5th Grade Says… The ’18-’19 Best Books of the Year, in Exactly 15 Words


It’s that time of year again! #stabsummerreading is right around the corner, so I asked 5th grade experts to look back at their reading this year and choose the books that stood out as the best. Which ones were the most exciting? Engaging? Which ones would you suggest to a 4th or 5th grader looking for a can’t-put-it-down book this summer?

Then it was time to drop the bomb: not only did they need to get someone new hooked on their book, but they only got 15 words to do it. Why 15 words? Here’s some info on this activity, which I discovered via Pernille Ripp:

Every year our very last speech is a “Best Book of the Year” Speech.  Every year, my students declare their love for books in front of the class.  They share their favorite reads in order for everyone else to add them to their to-be-read list.  I scribble down each title so I can create a blog post for the rest of the world.  It is always fascinating to see the books that make the cut.

This year, we have worked on brevity.  On the importance of words.  On getting to the point, so we added a twist to this yearly event; you get 15 words exactly.  No more, no less.  15 words to make others write down the title you loved.  15 words to somehow give enough of a glimpse into the book to tempt others.

(Read more on PernilleSRipp.com)

I love the focus on the importance and weight of words – it’s a lesson I’m constantly trying to pass on to my readers and writers. It feels great to read a book that you truly love, but it feels even better to pass that book along to a friend who you know will love it, too. My 5th grade classes and I talked about how their booktalks could make-or-break the reading experience for a younger reader, and they took the responsibility seriously.

Students got so into the project this year, they asked for extra time to work on their drafts and practice their performances. After watching a few videos of other middle schoolers delivering their speeches, they realized just how critical the delivery can be when you only have 15 words to work with! Check out the video above to get a sneak peek of a few performances. Overall, we took two class periods to work on this project – one to write and draft, and another to practice before our final share.

If you’re looking for some great ideas to kick off your #stabsummerreading, here are some of the best books of the 2018-2019 school year, as selected and described by 5th grade students at St. Anne’s-Belfield.

  • Blended: Split in half. Two houses, two races, heartbreaking divorce. Page turner. Where does Isabel belong?
  • Belly Up: Henry the Hippo murdered at FunJungle. Who did it? Teddy takes risks… and is framed!
  • Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus: Tourettes Syndrome? No arms? Missing parents, spiders, and an amusement park? Honestly, what could go wrong?
  • Forget me Not: New schools, friends, and boyfriends. Not my choice, again and again…until Jinsong.
  • Shadowlands: One girl, one murderer. She has to leave to live, but is she even alive?
  • Checked: Fire. Hockey. Dog. Cancer. Money. Run. Will Sinbad survive his Cancer? But can Conor pay?
  • Troy: A siege lasting years. Mischief from the gods. Will the Greeks go home with Helen?
  • Alex Rider: Bam! Pow! Alex must escape his enemies while stopping an aircraft from destroying the world.
  • Treasure Hunters: Action packed. Adventurous. There’s no wall they can’t get through. Will they find their parents?
  • Ungifted: Rule 1 – don’t get caught. Can Donovan blend in at the genius school? Must read.
  • Out of My Mind: She’s never talked, never walked. She’s smart. Nobody knows it. Is that going to change?
  • Max: Brother dies, Justin gets his Marine dog. Max. Dead brother’s BFF is bad. Heart shattering.
  • Everything Everything: Maddie has been locked up all her life! Soon someone is going to change that.
  • Crenshaw: A cat. An imaginary cat. An imaginary purple cat. And an amazing family…falling apart?
  • No Fixed Address: Unrest. A theme of homelessness. Can Felix beat his homelessness? Will he be homeless forever?
  • Ghost (Track series #1): Boom. Gun. Track team. Lots of teammates. Series. Four stories. Scary, hilarious. Win or lose.
  • Refugee: Refugee is a book with three perspectives at once. Can they survive fleeing their country?
  • The Hunger Games: One girl, fit to fight. 24 kids. What are the odds of surviving the arena?
  • The Unwanteds: Pushed out of their world, because of art. Will he be Unwanted? Or maybe live?
  • The Perfectionists Series: 5 girls. 1 murder mystery. 1 big situation. Will they get caught? Who’ll die next?
  • The Martian: Jaw-dropping. Addicting. Mark Watney abandoned on Mars for 687 days. How did he survive?
  • The Heroes of Olympus: Knee-buckling, unpredictable, and sometimes sad. Seven unique characters on an important mission. Will they succeed?
  • Blended: Isabella has a Black father, white mother, sharing custody, but doesn’t know who to be.
  • Land of Stories: Two mischievous twins get stranded in magical but dangerous fairytale. How will they get home?
  • The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher: Hilarious, crazy! Two dads, four boys. New schools, angry neighbors. A new adventure every day!
  • Refugee: Boom! War has hit. 3 kids fight to find safety. Will they all survive war?

Learn more about this fun tradition, and check out last year’s big favorites, here: 5th Grade says…. the ’17-’18 Best Books of the Year, in Exactly 15 Words.

Curious about our #STABSummerReading campaign? Click here to learn more.

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