My Favorite Books for 5th Graders

I am by no means the absolute expert on the best books for certain age groups, but now that I have spent a solid amount of time in each 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade as a reading and writing teacher, I definitely have my favorites for each group.

Even more so, this is probably one of the most asked questions I get on instagram, email, and TPT questions. Teachers always want to know the best books for their age group. 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I will not even once kind of even sort of mention reading levels. I don't subscribe to that kind of thinking, and since most of these are read aloud anyway, levels don't matter. That is a blog post for another day (and would honestly take pages of work for me to get through, because I have pretty strong feelings about that). 

When I say who these books are for, I am simply going on what grade levels I have read them with and we've enjoyed reading them together. 

These are my favorite books to read with fifth graders. Back then, when I loved a book, I would usually make an accompanying reading unit. I will link my affiliate links on Amazon for each book, and if I have a unit, I will link to that on TPT. 

When I taught fifth, I was always looking to teach all the genres, books that had movies to go with them, and just all around good books. 


This book is VERY surprising. A lot of people think it is simply about Al Capone, but really it has a historical fiction component about Alcatraz prison. More importantly the main character, Moose has an autistic older sister in a time where autism wasn't supported, and instead was hidden. 

It shouldn't be surprising that this is one of my favorite books to teach with 5th graders. So many people are hesitant to teach it. I promise you totally will be shocked how many kids have no idea about the books or the movies. Here's a blog post all about it. 

Here is another book that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that it's on my list of favorites. It is THE ONLY book that I have taught in all the grades I've taught (5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th). I think it's perfect for 6th or 7th, BUT if I was only a 5th grade teacher I would still teach it. It is probably my favorite book ever. 

This book honestly kind of fell in my lap. It went on sale on Scholastic so I bought a class set. I had recently read Swindle by Gordan Korman and loved his writing. My fifth graders LOVED it. It's funny, relatable, and has great themes, including recognizing that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. 

When I set out to teach all the standards through novels, I knew I needed a really good non-fiction novel. I think the Titanic is so fascinating, and so did my fifth graders. Hopkinson does such a good job with this book, and this is coming from someone who reads almost exclusively fiction. 

This is one of my top five most recommended books of all time. Any kid who has ever attempted to read this book devours it. It is a gut-wrenching story (based on a real story) of a young boy who survives ten concentration camps. I read it in hours the first time, and my fifth graders and I finished it in days, because they begged for more. 


I love SO MANY books, but Holes *might* be my number one favorite books for 5th grade. It's also my favorite book we read in my 6th grade books and movies class. The multiple story and plot lines are just so mind blowing to me every single time, and the kids love it too. 

I love this sweet story that teaches kids so much about our past, present, and future. I'll be honest and say I wasn't really paying attention when the climax hit, and I had to reread the book to get it's full effects the second time. I'm so glad I did. The Watsons set out on a trip like no other. They're heading south. They're going to Birmingam, Alabama, toward one of the darkest moments in American history.  


I know that not everybody reads this book with 5th graders, but one year I did do it with an advanced group of kids that we were really trying to enrich their reading experiences. I think this book works great in 6th and 7th graders too, but I love how there are so many deep and philosophical discussions we can have about the book, especially with fifth graders who can and should be thinking on a deeper level.


I think Number the Stars is another 5th grade must read. When I made these unit I don't think I registered that Lois Lowry wrote both The Giver and Number the Stars, but now I love how my students got to experience a dystopian and historical fiction text by the same author. I love how this book has a totally different perspective about World War II because it's subject matter is about the Danish Resistance. I think the epilogue is my favorite part, because it explains the brilliancy and bravery of the people of Denmark in getting thousands of Jews to safety. 


I made this resource when I really wanted my kids to be exposed to a different format. I had to read V for Vendetta in college and it was actually super difficult for me.  A lot of people think graphic novels or comics are easy to read, but they can be really difficult if kids are unfamiliar. This is a great first graphic novel to read with 5th graders, because it's an autobiography they can relate to. 


I will be completely honest and say that this book was hard for my class and I to get through because it was my first year of teaching and I was horrible about sticking to read aloud. I will be honest and say that I also don't LOVE the writing, but I think the message is truly beautiful and I know a lot of 5th grade teachers love this book. 

I'm not afraid to admit that when I like a book, then I create a reading unit for it. Below you can get all of these reading units in two different money saving bundles. 

Below is a link to another blog post about how I teach all the CCSS standards through novels. I don't treat them as novel studies, but rather they become my "anthology" for teaching all the standards. Click here or on the image below to be taken to the blog post. 

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