5th Grade Says: The ’19-’20 Best Book of the Year, in 15 Words

It’s that time of year again – time to reveal our BEST reads of the school year in only 15 words!

New to this project? Check out our 15 Words challenge results from 2017-2018, and 2018-2019.

This has come to be one of my favorite projects of the year – and one of my most viewed blog posts! – and I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to do it this year, via distance learning. The project is normally full of such loud, joyful collaboration and interaction, with multiple days of rough drafts and practice performances, and a big reveal in front of all of our classmates on the final day. But as usual, the students floored me with their flexibility and creativity, and showed up engaged and ready to work despite the distance.

Here’s how the activity worked this year: 5th grade English teacher Caitlin Thomson and I recorded the guidelines in a video, shared a few examples, and set the kids loose to be creative! They were told that they could share via typed words, an image (the sample was a screenshot from a Google slide), or via a dramatic reading on video. Students then had time on a live Zoom call to ask questions, brainstorm, and practice. In their own time, they shared their creations on a private class Padlet. Once they added their titles, readers’ went through without prompting to comment on each others’ work and celebrate the books they had chosen. There was a lot of “this book was so awesome!” and “I loved this one, too!” It may not have looked like the ’17-’18 and ’18-’19 Best Books of the Year presentations, but the recommendations are still amazing!

If you’re looking for a great book for your middle grade or young adult reader, look no further. Here are the best books of the 2019-2020 school year, according to the real experts – 5th grade readers:

  • The Small Crimes of Tiffany Templeton: Juvenile delinquent, getting better. No one trusts her, but tough Tiff isn’t so tough inside.
  • Three Times Lucky: Mo’s summer is looking good. but thats before the murder, kidnapping, car crash, and hurricane.
  • No Summit Out of Sight: Seven summits. Age 10: Climbs the first part. Age 13: Climbs Everest. Seven summits: Dunzo!
  • Circus Mirandus: His grandfather is dying and he needs a promised miracle from a magic, hidden, circus.
  • Nevermoor – The trials of Morrigan Crow: A cursed child, a magical world, an evil villain, an impossible trail. Can she survive?
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities: Sophie Foster. Lost, afraid, alone, different. Until everything she thought she knew becomes a lie.
  • The Untouchables: Notorious class of train wrecks. But one teacher is worse. Can they stop her from being more superior than they are?
  • Believe It: The NFL is not just playing football for fun. You have to work for it.
  • The Lightning Dreamer: In Cuba, girls and Blacks weren’t allowed rights. This rebel changes everything for the future.
  • Divergent: One big choice. Love. Confusion. Did I make the wrong choice? This is war.
  • The Hidden World of Changers: Four students. Four animals. Four abilities. Is that enough to save their home from destruction?
  • Archon: Taking away Psi was a big choice for Taemon, but there are bigger choices ahead.
  • Ghost: My life has been a roller coaster. Can I get out of my father’s footsteps?
  • Unstoppable: It is about football. Even if you don’t like football, you will still enjoy it.
  • The Secret Zoo: Can Noah and his two friends save his sister and the zoo or not?
  • Grandpa’s Great Escape: A boy named Jack  with a grandpa who is wack, avoiding a predicament… Twilight Towers!
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: There are people on both sides, one Jewish, one not. So different, but not.
  • The Land of Stories: Charming princes, broken mirrors, Fairy tales and hearts of stone, Come enter this magical world.
  • The Revolution is Not a Dinner Party: It made me think about how grateful I am to have freedom compared to Ling.
  • Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: Tons of girls who have changed the world come together in one very simple book.
  • The Hunger Games: The fight is fierce, but nothing will stop us until we get to the top.
  • The Crossover: My life got flipped-turned upside down… Basketball, hair, my brother. Father’s life or death?
  • Pathfinder: Where is my dad…. Exploring the ancient ways … saving the egg … and I dive in.
  • Bomb: Countries racing to be the first ones to create the dreaded weapon, the atomic bomb!
  • Blended: Am I Black or white? Divorce, or marriage? Mom, or dad? Am I Black enough?
  • The Outsiders: Something happens and Ponyboy’s stuck in the middle, and he’s not going to lose them.
  • The Crossover: He’s good at the game, but he is not easy to tame. Suspense, action.
  • The Crossover: My brother and I fight a lot, but when it matters we love each other.
  • Out of My Mind: She kept pushing never gave up, smart. Couldn’t talk, find other ways around her problem.
  • Superlative: Is an incredible book you learn so much about animals and plants.
    I love Superlative!
  • Front Desk: Many secrets and hardships for immigrant Mia Tang. One window into immigrant life for readers.
  • Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus: Moving was not easy. She questioned who she can trust … without laughing behind her back.
  • Runaway Retriever: Can the dog be under control during the school day and not run away again?
  • The Crossover: My brother and I fight a lot, but when it matters we love each other.
  • Secretariat: I think this book is an absolutely great choice for someone likes learning about history and war in the 1970s, and the famous horse, Secretariat.


What would you add to the list?

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