See ALL my book recommendations for 10-year-olds, 5th graders, here.
Table of Contents
Book Series for 5th Graders (10-Year-Olds)
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis
The Endling: The Last by Katherine Applegate
The Ruins of Gorlan: Ranger’s Apprentice by John A. Flanagan
Will is apprenticed to become a Ranger, a job he’s unsure about. But as he develops a relationship with his master and learns what being a Ranger is all about (spying for the kingdom), he begins to embrace his new life. When an old enemy of the kingdom sends out dangerous beasts to attack Will’s master, Will is instrumental in getting help and killing the creatures. Action, fantasy, adventure, friendship, excellent writing — this book has it all! It’s a must-read, especially for boys. BOX SET
Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
GHOST/FANTASY review written by Kathie MacIsaac
The Serafina series is another one of my favorite dark series, and this book is the one that sets the stage for the tales that follow. Serafina has lived a life in secret in the basement of Biltmore Estate, where her father is the maintenance man. Children on the estate suddenly start disappearing, and Serafina sees who’s behind it, but doesn’t know who they are. She befriends a boy to help her uncover the identity of the culprit, but Serafina discovers a mystery about her own past that will change her life forever. BOX SET HERE.
A Tale of Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
This book is bloody and macabre and an excellent, imaginative story that weaves Hansel and Gretel with eight more Grimm fairy tales. Hansel and Gretel abandon their terrible parents in order to find better ones –ones that won’t try to kill them. The narrator, a strong, quirky voice, warns us of the bloody things to come. While he’s sometimes distracting, for the most part, I liked how his snarky voice kept me from getting too freaked out by the gruesome parts. Once in the wild forest, Hansel transforms into a ravenous, hunter-beast, and Gretel continues on her own. This book will make you want to reread your Complete Brother’s Grimm. (Just don’t read it right before bed.)
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith
Legacy and the Queen by Annie Matthew, created by Kobe Bryant
FANTASY / SPORTS
This uniquely imagined story is also beautifully written and 100% enchanting. Legacy lives at an orphanage with her father and the other orphans but she longs to compete in tennis. When she gets the chance, she leaves to try out for the country’s elite tennis academy. Once she’s there, Legacy’s country background makes her an outcast but that also helps her discover two true friends, her inner magical power, and the dangerous truth of what’s actually going on at the Academy. An unexpected but delightful combination of tennis and fantasy.
Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadowsby Ryan Calejo
Warriors by Erin Hunter
A house cat discovers wild cats who live in four clans near his house. He leaves his home to join the ThunderClan and becomes Firepaw, an apprentice warrior. Just in time, too. Because the ShadowClan wants to take their land. Firepaw will be needed to find the traitor and protect his new family. Excellent writing and adventure make this book series hard to put down. Boxed set here. (Also, there are about a million books in this series so if your kid likes this first book, they’ll have plenty more to read continuing on…)
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
One minute Gregor and his little sister are in New York City, and the next, they’re in the Underland — where insects and Rats are as large as humans. But all Gregor wants to do is return home…until he learns that his missing father might be in the Underland as a captive of the Rats. He’s a very good big brother so he makes sure his (darling) toddler sister can go with him before he leaves with a group of human and animal allies to search for his dad. Oh, and he’s meant to fulfill a prophecy, too.
Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland
A group of dragonets who might be the long-awaited dragonets of the prophecy that will end the dragon wars for good leave their protectors’ safety only to be captured by a cruel dragon faction. One thing’s for sure: when the dragonets are captured, things don’t look good for their safety and future.
Saving Fable by Scott Reintgen
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
We loved this series so much we read it twice for a bedtime story! You’ll love the strong female main character, a princess named Cimorene who doesn’t want to live the typical princess life. She leaves her home to apprentice herself to a dragon. Just for fun. No prince rescuing involved, thank you very much. Then she must help save her dragon from a group of evil wizards. We LOVE and highly recommend this dragon series. BOX SET
Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
I think you already know about these amazing books but if you don’t, they’re absolutely engaging fantasy adventures that will hook your kids into reading, especially The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
FANTASY / ADVENTURE
I stayed up all night to finish this book –it was fantastic! Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. And Sophie has a secret—she’s a Telepath, not a human. She must leave the human world for the Elvin world where she’ll face danger from both worlds. Her only hope is to regain the memories of her past.
Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
The compelling, well-written story jumps into the action immediately when Nizhoni, from the Diné (Navajo) people, sees a monster (disguised as a human) at her basketball game. Making matters worse, it’s her dad’s new boss who kidnaps her dad and wants her little brother, too. She escapes with her brother and best friend to ask the Spider Woman for help, learning that she and her brothers are the descendants of the Hero Twins. Her journey challenges her with heroic trials in order to meet the Sun who will give her weapons to fight the monsters and culminating in a fierce battle between the good guys and the monsters. I LOVED this story — it’s a fast-paced hero’s journey with a rich, diverse mythology.
