10 Excellent Books for Fifth Grade Readers

I taught 5th grade for almost a decade. It was my favorite grade to teach because 10- and 11-year-olds are becoming abstract thinkers yet still are silly kids who love to play. With that in mind, what middle-grade books do 5th graders love to read?

Kids at this age love books with adventure, excitement, and realistic stories about significant issues and heroic main characters. These ten excellent books for 5th-grade readers meet those requirements and more. There’s something here for every fifth grader. Your reader only needs to decide which book to read first.

no no 9781426338106 Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit

Thrilled to be accepted into the Explorer Academy with other kids his age, 12-year-old Cruz leaves his home in Hawaii for school aboard a ship. But he quickly learns that someone is trying to kill him and stop him from learning the truth about his mother’s research and death.

9780385744263 Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny

When Charlie’s nightmares come to life, the monsters from his dreams kidnap his little brother. To save him, Charlie and his friends must travel into the nightmare world and face their worst fears. Along the way, they encounter an unexpected ally, villains, and plenty of bone-chilling thrills.

9781101935880 5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel, illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun

In this gorgeous graphic novel, the five worlds are dying. Oona Lee and her two friends must light the unlit beacons to stop the war and save the worlds. A dark force seeks to stop them at any cost, and a devastating betrayal changes everything. The friends must lean on each other and harness their powers to save the five worlds from utter destruction.

9780593121399 Isaiah Dunn is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist

Isaiah lives in a motel with his alcoholic mom and little sister. His only comfort is reading his deceased dad’s superhero stories and writing poetry. As Isaiah learns the power of words and the value of a good friend, he finds the courage to survive the many challenges of his daily life.

9780593465981 ChupaCarter by Jorge Lopez and Ryan Calejo, illustrated by Santy Gutiérrez

Twelve-year-old Jorge makes his first friend in New Mexico — a young chupacabra named Carter, who has been separated from his family. But when a tragedy puts Carter in jeopardy, Jorge and his school friends must sneak Carter out of town without the principal finding out.

9781368051477 Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

After a monster attacks him, 12-year-old Percy Jackson discovers he’s the son of a Greek god. His human mom sends him to Camp Half-Blood for safety, but he doesn’t stay there long. He embarks on a dangerous mission to recover Zeus’s missing lightning bolt with a side quest to rescue his mom from the Underworld.

9780399545443 Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

When ZJ’s dad stops playing football, ZJ notices his dad has more angry outbursts, severe headaches, and bouts of forgetfulness. As ZJ loses the dad he once knew, he clings to the memories of his dad before these changes — changes from too many concussions resulting in a brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

9780670016617 The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier, illustrated by Douglas Holgate

It’s a monster apocalypse! Foster kid Jack and his best friend Quint survive in Jack’s well-fortified treehouse with video games, candy, and homemade weapons. They battle zombies and monsters, including the worst monster of them all, Blarg. They also invite two more kids to live with them, Dirk and June. Strangely enough, Jack has a home and friends for the first time in his life, and it’s fun!

9780593112083 Max in the House of Spies by Adam Gidwitz

During World War II, Max’s Jewish parents send him to safety in England, but Max wants to return to his parents in Berlin. He convinces the British government to send him to Germany as a kid spy, but first, Max must pass their rigorous training. This is difficult enough, but Max must also contend with the grumpy (and hilarious) dybbuk and kobold who live on his shoulders, thwarting his every effort.

9780593462287 Mexikid by Pedro Martín

In this graphic novel memoir, Pedro and his large family travel from the United States to Mexico to bring his abuelo back to their home in the U.S. Their road trip is filled with family stories, humorous adventures, and reflection as Pedro considers his identity as a kid from both Mexican and American cultures.

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