Summer reading is a great opportunity for fifth graders to discover new favorite books. After all, 10-11 year old students have an enormous choice of quality books from which to choose! This 5th grade summer reading list brings together a selection of titles on a wide variety of topics and genres. So, whether you're headed to the library, or want to supplement a classroom suggested reading list, there's something for everyone here!
Kids who read about diverse subjects and people from all walks of life have greater success in school and develop into compassionate individuals. Reading books from the recommended books on this summer reading list will also help kids avoid the dreaded "summer slide."
These suggested books can be enjoyed by rising or incoming 5th graders, or students who just finished 5th grade and are a great addition to any summer reading program.
Note: this post contains Amazon and Bookshop affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may earn commission for this blog. Bookshop supports independent booksellers. You can see this list, in addition to our other summer reading lists curated at Bookshop.
SURVIVING THE APPLEWHITES by Stephanie S. Tolan
Jake has gotten kicked out of his last school and is now living with the eccentric, artistic, homeschooling Applewhite family. The father is directing a local production of "The Sound of Music" and no one is more surprised than Jake when he discovers he loves performing. I loved the quirky characters and the boundless energy of this book. When the family has to pull together to get the show up after they are blackballed by a local stage mom, the results are hilariously successful. I really enjoy how the story reinforces the necessity of cooperation when putting on a play and also recommend it as a terrific read aloud.
MARTIN MCLEAN MIDDLE SCHOOL QUEEN by Alyssa Zaczek
Seventh grader, Martin McLean, is trying to figure out where he fits in. He loves being on the Mathletes team and he embraces his mixed race (Afro-Cuban and white) identity. He's particularly close with his Tío Billy, who supports Martin's interest in entering a drag queen contest. Now that Martin has found a way to express himself he wants to figure out a way to tell his friends. This is a wonderful, readable story which presents diverse racial, cultural and gender identities in a positive light.
THE TOOTHPASTE MILLIONAIRE by Jean Merrill
The practical side of math is highlighted when sixth-graders Rufus and Kate decide to invent a superior toothpaste, sell it and make their fortunes. First published 40 years ago, Jean Merrill's book (she also wrote The Pushcart War) is still a highly entertaining celebration of the imaginative spirit. After reading this book, don't be surprised to see your kids start up a new entrepreneurial endeavor using their math skills!
SAVE ME A SEAT by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
This funny and touching story of Ravi, an Indian immigrant adjusting to middle school and Joe, a boy who recently lost his best friend due to a move, is told in alternating voices. The two boys become friends when they unite again a school bully and one seriously crazy week full of laugh out loud humor ensues.
Historical fiction summer reading books give kids a glimpse into the past, while also seeing parallels with the present.
BUD, NOT BUDDY by Christopher Paul Curtis
Curtis is one my favorite middle grade authors. 10-year-old Buddy runs away from a series of unpleasant foster homes and sets out to find his father, whom he believes to be a jazz musician. Set in the depression, Curtis’ writing is filled with humor as well as serious truths. Ultimately, it’s an optimistic book, full of laughs and one cannot help but fall in love with Buddy. Ages 7 and up.
LIZARD'S TALE by Weng Wai Chan
Half-Cantonese, half-British Lizard went to live with his Uncle Archie after his parents died. However, when Uncle Archie disappeared unexpectedly, Lizard finds his way to Chinatown, surviving by doing odd jobs. One of those jobs involves stealing a mysterious teak box. When things don't go according to plan, Lizard is left with the box. He and his friend try to understand the mystery of the box, which somehow connects to the war, secret codes and the disappearance of Uncle Archie. Lizard's Tale has a lot going for it. An uncommon setting of 1940 Singapore, themes of belonging, prejudice and friendship, surprising turns of events and character revelations make this a book not to be missed.
Fantasy and Sci-Fi
THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM (series) by Christopher Healy
Fans of fairy tale adventures will enjoy this cheeky and humorous story about the "Prince Charmings." The princes, who now have actual names, turned out by their princesses for various reasons of unsuitability, band together to prove themselves worthy by defeating Rapunzel's witch. The feisty princesses also make an appearance and by the end of the book it is hard not to laugh out loud at the lovable foolishness of the princes' exploits. Great fun.
SAVVY (series) by Ingrid Law
Mibs Beaumont is about to turn thirteen, the age when Beaumont children find out what their magic, or "savvy", will be. Mibs' brothers can control natural elements, and her mother can do everything perfectly. Right before her 13th birthday party, her father has an accident and Mibs is convinced that her power will allow her to heal him. She runs away with her siblings and friends to try and reach him. A magical coming of age story.
AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS (series) by B.B. Alston
Amari's brother, Quinton, is missing, but Amari insists that he is still alive. One day there is a mysterious visitor on her doorstep who delivers a package that reveals Quinton's secret. He is part of a Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and now Amari has a chance to find her own magic and earn a place in the Bureau. But Amari is not just an escapist fantasy, Alston deftly incorporates themes of bullying, prejudice and inequality.
SISTERS OF THE NEVERSEA by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Lily and Wendy are stepsisters, but also friends. One night, during story time with their younger brother, Michael, Peter and the fairy Belle arrive and invite them to Neverland. One sister is eager to go. The other turns down the offer, but Peter's shadow convinces her to follow them. Cynthia Leitich Smith has crafted a truly marvelous re-envisioning of the Peter Pan legend centered around a blended Muskogee Creek and British family.
THE SERPENT'S SECRET (series) by Sayantani DasGupta
DasGupta's original story draws upon Bengali myths and folklore. Kiranmala, and Indian sixth-grade interdimensional demon slayer is concerned. A spell gone awry has sent her parents into another dimension and she is about to be eaten by a rakkhosh demon in her own kitchen. Thus begins a highly engaging and funny adventure in which Kiranmala rejects two princes' offers to rescue her, travels to a magical dimension full of fantastic beasts, battles demons, solves riddles and saves New Jersey.
The right mystery in the hands of a tween reader will keep them turning pages until the end.
THE SWALLOWTAIL LEGACY: WRECK AT ADA'S REEF (series) by Michael D. Beil
Lark Heron-Finch and her sister are headed to Swallowtail Island with their stepfather and stepbrothers for the summer. Their summerhouse has been in the family for decades and while on the island, Lark learns of a tragic boating accident that happened in the past. Lark sets out to uncover the truth of what actually happens and in doing so, changes her own, and others' lives.
UNDER THE EGG by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Just before her grandfather died, he whispered to Theodora, "There's a letter… And a treasure" hidden "under the egg." Theodora, whose mother is incapable of taking care of her, must find away to pay the bills and she starts her search for this mysterious treasure involving a work of art. Her hunt takes her all over New York City, into the past, and introduces her to a diverse group of new friends. The secrets Theodora uncovers take her (and the reader!) by surprise.
BRIXTON BROTHERS MYSTERIOUS CASES OF CASES (series) by Mac Barnett
12-year-old Steve dreams of being a detective and has studiously read and re-read "The Baily Brothers Detective Handbook." He knows everything about solving crimes, which comes in handy when he finds himself thrown into the middle of an exciting mystery. Every book in the series has tons of adventure, twist and turns, loads of intelligent humor and a satisfying ending
MILES MORALES, SHOCK WAVES by Justin A. Reynolds, illustrated by Pablo Leon
Even kids who aren't into Spider Man will love this graphic novel. Miles Morales is just a kid attending high school in Brooklyn who starts a fundraiser for victims of an earthquake in Puerto Rico. However, he finds himself delving into the connections of his friend's missing father and the corporation behind his fundraiser. Spider-Man must spring into action!
THE CARDBOARD KINGDOM by Chad Sell
This is a joyous tale of neighborhood kids who transform mere cardboard into the most marvelous imaginative world. The story is collaboratively written by a number of authors. Sixteen characters transform their world and learn about their own identities, making this book a wonderful tour de force!
MISTER INVINCIBLE: LOCAL HERO by Pascal Jousselin
Everyone in our family loved Mister Invincible! This French comic features a masked crusader who helps ordinary people, fights villains and foils the devious plots of mad scientists. What's his superpower, you ask? It's breaking through the walls of the comic strip boxes. Mr. Invincible can reach through one panel to affect the action in previous and future panels. Great fun!
WOMEN'S RIGHT TO VOTE (History Smashers series) by Kate Messner, illustrated by Dylan Meconis
For kids who might be a little history-resistant, Messner's new series, "History Smashers" is a great choice. With easy-to-read text, lots of illustrations and a good dose of humor, Messner makes learning about history fun and entertaining. We all know laughter helps kids retain knowledge, right? Highly recommended.
THE GREAT CHICAGO FIRE (History Comics series) by Kate Hannigan, illustrated by Alex Graudins
Graphic novels are a great way to make history come alive. Boring date memorization can't hold a candle to exciting illustrations and witty asides housed in speech bubbles. Hannigan tells the story of the Chicago fire of 1871 through the eyes of a brother and sister trying to escape the flames. The duo then reappear at the World's Fair in 1893, showing the recovery of the city. I especially appreciated the way Hannigan weaves insightful commentary into the narrative.
ROCKET TO THE MOON! (Big Ideas that Changed the World series) by Don Brown
I love that Brown wrote a graphic novel about the Apollo 11 mission because my younger son is not very interested in science, but because he adores graphic novels and comics he read this book several times. Brown is an experienced author of historical fiction for children and this is a wonderful book to read in celebration of the anniversary of the moon landing.