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
An addictive series you won’t be able to put down! Fairy tales come alive when Alex and Conner (brother and sister) find themselves trapped in the fairy tale world. Their only way home is to find the ingredients for a Wishing Spell. Finding them will be dangerous, mysterious, and life-changing. The characters are memorable, unique, and familiar all at the same time. Kids love these books. (So do I.) BOX SET HERE.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The best-selling children’s book of all time, this is a MUST READ for so many reasons: the brilliant storytelling, a complex and entertaining plot, relatable characters, rich language, essential life lessons about friendship, magic, and bravery, and more. (See all my reasons for reading Harry Potter.) Harry Potter gets kids excited about reading; it’s compelling and amazing. I can’t say enough good things about it!!
The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West
This is an awesome book series about a house that seems to be haunted; with paintings that lead to other worlds, and mysteriously cryptic, talking cats. Olive soon learns that the previous owners had trapped many people in the paintings, including a boy Olive befriends. The plot’s twistings kept me wondering what was happening, and my kids and I loved the main character’s gumption and her supportive side-kick cats.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
A Wrinkle in Time is a remarkable, well-written adventure in space that deals with the overarching theme of good vs. evil. Meg and her brother, Charles Wallace, and friend, Calvin, set off to find her scientist father who disappeared while researching tesseracts. I’ve read this book so many times, I can’t count and every time it’s just as fantastic. Box set here
Jinxed by Amy McCulloch
This is “a fairy tale, but not of princes and frogs, ball gowns and pumpkins, but of makers and metal, of wire and ingenuity and inspiration and creativity and invention.” In this evolved society, the tech company MONCHA makes computerized pets called bakus that act like smartphones and computers. Lacey finds an unusual, half-destroyed cat baku and rebuilds it using a 3D printer and found parts. When her baku Jinx starts to work, he’s noticeably different than the others because he can speak into her mind and think for himself! So when she starts competing with other kids at her prestigious school in the battle of the bakus, Jinx doesn’t follow the rules which lead to two bad things — his capture and the discovery of a sinister truth about the MONCHA company. Fantastic, fast-paced, and thought-provoking.
Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks
Sanity and Tallulah are two good friends who live on a space station. Sanity is a brilliant inventor — but her newest (illegal) creation, a three-headed kitten named Princess Destroyer of Worlds has escaped and is living up to her name — destroyer. The friends look for their missing kitten but instead discover a big problem that will destroy the space station only it’s not caused by the kitten. While the station is evacuated, the friends work hard to stop the duct weasels and the engine from overheating. I love the space station setting, the super-smart problem-solving main characters, and the non-stop action.
Dead City by James Ponti
Molly’s recruited to hunt zombies in New York City, just like her mother, who is dead. Or is mom actually a zombie? Molly glimpses someone who looks just like her mother, only she’s a zombie. This is a great action-adventure-mystery book series for 5th graders.
Masterminds by Gordon Korman
Eli and his friends discover that their utopian town is a large-scale, illegal science experiment to determine if kids cloned from criminal masterminds can be good when raised in the right environment. Eli and his cloned friends know they can’t stay in their town of lies anymore but how can they escape when the minute they reach the border, they experience violent pain and guards surround them? And if they do escape, what will they next? My kids and I couldn’t put this book down –it’s an amazing, action-packed adventure.
5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun
Gorgeous artwork sets the tone for an otherworldly story. The five worlds are falling into chaos. When one world attacks another, Oona Lee, a girl who is a sand dancer, rescues two boys and the three determine to lit the unlit Beacons and save the worlds. But, they face a dark force that comes with a devastating betrayal. See the artwork from 5 Worlds on their Tumblr page here. (I mentioned this on Instagram but this book enticed my daughter with a chronic illness who hasn’t felt well enough to read in months to read!!)
The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier, illustrated by Douglas Colgate
This exciting series makes the zombie apocalypse sounds like a fun adventure. Jack and his best friend, Quint, live in an upgraded, well-defended treehouse where they plan to first rescue his crush June (she doesn’t need rescuing being quite capable) and then fight zombies. Illustrations throughout make this even more appealing to read and imagine. Delightful. Who would have thought?! BOXED SET HERE.
Act by Kyla Miller
Olive is upset when she learns that a classmate can’t afford the fees for a class field trip. Her aunt suggests that Olive organize a protest. She does research at the library and ends up doing a petition and a sit-in. Unfortunately, no one else seems to care so Olive spontaneously runs for student council — which offends her friends — but she learns about other big issues students face that should be changed and works hard to make a difference. Readers will see that one girl CAN make a difference! Engaging, inspiring, and perfect for the world right now.
