Our ultimate list of the best books for 5th graders keeps growing as fellow parents submit their own kids' favorites! It can be hard to find books that kids will want to read from start to finish, so we want to hear from you, the experts, about the books your 10 and 11-year-old fifth graders have loved.
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Keeper of the Lost Cities Series
Alexandra F.: There's a lot about this bestselling series that would appeal to anyone looking for more books like Harry Potter. Like our favorite boy wizard, the main character also suddenly discovers her place in a fantastical world that secretly co-exists with our non-magical one, and her subsequent adventures are filled with magic, danger and friendship, mostly starring teen protagonists with special powers. Our family started reading these as part of a family book club when our kids were nine and 11, and have been hooked ever since!
The Land of Stories Series
Dawn Denning: My son recently started reading this series and he LOVES it...and so do I. Written by Chris Colfer (Kurt Hummel from Glee), these are are good books for middle schoolers and older elementary school kids about the adventures of a set of twins that leave our world and travel into the world of fairytales. The fairytale worlds include Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Mother Goose and more! The stories are engaging, suspenseful and funny, so my son and I both look forward to reading time!
Harry Potter Series
Alexandra F.: Harry Potter is a personal favorite (which I first read in college!), so we introduced it when our kids were pretty young, in early elementary school. I love that it can be enjoyed (and read and reread) at all ages, though, so that my kids loved it as much in middle school as they did in third grade, and as much as I do as an adult.
This graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier has been read and re-read numerous times by my fifth grader. She loved the story of a family who has to move in order to help one of their children, who has cystic fibrosis. After the family's relocation, two sisters Catrina and Maya learn a secret about their new town...there are ghosts there!
Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity that leaves him looking a lot different than the other kids, and Wonder chronicles his first experience attending school.
A boy and his pet fox are separated due to war and experience new adventures while trying to be reunited.
The Mysterious Benedict Society Series
Children respond to an ad in the newspaper looking for extraordinary kids who enjoy tests and puzzles. The series has 4 great books for 5th graders, with each book following the children around as they take on a different mission and puzzle to solve, and the last book focused on the story of the namesake of the society.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Alexandra F.: One of my childhood favorites, and now my daughter's as well. Who hasn't been absolutely swept away by the story of young Charlie Bucket and his extraordinary adventures upon winning entry into Willy Wonka's mysterious and wonderful chocolate factory? In fact, you really can't go wrong with any of Roald Dahl's excellent stories.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series
Katie G.: My son LOVED this series! He is going around the house telling us all about Zeus, Poseidon, Athena and all the other Greek gods. I didn't think anything could top Harry Potter, but I think this one has.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Erin P.: There are thirteen books in this series about the Baudelaire orphans, starting (quite appropriately!) with The Bad Beginning. The series is engrossing, even though it is often described as scary, funny, sad, and weird.
A Wrinkle in Time
Alexandra F.: I had such fond memories of this book from my own childhood that I was thrilled when my daughter finally agreed to give it a try. It was an unmitigated success! She loved it, and was as captivated as I had been by this classic in children's fantasy, and the adventures of high school-aged Meg Murry and her little brother as they travel through space and time to rescue their father, who has been imprisoned on another planet.
Kelly R.: This story about eternal life was a quick 2 day read for my son in the summer after 6th grade, and he really enjoyed it.
Bridge to Terabithia
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series
If you have any elementary- or middle-school-aged kids, then you are certainly familiar with this series by Jeff Kinney. The books recount the hilarious stories of a boy trying to make his way through middle school, and transition often between writing and pictures to make them a fun and absorbing read even for those who may not otherwise be drawn to reading.
When You Reach Me
Tracy Snyder Molina: My 5th grade boy read this book in school and he loved it so much he wanted his own copy to read to me at home. It's a mystery about sixth-grader Miranda and her best friend Sal who live in New York City. One day Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason and Miranda starts receiving mysterious notes. Whoever is sending them seems to know a lot about Miranda and even things that haven't happened yet. She begins to believe only she can prevent a tragic death until the final message has her wondering if it is too late...
Serafina and the Black Cloak is the first in a series about a girl who lives in the basement of the Biltmore Estate with her grandfather, the maintenance man, in secret. Serafina and a friend go on quite the adventure to solve a mystery at the estate when children start disappearing. These are wonderful and entertaining books for 5th graders interested in mystery and magic!
The Zoo at the Edge of the World
Beth Wood: Adventurous story about a boy with a stutter who finds it difficult to communicate with others. Then he befriends an animal at his father's zoo and figures out he has a very special gift.
The Magic Misfits Series
Kelly R.: This fun series from Neil Patrick Harris showcases the adventures of a group of friends with unique abilities in magic. The writing is funny and suspenseful and the characters are diverse. The books are true page turners in our house! They're also peppered throughout with instructions for magic tricks that kids can learn at home.
