Magyk Best books because they are so awesome 5th grade Pragmatic Mom

Best Chapter Books from My 5th Grade Daughter

Best Chapter Books for 5th Grade Because They Are So Awesome

We lost power for 28 hours from Hurricane Irene yesterday even though by the time it reached Boston, Irene was just a tropical storm. 24+ hours without screens turns out to be a long time for me though my kids made out fine by taking the emergency lamp to the basement to pretend to camp out. By 10 p.m., I was pretty tired of the blackout was using my Color Nook as a light source while rereading David Senderis books.

My daughter said to read The Emerald Atlas which was the one book on the Nook that I hadn’t read. She found a commercial for it on Poptropica. I read most of it last night though it was so exciting that I cheated and read the last third after the first third so still have the middle third to go.  And oohhhh…. it is so good!

We’d describe it as Chronicles of Narnia meets Maximum Ride. The book has an old-fashioned fantasy spin like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe series but with the pacing and plot twists and turns like Maximum Ride. This is a very good combination! A modern classic of epic proportions!

This is author John Stephen’s first book but he comes out of TV and writes like a seasoned veteran. I’m excited that this is a series though I am guessing that there will be 3 books?! Only because there seem to be three books (and two are still missing), a missing set of parents, and three kids with special powers. I highly recommend this book and I think it’s exciting to make a new discovery that will surely be a movie soon!

Please leave a comment on any of the books to share what YOU think of these picks! And please feel free to suggest more! My daughter is always looking for another good books series! Thank you!

The Emerald Atlas (Books of Beginning) by John Stephens


Just a quick update. My daughter was assigned Magyk by Angie Sage for her book club and at first she resisted reading it. Sometimes she reads the assigned book post book club after her friends talk about it (and how much they liked it), sometimes never, and sometimes before the book club. There were a string of not reading before book club so this time I put my foot down.

“Read your book club book!” I insisted.

“But it’s in two days,” she protested.

“Read as much as you can.” I am trying to be firm.

“Ok, FINE!! (Picture her eyes rolling to the back of her head and a hypothetical door slamming. She’s 11-years-old so this apparently is age appropriate behavior. Plus mom is stupid. That’s a given.)

Two days later, she raced through the book and asked for the rest of the series. I only knew Angie Sage from My Haunted House series as this was our requisite 3rd grade October book club selection. It’s hard to keep up.

I will update when she’s read the rest of the series. Sometimes she doesn’t like the sequels…


My oldest just finished The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins and she is adding this to her list as her TOP CHOICE!

I started The Hunger Games but I haven’t finished it. I usually avoid dystopian books as I find them depressing and I was worried that this series would also be scary like the movies Logan’s Run or The Running Man. (I realize that I’m dating myself here.) My daughter reassured me that this series is not scary and only a tad sad. “You HAVE to read the last book,” she tells me. “It’s sooo good!” I plan to …  someday!


My oldest started off as a reluctant reader back when she learned to read in Kindergarten. Turns out that she hated the pressure of reading aloud, but we forced her to because that was the only we knew if she was decoding correctly. The additional issue was that the books she liked were too difficult for her to read by herself. She was always one who liked a good plot. I tried all kinds of strategies to get her to love reading including shared reading, picture books through 3rd grade, and setting up a book club for her.

About the middle of third grade, reading became a pleasure. Easier Newbery books were now within reach and though she didn’t like them all, there were many more quality choices. Now, as a fifth-grader, she started to devour books in an under-the-radar way. We don’t notice her reading all the time because she certainly would choose playing over reading, but when she’s late to come downstairs for breakfast, she’s reading instead of changing. And we have to check on her at night because she reads when she should be sleeping.

I am thrilled that she is loving to read and now that she is cranking through book series, I am noticing a pattern: she loves fast paced, fantasy adventure books, particularly those in which the main characters possess special powers. I asked her for her Top 5 Series recommendations and all fit the bill except for The Mysterious Benedict Society. These series also have unisex appeal as I have noticed that she is lending out her books to both male and female classmates. Finally, these books are appropriate for a wider audience beyond 5th grade, I’d say the range is grades 3rd through 8th. What book series is your child devouring? Thanks for sharing!


10. Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo

After my daughter finished the Harry Potter series and the Percy Jackson series, there was a void in her life and the Charlie Bone series helped to fill that sad time when you’ve exhausted your favorite book series not once but twice and there isn’t anything good left to read. She read the entire series and loved it. Perhaps her love was not as deep and passionate as it is for Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but still, she is attached. [chapter book, ages 8-14]

9. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

My daughter and I love this sweet and funny series. We are not allowed to talk about book three yet, The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, but suffice it to say that we all LOVED it! We will, each of us, write a post in May (myself, my older and middle daughter).

8. City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

My daughter loved the first two books of the series about how the people of Ember went underground but not rest of the series.

7. The Daughters Break the Rules by Joanna Philbin

Joanna is the daughter of Regis Philbin and she really loves this series of a rich girl who does good.

6. Percy Jackson series (both) by Rick Riordan

I pulled an all night bender one weekend and read the entire series in one go and what a lovely weekend that was for me, though my kids and husband were greatly annoyed with my bad behavior. I love this series and so does my daughter! As in LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it; deeply and passionately as it has all the elements except for the Newbery recognition: great plot, Greek mythology, characters with depth, fast paced and exciting. It deserves more awards! [chapter book, ages 8-adult]

5. Peter and the Starcatchers by Ridley Pearson

From my daughter: One day at school I made my friend Anna read Maximum Ride and she really liked it. All day while she read, I kept saying, “I told you so.” She then made me read Peter and the Starcatchers which I did not expect to like because it’s basically Peter Pan — I thought it was stupid — but I ended up loving it.

