I walked into Middle’s room a few days ago to find a stack of books on his nightstand, wobbling and tobbling as it was getting a bit too high. “What’s this about?” I asked. “Are you reading all of them?”
“I like to have choices!” he responded with a smile.
A few nights before, we’d raided Big’s bookshelves, looking for books that did one of two things: offered adventure or feeling. Middle’s growing pile of books shows a fair representation of some classics novels mixed in with modern favorites, all sharing excitement, emotions, friendship and exploration.
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Books perfect for fourth, fifth and sixth graders
The Secret Series Complete Collection by Pseudononymous Bosch: Not only is the name of this series a secret, but the story is, too. For it concerns a secret – a big secret – that has been tormenting people like you for over… oh no! Did I just mention the secret? Then it’s too late. I’m afraid nothing will stop you now. Read this series if you must. But please, tell no one.
Catch up on the adventures of Cass and Max-Ernest with The Secret Series Collection. This boxed set includes all five paperback novels in the New York Times bestselling Secret Series.
The Half Upon a Time Trilogy: Half Upon a Time; Twice Upon a Time; Once Upon the End by James Riley: This complete boxed set of the Half Upon a Time trilogy tells the story of Jack, as in, son of the infamous Jack who stole the magic beans from the giant. He is working hard to restore his family’s reputation and finds the perfect opportunity when a “princess” lands in front of him, apparently from the land of Punk (as her sweatshirt implies). May is actually from our world and confused to find herself in the midst of the fairy tale characters she has read about. It soon turns out that May and Jack have more in common than they could have known—and together, they’ll embark on a hilarious and wild adventure involving knights, fairy godmothers, giants, and—of course—beanstalks!
Who Was Walt Disney? by Whitney Stewart: Walt Disney always loved to entertain people. Often it got him into trouble. Once he painted pictures with tar on the side of his family?s white house. His family was poor, and the happiest time of his childhood was spent living on a farm in Missouri. His affection for small-town life is reflected in Disneyland Main Streets around the world. With black-and-white illustrations throughout, this biography reveals the man behind the magic.
Related post: More Great Chapter Books for Grades 3-5
Schooling Around Series by Andy Griffiths: Meet Henry McThrottle, a fifth-grader at Northwest Southeast Central School. Henry has an extremely active imagination–sometimes it’s hard to tell where his imagination stops and the real world begins. His flights of fancy lead to adventures of the sort only Andy Griffiths could dream up: always hilarious, never predictable, sure to keep kids laughing and reading!
Pirate Island Adventure (Liza, Bill & Jed Mysteries) by Peggy Parish: Summer vacation at Pirate Island! Liza, Bill, and Jed can’t believe their grandparents’ wonderful surprise. The excitement begins even before they reach the island, as Grandpa gives the first clue to the unsolved mystery of a long-lost family “treasure.”
Whether it’s their frightening run-ins with Hermit Dan, a wild and scary romp with a swooping bat, or a midnight trip into the woods, tracking the series of weird picture clues leads the children all over the island and into all sorts of adventures.
Superfudge by Judy Blume: Fans young and old will laugh out loud at the irrepressible wit of Peter Hatcher, the hilarious antics of mischievous Fudge, and the unbreakable confidence of know-it-all Sheila Tubman in Judy Blume’s five Fudge books. Brand-new covers adorn these perennial favorites, and will entice a whole new generation of Fudge—and Judy Blume—fans.
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson: Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she’s disliked them all. She has a county-wide reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable. So when she’s sent to live with the Trotters — by far the strangest family yet — Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work. Before long she’s devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her.
But the rescue doesn’t work out, and the great Gilly Hopkins is left thinking that maybe life with the Trotters wasn’t so bad …
Related Link: Journal-Themed Books Kids Will Love
The Only Game (Home Team) by Mike Lupica: Can a young baseball star maintain his love of the game after the loss of his brother? Find out in this start to the Home Team series about a small town with high hopes, from New York Times bestselling author and sportswriting legend Mike Lupica.
Jack Callahan is the star of his baseball team and sixth grade is supposed to be his year. Undefeated season. Records shattered. Little League World Series. The works. That is, until he up and quits.
Jack’s best friend Gus can’t understand how Jack could leave a game that means more to them than anything else. But Jack is done. It’s a year of change. Jack’s brother has passed away, and though his family and friends and the whole town of Walton thinks baseball is just the thing he needs to move on, Jack feels it’s anything but.
In comes Cassie Bennett, star softball player, and the only person who seems to think Jack shouldn’t play if he doesn’t want to. As Jack and Cassie’s friendship deepens, their circle expands to include Teddy, a guy who’s been picked on because of his weight.
