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25 Must-Read Books for 6th Graders
I want to read most of these myself, but I guess I’ll share with my students too!
While there are always classic tried-and-true books for 6th graders we share with students, I always love looking for books that could become new classics. It’s not easy to find the time to go through everything that’s been published in the last few years, however, so we’ve saved you some time with this list. Below you’ll find historical fiction, memoir, nonfiction, and fiction books for 6th graders guaranteed to awaken your students’ imagination and love of reading.
(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)
Must-Read Books for 6th Graders
1. lies i tell myself by beth vrabel.
When Raymond is sent across the country to spend the summer with his grandparents, it throws his entire world out of order. While he normally likes letting other people do the adventuring, he finds himself needing to break out of his shell and show everyone how brave and untroubled he can be.
Buy it: Lies I Tell Myself at Amazon
2. Wayward Creatures by Dayna Lorentz
Gabe wasn’t trying to start a small forest fire when he set off fireworks in the woods. He just wanted his friends and family to stop spending so much time in their own busy lives and pay attention to him. But now, he finds himself in a restorative justice program that is making him go back to the forest to repair some of the damage his prank caused. When he meets a coyote named Rill who was hurt by the forest fire, Gabe learns the importance of caring for those around us.
Buy it: Wayward Creatures at Amazon
3. The Ultimate Riddle Game for Kids: A Mind-Bending Book to Test Your Logic by Zeitgeist
For our kiddos who love puzzles, logic problems, and mind-bending riddles, this is one of the books for 6th graders that has everything. The brainteasers will ignite their curiosity and build their problem-solving skills. Perfect for kids who need a bit of an additional challenge, early-finishers, or anyone who loves testing their brain with fun, engaging puzzles.
Buy it: The Ultimate Riddle Game for Kids at Amazon
4. Thirst by Varsha Bajaj
This is one of the books for 6th graders that might be eye-opening for many students. In Mumbai, Minni’s family (along with thousands of other families) only has access to water for a few hours a day. When she discovers the powerful people who have access to water all the time and are keeping it from everyone else for money, she has to decide what to do. Should she come forward and expose this crime even if it puts her and her family at risk, or should she stay quiet?
Buy it: Thirst at Amazon
5. Holler of the Fireflies by David Barclay Moore
Javari knows that life is going to be different when he leaves his home in Brooklyn to go to a STEM camp in West Virginia, but his first few days in the small Appalachian town are still a shock. Throughout the summer, he will learn a lot about science, technology, engineering, and math, but that’s not all. When he befriends Cricket, a local boy who is an occasional thief and activist, he realizes he’s in for a summer he’ll never forget.
Buy it: Holler of the Fireflies at Amazon
6. The Fort by Gordon Korman
Gordon Korman knows how to write books kids love, and The Fort is no exception. When five middle schoolers discover an abandoned bomb shelter, they know they’ve found the best hideout ever. As they fix it up and make it their own, they discover the true meaning of friendship, secrets, and trusting each other.
Buy it: The Fort at Amazon
7. 96 Miles by J.L. Esplin
Their dad trained them to survive anything, but brothers John and Stew Lockwood are unprepared when a massive blackout strikes while their father is out of town. After being robbed of their supplies, the brothers must walk 96 miles through the desert for help. As they do, they’ll question their father’s obsession with self-reliance and what it means to be there to help out others.
Buy it: 96 Miles at Amazon
8. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Perfect for your nonfiction lovers or for your reluctant readers who love their sneakers, this young readers edition of Nike founder Phil Knight’s memoir is engaging and real. Beginning with how he refused to give up hope after he was cut from his high school baseball team to how he started Nike with $50, this is one of the books for 6th graders that will have your students hooked.
Buy it: Shoe Dog at Amazon
9. Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King
When Mac realizes that all the copies of a book he’s supposed to read for class have been censored by the school, he is outraged. When he complains to the principal, he’s told to not make such a big deal out of it. But Mac knows that censorship is wrong, and he’s not going to sit around and do nothing. This is one of the great books for 6th graders for jump-starting important questions about censorship.
Buy it: Attack of the Black Rectangles at Amazon
10. Two Degrees by Alan Gratz
A searing look at the climate crisis told through the perspectives of three young people. Akira is coping with raging wildfires in California. Owen is faced with a polar bear hunting far too close to residential areas in rural Canada. And Natalie hunkers down with her family as a massive hurricane barrels toward her Miami home. These three young people share more in common than climate disasters. Will they survive long enough to discover what that connection is and what it means for them and the world?
Buy it: Two Degrees at Amazon
11. Tumble by Celia C. Pérez
Twelve-year-old Addie knows she should be thrilled when her stepfather asks to adopt her. She really wants to say yes, but she has so many questions about her biological father. After discovering he and even more members of her family are famous luchadores (lucha libre wrestlers), she sets off to get to know them. As she does, she learns a lot about what being part of a family truly means.
Buy it: Tumble at Amazon
12. Sweet Valley Twins adapted by Nicole Andelfinger
Graphic novels are the perfect way to introduce the Sweet Valley Twins to a new generation. Elizabeth and Jessica are just about to start middle school, and they’re sure they’ll be as inseparable as ever. But while Elizabeth is ready to organize a school newspaper, Jessica wants to start an exclusive Unicorn Club. What will happen when they realize they might not have as much in common as they thought?
Buy it: Sweet Valley Twins at Amazon
13. Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega
Twelve-year-old witchling Seven dreams of being part of one of the most powerful covens with her best friend. But when it comes time to be assigned her coven, the worst thing imaginable happens: She’s not given a coven and is instead is deemed a Spare! How will she and the other Spares save their reputations and earn their rightful place as full-fledged witches?
Buy it: Witchlings at Amazon
14. Ravenfall by Kalyn Josephson
Ravenfall Inn is a sprawling, magical B&B at the crossroads of the human world and the Otherworld. Thirteen-year-old Annabella Ballinkay and her family have run the B&B for generations, using their psychic powers to help and protect their guests. Annabella’s powers have always been a bit different from the rest of her family. But when Colin, a 14-year-old searching for his missing older brother, shows up at Ravenfall, her powers might be just what is needed.
Buy it: Ravenfall at Amazon
15. The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander
This powerful story follows Kofi, a boy in Ghana in 1860. Kofi loves his life and his family, but one day everything is turned upside down. This is one of the perfect books for 6th graders to pair with discussions about the lives and experiences of Africans prior to them becoming enslaved and shipped to the Americas.
Buy it: The Door of No Return at Amazon
16. Wildoak by C.C. Harrington
Maggie will do almost anything to avoid speaking. Her stutter makes talking to others embarrassing and exhausting. Her father wants to send her away to a special hospital for “treatment,” but her mother suggests a few weeks with her grandfather in Wildoak Forest. Even though Maggie barely knows her grandfather, she accepts this offer as the better of two rotten choices. When she meets an abandoned snow leopard cub in the forest, she is caught up in an adventure she could never have imagined.
Buy it: Wildoak at Amazon
17. Iceberg by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Hazel is traveling all alone on the famous ship Titanic . Her mother is sending her to the United States to work in a factory so that she might send money back home to help her family make ends meet. But Hazel hasn’t told anyone that she secretly wants to be a journalist, and she’s planning on writing a story about the Titanic ‘s maiden voyage that will land her a job with a newspaper. Then she could earn enough money to send home without having to work in some smelly factory. With the help of some new friends aboard the ship, Hazel explores the Titanic , but when disaster strikes, she has to worry more about surviving than about the story she wanted to tell.
Buy it: Iceberg at Amazon
18. The Swifts by Beth Lincoln
Shenanigan Swift understands that her family gave her an unusual first name for a reason. Shenanigan Swift: Little sister. Risk-taker. Mischief-maker. But when the annual family reunion is shook by a horrible accident (or mysterious crime?), Shenanigan decides she is going to be more than what her family expects of her—she’s going to be a detective.
Buy it: The Swifts at Amazon
19. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
We love historical fiction stories about events our students probably don’t know much about, and this one is a perfect choice. Set in 1947 India, 12-year-old Nisha is struggling to come to grips with what’s happening in her homeland. Newly independent of British rule, her country has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. This is causing tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Nisha’s family decides it’s too dangerous to remain in what is now Pakistan, and so they become refugees, heading toward India. As she travels, Nisha writes letters to her deceased mother that tell the story of their journey and her hopes to find a home.
Buy it: The Night Diary at Amazon
20. The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton
Eleven-year-old Ella is a new student at the Arcanum Training Institute, a school for children who can perform magic. She can’t wait to learn everything that she can, but some at the school think that the type of magic Ella can do—conjuring—is dangerous and wrong. When a violent criminal escapes a nearby prison with the help of a Conjurer, some at the school think Ella might be to blame. With the help of her new friends and her growing powers, Ella has to set things right and clear her name.
Buy it: The Marvellers at Amazon
21. The Elephant Girl by James Patterson and Ellen Banda-Aaku
Perfect for students who loved The One and Only Ivan and Because of Winn-Dixie , this novel tells the story of Jama and the baby elephant named Mbegu she befriended. When the baby elephant’s mother kills someone after being frightened by poachers, Jama and the baby elephant are blamed. Jama will have to find a way to save Mbegu’s life, even if it means reaching out to a boy at her school that no one else will talk to.
Buy it: The Elephant Girl at Amazon
22. Rise of the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
This fantasy fairy tale is a perfect book for 6th graders who love anime or fantasy, or are just looking for something different. Deep in the endless woods, two brothers, one good and one evil, started a school. They choose students to attend either the School for Good or the School for Evil. Best friends Sophie and Agatha are excited to attend the schools. Sophie has dreamed of attending the School for Good and Agatha the School for Evil. But when they arrive, they’re placed in the wrong schools … and that changes everything.
Buy it: Rise of the School for Good and Evil at Amazon
23. Wild Bird by Diane Zahler
In 14th-century Norway, the plague has destroyed the entire village of Skeviga. To stay alive, Rype, the only one left, must embark on a sweeping adventure across Europe. He joins an English ship captain’s son and a band of musicians in search of a brighter future and a new home.
Buy it: Wild Bird at Amazon
24. Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow
Simon wants to be a normal kid, but he’s famous for being the only student to have survived a school shooting. In an attempt to escape this horrible reality, Simon’s parents move their family to the National Quiet Zone, the only place in America where the internet is banned. Here, Simon expects his life to be quiet and a little boring, but when he meets scientists searching for extraterrestrials, things start to get interesting.
Buy it: Simon Sort of Says at Amazon
25. The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh
Thirteen-year-old Matthew is miserable. The pandemic has everyone trapped at home. His dad is stuck overseas, and his mom has moved his 100-year-old great-grandmother into their house. Then he finds an old photo in his great-grandmother’s belongings. It gives him a clue to her hidden past. This leads to a family secret that shatters his life. The novel is historical fiction that flashes back to the 1930s. It sheds light on the Holodomor, a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians. The USSR covered it up for decades.
Buy it: The Lost Year at Amazon
Looking for even more fantastic book recommendations? Check out our big list of 50 Refreshing and Relatable Books to Teach in Middle School for even more books for 6th graders to add to your classroom library.
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25 Best New Books for 7th Graders
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Reading Middle Grade
Books for Kids and Grown Ups
75 Best Books for 6th Graders
Today, it’s all about the best books for sixth graders (and can I say, this is quite the sweet spot). At age 11, these kids are often confident readers who are eager to explore a variety of genres. Many of them can handle problem books and really enjoy realistic fiction. Still, of course, they’re still reading their graphic novels and short books, as well as engaging series. That’s why I’ve tried to include all of these on this list.
You’ll find comics, problem books, funny stories, short books, long books, middle-grade mysteries, and even series on this list of books for sixth graders. I’ve worked hard to make it a good mix of books with boys on the cover and girls as well.
Click on the graphics to head over to the book’s Amazon page. Grab a printable version by signing up here — it’ll come to your inbox!
