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 55 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!
23. Princess Academy
Bestselling author Shannon Hale gives us this 3-part series about a young village girl named Miri, who lives on a mountain where the future princess is prophesied to be chosen by the prince. This compelling story takes her on a journey that may lead to the castle, but will this mean losing everything she holds dear?
24. Real Friends
Shannon Hale does it again in this 3-part series about friendship and what it takes to find out who your real friends are. The main character Shannon is faced with the classic conflict of her best friend joining a new group of girls. Even though this group is popular, they aren't particularly nice. Should Shannon try to fit in to keep her friend, or find her own way?
25. The Year of the Dog
Your 5th grade readers will love learning about Chinese culture and traditions with this novel by the bestselling author Grace Lin. It is a story about Pacy, a young girl whose mother tells her this year is a lucky one! What will Pacy do, who will she meet, and will she truly find good fortune?
26. When the Sea Turned to Silver
A beautifully illustrated work of fantasy by Grace Lin, tells the adventure stories of Pinmei as she tries to rescue her storytelling grandmother who was taken by the Emperor. Pinmei thinks she knows a way to get her grandmother back, and it lies in finding the legendary Luminous Stone That Lights the Night.
27. The Smartest Kid in the Universe
Chris Grabenstein gives us another one of his humor stories in this 2-part series about Jake, the boy who became a genius. His secret: lab-engineered "information jellybeans" he accidentally ate A LOT of. Now that he knows everything, can he use his super brain to save his middle school and outsmart the powerful people that want to use him?
28. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
This bestselling 5-book series by Chris Grabenstein is full of puzzles and mysteries for the reader to solve along with the main character Kyle and his friends. When a famous game maker Lemoncello builds a library in Kyle's town, he is dying to explore it. But what happens when the grand opening event is over, the doors are locked, and Kevin and his friends are still inside?
29. It's the End of the World and I'm in My Bathing Suit
Apocalypse takes on a new and comical meaning in this creative 5th grade novel by Justin Reynolds. Young Eddie will do anything to avoid doing his laundry over the summer, but today is the day...he has no more clean clothes left. In the middle of his washing the power goes out and he quickly realizes there's something way bigger going on than his dirty clothes.
30. Epic Zero
This 4-part action-packed series is a great option for reluctant readers. It stars a family of superheroes, well, all but little Elliott. He is the only one in his family that is a "zero", which is someone with no superpowers. He has to live an ordinary life different from his family until a girl tells him about a mysterious magical orb she believes only Elliott can find.
31. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
This intense 3-part fantasy series by Kwame Mbalia brings to life many gods and heroes from African folklore. Tristan is a 7th grade boy who just lost his best friend in an accident. An encounter with a mysterious creature who tries to steal his friend's old notebook leads to a fight that opens a portal to another world. In this world monsters, gods, and chaos reside that wish to enter our world, can Tristan close the portal he opened before it's too late?
32. Max and the Midknights
Lincoln Peirce brings to life a group of ragtag young knights as they go on a wild mission to save little Max's uncle from the evil King Gastley. This quirky and hilarious 3-book series will entertain any reluctant reader with cute cartoonish illustrations and goofy adventure stories.
33. One for the Murphys
A cunning and beautiful story by Lynda Mullaly Hunt about what "family" means, and the journey of a closed-off girl named Carley. The Murphy's are Carley's new foster family, and being with them feels like a whole new world. They are kind, and open, and have taught her what it feels like to be a part of something. When her birth mother wants her back, what will Carley choose?
34. Fish in a Tree
Another inspiring and thought-provoking story by Lynda Mullaly Hunt shows young readers that being different does not make you less valuable than anyone else. Ally is a girl with dyslexia that has always been able to hide her learning challenges with distractions and quick wit, until one day a new teacher sees through the games and wants to show Ally how to give herself a chance.
35. Who Is Malala Yousafzai?
Part of the "Who Was" series, that highlights important people making great changes in the world. Malala was a girl from Pakistan that advocated for women to be able to get an education. Her efforts and writing brought a lot of attention to important women's rights issues and young readers will benefit from hearing her story.
36. Where the Wild Things Are
Now, this is a classic story by Maurice Sendak suitable for children as young as 5 all the way to adult readers. There are so many bigger meanings found in the conflicts, friendships, and experiences of the little boy Max and his ferocious creatures.
37. Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
A stunning and inspirational book telling the story of a young girl Ava, who was born with no arms. When her parents take a new job at a theme park in Arizona, she must start over in a new school being asked the same questions. Until one day she meets a boy with Tourette syndrome and together they realize each is capable of greatness.
A middle-grade book that's great for class discussions or at-home reading. Your 5th graders will laugh and cry along with this heartbreaking novel about young Ross, a 7th grader that just got diagnosed with eye cancer that will make the rest of school a challenge. How can he maneuver the looks and awkwardness from friends and teachers as he progresses through this visible life challenge?
39. Song for a Whale
Here is an award-winning story about a young def girl Iris, who wants to communicate with a whale that cannot sing to other whales. Her life has always been a bit complicated, and many people assume she isn't smart because she cannot hear, but Iris is actually a tech wizard! Can she figure out a way to talk to this misunderstood whale and build a bond that will change both of their lives forever?