All Four Stars by Tara Dairman
New Kid by Jerry Craft
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
REALISTIC / IMMIGRATION
The Penderwicksby Jeanne Birdsall
The Penderwick family embarks on a summer vacation on the estate of Arundel. It’s a magical time of imaginative play, family time, and a new friend — Jeffrey, the son of the estate owner. I love the unique personalities of all the sisters, their adventures, and the nostalgic feel of the long summer days spent together in play.
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
My daughter found this graphic novel SO RELATABLE — just like she struggles with confidence and speaking up, so does the main character, Peppi. This well-done graphic novel tackles the issues of friendships and confidence, among other things.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Ghost accidentally gets on a track team and it’s life-changing. His coach becomes a mentor and father figure who pushes Ghost to take responsibility for his mistakes (stealing sneakers) and to start dealing with the ghosts of his past. Well-written and hopeful about growing up and growing into yourself.
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Just because Melody can’t walk or talk due to cerebral palsy doesn’t mean she isn’t smart — and she is smart! She’s just sick of people thinking she’s dumb and wants out of the trap of her mind. She finds a way to communicate but is still treated poorly by her peers. Realistic, sometimes very painful, and important for everyone to read. GREAT class book or book club book.
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
REALISTIC / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Raina shares her growing up stories with humor and amazing art in her memoir books: Smile, Sisters, and Drama. My 10-year-old daughter read Sisters four times the first week she owned it – they’re excellent books and quite addictive. Boxed set here.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
REALISTIC / VERSE
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Like The Penderwicks, you’ll fall in love with this quirky, wonderful family from the first page. The Vanderbeekers’ landlord wants them out by the end of December but the Vanderbeeker kids are determined to change his mind, even though he hates noise, kids, and their family. But it’s almost Christmas and their efforts are only making things worse. What will they do? Charming and heart-warming.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Narrated by a gorilla named Ivan, this story about friendship, love, and compassion grabs your heart immediately. Making it even more compelling, it’s true! Ivan is kept in a cage in a run-down mall for 27 years without seeing another gorilla. He’s friends with the stray dog named Bob, a full-grown elephant named Stella, and Ruby, a newly purchased baby elephant. When Stella begs Ivan to make sure Ruby doesn’t grow old in their cages, Ivan finds his courage.
The Friendship Code #1 Girls Who Code by Stacia Deutsch
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, illustrations by Katie Kath
We loved this book so much, it’s one of our favorites. The book is written as letters from a girl named Sophie, who is newly living at the farm of her deceased great-uncle Jim. She writes to her dead abuelita, her dead great-uncle Jim, and Agnes of the Extraordinary Chickens catalog. While her parents are figuring out their new lives, Sophie figures out the farm. Specifically, the magical chickens who seem to have telekinesis, invisibility, and carnivorous chicks. But a neighbor chicken thief is also interested in Jim’s chickens, too — and Sophie must stop her. Exceptional writing, characterization, and plot.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Wonder helps us see compassion, empathy, and acceptance from a variety of character’s points of view. Auggie, a boy with a facial difference, starts public school for the first time in 5th grade. His experience, though often difficult, shows his inner strength. This beautiful story shows that kindness wins over bullying.
The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris and Alec Azam, illustrated by Lissy Marlin and Kyle Hilton
Carter’s had a rough life, even now after he runs away from his crook of an uncle and lands in a New England town. There he encounters unsavory carnival people who remind him of his uncle. At the town’s magic shop, Carter meets a young girl and her fathers who love magic just like him. He and his new kid friends set out to thwart the carnie’s plot to steal the world’s biggest diamond. And maybe in the process, his luck will turn around. Through the book are ciphers, codes, and tricks giving this already delightful story extra oomph.
Framed! A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery by James Ponti
Captivating from the first page, 12- year old Florian Bates uses his brilliant, observing brain to implement T.O.A.S.T. (the Theory of All Small Things) to notice things that others have missed. Including the FBI when there’s an art heist at the museum his mother works at. The FBI hires him to help unravel a mysterious art heist which he does with the help of his best friend, Margaret. Fast-paced and interesting.
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson, illustrated by Chloe Bristol
Elizabeth, an orphan, is unexpectedly sent to a large, stately hotel with a kind, grandfatherly proprietor for Christmas vacation. There, she discovers a magical book, a sinister couple, a family mystery, and a new friend who loves puzzles as much as she does. The writing is mesmerizing, the mystery fascinating, and the characters, enchanting. This is a delightful, atmospheric read.
