Read aloud books for 5th graders
The Wayside School Collection
by: Louis Sachar, illustrated by: Adam McCauley - (HarperCollins, 2004) 496 pages.
Wayside School has mean, crazy teachers and weird, stinky students. It also has a horrible Halloween party and the freakiest events ever on the 13th floor. Laugh loudly with your children at the zany antics in this hilarious trilogy. Arranged in short, self-contained chapters that work as brief bedtime stories.
Perfect for: Kids who like humor stories.
Find The Wayside School Collection at your local library.
by: Astrid Lindgren, illustrated by: Michael Chesworth and Louis S. Glanzman - (Puffin Books, 1945) 160 pages.
Pippi Longstocking has no parents, but she does have a monkey, a horse, and high spirits for outrageous adventure. Two children next door — Tommy and Annika — are amazed by her lifestyle. Envious kids everywhere adore this sassy, unsupervised heroine from Sweden who throws food, stays up all night, and does exactly what she pleases.
Perfect for: Kids who like classic stories.
Find Pippi Longstocking at your local library.
by: William Steig - (Square Fish, 2007) 128 pages.
Abel and Amanda are newlywed, high-society mice enjoying a picnic in the forest. When a rainstorm strikes, Abel is swept away and marooned on a river island. The cultured rodent castaway survives here, a la Robinson Crusoe, adapting to nature with cheerful resourcefulness and utilizing the solitude to reexamine his life.
Perfect for: Kids who like fantasy and survival stories.
Find Abel’s Island at your local library.
Howl’s Moving Castle
by: Diana Wynne Jones - (Greenwillow Books, 2008) 448 pages.
Sophie accidentally offends the wicked Witch of the Waste, who retaliates by transforming the girl into an old crone. To break the spell, Sophie needs the help of the Wizard Howl and his fire demon Calcifer, who live in a bizarre, constantly moving castle. Witty and complex, with engaging characters and a magically satisfying conclusion.
Want to see the movie? Check out the mesmerizing animated 2005 film directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
Perfect for: Kids who have vivid imaginations.
Find Howl’s Moving Castle at your local library.
by: Louis Sachar - (Yearling, 2000) 233 pages.
After Stanley Yelnats is falsely convicted of stealing, he’s sent to a Texas juvenile detention center for boys where he’s forced to dig ditches all day. Will he unearth buried treasure? Absurd but believable tale of crime, punishment, compassion, and friendship. Action filled and humorous, with several depressing and violent sections.
Want to see the movie? The book’s author wrote the gritty, sophisticated 2003 film.
Perfect for: Kids who like gritty adventure stories.
Find Holes at your local library.
Peter and the Starcatchers
by: Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, illustrated by: Greg Call - (Disney Editions/Hyperion Books for Children, 2004) 451 pages.
This prequel to Peter Pan tells the swashbuckling tale of orphan Peter and his pals who escape from King Zardoff’s island on their ship, “Never Land.” Humorous and fast paced with pirates, thunderstorms, biting mermaids, and a flying crocodile. For girls, there’s magic “starstuff” and brave Molly who talks to porpoises.
Perfect for: Pirate-lovin’ kids looking for swashbuckling on the high seas.
Find Peter and the Starcatchers at your local library.
Island of the Blue Dolphins
by: Scott O'Dell - (Yearling, 1971) 192 pages.
The Newbery Medal winner for 1961, this book could be seen as a precursor to Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet (see below). Karana is a 12-year-old Native American who refuses to abandon her 6-year-old brother when her island, Ghalas-at (off the Southern California coast) is evacuated. Shortly thereafter, he tragically dies after being attacked by wild dogs, and Karana begins her solitary wait for a ship to come for her. She waits 18 years. Karana survives by foraging, fishing in the ocean, defending herself from wild dogs and elephant seals, and hiding from the Aleut tribe. Told from her point of view, we share the details of her day-to-day life, watch the days turn into years, and wait for the ship to carry her off her lonely island. O’Dell based this novel on an actual historical figure, known as The Lost Woman of San Nicolas, who lived on the island from 1835-1853.
Perfect for: Kids who like historical fiction.
Find Island of the Blue Dolphins at your local library.
by: Jerry Spinelli - (Little, Brown, 1990) 184 pages.
A homeless orphan becomes a legend in a town divided by racism in this sometimes funny, sometimes moving, always exciting story. Jeffrey Magee’s exploits may have made him famous, but reconciling a town filled with hate and finding a decent life for himself may be more than even he can manage.
Perfect for: Kids who like realism.
Find Maniac Magee at your local library.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
by: Joan Aiken, illustrated by: Pat Marriott - (Dell Yearling, 1962) 192 pages.
First published in 1962, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase possesses all the attributes that make a book a favorite and that you want to pass down to the next generation. Bonnie and Sylvia, residents of a British estate in the 19th century, are left in the care of a cruel governess while their parents are away on holiday. The girls can hardly believe what is happening to their once happy home. The servants are dismissed, the furniture sold and the girls sent to a prison-like orphan school. Full of intrigue and mystery, this is a book for a strong reader and is guaranteed to transport them to another time and place.
Perfect for: Kids who like classic stories.
Find The Wolves of Willoughby Chase at your local library.
by: R.J. Palacio - (Random House Children's Books, 2012) 320 pages.
This beautiful novel will help kids understand what it’s like to be that kid — the one everyone stares at, laughs at, and avoids. Auggie Pullman has a facial disfigurement so extreme that he wore a toy astronaut helmet to preschool. He was homeschooled until fifth grade, but now he is going to regular school, where he encounters both cruelty and kindness. The book will remind readers how much courage it takes to be different — and how essential it is to be kind.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 2017 adaption featuring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as Auggie’s mom and dad.
Perfect for: Kids who are different.
Find Wonder at your local library.