A story of friendship, loyalty, and determination from the perspective of an animal and his human. Pax is an orphaned fox that young boy Peter found when he was just a little kid. They have been inseparable for years until Peter's dad has the family move, leaving Pax behind. When Peter realizes he can't live without Pax, he goes on a journey to find his best friend.
41. Leonard (My Life as a Cat)
This witty and entertaining novel tells the story of an alien that crashed on Earth, and instead of taking the shape of a human, he looks like a cat. A young girl Olive finds the little alien cat and calls him Leonard. Despite Leonard's attempts to leave Olive and change his fate, he ends up finding happiness and love with his new life and owner. Will he choose to leave her and go back to his home planet, or stay in his new life on Earth.
42. I, Cosmo
An adorable book told from the point of view of Cosmo, an old golden retriever who lives with a family that is going through some rough patches. Cosmo has always been able to take care of Max, his young boy, and make sure he is happy and looked after. But when Max's parents start fighting and dad is on the couch, it's up to Cosmo to hold the family together.
43. Lola Levine Is Not Mean!
A relatable story by Monica Brown is about one incident affecting your life and causing others to judge you. This 1st book in a 4-part series tells the story of little Lola and her struggle with classmates calling her "mean". One day at school Lola accidentally hurts a classmate during a soccer game, and now everyone is calling her "Mean Lola Levine". With help from her family, best friend, and her writing skills, can she change the other kids' minds and put the past behind her?
44. Maximillian Fly
This creative and thought-provoking novel tells the story of Maximillian, a part-human part-cockroach boy that has been living a quiet life in the shadows until one day, two kids show up at his house in need of help. Their friendship and struggles paint an important picture of understanding, acceptance, and kindness in a daring and unique way.
A daring and exceptional tale of a baby rescued by a flock of pigeons, and raise on their rooftop. Little Coo has spent her whole childhood living like a pigeon (minus the flying). She loves her bird family, until one day a hawk badly hurts one of her pigeons named Burr. Coo must venture down to the ground and find help for her flying friend, but once she interacts with humans, she begins to realize just how different and complicated life can be.
46. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy
Nathan Hale gives us this 11-book graphic novel series about true stories in American history with all of the excitement, conflict, and triumph. In this first book about the Revolutionary War, Nathan Hale is a spy that must aid his rebel side to defeat the much larger and better-prepared army. How does he do it?
47. Super Puzzletastic Mysteries: Short Stories for Young Sleuths from Mystery Writers of America
Have any 5th graders that love solving mysteries and completing puzzles? This is the perfect series for them! Grab your detective gear and start reading these 20 mysterious cases that need your help to solve through clues, hints, and critical thinking skills.
48. Class Pets: Fuzzy's Great Escape
Bruce Hale gives us this animal-packed 4-book series about classroom pets and the inner workings of their social group. Fuzzy, the guinea pig wants to be the president of the Class Pets Club, but when a charming bunny shows up, he needs to step up his game to win. Looks like it's time for a class pet field trip!
49. Because of Winn-Dixie
A classic story by bestselling author Kate DiCamillo about a girl and her dog. Opal has always had trouble making friends and communicating what she wants, especially when it comes to her mother leaving as a child. But when she goes to the market one day and meets Winn-Dixie, everything changes.
50. Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook
In this 3-book series, a baseball-loving girl named Gabby is always on her game. She is confident, strong, charismatic, and obsessed with winning on and off the field! Her life is going according to plan until one day she has to change schools and her winning streak runs out. Will Gabby get her groove back and remain a champion?
51. A Good Kind of Trouble
An important and relatable story about courage, education, and realizing some rules are worth breaking. Young Shayla has always been a good student and daughter, avoiding conflict and problems at all costs. But when she starts 7th grade important issues begin to surface, such as equality, safety, rights, and justice for Black people. Will she join in the fight and let go of her fear of causing trouble for the sake of her future?
52. President of the Whole Fifth Grade
Brianna has big dreams for her future cupcake-baking business, so when Miss Delicious, her idol celebrity chef, comes to her school and tells the kids her career started when she was 5th grade president, Brianna knows what she needs to do. Will her journey in the campaign brings her closer to her dreams, or will she fold under the pressure?
53. White Bird: A Wonder Story
This is a companion book to the bestselling Wonder with an inspiring and moving message about kindness and courage. Young Palacio is a Jewish girl living in the time of Nazi-occupied France. When she must go into hiding, her rescuer happens to be a young boy from her class she use to make fun of. Will his goodwill change Palacio for the better and bring about a new friendship?
54. Save Me a Seat
Getting through school is hard when your best friends move away, or your family moves from India and you have to start all over at a new school. Joe and Ravi are two boys that are dealing with these issues. They find friendship and support in each other and decide to make some changes in their lives, starting with the bully at school.
55. Freak the Mighty
A compelling story about two young boys with different issues, but the same goal. To feel accepted and acknowledged. Max is a big, I mean BIG boy with some learning disabilities, and Kevin is a small boy with leg braces. Together they form a magical friendship that is a testament to what it means to accept and love yourself and find value in everyone.