Finding books for 5th graders, and middle schoolers in general, 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 fifth-grade reader will enjoy.
This post contains affiliate links. I will earn a commission at no additional charge to you if you make a purchase using my links. Click here to see my full disclosure policy.
How to help your fifth grader choose the right book
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, and 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 for struggling readers to enjoy stories
- Encourage trying a completely different genre
- Read aloud together – even older kids really enjoy it
- Read the same book and have discussions like a book club
- Online apps for reading e-books with laptops, tablets, or phones
Recommendations for Fifth Grade Reading Level Books
So while I have listed a few books that appear on many other 5th grade reading 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 great books.
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-Read Books for 5th Graders
N’s Book Recommendation
Q’s Favorite Fifth Grade Book
R’s Top Pick for Chapter Book
“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 for his top recommendation for the fifth-grade level.
Professor Dad’s Favorite Books for 5th Graders to Read
Best Series Books for Fifth Graders
- 5 book series
- New York Times Bestseller for over 600 weeks
Humor Books For 5th Graders
Graphic Novels for 5th Graders
Fantasy Books for 5th Graders
Science Fiction Books for 5th Graders
Non-Fiction Books for 5th Graders
General Fiction Books for 5th Grade
Historical Fiction Books for 5th Graders
Mystery Books for 5th Graders
Poem Books for Fifth Graders
- Historical fiction
- Vietnamese History
- Strong female lead
- #1 New York Times Best Seller
5th Grade Reading Books on Social Justice
- Strong female lead
- Women’s Right’s
- Middle Eastern History
- Nobel Peace Prize Author
Best Fifth Grade Books with a Strong Female Lead
Scary 5th-Grade Reading Level Books
Classic Chapter Books for 5th Graders
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.