Challenging Reads for 4th & 5th Graders

Recommended books from the J (Juvenile) and Y (Junior High) Fiction collections. Most Y Fiction titles are suitable for grades 6-8, but the Y books listed here are appropriate for many 4th and 5th graders. Find more suggestions for avid 4th and 5th grade readers on our list of Classics. Click here for a print-friendly version of this list.

Children’s Fiction (J)

Balliett Chasing Vermeer    (When seemingly unrelated and strange events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra and Calder combine their talents to solve an international art scandal. Also in Y Fiction)
Behar Lucky Broken Girl    (In the 1960s, fifth-grader Ruthie, a Cuban-Jewish immigrant, must rely on books, art, her family, and friends in a multicultural neighborhood when an accident puts her in a body cast.)
Collins Gregor the Overlander    (When eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister are pulled into a strange underground world, they trigger an epic battle involving men, bats, rats, cockroaches, and spiders while on a quest foretold by ancient prophecy.)
Curtis The Watsons Go to Birmingham    (The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963. Also in Y Fiction)
Fitzhugh Harriet the Spy    (Eleven-year-old Harriet keeps notes on her classmates and neighbors in a secret notebook, but when some of the students read the notebook, they seek revenge.)
Hashimi One Half from the East    (In modern-day Afghanistan, 10-year-old Obayda is a bacha posh, a girl dressed as a boy. She has more freedom than she would as a girl, and makes a good friend of another bacha posh, but must find a way to remain free when she returns to life as a girl.)
Henkes Protecting Marie    (Also in Y Paperback)
Hoban The Mouse and His Child
Holm Our Only May Amelia
Ibbotson Island of the Aunts
Kennedy Amy's Eyes
Konigsburg (George)
L'Engle A Wrinkle in Time    (Also in Y Fiction)
Lisle Forest
Little Look Through My Window
Lively The Voyage of QV66
MacDonald The Princess and the Goblin
McEwan The Daydreamer
McGraw The Moorchild
Merrill The Pushcart War
Oppel Silverwing    (Also in Y Fiction)
Ormondroyd Time at the Top
Paterson Jip
Pearce Tom's Midnight Garden
Pearson Awake and Dreaming
Peck A Long Way From Chicago
Raskin The Westing Game
Smith 101 Dalmatians
Smith I, Lorelei    (In letters to her recently deceased cat Mud, eleven-year-old Lorelei chronicles the ups and downs of her sixth-grade year, during which her parents separate, she gets a part in the school play, and she becomes friends with the cutest boy in her grade.)
Snyder Cat Running
Taylor The Cay
White The Trumpet of the Swan

Junior High Fiction (Y)

Allison Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator
Anderson The Last Treasure
Baker The Frog Princess
Barnhill The Girl Who Drank the Moon    (An epic fantasy about a young girl raised by a witch, a swamp monster, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, who must unlock the powerful magic buried deep insider her.)
Carter Forever, or a Long, Long Time    (Having shared so many foster homes that they are unable to trust that the family has adopted them will last, Flora and her brother, Julian, are assisted by their new mother on a journey to resolve the past in order to build their future.)
Choldenko Al Capone Does My Shirts
Cleary Sister of the Bride
Creech Ruby Holler
Durst Into the Wild
Erdrich Birchbark House
Ferris Once Upon a Marigold
Fogelin Crossing Jordan
Funke Inkheart
George Julie of the Wolves
Haddix Among the Hidden
Hale Princess Academy
Hesse The Music of Dolphins
Howe Totally Joe
Jennings The Great Whale of Kansas
Kerr The Akhenhaten Adventure
Konigsburg The View From Saturday    (Also in J Fiction)
Levine Dave at Night
Lord Rules
PAPERBACK McD Mars Evacuees    (Twelve-year-old Alice Dare is one of 300 seven-to sixteen-year-olds evacuated to Mars to attend school and train as soldiers, safe from the war with Earth's invading aliens, the Morrors. But when all of the adults and robots mysteriously disappear, the youths must survive on their own.)
Napoli North
Nix Mister Monday
O'Dell Island of the Blue Dolphins    (Also in J Paperback)
Park A Single Shard
Ryan Esperanza Rising
Rylant Missing May
Snicket The Bad Beginning
Spinelli Maniac Magee
Springer The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery
Tolkien The Hobbit    (Also in J Fiction)
Ursu The Shadow Thieves    (After her cousin Zee arrives from England, thirteen-year-old Charlotte and he must set out to save humankind from denizens of the underworld, Nightmares, Death, Pain, and a really nasty guy named Phil.)
White Belle Prater's Boy
Williams Amalee

Last Updated: 4/17


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