More 5th Grade Books from a 5th Grade Boy (my son)

More 5th Grade Books from a 5th Grade Boy (my son)

I’m pleased that since our last update of books my 5th grade son read through the end of November, he’s (well… we’ve) managed to read another dozen. The key is that:

  1. He has to read at school.
  2. His teacher has a read aloud book.
  3. He’s assigned 30 minutes reading homework 5 days a week.
  4. We try to read 20 minutes at night on the nights he’s not assigned reading homework.
  5. I am picking new, fun books mixed up with books in series that he’s enjoyed.
  6. I read out loud to him 15 to 20 minutes a night as part of his 30 minute reading homework.
  7. His school does a March Madness reading competition which gets him reading.

I’m also trying to find similar books to what my son likes which include action adventure fantasy like Percy Jackson, funny notebook novels like Timmy Failure, and gaming contests like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

5th Grade Books my 5th Grade Son Recommends

In which I extract a sentence from my son for each book. My comments are in italics.


Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans! by Gary Northfield

Super funny. Can’t wait until the next one. [notebook novel, ages 6 and up]

This is a really fun book for kids who like cartoon illustrations that break up text. Think Madagascar, the movie, Meets Ancient Rome. The zebra in the movie reminds me a little of the zebra in this book. 

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, illustrated by Kathie Kath

Really goofy story about chickens. I thought it was a really funny book. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

A great diversity pick in which the mom and daughter just so happen to be Latina but that’s not the point of the story. This is a story told in letters with a magical realism twist. It’s a fun read and reminds me of Love, Ruby Lavender.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is my book group book at school. It’s a very intense book about slavery and it’s very good. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

I haven’t read this book (yet), but my middle daughter also read it in 5th grade and raved about it. In fact, she went on to read most of the books Laurie Halse Anderson wrote.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

This is the read aloud book but the teacher isn’t done with it yet. [classic chapter book, ages 9 and up]

I loved this book as a child and I’m glad that my kids are reading it in 5th grade as the class read aloud. My middle daughter thought it was boring but my son likes it so far. It should be noted that my middle daughter does not like fantasy or action adventure.

The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon

Very funny and cool. [notebook novel, ages 6 and up]

I thought this was similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid series but my son disagrees. However, this book will appeal to fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid as it has a similar look and feel and is also funny. It’s one of the closer comparisons, but in a good way.

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein

A great second book that makes your mind confuzled. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

My son likes Willy Wonka-like books and this one fits the bill. It’s just as much fun as the first book.

The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl series) by Eoin Colfer

This is another great adventure with Artemis Fowl. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

I really like the Artemis Fowl character and series but some of the books are better than others. I liked this one where Artemis Fowl gets outsmarted in the beginning of the book and has to plot revenge with the help of the LEAP. 

The Opal Deception (Artemis Fowl series) by Eoin Colfer

I didn’t like this one as much but it was still a good book. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

This wasn’t my favorite Artemis Fowl book either but perhaps it’s because we just kind of hate Opal Koboi, the bad “guy” in the book and she has the upper hand throughout most of the book.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

A very sweet book about a curious boy and his grandmother as they go to a soup kitchen. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

I am trying to get my son to read the age appropriate Newbery winners each year. 

365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts by R. J. Palacio

A bunch of cool quotes and stories from different perspectives. [quotes with short two page stories, ages 8 and up]

We both really loved Wonder and have read all the follow up stories. If you only read one follow up story to Wonder though, you have to read the Julius story which is NOT this book. You can purchase the Julius story separately as an eBook which is what we did, or buy the three short stories in a book (which wasn’t available before when we bought the eBooks). Auggie & Me contains the Julius story. If you must read every word R. J. Palacio wrote, continue on with 365 Days of Wonder.

The Zodiac Legacy: The Dragon’s Return by Stan Lee and Stuart Moore, illustrated by Andie Tong

An awesome sequel with twists and turns at every corner. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Fans of Percy Jackson will like this diversity action adventure series from Marvel Comics genius Stan Lee. He creates an action adventure series in which superpowers derived from the Chinese Zodiac can be placed into various humans, both good and bad. Naturally, the fate of the world rest in the hands of the good guys, a team headed up by Jasmine, an Asian American young woman with the strongest powers. When the good team starts to fall apart, Steven, an Asian American boy, must find a way to keep his team together. 

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

A really funny twist on the Disney princesses and princes. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Fractured fairy tales take a hilarious twist as the Prince Charmings in various Disney movies now have names and are surpassed by their princesses: Rapunzel, Snow White, Cinderella, and Briar Rose. 

