I am a firm believer that if you want to know what books to stock in your classroom library or what book club novel options to provide to your students, then go to the source. Ask kids themselves what books they enjoy reading. If they have no suggestions, you can use our 5 novels for 5th grade boys to help them choose.
As adults, we don’t think like children anymore. (Even though as teachers, we think more like children than most other adults!) A book we may enjoy might not appeal to them and vice versa. I know my ten-year-old son loves Dog Man (by Dav Pilkey) books, but when I sat down to read them with him, I had no idea what he found funny! Nevertheless, I loved that he enjoyed reading them. He would devour each book in hours. He was reading and that was all that mattered!
My son still loves to read a Dog Man book when it comes out, but he’s since moved on to other novels. He has always been my reluctant reader. He can read well, but he’s so active and busy that to make him sit and read was akin to torture.
Recently, we have found several books that he has enjoyed that I thought would be great suggestions for any boy students.
We know that boys are our more reluctant readers. Psychology Today states, “Forty-five percent of boys (vs 36% of girls) said they often have trouble finding books they like.” Additionally, the article goes on to say, “On Scholastic’s 2016 survey of over 2000 U.S. children, ages 6-17, only 52% of boys (versus 72% of girls) said they liked reading books over the summer.”
Oftentimes, boy students are energetic and boisterous and love boy things that are not included in books; therefore, it can be hard for male students to find a love of reading.
Check out these 5 books for boys, that were specifically approved and loved by my fifth-grade boy.
1. How to Train a Dragon by Cressida Cowell
We all have heard of the How to Train a Dragon movies, but my son was surprised to learn they were originally books! Because he was already familiar with the movies, he was more apt to give the books a try.
What’s great about this book is that it is the first in a series of twelve. Additionally, if your student is a Dog Man or Diary of a Wimpy Kid lover, this is a great next series to try. It is in more of a novel format vs. a graphic novel, but the pages are broken up by drawings, graphics, hand-written font, and journal-like musings by the narrator, Hiccup. It definitely has the same casual, fun format similar to a Dav Pilkey or Jeff Kinney book. Also, this book is chock full of sword fights, dragons (of course), Vikings, laugh-out-loud and scary moments, ghosts, adventure, and so much more that appeals to boys.
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans, tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan by catching and training a dragon. Can Hiccup do it without being torn limb from limb? Join his adventures and misadventures as he finds a new way to train dragons–and becomes a hero. This action-packed, hilarious, and perfectly illustrated novel is a modern classic beloved by millions across the globe.
2. Mystery in Rocky Mountains National Park by Aaron Johnson
The idea of reading about the rugged outdoors paired with a mystery was all too appealing for my son. With accurate descriptions of the Rocky Mountains, over thirty illustrations drawn by the author himself, and a spell-binding mystery that was page-turning for the reader to solve, your boys will love this book. Also a series, once they fall in love with one, they’ll want to keep reading, which is always a win/win!
Secret Codes – Lost Landmarks – Hidden Clues – Real Locations Before Jake’s grandfather died, he was on the trail of a centuries-old mystery. And he has entrusted that mystery to Jake, leaving behind a set of hidden codes, riddles, maps, and other clues that lead Jake and his friends on a scavenger hunt into the heart of Colorado’s wild and rugged Rocky Mountain National Park. Through twists and turns, the mystery unfolds while Jake, Amber, and Wes learn about survival skills, natural history, integrity, character, and friendship.
Along the way, they discover they are not the only ones on this quest. An elusive shadow group is close on their heels.
Illustrated by the author, this page-turning adventure is designed to capture the imagination of even the most reluctant of young readers. Parents looking for a delightful read-aloud adventure will find it hard to put down. (Word of Caution: readers frequently note that this is a “Please read just one more chapter” book).
3. I Survived Book Series by Lauren Tashis
There are 21 books in the complete series of I Survived. My boy students always gravitated toward these books and loved them. My son first became enthralled when he picked up I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic while he was in the middle of a Titanic unit in history.
Each of these books is centered on a fictional story that occurs during a real historical event. Intermixed with adventure, fear, and excitement is an opportunity for students to learn about real-life history. Boys love the thrilling storylines and are able to learn real character traits such as resilience, courage, and hope in the midst of disaster and adversity. It’s amazing how well these books also provide solid background knowledge of major historical happenings as well.
History’s most exciting and terrifying events come to life in these ten books in the New York Times bestselling I Survived series.
When disaster strikes, heroes are made. A collectible box set of ten books in the bestselling I Survived series from author Lauren Tarshis! This set includes paperback editions of these books: I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863I Survived the Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011. With relatable characters and riveting plotlines, the I Survived books are perfect for reluctant readers or any young reader who enjoys an action packed, page turning thriller. Each book also contains several pages of nonfiction content, encouraging readers to further explore the historical topic.
4. Bear Grylls Adventures by Chief Scout Bear Grylls
Many boys will recognize the name Bear Grylls from Man vs. Wild, a show on the Discovery Channel about survival. Bear, an adventurer and host, is left stranded in a remote location and using only a few resources, he must survive and make his way back to civilization. My son first was introduced to Bear Grylls from the Netflix show, You vs Wild. It is such a neat show! Viewers can interact with each episode by selecting different options and these decisions lead Bear to use different survival techniques in harsh environments.
Bear Grylls took on the adventure of writing in his 12-Book Adventures series. Each book is titled after a specific challenge ranging from blizzards, earthquakes, jungles, deserts, and even safaris in which different characters are faced with perilous obstacles. Your most reluctant boy readers will love these books as it not only teaches science, survival skills, teamwork, courage, and perseverance, but the outdoor setting draws students in. There are scary times that will leave the readers on the edge of their seats, plus funny loud out loud moments.
The first book is titled The Blizzard Challenge.
Olly isn’t enjoying activity camp. Why should he bother building a shelter or foraging for food with his teammates? He’d rather be at home playing video games. But when a mysterious compass transports him to a high mountain range, where he meets survival expert Bear Grylls, he learns valuable lessons about teamwork and perseverance.
5. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
When in doubt, line your classroom shelves with Roald Dahl books. My son’s favorite author is Roald Dahl and I don’t blame him. Dahl has an interesting style of writing. Mixed with dark humor, wacky characters, out-of-this-world scenarios, Dahl is similar to Dr. Seuss in terms of having a huge imagination.
My son specifically enjoyed James and the Giant Peach. The idea of a boy main character embarking on a grand and sometimes-scary adventure atop a peach, with a kooky array of insect-friends was just unconventional enough to intrigue him. All of Roald Dahl’s books have that recipe of unconventional themes, fun characters, and outlandish events that would intrigue any reader.
After James Henry Trotter’s parents are tragically eaten by a rhinoceros, he goes to live with his two horrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Life there is no fun, until James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree and strange things start to happen. The peach at the top of the tree begins to grow, and before long it’s as big as a house. Inside, James meets a bunch of oversized friends—Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybug, and more. With a snip of the stem, the peach starts rolling away, and the great adventure begins! This “peachy” scented edition is sure to bring readers along for the ride!
My mother, the elementary librarian, always says, “It’s not that a child doesn’t like to read. It’s that they haven’t found the right book yet.” I hope these five novels will be the right books for the boys in your class.