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Books to Read Aloud in the Upper Elementary Grades

Updated on February 22, 2015
Rosie writes profile image

Rosie was an elementary school teacher for 13 years, teaching grades 3-5. She is now a Library Media Specialist in an elementary school.


Benefits of Read Aloud Time

Read aloud has always been my favorite part of the day. The students love to listen to a good book and often complain when it is time to stop reading. There are several students who will go to the library and check the book out, as they want to read it at home because they simply can't wait until the next day to see what is going to happen next. Other students want to have the book in their hands so that they can follow along during the reading time. And some enjoy just listening intently.

It is important to carefully preselect books for many reasons. Many books lend themselves to concepts being taught in other subjects, and if planned in a timely manner and appropriately according to the curriculum being taught, these books can be integrated effectively into other subject areas. Books used for read aloud time should also promote class discussions and create a strong interest in reading.

The books listed below are books I would highly recommended for classroom read alouds for different reasons. Each one has its own strengths and can be applied to important reading comprehension skills. There are several teaching resources that can be used to enhance the read aloud time as well. This time should last about 20 minutes each day, however, extended times are often necessary when students want to hear more.

All About Sam

All About Sam, by Lois Lowry, is a great read aloud to use at the beginning of the school year. It is a light-hearted, funny story about a young boy's life. The supporting characters include his sister, mom and dad. Students can easily relate to the humorous events that are described throughout Sam's childhood. This book promotes enjoyable and engaging conversation at the beginning of the year when everyone is getting to know each other.

Concepts that can be easily taught alongside the novel are the six well-known reading comprehension strategies. With each chapter, the teacher can encourage students to use a different strategy. Students can share examples of how they used the strategy, lists of examples can be made, and students can reflect their use of the reading strategies in their writing journals.

The following is the list of the six reading strategies that can be used alongside All About Sam:

  1. Making Connections
  2. Questioning
  3. Visualizing
  4. Inferring
  5. Determining Importance
  6. Synthesizing

The City of Ember

The City of Ember, by Jeanne Duprau is a wonderfully engaging novel that offers an example of well-developed characters and incredibly descriptive language. Students can easily become lost in the story, feeling as if they are in the story themselves. The setting is in a place that has no sunlight, making it dark all the time. The only light comes from the lightbulbs left by the "builders" of the city. The only problem is that the lightbulbs, along with all other food and supplies, is dwindling. As far as the people know, there is no other place, however, two young people dare to find out if there is more than just the city of Ember.

Students find this book very suspenseful and they easily connect with the two young characters, Lena and Doon. This book is great for teaching students how to write descriptively, using sensory words and figurative language such as similes and metaphors. Examples of descriptive language can be found on every page of this book, and students love pointing it out.


Hole by Louis Sachar, is a suspenseful read. The main character is Stanley, a teenager who always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The book starts out with Stanley being wrongly accused of stealing tennis shoes that belong to a famous athlete. He is sent to "Camp Greenlake" which is actually a juvenile correctional center for teenage boys. The boys dig holes in the hot Arizona sun, to "build character." There is a history of events that tie the warden to Stanley that unfold slowly throuhout the book. The author cleverly entwines the past with the present, and students get excited as they connect the dots.

This book is an excellent tool to use in modeling how to write a book report. Students can easily summarize events as they happen throughout the book, using cause and effect relationships. Describing the characters and the setting are other tasks that seem effortless, because they are so unforgettable. Understanding the changes that the main characters go through comes naturally as well. Students can transfer their book reporting skills learned while reading Holes, to books they read on their own.


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    • acmalkutakh profile image

      Anna Cornelia 3 years ago from US

      My fifth/sixth grade teacher read to us every morning after lunch. I remember "The Yearling" and "Banners in the Sky" in particular- books I would never have picked up, but absolutely loved.

      "Holes" was incredible. "A Monster Calls" moved me. Have you ever read "Small Change for Stuart" by Lissa Evans? Reminded me of Edgar Eager's style of writing. I think hope is a huge factor in YA fiction, often overlooked but very important.

      Thanks for a great hub on one of my favorite subjects!

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 4 years ago from Virginia

      Robin, Where the Red Fern Grows is a great book. We used it in novel groups this year. Hatchet is in my classroom library; many students choose to read it often. Thanks for reading and for commenting:)

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 4 years ago from San Francisco

      By far, my two favorite read alouds are "Where the Red Fern Grows" and "Hatchet". My 4th grade daughter's teacher is reading them Holes right now, and she loves it! :)

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 4 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks randomcreative. I hope it will be useful. :)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      This is a great resource for both parents and teachers. Thanks!

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 4 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks Rachel. Your are absolutely right! The young adult novels are very interesting, even to adults.

    • Rachel Horon profile image

      Rachel Horon 4 years ago from Indiana

      You are never too old to enjoy a good read-aloud. Great book choices and resources!