Year 5 recommended reading list for children aged 9-10

Books for Year 5. This book collection was carefully curated by highly experienced and qualified librarians and teachers who specialise in contemporary children’s literature. It includes over 50 classic and modern titles that have all been tested with youngsters aged 9 to 10 in upper KS2 primary school classes. There is a wide range of fiction and nonfiction books available for readers of various levels, including those who struggle. We chose works that are appropriate for whole-class reading, home learning, intervention groups, book clubs, reading aloud, and shared reading. This list of recommendations is reviewed termly and includes stories by Ravena Guron, S.F Said, Vashti Hardy, Sabine Adeyinka, Polly Ho-Yen, Christopher Lloyd, A.F. Steadman, Cornelia Funke, Maz Evans, Malorie Blackman, Judith Kerr, Eoin Colfer and many more.

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Books for Year 5

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Books for Year 5 – our recommendations

Glassborn by Peter Bunzl

When the clock strikes 13, Acton, the youngest of the four Belle siblings, finds himself in fairyland and forced to work for an evil queen. Can Cora, Elle and Bram save their brother before it’s too late? The spectacularly realised fantasy quest story is brilliantly written, with convincing characters in an unforgettable world. It’s a must-read for fans of magic, daring adventure and gripping twists. Highly recommended for readers in Year 5.

Fantasy | Adventure

Glassborn by Peter Bunzl

Dungeon Runners: Hero Trial by Kieran Larwood

Intrepid 9+ year-olds will relish this exhilarating journey into the world of Dungeon Runners with Kit, a determined part gnome, part dwarf – ‘gnorf’ with big dreams and a big heart. With his friends Sandy and Thorn, Kit navigates mazes, puzzles, and monsters in the compelling Dungeon Running League. Larwood’s fun-filled storytelling, paired with Todd-Stanton’s vibrant illustrations, brings this action-packed friendship-themed adventure to life. It’s an irresistible read for less confident children in Year 5. Highly recommended. Read our full review.

Interactive | Adventure

Dungeon Runners: Hero Trial by Kieran Larwood

The Wall Between Us by Dan Smith

This absorbing and convincing Cold War thriller sees Anja and Monika experience first-hand the division and fear caused by the Berlin War. Will they ever see each other again? Ideal for more advanced Year 5 classes, The Wall Between Us is perfect for character hot seating, P4E discussion and using for creative writing ideas.


The Wall Between Us by Dan Smith

The Island At The Edge Of Night by Lucy Strange

Abandoned in a remote boarding school on a desolate Scottish island, Faye unravels secrets among a small group of students who have all been labelled wicked. Lucy Strange’s Gothic narrative, blending mystery and magical elements, will captivate 9+ year-old readers who enjoy being immersed in dark and twisty storylines. Exploring themes of overcoming fears, the power of friendship and the healing power of nature, this sparklingly atmospheric novel is an unforgettable read. Highly recommended for whole class reading in Year 5.


The Island At The Edge Of Night by Lucy Strange

The Thief of Farrowfell by Ravena Guron

In this fast-paced and exciting tale of crime, magic, and intrigue, Jude Ripon strives to prove her worth by stealing a rare piece of magic, unaware that it is guarded by a powerful curse. It’s perfect for children seeking excitement and fantasy adventure. Read our full review.

Fantasy | Crime

The Thief of Farrowfell by Ravena Guron

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman

400 pages of epic, engaging, and highly absorbing reading will take youngsters to a magical world of unicorns that they will not want to leave. Don’t be surprised if it’s on permanent loan from your school library! An excellent novel for sparking inventive creative writing ideas, it’s also ideal for reading aloud and discussing in groups. Skandar is a fantasy novel that every classroom should have.

Fantasy | Adventure

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman

Tyger by S.F Said

When Adam finds a mysterious Tyger in a rubbish dump, he soon realises it’s not just the Tyger in danger, but everyone and the world around him. Can Adam, his friend Zadie and the Tyger save the day? This impressively illustrated hardback blends magic, fantasy, culture and humanity into an unforgettable story. This award-winning book is highly recommended for class reading.

Animal story | Adventure

Tyger by S.F Said

Jummy at the River School by Sabine Adeyinka

Jummy is excited about joining at an elite boarding school in Southern Nigeria, but her joy is clouded by disappointment when her best friend Caro is not accepted. Caro arrives unexpectedly, not as a student, but as a servant, just as Jummy is settling in and making new friends. This vivid first-person depiction of boarding school life, friendships, and fast-paced fun will appeal to KS2 independent readers.

