5th Grade Summer Reading

As children get older, I think it becomes more and more important to give them access to entertaining books that are going to help grow their love of reading and keep their brains engaged over the summer. For this reason, I’ve included a variety of genres of stories that my children and I couldn’t get enough of. Happy reading!

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The Firefly Summer by Morgan Matson

When Ryanna receives a letter from her estranged grandparents inviting her to spend the summer with them at an old summer camp in the Poconos, she doesn’t realize, she’s signing up for an adventure of a lifetime. She not only meets a plethora of relatives, but also finds a treasure map that leads her on a quest to solve a decades-long mystery.

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The Terrible Two (series) by Mac Barnett

Miles Murphy couldn’t be less excited about moving to Yawnee Valley, a town famous for their large number of cattle. The only saving grace is that he can start his 5th grade year as the school’s new prankster. When he arrives on the first day to find the principal’s car blocking the entrance to the school, however, he realizes Yawnee may already have a prankster that needs to be dethroned. We read this book aloud as a family and it had everyone cracking up. Between the comical writing and hysterical illustrations, this one is perfect for reluctant readers or anyone who enjoys a funny story.

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11 Birthdays (series) by Wendy Mass

Born on the same day, best friends Amanda and Leo have spent every one of their birthdays together until this year. Due to a recent disagreement, they are spending this birthday apart until mystical cosmic forces have Amanda repeating her birthday day after day until she can finally make amends with Leo. This is such a well-crafted and thought-provoking friendship story.

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Gregor the Overlander (series) by Suzanne Collins

Adventure and fantasy lovers will devour this exciting series. When Gregor accidentally stumbles upon a hidden world he discovers he is part of an ancient prophecy that can help him find his missing father. Full of danger and memorable characters, this is an excellent series for reluctant readers.

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Wish by Barbara O’Connor

With her dad in jail and her mother unable to care for her, eleven-year-old Charlie Reese moves in with her aunt and uncle in North Carolina. While waiting for the opportunity to go back home, Charlie is surprised to find true friendship in a classmate, a dog, and may even find the family she has always wished she had.

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Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Geneva B

Facing eviction from his apartment,  Jaxon fears things can’t get worse, which is exactly when he meets a witch who changes his life forever. She entices him to help deliver dragons to a secret world filled with magic.Full of adventure and interesting characters, this one is a real winner!

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The Penderwicks: a summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits, and a very interesting boy (series)by Jeanne Birdsall

This modern-day classic stars a family of four sisters who travel with their widowed father to an enchanting estate called Arundel for the summer. Each sister has a uniquely captivating personality and their adventures with a young boy named Jeffrey are nothing short of delightful!

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Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Fans of spooky stories will relish in this terrifying tale! When Ollie and her classmates are stranded on a class field trip to a farm, Ollie suspects that the ghost story of the Smiling Man she has been reading about might be true after all.

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Holes by Louis Sachar

This award-winning book follows Stanley Yelnats who is convinced he is cursed. After wrongly convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, he is sent to a boy’s detention center in the dessert where he meets a rag-tag group of kids forced to dig holes searching for a mysterious treasure. The story travels back and forth in time revealing the origin of Stanley’s supposed curse and his eventual salvation.

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The One and Only Ivan (series) by Katherine Applegate; illustrated by Patricia Castelao

This award-winning story follows a great silverback gorilla who resides in the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade for 27 years. When a baby elephant named Ruby joins him, he makes a promise to help her escape the caged life he has endured.

Told from Ivan’s point of view, the moving text is full of humor and heart. I have to admit that I got a little teary-eyed reading about Ivan’s capture and his treatment by some of his handlers, but was uplifted by his stoic nature and the hopeful ending. As soon as we finished the book, my son immediately asked if we could read the rest of the series.

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Front Desk by Kelly Yang

This thoughtful and engaging story based on many events from the author’s life is a must! Mia may only be ten-years-old, but she works the front desk at the motel her parents run. As Chinese immigrants, her family faces a lot of adversity including poverty and racism. It is truly impressive how Mia’s hard-working attitude and desire to follow her dream as a writer guide her through difficult moments. While there is a lot of humor in this book, there are also deeper issues making this a good one to read as a family to discuss.

