Homeschool Like a Boss: 5th Grade Required Reading List

In case you missed our 3rd grade reading list, here it is!

There, I explained a bit about how we came to build a required reading list for each grade. It worked well in its first year so I think we will stick with this routine – one book a month of collaborative choosing – for a portion of our literature practice.

Jemma was very involved in choosing her books for 5th grade. She had some classics in mind that she was excited to read and happily took my recommendations for a few others. Only was deemed “troublesome” in getting through …

Tuck Everlasting

Ooof! Tuck Everlasting is one of those gems! I highly recommended this one and promised a popcorn and movie night to compare and contrast the book and the film version. Both are wonderful in my opinion, although, Jem couldn’t believe how different a book and movie could be.

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins was one of my very favorite books as a child and Jemma enjoyed it just as much. In fact, she deemed it her favorite read of this entire list. Plus, there is a sequel, Zia, that fills out the story even more.

Black Beauty

Jem loves a beautiful book cover so that’s what initially drew her to Black Beauty. For her, it was too sad, but again, she enjoyed reading the book and then watching the movie. It really does help you assess the narrative when you’re keeping your eye out for similarities and differences.

Ballet Shoes

Another beautiful book, Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes and probably the most popular of “The Shoe Books”. Jem enjoyed this one and we promptly watched the movie too. Love the adventures of Pauline, Petrova, and Posey!


Holes isn’t my jam, but it’s definitely a well loved classic. There is a lesser known sequel, Small Steps, too. I didn’t know, but will have to tell Jem. I bet she’ll gobble it up.

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Read Aloud Revival (one of my favorite reading resources) has recommended Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes quite a few times so I was excited to snag it for Jem to read this year. Alas, it has not been her favorite – half due to the length, half due to the story line. Se la vie, you can’t win them all. Lots of kids love this one though so don’t let Jem’s dislike dissuade you from giving it a try.

The City of Ember

My best friend teaches 5th grade and reads The City of Ember to her class every year. I had never read it and a few years ago gave it a try myself. Guess what? It’s an awesome story – adventure and mystery in a whole new world … or at least one that feels like a different world. There are actually four books in the series. I’ve read the second (equally as good) and need to get the other two on my library list to complete this enticing tale.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Jem read The Great Illustrated Classics version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and upon finishing emphatically said, “This book does not end like the Disney movie!!!” So, there is your warning. It doesn’t look like this one is still in publication, but you can find many of these Great Illustrated Classics secondhand on Thriftbooks (and, when you spend $30 there you get a free book!).

Little Women

Cover illustrations drew Jem to this particular Little Women and the other books in the series. She has watched a few versions of the film previously and decided it was high time that she read the accompanying text. We actually read this one together and boy, did we get schooled in some top notch vocabulary. Books really are the best way to learn new words, isn’t it? Louisa May Alcott, you taught us so much through your lovely story.

When Jem finished each of her monthly books she wrote up a report, either by following a template or writing her own five paragraph essay. Sometimes I gave her an essay prompt based on the book to kick off that almost junior high level critical thinking, sometimes she just put the template into essay form. For many, we watched the movie together and discussed the differences. That’s my favorite thing to do even now as an adult (I wrote about that here awhile back!) so I love that she enjoys it too.

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