Disclaimer: I use affiliate links for Amazon and will make a cent or two if you buy using these links. It’s a great way to support a blog(ger) you love.
Published: March 10, 2015
For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.
In this graphic novel debut that earned a Newbery Honor and five starred reviews, real-life derby girl Victoria Jamieson has created an inspiring coming-of-age story about friendship, perseverance, and girl power!
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
Published: January 8, 2019
That’s how long Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, have lived on the road in an old school bus, criss-crossing the nation.
It’s also how long ago Coyote lost her mom and two sisters in a car crash.
Coyote hasn’t been home in all that time, but when she learns that the park in her old neighborhood is being demolished—the very same park where she, her mom, and her sisters buried a treasured memory box—she devises an elaborate plan to get her dad to drive 3,600 miles back to Washington state in four days…without him realizing it.
Along the way, they’ll pick up a strange crew of misfit travelers. Lester has a lady love to meet. Salvador and his mom are looking to start over. Val needs a safe place to be herself. And then there’s Gladys…
Over the course of thousands of miles, Coyote will learn that going home can sometimes be the hardest journey of all…but that with friends by her side, she just might be able to turn her “once upon a time” into a “happily ever after.”
This title has common core connections.
Be Real, Macy Weaver
Published: July 12, 2022
Eleven-year-old Macy Weaver knows relationships are complicated. Fresh off her latest friendship breakup, she’s spent most of her summer break on her own. So when Macy’s mother decides to go back to college three states away, Macy jumps on the chance to move—anything for a fresh start. But Macy’s new home isn’t exactly what she expected. Her mother’s never around and her dad’s always working. Lonelier than ever, Macy sets her sights on finding a new best friend. When she meets Brynn, who’s smart and kind and already seems to have her whole life figured out—down to her future as a high fashion model—Macy knows she’s it. The only problem is that Brynn already has a BFF and, as everyone knows, you can only have one. Resorting to old habits, Macy turns one small lie into a whole new life—full of fantastic fashion and haute couture—but it isn’t long before everything really falls apart. Ultimately, Macy must determine how to make things right and be true to herself—rather than chasing after the person she thinks she’s supposed to be.
The Someday Birds
Published: January 24, 2017
Charlie’s perfectly ordinary life has been unraveling ever since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan.
When his father heads from California to Virginia for medical treatment, Charlie reluctantly travels cross-country with his boy-crazy sister, unruly brothers, and a mysterious new family friend. He decides that if he can spot all the birds that he and his father were hoping to see someday along the way, then everything might just turn out okay.
Debut author Sally J. Pla has written a tale that is equal parts madcap road trip, coming-of-age story for an autistic boy who feels he doesn’t understand the world, and an uplifting portrait of a family overcoming a crisis.
Ten Thousand Tries
Published: July 13, 2021
Twelve-year-old Golden Maroni is determined to channel his hero, soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and become captain of his soccer team and master of his eighth grade universe…especially since his home universe is spiraling out of orbit. Off the field, Golden’s dad, once a pro soccer player himself, is now battling ALS, a disease that attacks his muscles, leaving him less and less physically able to control his body every day. And while Mom says there’s no cure, Golden is convinced that his dad can beat this, just like any opponent, they just have to try.
Golden knows that if you want to perfect a skill you have to put ten thousand tries in, so he’s convinced if he can put that much effort in, on and off the field, he can stop everything from changing. But when his dad continues to decline and his constant pushing starts to alienate his friends and team, Golden is forced to confront the idea that being master of your universe might not mean being in control of everything. What if it means letting go of the things you can’t control so you can do the most good for the things you can?
Published: February 28, 2023
My sister got to grow up with my parents. Me? I grew up with postcards from my parents. When ten-year-old Lina Gao steps off the plane in Los Angeles, it’s her first time in America and the first time seeing her parents and her little sister in five years! She’s been waiting for this moment every day while she lived with her grandmother in Beijing, getting teased by kids at school who called her “left behind girl.” Finally , her parents are ready for her to join their fabulous life in America! Except, it’s not exactly like in the postcards: 1. School’s a lot harder than she thought. When she mispronounces some words in English on the first day, she decides she simply won’t talk. Ever again. 2. Her chatty little sister has no problem with English. And seems to do everything better than Lina, including knowing exactly the way to her parents’ hearts. 3. They live in an apartment, not a house like in Mom’s letters, and they owe a lot of back rent from the pandemic. And Mom’s plan to pay it back sounds more like a hobby than a moneymaker. As she reckons with her hurt, Lina tries to keep a lid on her feelings, both at home and at school. When her teacher starts facing challenges for her latest book selection, a book that deeply resonates with Lina, it will take all of Lina’s courage and resilience to get over her fear in order to choose a future where she’s finally seen.
Published: November 27, 2018
Ghost. Patina. Sunny. Lu. A fast but fiery group of kids from wildly different backgrounds, chosen to compete on an elite track team. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves. Discover each of their stories in this complete collection of Jason Reynolds’s explosive New York Times bestselling Track series.
This collection includes: Ghost Patina Sunny Lu
Published: March 7, 2023
Eleven-year-old Avery Lee loves living in Hickory Valley, Maryland. She loves her neighborhood, school, and the end-of-summer fair she always goes to with her two best friends. But she’s tired of feeling squished by her six siblings! They’re noisy and chaotic and the younger kids all love her a little too much. All Avery wants is her own room — her own space to be alone and make art. So she’s furious when Theo, her grumpy older brother, gets his own room instead, and her wild baby brother, Max, moves into the room she already shares with her clinging younger sister Pearl! Avery hatches a plan to finally get her own room, all while trying to get Max to sleep at night, navigating changes in her friendships, and working on an art entry for the fair. And when Avery finds out that her family might move across the country, things get even more complicated.
Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter have once again teamed up to tell a funny, heartfelt, and charming story of family, friendship, and growing up.
Published: February 5, 2019
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.
As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?
This middle grade graphic novel is an excellent choice for tween readers, including for summer reading
Published: May 2, 2017
Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.
When best friends are not forever . . .
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.
Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?
The Puttermans are in the House
Published: January 17, 2023
Sammy and Matty are the Putterman twins—the perfect team of two. But Matty has a secret he’s not ready to share with his family yet, and he suddenly quits baseball and stops talking to his sister. With their twin telepathy broken, Sammy doesn’t know what to do without her teammate.
Becky Putterman is sick of her family only cheering for her cousins Sammy and Matty. They all used to be friends, but since everything became about the twins, Becky’s felt left out. With her bat mitzvah around the corner, she hopes it’ll finally be her turn in the spotlight.
But then Hurricane Harvey hits Houston, and the twins’ house is damaged in the flood. Their family moves in with Becky’s, putting all nine Puttermans under one roof indefinitely. Sammy, Matty, and Becky need each other now more than ever, but as their grief, anger, and uncertainty grow, can they find a way to glue their family back together?
Every Missing Piece
Published: May 26, 2020
Maddy Gaines sees danger everywhere she looks: at the bus stop, around the roller rink, in the woods, and (especially) by the ocean. When Maddy meets a mysterious boy setting booby traps in the North Carolina woods, she suspects is Billy Holcomb–the boy who went missing in the fall. As Maddy tries to uncover the truth about Billy Holcomb, ghosts from her own past surface, her best friend starts to slip away, and Maddy’s world tilts once again. Can she put the pieces of her life back together, even if some of them are lost forever?
This is the story of two totally different girls— quiet, shy, artistic Emmie popular, outgoing, athletic Katie —and how their lives unexpectedly intersect one day, when an embarrassing note falls into the wrong hands. . . . All the crushes, humiliations, boredom, and drama of middle school are compressed into one surprising day in this extraordinary novel.
To Catch a Thief
Published: April 4, 2023
Five MacGuffin kids, two new neighbors, one lost dog, and a thief to stop–before it’s too late!
Urchin Beach isn’t the sort of place where bad things happen. The little seaside town is too lucky for that. But then one day, a thief steals something precious―the town’s dragonfly staff, which is the source of all its good fortune and the most important part of the upcoming Dragonfly Day Festival.
Amelia MacGuffin is no detective. She’s eleven, quiet, and unlike her four younger siblings, she has no special talents. But Amelia loves her town. Her family has lived there forever. Her parents run the Pacific General Store, and she and her best friends, Birdie and Delphine, are about to start middle school. If Amelia doesn’t find the staff, the Dragonfly Day Festival will be canceled .
The town needs that tourist money to survive. Unless she cracks the case, Amelia’s family will lose everything–including the adorable stray dog they’ve fallen in love with.She only has seven days to solve Urchin Beach’s crime of the century. It’s not a lot of time, but Amelia has her list of suspects. It might be the new kids next door. Or the grumpy mystery writer who lives in the town’s creepiest mansion. Or perhaps even someone closer to home.
Amelia wants to save the town. She wants to save the dog. She wants both, so much.
But first, she has to catch a thief.
See You in the Cosmos
Published: February 28, 2017
11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew. Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.
Other Words for Home
Published: May 28, 2019
Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.
At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before.
But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.
Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion
Published: September 27, 2022
Eleven-year-old Ruby is a Black girl who loves studying insects and would do just about anything to be an entomologist, much to the grossed-out dismay of her Gramma. Ruby knows everything there is to know about insects so when she finds the weirdest bug she’s ever seen in her front yard, she makes sure no one is looking and captures it for further study.
But then Ruby realizes that the creature isn’t just a regular bug. And it has promptly burned a hole through her window and disappeared. Soon, random things around the neighborhood go missing, and no one’s heard from the old lady down the street for a week. Ruby and her friends will have to recover the strange bug before the feds do.
Ruby is the science hero we’ve all been waiting for!
Published: April 6, 2021
Magic Olive Poindexter has big shoes to fill. Her mother was a professional cheerleader, her father is a retired NBA legend, her big sister is the new face of the oh-so-glamorous Laker Girls, and her grandmother was the first black cheerleader ever on Valentine Middle School’s HoneyBee cheer squad. Magic wants nothing more than to follow in their footsteps. But first, she has to survive Planet Pom Poms, the summer cheer camp where she’ll audition for a spot on the HoneyBee squad. But with zero athletic ability and a group of mean girls who have her number, Tragic Magic is a long way from becoming the toe-touching cheerleader heroine she dreams of being.
Things start to look up when her best friend Cappie joins her at camp—until Cappie gets bitten by the popularity bug, that is. To make matters worse, Magic’s crushing hard on football star Dallas Chase. Luckily, Magic’s not alone: with the help of a new crew of fabulous fellow misfits and her Grammy Mae’s vintage pom poms by her side, Tragic Magic might just survive—and even thrive—at cheer camp.
Al Capone Does My Shirts: A Tale from Alcatraz, Book 1
Published: March 30, 2004
Today I moved to Alcatraz, a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. I’m not the only kid who lives here. There are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cooks or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. And then there are a ton of murderers, rapists, hit men, con men, stickup men, embezzlers, connivers, burglars, kidnappers and maybe even an innocent man or two, though I doubt it. The convicts we have are the kind other prisons don’t want. I never knew prisons could be picky, but I guess they can. You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you’re me. I came here because my mother said I had to.
The Cool Code
Published: November 8, 2022
In an attempt to fit in, Zoey develops an app called the Cool Code with a cute llama avatar that will tell her everything from what to say to what to wear based on pop culture algorithms she’s uploaded.
But when the app gives her ridiculous advice, awkwardness and hilarity ensues. With a few upgrades and a bit of debugging from the coding club, the app actually works—Zoey gets really popular . . . and gets her pulled in all kinds of directions, including away from her real friends.
Life’s most complicated choices. . . is there a code for that?
