Books for Grade 5 Lightning Literature

by Elizabeth Kamath

Once again, I thank all of you for your patience with Grade 5 Lightning Literature. I have chosen all the books, and am now busily writing.

As always, book selection has been a difficult task, and I’ve done my best to find a variety of literature with the commonality of engaging, inspiring writing. As my target audience gets older, I’ve begun welcoming books that deal with more difficult topics such as The Great Depression, The Holocaust, and race relations in America.

Students will go to Gary, New York City, and the Deep South; they’ll journey to Canada, Europe, and Pakistan; they’ll travel from a hundred years in the past to some unknown time in the future; and they’ll explore a fantasy world peopled with strange characters. You’ll find three works of nonfiction (two standard memoirs and a poetic one), four realistic novels (including one based on historical events), one work of fantasy, and one of science fiction. I hope students will find stories here to delight them, broaden their world, and increase their understanding.

The course outline is now available as well.

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

This multiple-award-winner is a poetic exploration of the author’s childhood in the South and North during the Civil Rights movement. It is full of deft character development and exquisite details of setting.

Holes by Louis Sachar

Winner of the Newbery Award, this is not just a fun, exciting mystery but a story of friendship and overcoming adversity.

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Reader’s Edition) by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick

This is the true story of Malala Yousafzai’s fight for the right of girls in Pakistan to be educated. It is also an excellent example of standing up for your beliefs.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

Set during the Depression in Gary, Indiana, the title heroine proves that a combination of intelligence, kindness, and grit can get you through even the worst of times.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Another Newbery Award winner, this book is set during WWII in Denmark and gives a fictionalized account of a historical event the rescue of over 7,000 Danish Jews.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

A classic children’s book, this comic fantasy story takes readers with Milo through several very odd lands filled with word play, puzzles, and tricks. But it isn’t just frivolous, and at the end Milo learns an important lesson we all need reminding of every now and then.

Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl

Recounts his childhood with his usual humor and insight. Readers will learn about a childhood most likely vastly different from their own (boarding school and no computers) but still find a lot to identify with.

The Tripods (The White Mountains) by John Christopher

The first in a trilogy (with a later prequel), this science fiction adventure story poses questions about societal expectations and the need to be one’s own person.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

A long-time classic, this charming, often hilarious, book is our introduction to Anne, a unique girl who knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to show it.


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