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46 Outstanding 5th Grade Reading Level Books That Are Lit

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Finding 5th grade reading level books that not only appeal to but challenge our kids can be difficult.

We try to get them fired up about reading and keep their interest level up. Despite what they tell us, often, the problem isn’t that they don’t want to read it’s the books that miss the mark.

“There’s no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books.”

― James Patterson

But with some trial and error, you can find something your reader will enjoy.

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How to help your fifth grader choose the right book

fifth grade reading level books girl picking book
Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

Why is your reader reluctant?

  • Is the book too hard?
  • Do they struggle with a learning disability or other reading skills?
  • Is it in the recommended reading list for their grade level but they’re an advanced reader and they’re simply bored?
  • The subject matter or genre isn’t one that excites them

Even still, is it the way our society is fast-paced, wants results right away from a screen?

I know my own kids have struggled with being interested in a book simply because they can “just watch the movie”.

They have the often made misconception that because the movie has such graphic depictions with sights and sounds the book will be somehow lacking.

As an avid reader my entire life this is soul-crushing.

They miss out on being transported to another place and time so immersive that all else is forgotten. You are there. One with the characters. It’s happening to you.

They will argue this happens with movies.

But only a true book lover will tell you, “well sort of but not quite”. As good as movies are it’s a kinda almost.

Especially if you have read both the books and seen the movie. Leaving most book lovers screaming at the screen and completely dissatisfied afterward.

There are exceptions of course. And movies do offer an important place in storytelling.

As they move from young readers in elementary school to read more mature themes they will see, perhaps for the first time, that the best books are the ones where they can identify with personally or recognize their middle school peers.

Perhaps not in location but in feelings and hardships that the main character encounters. Through these great reads, they can learn how to cope with or deal with their own problems.

Empathy and compassion can be developed when individuals realize what it’s like to be in the shoes of others.

How can you encourage your reluctant reader?

  • Follow their interests – biography of Jackie Robinson vs George Washington
  • Read just for fun – magazines count too!
  • Try audiobooks for a great way struggling readers to enjoy stories
  • Encourage trying completely different genre
  • Read aloud together – even older kids really enjoy it
  • Read the same book and have discussions like book club
  • Online apps for reading e-books with laptops, tablets or phones

Recommedations for Fifth Grade Reading Level Books

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Since by now, most of you know all about Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and of great popular middle school writers like Jerry Spinelli and Gary Paulson that make all the book lists.

So while I have listed a few books that appear on many other 5th grade reading level book lists I have also tried to include many that are not.

I have sorted them into types of books but some criss-cross into different categories so I have tried to list some stand-out attributes that make them a great book.

My teens are well beyond fifth grade now but, it’s still about finding the right book.

So I asked them to give me a list of their favorites to add to this post.

My Teenager’s Must-Reads for Fifth Grade Books

N’s Book Recommendation

  • Fantasy
  • Coming of age
  • Book 1 of 3
  • Award-winning
  • Movie

Q’s Favorite Fifth Grade Book

  • Historical Fiction
  • Strong female lead
  • Social injustice
  • Award-winning

R’s Top Pick for Chapter Book

  • #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • Award-winning
  • Movie

“A mediation on kindness”

R.J. Palacio – description of Wonder by the author

One more expert weighs in. My father taught middle school English for over 25 years.

He continues to teach at the college level for both reading and writing. As a teacher who still gets notes and kudos from former students and parents, I asked him his top recommendation for this grade level.

Professor Dad’s Favorite 5th Grade Reading Level Book Recommendation

  • Dystopian
  • Book 1 of 4
  • Advanced readers
  • Award-winning
  • Movie
stack of books with kid sitting on them
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Best Series Books for Fifth Graders

Percy Jackson & The Olympians

  • Fantasy
  • Mythology
  • 5 book series
  • New York Times Bestseller for over 600 weeks
  • Movie
  • Fantasy
  • Classic novel
  • 7 book series + Trivia book
  • Award-winning
  • Movie

Little House on the Prarie

  • Historical fiction
  • Classic
  • Coming of age
  • 9 book series

Humor Books For 5th Graders

  • Graphic Novel
  • Humor
  • Apocolyptic adventure
  • 1 of 7
  • Netflix series
  • Superhero fiction
  • Humor
  • Graphic novel
  • Book 1 of 15
  • Teacher’s Pick
  • Action/Suspense
  • Humor
  • Social Issues
  • Clean reading
  • Book 1 of 4