Bad Best Friend
Published: March 24, 2020
Niki Ames can’t wait to start eighth grade, that all-important year before high school. She and her best friend Ava have shared so many plans for the coming year. But then the unthinkable happens: at gym class pair-up, Ava chooses someone else to be her partner. Niki is devastated. It’s clear that Ava wants to be part of the popular group, leaving Niki behind. Niki has to decide who her real friends should be, where her real interests lie. Meanwhile, life at home is complicated. Niki’s nine-year-old brother Danny continues to act out more and more publicly. Their mother refuses to admit that Danny is somewhere on the autism spectrum, but it’s clear he needs help. Niki doesn’t want to be like her brother, to be labeled as different. She just wants to be popular! Is she a bad sister and a bad best friend?
Published: February 4, 2020
Jeanne Ann is smart, stubborn, living in an orange van, and determined to find a permanent address before the start of seventh grade. Cal is awkward, sensitive, living in a humongous house across the street, and determined to save her. Jeanne Ann wants Cal’s help just about as much as she wants to live in a van.
As the two form a tentative friendship that grows deeper over alternating chapters, they’re buoyed by a cast of complex, oddball characters, who let them down, lift them up, and leave you cheering. Debut novelist Danielle Svetcov shines a light on a big problem without a ready answer, pulling it off with the perfect balance of humor, heartbreak, and hope.
Published: October 18, 2022
Marlene loves three things: books, her cool Tía Ruby and hanging out with her best friend Camila. But according to her mother, Paola, the only thing she needs to focus on is school and “growing up.” That means straightening her hair every weekend so she could have “presentable”, “good hair”.
But Marlene hates being in the salon and doesn’t understand why her curls are not considered pretty by those around her. With a few hiccups, a dash of embarrassment, and the much-needed help of Camila and Tia Ruby―she slowly starts a journey to learn to appreciate and proudly wear her curly hair.
The Best Worst Summer
Published: May 4, 2021
This is going to be the worst summer ever for Peyton. Her family just moved, and she had to leave her best friend behind. She’s lonely. She’s bored. Until . . . she comes across a box buried in her backyard, with a message: I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Things are about to get interesting.
Back in 1989, it’s going to be the best summer ever for Melissa and Jessica. They have two whole months to goof around and explore, and they’re even going to bury a time capsule! But when one girl’s family secret starts to unravel, it’s clear things may not go exactly as planned.
In alternating chapters, from Peyton in present day to Melissa three decades earlier (a time with no cell phones, no social media, and camera film that took days to develop, but also a whole lot of freedom), beloved author Elizabeth Eulberg tells the story of a mystery that two sets of memorable characters will never forget.
Published: August 26, 2014
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves.
Counting by 7s
Published: August 29, 2013
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.
Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.
A Night Divided
Published: August 25, 2015
With the rise of the Berlin Wall, Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.
But one day on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Gerta concludes that her father wants her and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?
Last Gate of the Emperor
From Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel David Makonnen comes an Afrofuturist adventure about a mythical Ethiopian empire. Sci-fi and fantasy combine in this epic journey to the stars.
Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in Addis Prime — a hardscrabble city with rundown tech, lots of rules, and not much to do. His worrywart Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa are his only family… and his only friends.
Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth, those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk. But when a change in the game rules prompts Yared to log in with his real name, it triggers an attack that rocks the city. In the chaos, Uncle Moti disappears.
Suddenly, all the stories Yared’s uncle told him as a young boy are coming to life, of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters. And somehow Yared is at the center of them.
Together with Besa and the Ibis — a game rival turned reluctant ally — Yared must search for his uncle… and answers to his place in a forgotten, galaxy-spanning war.
Where You’ve Got to Be
Published: September 13, 2022
Nolie’s sister, Linden, may be only fourteen months older than she is, but suddenly that feels longer than it ever has before. Linden is growing up. She cuts short their Cousins Week at Grandma’s beach cottage to focus on excelling in her ballet auditions, and she throws away the seashell necklace Grandma gave each of them—though Nolie secretly saves it. Even Nolie’s best friend, Jessa, is suddenly trying to act older and cooler, and she wants Nolie to be someone different, too.
With everything and everyone changing around her, Nolie starts to feel adrift. Should she be changing, too? Who does she want to be? One impulsive decision leads to another and another . . . until Nolie has a secret collection of things that don’t belong to her. Now, Nolie must face the fact that she may have ended up on the wrong path so she can start to find her way back.
Sunny Side Up
Sunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer. At first she thought Florida might be fun — it is the home of Disney World, after all. But the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park. It’s full of . . . old people. Really old people.
Luckily, Sunny isn’t the only kid around. She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they’re having adventures of their own: facing off against golfball-eating alligators, runaway cats, and mysteriously disappearing neighbors. But the question remains — why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place? The answer lies in a family secret that won’t be secret to Sunny much longer.
More Graphic Novels for Tweens
A Drop of Hope
Published: February 26, 2019
A well. A wish. And a little drop of hope.
Times are tough. Jobs are scarce and miracles are in short supply. But something strange is happening in If Only, Ohio. An old well has suddenly, impossibly, begun to grant wishes. And three sixth graders are the only ones who know why.
Ernest Wilmette believes a good deed makes magic happen. Ryan Hardy thinks they should just mind their own business. Lizzy MacComber believes in facts, not fairy tales. Of course, you don’t have to believe in wishes to make one.
As more wishes are made, the well’s true secret gets harder and harder to keep. Ernest, Ryan, and Lizzy know they can’t fix the world. But in their own little corner of it, they can give everyone a little hope… one wish at a time.
The Real Deal
Published: October 25, 2022
Not every friendship can be the real deal, but for Gabe and Oliver, that’s never been a question.
Until now. Things still feel the same on the surface—they’re even making a comic about their friendship—but lately Oliver’s acting like he might be hiding something.
And then there’s Reuben, the new boy who just moved to town. He doesn’t talk—not ever. The other kids say mean things and call him names behind his back. Gabe knows it isn’t right—but he and Oliver stay quiet, or worse, laugh along with the others just to keep from standing out.
Through the character he and Oliver create in their comic adventure, the experience they have babysitting twin toddlers, and with the help of a troublemaking seventh grader who gets sent to their sixth-grade class, Gabe begins to find his voice and become the realest-deal version of his own self. But if he does that—can he still hold onto his best friend, too?
The Fog Diver
Published: May 26, 2015
Joel Ross debuts a thrilling adventure series in which living in the sky is the new reality and a few determined slum kids just might become heroes. This Texas Bluebonnet selection—a fantasy filled with daring and hope and a wonderfully imaginative world—is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull.
Once the Fog started rising, the earth was covered with a deadly white mist until nothing remained but the mountaintops. Now humanity clings to its highest peaks, called the Rooftop, where the wealthy Five Families rule over the lower slopes and floating junkyards.
Thirteen-year-old Chess and his friends Hazel, Bea, and Swedish sail their rickety air raft over the deadly Fog, scavenging the ruins for anything they can sell to survive. But now survival isn’t enough. They must risk everything to get to the miraculous city of Port Oro, the only place where their beloved Mrs. E can be cured of fogsickness. Yet the ruthless Lord Kodoc is hot on their trail, for Chess has a precious secret, one that Kodoc is desperate to use against him. Now Chess will face any danger to protect his friends, even if it means confronting what he fears the most.
Big Apple Diaries
Published: August 17, 2021
In Big Apple Diaries, a heartfelt diary-style graphic memoir by Alyssa Bermudez, a young New Yorker doodles her way through middle school―until the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack leaves her wondering if she can ever be a kid again.
It’s the year 2000 in New York City. For 12-year old Alyssa, this means splitting time between her Puerto Rican dad’s apartment in Manhattan and her white mom’s new place in Queens, navigating the trials and tribulations of middle school, and an epic crush on a new classmate. The only way to make sense of it all is to capture the highs and lows in doodles and hilarious comics in a diary.
Then life abruptly changes on September 11, 2001. After the Twin Towers fall and so many lives are lost, worries about gossip and boys feel distant and insignificant. Alyssa must find a new sense of self and purpose amidst all of the chaos, and find the strength to move forward with hope.
A Duet for Home
Published: April 5, 2022
It’s June’s first day at Huey House, and as if losing her home weren’t enough, she also can’t bring her cherished viola inside. Before the accident last year, her dad saved tip money for a year to buy her viola, and she’s not about to give it up now.
Tyrell has been at Huey House for three years and gives June a glimpse of the good things about living there: friendship, hot meals, and a classical musician next door.
Can he and June work together to oppose the government, or will families be forced out of Huey House before they are ready?
Sanity & Tallulah
Published: October 16, 2018
Best Friends. Mad Science. It can get pretty dull living on a small, out-of-the-way station like Wilnick SS. Best Friends Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega do their best to relieve the monotony of every day space life by finding adventures, solving mysteries, and taking turns getting each other into and out of trouble. But when Sanity’s latest science project-an extremely-illegal-but-impossibly-cute three-headed kitten-escapes from the lab and starts causing havoc, the girls will have to turn the station upside down to find her-before the damage becomes irreversible!
The Mysterious Benedict Society
“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children–two boys and two girls–succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they’ll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies. So, if you’re gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help.
Published: May 10, 2022
Welcome to the world of Mirabelle, a young goldfinch who loves to sing and dreams of becoming a musical star. She lives with her family in the backyard of a piano teacher, and she is quickly intrigued by Mr. Starek’s newest pupil. Michael Jin is an eleven-year-old keyboard sensation, but lesson after lesson, he refuses to play. With the prestigious Chopin Festival looming at summer’s end, how will he be ready in time? Mirabelle is responsible for Michael’s breakthrough—to her own astonishment, she sings the Chopin piece he is beginning to play at the piano. It is their first duet. Thus begins a secret adventure that will take Mirabelle and Michael further than they ever imagined—in music, in friendship, and in solving the mystery of a lost piano that could be worth millions. A house full of treasures holds the clues. There, Mirabelle, Michael, and their friend Emily will make an important discovery that links the great composer Frederic Chopin, the trailblazing author George Sand, and the French Romantic painter Eugene Delacroix.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington
Published: January 14, 2020
Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?
A crime he says he never committed.
Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge .
But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.
One Kid’s Trash
Published: August 31, 2021
Hugo is not happy about being dragged halfway across the state of Colorado just because his dad had a midlife crisis and decided to become a ski instructor. It’d be different if Hugo weren’t so tiny, if girls didn’t think he was adorable like a puppy in a purse and guys didn’t call him “leprechaun” and rub his head for luck. But here he is, the tiny new kid on his first day of middle school.
When his fellow students discover his remarkable talent for garbology, the science of studying trash to tell you anything you could ever want to know about a person, Hugo becomes the cool kid for the first time in his life. But what happens when it all goes to his head?
Eleni is the kind of person who’s always had a BFF—an automatic, guaranteed by-her-side person—at home, at school, and at camp. And since before she was even born, her very best friend has been Sylvie Bank.
But when Sylvie’s end-of-summer birthday party becomes the end of their friendship, Eleni can’t picture starting middle school without her BFF by her side. She can’t picture anything without her BFF—especially the looming school overnight. Who will she even room with?
So before the big overnight, Eleni sets out on a mission: to figure out where her friendships went wrong, what’s wrong with her, and what makes a good friend. But if she’s totally honest, there’s only one real goal: to win back Sylvie Bank!
Published: October 30, 2018
Eleven-year-old Isabella’s parents are divorced, so she has to switch lives every week: One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves.
Because of this, Isabella has always felt pulled between two worlds. And now that her parents are divorced, it seems their fights are even worse, and they’re always about HER. Isabella feels completely stuck in the middle, split and divided between them more than ever. And she is beginning to realize that being split between Mom and Dad involves more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities. Her dad is black, her mom is white, and strangers are always commenting: “You’re so exotic!” “You look so unusual.” “But what are you really?” She knows what they’re really saying: “You don’t look like your parents.” “You’re different.” “What race are you really?” And when her parents, who both get engaged at the same time, get in their biggest fight ever, Isabella doesn’t just feel divided, she feels ripped in two. What does it mean to be half white or half black? To belong to half mom and half dad? And if you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole?
