5. Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
When two boys who might otherwise be considered misfits team up, they become an unstoppable force.
The topics built into the plotline of this story include physical disabilities and learning disabilities, which makes it a great forum for having discussions about inclusion and kindness toward others.
A great book about the development of a friendship against the odds, there is lots of action and adventure in this great novel, but there is also some sadness at the end…so be prepared.
Buy the Book: Freak the Mighty
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Freak the Mighty Novel Study
6. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
Old Yeller is a classic novel set in the post-Civil War era. It is so popular that you probably already know the gist of the plot, but in case you don't, here are the (general) details.
After unsuccessfully trying to drive away the old golden retriever he found, Arliss ends up being saved by him. Despite the dog's naughty antics, this act of heroism endears him to the family and forms a bond between dog and owner. This act of heroism won't be Old Yeller's last.
With highs and lows throughout, this touching story is one that has held up over time. Strong writing and excellent characters make it a perfect novel study for your 5th grade class.
Buy the Book: Old Yeller
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Old Yeller Novel Study
7. Rules by Cynthia Lord
Another Newbery winner, this realistic fiction book is a great read and includes a cast of characters that could be the kid in the next seat over. The story focuses on Catherine, a twelve-year-old, struggling with her brother's autism and her desire to have a “normal life”. As the events of the story unfold, Catherine realizes that normal isn't always what you think it is.
A great story for analyzing change across time, this story will connect with students on a number of levels and spark great discussions in your 5th grade classroom.
Buy the Book: Rules
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Rules Novel Study
8. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Get your tissues ready because you're likely to cry reading this one. (No, seriously, be sure the tissue boxes aren't empty if you assign it to students.)
A great book for those animal lovers in your classroom, this novel is the story of Billy and his two hunting companions. A classic story full of adventure, emotion, and heartbreak, this book is truly a must-read for every student.
While there will likely be tears shed, there will also be great discussions that help build students skills in literature analysis including characters and their relationships, how setting impacts plot, and more.
Buy the Book: Where the Red Fern Grows
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Where the Red Fern Grows Novel Study
9. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Would you want to live forever?
This book makes students really think about whether this is such a good thing as they read about the Tuck family as they explain the challenges of their life to a ten-year-old girl named Winnie Foster after she discovers their secret. However, when a stranger follows Winnie to locate the mystical spring that brings eternal life, they must face the challenges that arise.
This is such a great novel for discussion. With lots of amazing characterization and a plotline that pulls young readers in, your students will have so much fun discussing this story and deciding whether they'd want to live forever.
Buy the Book: Tuck Everlasting
Get the No Prep Novel Study: Tuck Everlasting Novel Study