It’s been a while since the last edition of Ella Enjoyed and over the holidays, I got an incredible number of questions about whether this series would be coming back.
Fortunately, Ella has been reading up a storm and has plenty of books to recommend (her goal for 2021 is to read 500 books. I’m sure I read a similar amount at her age, but now the idea of having that much time to read feels like a far off dream).
Here are five good books for fifth graders she’s enjoyed recently.
Ella Enjoyed: 5 Good books for Fifth Graders
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
Over Christmas break, Bart and Ella and I watched the PBS/Masterpiece version of Little Women (it’s available on Amazon video, if you’re inclined to watch it). Ella had read Little Women last year in preparation for the new movie, but hadn’t gone on to read Little Men or Jo’s Boys. After we watched the movie, we added them both to her Audible Plus library and she got her little sisters hooked on listening to them too!
What Ella has to say: When I read Little Women, my mom gave me Little Men to read, but I only read the first chapter and didn’t read the rest. But then when my mom got it for me on Audible Plus, it was really fun to listen to. It was something I’d been wanting to read but hadn’t quite gotten around to reading. I liked seeing the story from all the different boys’ points of view. I really loved it and then I read Jo’s Boys afterward as fast as humanly possible and it was just as good if not better.
Misfits by Jen Calonita
Ella never met a fractured fairy tale she didn’t like, so I knew immediately that this series about the Royal Academy, where fairy tale characters are trained to be the royal leaders they’re destined to be, would be a hit. And indeed it was. (P.S. This one is included in Kindle Unlimited – you can sign up for a free trial here if you’d like to read it with no wait and no cost!)
What Ella has to say: I really liked this book because it gets right into the action from the first page. I also love fractured fairy tales and this was a fun spin-off that wasn’t focused on a specific fairy tale but instead combined a bunch of them. Each person has a different talent and can use it in different ways, like talking to animals or writing a popular newspaper.
Who Was/Who Is Series by Geoff Edgers and Carlene Hempel, illustrated by Dede Putra and Nancy Harrison
I checked out the one about Julia Child this summer when my girls got interested in her after we got the Julia Child edition of Bravery Magazine and since then Ella has been blowing through the books in the series. Every time we go to the library, she picks out 4-5 more and then regales us at dinner with tales of the people she’s reading about (I’ve learned a lot without even reading the books myself!). If you have a child who gravitates toward non-fiction, these are a really fun option. And with 180+ books in the series (so far), you won’t run out anytime soon.
What Ella has to say: I don’t usually like biographies or non-fiction that much at all but when I tried to find some biographies, this was a fun series that felt like a book I would normally read. I’ve read ones about Walt Disney, Julia Child, Roald Dahl, Jane Goodall, and Helen Keller, plus a lot more. They’re really factual and every time I read one, my family has to endure me telling them about that person for the next two or three days. I think these are a little better for older kids – my sister, Ani (age 8), doesn’t really like them.
InvestiGators by John Patrick Green
This wouldn’t be an Ella Enjoyed list if it didn’t include a graphic novel and this one follows two alligators who fight crime by traveling through the city sewers. There’s a second book in the series that just came out in the fall and Ella is crossing her fingers that there are more in the series.
What Ella has to say: When my mom got these for me for the first time, I was slightly dubious. I mean, it has alligators breaking through a wall. But my mom said the magic words, “graphic novel” which basically means I read it in the next two hours. It was really fun and hilarious and I liked how it shows their personalities really clearly and how they clash. A lot.
Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
I don’t think I’ve ever actually read Pollyanna (although I remember seeing the movie as a child), but when I saw it as an included book on Audible Plus, I suggested it to Ella and two days later, she’d listened to the whole thing. Even if you’ve never read it, you’re probably somewhat familiar with the basic story of a little girl who looks at the bright side, even when things go wrong.
What Ella has to say: I like to hear all the ways that Pollyanna finds things to be glad about even when there doesn’t seem to be anything to be glad about and helps other people do the same. I like how her Aunt Polly is really stiff and cold but eventually warms up to her. The narration had different voices which was really fun.
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