Too-Good-to-Miss Books: 5th 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)

*This item also available on Hoopla (audiobook). 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.

Best Man

Richard Peck
(Juvenile Fiction - J Peck)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryArcher has four important role models in his life--his dad, his grandfather, his uncle Paul, and his favorite teacher, Mr. McLeod. When Uncle Paul and Mr. McLeod get married, Archer's sixth-grade year becomes one he'll never forget.


Katherine Applegate
(Juvenile Fiction - J Applega)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud Library (audiobook). Fearing his family will have to move into their minivan when they suffer another financial setback, Jackson finds support and comfort through his friendship with a giant imaginary cat.

El Deafo

Cece Bell
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J 362.42 Bel)

*This item also available on Libby, Cloud Library, and HooplaGoing 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.

The Elephant Scientist

Caitlin O'Connell
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 599.674 Oco)
Series: 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)
Series: Sisters Grimm; 1

*This item also available on Libby, Cloud Library, and HooplaEnter 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 Firefly Code

Megan Frazer Blakemore
(Juvenile Fiction - J Blakemor)
Series: Firefly Code

*This item also available on Cloud LibraryMori and her friends live a normal life on Firefly Lane in Old Harmonie, a utopian community where every kid knows he or she is genetically engineered to be better and smarter, but when a strangely perfect new girl named Ilana moves in, the friends begin to question the only world they have ever known.

The First Rule of Punk

Celia C. Perez
(Juvenile Fiction - J Perez)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryTwelve-year-old Marâia Luisa O'Neill-Morales (who really prefers to be called Malâu) reluctantly moves with her Mexican-American mother to Chicago and starts seventh grade with a bang--violating the dress code with her punk rock aesthetic and spurning the middle school's most popular girl in favor of starting a band with a group of like-minded weirdos.


Andrew Clements
(Juvenile Fiction - J Cle)

*This item also available on LibbyWhen 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.

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.

Harris and Me: A Summer Remembered

Gary Paulsen
(Juvenile Fiction - J Paulsen)

*This item also available on HooplaSent 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)

*This item also available on Cloud LibraryMalala Yousafzai, an international advocate for human rights and girls’ education, retells the story of her own education, activism, and attempted murder.

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

Brian Selznick
(Juvenile Fiction - J Selznic)

*This item also available on Libby and Hoopla (audiobook). 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.

Julie of the Wolves

Jean Craighead George
(Juvenile Fiction -- J Ge)

*This item also available on Libby, Cloud Library, and HooplaWhile 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.


Elise Broach
(Juvenile Fiction - J Broach)

*This item also available on Libby (audiobook). 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)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryTwelve-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.

Ms. Bixby's Last Day

John David Anderson
(Juvenile Fiction - J Anderso)

*This item also available on Libby, Cloud Library, and HooplaLoving their gifted teacher, three boys are dismayed when the teacher falls ill and leaves for the rest of the school year, a situation that compels them to share their stories while cutting class and journeying across town together on a fateful day.

One Crazy Summer

Rita Williams-Garcia
(Juvenile Fiction - J Williams)

*This item also available on Libby, Cloud Library, and HooplaIn 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)

*This item also available on Libby and HooplaPoppy 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.

Raymie Nightingale

Kate DiCamillo
(Juvenile Fiction - J DiCamil)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryHoping that if she wins a local beauty pageant her father will come home, Raymie practices twirling a baton and performing good deeds while outmaneuvering a drama queen and a saboteur who become her unlikely friends and allies during a painful challenge.

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Robert Beatty
(Juvenile Fiction - J Beatty)
Series: Serafina

*This item also available on Libby, Cloud Library, and HooplaIn 1899, a twelve-year-old rat catcher on North Carolina's Biltmore estate teams up with the estate owner's young nephew to battle a great evil and, in the process, unlocks the puzzle of her past.

The Serpent's Secret

Sayantani DasGupta
(Juvenile Fiction - J Dasgupt)
Series: Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond

*This item also available on Libby, Cloud Library, and Hoopla (audiobook). Up until her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala considered herself an ordinary sixth-grader in Parsippany, New Jersey, but then her parents disappear and a drooling rakkhosh demon shows up in her kitchen, and soon she is swept into another dimension, full of magic, winged horses, talking birds (very annoying), and cute princes--and somehow Kiranmala needs to sort it all out, find her parents, and basically save the world.


Holly Goldberg Sloan
(Juvenile Fiction - J Sloan)

Very short for her age, Julia grows into her sense of self while playing a munchkin in a summer regional theater production of The Wizard of Oz.


Kenneth Oppel
(Juvenile Fiction - J Op)

*This item also available on LibbyA 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.

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)

*This item also available on LibbyWashed 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.

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.

Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961

Larry Dane Brimner
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 323.092 Bri)

For twelve history-making days in May 1961, thirteen black and white civil rights activists, also known as the Freedom Riders, traveled by bus into the South to draw attention to the unconstitutional segregation still taking place. Despite their peaceful protests, the Freedom Riders were met with increasing violence the further south they traveled.

The Wild Robot

Peter Brown
(Juvenile Fiction - J Brown)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryRoz the robot discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island with no memory of where she is from or why she is there, and her only hope of survival is to try to learn about her new environment from the island's hostile inhabitants.


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

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryTen-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.

A Wrinkle In Time: The Graphic Novel

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

*This item also available on LibbyA 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.

Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature's Undead

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

*This item also available on HooplaExamines 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.