School story | Diverse

Jummy at the River School by Sabine Adeyinka

The Sky by Hélène Druvert

With cutouts, immersive illustrations, short chunks of accessible text and bold headings, readers will be whisked away on a non-fiction journey into ‘The Sky’. Covering the air, eclipses, the atmosphere, travel, history, pollution, the solar system and much more, this book will encourage children to look up. ‘The Sky’ is a breathtaking large-format illustrated book to be treasured at home or at school.

Picture book

The Sky by Hélène Druvert

The Treasure Hunters by Lisa Thompson

Shy Vincent would much rather be at home than endure a school activity weekend. That’s until one of his classmates tells him her grandfather died convinced there’s pirate treasure buried nearby. Will they be able to find it before dark forces get there first? With themes of wilderness, empathy, dyspraxia, adventure and mystery, this is a roller-coaster illustrated chapter book to read and discuss in class.

Mystery | Adventure

The Treasure Hunters by Lisa Thompson

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

When Violet teams up with Herbie to help her find out what happened to her long-lost parents, little does she realise how her life will become entangled with the Malamander monster of Eerie-on-Sea. A fascinating story that captures a uniquely quirky and fantastical atmosphere. An ideal whole class reading book for year 5 children. The first of a series.


Malamander by Thomas Taylor a great year 5 book for class reading

Coming to England by Floella Benjamin

This inspiring autobiography sensitively and revealingly chronicles the Windrush experience of a young girl travelling from Trinidad to a new life in England in 1960. A powerful read, Floella Benjamin’s childhood account is one that will resonate with KS2 children and one they will be able to empathise with. This text will be a useful resource for autobiographical writing in year 5 literacy lessons.


Coming to England by Floella Benjamin - a brilliant autobiography for 9 year olds

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

In a dark world set many millennia ago, 12-year-old Torak must take a dangerous journey to the mountain of Wolf Spirit and save the world from a dangerous demon. An ideal group reading book for greater depth year 5 pupils.


Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver - a great class novel for 9 year olds

Who Let the Gods Out by Maz Evans

An anarchic laugh-out-loud story about a boy, Elliot, who spots a shooting star one night which turns out to be a deity with a lot on her mind; and something unexpected and very nasty lurking under Stonehenge. The pair call on the Gods of Greek myths to save the world and Elliot’s mum. The outrageously funny language will appeal to reluctant readers. This must-read book is probably a cult series in the making.


Who Let the Gods Out by Maz Evans. A great book for independent readers in year 5

The Violet Veil Mysteries by Sophie Cleverly

When Violet’s father is arrested for crimes he did not commit, she is thrust into a world of intrigue and ghostly goings-on in this, the first of a new series. Set in the world of undertakers Veil & Son’s, Violet is determined to walk in her father’s footsteps and one day run the family firm. With fast-paced plotting, short chapters and a strong female protagonist, this story is ideal for upper KS2 murder mystery fans and would make a good year 5 book for reading group discussion.


The Violet Veil Mysteries by Sophie Cleverly - a spooky mystery for nine year olds

Beetle Boy by MG Leonard

When Darkus’ dad vanishes he finds himself living next to the neighbours from hell. When things seemingly can’t get any worse, a super-intelligent talking beetle comes to the rescue. Anarchic, funny, and at times completely mad – with a hint of Roald Dahl. This is a gripping storytime read-aloud that pupils will look forward to each day.


Beetle Boy by MG Leonard - a great class reader book for year 5

Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen

A boy who lives in a tower block sees the whole world below him. But one day the tower begins to crumble and fall. The world around him collapses amongst peculiar and menacing plants. Is all hope lost or can he find a way out? This multi-award-winning book with high-quality text is ideal for teaching in year 5 literacy units, and perfect to use when modelling tension, descriptive writing and settings.

Dystopia | Diverse

Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen. A great book for year 5 advanced readers

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Set in revolution-era Russia, a snowbound mother and daughter live in fear of the encroaching Red Army. But Feodora and her mother have a unique talent – they can turn tame wolves into suspicious and wild beasts fit to fend for themselves. With sparkling prose and rich in figurative language, this is a memorable story for freedom and independence that will keep a class of year five children entranced.


The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell - a descriptive novel for year five pupils

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Heidi is an orphan left heartbroken when she has to leave her grandfather and home in the mountains to live in the city. This classic children’s literature novel both inspires and delights and will appeal to children who yearn for the great outdoors. The text is also a useful resource for year 5 teachers looking to explore descriptive settings and use landscapes to create atmospheric narrative writing.


Heidi by Johanna Spyri - a classic children's novel for 9 year olds

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl is the twelve-year-old son of an Irish crime lord. After significant research, Artemis believes that he has confirmed the existence of fairies, and he intends to track them down. A more advanced book for year 5 book clubs.


Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer - a more advanced book for year 5 pupils

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

11-year-old Parvana is forced by circumstances to become the breadwinner for her family in a war-torn Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. This complex issue-based story is a masterpiece of empathy and will not only grip children in year five, but allow them to empathise, hot-seat, and compare how different their lives are to Parvana’s experiences. Highly recommended for year 5 book clubs and topic-based teaching.


The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. A good book for year 5 reading groups

Clockwork by Philip Pullman

A tormented apprentice clock-maker, a deadly mechanical knight in armour – and the sinister Dr Kalmenius, who some say is the devil. A great modern fairy tale, this short chapter book contains sparkling writing, rich figurative language and evocative descriptions. It’s a gift for creative writing teachers looking to develop pupils’ storytelling skills in year 5.


Clockwork by Philip Pullman - a gripping class reader for year five

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

Danny and his father William live in a Gypsy caravan mending cars for a living, although Danny’s father also has a dangerous sideline in poaching pheasants. A gripping and at times visceral story that is peppered with humour and warmth, this is one of the more challenging and thought-provoking children’s novels by Roald Dahl.


Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. Good for confident readers in year 5

The What on Earth? Wallbook Timeline of Big History by Christopher Lloyd

An incredible history book that spans the dawn of time to the present day, in a five-metre-long fold-out book timeline which can be laid out on a table, floor or wall. Unique and very engaging, children can walk around the book and dip into different time periods. Thought-provoking and inspiring, this book and wallchart combination is great for reluctant readers and it’s perfect for year 5 pupils who are interested in facts, history and non-fiction texts.


The What on Earth? Wallbook Timeline of Big History by Christopher Lloyd - a great nonfiction book for year 5 classrooms

Dial a Ghost by Eva Ibbotson

When new owners force the Wilkinsons to leave the home they’re haunting, they travel to London and apply to Dial-a-Ghost for a new home. The agency finds the perfect home for the Wilkinsons – a ruin – and tells them they can move in on Friday the 13th… A fun and easy-to-read short-chapter novel, Dial a Ghost is perfect for guided reading groups in year 5 – especially around Halloween time.


Dial a Ghost by Eva Ibbotson. A good year 5 book for reading around the class or on zoom

Indiana Bones by Harry Heape

With the perfect blend of humour and history, Indiana Bones, a dog detective with Aisha as his owner and sidekick, set out to fathom centuries-old crimes from Castile to Casablanca. This gripping and pacey mystery is cleverly set in highly legible and doubled spaced type to appeal to reluctant readers in UKS2. It’s also a useful text to help less able readers develop language and vocabulary, both in terms of reading, and when modelling creative writing.


Indiana Bones by Harry Heape - a high interest easy read for nine year olds

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

A silver dragon named Firedrake, the Brownie Sorrel, and Ben, a boy, search for the mythical mountain range called the Rim of Heaven to escape persecution from humans. Friendship, loyalty and good and evil are some of the key themes in this epic quest. The first in a series of bestselling spellbinding fantasy novels, Dragon Rider will transfix many of the 9-year-olds that read it.


Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke - a perfect class reader year 5 text

Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner

On the train to Berlin, Emil meets a mysterious man who introduces himself as Max Grundeis. This man gives Emil mysterious chocolate and Emil falls asleep. When he wakes up, the money and Herr Grundeis are gone. A classic of twentieth-century children’s literature, and a gripping mystery, this is a surefire addition to your year five classroom library.


Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner. A great adction book for year 5

Peter in Peril by Helen Bate

Peter’s life is turned upside down when his family have to go into hiding to escape persecution in WW2 Hungary. This easy-to-read graphic novel is accessible, highly visual and ideal for reluctant readers in year five. It’s also ideal to read in conjunction with When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr.


Peter in Peril by Helen Bate - a useful graphic novel book for year 5 pupils

Cloud Soup by Kate Wakeling

This new collection from the creators of the award-winning Moon Juice contains 35 inventive, quirky and humorous poems for 9-11-year-olds. Full of imagery and great to read aloud, this is a good pick for year 5&6 classrooms. This highly imaginative poetry collection is also ideal for sparking ideas for children’s writing in upper KS2.


Cloud Soup by Kate Wakeling - a thought-provoking poetry collection for 9 year olds

The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively

James Harrison and his family move into a cottage in Ledsham and from day one they are bothered by a ghost called Thomas Kempe. An atmospheric and slightly scary book for group reading with more confident readers in Year 5. It’s perfect if you want to set up an after-school ghost story writing activity for nine-year-olds.