4. Witch and Wizard by James Patterson

My daughter is a huge fan of James Patterson and I had to scramble to get the next book in her hands as she finished off each one. I couldn’t even order them from Amazon, because the shipping time was too slow! That is the thing about James Patterson, they are addicting.

3. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart Anyone who has read this book series has RAVED about it and I bought it so that I could join this club. Sadly, I’m still on the outside looking in, but my daughter says that this is GREAT! [chapter book, ages 8-adult]

2. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling This might have been a defining moment for my daughter when she finished this series. Now she has the wands and has created a blog on Harry Potter and all her play seems to be based on dramatic play involving Hermione and Harry Potter et al. I just started the series with my middle daughter and I am getting that deja vu feeling because I saw most of the movies AND visited the museum exhibit so I actually think that I’ve read the series but I haven’t. I guess I’ve been living under a rock all these years! [chapter book, ages 8-adult]

1. Maximum Ride series by James Patterson I received the first book from the publisher but before I could read it, my daughter snagged it. She then spent her birthday money on the next 3 books in the series and we had to make a pit stop at the library for the rest. Luckily, we found them by scouring both the YA paperback and hardcover sections. The last book is coming out soon and she asks me everyday practically if it’s arrived. And, no, it hasn’t. But it’s coming out soon! This series is a fasten-your-seatbelt-it’s-gonna-be-bumpy ride kind of book series that is mostly all plot, but what a plot with twists, turns and “is this a dream or reality?” I wish there was more effort spent on character development, particularly for the other members of the flock besides Max but my daughter didn’t seem to mind. She forced me to read the first two books because she loved the series so much. It’s so fast[young adult fiction, ages 10-16]

Honorable Mentions

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Savvy has all the elements of the above 5 favorite series but my daughter did NOT like Scumble, though our neighbor’s kids in middle school loved it. I didn’t quite catch why — something about being a different family? — but it was rejected though she loved Savvy so much that she and her friend read it together at school at the same time with just one book between them. You know, two heads in one book and you have to wait for your friend to finish before you can turn the page?! [chapter book, ages 8-14]

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

My daughter and I both loved this new Riordan series and it was loaned out repeatedly to friends but not everyone liked this as much as we did and I am not sure why. [chapter book, ages 8-14]

The Pharaoh’s Secret by Marissa Moss

We both also loved this book and it perhaps is even better than The Red Pyramid though they are quite similar. More ancient Egypt, special powers and wrongs that have to be righted. This is a great book though it is not part of a series. [chapter book, ages 8-14]

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

I am so happy that the Percy Jackson series continues and thrilled that it now mixes Roman Mythology with Greek. We both loved this book and can’t wait for the next one!

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Yay! I’m bookmarking this list.

    • Hi Sarah,
      I’ll keep updating this as my kid keeps reading and recommending. I’m hoping that The Winkle In Time series comes soon so she can race through those books. She loved the first so fingers crossed!

  2. I really didn’t like the Red Pyramid- but the other books I did enjoy. Glad to know someone liked it though. 🙂

    • A lot of kids felt the same way about Percy Jackson versus The Kane Chronicles. It was one of those books you loved or hated. I can’t get enough of Rick Riordan myself. He did cover a lot of Egyptian history so that was hard to follow but I LOVE Ancient Egypt.

  3. What a great list! My 11 year old loved Maximum Ride and the Percy Jackson series. He is just now reading The Lost Hero, and is loving it. My younger son really enjoyed the first 3 Harry Potters, although is now ‘stuck’ on book 4.
    I compiled a list of books that boys love from my reading log website. There’s some overlap with yours, but you’re welcome to take a look!

  4. Sheela Chari

    I’m glad to see City of Ember on the list. I really enjoyed it, and thought the book was so well-crafted and fun. I’m hoping to read the next two soon!

  5. Great list! I am also a huge Rick Riordan fan (including his mysteries for adults), but didn’t care for the Red Pyramid.

    Your daughter might also like Angie Sage’s Magyk series and Sarah Prineas’s Magic Thief series. They shew towards the younger end of what’s on this list, but are both solid series, with plenty of magic.

    • To Jen,
      That is soo funny! She just read Magyk for her book club and LOVED it. I am to get her the rest of that book series. I will suggest Magic Thief to her. Thanks so much!!!

  6. Great list. I’d suggest Joan Aiken’s Wolves chronicles and Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, as well as Stephanie Burgis’ books (the first is called A Most Improper Magick here in the UK, but has a different name in the US)- a really fun mix of Georgette Heyer and Diana Wynne Jones, who I also recommend.

  7. Read Aloud Dad

    What a fabulous list Pragmatic Mom. I find your lists to be exciting for both kids and parents! That’s a mean feat!

    Thanks so much for the time you save us with your time-tested tips.

    Read Aloud Dad

    • To Read Aloud Dad,
      Thank you so much! My fifth grader is THRILLED that people are reading her blog post and that they like the books she likes. I’m always surprised when she rejects a book that I like (Maniac Magee and Julie of the Wolves come to mind. Oh yes, and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler), but I guess it’s a good weeding mechanism to get to the books that kids and parents both like though we both loved The Red Pyramid and that seems to be iffy with about half of the Percy Jackson fans.

  8. choxbox

    Great list!

    Another good one is Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci series. My (then) 8-year old had loved it and read it over and over again.

    Would reco Craighead’s ‘Julie’ series. Awesome. My daughter enjoyed them so much that we have hunted down several of her other series too.

    • To Choxbox,
      Thanks so much for your suggestions! I’m going to tell my daughter about Dianna Wynne Jones’. I bought her Julie of the Wolves but she tried it and didn’t get into it. So sad because I LOVED it as a child!

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