100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12)

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With so many good books for 6th graders, which are the best choices for your 11 and 12-year-olds in 6th grade? I got you covered. I’ve read ALL of these books and know what is on grade level and what kids like based on my elementary grades teaching experience and parenting two readers.

Below you’ll find the BEST of the best middle grade books for sixth graders that are spot-on for maturity, reading level, theme, topic, and appeal. I update this list every month so you get the most up-to-date books. (Last updated January 2024.)

Best Books in a Series for 6th Grade Boys & Girls

100 Best Middle Grade Books for 6th Graders

Each book review includes a genre tag, so look for the genre terms mystery, fantasy, realistic (also called contemporary), historical fiction, funny, and science fiction to help you find a good book in a genre that your children or students want to read. Because it’s always helpful to match a child’s interests with the books that they read, I’ve included topics of note next to the genre tag (mental health, zombies, coming of age), and I’ve bolded the sentence that summarizes the book. Then, you can scan through this list for topics and genres without having to read each review. But feel free to read the reviews, too!

best books for 6th graders

What makes a good book for a sixth grader?

Young readers at this age love books that relate to their lives, books about growing up, identity, belonging, friendships, or bullying. These tween readers want books that are mirrors to their own lives and doors and windows into the lives of others.

It may go without saying but 6th graders want engaging writing, compelling storylines, interesting characters, books in a series, graphic novels, true stories, fascinating nonfiction, and timeless classics.

Best Books for Kids Who Love Realistic Stories

Do you have to read all these books?

That’s the good news and where I can help. My goal when I was a teacher was to read all the books my students so I could perfectly match books to readers, not to mention my two children, who both went through their own reading challenges and motivation issues. Now, as a book blogger, I can read all the books and save you time!

Yes, reading fast is my superpower, I developed Imagination Soup as a resource for teachers, parents, librarians, and grandparents to share all the best books for kids, including new releases, best sellers, and classics. And, to save you time, so you don’t have to read all the books.

What does that mean for you? The Imagination Soup book lists can help you! You don’t have to read (preview) all the books. I’ve already read them.


Middle grade books are novels that back in the old days (when I first started teaching) were called chapter books. Now chapter books refer to beginning chapter books with illustrations meant for ages 6 to 8 while the term middle grade applies to books written for children who are in upper elementary grades and middle school, grades 4 to 7. Basically, 6th graders (11-year-olds) are the perfect age reader for middle grade books because middle grade books are written for 9 to 12-year-olds.

books for 6th graders

What age is 6th grade?

If you’re wondering what age 6th grade is in the United States, it’s usually age 11, turning age 12 sometimes during the year. In my state, 6th grade is sometimes located in elementary school and sometimes in middle school. 

How do you motivate middle schoolers to read?

CHOICE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING for reading books—in other words, letting kids pick their own books helps motivate more reading.

For most of us, we also need to get screen time under control so books can have a chance.

Not to mention, sometimes we forget that kids need blocks of TIME to read. When kids have packed schedules, reading doesn’t happen. Is there time for each child to sit down and read for 10 to 30 minutes every day—and for you to read together for at least some of that time?

Another essential ingredient to motivating a 6th grader is book access. Research shows that the more books kids can get their hands on, the better the chances of reading success. If you can’t pick out books at your library, use the library website to put books on hold to pick up later. Or, use your Libby app to check out eBooks online or download Amazon Kindle ebooks.

Finally, where does your 6th grader read? Have you made a cozy space for sustained reading? And if you did, would that be motivating? (Maybe!?)

But, there’s more. Find more teacher-suggested ideas for their students, including book swaps, author visits, book clubs, and the Global Read aloud in this post “12 Ways to Motivate Middle School Students to Read.”

books for 6th graders

What if my child or student is below grade level in reading?

For easier books, try books for 5th graders or books for 4th graders.

What if my child or student is an advanced 6th grade reader?

If you want harder (to comprehend / more mature topics) books, visit my books for 7th graders list. 

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Read Alouds, Book Series, & Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

Good Books for Sixth Grade Kids

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12) INVISIBLE

Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, illustrated by Gabriela Epstein
Spanish-speaking kids are thrown together to complete before-school community service hours. When the kids notice the homeless mom and her child living in a van, they try to help with leftover food. But they get into trouble by the cafeteria lady who thinks they’re stealing. This is a powerful story about kindness, racism, differences, and marginalized individuals including non-native-English speakers and homeless folks.

City Spies by James Ponti
When Sara, a foster kid and hacker, gets in trouble again, her new so-called lawyer recruits her to be an MI6 spy. Sara joins a team of other kids, trains quickly, and is immediately sent undercover to break open a big case in Paris. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I predict you’ll love every second of this action-packed story! It’s filled with great characters and an interesting twisty plot. 

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12) FRONT DESK

Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Mia and her parents have struggled ever since moving to America from China. When her parents take a new live-in job at a motel, they end up working around the clock for very little pay. Mia helps out by working at the front desk. She befriends the weekly tenants and uses her English skills to write letters advocating for other people in tough spots. This book is more than a memorable coming-of-age immigrant story, it’s also an important novel about tolerance and diversity. 6th graders will love the writing, the characters, the plot, and the messages of inclusion and determination.

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12) PERRY T. COOK

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
A heartbreaking, hopeful coming-of-age story. Perry is well-loved by his mother and her friends; they all live in prison. In fact, that’s where Perry has lived since he was born eleven years ago. But in a horrible turn of events, his best friend’s stepfather, the new District Attorney, forces Perry to leave the prison. Not only that, the DA tries to stall Perry’s mother’s parole hearing. To cope, Perry istens to the inmates’ stories, hoping that they’ll be helpful in reuniting him with his mother. 

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
Fantastic fantasy world-building, excellent writing, a strong female heroine of color, and a surprise plot twist ending are just a few of the reasons you’ll love this middle grade book. On top of that, you’ll find an exciting, action-packed, suspenseful story about Amari whose brother vanishes mysteriously. He sends her a message that she’s a magician and should attend a special school. There, she discovers she’s a magician with outlawed dark magic, but she’s determined to stay in the school and find her brother.

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12) ZOE WASHINGTON

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
REALISTIC (series)
On her 12th birthday, Zoe discovers a letter from her incarcerated biological father named Marcus. She secretly writes back and asks if he’s guilty. Marcus says he’s innocent and he can prove it, which sets Zoe on a quest for truth for herself, even if her mom and dad forbid it. She enlists the help of her Grandma and her best friend, Trevor. You won’t be able to put down this winsome story with a heroine 6th grade readers will love in a story that illuminates social justice with themes of family, friendship, and love.

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12)
100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12)

Starfish by Lisa Fipps
Heartbreaking and inspiring, this poignant story in verse shows a girl who learns, after years of fat-shaming and bullying, to define herself not based on what others say but on who she really is. Ellie’s nickname is Splash because of her size but she loves swimming. Her biggest bully is her mother who won’t buy her new clothes because she thinks it encourages Ellie’s weight gain and pushes for gastro-bypass surgery. Fortunately, Ellie finds an understanding therapist who helps her move from powerless to powerful. 

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Because this is written in verse, this is a fast read but packs a big punch. Basketball player and twin Josh narrates his life in quarters, just like the game he plays. He writes about missing his twin when his twin, Jordan, gets a girlfriend; about getting in trouble when he hits Jordan in the face with a basketball; and about watching his father as his heart fails. This is a coming-of-age, gripping story about a boy who is just trying to figure out life like most boys at age 12.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Sudan’s reality, past and present, collide in this beautifully written true story. In 1985, we follow the harrowing journey of a young boy who, after his village was attacked, walks miles and miles to a refugee camp. In 2008, we learn about a girl who must walk two hours morning and night to get fresh water. Their stories are compelling; you won’t be able to put this down, nor take peace and clean water for granted again. 

Hither and Nigh by Ellen Potter 
Guaranteed to enthrall with masterful storytelling and wildly inventive world-building, Hither and Nigh draws you into a magical, multi-layered story of adventure and heart. When Nell is forced to join the Last Chance Club or be expelled from school, she’s surprised when the students get lessons in magic! This begins Nell’s search for her missing brother. Her search leads to the magical world of Nither and poachers who kidnap non-magical children with big imaginations.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Wonderfully crafted and imagined, this 2017 Newbery winner is a fairy tale of sorts about a good witch who rescues one of the town’s many abandoned (sacrificed) babies instead of giving her to another town to adopt and love. She’s a special baby named Luna who accidentally becomes infused with moon magic. It’s also the story of the baby’s magical, bereaved mother, a wicked witch who feeds off sorrow, a woodcarver who wants justice, and most of all, an amazing girl named Luna.