The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively. An interesting book for discussion in year 5

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

The publishing phenomenon and bestselling middle-grade series starring Harry, Ron and Hermione is perfect for independent reading, whole-class novel studies, and group reading. Also, Harry Potter might well be the series of books that gets your child hooked on reading for pleasure and energised to start reading more often. A highly recommended series of books for year 5.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling - a classic fantasy series for nine year olds

The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

Cruella de Vil has 97 Dalmatian puppies. She needs 101 to make a new fur coat. Can anyone stop her before it’s too late? This classic children’s novel has been turned into a number of films and audiobook adaptations, making it a highly accessible option for year five guided reading groups.


The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. A year 5 book to read to the class at the end of the day

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes

A new paperback edition of this classic children’s novel, with spectacular graphic illustrations by Chris Mould. A giant metal man rains destruction on the countryside by attacking farm equipment, before befriending a boy and defending the world from an alien monster. This is a wonderful introduction to figurative writing, no year 5 classroom should be without a set of this book.

Science fiction

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes - a modern classic for 9 year olds

Wild is the Wind by Grahame Baker-Smith

A truly mesmerising picture book that takes the reader on a journey over the ocean in a hot air balloon with Cassi and the swift that she has nursed back to health. The reader experiences spectacular and diverse illustrated landscapes along the route, in this migration story with a distinctly human element. Ideal to incorporate into topics about seasons and weather, the poetic commentary also lends itself to use as an impetus for teaching similes and metaphors in year 5 English lessons.

Picture book

Wild is the Wind by Grahame Baker-Smith - an amazing illustrated year five book book to discuss

Scribbleboy by Philip Ridley

Bailey arrives in a new neighbourhood with his unusual family. He has no friends but receives a strange invitation to join the Scribbleboy Fan Club. With exciting vocabulary, wacky, larger-than-life characters, vivid descriptions, lively illustrations and laugh-out-loud moments, this is a great book to encourage reluctant readers in year 5.


Scribbleboy by Philip Ridley - a high interest year 5 book for reluctant readers

Stig of the Dump by Clive King

Stig is a caveman. He lives at the bottom of a pit close to Barney’s grandparents’ house. People throw all their old junk in the pit and Barney decides it would be the perfect place to build a den. An ideal group reader book for year 5, this classic is a staple for KS2 English teaching as well as being a never-to-be-forgotten independent read.


Stig of the Dump by Clive King. A staple class reader for 9 year olds

Hacker by Malorie Blackman

Vicky’s father is accused of stealing over a million pounds from the bank where he works. How can she prove his innocence? A more mature independent reading book for year 5 pupils, this novel will appeal to children who have a strong sense of right and wrong, or who are interested in computers and coding.

Mystery | Diverse

Hacker by Malorie Blackman - a more advanced year 5 book

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

The powerful story of a young Jewish girl who is forced to flee her home in Germany in 1933. A masterpiece of historical fiction, this is a moving novel that is ideal for both year five book clubs and for teaching as a whole class text as part of a WW2 topic.


When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr - a classic choice for year 5 book clubs

Moondial by Helen Cresswell

A girl discovers a tunnel through time and tries to help two children from the past, in this story of ghosts, friendship and trying to right wrongs. A vividly told story, this classic children’s novel is filled with evocative and atmospheric descriptions, rich characterisation and complex sentences – making it a useful teaching resource for more able pupils working at greater depth in year 5.


Moondial by Helen Cresswell. A cracking mystery for year five children

The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross

Dinah Glass discovers that her new school Headmaster is very strange. It’s almost as if he’s controlling what all the pupils say and think. Something is very wrong, and Dinah wants to know what it is. A fast-paced school-based dystopia for nine-year-olds, this is a thought-provoking read that will linger in the imagination.

Realistic fiction

The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross - a tense thriller for nine year old children

The Witches by Roald Dahl

A young boy goes to stay with his grandmother after his parents are killed in a car crash in the Norwegian mountains The next night, she begins to warn him about witches, evil witches. Of all the Roald Dahl titles, this is a perennial favourite with year 5 children, with a rollercoaster plot that will suit more confident readers.


The Witches by Roald Dahl. A lightly scary story for more confident 9 year olds

Brightstorm: A Sky-Ship Adventure by Vashti Hardy

A gripping fantasy story that is perfectly suited for class reading. Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm set off on a dangerous voyage to find their father and save the family’s reputation. The first of a stunning series and an ideal year 5 book to inspire readers.