Time spent with these new friends unlocks something within Jack, and with their help and the support of his family and his old friends, Jack discovers sometimes it’s more than just the love of the game that keeps us moving—and he might just be able to find his way back to The Only Game.
Hero by Mike Lupica: Zach Harriman knew that his dad was something of a hero, a man trusted by the president to solve international crises at a moment’s notice. Suddenly people are telling him he has powers – people who know much more about his father than Zach ever did. But there are the Bads, who appear out of nowhere and attack him and his best friend. One thing is clear: he can do things ordinary people cannot. Like fend off grown men as though he possesses the strength of a hundred. Like sense when evil is about to strike. And evil is about to strike in a very big way. Zach Harriman is his father’s son. And he, too, is a hero.
Related Link: How to Find Books Your Kids Will Love
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson: This Newbery Medal-winning novel by bestselling author Katherine Paterson is a modern classic of friendship and loss.
Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.
The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg: HOW HAD MRS. OLINSKI CHOSEN her sixth-grade Academic Bowl team? She had a number of answers. But were any of them true? How had she really chosen Noah and Nadia and Ethan and Julian? And why did they make such a good team?
It was a surprise to a lot of people when Mrs. Olinski’s team won the sixth-grade Academic Bowl contest at Epiphany Middle School. It was an even bigger surprise when they beat the seventh grade and the eighth grade, too. And when they went on to even greater victories, everyone began to ask: How did it happen?
It happened at least partly because Noah had been the best man (quite by accident) at the wedding of Ethan’s grandmother and Nadia’s grandfather. It happened because Nadia discovered that she could not let a lot of baby turtles die. It happened when Ethan could not let Julian face disaster alone. And it happened because Julian valued something important in himself and saw in the other three something he also valued.
Mrs. Olinski, returning to teaching after having been injured in an automobile accident, found that her Academic Bowl team became her answer to finding confidence and success. What she did not know, at least at first, was that her team knew more than she did the answer to why they had been chosen.
This is a tale about a team, a class, a school, a series of contests and, set in the midst of this, four jewel-like short stories — one for each of the team members — that ask questions and demonstrate surprising answers.
Loser by Jerry Spinelli: From renowned Newbery-winning author Jerry Spinelli comes an incredible story about how not fitting in might just lead to an incredible life.
Just like other kids, Zinkoff rides his bike, hopes for snow days, and wants to be like his dad when he grows up. But Zinkoff also raises his hand with all the wrong answers, trips over his own feet, and falls down with laughter over a word like “Jabip.” Other kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it. He doesn’t know he’s not like everyone else. And one winter night, Zinkoff’s differences show that any name can someday become “hero.”
With some of his finest writing to date and great wit and humor, Jerry Spinelli creates a story about a boy’s individuality surpassing the need to fit in and the genuine importance of failure. As readers follow Zinkoff from first through sixth grade—making this a perfect classroom read—and watch his character develop, it becomes impossible not to identify with and root for him through failures and triumphs.
Related link: How to Pre-Screen Books
Wonder by RJ Palicio: August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
“Wonder is the best kids’ book of the year,” said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. (Read my review here.)
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate: Winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal and a #1 New York Times bestseller, this stirring and unforgettable novel from renowned author Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated novel is told from the point of view of Ivan himself.
Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.
In the tradition of timeless stories like Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create an unforgettable story of friendship, art, and hope. This paperback edition includes an author’s note highlighting the differences between the fictional story and true events, a version of the author’s Newbery Medal acceptance speech, Ivan’s “signature,” discussion questions, and more.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo: The summer Opal and her father, the preacher, move to Naomi, Florida, Opal goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket and comes out with a dog. A big, ugly, suffering dog with a sterling sense of humor.A dog she dubs Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, the preacher tells Opal ten things about her absent mother, one for each year Opal has been alive.Winn-Dixie is better at making friends than anyone Opal has ever known, and together they meet the local librarian, Miss Franny Block, who once fought off a bear with a copy of WAR AND PEACE. They meet Gloria Dump, who is nearly blind but sees with her heart, and Otis, an ex-con who sets the animals in his pet shop loose after hours, then lulls them with his guitar.
Opal spends all that sweet summer collecting stories about her new friends and thinking about her mother. But because of Winn-Dixie or perhaps because she has grown, Opal learns to let go, just a little, and that friendship and forgiveness can sneak up on you like a sudden summer storm.
Recalling the fiction of Harper Lee and Carson McCullers, here is a funny, poignant, and utterly genuine first novel from a major new talent.
© 2015, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.