stacks of many colorful books

Piqosity has curated this selection of five engaging books for 5th graders to read over the summer break to provide a resource for upper elementary students on the search for summer reading! Avoid summer learning loss — summer reading is vital for both maintaining and improving upon the reading skills students work so hard throughout the school year to build. No matter what their reading level is, this list is sure to have something for any fifth grader!

Novels for 5th Graders

The following engaging books for 5th graders to read over the summer are from a variety of genres and all deal with different themes and subject matter. 

1. The View from the Very Best House in Town, Meera Trehan

the view from the very best house in town book cover

Newly released in 2022, The View from the Very Best House in Town by Meera Trehan explores the intricacies of friendship, ableism, and a mysterious mansion. This innovative read invites you into Asha and Sam’s friendship through alternating points of view; the book takes on Asha’s perspective, Sam’s perspective, and the personified perspective of Donnybrooke — the mansion atop the highest hill in the city, fervently admired by Asha. 

These best friends are both autistic, and their respective interests and personalities complement and enrich each other. Sam’s acceptance to a prestigious middle school forms a divide between them, and his newfound (and suspicious) friendship with Asha’s nemesis intensifies their struggle. The vivid personalities of these characters (including Donnybrooke) bring this story to life, securing its spot in this collection!

“You’re not supposed to be able to see any part of Donnybrooke—the most amazing house Asha has ever set foot in—from Sam’s backyard. But from up in Sam’s cherry tree, Asha spots a speck, black against the blue sky. Donnybrooke’s creepy weather vane. It’s the only bit of Donnybrooke she doesn’t love, assuming you don’t include the people who live there,” (Trehan, Chapter 1).

2. Before We Were Free, Julia Alvarez

before we were free book coverThe next featured book in this collection of books for grade 5 is a coming-of-age story from the Dominican Republic, set in the early 1960’s. Twelve-year-old Anita de la Torre concurrently faces the struggles of growing up and the struggles of living under a dictatorship. Her family members emigrate to the United States one after the other, her awakening political consciousness causes her to mature yet feel afraid each day, and she begins to understand the necessity of freedom.

Students with a higher reading and maturity level interested in or searching for an introduction to politics and historical fiction will devour this read. Be aware that it contains discussion of violence and rape, and Anita describes her physical experience of puberty. That being said, Before We Were Free will inform students about life under the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, and its themes will challenge their understanding of family, politics, adulthood, and freedom. Its informative, emotional depth and compelling story landed it on this list of books for 5th graders to read over the summer.

“Mrs. Brown leads Carla up the side of the classroom. I follow, afraid I’ll burst into tears if I catch anyone’s eye. I look up at the portrait of our Benefactor, El Jefe, which hangs above the classroom, his eyes watching over us. To his left hangs George Washington in his white wig, looking off into the distance. Perhaps he is homesick for his own country?” (Alvarez, Chapter 1).

3. Nightmares!, Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

nightmares! book coverA less challenging read than the one above, but one just as captivating, Nightmares! is a fantasy that explores blurred lines between dreams and reality. After his father remarries, Charlie moves into his stepmother’s purple mansion and experiences nightmares every night; thus, he fears that his stepmother must be a witch. He must investigate this phenomenon, learning to conquer his nightmares and helping his friends conquer their own.

Written by Kirsten Miller and actor Jason Segel, this cartoony, horror-filled experience is thematically abundant — readers will tackle ideas like grief, fear, mental illness, and devoted friendship. This first book in the Nightmares! trilogy is a mysterious, adventure-packed ride that even reluctant readers will be wary of putting down.

“I wouldn’t make fun of someone’s nightmares until you’ve slept a night in his pajamas,” (Segel and Miller).

4. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson

brown girl dreaming book coverBrown Girl Dreaming is a perfect fit in this collection of summer reading for 5th graders. Jacqueline Woodson uses verse to recall the story of her childhood and experience as a Black child in 1960’s and 70’s America. Her vivid imagery and vulnerable voice convey an aspect of her childhood in each poem— from her summer trips from Ohio to South Carolina, to dealing with the death of her aunt once her family moves to New York, to the wondrous joy she felt when she first started writing. 

Woodson’s retelling of her youth living in, in her words, “A country caught / Between Black and White,” (Woodson, “february 12, 1963”) is vivid and enthralling for readers of all ages, and its style of poetry is accessible to all. Fifth graders will relate to the way the dreams, fears, sadnesses, and joys of starting to grow up are captured in these verses, all while learning from the differences between their lives and Woodson’s.

“It’s easier to make up stories / than it is to write them down. When I speak, / the words come pouring out of me. The story / wakes up and walks all over the room. Sits in a chair, / crosses one leg over the other, says, / Let me introduce myself. Then just starts going on and on,” (Woodson, “writing #1”).

5. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

the secret garden book coverThis final entry in our collection of fifth grade level books is different from the rest — this is a classic, first published in 1911, that still resonates with readers today. Mary Lennox is sent to England after the death of her parents, where she discovers a “secret garden”. The spoiled, self-centered, and unloved Mary undergoes a transformation with the help of nature and a new friendship with a sickly boy, Colin.

Mary’s story will resonate with fifth graders of various reading levels. She discovers the beauty in nature and power of independent thought, both of which involve life lessons fifth graders will take away. The Secret Garden is featured along with several other fifth grade level reads in our ELA course for 5th grade!

“She walked away, slowly thinking. She had begun to like the garden just as she had begun to like the robin and Dickon and Martha’s mother. She was beginning to like Martha, too. This seemed a good many people to like—when you were not used to liking,” (Burnett, chapter 7).

Improve Reading Comprehension with Piqosity

We hope you’ve enjoyed perusing our collection of books for 5th graders to read over the summer! It’s nearly mid-July, but students still have plenty of time left in the break for two or more of these reads. 

We provided this collection as a resource to propel fifth graders on their journey of reading. Whether you or your student is looking to strengthen their ELA knowledge to improve reading and writing skills for the fall, avoid test-taking anxiety, or simply build upon what was learned in the spring, Piqosity is here to help, too!

We offer affordable online courses that you or your child can take from the comfort and safety of their own home. Depending on your needs, our courses can be used for enrichment, remediation, or test prep. We offer the following ELA & test prep courses:

Each ELA course comes with lessons covering all topics of ELA education, along with several units of reading passages, including nonfiction, short stories, and at least one full-length novel, paired with reading comprehension questions and answer explanations for each question. 

Our test prep courses each have several practice tests and tutorials that cover both ELA and Math content. Further, we provide the following extensive vocabulary flash card lists for all ISEE levels, perfect for test prep or vocabulary-building of any kind:

We are constantly adding new courses and material! It’s free to register with Piqosity, and all of our full courses are reasonably and competitively priced.

Piqosity wishes you the best of luck on your vocabulary-building journey and hope this collection of books has helped and inspired you!

More Educational Resources by Piqosity: