Due to popular demand, we are sharing ten more of our favorite read alouds for older elementary students. Be sure to check out our original list, too!
#10: Holes, by Louis Sachar
“A lot of people don’t believe in curses.
A lot of people don’t believe in yellow-spotted lizards either, but if one bites you, it doesn’t make a difference whether you believe in it or not.”
Stanley Yelnats’ family has been cursed for five generations now, and his bad luck becomes apparent when he is wrongly accused and sentenced to a boys’ detention center, where they dig holes every day. Students will love the hilarious and richly defined characters, the suspenseful mystery, and a plot with unexpected twists.
#9: The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
“Mrs. May looked back at her. “Kate,” she said after a moment, “stories never really end. They can go on and on and on. It’s just that sometimes, at a certain point, one stops telling them.”
The Clock family lives in the floorboards of a human house, quietly borrowing and minding their own business. Restless with the quiet life of scampering, Arrietty dares to befriend the human boy who spied her father, Pod. This is a serious oldie but goodie, complete with some good old-fashioned British language.
#8: Sadako & the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr
“I remember the Thunderbolt…There was the flash of a million suns. Then the heat prickled my eyes like needles.”
This short read is perfect to help students comprehend the impact and complexities of wartime decisions–in this case the bombing of Hiroshima. As 12-year old Sadako Sasaki battles leukemia–the effect of her exposure to the atomic bomb radiation ten years earlier–she passes her hospital time in the hope-driven goal of folding 1,000 paper cranes. And when her death leaves her total incomplete, her classmates step in to finish and honor her memory.
#7: Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer
“If I win, I’m a prodigy. If I lose, then I’m crazy. That’s the way history is written.”
Artemis Fowl is a 12-year old criminal mastermind with plans to use his sophisticated 21st century resources to rob–fairies. And not just any fairies. High-tech, deadly, and determined-to-keep-concealed-from-humans fairies. Your students will love this action-packed adventure. Note: Due to some advanced vocabulary, you may want to designate a student to man a dictionary, and to have a signal for the class to use when clarification is necessary.
#6: Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
“And they are beginning to realize that the world they live in is a place where the right thing is often hard, sometimes dangerous, and frequently unpopular.”
With Nazi soldiers on every corner, how did occupied World War II Denmark smuggle 7,000 Jews to Sweden? Through the experiences of fictional Annemarie Johansen, Ellen Rosen, and the two friends’ families, the story of this incredible historical event comes to life. This read aloud will allow your students to experience history in ways they won’t soon forget!
#5: Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis
“Being on the lam was a whole lot of fun…for about five minutes.”
Follow Bud’s journey across Michigan during the Great Depression as he tries to find the man he’s sure is his father. Bud’s clear and hilarious voice–especially when it comes to “Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things to Have a Funner Life and Make a Better Liar Out of Yourself”–make him a character your students will be sure to laugh with and relate to.
#4: When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
“And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love.”
In 1979 New York City, 6th grader Miranda’s life isn’t a terribly unfamiliar scene: single mom, latchkey kid, trouble with friends. But things begin to depart from the norm as she receives mysterious notes that seem to be able to tell the future.
#3: Rules, by Cynthia Lord
“Why can’t the world be simpler, like it is for guinea pigs? They only have a few rules: Crying will get you attention. If it fits in your mouth, it’s food. Scream if you don’t get your share.”
Catherine works hard to help her autistic brother navigate the world by teaching him rules, ranging from “No toys in the fish tank” to “A boy takes off his shirt to swim, but not his shorts.” In the end, however, she begins to look inward, realizing that her rules may not be just about helping her brother after all. This humorous and thoughtful read will help your students gain real insight on the complexities of living with someone with autism.
#2: Miss Spitfire, by Sarah Miller
“Somehow I had expected to see a pale, delicate child–I suppose I got the idea from Dr. Howe’s description of Laura Bridgman when she came to the Institution. But there’s nothing pale or delicate about Helen.” ~Anne Sullivan to Sophia Hopkins, March 1887
This biographical historical fiction uses letters like the the one above to shape the story of Anne Sullivan’s trial-by-fire experience in teaching Helen Keller. Miller’s use of vivid imagery and details effectively thrusts us right in the ring with Anne, fighting every tantrum, shouldering every frustration, and, eventually, cherishing every success.
#1: Wonder, by R. J. Palacio
“…we should be remembered for the things we do. They are more important than what we say or what we look like.”
Most kids anticipate a new middle school just wanting to fit in and be viewed as regular kids. But most kids don’t have the added worry that August Pullman possesses: that he was born with a severe facial abnormality. Your students will love the way Palacio illuminates what kids go through at school–like dealing with those kids “who [are] one way in front of grown-ups and another way in front of kids,” or taking a look at what truly meaningful acts of kindness among peers look like.
BONUS: Stay! Keeper’s Story, by Lois Lowry
“Orphaned now, but not overwhelmed, I turned my back on my past and set forth.”
Your students will love this poetry-writing, witty canine, with the story uniquely written from his perspective. And you’ll love Lowry’s rich language and artful storytelling. Plus, at only 128 pages, this is a great read if you’re short on time!
What are some of YOUR favorites? Please share in the comments!
Featured Image: Thomas.Leuther