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Unsolved Case Files series by Tom Sullivan

Filled with eye-catching color illustrations paired with fascinating facts about some of the FBI’s most mysterious unsolved cases, this new series is a must-have. There is a surprising amount of information packed into the books that had me excited to learn right along with my son. A detailed overview of the crime, complete with breakout boxes, reproduced documents, and photographs help readers come to their own conclusions about what happened to the evasive criminals in these mesmerizing true-crime stories.

My son absolutely loves both Escape At 10,000 Feet and Jailbreak at Alcatraz and we are now anxiously awaiting the third book in the series The 500 Million Dollar Heist.



Flora and Ulysses: the Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

This Newberry Award-winner stars the quirky, comic-book loving Flora who discovers a squirrel with super powers. Full of humor and heart, readers will love following Flora as she overcomes her cynical ways during an outlandish adventure saving her squirrel from her eccentric mother.

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The Tail of Emily Windsnap (series) by Liz Kessler, Sarah Gibb

When Emily Windsnap is finally allowed to take swimming lessons, she makes a shocking discovery that she is actually part mermaid! Now she is exploring an underwater world and trying to learn more about her father who is also a mermaid. This is a fun fantasy story filled with friendship and adventure.

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The Magic Misfits (series) by Neil Patrick Harris

My kids adored this humorous and action-packed series about a group of kids who practice magic and work together to stop an evil magician!  The first book stars Carter who escapes the clutches of his con-artist uncle only to fall into the grasp of a villainous carnival owner. Luckily, he meets a band of other magic-loving tweens who help him save the town and find true friendship in the process. Each book in the series is told from the perspective of a different child in the group and my kids loved how the entire series comes together in the end.

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Mystery in Rocky Mountain National Park (National Park Mystery Series) by Aaron Johnson

Filled with hidden codes and riddles, this new mystery series that takes place in National Parks is a ton of fun to read. Before Jake’s grandfather passed away, he entrusted Jake with clues to a hidden treasure. Now, Jake and his friends are in a race to uncover the secret before someone else does.

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Cress Watercress by Gregory Maguire, illustrated by David Litchfield

After his father fails to return home from searching for honey, Cress and his family of rabbits move to an old oak tree where they meet an assortment of woodland animals who become their friends and neighbors. The full-color illustrations by David Litchfield are particularly enchanting.  

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The Adventures of Nanny Pigginsby R.A. Spratt; illustrations by Dan Santat

Hilarious hijinks ensue when a circus pig becomes the governess to three human children. Complete with dry wit, this quirky, entertaining story is pure fun and makes a great summer read. Lexile: 900

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Frindle by Andrew Clements,illustrated by Brian Selznick

Prankster Nick Allen turns his classroom upside down when he invents a new word in this comical realistic fiction. 

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Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales (series) by Nathan Hale

This engaging graphic novel uses humor to teach children all about history. When Nathan Hale is magically gifted the knowledge of the future, he inform a British military officer and a goofy executioner of the outcome of the Revolutionary War. This graphic novel uses playful illustrations and entertaining stories to bring history alive to readers.

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Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

Bree may not know how to swim, but when she is forced to take Swim 101 has her elective, she has no choice but to learn quickly. To her surprise, she loves swimming and becomes a fierce competitor for her middle school team. This graphic novel dives into important themes like trying new things, facing your fears, making new friends, and racism.

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Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd, illustrated by Michelle Mee Nutter

Maggie wants a pet more than anything in the world, but when she goes to adopt one, she discovers she has severe allergies. Now she must navigate a new friendship with a neighbor, prepare to welcome another sibling, and come to terms with her allergies.

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Amulet: The Stonekeeper (series) by Kazu Kibuishi

After the death of their father, siblings Emily and Navin move into their great-grandfather’s old house with their mother. Here they find a secret world filled with danger, strange creatures, and secrets.

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El Deafo by Cece Bell

Basde on her childhood, Cece Bell reinvents her younger self as a rabbit navigating elementary school with a hearing aid. With humor and heart, it’s hard not to love this courageous Cece as she forms friendships, develops a crush, and discovers her hearing aid gives her a special superpower.

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