Loki’s Wolves by K. L. Armstrong

A cool Norse mythology book about the gods’ descendents. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

I’m glad my son likes this series because it’s going to be a few more months until a new Rick Riordan book comes out. Still, I thought this was a copycat-light version of Magnus Chase. It’s not as funny and the characters are not as well developed. If you don’t mind the similarities in plot, this is a book series to fill in the wait time for a new Riordan book.

The Hero’s Guide to Storming Your Castle by Christopher Healy

I am in the middle of this book but I like it as much as the first one. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

I think we are going to make it all the way through this series and that says a lot because we never finished Harry Potter or the Artemis Fowl series. Christopher Healy really has a gift for writing humor for kids. I think boys and girls alike will enjoy this series, which is a difficult feat to pull off!

Fifth Grade Books for 5th Grade Readers

I have a few more books in the wings for my son to read this year. To stretch him, I’ll be trying:

Novel in Verse about soccer (he plays club soccer) by Kwame Alexander called Booked which comes out in April.

My son is excited to read this book. When I posted an Instagram photo of my son holding The Crossover, Kwame Alexander himself liked the photo and left a comment! My son was so amazed! It was a nice connection to the author that makes my son want to read his new book even more!

Sequel to Calpurnia Tate, The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

My son loved the first book, but he’s reluctant to read the second one. I’ve read it myself and it’s good, but not quite as good as the first one. Still, I’m hoping we will read it together this year. Perhaps this will be summer reading.

The Marvels by Brian Selznek

My son liked The Invention of Hugo Cabret and I think he will like The Marvels with its plot twist and crazy, inventive house.

Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta

My son doesn’t play baseball but I think he will love this funny revenge focused baseball story. I met Kurtis Scaletta at KidLitCon in 2012 and I, apparently, was the first person ever to go up to him and say, “Are you the author of Mudville? I LOVED that book!” Still love it!

The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy

We have to read the last one in this trilogy!

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

More 5th Grade Books from a 5th Grade Boy (my son)

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay for postage and handling for my giveaways.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Sarah

    This is a great list! Now I want to read Julius Zebra. The cover looks funny, but I wasn’t totally convinced until I read your thoughts on the book.

    And congrats on being encouraging with your 5th grade son towards reading. There are so many television shows, video games, internet distractions and more that might tempt a kid away from reading. The persistent, but gentle, not pushy approach that you’re taking seems the right way to go about reinforcing good reading habits..

  2. These look great! We love the Hero’s Guide books. They are so funny.
    Mother of 3 recently posted…Teaching While DrivingMy Profile

  3. Hi! I REALLY wish your son would read my book! I’m a teacher and a mom and my 4th to 6th grade students really liked my book. There’s a hero they can relate to, plus it takes place at the beach and in Yosemite…two places they LOVE. You can find it on Amazon and you’ll love the price!
    JG’s by M.D.Marrone

  4. Maria Marrone

    I would love to know about follow up comments…

  5. It is hard to get much of a review from tween/teen boys, isn’t it? I try to get my son to write me a short review to add to my own when we read the same books, but the best I can get is 2 or 3 sentences 😉

    I just wanted to point out that Loki’s Wolves came out a couple of years before Riordan’s Magnus Chase, but I agree with you about preferring Magnus Chase as it’s longer so better developed characters and story, and I like his humor.

    Have you seen Red Sun by Alane Adams? It’s also a Norse mythology based fantasy/adventure, though not the same style as the other two. I didn’t like it as well, but my son thought it was better than Magnus Chase (I think length had something to do with it).
    Jennifer recently posted…The Red Sun by Alane AdamsMy Profile

    • Hi Jennifer,
      Thanks so much for your great book suggestion and for pointing out that Loki’s Wolves came out before Magnus Chase. My son is such a Rick Riordan fan that it’s hard to find more books like his. Most don’t have his sense of humor which is what I realize why he’s such a huge fan. I’ll tell him about Red Sun! Thanks so much!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Kid Lit Blog Hop!My Profile

  6. Another great list! I teach middle school, and I don’t have some of these, so I will need to remedy that.

  7. Thanks for the great list. Sharing with my daughter who is moving from 6th grade to 5th grade next year! Perfect timing.
    Cheryl Carpinello recently posted…New Cover Reveal for King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s CourtMy Profile

    • Hi Cheryl,
      Yay! I’ll tell my son and we will keep posting. He’s reading more than he’s ever had and wider range of books too which is making me so happy. I will wholeheartedly recommend The True Meaning of Smeckday by Adam Rex. We just finished it. It’s really funny; alien sci-fi, roadtrip, strong girl character in search of her mother who was abducted but nothing is too scary or sad. It’s just a really fun, funny story. It was made into a movie but it doesn’t follow the book closely enough.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…9 People Who Changed The World: Nobel Peace Prize Picture BooksMy Profile

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