. Can Omri keep him secret?
Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern
Benny isn’t enjoying school. He doesn’t have a friend, isn’t good at bike tricks and blames himself for things that have gone wrong at home. When he thinks things can’t get any worse, he slowly realizes his caring nature is all that he needs to survive. A great book to inspire resilience.
Lost in the Pacific by Tod Olson
A gripping survival story set in WW2. When as USAF bomber runs out of fuel over the Pacific Ocean, a great war hero on a top-secret mission is in great danger. The only option is to ditch in the sea. Can the crew survive? This is a great 5th grade reading book for reluctant readers.
Historical | Adventure
The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin by Elinor Teele
John Coggin runs away from home with sister Page to avoid a life in the family coffin-making business. But soon they find themselves in great danger. Darkly humorous, with strange and colorful characters. Ideal for grade 5 readers interested in science and making things.
Humor | STEM
Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
When Mary’s family move from the city to a farmhouse in the country, her life changes completely, and she is drawn into a simpler, kinder world full of adventure and awe. Full of happiness, this book is ideal for children interested in the outdoors and wild places.
Treasure Hunters by James Patterson
Fast-paced, with short chapters and gripping plots, this series of adventures is ideal for reluctant readers in grade 5. Think Clive Cussler style page-turners for ten year olds in grade 5.
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
A unique series of books about a skeleton private investigator with an attitude who solves mysteries and fights crime. Edgy, but fun and easy to read. A gripping series for grade 5 readers.
Horror | Mystery
The What on Earth Timeline Collection by Christopher Lloyd
These visually stunning and huge foldout books can either be used as wall charts or room-length friezes. They are full of facts and illustrations that children can walk around to read. Quite unique, the books cover history, nature and science topics in vast detail. This is an ideal 5th grade reading book for the classroom.
Stuart Little by EB White
Stuart Little is a mouse who has lived with his family in New York his entire life. But when his best friend Margalo disappears, he ventures outside to search. By the author of Charlotte’s Web. Perfect to read aloud in grade 5.
Classic | Animal story
Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry
Set in the Pacific islands of Polynesia, Maftu – the son of a great chief – is afraid of the ocean. When a storm comes, he is determined to show everyone his courage. Inspiring and timeless. A great 5th grade class reader.
Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup
Adela is a princess who would rather be a gardener than part of the royal family. When she visits the enigmatic Lady Hortensia’s spectacular garden, she realizes there’s something very strange about her plants – which flower even in fall and winter. An atmospheric and interesting novel.
Middle grade novel
Half Upon a Time by James Riley
Jack, the son of Jack and the Beanstalk Jack, meets Princess May from the land of punk in his journey to fix his family’s bean-thieving reputation. A very funny and interesting fantasy world take on the classic children’s folk tale.
Fantasy | Fairy tale
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Annabel cannot bear her mother, sister and brother; chores and being told off. Longing to be an adult, one day she wakes up as her mother! But her dreams of watching TV all the time and eating whatever she likes don’t quite work out as planned.
Humor | Middle grade novel
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
Charlie wishes she could catch a fish so big it would pay for an amazing dress for the next dance competition. But when she hooks a magical speaking fish that can grant wishes, things don’t go to plan at all in this hilariously funny family story of resilience and independence. A great story for grade 5 book clubs.
Fantasy | Humor
The Green Ember by SD Smith
Rabitts Heather and Picket live in a world of power struggles, good vs evil, dynasties, treachery, and revenge in this clever combination of aminals, fantasy and quest. An ideal 5th grade reading book for children who like animals.
Animal story | Fantasy
Almost Home by Joan Bauer
Sugar’s life is turned upside-down by the death of her grandfather and her father’s gambling. But when a new family and rescue dog Shush comes into her world, Sugar finds new and inspiring ways to survive. A heart-warming and fulfilling read.
Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer
A stunning nonfiction guide to lesser-known wonders of the world. Stunning and vibrant illustrations make this bound to appeal to more reluctant readers. A great addition to every 5th grade library.
Narrative non fiction
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Harry Potter is an ideal series to hook a middle grade child on reading. Easy to read and fast paced, these gripping fantasy wizard school adventures develop in plot complexity and characterization throughout the seven books.
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