Looking for the best books for your 5th graders? From read aloud to novel studies to independent reading, there are so many different options and it can be challenging to find quality novels that engage your students while supporting critical thinking about the text.
The 20 Best Books for 5th Graders
Whether you grab a single copy for your classroom library or read aloud or you buy a whole class set for a large group novel study, these 20 novels are fantastic for fifth grade students.
For each book I am sharing below, I've included a short plot summary to help you determine whether it is a good fit for your classroom. I also shared links to the trifold novel study pack that can help save you prep time and ensure you're covering those essential comprehension standards.
(If you're new to trifold novel studies, read more about them in my What are Trifold Novel Studies? post.)
I know your fifth grade students will LOVE these great stories and you will, too! Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
1. The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I purposefully put this title first out of all the 5th grade books on this list because it is truly an AMAZING story. The kind that you just can't put down, and it is truly deserving of the awards it has received.
The main character is a girl named Ada who is born with a twisted foot. An embarrassment to her mother, she is both physically and mentally abused and kept hidden away in their dirty apartment as the threat of World War II looms closer. When her brother is sent to the countryside to escape the danger, Ada bravely decides to sneak out and join him.
This begins a chapter of Ada's life where she learns she is capable of so much more than she thought. As she learns to ride a horse, read, and be self-confident, Ada also begins to learn what love is and discovers that she is worthy of being loved.
Buy the Book: The War that Saved My Life
Get the No Prep Novel Study: The War that Saved My Life Novel Study
2. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
This sci-fi novel tells the story of Meg Murry, who feels she just doesn't fit in. After a strange night of storms and unexpected visitors, Meg winds up on an unexpected journey to save her father that takes her through space and time.
This Newbery award-winning novel takes students on an adventure that challenges their thinking about what really exists in the world beyond their understanding.
With challenging vocabulary and great opportunities for higher-level comprehension and discussions, this is the perfect novel to get your high-achieving 5th graders thinking and talking about their reading.
Buy the Book: A Wrinkle in Time
Get the No Prep Novel Study: A Wrinkle in Time Novel Study
3. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Set in World War II, this historical fiction novel follows the story of a ten-year-old girl named Annemarie as her family attempts to help save their Jewish friends from the Nazis.
When her best friend is left to live with her and must pretend to be Annemarie's dead sister, they begin facing the most dangerous challenge of their lives.
Great as a companion to your social studies standards, this story really brings the challenges and hardships children and families faced during the Nazi regime to life while giving students relatable characters and high-level vocabulary exposure.
If you are looking for an amazing historical fiction novel, you won't find any more engaging and thought-provoking than this one! It is a definite must-read.
Buy the Book: Number the Stars
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Number the Stars Novel Study
4. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Finding good historical fiction books for 5th graders can sometimes be a challenge. It needs to be relatable despite the difference in historical time periods, and it needs to have an engaging storyline.
Fever 1793 fits the bill! The story of a girl facing the normal growing pains with the added stress of a yellow fever epidemic.
With lots of emotional topics, from overcoming loss to facing death, Mattie's character tackles some tough issues in this historical fiction novel. This novel is a perfect fit for those kids really into the popular vampire and zombie books and movies, but in this case, the plotline is all based on the outbreak that occurred in Philadelphia in the 1700s.
This book isn't for all students, but it is a great one to engage students in thinking about how they would handle a disaster and teach some historical facts all at the same time.
Buy the Book: Fever 1793
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Fever 1793 Novel Study