5th grade is such a transformative age for many kids. For most schools, 5th grade is the final grade before students transition into middle school. This can be a time of explorations, finding what types of activities and hobbies you enjoy, and reading should be included in these.
Here are 22 of our favorite book series that will inspire your 5th graders to dream big, make new friends, and believe in themselves.
This inspirational novel by Jerry Spinelli shares the magical power of believing in yourself and not caring what other people think. The main character Zinkoff is a little goofy, other kids seem to notice, but he doesn't. One day his uniqueness helps him become a hero no one was expecting, showing how the true power of accepting who you are pays off.
2. The Kids of Cattywampus Street
This highly anticipated chapter book by Penguin Random House is a wacky and mysterious story about friendship that is sure to win over any and all reluctant readers. The exciting story follows a group of kids who live on the same unique street, and as the chapters progress, we learn just how fantastical these unusual friends really are.
3. Number the Stars
Award-winning author Lois Lowry gives us a provocative, heroic 5th grade level story about a young Danish girl who tries to help her Jewish friends escape the Nazis. The brave 11-year-old-girl Annemarie conceals her best friend Ellen as part of her family to help her make it to Sweden where she can be safe from Nazi persecution.
4. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
This book is versatile enough to entertain your 5th grade readers as well as your 7th grade readers. It follows Claudia, a young girl who wishes to run away from home to scare her parents and bring her brother with her. She decides to hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art where she finds a beautiful statue but no one knows who made it. Thus the adventure begins.
5. Bud, Not Buddy
Christopher Paul Curtis made the best book of the year list on multiple publishings with this captivating story of a young boy on a quest to find his father. This heart-warming book is filled with adventure stories, humor, pain, and the true meaning of family.
6. The One and Only Ivan
This innovative and creative novel by Katherine Applegate is part of a 2 books series that has won multiple awards, as well as being turned into a major motion picture! The story follows an older captive gorilla who has forgotten all about his wild life until he meets a baby elephant who reminds him of the life he lost. This is a classic story about friendship and what defines "home".
7. The Dreamer
Pam Munoz Ryan and Peter Sis worked together to create this masterpiece of a book about the childhood of a beloved poet Pablo Neruda. It depicts the life of a young Chilean boy who trusts his intuition and follows his inner voice to discover what the world has to offer him through nature, language, relationships, and adventure.
8. The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart
Stephanie Burgis is known for her exciting fantasy books, and this one is no exception. This book follows a young female dragon who wishes to go out and explore the world but ends up being tricked to drink poisonous chocolate that turns her into a human. She falls in love with chocolate and sets off on a quest to find a way to change back...and also to find more chocolate!
9. A Tale of Dark and Grimm
Hansel and Gretel set off on an entirely new adventure with this medley of fantasy stories including classics we all remember with witches, dragons, and demons. The writing by Adam Gidwitz blends together horror, suspense, humor, and imagination to create an exciting new perspective on the Grimm fairy tales we know and are scared to love.
10. The War That Saved My Life
This historical fiction novel by award-winning author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a heartfelt story of a young girl with a twisted foot, her brother, and her neglectful mother during World War II. The story follows the siblings as they escape their mother and the Germans and live with a woman named Susan in London. How will their lives change, and will it be for the better or worse?
This goofy and relatable graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier tells (the author's) story of how she fell and busted her two front teeth in the sixth grade. What happens afterward is a series of annoying teeth procedures and embarrassing gadgets and equipment to get her smile back. The story is charming, incorporating humor stories about boys, natural disasters, and becoming comfortable with yourself.
Inspiring and award-winning first book in a four-book series, Ghost by Jason Reynolds, tells the story of a middle school boy who is part of an elite track team training for the junior olympics. His natural sprinting talent comes from a dark place in his childhood and causes Castle Cranshaw aka Ghost to struggle with his focus and determination. Can he and his team work together and win the gold?
This cute and quirky middle school story involves a young art-loving girl named Peppi and an awkward science-loving boy named Jamie. The two have some unfortunate encounters and rival clubs that constantly bring them together in the most uncomfortable ways. Can they survive the chaos of the social jungle that is middle school, and will they form an unlikely friendship? This graphic novel will paint you the perfect picture.
14. Front Desk
The author Kelly Yang tells an important and relevant story revolving around the issues and concerns for immigrants in the United States. Young Mia and her family live and work at the Calivista motel where they clean the rooms, check in customers, and secretly help immigrants by giving them a place to stay in vacant rooms for free. This is not known or approved by the motel owner Mr. Yao, so the family is always on edge. Will their kind efforts be rewarded or will their luck run out?
15. Dead City
This 3-book series is sure to excite any zombie-loving 5th grade readers you know. The first book introduces Molly, a zombie fighting tween who balances school, friends, and killing zombies on a weekly basis! Her mother was the most revered zombie hunter in her city's history so she has some big shoes to fill. Now, if she only knew if her mom was really dead or out there looking for some brains to eat...
This dystopian 3-book sci-fi series is about clones, science experiments, criminal parents, and trying to escape a jail-like city to find out the truth. When Eli and his friends realize their whole life has been a lie, it is time for them to take action. How can they leave a city designed to keep them trapped and oblivious inside? Will they ever learn who they really are and take control of their lives?
James Ponti wrote this action-packed 3-book series about a special boy named Florian. He has developed a special strategy called TOAST (Theory of All Small Things) he uses to survive middle school situations, but it actually works for solving real-world mysteries, and the FBI is interested! Can Florian balance his normal life, and help the police catch criminals?
18. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
This middle-grade level series by James Patterson is filled with relatable 5th grader + issues like bullying, self-discovery, first loves, and following rules. Rafe is a regular kid trying to survive middle school on top of his difficult home life. He decides to make school a little more interesting by trying to break all the rules in the school's rule book. How do you think this will turn out? Read all about it in this 14 book series!
19. Strange Case of Origami Yoda
This Star Wars-inspired 6-book series by Tom Angleberger follows a quirky 6th grade boy who doesn't quite know how to fit in. Dwight has trouble knowing how to act and what to say, but he loves to make origami. One day he makes a little origami Yoda, who to Dwight's surprise, has a special sense of predicting the future and giving spot-on advice. Will little Yoda help Dwight solve all of his social problems and make him popular? Read and find out!
20. Belly Up
This mystery-packed book series by Stuart Gibbs is an exciting story of a hippo named Henry that died at FunJungle zoo. A young boy Teddy, and his friend Summer speculate that there was some fishy business to Henry's death and they want to investigate. Who committed the murder, and will these two be able to prove it?
21. Race to the Sun
This creative and impactful fantasy series by Rebecca Roanhorse demonstrates the power and strength of family and heritage. Set in the American Southwest and touching on issues of Native American folklore and heritage, this adventurous fantasy story follows a 7th grade girl named Nizhoni as she discovers her heightened senses to detect evil. Her father is taken by his corrupt boss who has unleashed ancient monsters into this world. Nizhoni and her brother must harness all the help they can get to save him, and the world as they know it.
This book is part of a 4 book graphic novel series called Click by Kayla Miller. Olive is a 6th grader, excited to go on the big field trip with her friends until she finds out some kids can't go due to school policy. She decides that she wants to try and change that. Can Olive make a difference for her peers? Will her efforts cause her to lose her friends? Read and find out!