Summer is here, and for my kids that means spending hours outside, later bedtimes, and lots of video games. Usually, they’re not psyched to sit down and read a book. But if I can find the right book, they’re more than happy to take a break from the sun and the screens.
Check out all of our Summer Reading Lists!
I chose the books on this summer reading list with rising 5th graders in mind. However, it’s important to remember that recommended grade levels on books are only guidelines; each child reads at their own level and moves up at their own pace.
Take this list as a suggestion, not an indicator of where your child should be! The best books for your child are the ones they can read and enjoy, no matter the suggested age or grade level.
5th Grade Summer Reading List
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Zoe Washington’s father has been in prison for as long as she can remember. So when she gets a letter from him on her twelfth birthday, she’s not sure how to respond. Especially when her father claims that he’s innocent of the crime for which he’s been imprisoned.
Zoe sets out on a mission to clear her father’s name — a mission she hides from the rest of her family. Can Zoe uncover the truth? And, more importantly, can she handle the truth that she finds?
The Moon Within by Aida Salazaar
Celi is a Afrolatinx girl who is growing up. She has a best friend, a crush, and is waiting on her period, and the moon ceremony that is supposed to go with it — a ceremony she doesn’t want to happen.
In many ways, this is a classic story. In other ways, it’s completely revolutionary. The portrayal of Mexica and Yoruba heritage is a rare delight and the story unapologetically uses lots of Spanish and Nuathl making it an exceptional mirror and window in the world of kid lit.
You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino
This fantastic book is an intersectional treasure. In You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P.!, Gino tackles the intersections of race and ability in a way that is navigable for tweens by following the friendship between Jilly and Derek, a Deaf, Black ASL user.
Jilly enjoys her friendship with Derek, and really appreciates how he helps her relate to her sister Emma, who is also deaf. But over the course of their friendships, Jilly makes mistakes. She makes assumptions and says insensitive things. But, she also learns that the responsibility to do better is on her, and discovers new ways that she can support her loved ones in a world that isn’t always kind.
I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day
Edie has never known much about her Native American heritage, other than her Native American mom was adopted by a white couple. She’s always assumed that was the only information her family had.
And then one day, Edie finds a box in the attic filled with letters and photos. It seems like this box could hold the answers Edie is looking for…but right now she only has more questions. Will her parents help her connect the dots? Or will these secrets remain buried forever?
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Ghost is a runner. He’s been running his whole life, ever since he and his mother had to run from his abusive father. Since then, he’s been running from trouble and running from his problems.
Now he’s ran his way to a spot on an elite track team, one that might take him to the Junior Olympics. But to succeed, he’ll have to outrun his past and the consequences of choices he made when his life didn’t seem so promising. Can he achieve his dream, or will he run into trouble again?
The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia
Aliya is struggling to find the balance between fitting in and practicing her faith. She’s always wanted to be accepted, but her new friend Marwa is making her rethink the costs of not being yourself. As Aliya ponders decisions like whether or not to wear a hijab, she writes letters to Allah, pouring out her hopes and fears.
This book is an insightful look at the experience of Muslim families in the United States, with themes of growth and self-discovery that every reader will find relatable.
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée
Shayla is a good girl. Her focus is on getting good grades, staying out of trouble, and trying to figure out how to navigate junior high. Her sister Hana gets involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, but Shay doesn’t think activism is for her.
However, her mind starts to change when she attends a moving protest rally. Shay decides to wear a black armband to school to show her solidarity to the movement…and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Shay is given an ultimatum that forces her to make a tough decision.
El Deafo by Cece Bell
I absolutely love this story about struggling to fit in and find your place in the world.
In this book, the author chronicles her own struggle with being hard-of-hearing. She has a hearing aid that allows her to hear, but the hearing aide is large and awkward, and it ends up isolating her from her peers. More than anything, Cece wants to fit in, and she ends up finding a way to use what makes her different as a tool for forging friendships.
Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender
Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and Caroline Murphy has carried that title with her for all of her life. She is bullied at school, she’s being followed by a spirit, and her mother has left. Things can’t get much worse.
In the middle of her bad luck, Caroline makes a new friend. Kalinda and Caroline bond quickly, and Caroline finds herself developing a crush on her new friend. The two girls work together to find Caroline’s mother — in the middle of a hurricane.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern have been sent across the country to Oakland, California, to visit the mother that abandoned them. When they arrive, they find a parent that wants nothing to do with them.
The girls’ mother, Cecile, is much more concerned with writing poetry than getting to know her girls. To get them out of her hair, she sends them to a community program run by the Black Panther Party. There the girls eat breakfast and learn about the racial struggle going on in the city. They help plan a rally and inadvertently discover some amazing things about their mother and their newfound community.
Stand up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim
Yumi Chung dreams of being a stand-up comedian. She’s taken all the embarrassment she’s felt as a shy, Korean girl at her school, and turned it all into hilarious material. Unfortunately, her parents want her to take fancy test-prep classes, rather than honing her craft.
Yumi thinks she’s found the solution to her dilemma when she discovers a comedy camp for kids, run by her favorite YouTuber! She starts attending the camp, and when the kids think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura…she doesn’t speak up. Can Yumi pull off being Kay? Or will this be another embarrassment?
Blended by Sharon Draper
Eleven-year-old Isabella feels caught between two worlds, especially since her parents divorced. One week she’s with her father and his girlfriend in their rich neighborhood. The next she’s in a small apartment with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.
But that’s not the only thing that makes Isabella feel stuck in the middle. Isabella’s mother is white and her father is black, and she’s always having to answer ridiculous questions about what she “really” is. When her parents have a huge fight, the divide feels bigger than ever. It will take a heartbreaking event to bring her family closer together again.
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III
Jimmy knows he’s Lakota, but he really doesn’t know much about his Native American heritage. A road trip with his grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, changes that.
As the two travel to Lakota landmarks, Jimmy learns more about his people. Jimmy’s father is half-white, and because Jimmy doesn’t look like other Lakota boys, he never felt like he fit in on the reservation. Jimmy’s trip with his grandfather strengthens his connections to his ancestors, and helps him realize that he is a part of an important legacy.
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
Zomorod Yousefzadeh and her family have moved again; this time to Newport Beach, California. She’s ready to start in a new place with her new name (Cindy) and hopefully a new image.
But, it’s the late 1970s and it’s hard for an Iranian-American girl to fit in when Iran is taking American hostages. Even though Cindy has nothing to do with what is happening in the Middle East, she still faces anti-Iranian sentiment in her new town. Fitting in is hard when everyone seems to hate where your family is from.
On These Magic Shores by Yamile Saied Méndez
Minerva is used to her mother being gone — her mother works two jobs, which means Minerva has to watch her little sisters all the time. But one night, Minerva’s mother simply doesn’t come home, and Minerva is left being the one to hold things together, so the three girls don’t get separated.
The whole plan seems to fall apart on the first day, but as time passes it seems as though some unseen force is looking out for the three girls. They find food, money, and help in an almost magical fashion. Who (or what) is this mysterious figure watching out for them?
For more great diverse book ideas, sign up for our newsletter:
I was so sad to hear of the passing of actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for his role as King T'Challah in the Marvel Black Panther films. Boseman died at the age of 43 after a battle with...
We have a VEEP! Presidential candidate Joe Biden has just announced that his vice-presidential running mate is Senator Kamala Harris. Senator Harris is the first Black and first South Asian...