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Grade 5 & 6 Summer Reading List

This list was compiled by Linda Williams for the Connecticut State Department of Education. Each title listed below was selected, between 2001 and 2011, as an exemplary book by the American Library Association (ALA) and at least one professional education association. Education associations include: the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the National Science Teachers Assocation (NSTA). List can be downloaded as a .pdf here: Grade 5 to Grade 6.

FICTION

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Jason, a twelve-year-old autistic boy who wants to become a writer, relates what his life is like as he tries to make sense of his world.
ALA, NCSS, NCTE

Revolution is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine
Starting in 1972 when she is nine years old, Ling, the daughter of two doctors, struggles to make sense of the communists’ Cultural Revolution, which empties stores of food, homes of appliances deemed “bourgeois,” and people of laughter.
ALA, NCSS, NCTE

Iqbal by Francesco D’Adamo
A fictionalized account of the Pakistani child who escaped from bondage in a carpet factory and went on to help liberate other children like him before being gunned down at the age of thirteen.
ALA, IRA, NCSS

Blessing’s Bead by Debby Dahl Edwardson
In 1917, Aaluk leaves for Siberia while her sister Nutaaq remains in their Alaskan village and becomes one of the few survivors of an influenza epidemic, then in 1986, Nunaaq’s great-granddaughter leaves her mother due to a different kind of sickness and returns to the village where they were born.
ALA, NCSS

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
In central Texas in 1899, eleven-year-old Callie Vee Tate learns about love from the older three of her six brothers and studies the natural world with her grandfather which leads to an important discovery.
ALA, IRA

The Giant-Slayer by Iain Lawrence
When her eight-year-old neighbor is stricken with polio in 1955, eleven-year-old Laurie discovers that there is power in her imagination as she weaves a story during her visits with him and other patients confined to iron lung machines.
ALA, NCSS

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Minli, an adventurous girl from a poor village, buys a magical goldfish, and then joins a dragon who cannot fly on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon in hopes of bringing life to Fruitless Mountain and freshness to Jade River.
ALA, IRA, NCSS, NCTE

Chess Rumble by Greg Neri
Branded a troublemaker due to his anger over everything from being bullied to his sister’s death a year before, Marcus begins to control himself and cope with his problems at home and at his inner-city school when an unlikely mentor teaches him to play chess.
ALA, NCTE

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick
After an earthquake has destroyed much of the planet, an epileptic teenager nicknamed Spaz begins the heroic fight to bring human intelligence back to the Earth of a distant future.
ALA, NCSS

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick
Twelve-year-old Homer, a poor but clever orphan, has extraordinary adventures after running away from his evil uncle to rescue his brother, who has been sold into service in the Civil War.
ALA, NCSS

Tofu Quilt by Ching Yeung Russell
Growing up in 1960s Hong Kong, a young girl dreams of becoming a writer in spite of conventional limits placed on her by society and family. Based on the author’s childhood.
ALA, NCTE

GRAPHIC NOVEL

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
The enduring friendship between a dog and a robot is portrayed in this wordless graphic novel.
ALA, NCTE

FOLKLORE

Fiesta Femenina by Mary-Joan Gerson
A collection of folktales from various cultures in Mexico, all focusing on the important roles of women, such as Rosha, a young girl who rescues the sun; the goddess Tangu Yuh; Kesne, a Zapotec princess; and the Virgin Mary.
ALA, NCSS

POETRY

Technically, It’s Not My Fault by John Grandits
A collection of poems in which words and art combine to make pictures of the life of an 11 year-old boy. (TW)
ALA, NCTE

A Kick in the Head by Paul B. Janeczko
Presents an illustrated collection of poems which showcases twenty-nine different poetic forms, each with a brief definition. (TW)
ALA, NCTE

Ubiquitous by Joyce Sidman
Poems and factual information about some of the creatures that live on Planet Earth.
ALA, NSTA

NONFICTION

Tracking Trash by Loree Griffin Burns
Describes the work of a man who tracks trash as it travels great distances by way of ocean currents.
ALA, IRA, NCTE

The Hive Detectives by Loree Griffin Burns
Bees don’t just produce honey. Your food supply depends on them. Apiarist Dave Hackenberg’s bees have a busy travel schedule, pollinating around the United States from February to July. So when Dave inspected four hundred of his hives and found that the bees had simply vanished, a dream team of bee scientists got to work.
ALA, NSTA

Oh, Rats! by Albert Marrin
Get ready to look at rats in a whole new way. These intelligent, compassionate creatures are greatly misunderstood.
ALA, NCSS, NCTE, NSTA

Quest for the Tree Kangaroo by Sy Montgomery
Follow a group of explorers and scientists as they travel to Papua New Guinea to find a type of kangaroo that lives in trees.
ALA, NCTE, NSTA

Kakapo Rescue by Sy Montgomery
On remote Codfish Island off the southern coast of New Zealand live the last 91 kakapo parrots on earth. Originally this bird numbered in the millions before humans brought predators to the islands. Now on the isolated island refuge, a team of scientists is trying to restore the kakapo population.
ALA, NCTE, NSTA

We are the Ship by Kadir Nelson
Using an “Everyman” player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through the decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. Illustrations from oil paintings by artist Kadir Nelson.
ALA, IRA, NCTE

Afghan Dreams by Tony O’Brien
Presents stories of young people in Afghanistan, including street workers, students, and pickpockets, who long for peace in their neighborhoods. (BWI)
ALA, NCSS

The Grand Mosque of Paris by Karen Ruelle
During the Nazi occupation of Paris, no Jew was safe from arrest and deportation to a concentration camp. Few Parisians were willing to risk their own lives to help. Yet many Jews found refuge in an unlikely place, the sprawling complex of the Grand Mosque of Paris. Not just a place of worship but also a community center, this hive of activity was an ideal temporary hiding place for escaped prisoners of war and Jews of all ages, including children.
ALA, NCSS, NCTE

BIOGRAPHY

Rabble Rousers by Cheryl Harness
Biographies of twenty American women whose actions led to an expansion of freedom for everyone. (BWI)
ALA, NCSS

Spellbinder by Tom Lalicki
An illustrated biography of late nineteenth-, early twentieth-century American magician Harry Houdini. (BWI)
ALA, NCSS

Black Elk’s Vision by S. D. Nelson
A simple biography of Lakota-Oglala medicine man Black Elk, from his childhood vision which shaped his life through his battles with the whites and his travels with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.
ALA, NCTE

Boys of Steel by Marc Tyler Nobleman
Relates the story of Cleveland teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s creation of Superman. (BWI)
ALA, NCSS

Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka
Discusses how factors such as growing up as one of six brothers, a Catholic education, comic books, summers at the lake with time to kill, babysitting misadventures, television shows, and jokes told at family dinner all contributed toward making the author a comic writer.
ALA, NCTE

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