Dork Diaries Series
Brittany Kozielski: The Dork Diaries series is written from the diary perspective of eighth grader Nikki Maxwell, and are funny, light and quick books for fifth graders.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
This Newbery Medal winner is all at once an animal adventure tale, a page turner, and a good introduction for kids to mystery reading. The book centers around the mouse Mrs. Frisby, who needs help from the rats of NIMH to save her son. This is a classic and still relevant for any child who loves a bit of fantasy.
Kristy Pepping: My 5th grade girl loved this book! The main character, Julia, is very short for her age. She is cast as a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz and befriends Olive, an adult who has dwarfism. It's a great book about building self-esteem and realizing that being different is not only good but makes you special.
Spy School Series
Danielle Tobin: Each year 5th graders read this series by Stuart Gibbs. Some 4th graders read it too.
The Trumpet of the Swan
This delightful story by E.B. White explores being different, overcoming adversity, and the power of music. Follow the tale of Louis, the swan that is unable to make sounds until his father steals him a trumpet and changes his future forever.
Alexandra F.: Alan Gratz masterfully tells three distinct stories, all taking place in different times and places, about three children trying to escape hardship and persecution in their home countries and seeking refuge elsewhere. A gripping and eye-opening read that offers a powerful glimpse into the timeless and timely issue of migration.
Ten Ways to Make My Sister Disappear
Beth Wood: This heartwarming story is about sisters and how they don't always see eye to eye. Especially when you're 10 and your older sister seems to have it all! Overcoming obstacles with the help of the person you think you dislike the most can seem unlikely, but feels surprisingly good when you do.
Kelly R.: Orphan Jeffrey Magee runs away from life with his difficult aunt and uncle, and finds himself homeless in a racially-divided town. "Maniac" Magee achieves legendary status for his athleticism and bravery, and his struggle to find out where he fits in will challenge kids to think about racism, homelessness and poverty.
Kelly R.: A funny and heartfelt middle school story from Gordon Korman. When a challenging class of misfits is paired with a burned-out teacher counting the days until retirement, they come through for each other in surprising ways.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Kelly R.: My kids loved this one in fourth and fifth grade. A famous game maker designs a town's new library and opening night is celebrated with an escape room-style challenge.
Sweet Valley Twins Series
Shila: This 1980s tween-life series about identical twin sisters - one popular and sassy, the other more reserved and thoughtful - is still a good read for kids today, albeit slightly outdated (i.e., no cell phones!). Each book is an easy and quick read, and the topics cover a variety of imaginative plots and social situations as rising middle school girls.
The School for Good and Evil
Asia Beltran: I recommend the School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani for 5th graders.
Freak the Mighty
Kelly R.: Two boys who are very different in both size and smarts form a friendship that brings out the best in both of them. This is a sad one, so keep that in mind if you have a sensitive child.
The Thief Lord
Kelly R.: My fifth grader loved this mysterious and magical story about two orphan brothers living in Venice. The boys run away from their aunt and fall in with a group of street kids led by "The Thief Lord," meeting with adventure, twists and turns along the way.
Shila: This a survival tale about a 12-year-old girl and her scuba diving crew lost at sea. Their dive boat has vanished, so how will they survive in the cold water? Will they meet a shark? 5th graders will be glued to this story, and the adventure quickly progresses page after page.
Counting by 7s
Kelly R.: A surprisingly uplifting middle grade book about a genius 12-year-old girl who loses her parents and learns to move forward and cope with grief. It's a well-written story with wonderful multicultural characters and would appeal to older kids, too.
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Amari and the Night Brothers
Kelly R.: Looking to explain her brother's mysterious disappearance, Amari's search brings her to a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, where she discovers that magical creatures really exist. The thrilling and fast-paced story is reminiscent of some of my 5th grader's other favorite fantasy books, while encouraging thought about bullying, privilege and racism. The diverse characters are relatable for all kids, and we'll be anxiously awaiting the rest of the series!
Surfside Girls Series
Kelly R.: This is a fun series of graphic novel mysteries that my daughter has been loving in the summer before 5th grade, a time when we usually need to coax her to pick up a book. The stories center around two California surfer girls who solve mysteries.
A Mango-Shaped Space
Tracy Snyder Molina: Mia Winchell has synesthesia, a blending of the senses where a person can see sounds, smell colors, taste shapes, etc. She's kept this a secret until one day she is forced to reveal her condition and must learn to accept her gift and herself. This is a great book for fifth graders who enjoyed Wonder.
The First Rule of Punk
The Blackthorn Key Series
Kelly R.: My 5th grader raced through the books in this series! These exciting and mysterious middle-grade chapter books follow a 17th-century apothecary's apprentice as he deciphers codes, puzzles and secrets to solve murders and conspiracies.
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Upparent collects community-submitted recommendations and reviews, and any ideas that are shared reflect the opinions of individual contributors.