10 Must Read Classics for Upper Elementary Aged Kids

The upper elementary years are a great opportunity when it comes to exposing kids to good books. Kids are usually beginning to have a longer attention span and the ability to comprehend larger chunks of information. Although kids at this age are often able to read independently,  I encourage you not to give up reading aloud. There are so many benefits- even for the older kids.

In this post I'm sharing ten classics books you don't want to miss for this age group. (And I'm cheating a little because one of these is a trilogy, and several are series.)


Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids







This post is part of the Five Days of Great Kids Book Series. You can find all of the books in the series here. You can also pick up a brand new freebie- 15 MORE Literature Unit Studies for Kids. It has literature unit resources for fifteen great kids' books, printable graphic organizers for reading, and a link to a unit study planning pack.

This post series is a celebration of my new ebook- Charlotte's Web Literature Notebooking Unit, a notebooking unit study for early elementary grades based on the book Charlotte's Web. You can find the unit study and samples to check out here. During the launch- through the end of February, you can get $5 off the study with the coupon LITERATURELAUNCH. Use that code at checkout here. You can also enter to win a copy of the study as well as an Amazon gift card for $25 here.



The Sign of the Beaver is set in the early days of US history. Matt is left behind to guard the family's new cabin while his father travels back east to get the rest of the family. When Matt loses their only gun to a roaming stranger, he is alone with no way to get food or to defend himself. He meets Attean, an Indian boy who comes to learn to read English from him, and he faces a conflict in the way he's heard Indians talked about and the actual experiences he has.

Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids


This book is also by Elizabeth George Speare. It's set in Israel during the time of Christ. Daniel is a boy who is bitter about the Romans killing his father, and he's determined to fight and drive them from the land. Daniel changes, however, when he meets Jesus of Nazareth. We especially liked this one because there aren't many kids' books set in this time period, and it was interesting to get a view of what the people in Israel were living like at the time of Christ.

Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids


This book is the first of a five book series. I do admit that I haven't read them all. This is my favorite, and then I think I've read two more. This one can definitely stand alone as a great read. It's a fantasy story featuring Meg Murray, who- along with her brother and friend- travel to a different planet to find her father.

Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids


I struggled with whether to put The Giver in the upper elementary or middle school post. I decided on this one because I'm sharing another of Lois Lowry's great books below. The story features 12 year old Jonas who has been made the Receiver of Memories in his futuristic dystopian society. As he begins to receive memories from the Giver, he learns that his society has lost out on many good and beautiful things as they've also tried to eliminate all of the bad things.

Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids


This book, also by Lois Lowry, is historical fiction set during the Holocaust. When Annemarie and her family begin to see Jews rounded up and "relocated" in Denmark, they take in Annemarie's friend Ellen who is Jewish. The book shows some of the horrors of the time through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl.

Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids


We were introduced to The Kingdom Tales in one of our first years of using the My Father's World curriculum. This is a trilogy of books that are allegorical. They are full of exciting stories, and they are a picture of the world before Christ, during the life of Christ, and after Christ's return to Heaven. I love allegories, and some of the other books I'll mention here are allegories as well. They make for great read alouds and discussion.

Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids


This is one of my all time favorite series, and I still love it as an adult. C.S. Lewis creates a fantastical world with compelling characters and adventures in the Narnia book. There is also lots of great spiritual allegory that make for fun discussion if you read the book aloud. The books in this series get deeper as they go along. Younger kids will probably enjoy all of them, but it may take multiple readings before they really "get" the later books. This is why I've read this series aloud about four times already. If you want to really get into these books with the kids, I have a post with unit study resources for them here.

Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids


I can remember reading the Little House books aloud with my mom when I was young. The books, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, are a fictional account of her real life as a pioneer in the days of Western expansion. These books, like the Chronicles of Narnia, get deeper as they go on. Laura gets older and the situations in her life are sometimes more complex. We've read the first few aloud, and then I've encouraged the kids to read further on their own. If you want to extend what you're doing with the Little House books, I have a post with lots of ideas for unit study with these books.

Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids


This is an adapted version of the classic Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. In this version Christian is a boy. He still faces trials and hardships on his way to the Celestial City, and his journey is an allegory of the Christian life. We love this one, and I've read it aloud a number of times. It makes for great discussion. And, as a bonus, my oldest daughter found that when she read the original Pilgrim's Progress in high school, she already had a good understanding of it because of this book.

Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids


Set in ancient Egypt, this is the story of Ranofer, a brave boy who is standing up to his cruel and evil brother when he suspects him of theft. Besides being an interesting story, this book has a good portrayal of life in ancient Egypt, so it's a good one to add to your study of the ancients.

Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids


Which of these books have you read? Do you have a favorite read aloud for this age group?

Classic books for upper elementary-aged kids

Don't forget to pick up your free literature studies ebook here.

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