Graphic Novels for 5th Graders

photo of graphic novel
Photo by Miika Laaksonen on Unsplash
  • Fantasy
  • Strong female lead
  • Amazon Editor’s Pick
  • Historical Fiction
  • Holocaust
  • Strong female lead
  • Award-Winning
  • Biography
  • Humor
  • Coming of age
  • Award-winning

Fantasy 5th Grade Reading Level Books

photo of sparkles coming out of book
  • Strong female lead
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Amazon Editor’s Pick
  • Award-winning
  • Book 1 of 15
  • #1 New York Times Best Seller
  • Teacher’s Choice
  • Social Issues
  • Award-winning author

Science Fiction Books for 5th Grade Reading Level

Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash
  • Sci-fi / aliens
  • Mystery/suspense
  • Book 1 of 6
  • Award-winning
  • Sci-fi/fantasy
  • Mystery/Adventure
  • Humor
  • STEM
  • Award-winning
  • Dystopian fantasy
  • Book 1 of 4
  • Award-winning

Non-Fiction Books for 5th Graders

books piled into circular pattern with girl in center
Photo by Daniel on Unsplash
  • Reference
  • Nat Geo fun facts
  • Format great for reluctant readers
  • Picture book
  • Humor
  • History
  • Science
  • New York Times bestseller
  • Biography
  • STEM
  • Netflix film

General Fiction Books for 5th Grade Reading Level

outdoor lending library box
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
  • Animal lovers
  • New York Times bestseller
  • Award-winning author
  • Coming of age
  • Book 1 of 2
  • New York Times bestseller
  • Award-winning
  • Dog autobiography
  • Award-winning author
  • Scholastic Gold

Historical Fiction Books for 5th Graders

boy reading under covers with flashlight
Photo by Klim Sergeev on Unsplash
  • African History
  • Military Fiction
  • #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • Award-winning author
  • Historical fiction
  • Military Fiction
  • World War I
  • Scholastic Gold
  • Historical fiction
  • Strong female lead
  • Social justice
  • Teacher’s Pick

Mystery 5th Grade Reading Level Books

map with camera, glasses, journal, pencil, magnifying glass
Photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash
  • Adventure
  • Time travel
  • Adventure
  • Historical references
  • Recluctant readers
  • Book 1 of 10
  • Adventure
  • Reluctant reader
  • STEM
  • Book 1 of 5

Poem Books for Fifth Graders

book open to poem
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
  • Biography
  • Strong female lead
  • Social injustice
  • Award-winning
  • Coming of age
  • Book 1 of 2
  • Award-winning
  • Biography
  • Historical fiction
  • Vietnamese History
  • Strong female lead
  • Coming-of-Age
  • #1 New York Times Best Seller
  • Award-winning

5th Grade Reading Level Books on Social Justice

book trolley with the quote "think before you speak.  read before you think."
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash
  • Biography
  • Strong female lead
  • Women’s Right’s
  • Middle Eastern History
  • Award-winning
  • Nobel Peace Prize Author
  • Biographies
  • Diversity
  • Social Activism
  • Book 6 of 7
  • Biography
  • Civil Rights
  • Strong female lead
  • New York Times best seller
  • Award-winning

Fifth Grade Books with a Strong Female Lead

neon light with quote "well behaved women don't make history"
Photo by Shreshth Gupta on Unsplash
  • Strong female lead
  • Award-winning
  • Book 1 of 2
  • Historical fiction
  • Holocaust
  • Strong female lead
  • Award-winning
  • Classic
  • Strong female lead
  • Netflix Series
  • Book 1 of 8

Scary 5th Grade Reading Level Books

woman in library with books shushing
Photo by Roman Denisenko on Unsplash

His Dark Materials 

  • Fantasy/Sci-fi
  • Action-thriller
  • Book 1 of 3
  • Award-winning
  • HBO Original Series
  • Social science
  • Strong female lead
  • Award-winning
  • Short-stories collection
  • Movie

Classic Chapter Books for 5th Graders

stack of very old crumbly books
Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash
  • Classic
  • Action/Adventure
  • Pirates
  • Classic
  • Dog book
  • Award-winning
  • Fantasy
  • Book 1 of 5
  • Award-winning

I hope you and your fifth grader enjoy this selection of 5th grade reading level books.

Which ones have you tried? Did you enjoy them? Which ones do you recommend? Leave us a comment.

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