The Top 10 Survival Stories for Upper Elementary


Image of covers of upper elementary novels about survival. The title reads "Top 10 Survival Stories for Upper Elementary www.fifthintheforest.com"

It seems stories of survival always peak the interest of young readers. I can't tell you how many times I've encountered reluctant readers in my classroom. Then suddenly, with the right adventure in their hands, they LOVE reading. 


If you find yourself in the same situation, I'd love for you to try one of the stories below. I've collected 10 of the BEST survival stories for upper elementary students. Check out these classics below!

Image of novel covers: Refugee, A Night Divided, The War the Saved My Life, Esperanza Rising, and Island of Blue Dolphins

1. Refugee By: Alan Gratz

This novel masterfully weaves the stories of 3 refugee children: a Jewish boy, a Cuban girl, and a Syrian boy. Each story displays the struggles of 20th and 21st century refugees in a powerful way. 

>>View my read aloud companion for this title on Teachers Pay Teachers!<<

2. A Night Divided By: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Gerta’s family wakes up one morning to be divided by the Berlin Wall. For the next few years, the family risks their lives to find a way to reunite.

>>View my read aloud companion for this title on Teachers Pay Teachers!<<

3. The War that Saved My Life By: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This Newberry Honor book is set during WWII. Young Ada is hidden away by her cruel mother because of a “twisted foot.” As the story unfolds, Ada escapes from her mother, learns to trust others, and plays an important role in the war effort.

>>View my read aloud companion for this title on Teachers Pay Teachers!<<

4. Esperanza Rising By: Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza is a young Mexican girl who faces many tragedies and difficulties. But, as her name suggests, she grows and learns to have hope for the future. 

>>View my read aloud companion for this title on Teachers Pay Teachers!<<

5. Island of Blue Dolphins By: Scott O'Dell

Karana lives with her native tribe on a remote Pacific island. When her tribe is forced to flee, Karana notices her brother is missing and stays behind to find him. The scenes that follow are of true strength and determination as the pair survives on the island alone. 

Image of novel covers: The Hunger Games, The Wild Robot, Holes, Hatchet, and Among the Hidden

6. The Hunger Games By: Suzanne Collins

In the ultimate game of survival, Katniss and her peers are forced to fight to the death. But she learns that her fight is not against her competition—it is against something much larger. 

>>View my read aloud companion for this title on Teachers Pay Teachers!<<

7. The Wild Robot By: Peter Brown

Roz is a robot that awakes alone on a deserted island. She learns to survive and learns more about her past while dealing with her harsh surroundings.

>>View my read aloud companion for this title on Teachers Pay Teachers!<<

8. Among the Hidden By: Margaret Peterson Haddix

In Luke’s world, parents are only allowed to have 2 children. So what is to happen to him—a 3rd child? Follow Luke as he moves from a place of fear and hiding to realization about the world. 

9. Hatchet By: Gary Paulsen

Brian, the victim of a plane crash, is alone in the Canadian wilderness. He has nothing but the clothes on his back and a hatchet. Readers watch Brian grow from self-pity to a self-aware survivor. 

10. Holes By: Louis Sachar

A classic for the middle grades, the main character of this book is Stanley Yelnats. He is mistakenly sent to a camp for troubled boys and finds himself fighting for survival in the desert. 

>>View my read aloud companion for this title on Teachers Pay Teachers!<<


Image of covers of upper elementary novels. Title reads "The Best SURVIVAL Stories for Middle Grades by: Fifth in the Forest"Image of stack of upper elementary novels. The title reads "Top 10 Survival Stories for Upper Elementary www.fifthintheforest.com"

  

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