Too-Good-to-Miss Books: Fifth Grade

Staff recommendations for children at a fifth grade reading level.

Compiled by:
Children's Services Staff
90 Miles to Havana

Enrique Flores-Galbis
(Juvenile Fiction - J Floresg)

When unrest hits the streets of Havana, Cuba, Julian's parents must make the heartbreaking decision to send him and his two brothers away to Miami via the Pedro Pan operation. But when the boys get to Miami, they are thrust into a world where bullies seem to run rampant and it's not always clear how best to protect themselves.

A Wrinkle In Time: The Graphic Novel

Madeleine L'Engle
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J Lengle)

A graphic novel adaptation of the classic tale in which Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.

American Tall Tales

Mary P. Osborne
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 398.208 Osb)

Lively retellings of classic tales such as Davy Crockett, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, Pecos Bill, John Henry, and Paul Bunyan.

Bella at Midnight

Diane Stanley
(Juvenile Fiction - J Stanley)

Raised by peasants, Bella discovers that she is actually the daughter of a knight and finds herself caught up in a terrible plot that will change her life and the kingdom forever.

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms

Katherine Rundell
(Juvenile Fiction - J Rundell)

Will must find her way after she's plucked out of a wonderful life in Zimbabwe and forced to go to boarding school in England.

El Deafo

Cece Bell
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J 362.42 Bel)

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers!

Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Ben Franklin

Robert Byrd
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 973.3092 Byr)

This vivid picturebook biography of Ben Franklin portrays Franklin's personality as well as his varied experiences and achievements.

First Test

Tamora Pierce
(Juvenile Fiction - J Pi)
Protector of the small ; 1.

Ten-year-old Keladry of Mindalen, daughter of nobles, serves as a page but must prove herself to the males around her if she is ever to fulfill her dream of becoming a knight. (First in The Protector of the Small series.)


Andrew Clements
(Juvenile Fiction - J Cle)

When he decides to turn his fifth grade teacher's love of the dictionary around on her, clever Nick Allen invents a new word and begins a chain of events that quickly moves beyond his control.

Harris and Me: A Summer Remembered

Gary Paulsen
(Juvenile Fiction - J Paulsen)

Sent to live with relatives on their farm because of his unhappy home life, an eleven-year-old city boy meets his distant cousin Harris and is given an introduction to a whole new world.

I am Malala : How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World

Malala Yousafzai
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Yousafzai You)

Malala Yousafzai, an international advocate for human rights and girls’ education, retells the story of her own education, activism, and attempted murder.

Julie of the Wolves

Jean Craighead George
(Juvenile Fiction -- J Ge)

While running away from home and an unwanted marriage, a thirteen-year-old Eskimo girl becomes lost on the North Slope of Alaska and is befriended by a wolf pack.

Lafayette and the American Revolution

Russell Freedman
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Lafayette Fre)

Nineteen year old Gilbert de Lafayette defied his family and his king to become the youngest general in the Continental Army.  He devoted his huge fortune and took great personal risk to help secure freedom for the young American nation.


Elise Broach
(Juvenile Fiction - J Broach)

After Marvin, a beetle, makes a miniature drawing as an eleventh birthday gift for James, a human with whom he shares a house, the two new friends work together to help recover a Durer drawing stolen from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Moon Over Manifest

Clare Vanderpool
(Juvenile Fiction - J Vanderp)

Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is the daughter of a drifter who, in the summer of 1936, sends her to stay with an old friend in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up, and where she hopes to find out some things about his past.


(Juvenile Fiction - J Goscinn)

The co-creator of "Asterix" pokes gentle fun at grown-ups and children alike in these nineteen tales of daily life as seen through the eyes of an uncritical young boy, Nicholas. Look for more Nicholas titles.

One Crazy Summer

Rita Williams-Garcia
(Juvenile Fiction - J Williams)

In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.


(Juvenile Fiction - J Av)

Poppy the deer mouse urges her family to move next to a field of corn big enough to feed them all forever, but Mr. Ocax, a terrifying owl, has other ideas. Look for more Poppy and friends titles.


Kenneth Oppel
(Juvenile Fiction - J Op)

a newborn bat named Shade but sometimes called "Runt" becomes separated from his colony during migration, he grows in ways that prepare him for even greater journeys. Look for more Silverwing Saga titles.

The Elephant Scientist

Caitlin O'Connell
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 599.674 Oco)
Scientists in the field.

Journey to the Namibian desert with Caitlin O'Connell, an American scientist, and witness one of nature's largest , most complex, and most intelligent mammals living today on this earth.

The Fairy-tale Detectives

Michael Buckley
(Juvenile Fiction - J Buckley)
Sisters Grimm; 1

Enter a world where humans and fairy-tale creatures live side-by-side in uneasy alliance in rural New York. Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, two sisters seemingly abandoned by their parents, are swept up in a mystery that includes giants, pixies, fairies, and witches. (First in The Sisters Grimm series.)

The Great Brain

John Fitzgerald
(Juvenile Fiction - J Fitzger

The exploits of the Great Brain of Adenville, Utah are described by his younger brother, frequently the victim of the Great Brain's schemes for gaining prestige or money. Look for more Great Brain titles.

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

Wendy Wan-Long Shang
(Juvenile Fiction - J Shang)

Eleven-year-old aspiring basketball star and interior designer Lucy Wu is excited about finally having her own bedroom, until she learns that her great-aunt is coming to visit and Lucy will have to share a room with her for several months, shattering her plans for a perfect sixth-grade year.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures

Brian Selznick
(Juvenile Fiction - J Selznic)

When twelve-year-old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931, meets a mysterious toy seller and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized.

Thora: A Half-Mermaid Tale

Gillian Johnson
(Juvenile Fiction - J Johnson)

Ten-year-old Thora, daughter of a mermaid mother and a human father, has many adventures at sea until she must return to the English seaside town of Grimli and save her mother who has been captured by the greedy real estate developer, Frooty de Mare.

Three Times Lucky

Sheila Turnage
(Juvenile Fiction -- J Turnage)

Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now eleven, and her best friend Dale turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a café and co-parent of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder.

Transformed: How Everyday Things Are Made

Bill Slavin
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 670 Sla)

Discover how nature is transformed into more than sixty things we eat, drink, play with, wear or use every day.

Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J Trickst)

This is a collection of over twenty trickster stories, in graphic novel format, from various Native American traditions, including tales about coyotes, rabbits, ravens, and other crafty creatures and their mischievous activities.


R.J. Palacio
(Juvenile Fiction -- J Palacio)

Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his class mates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.

Zane and the Hurricane

Rodman Philbrick
(Juvenile Fiction - J Philbri)

A twelve-year-old boy and his dog become trapped in New Orleans during the horrors of Hurricane Katrina.

Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature's Undead

Rebecca L. Johnson
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 578.65 Joh)
Exceptional science titles for intermediate grades.

Examines creatures that can take over the bodies and brains of other creatures and turns them into slaves, from a fly-enslaving fungus to a cockroach-taming wasp.