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10 Read Alouds for Upper Elementary Grades

Selecting the perfect read aloud for 10-12 year-olds can be difficult as they have become stronger, more mature readers, but are not yet ready for young adult reading.  Here are 10 of our favorites! (and check out our part two list here)!


One Crazy Summer (1)#10: One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia

This historical fiction provides a unique perspective of the Civil Rights Movement as readers follow three sisters to Oakland, California in 1968.  Rita Williams-Garcia admirably highlights issues like divorce and sibling rivalry in such a way that students can relate.  If you are looking for a text that will get students thinking and asking deep questions, especially with regards to this historical time period, be sure to give One Crazy Summer a try!

 
Flora and Ulysses#9: Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo has done it again with her latest book!  In her unique genre combination, where realistic fiction meets fantasy meets graphic novel, DiCamillo exercises her delightful understanding of the human (and apparently, squirrel) condition.  When 10 year-old Flora discovers her superhero poetry-writing squirrel friend, Ulysses, neither of them realize the extent of his life-saving abilities!  Your students are guaranteed to laugh, wonder, and exclaim, “Holy bagumba,” as they follow their adventure!  *Note that you may want to use a document camera to project the comics and pictures that crop up throughout the story!


Maniac Magee (1)#8: Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli

Maniac Magee continues to stand as a legend in the literary world.  Parentless, Maniac wanders from place to place performing astounding feats, from standing on Finsterwald’s front steps, to forming unexpected bonds across both the East Side and West Side.  This is a perfect realistic fiction to help students examine modern prejudices and what matters most in relationships.


Awakening (1)#7: Awakening (Chasing Yesterday #1), by Robin Wasserman

Despite her amnesia, J.D. can’t help but sense a dark and dangerous past as she experiences whispers, visions, and mysterious music.  This suspenseful mystery is excellent for students to develop predicting and inferencing skills.  One of the best parts?  A cliffhanger ending that will get students racing to check out the other two books in the series!

 
A long way from Chicago (1)#6: A Long Way from Chicago, by Richard Peck

Grandma Dowdel is sure to become as beloved to your class as she is to her grandchildren, Joey and Mary Alice.  However, this will be no warm and fuzzy grandmotherly relationship–not when Grandma Dowdel seems full of mischievous plots and an itchy trigger-finger where her shotgun’s concerned.  This historical fiction will not only give your students a taste of the Great Depression era, but will have them laughing through the bizarre hijinks that make up every chapter!


Sideways Stories (1)#5: Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar

Louis Sachar’s own experience as a yard teacher inspired this hilarious story of Mrs. Jewels’ class.  Each chapter tells a story more ridiculous than the last as you meet each student.  If your class is just in need of some gut-wrenching fun, this is the read-aloud for you!
 
Because of Winn Dixie (1)#4: Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo

Especially if you can pull off a great southern accent, your class will love this heart-warming realistic fiction.  Opal meets her dog, Winn-Dixie, when she moves down to Florida to live with her father, or as she calls him, “the preacher.”  This is another exhibition of DiCamillo’s ability to weave loveable characters and their complex relationships in simple terms to which any kid can relate!


Secret of Platform 13 (1)#3: The Secret of Platform 13, by Eva Ibbotson

It can be tough to find quality read alouds your students haven’t read–this fantasy novel often fits the bill there!  A hag, ogre, wizard, and fey are recruited to enter the our world through the Gump, or magical portal, to rescue their kidnapped prince.  However, with only 9 days before the Gump closes for 9 more years, along with other chaotic complications, students will be on the edge of their seats as they watch the rescue mission unfold.  As an interesting side-note, it is speculated to have inspired certain aspects of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which will intrigue your Potter-loving students!

 
Ella Enchanted#2: Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine

If students think they know this Gail Carson Levine story from watching the movie, they are about to get a surprise when you share this read aloud!  Ella is under a curse of obedience–but that makes her anything but docile.  Your students will love watching this headstrong and courageous character’s journey as she tries to break her spell amid fantastical creatures including fairies, elves, giants, ogres, and more!


Tuck-Everlasting#1: Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbit

Natalie Babbit’s masterful descriptions of every setting and character alone are enough to captivate any audience.  However, she has also intertwined an equally magical plot as Winnie Foster stumbles across the peculiar Tuck family–a family that seems impervious to change.  As the story takes unexpected twists and suspenseful crises, this story will definitely spark lively debates from your students as they form their own predictions and viewpoints.

 
Thank you mr (1)Bonus: Thank You, Mr. Falker, by Patricia Polacco

Although your students are growing up, it’s important for them to know that no one is ever too old for picture books!  Thank You, Mr. Falker is a favorite in particular for beginning-of-year read alouds to help students ponder issues of perseverance, bullying, and the potential within us all!

 
 
Photo Credit: 
 
Carlos Porto (featured image)

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Mary Wade

I taught 5th grade at a PYP International Baccalaureate school in Utah for 4 years, and am currently on extended parental leave until my kids start school. In between the roller-coaster adventures of motherhood, I enjoy educational blogging so I can stay in the loop and keep learning! Snapshot favorites: Student voice & choice. Twix bars. Global classrooms. Calvin & Hobbes. Outlandish sewing projects. Teachers learning from teachers. Modeling daring to students.

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