May 26, 2024

25 Must-Read Books for 6th Graders, Recommended by Teachers

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

Lies I Tell Myself book cover- books for 6th graders

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

Wayward Creatures book cover

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

The Ultimate Riddle Game book cover- books for 6th graders

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

Thirst book cover- books for 6th graders

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

Holler of the Fireflies book cover

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

The Fort book cover- books for 6th graders

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

96 Miles book cover- books for 6th graders

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

Shoe Dog book cover

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

Attack of the Black Rectangles book cover- books for 6th graders

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

Two Degrees book cover

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

Tumble book cover

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

Sweet Valley Twins book cover- books for 6th graders

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

Witchlings book cover

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 book cover

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

The Door of No Return book cover- books for 6th graders

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

Wildoak book cover

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

Iceberg book cover- books for 6th graders

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

The Swifts

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

The Night Diary book cover

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

The Marvellers book cover- books for 6th graders

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

The Elephant Girl book cover

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 

Rise of the School for Good and Evil book cover

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

Wild Bird book cover- books for 6th graders

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 Sort of Says book cover

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 book cover

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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Add some amazing new books to your library with this list of new books for 6th graders. We've got something for every reader!

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