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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Favorite Read Aloud Books

The Research Based Classroom's Favorite Read Alouds for Fifth Grade

One of the most difficult tasks in upper elementary classrooms is finding books that are brand new for your students.  I LOVE to read aloud books that no one has read and that can be pretty difficult by the fifth grade.  Here are a few of my favorite read alouds from the past year.  (Clicking on any of the covers will take you to Amazon.)

I start my year off with Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate because it's the recommended text for the Units of Study in Reading for Grade 5's Interpretation Book Clubs.  So while we are reading Home of the Brave together, I'm teaching whole class mini-lessons that deal with comprehension strategies.  After about the second week of school, I try to get my students into their book groups using realistic fiction.  There are a couple of things that I really love about this novel.  It's written in prose, so there's few words but so much food for thought.  It really provides a common ground for deep discussions and growing thinking.  The main character, Kek, is a refugee who escapes his own war torn county and joins some of his extended family in Minnesota.  The book moves seamlessly from funny misunderstandings as he tries to adjust to live in  America to scenes that help students build empathy as the reader learns more about Kek's previous life.  It is a fairly quick read that will have you hooked.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill was the last book that I read aloud to my fifth graders last year.  My poor class was worried sick that we wouldn't finish before the last day. But we did.  This is a fantasy novel that makes a great read aloud for fifth and sixth grade.  The tension builds up toward the end of the book and my students were begging to read more.  The book creates a lot of great discusssions centered around who the "bad" witch really is.  What happens when evil is called good and people are struggling to survive?  Would you stand up for something that's right, even if your life is in danger?  This is definitely one of my new favorites.  It's also the 2017 Newberry Award Winner.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio was absolutely one of my favorite books when it first came out.  The first year I taught fifth grade, no one in my class had read it and it was a fabulous read aloud with lots of great discussions. It's a little too popular now.  But because the movie is coming out in the fall, I am definitely going to read it to my class at the beginning of the year before they have a chance to see the movie.  I have to admit that the trailer looks good and I usually hate movies that are based on books.  In the book you never fully understand what Auggie looks like and the movie will definitely ruin that aspect so I won't be showing the trailers until after we finish reading the book.  Wonder is perfect for talking about issues such as disabilities, how we make others feel both intentionally and unintentionally, kindness, friendship and empathy.  Just make sure you finish the book before November 17.

I would love to read A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen during our historical fiction unit, but then I also want to read it at the end of the year when it fits into our social studies timeline.  So for the past two years it's ended up somewhere in the middle.  But regardless of when you read it, this is a great read aloud.  The story is about the Berlin Wall and how it affects one family who gets split up.  It brings out questions about government control, free speech, Communism, bravery, and the importance of family.  It's a fifth grade favorite at my school.

I was looking for something funny to read and Ungifted by Gordon Korman was the perfect book for my class.  This is a light-hearted book about a boy who doesn't find trouble, but makes it himself.  My students were hooked when Donovan gets himself in trouble and accidentally ends up in the gifted academy.  It's a story about self-discovery, friendship, and learning to help others all mixed into a hilarious mayhem of events.  

I hope there's a new book here for you to try.  Leave a comment with your favorite read aloud for upper grades.  Happy Reading! 


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