Eddie Red Undercover Mystery in Mayan Mexico by Marcia Wells
Eddie, his best friend Jonah, and his parents are on vacation in Mexico. When Eddie’s dad becomes the primary suspect in the theft of a stolen Mayan mask, Eddie and Jonah decide to solve the mystery themselves. Only they don’t speak Spanish very well and there’s more to this mystery than just a stolen mask. You’ll love the Spanish words throughout, the well-paced action, and the characters.
Girl’s Best Friend (A Maggie Brooklyn Mystery) by Leslie Margolis
Maggie loves walking dogs in her neighborhood (even though her parents don’t know) so when dogs go missing, she knows she must find the culprit. The clues lead her to suspect her friend and secret crush, Milo. Maggie’s determined to solve the case but what if she doesn’t like what she finds?
Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, illustrated by Laura Park
Rafe’s goal in middle school is to break every single rule. You can imagine how his plan will go, right? Filled with cartoon-like illustrations, this story will crack you up. BOX SET HERE.
Anyone But Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp
I read many parts out loud to my kids while I was reading this book; they were just so funny!! Now my kids are addicted to this series, too. Quirky but lovable Ivy’s adventures involve a sinister ghost, a mystical jewel, and a surprising destiny.
Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
HUMOR / MAGICAL REALISM
A funny but poignant story of middle-school angst and discovery! Unpopular Dwight can make origami Star Wars characters. When his puppet of Yoda comes to life, just like Yoda, the origami Yoda is wise and helpful during the many trials of 6th grade.
The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
While on a class trip to Washington D.C., Wyatt and his best friend, Matt, are positive they’ve discovered a plot to blow up the White House. Wyatt’s crush, Suzanna, helps the friends make a plan, and as you can imagine, disaster and hilarity strike. I totally loved this book and know your kids (especially those who like humor) will as well.
Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs
MYSTERY / HUMOR
Was the FunJungle’s hippo murdered? Teddy and Summer think so. Mystery, adventure, and humor will keep your readers on the edge of their seats in this unique story with quirky characters perfect for 10-year-old readers.
The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks
ADVENTURE / MYSTERY
Written like an adult suspense novel, this is one of the best edge-of-your-seat mystery and adventure books for middle grade. The author jumps around showing various incidents and people. You’ll have no idea what is going on or what will happen next. A boy with no memory is found at the National Gallery staring at a Degas sculpture. Strangely, this boy does know a great deal about art and artists. Soon we learn he’s being hunted by a team of professional bad guys. The boy, Art, and his foster sister escape from several kidnapping attempts and begin to unravel who he is and what’s going on.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Kyle and a few classmates win a sleepover at the town’s newly created library by game-creator Mr. Lemoncello. The silly Mr. Lemoncello devises a fun way to get OUT of the library — you can only get out if you solve the puzzles around the entire library. Will the kids work together or will it be every child for himself? Kids can’t put this literary adventure book down, nor it’s the subsequent books in the series.
Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit
Treasure Hunters by James Petterson and Chris Grabenstein, illustrated by Juliana Neufeld
The life of the four Kidd siblings isn’t typical — they live on a boat and their parents are treasure hunters. Unfortunately, not only is their mom missing but their father went overboard in a bad storm. Now they’re on their own and need money to survive. The only way they know is to find a treasure and sell it. But danger is around every wave; they’re not sure who to trust. This is a fast, action-packed adventure that sets the tone for more books to come.
The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, illustrated by Brian Selznick
After discovering her missing aunt’s diary, Annabelle Doll can’t stop wondering about what happened and is determined to find out — even at the risk of becoming “Permanent”. Will she leave the safety of her family’s dollhouse to find her aunt? Kids love this exciting adventure of the dolls in a dollhouse who are real and do come to life when we’re not watching. Box set here.
Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibb
Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny
Charlie’s dad has remarried and moved Charlie and his younger brother into the stepmother’s frightening purple mansion. There, Charlie begins to have the most horrible nightmares — nightmares that blur the boundaries between reality and dream. When witches from the nightmare world steal Charlie’s brother, Charlie and his friends must face their fears in order to save both Charlie’s little brother and the entire awake world. Hard to put this story down — talk about enthralling.
City Spies by James Ponti
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Ada and her brother escape their mother’s abuse when the London children are evacuated during WWII and go to live with a grieving woman in a small country town. It’s difficult for both the woman and children to trust but slowly the trust grows and all three regain something lost – hope and love. The sequel, The War I Finally Won, is just as incredible.
Lost in the Pacific, 1942: Not a Drop to Drink by Tod Olson
Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older
HISTORICAL FICTION (+ FANTASY)
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