Brightstorm: A Sky-Ship Adventure by Vashti Hardy. An ideal year five class reader

Bill’s New Frock by Anne Fine

Bill is forced to go to school in a dress – a frilly pink dress. One of the worst days of his life is about to begin in this very funny story. A fun storybook to read around the class and perform in year 5, this is also an interesting book to spark discussion in PSHE lessons.


Bill's New Frock by Anne Fine - a good year 5 book for reluctant readers

The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban

The spellbinding story of a tin father and son who dance under a Christmas tree until they break the ancient clockwork rules and are themselves broken. A spellbinding and memorable storybook to read aloud to a year five at the end of the day, this children’s novel is a must-have for the classroom bookshelf.


The Mouse and his Child by Russell Hoban - an illustrated novel for children age 9

King of the Cloud Forests by Michael Morpurgo

When Japan invades China, Ashley and his Uncle are forced to flee across the Himalayas. When Ashley is captured by a group of strange creatures, they revere him as their king. But why? This surprising and memorable story is ideal for group reading in year five and is also a worthwhile addition to any upper KS2 classroom library.


King of the Cloud Forests by Michael Morpurgo - a great year 5 book for classroom libraries

The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit

A group of children find out their new carpet is magical. An egg in the carpet hatches into a talking Phoenix which explains that the carpet is magical and will grant them three wishes every day. This classic of children’s literature is a more challenging book for year 5 readers.


The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit. For more advanced readers in year five

The Scarecrow and his Servant by Philip Pullman

A scarecrow comes alive after being struck by lightning and sets out on a spectacular quest with Jack, an orphan who is his servant. Brilliantly told, this lyrical and beautifully woven tale will keep year five children engrossed from start to finish. A marvellous class reader for teachers who want a text with rich language and characterisation.


The Scarecrow and his Servant by Philip Pullman. A gripping year 5 book for class reading

The Factory Made Boy by Christine Nostlinger

Mrs Bartolotti receives a package by mistake. Inside is a factory-made boy called Conrad who never does anything wrong. The factory wants Conrad back, but he doesn’t want to go. A shorter text, this is a good year 5 book choice for reluctant readers.

Science fiction

The Factory Made Boy by Christine Nostlinger. A good story for year five reluctant readers

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Books for year 5 video

Below is a video showcasing all our Year 5 book recommendations in a helpful 5-minute film which can be displayed in schools, projected on classroom display panels, used as a training resource, or shared as a link for remote learning or school internet websites.

How many of our year 5 books have you read?

Here’s a free background wallpaper of our recommended year 5 books list to use on your classroom computer

Books for year 5 - our free background wallpaper

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Books for Year 5 – what titles to recommend to children

Selecting engaging and age-appropriate books for Year 5 children involves considering their evolving interests and reading abilities. Aim for a diverse mix of genres, including adventure, mystery, historical fiction, and fantasy. Look for titles that spark curiosity, provoke critical thinking, and encourage empathy. Series with relatable characters and captivating storylines often capture their interest, fostering a love for reading. It’s beneficial to involve children in the selection process, considering their preferences and providing a balance between challenging and comfortable reads. Some timeless classics and contemporary gems can enrich their literary experience, creating a well-rounded reading list that both teachers and parents can confidently recommend. A well-curated Year 5 reading list can really make a big difference.

What reading level should a year 5 be?

In Year 5, children typically achieve a reading age that ranges from 9 to 11 years old. However, it’s crucial to recognize that individual development varies, and children may progress at different rates. The focus should be on assessing their comprehension, fluency, and critical thinking skills rather than adhering strictly to a specific reading level. Encouraging a diverse range of reading materials, from challenging novels to informational texts, supports their intellectual growth and expands their vocabulary. Personalised booklists for Year 5 can help to achieve this. Regular assessments and discussions with teachers can provide valuable insights into each child’s progress and guide adjustments to their reading journey accordingly.

Click for more children’s reading book recommendationsPicture books to read before you are 5 years oldReception books | Year 1 books | Year 2 books | Year 3 books | Year 4 books | Year 5 books (this page) | Year 6 books | Topic books | KS3 books

For less able readers, try our Books for Year 4 reading suggestions.

For even more books for 9-10-year-olds, see this list.

For the more able, have a look at our Books for Year 6 reading list.

Books for Year 5. Scholastic books for children and teachers. Discounts available.

About Tom Tolkien

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Tom Tolkien is a highly qualified (BA Hons, PGCE, QTS) children's literature expert and teacher with over 25 years of experience. He has led inset courses, developed curriculum materials, spoken at conferences, advised on longlisting for several international children's literature literature awards and written for educational publishers including contributing to a BETT award-nominated app. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin

This booklist was last updated on June 14th, 2024 and first published in 2013.