It seems like nothing can bring Isabella’s family together again—until the worst thing happens. Isabella and Darren are stopped by the police. A cell phone is mistaken for a gun. And shots are fired.
Published: March 31, 2020
Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal seventh grader. He doesn’t want to lose his hair, or wear a weird hat, or deal with the disappearing friends who don’t know what to say to “the cancer kid.” But with his recent diagnosis of a rare eye cancer, blending in is off the table.
Based on Rob Harrell’s real life experience, and packed with comic panels and spot art, this incredibly personal and poignant novel is an unforgettable, heartbreaking, hilarious, and uplifting story of survival and finding the music, magic, and laughter in life’s weirdness.
Out of Range
Published: June 7, 2022
Sisters Abby, Emma, and Ollie have gone from being best friends forever to mortal enemies.
Thanks to their months-long feud, they are sent to Camp Unplugged, a girls’ camp deep in the heart of the Idaho mountains where they will go “back to nature”—which means no cell phones, no internet, and no communicating with the outside world. For two whole weeks. During that time, they had better learn to get along again, their parents tell them. Or else.
The sisters don’t see any way they can ever forgive each other for what they’ve done, no matter how many hikes and campfire songs they’re forced to participate in. But then disaster strikes, and they find themselves lost and alone in the wilderness. They will have to outrun a raging wildfire, make it through a turbulent river, escape bears and mountain lions and ticks. They don’t have training, or food, or enough supplies. All they have is each other.
And maybe, just maybe, it will be enough to survive.
Whale of the Wild
Published: September 1, 2020
For Vega and her family, salmon is life. And Vega is learning to be a salmon finder, preparing for the day when she will be her family’s matriarch. But then she and her brother Deneb are separated from their pod when a devastating earthquake and tsunami render the seascape unrecognizable. Vega must use every skill she has to lead her brother back to their family. The young orcas face a shark attack, hunger, the deep ocean, and polluted waters on their journey. Will Vega become the leader she’s destined to be?
More Animal Stories for Kids
Shenice Lockwood, captain of the Fulton Firebirds, is hyper-focused when she steps up to the plate. Nothing can stop her from leading her team to the U12 fast-pitch softball regional championship. But life has thrown some curveballs her way. Strike one: As the sole team of all-brown faces, Shenice and the Firebirds have to work twice as hard to prove that Black girls belong at bat. Strike two: Shenice’s focus gets shaken when her great-uncle Jack reveals that a career-ending—and family-name-ruining—crime may have been a setup. Strike three: Broken focus means mistakes on the field. And Shenice’s teammates are beginning to wonder if she’s captain-qualified. It’s up to Shenice to discover the truth about her family’s past—and fast—before secrets take the Firebirds out of the game forever.
The Decomposition of Jack
Published: October 11, 2022
Middle school is always hard, but when you’re known as the Roadkill Kid, well, it’s even harder. Jack’s mom collects roadkill—it’s her job, and she’s very good at it. Ever since Jack’s mom and dad got divorced, Jack has stepped into the role of Mom’s co-scientist.
One day while tending to the roadkill garden, Jack believes he spots a cougar in the wilderness beyond his backyard. A cougar in Tennessee? They’re supposed to be extinct. So, when Jack has to choose an animal to research for his Earth Science class, he picks cougar.
As pressure mounts on Jack to complete his project and to be Mom’s business partner, the mystery of the cougar feels too big to solve. Jack knows what the decomposition of an animal—and a family—looks like, so can he figure out how to bring them back to life?
Out of My Mind
Published: March 9, 2010
Eleven-year-old Melody is not like most people. She can’t walk. She can’t talk. She can’t write. All because she has cerebral palsy. But she also has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but NO ONE knows it. Most people—her teachers, her doctors, her classmates—dismiss her as mentally challenged because she can’t tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by her disability. And she’s determined to let everyone know it…somehow.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
Published: June 25, 2013
When Kyle learns that the world’s most famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, has designed the town’s new library and is having an invitation-only lock-in on opening night, he’s determined to be there! But the tricky part isn’t getting into the library—it’s getting out. Because when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must solve every clue and figure out every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route!
In the Beautiful Country
Published: June 28, 2022
Anna can’t wait to move to the beautiful country —the Chinese name for America. Although she’s only ever known life in Taiwan, she can’t help but brag about the move to her family and friends.
But the beautiful country isn’t anything like Anna pictured. Her family can only afford a cramped apartment, she’s bullied at school, and she struggles to understand a new language. On top of that, the restaurant that her parents poured their savings into is barely staying afloat. The version of America that Anna is experiencing is nothing like she imagined. How will she be able to make the beautiful country her home?
This lyrical and heartfelt story, inspired by the author’s own experiences, is about resilience, courage, and the struggle to make a place for yourself in the world.
Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen
Published: February 25, 2020
Vivy Cohen is determined. She’s had enough of playing catch in the park. She’s ready to pitch for a real baseball team.
But Vivy’s mom is worried about Vivy being the only girl on the team, and the only autistic kid. She wants Vivy to forget about pitching, but Vivy won’t give up. When her social skills teacher makes her write a letter to someone, Vivy knows exactly who to choose: her hero, Major League pitcher VJ Capello. Then two amazing things happen: A coach sees Vivy’s amazing knuckleball and invites her to join his team. And VJ starts writing back!
Now Vivy is a full-fledged pitcher, with a catcher as a new best friend and a steady stream of advice from VJ. But when a big accident puts her back on the bench, Vivy has to fight to stay on the team.
Playing the Cards You’re Dealt
Published: October 5, 2021
SECRETS ARE ALWAYS A GAMBLE
Ten-year-old Anthony Joplin has made it to double digits! Which means he’s finally old enough to play in the spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant’s friends are stressing about fifth grade homework and girls, Ant only has one thing on his mind: how he’ll measure up to his father’s expectations at the card table.
Then Ant’s best friend gets grounded, and he’s forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn’t exactly who he has in mind. She talks a whole lot of trash — way more than his old partner. Plus, he’s not sure that his father wants him playing with a girl. But she’s smart and tough and pretty, and knows every card trick in the book. So Ant decides to join forces with Shirley — and keep his plans a secret.
Only it turns out secrets are another Joplin Man tradition. And his father is hiding one so big it may tear their family apart…
Published: March 15, 2022
Twelve-year-old Emmie is working to raise money for a tricked-out wheelchair to get serious about WCMX, when a mishap on a poorly designed ramp at school throws her plans into a tailspin. Instead of replacing the ramp, her school provides her with a kind but unwelcome aide―and, seeing a golden media opportunity, launches a public fundraiser for her new wheels. Emmie loves her close-knit rural town, but she can’t shake the feeling that her goals―and her choices―suddenly aren’t hers anymore. With the help of her best friends, Emmie makes a plan to get her dreams off the ground―and show her community what she wants, what she has to give, and how ready she is to do it on her own terms.
I Can Make This Promise
Published: October 1, 2019
All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers.
Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her.
Suddenly, Edie has a flurry of new questions about this woman who shares her name. Could she belong to the Native family that Edie never knew about? But if her mom and dad have kept this secret from her all her life, how can she trust them to tell her the truth now?
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
Published: May 1, 2018
Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test–middle school!
Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation?
A celebration of friendship, Stacy McAnulty’s smart and thoughtful middle-grade debut reminds us all to get out of our comfort zones and embrace what makes us different.
Published: August 16, 2022
Twelve-year-old Adela “Addie” Ramírez has a big decision to make when her stepfather proposes adoption. Addie loves Alex, the only father figure she’s ever known, but with a new half brother due in a few months and a big school theater performance on her mind, everything suddenly feels like it’s moving too fast. She has a million questions, and the first is about the young man in the photo she found hidden away in her mother’s things. Addie’s sleuthing takes her to a New Mexico ranch, and her world expands to include the legendary Bravos: Rosie and Pancho, her paternal grandparents and former professional wrestlers; Eva and Maggie, her older identical twin cousins who love to spar in and out of the ring; Uncle Mateo, whose lucha couture and advice are unmatched; and Manny, her biological father, who’s in the midst of a career comeback. As luchadores, the Bravos’s legacy is strong. But being part of a family is so much harder—it’s about showing up, taking off your mask, and working through challenges together.
One Last Shot
Published: May 5, 2020
For as long as he can remember, Malcolm has never felt like he was good enough. Not for his parents, who have always seemed at odds with each other, with Malcolm caught in between. And especially not for his dad, whose competitive drive and love for sports Malcolm has never shared.
That is, until Malcolm discovers miniature golf, the one sport he actually enjoys. Maybe it’s the way in which every hole is a puzzle to be solved. Or the whimsy of the windmills and waterfalls that decorate the course. Or maybe it’s the slushies at the snack bar. But whatever the reason, something about mini golf just clicks for Malcolm. And best of all, it’s a sport his dad can’t possibly obsess over.
Or so Malcolm thinks.
Soon he is signed up for lessons and entered in tournaments. And yet, even as he becomes a better golfer and finds unexpected friends at the local course, be wonders if he might not always be a disappointment. But as the final match of the year draws closer, the tension between Malcolm’s parents reaches a breaking point, and it’s up to him to put the puzzle of his family back together again.
Clues to the Universe
Published: January 12, 2021
The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.
Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound , a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him.
Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends, and Ro even figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place?
As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.
Published: August 2, 2022
Can five overlooked kids make one big difference?
There’s George: the brain
Sara: the loner
Dayara: the tough kid
Nico: the rich kid
And Miguel: the athlete
And they’re stuck together when they’re forced to complete their school’s community service hours. Although they’re sure they have nothing in common with one another, some people see them as all the same . . . just five Spanish-speaking kids.
Then they meet someone who truly needs their help, and they must decide whether they are each willing to expose their own secrets to help . . . or if remaining invisible is the only way to survive middle school.
Published: March 3, 2020
Ten years ago, an impossible thing happened: a flock of pigeons picked up a human baby who had been abandoned in an empty lot and carried her, bundled in blankets, to their roof. Coo has lived her entire life on the rooftop with the pigeons who saved her. It’s the only home she’s ever known. But then a hungry hawk nearly kills Burr, the pigeon she loves most, and leaves him gravely hurt.
Coo must make a perilous trip to the ground for the first time to find Tully, a retired postal worker who occasionally feeds Coo’s flock, and who can heal injured birds. Tully mends Burr’s broken wing and coaxes Coo from her isolated life. Living with Tully, Coo experiences warmth, safety, and human relationships for the first time. But just as Coo is beginning to blossom, she learns the human world is infinitely more complex?and cruel?than she could have imagined.
This remarkable debut novel will captivate readers from the very first line. Coo examines the bonds that make us family, the possibilities of love, and the importance of being true to yourself. Fans of Katherine Applegate, Kate DiCamillo, and Barbara O’Connor will devour this extraordinary story.
Louisiana’s Way Home
Published: October 2, 2018
When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana’s and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.)
Honeybees and Frenemies
Published: June 4, 2019
It’s the summer before eighth grade and Flor is stuck at home and working at her family’s mattress store, while her best friend goes off to band camp (probably to make new friends). It becomes even worse when she’s asked to compete in the local honey pageant. This means Flor has to spend the summer practicing her talent (recorder) and volunteering (helping a recluse bee-keeper) with Candice , her former friend who’s still bitter about losing the pageant crown to Flor when they were in second grade. And she can’t say no. Then there’s the possibility that Flor and her family are leaving to move in with her mom’s family in New Jersey. And with how much her mom and dad have been fighting lately, is it possible that her dad may not join them? Flor can’t let that happen. She has a lot of work to do.
Published: September 13, 2016
Other than their first names, Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are sure they have nothing in common, and they wouldn’t mind keeping it that way.
Naomi Marie starts clubs at the library and adores being a big sister. Naomi Edith loves quiet Saturdays and hanging with her best friend in her backyard. And while Naomi Marie’s father lives a few blocks away, Naomi Edith wonders how she’s supposed to get through each day a whole country apart from her mother.
When Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi Edith’s dad get serious about dating, each girl tries to cling to the life she knows and loves. Then their parents push them into attending a class together, where they might just have to find a way to work with each other—and maybe even join forces to find new ways to define family.
Published: October 19, 2021
Twelve-year-old Nimra Sharif has spent her whole life in Islamic school, but now it’s time to go to “real school.”
Nimra’s nervous, but as long as she has Jenna, her best friend who already goes to the public school, she figures she can take on just about anything.
Unfortunately, middle school is hard. The teachers are mean, the schedule is confusing, and Jenna starts giving hijab-wearing Nimra the cold shoulder around the other kids.
Desperate to fit in and get back in Jenna’s good graces, Nimra accepts an unlikely invitation to join the school’s popular 8th grade boy band, Barakah Beats. The only problem is, Nimra was taught that music isn’t allowed in Islam, and she knows her parents would be disappointed if they found out. So she devises a simple plan: join the band, win Jenna back, then quietly drop out before her parents find out.
But dropping out of the band proves harder than expected. Not only is her plan to get Jenna back working, but Nimra really likes hanging out with the band — they value her contributions and respect how important her faith is to her. Then Barakah Beats signs up for a talent show to benefit refugees, and Nimra’s lies start to unravel. With the show only a few weeks away and Jenna’s friendship hanging in the balance, Nimra has to decide whether to betray her bandmates — or herself.
Published: May 3, 2022
Rising star Kat Fajardo’s debut middle-grade graphic novel about a girl who would rather do anything other than celebrate her quinceañera! A funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story about navigating the expectations of family and cultural tradition.
Sue just wants to spend the summer reading and making comics at sleepaway camp with her friends, but instead she gets stuck going to Honduras to visit relatives with her parents and two sisters. They live way out in the country, which means no texting, no cable, and no Internet! The trip takes a turn for the worse when Sue’s mother announces that they’ll be having a surprise quinceañera for Sue, which is the last thing she wants. She can’t imagine wearing a big, floofy, colorful dress! What is Sue going to do? And how will she survive all this “quality” time with her rambunctious family?
Just Like Jackie
Published: January 2, 2018
For as long as Robinson Hart can remember, it’s just been her and Grandpa. He taught her about cars, baseball, and everything else worth knowing. But Grandpa’s memory has been getting bad—so bad that he sometimes can’t even remember Robbie’s name.
She’s sure that she’s making things worse by getting in trouble at school, but she can’t resist using her fists when bullies like Alex Carter make fun of her for not having a mom.
Now she’s stuck in group guidance—and to make things even worse, Alex Carter is there too. There’s no way Robbie’s going to open up about her life to some therapy group, especially not with Alex in the room. Besides, if she told anyone how forgetful Grandpa’s been getting lately, they’d take her away from him. He’s the only family she has—and it’s up to her to keep them together, no matter what.
Published: March 14, 2017
A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this “compassionate, timely novel” ( Booklist , starred review) from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns .
Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.
Hearts and Crafts: Squad Goals
Published: March 1, 2022
For instance, conquering 7th grade — with projects . There’s the Mom Project (finding her a boyfriend — even if she says she’s not interested), the Friend Project (win back the BFFs who dumped her and make a new friend), and the Band Project (so what if she’s never planned a fundraiser? How hard can it be?).
But finding real-life romance is a lot more complicated than her mom’s favorite movies make it look. And last year’s friends still won’t tell Mackenzie what she did wrong. And the fundraiser? It has to be beyond impressive, since Mackenzie sort of accidentally promised a live band so amazing it will “make everyone poop their pants.”
The harder Mackenzie works to craft the perfect school year, the more she feels like she’s failing. She can do it all, can’t she? Or do her big goals require something more — like a little help from her friends?
Silver Meadows Summer
Published: April 30, 2019
Eleven-year-old Carolina’s summer–and life as she knows it–is upended when Papi loses his job, and she and her family must move from Puerto Rico to her Tía Cuca and Uncle Porter’s house in upstate New York. Now Carolina must attend Silver Meadows camp, where her bossy older cousin Gabriela rules the social scene.
Just as Carolina worries she’ll have to spend the entire summer in Gabriela’s shadow, she makes a friend of her own in Jennifer, a fellow artist. Carolina gets another welcome surprise when she stumbles upon a long-abandoned cottage in the woods near the campsite and immediately sees its potential as a creative haven for making art. There, with Jennifer, Carolina begins to reclaim the parts of the life she loved in Puerto Rico and forget about how her relationship with Mami has changed and how distant Papi has become.
But when the future of Silver Meadows and the cottage is thrown into jeopardy, Carolina and–to everyone’s surprise–Gabriela come up with a plan to save them. Will it work?
Miosotis Flores Never Forgets
Published: October 26, 2021
Miosotis Flores is excited about three things;fostering rescue dogs, goofy horror movies, and her sister Amarilis’ upcoming wedding. But her papi wants her to care about school more than anything else, so they strike a deal — if Miosotis improves her grades in two classes, she can adopt a dog of her own in the summer.
Miosotis dives into her schoolwork, and into nurturing a fearful little pup called Freckles. Could he become her forever dog? At the same time, she notices Amarilis behaving strangely–wearing thick clothes in springtime, dropping her friends in favor of her fiancé, even avoiding Miosotis and the rest of their family.
When Miosotis finally discovers her sister’s secret, she faces some difficult choices. What do you do if someone is in danger, but doesn’t want your help? When should you ask for support, and when should you try to handle things on your own?
What ultimately matters most–what Miosotis wants, or what’s right for the ones she loves?
The Supervillain’s Guide to Being a Fat Kid
Published: January 25, 2022
Max’s first year of middle school hasn’t been easy. Eighth-grade hotshot Johnny Pro torments Max constantly, for no other reason than Max is fat and an easy target. Max wishes he could fight back, but he doesn’t want to hurt Johnny . . . just make him feel the way Max feels.
In desperation, Max writes to the only person he thinks will understand: imprisoned supervillain Master Plan, a “gentleman of size.” To his surprise, Master Plan wants to help! He suggests a way for Max to get even with Johnny Pro, and change how the other kids at school see them both.
And it works! When Master Plan’s help pays off for Max in ways he couldn’t have imagined, he starts gaining confidence—enough to finally talk to Marina, the girl he likes in class who shares his passion for baking. With Master Plan in his corner, anything seems possible . . . but is there a price to pay for the supervillain’s help?
The Boy at the Back of the Class
Published: August 6, 2019
There used to be an empty chair at the back of Mrs. Khan’s classroom, but on the third Tuesday of the school year a new kid fills it: nine-year-old Ahmet, a Syrian refugee.
The whole class is curious about this new boy–he doesn’t seem to smile, and he doesn’t talk much. But after learning that Ahmet fled a Very Real War and was separated from his family along the way, a determined group of his classmates bands together to concoct the Greatest Idea in the World–a magnificent plan to reunite Ahmet with his loved ones.
This accessible, kid-friendly story about the refugee crisis highlights the community-changing potential of standing as an ally and reminds readers that everyone deserves a place to call home.
Bhai for Now
Published: October 4, 2022
Ashar is busy with the ice hockey team, studying to get into the best school, and hanging out with his friends.
Shaheer and his father are always moving, following his dad’s jobs. Shaheer has given up hope of finding a place where he can put down roots, a place that feels like home.
The two boys have nothing in common.
But when they meet on Shaheer’s first day at his new school, it’s like looking in a mirror.
They quickly figure out that they’re twins, separated as babies. And they are determined to do whatever it takes―including secretly switching identities―to get to know the parent they’ve been separated from.
Gaby Lost and Found
Published: July 30, 2013
Wanted: One amazing forever home for one amazing sixth grader.”My name is Gaby, and I’m looking for a home where I can invite my best friend over and have a warm breakfast a couple of times a week. Having the newest cell phone or fancy clothes isn’t important, but I’d like to have a cat that I can talk to when I’m home alone.”
Gaby Ramirez Howard loves volunteering at the local animal shelter. She plays with the kittens, helps to obedience train the dogs, and writes adoption advertisements so that the strays who live there can find their forever homes: places where they’ll be loved and cared for, no matter what. Gaby has been feeling like a bit of a stray herself, lately. Her mother has recently been deported to Honduras and Gaby is stuck living with her inattentive dad. She’s confident that her mom will come home soon so that they can adopt Gaby’s favorite shelter cat together. When the cat’s original owners turn up at the shelter, however, Gaby worries that her plans for the perfect family are about to fall apart.
Join the Club, Maggie Diaz
Published: May 17, 2022
“MAYBE I’M GOOD AT SOMETHING I DON’T EVEN KNOW ABOUT YET.”
Everyone in Maggie Diaz’s life seems to be finding their true passion. The one thing that defines them as a person. Her best friends Zoey and Julian are too busy to hang out after school thanks to band and comics club. Mom is finishing her last semester in college. And Maggie’s perfect older sister Caro is perfectly-perfect at sports and tutoring.
So Maggie cooks up a plan to join every club she can! But trying to fit in with type-A future leaders, gardening whizzes, and the fearless kids in woodshop is intimidating, exhausting, and seriously confusing. And juggling homework, friends, and all of her after-school activities is way harder than it looks.
Seventh grade is all about figuring out who you are — good thing Maggie Diaz has the perfect plan!
There they are: 75 of the best books for sixth graders! I hope you find one your kids love. And as usual, book recommendations by age and grade are entirely subjective. Some third graders are reading books on this list, as are some eighth graders. Reading is reading.
Which of these books for sixth graders have you read and enjoyed? And which other ones would you recommend?
More Books for 6th Graders
- Books for 11 year old boys
- Great books for 11 year olds
- My favorite graphic novels for 11 year olds
- Mystery books for 6th graders
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- About Afoma Umesi
Afoma Umesi is the founder and editor of Reading Middle Grade where she curates book lists and writes book reviews for kids of all ages. Her favorite genre to read is contemporary realistic fiction and she'll never say no to a graphic novel.
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What do you think leave a comment cancel reply.
November 10, 2020 at 2:07 pm
I love Louisiana’s Way Home! 🙌
August 13, 2021 at 10:35 am
Love this list! My daughter is entering 6th grade next month! LOVED Greenglass House!
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Books Every Sixth Grader Should Know
The Ultimate List of Books for 6th Grade Readers
When it comes to picking the best books for your 6th graders, you might feel overwhelmed. It can be challenging to figure out where to start finding books that sixth-grade students will find engaging and meaningful while still covering all the standards you want to teach. That's where this list of 6th grade books will come in handy!
These books for 6th graders are perfect for any teacher (or even parents) looking to make sure their students are reading engaging and meaningful texts. These books cover a broad range of genres, themes, and topics to appeal to every reader.
Here is my Ultimate List of Books for 6th Graders.
What you'll find on this page:
The 30 Books Every 6th Grader Should Read
Like the reading lists I've created for 5th graders , this list is shared in no particular order. For each book, I've tried to share a brief overview along with some resources that you can use to teach the text as a novel study or in book clubs.
In addition, I've shared a link to purchase the text on Amazon, so you can add it to your classroom library if you don't already own it.
This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog.
1) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
If you're looking for classic 6th grade books, this is one of my favorites. Published in 1950, this children's fantasy novel has become a classic and is now an equally famous film. It tells the story of four English children during World War II who move to the country and discover a wardrobe that leads them to another world — Narnia — ruled by a cruel White Witch!
Like a fairy tale for middle schoolers, this book has many engaging characters and fantastic themes sure to spark conversations in your classroom.
Buy the Book: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Get the Novel Unit: The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe Novel Unit
2) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
In this book, Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe are introduced to strange happenings by the reclusive Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. The trio joins them on an unexpected journey through time and space where they must tangle with IT — the brain of a dark force!
Your sixth graders will love the fun dynamics of the characters and the suspense as they travel through galaxies to save Charles Wallace. A Wrinkle in Time also features great themes such as friendship, courage, and individuality.
Buy the Book: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Get the Novel Unit: A Wrinkle in Time Novel Unit
3) When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
This book tells the story of a sixth-grade girl named Miranda who receives messages from an unknown source. The book leads the reader through some unexpected twists and turns as Miranda navigates her way through middle school and life while uncovering more about the mysterious messages she is getting.
I purposefully put this book after A Wrinkle in Time , as the story makes many connections to the classic text. However, there are so many reasons this book is perfect for your classroom and offers a number of opportunities to discuss aspects of the author's craft, including foreshadowing and suspense.
If you're looking for 6th grade books that will keep your readers on their toes, this is a great choice. After students finish reading, they'll likely want to go back and connect all the dots. I've even had a few students re-read the entire book after they finished!
Buy the Book: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Get the Novel Unit: When You Reach Me Novel Study
4) The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Thief tells the story of twelve-year-old Percy Jackson, who discovers he is a demi-god after his mother realizes she cannot control him. Soon, he is whisked away to Camp Half-Blood, where he learns about his divine father and his many trials while also taking on the dangerous quest of retrieving Zeus' stolen lightning bolt.
With great characters and action scenes, this book is sure to be loved by your 6th graders and is an excellent connection to Greek Mythology.
Buy the Book: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Get the Novel Unit: The Lightning Thief Novel Study
5) The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
This is one of the greatest books for 6th graders, in my opinion. It’s set during WWII when Ada, a young girl born with a club foot, is sent away from London to escape Hitler's bombs.
Alone but determined, she makes her way to the country where she meets Susan Smith — someone who teaches her that nothing is impossible for those willing to work hard enough to achieve their goals!
Buy the Book: The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Get the Novel Unit: The War that Saved My Life Literature Unit
6) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
One of several books written by this author, A Little Princess tells the story of a young girl whose father went off to fight in India years earlier, leaving her with nothing but a hope that he would return one day.
However, when he finally does arrive, the girl is forced to work as a maid and endure horrible conditions. Her life takes another turn when she discovers a secret about her father's fortune — yet she remains kind and generous!
In my opinion, this book is the best place to begin as it is full of compelling characters and themes, including kindness, hope, endurance, and determination.
Buy the Book: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Get the Novel Unit: A Little Princess Novel Study
7) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Published in 2000, this book tells the story of Leo Borlock, who is about to attend middle school for the first time. One day he sees a new student with blue hair and strange clothes — Stargirl. He's fascinated by her lack of conformity, and soon, they become friends.
However, when their classmates ostracize her because of her differences in behavior, Leo becomes her champion.
This book is so beautifully written and tells an important story about kindness, uniqueness, and friendship in the face of bullying. It would be a great addition to any classroom library!
Buy the Book: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Get the Novel Unit: Stargirl Novel Study Unit
8) The 6th Grade Nickname Game by Gordon Korman
This book tells the story of middle-schooler Matthew Hollis as he navigates his life as a sixth-grader.
During this time, he plans to create nicknames for everyone in his class — including himself. However, things quickly go downhill when he realizes that the name will not help him or his classmates get along!
Perfect for 6th graders, this book will teach them the importance of self-reflection and empathy. It also helps students to see how stereotypes can affect relationships with others.
Buy the Book: The 6th Grade Nickname Game by Gordon Korman
Get the Novel Unit: The Sixth Grade Nickname Game Novel Study
9) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Another classic on this list of 6th grade books, by this point in their education most students are familiar with The Wizard of Oz. However, most haven't read the actual book!
One of the oldest books on this list is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written in 1900. It has since been turned into a popular film, and television series as Dorothy and her dog Toto make their way to visit mysterious and powerful people — including the Wicked Witch, Glinda the Good Witch, and the Cowardly Lion!
They meet many interesting characters who help or hinder them along their way on their journey.
As old as it is, this book is a must-read not only because it's exciting; I find it particularly helpful in comprehension and discussion. With the wide availability of the movie, you can also use this title to compare across different media. The book is much different than the movie!
Buy the Book: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Get the Novel Unit: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Novel Unit
10) The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Avi's tale about a young girl who has been raised only to know a lady's life begins with her finding herself aboard a ship that is headed towards America.
Naturally, she's nervous — especially when we realize how easily some people on board take advantage of her! Isolated and afraid, Charlotte is unsure who she can trust. As a result, she must learn to depend on herself and trust her instincts to save an innocent man and safely finish the voyage.
Buy the Book: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Get the Novel Unit: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Novel Study
11) Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone
Set in the colonial era, this book is based on the true story of the Jamestown colony. Centered around the story of an orphaned young man named Samuel, the reader is exposed to the harsh realities of transatlantic travel during the period. When he is taken on as an apprentice for John Smith, his luck changes and he begins to learn what it takes to survive, and thrive, in the New World.
This book has great historical content and would be perfect for any 6th grader interested in books set during this time period.
Buy the Book: Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone
Get the Novel Unit: Blood on the River Novel Unit (Coming Soon)
12) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Now a popular movie, The Hunger Games takes place in a future society that has risen out of the destruction.
Told through the perspective of Katniss Everdeen, it centers around an annual televised event in which two “tributes” are chosen from each district to fight in a battle that only one person can survive.
Great for 6th graders, this book offers the perfect opportunity to discuss themes including injustice, freedom, sacrifice, and survival.
Buy the Book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Get the Novel Unit: The Hunger Games Novel Study (Coming Soon)
13) Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Another example of historical fiction is engaging and relevant to current events, Fever 1793 tells the story of a teenage girl, Mattie Cook, as she works to help her family's coffeehouse grow and thrive.
In the midst of this, however, Philadelphia is struck with a terrible fever that is destroying thousands of lives and spreading rapidly, including Mattie's childhood friend.
Although it's a work of fiction, Fever 1793 has been hailed as a realistic depiction of life in America during this time. Therefore, it is an excellent book for 6th grade students to read and compare the impacts of Covid to that of yellow fever.
Buy the Book: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Get the Novel Unit: Fever 1793 Novel Study
14) War Horse by Micheal Morpurgo
Historical fiction is a great genre of books for 6th graders to read because many are studying world or US History at this point. This is a World War I novel told from the perspective of Joey, a horse.
After being sold to the British cavalry by his previous owner, Joey spends time in different homes until he ends up serving in various battles with the men he has come to know as a friend.
The unique point of view is a great chance to explore how narration impacts the reader's understanding.
Buy the Book: War Horse by Micheal Morpurgo
Get the Novel Unit : War Horse Novel Guide
15) The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Another science fiction book, this dystopian novel for 6th graders is the first book in the Book of Ember series, The City of Ember is the story of a young girl named Lina who happens upon the secret of an underground city that is in danger of being destroyed.
Although it has been around since 2003, this book has become quite popular with educators as an engaging dystopia title. I would definitely recommend this for anyone looking to use authentic literature with 6th graders.
Buy the Book: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Get the Novel Unit: The City of Ember Literature Unit
16) Refugee by Alan Gratz
Refugee is a newer novel, but it is a powerful story that lends itself to many excellent conversations in the classroom. Written by Alan Gratz, the story is unique in that it weaves together three different periods and three stories – all with a shared theme.
While fictional, the harrowing tales of Mahmoud, Isabel, and Josef explore the trials and tribulations many refugees face. Although this book is difficult to read in many ways, it offers unique opportunities to make connections to the lived experiences of refugees today.
Buy the Book: Refugee by Alan Gratz
Get the Novel Unit: Refugee Book Study (Coming Soon)
17) Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
In Al Capone Does My Shirts , Moose Flanagan is an average sixth grader living in Alcatraz.
However, as his parents increasingly become involved in the national debate over prison reform, he finds himself moving from his home and going to school there – on the island!
As a result of this sudden change in his lifestyle, Moose must learn how to get by while also trying to make friends and fit in.
Buy the Book: Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Get the Novel Unit: Al Capone Does My Shirts Novel Study (Coming Soon)
18) The Bicycle Spy by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Another excellent historical fiction text set during World War II, The Bicycle Spy is the story of a young man with dreams of competing in the Tour de France.
Throughout the story, he becomes more aware of the impacts of the Nazi invasion and realizes he can no longer sit on the sidelines. After learning his family is in danger, he must take on a mission to use his cycling skills to save a friend.
Buy the Book: The Bicycle Spy by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Get the Novel Unit: The Bicycle Spy Novel Study
19) One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
One of several amazing books by Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer is the story of a young girl in the late 1960s who is sent to spend the summer with her mother.
However, when they embark on the trip by themselves, they end up at a training session for black revolutionaries that will change their lives forever.
Buy the Book: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Get the Novel Unit: One Crazy Summer Novel Study
20) The Giver by Lois Lowry
While this is not the first time I've recommended The Giver , this book has a lot to offer sixth graders that will likely go over the heads of younger readers. In this story, a young boy discovers that his seemingly perfect society hides some dark secrets.
In this gripping tale, the main character must decide whether he is willing to fight for change or accept what has been taught to him throughout his life.
Buy the Book: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Get the Novel Unit: The Giver Novel Unit
21) Rules by Cynthia Lord
Cynthia Lord's book Rules is another excellent option for sixth-grade book clubs or novel units. The story centers on twelve-year-old Catherine and the difficulties she faces trying to navigate her relationship with her brother diagnosed with autism.
Because of the nature of his condition, he struggles with social cues and boundaries – often in unexpected ways that can be humorous or frustrating for those around him. To help him, Catherine creates a book of rules for interacting.
However, as the story goes on, Catherine realizes that she can't just rely on a set of books rules to keep her brother safe.
Buy the Book: Rules by Cynthia Lord
Get the Novel Unit: Rules Novel Unit
22) Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
For some reason, graphic novels and comics are still relatively unpopular reading materials for school groups – something which I hope will change soon!
In this story, the main character, Astrid, struggles with whether she wants to embrace her newfound love of Roller Derby or if she should continue focusing on her traditional, age-old artistic passion.
Buy the Book: Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Get the Novel Unit: Roller Girl Graphic Novel Study (Coming Soon)
23) My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
My Side of the Mountain is a great novel choice for students interested in nature, but it is also great for conversations about the struggle for independence that many middle school students feel.
In this story, young Sam Gribley leaves his home and family after being forced to take on more responsibilities than he feels ready for. As a result, he embarks on a journey to build a new life for himself deep in the forest.
Over time, he learns how to make shelter, hunt for food, and create a sustainable lifestyle that allows him to retain his independence without feeling completely alone.
Buy the Book: My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Get the Novel Unit: My Side of the Mountain Novel Unit
24) The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
While a relatively new release, this book has already won a handful of awards..and rightfully so. Coyote has been through some pretty tough situations that no kid should have to deal with. Still, when she learns that a beloved park in her neighborhood is set to be demolished, she devises a plan to get back home and retrieve the memory box her mom and sisters buried there years ago.
With a cast of unique characters and an engaging plot, your students will love this story.
Buy the Book: The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
Get the Novel Unit: The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise Book Unit
25) Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
Another book by Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground is the tale of how a young boy learns to come to terms with his grandfather's death. After running away, Clayton faces a number of challenges when he loses his most prized possession – a harmonica given to him by his grandfather.
As he works to come to grips with his losses, he realizes that running away won't solve his problems.
Buy the Book: Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
Get the Novel Unit: Clayton Byrd Goes Underground Novel Study (Coming Soon)
26) Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Pam Munoz Ryan's books are classics for a good reason. In this book, Esperanza moves to America after her father is killed. She tries her best to adjust to the new lifestyle that she has been thrust into – but the added pressures of oppressive laws and poverty make it harder than she might have imagined.
Esperanza jumps at the opportunity to earn money by working on a ranch but soon discovers that it is no easy job.
Buy the Book: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Get the Print or Digital Novel Unit: Esperanza Rising Novel Study
27) Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The story of The Holocaust is a difficult one to teach students about at any age. Still, books that feature young characters can be especially effective because they allow for a more personal connection to these books.
