Best Middle Grade Books from My 5th Grade Daughter

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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 to play 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.

Finally, these books are appropriate for a wider audience beyond 5th grade, I’d say the range is 3rd through 8th grade. What book series is your child devouring? Thanks for sharing!

p.s. 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 was 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 you when she’s read the rest of the series. Sometimes she doesn’t like the sequels…

p.p.s. 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!


p.p.p.s. 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’s 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 the 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.

The Emerald Atlas (Books of Beginning) by John Stephens

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

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.

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 the 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 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!

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 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!

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 a 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!

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 every day 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.

My 5th Grade Daughter’s Middle Grade 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?!

The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles series) 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.

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.

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.

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p.s. Related posts:

Top 10: Best Standalone Books for 5th Graders by 5th Grade Girl

5th Grade Books from 5th Grade Boy

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

My 5th Grade Son Blogs on Books!

Diversity Picture Books for 5th Grade

23 Great Picture Books for 5th Grade

Chapter Books to Support 4th Grade or 5th Grade Immigration Unit

5th Grade Chapter Books to Make Social Studies Exciting

Top 10: Picture Books for 5th Grade

Books for 5th Grade and 6th Grade

Books for 4th Grade and 5th Grade

My books:

BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.

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