Books appropriate for 5th-graders are rife with themes for all ages, and grouping novels by theme is a beneficial way to study literature. Luckily, many of these books are highly entertaining reads that impart their important messages through beautiful prose, illuminating characters and moving tales.
Working together is a skill everyone needs, and several classics detail how this can play out in real life. "The Secret Garden," by Frances Burnett, for instance, tells the story of two young and unhappy misfits who find an ill-tended hidden garden and slowly encourage it to bloom once more, discovering their friendship and themselves along the way. "Number the Stars," by Lois Lowry tells a more serious story of a young girl who helps to smuggle her Jewish friends to safety during World War II.
Readers of all ages love adventures and quests, and many books offer them at a level geared toward 5th-graders. By examining what would happen to a young boy left alone after a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness, "Hatchet," by Gary Paulsen, asks some tough questions about what it takes to survive. As indicated by the title, one good tool ends up being a big help. Those looking for a lighter thrill should try reading the famous "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone," by J.K. Rowling, if they haven’t already. It’s got magic, friendship, loyalty and justice in spades, with adventure on top.
Love and Friendship
Arguably some of the most important human tropes, love and friendship permeate many, if not most, books on some level. Two classic examples are "A Wrinkle In Time," by Madeleine L’Engle, and "Tuck Everlasting," by Natalie Babbitt. While the first contends that love can do what even the most ingenious evil mind cannot, the second poses questions about how friendship and nature change when one person ages and another does not.
An important skill that is normally only developed under adverse conditions, perseverance is well highlighted in "Island of the Blue Dolphins," by Scott O’Dell. When a girl becomes marooned on the island and her brother brutally killed by wild dogs, she must figure out how to survive on her own without the benefit of other people to help her get by. "Holes," by Louis Sacher, on the other hand, is a book with science fiction overtones about what happens when you are unjustly accused and subjected to the difficult daily punishment of digging holes, all under the shadow of a mystery.
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