Five great reads for your 5th grader! This is a short stab at trying to pass on the all-elusive skill of list-making from one Father/Educator to the next. Every parent has a 5th grader at some point, and all the ones that I know are expecting their children to read something. How will you decide what to allow your child to read? Do you simply sit in the car and let them run in to the local bookstore? Do you trust Amazon’s top picks? I believe the parent who can come home to their children at the dinner table with a book in hand (or a loaded Kindle) will accomplish mighty things, such as:
- Gaining the edge on feeding good thoughts into his/her children
- Connecting with his/her children
- Laying a foundation for difficult upcoming conversations
- Increasing academic success
- Indirectly teaching morality (alright, that is a lot like #1)
The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit is a story of three children whose father is mysteriously sent to prison, forcing them move out to the country and live near a railway. The narrative is witty, and adventures with these kids are always fun. The power of the story, however, lies in the good sense the children have and their ability to make friends with many different types of people. They even end up helping a Russian exile. A theme of compassion runs through the story. The plot may be a bit far-fetched, but this is just fine for a 5th grader. My children loved the characters, and the story inspires them to be people who go out of their way to love others.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is the adventure story of all adventure stories! I know some of you may be thinking it is too difficult, or that it is upper-level reading, like the Lord of the Rings. However, Tolkien wrote it years before the trilogy and claimed it to be a “children’s book”. I, for one, find it fascinating, and it will be accessible for most 5th graders. The protagonist, Bilbo, exudes the character of selflessness that we want our children to grow into. He is brave, loyal, and generous with his wealth. I’ll rejoice if the same is said of my son! Furthermore, it is one of the most sold books of all time!
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – Now here is a heroine worthy of all our love. No one reads this and does not simply adore young Anne. Well, some boys may scoff at first, but you find me a boy who finishes the story with an open mind, and I can assure you he will like her. Have no fear, it is a tale with boys in it too. Temptation is strong for Anne, and her trials, while outdated, still ring true for the modern reader. Her self-awareness is amazing as she develops. I believe this book delivers a great deal of moral, virtuous content, and it does so within a very safe context for a young reader. Enjoy!
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson – Here is a modern author for those of you not stuck in another era, as I am. Peterson has done a great job on this tale: mystery, adventure, so-called common folk, and a pirate grandpa to boot! This is a tremendous story for boys, especially brothers. What I valued so highly was the intense pressure to love and care for your siblings. The heroes of the story, the Igby children, are entrusted with the task of protecting and loving each other. I find that a noble cause and one that is well worth the journey. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is the first installment of a four-volume set, and I think your student will reach for the next book in the series on their own.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – Maybe the greatest children’s series ever written! I know that trying to pin it on a certain grade level or age is difficult, and if I had my way I would put it in every list. A word of admonition: YOU MUST START SERIES WITH THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. While the books in the series are numbered in the chronological order of the story, it would behoove you to read them in the order they were written. You may find that a 3rd grader could read this and enjoy it, and I have even had a 1st grade teacher read it aloud to students. If by chance your children have not been exposed to it by 5th grade, please set them on it. Frankly, they may get more out of it at this age. Furthermore, it is one of those books you can read over and over. It is an allegory which portrays an image of how Christ reigns over earth. Sin, sacrifice, restoration. I particularly like the scene where Edmund is restored to his brother and sisters and gives a formal apology, asking them, “Will you forgive me?” Our world needs children who are noble, true, and beautiful in spirit, ones who are worthy (by the aid of a higher power) to rule and govern!