In this book, ten-year-old Annemarie learns about the Nazi occupation from her friend Ellen – who has Jewish roots.
The pair embarks on a dangerous journey that allows them the opportunity to save Ellen's family.
Buy the Book: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Get the Novel Unit: Number the Stars Novel Study
28) Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
This book, the story of a young offender in juvenile detention who is sentenced to isolation on an island off Alaska as part of a new system to address behavior, is another excellent choice for conversations about independence.
Although he initially hates the idea of being so far away from home, through his trials and tribulations he begins to find that being alone is a good thing – and he also learns the importance of connection.
Buy the Book: Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
Get the Novel Unit: Touching Spirit Bear Novel Guide (Coming Soon)
29) Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
Set in the segregated South, Stella by Starlight is the story of a young girl dealing with racial tensions and the impending violence surrounding the civil rights movement.
Stella is harassed at school, and she is unsure of how to speak up or defend herself – but soon learns that she has to stand up for what she believes in if she ever wants to feel safe again.
Buy the Book: Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
Get the Novel Unit: Stella by Starlight Novel Study (Coming Soon)
30) So B. It by Sarah Weeks
This coming-of-age story features Heidi, a 12-year-old girl, as she grapples with the challenges of understanding who she is. Her mother's cognitive disability prevents her from saying much, which means Heidi only has a few things to go on. One of them is the meaning of the made-up word her mother keeps saying, “soof.”
Working to understand who she is and where she comes from, Heidi begins piecing together the story of her upbringing.
Buy the Book: So B. It by Sarah Weeks
Get the Novel Unit: So B. It Novel Study
Now you've seen the 6th grade books – Are you ready to plan your novel unit?
I hope this list has sparked some ideas for 6th grade books to add to your classroom library and your next novel unit.
While you're here, grab my free novel study planning roadmap to get step-by-step support to plan a high-quality literature unit for your sixth-grade students whether you're in the classroom or homeschooling. Whether you're planning your first novel study or just looking for new ideas, you'll love this great tool.
Check out my Reading Lists for Other Grades Below
50 Must-Read Books for 6th Graders
Yashvi Peeti is an aspiring writer and an aspiring penguin. She has worked as an editorial intern with Penguin Random House India and HarperCollins Publishers India. She is always up for fangirling over poetry, taking a walk in a park, and painting tiny canvases. You can find her on Instagram @intangible.perception
View All posts by Yashvi Peeti
Anyone who remembers the awkward years of middle school—or is currently experiencing them—understands the anxieties and possibilities that come with that tender age. Books can serve as loyal companions for 6th graders to help them get through life with self awareness and the knowledge that they are not alone. It’s also such a wonderful age to be introduced to books with diverse voices and cultures that stir compassion, curiosity and creativity. Here is a list of the best books for 6th graders to soothe their insecurities and broaden their vision.
Graphic Novels for 6th Graders
1. Stargazing by Jen Wang
“When Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend―maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.
But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?
New York Times –bestselling author-illustrator Jen Wang draws on her childhood to paint a deeply personal yet wholly relatable friendship story that’s at turns joyful, heart-wrenching, and full of hope.”
2. New Kid by Jerry Craft
“Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.
As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?”
3. Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
“Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri’s mom avoids these questions–the topic of India is permanently closed.
For Pri, her mother’s homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she find a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film. But is this the real India? And what is that shadow lurking in the background? To learn the truth, Pri must travel farther than she’s ever dared and find the family she never knew.”
4. El Deafo by Cece Bell and David Lasky
“Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.
Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school — in the hallway… in the teacher’s lounge… in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?”
5. Smile (Smile #1) by Raina Telgemeier
“Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly. This coming-of-age true story is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in middle school, and especially those who have ever had a bit of their own dental drama.”
6. Invisible Emmie (Emmie & Friends) by Terri Libenson
“This is the story of two totally different girls—quiet, shy, artistic Emmie and popular, outgoing, athletic Katie—and how their lives unexpectedly intersect one day when an embarrassing note falls into the wrong hands.”
7. Real Friends (Real Friends #1) by Shannon Hale (Writer) , LeUyen Pham (Illustrator), Jane Poole (Colorist)
“When best friends are not forever . . .
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.
Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?
Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.”
8. Coraline by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell
“The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.
Only it’s different.
At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there’s another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.
Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.
Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.”
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1) by Jeff Kinney
“Boys don’t keep diaries—or do they?
The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to
It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.
In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion.
Author/illustrator Jeff Kinney recalls the growing pains of school life and introduces a new kind of hero who epitomizes the challenges of being a kid. As Greg says in his diary, “Just don’t expect me to be all ‘Dear Diary’ this and ‘Dear Diary’ that.†? Luckily for us, what Greg Heffley says he won’t do and what he actually does are two very different things.”
10. Awkward (Berrybrook Middle School #1) by Svetlana Chmakova
“Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.
Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.
On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!
Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!”
11. The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1) by Kazu Kibuishi
“Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a giant robot—and two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission.
After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.
Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.”
To find more illustrated books for 6th graders, check out our graphic novels recommendations for middle graders.
Realistic Books for 6th Graders
12. a good kind of trouble by lisa moore ramée.
“Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she’d also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)
But in junior high, it’s like all the rules have changed. Now she’s suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she’s not black enough. Wait, what ?
Shay’s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn’t think that’s for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.
Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn’t face her fear, she’ll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that’s trouble, for real.”
13. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
“A warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging, infused with humour, from the bestselling author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe .
Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?”
14. Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls
“My name is Sam. I am eleven years old. I collect stories and fantastic facts. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead.”
Sam loves facts. He wants to know about UFOs and horror movies and airships and ghosts and scientists, and how it feels to kiss a girl. And because he has leukaemia he wants to know the facts about dying. Sam needs answers to the questions nobody will answer. “Ways To Live Forever” is the first novel from an extraordinarily talented young writer. Funny and honest, it is one of the most powerful and uplifting books you will ever read.”
15. Front Desk by Kelly Yang
“Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.
Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.
Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.
Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?
It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?”
16. Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai
“A California girl born and raised, Mai can’t wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, though, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai’s parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. Vietnam is hot, smelly, and the last place she wants to be. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn’t know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.”
17. Martin McLean, Middle School Queen by Alyssa Zaczek
“Seventh-grader Martin McLean has always been surrounded by people who can express themselves. His mother is an artist, his colorful Tío Billy works in theater, and his best friends Carmen and Pickle are outgoing and don’t care what other people think. But Martin can only find the right words when he’s answering a problem at a Mathletes competition—until his tío introduces him to the world of drag. In a swirl of sequins and stilettos, Martin creates his fabulous drag queen alter ego, Lottie León.
As Lottie, he is braver than he’s ever been; but as Martin, he doesn’t have the guts to tell anyone outside of his family about her. Not Carmen and Pickle, not his Mathletes teammates, and definitely not Chris, an eighth-grader who gives Martin butterflies. When Martin discovers that his first-ever drag show is the same night as the most important Mathletes tournament, he realizes that he can only pull off both appearances by revealing his true self to his friends—and channeling his inner drag superstar.”
18. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.”
19. See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
“A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel for fans of Counting by 7s, Walk Two Moons, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.
Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.”
20. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
“I am learning how to be sad and happy at the same time.
Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.
At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.”
21. Melissa (Previously Published as George ) by Alex Gino
“BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web . George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part… because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte—but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.”
22. Five on a Treasure Island (The Famous Five #1) by Enid Blyton
“The very first Famous Five adventure, featuring Julian, Dick, Anne, not forgetting tomboy George and her beloved dog, Timmy! There’s a shipwreck off Kirrin Island! But where is the treasure? The Famous Five are on the trail – looking for clues – but they’re not alone! Someone else has got the same idea. Time is running out for the Famous Five, who will follow the clues and get to the treasure first?”
Fantasy Books for 6th Graders
23. gregor the overlander by suzanne collins.
“When Gregor follows his little sister through a grate in the laundry room of their New York apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland beneath the city. There, humans live uneasily beside giant spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rats–but the fragile peace is about to fall apart.
Gregor wants no part in this conflict, but again and again, he and his family are drawn into the Underland. Gregor must find his place in the frightening prophecies he encounters, the strength to protect his family, and the courage to defend against an army of giant rats.
In this action-packed and masterful series, Suzanne Collins unfolds the fate of the Underland and its great warrior, Gregor the Overlander.”
24. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
“Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.”
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata , and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that ?
25. The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordon
“Magnus Chase has seen his share of trouble. Ever since that terrible night two years ago when his mother told him to run, he has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, staying one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.
One day, Magnus learns that someone else is trying to track him down—his uncle Randolph, a man his mother had always warned him about. When Magnus tries to outmaneuver his uncle, he falls right into his clutches. Randolph starts rambling about Norse history and Magnus’s birthright: a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.
The more Randolph talks, the more puzzle pieces fall into place. Stories about the gods of Asgard, wolves, and Doomsday bubble up from Magnus’s memory. But he doesn’t have time to consider it all before a fire giant attacks the city, forcing him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents. . . .
Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die.”
26. Furthermore (Furthermore #1) by Tahereh Mafi
“Alice Alexis Queensmeadow 12 rates three things most important: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Father disappeared from Ferenwood with only a ruler, almost three years ago. But she will have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is Oliver whose own magic is based in lies and deceit. Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.”
27. The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend
“A cursed girl escapes death and finds herself in a magical world – but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.
But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.
It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart – an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.”
28. Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (Sal and Gabi #1) by Carlos Hernandez
“How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker?
When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.
Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.
A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in this mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.”
29. Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega
“ Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy. For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business.
Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late.”
30. The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding (Prosper Redding #1) by Alexandra Bracken
“I would say it’s a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness.
Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type.
The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.
Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host.”
31. City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab
“Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.
When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.”
32. Fablehaven (Fablehaven #1) by Brandon Mull
“For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite.
Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken — Seth is a bit too curious and reckless for his own good — powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world, Kendra and Seth must find the courage to do what they fear most.”
33. Akata Witch (Akata Witch #1) by Nnedi Okorafor
“Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?”
Find more fantasy books for 6th graders.
Classic Books for 6th Graders
34. a wrinkle in time by madeleine l’engle.
“Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure—one that will threaten their lives and our universe.
Winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in Madeleine L’Engle’s classic Time Quintet.”
35. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, W.W. Denslow (Illustrator)
“When Dorothy and her little dog Toto are caught in a tornado, they and their Kansas farmhouse are suddenly transported to Oz, where Munchkins live, monkeys fly and Wicked Witches rule. Desperate to return home, and with the Wicked Witch of the West on their trail, Dorothy and Toto – together with new friends the Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow and cowardly Lion – embark on a fantastic quest along the Yellow Brick Road in search of the Emerald City. There they hope to meet the legendary, all-powerful Wizard of Oz, who alone may hold the power to grant their every wish.
Just as captivating as it was a hundred years ago, this is a story that all ages will love.”
36. Matilda by Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (Illustrator)
“Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Miss (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.
She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull. There is never any doubt that Matilda will carry the day. Even so, this wonderful story is far from predictable. Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings.”
37. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
“The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy. The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider. According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs.
A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.”
38. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
“As soon as Anne Shirley arrives at the snug white farmhouse called Green Gables, she is sure she wants to stay forever . . . but will the Cuthberts send her back to to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected—a skinny girl with fiery red hair and a temper to match. If only she can convince them to let her stay, she’ll try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes and blurting out the first thing that comes to her mind. Anne is not like anyone else, the Cuthberts agree; she is special—a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreams of the day when she can call herself Anne of Green Gables.”
39. The Chronicles of Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia #1–7) by C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (Illustrator)
“Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.
For the past fifty years, The Chronicles of Narnia have transcended the fantasy genre to become part of the canon of classic literature. Each of the seven books is a masterpiece, drawing the reader into a land where magic meets reality, and the result is a fictional world whose scope has fascinated generations.
This edition presents all seven books—unabridged—in one impressive volume. The books are presented here in chronological order, each chapter graced with an illustration by the original artist, Pauline Baynes. Deceptively simple and direct, The Chronicles of Narnia continue to captivate fans with adventures, characters, and truths that speak to readers of all ages, even fifty years after they were first published.”
40. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Michael Hague (Illustrator)
“Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie Peter Pan, the mischievous boy who refuses to grow up, lands in the Darling’s proper middle-class home to look for his shadow. He befriends Wendy, John and Michael and teaches them to fly (with a little help from fairy dust). He and Tinker Bell whisk them off to Never-land where they encounter the Red Indians, the Little Lost Boys, pirates and the dastardly Captain Hook.”
41. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Garth Williams (Illustrator), Rosemary Wells (Illustrator)
“This beloved book by E. B. White, author of Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, is a classic of children’s literature that is “just about perfect.” This high-quality paperback features vibrant illustrations colorized by Rosemary Wells!
Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.
E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. This edition contains newly color illustrations by Garth Williams, the acclaimed illustrator of E. B. White’s Stuart Little and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, among many other books.”
42. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
“After a tumble down the rabbit hole, Alice finds herself far away from home in the absurd world of Wonderland. As mind-bending as it is delightful, Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel is pure magic for young and old alike.”
43. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Richard Howard (Translator), Ivan Minatti (Translator), Nguyễn Thành Vũ (Illustrator)
“Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.”
44. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
“Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women . Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.
It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with “woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the “girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.”
Find free books online and check out Project Gutenberg and Read Print for classics.
Poetry And Short Stories For 6th Graders
45. out of wonder by kwame alexander.
“Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award–winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.”
46. One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
“In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking. This special book also includes original artwork in full-color from some of today’s most exciting African American illustrators, who have created pieces of art based on Nikki’s original poems. Featuring art by: Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, Nikki Grimes, E. B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.”
47. Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners by Naomi Shihab Nye
“Acclaimed and award-winning poet, teacher, and National Book Award finalist Naomi Shihab Nye’s uncommon and unforgettable voice offers readers peace, humor, inspiration, and solace. This volume of almost one hundred original poems is a stunning and engaging tribute to the diverse voices past and present that comfort us, compel us, lead us, and give us hope.
Voices in the Air is a collection of almost one hundred original poems written by the award-winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye in honor of the artists, writers, poets, historical figures, ordinary people, and diverse luminaries from past and present who have inspired her. Full of words of encouragement, solace, and hope, this collection offers a message of peace and empathy.
Voices in the Air celebrates the inspirational people who strengthen and motivate us to create, to open our hearts, and to live rewarding and graceful lives. With short informational bios about the influential figures behind each poem, and a transcendent introduction by the poet, this is a collection to cherish, read again and again, and share with others. Includes an index.”
48. Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
“This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen. They were all too busy—
Talking about boogers. Stealing pocket change. Skateboarding. Wiping out. Braving up. Executing complicated handshakes. Planning an escape. Making jokes. Lotioning up. Finding comfort. But mostly, too busy walking home.
Jason Reynolds conjures ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings, and brilliantly weaves them into one wickedly funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life.”
49. Flying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh (Editor)
“Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.
In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.
From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.”
50. Us, in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos by Lulu Delacre
“Acclaimed author and Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre’s beautifully illustrated collection of twelve short stories is a groundbreaking look at the diverse Latinos who live in the United States.
In this book, you will meet many young Latinos living in the United States, from a young girl whose day at her father’s burrito truck surprises her to two sisters working together to change the older sister’s immigration status, and more.
Turn the pages to experience life through the eyes of these boys and girls whose families originally hail from many different countries; see their hardships, celebrate their victories, and come away with a better understanding of what it means to be Latino in the U.S. today.”
To find more great, diverse books for 6th graders, check out our middle grade books collection.
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Best Books for Sixth Graders
As tweens start figuring out the world and their place in it, well-told stories can help them explore different places, feelings, issues, and eras. Our list of engaging books for 11- and 12-year-olds has it all, from science fiction and exciting fantasy epics to funny middle school chronicles and gritty contemporary tales inspired by the headlines. It also has nonfiction books for kids who want their stories fact-filled. For more great books to help kids get hooked on reading, check out our lists of the Best Book Series for Tweens and Books Tweens and Teens Recommend to Friends .
Al Capone Does My Shirts: A Tale from Alcatraz, Book 1
Boy stands up for sister with autism in compassionate tale.
Gripping, must-read novel follows young soldiers on D-Day.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Inspiring wartime journal reveals teen's inner life.
The Apothecary, Book 1
Cold War kids use magic to save world in brilliant novel.
Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Rise of Kyoshi: The Kyoshi Novels, Book 1
Servant girl becomes mystical hero in fast-paced fantasy.
Bad Best Friend
Eighth grader withstands friend rejection in funny story.
Better Off Friends
Sweet, funny When Harry Met Sally romance for tweens.
The Boy on the Wooden Box
Moving memoir of boy Holocaust survivor on Schindler's list.
Chains: The Seeds of America Trilogy, Book 1
Powerful story of slavery in 1776 New York.
Tales of injustice masterfully blend with a dash of magic.
Everything Sad Is Untrue: (A True Story)
Young refugee's story is told in memories, myths, fables.
Bittersweet, lovely story of friendship and social media.
The Green Bicycle
Funny, poignant, cheer-worthy tale of spirited Saudi girl.
Tense, gripping WWII drama has powerful cost-of-war message.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Harry Potter, Book 6
Emotionally powerful volume book mines Voldemort's past.
Hold on tight for an intense tale of survival.
It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Comic's engaging memoir of growing up under Apartheid.
A Long Walk to Water
Touching take on Lost Boys of Sudan, based on true story.
March Forward Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine
Must-read memoir of a childhood in the segregated South.
One Crazy Summer
A gem, with strong girl characters, '60s black history.
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Mrs. Beers Language Arts Classroom
My middle school ELA blog featuring student engagement strategies, classroom ideas, and lesson plans for language arts teachers.
An ELA Teacher’s List of Best Books for 6th Grade
I find 6th grade students are all over the map when it comes to reading. Some love reading and never want to put their books down, some read because they “ HAVE to”, and others love to share their “ HATRED ” for reading!
As a teacher who was part of the latter in 6th grade, I keep a short list of all-time favorites in my teacher toolbox . These books are capable of turning even the most apathetic students into engaged readers. Funny enough, my reading-transformation began around this age. I was helping my school librarian stamp check-out dates on library day. Another student borrowed a copy of the The Babysitter’s Club series, and the cover caught my eye. It was that one simple moment that transformed me as a reader! One breakthrough book can build a lifetime love of reading, so every year my goal is to lead my students to find their “BEST BOOK EVER!”
So-onto my list…I must admit that I am a realistic and historical fiction nut! I love knowing that stories have or can actually transpire, so my list of best 6th grade reading books is full of these genres. I am really honest about books with my students because it helps them understand that even though I am a reading teacher, I can struggle with books, too. I often share that except for the Hunger Games series and Among the Hidden, science fiction can be a challenge for me to stick with. Dare I say that I was not a big fan of Harry Potter after the first two novels?!
Below is my list of the 15 best books for 6th graders. As an ELA teacher, these are my tried-and-true tools for unlocking the reader buried within all of my students. You’ll notice I have created novel study units for each of these texts due to my strong LOVE for these books!
Best Book #1: Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
Freak the Mighty is a great back-to-school novel for instructing both the theme of friendship and fiction reading strategies. Your 6th graders will enjoy reading about Maxwell and Kevin’s transformation from social outcasts into the unstoppable Freak the Mighty.
Freak the Mighty Novel Study Unit
Book #2: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Tuck Everlasting is a great on-level fit for 6th grade readers, or as reading intervention for 7th and 8th grade. Your students will be on the edge of their seats as Winnie Foster accidently learns the Tuck’s family secret of immortality!
Tuck Everlasting Novel Study Unit
Best Book #3: Crash by Jerry Spinelli
My go-to novel for young football players is Crash by Jerry Spinelli. It is the ideal novel to share with in 6th grade since it has humor, witty characters, a relatable setting and plot, and an unexpected finish.
Crash Novel Study Unit
Best Book #4: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Esperanza goes from being a wealthy Mexican landowner to an impoverished immigrant laborer. This historical fiction novel centers around the theme or perseverance and your students will be rooting for Esperanza every step of the way!
Esperanza Rising Novel Study Unit
Best Book #5: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Bud is foster child who dreams of finding his biological father. After spending four years with the Amos family, Bud finally embarks on his quest. Your class will love reading about Bud Caldwell’s adventures and rooting for him to get the happy ending he deserves.
Bud, Not Buddy Novel Study Unit
Best Book #6: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Jerry Spinelli writes an exciting and inspiring narrative about the risks of fame and the power of a first true love. Jerry Spinelli novels are Middle school teachers, be assured that this Jerry Spinelli novel is a safe bet.
Stargirl Novel Study Unit
Best Book #7: Among The Hidden
If you are looking for a high-interest science fiction novel, Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix is the perfect pick. Your students will be captivated by Luke Garner’s dilemmas and adventures as a third child in a society where each family are forbidden to have more than two.
Among The Hidden Novel Study Unit
Best Book #8: Woodsong by Gary Paulsen
Woodsong is a memoir that features Gary Paulsen’s journey to the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska. This engaging, shorter-chapter narrative, takes readers from the time he first gets his dogs to the point where he realizes how little he understood about nature until he traveled over one-thousand miles with them. 6th graders won’t be able to put down this collection of his anecdotes from his memoir.
Woodsong Novel Study Unit
Best Book #9: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I read the Hunger Games with my students every year. This is one book that always sparks engaging discussions with students. There are endless resources available for teachers but I have used Tracee Orman’s novel unit for several years now.
Best Book #10: Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
I use Love That Dog as a FUN way to teach poetry and engage my student writers. It is a tried and true novel/poetry unit for National Poetry Month. Very few 6th graders are fans of poetry, but this book will change their perspective and show them how much fun poetry can be.
Love That Dog Novel Study Unit
Best Book #11: The Lottery Rose by Irene Hunt
The story of Georgie Burgess will touch the hearts of your readers. Georgie isolates himself and assumes a tough persona in order to hide the pain of being abused. Once Georgie is given a new home, food to eat, books in his hands, and the affection he has always wanted, your students will be rooting for him and the progress he makes.
The Lottery Rose Novel Unit
Best Book #12: Rules by Cynthia Lord
This heart-warming story of a sister who puts her brother’s needs ahead of her own will encourage your 6th graders to consider the feelings of others. This is a great novel to teach the concept of inferring as the actions of Catherine prompt thoughtful reflection and questioning. The book’s theme about life’s unpredictable turns will lead to some great classroom discussions.
Rules Novel Study Unit
Best Book #13: Wonder
Wonder is quite simply a MUST READ for this age group! This story has certainly grown in popularity since the movie was released, but it’s the BOOK that 6th grade teachers love because it offers an array of different teaching angles.
Wonder Novel Study Unit
Best Book #14: Smile
Your 6th graders will absolutely DEVOUR this high-interest graphic novel. Raina, the main character, is struggling to adjust to adolescence and nothing ever seems to go her way. It is a great book for reminding us all that sometimes we have to deal with frustrating things in life, but those challenges will make us stronger and able to determine what is important in life.
Smile Novel Study Unit
Best Book #15: Missing May
This short chapter novel is an “easy win” to motivate students who get intimated by longer reads. The story details the challenges of a family coping with the loss of their matriarch. Shared from the perspective of Summer, May’s 12-year-old niece, the follows family and friends as they navigate through the grieving process.
Missing May Novel Study Unit
More Best Book Lists: 50 Best Books for Middle School Readers Diverse Books for Middle School
Looking for a fun activity to work into your literature studies? Here is a FREEBIE character analysis resource to use with your students…
Which texts here are on your list of all-time favorite books to share with 6th graders? Hopefully you discovered a few new ideas to explore! Now, race to your library and GRAB these AMAZING works! Your students will thank you!