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12)

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Like The Penderwicks, you’ll fall in love with this quirky, wonderful family from the first page. The Vanderbeekers’ landlord wants them out by the end of December but the Vanderbeeker kids are determined to change his mind, even though he hates noise, kids, and their family. But it’s almost Christmas and their efforts are only making things worse. What will they do? Charming and heart-warming.

Winterhouse by Ben Guterson, illustrated by Chloe Bristol
Elizabeth, an orphan, is unexpectedly sent to a large, stately hotel with a kind, grandfatherly proprietor for Christmas vacation. There, she discovers a magical book, a sinister couple, a family mystery, and a new friend who loves puzzles as much as she does. The writing is mesmerizing, the mystery fascinating, and the characters, enchanting. This is a wonderful, atmospheric read.

The Ruins of Gorlan: Ranger’s Apprentice by John A. Flanagan
FANTASY (series)
Will is apprenticed to become a Ranger, a job he’s unsure about. But as he develops a relationship with his master and learns what being a Ranger is all about (spying for the kingdom), he begins to embrace his new life. When an old enemy of the kingdom sends out dangerous beasts to attack Will’s master, Will is instrumental in getting help and killing the creatures. Action, fantasy, adventure, friendship, excellent writing — this book has it all! It’s a must-read, especially for boys. 

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibb
The CIA asks a super genius 12-year-old girl named Charlie to help find the missing and dangerous “Pandora” theory of Einstein’s. You will fall in love with Charlie—she’s a creative thinker and a survivor who, despite all her knowledge still can act like a child yet also outwit bad guys in amazing ways. Terrorists, Moussed, cross-world travel, and mathematical clues combine with excellent writing to make the perfect action-adventure spy story starring a female protagonist you’ll love!

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
My daughter found this book SO RELATABLE — just like she struggles with confidence and speaking up, so does the main character, Peppi. This well-done graphic novel tackles the issues of friendships and confidence, among other things. (So glad I’m not in middle school anymore.) We highly recommend this graphic novel.

Lightcasters by Janelle McCurdy 
After the Reaper King’s soldiers attack her forever dark city and capture her parents, Mia, her brother Lucas, plus two other friends flee the nefarious soldiers toward her grandparent’s in the capital city. To make it through the dangerous Nightmare Plains, Mia reluctantly bonds with not one but two wild umbras, creatures made of shadows and starlight, and learns she’s one of the mythical Lightkeepers, foretold to defeat the Reaper King. Unique, super cool world-building, fantastic storytelling, and perfect pacing, this is one book you won’t be able to put down!

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12) NEW KID

New Kid by Jerry Craft
Jordan’s parents make him go to a private school across town where he’s one of the only kids of color. Besides having the tricky business of navigating friendships, he now must deal with the two separate worlds of his neighborhood and his school along with racism and balancing academics with art. This book for 6th graders feels truthful, relatable, and important.


How to Stay Invisible by Maggie C. Rudd
A heartbreaking and hopeful survival story. Raymond survives on his own behind his middle school, foraging in dumpsters and fishing for food as he continues to attend school. When a playful coyote hurts hiRosie, he meets an old man who helps them both — which is especially significant because it’s over the Christmas break when he can’t get dumpster food from school. Raymond doesn’t want to tell sianyone, including the old man or his two friends at school, what he’s surviving, but the truth comes out when another boy discovers his campsite and a snake bite almost kills him. HOW TO STAY INVISIBLE is a powerful story of grit, survival, and longing for family. I couldn’t put it down.

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
Don’t miss this important book for 6th graders about self-worth, beauty, and colorism. Genesis hates that her skin is so dark; she knows her grandma and father hate that about her, too. In her self-loathing, she believes that if only she were lighter-skinned, she’d be pretty and have all the things that go along with being pretty. In this coming-of-age story, Genesis finds her voice both literally and metaphorically. It will start the conversation about who defines beauty and how we can do better individually and as a society.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
One of the BEST books ever; it’s so well-crafted with deep emotional resonance. Doug is a boy who is struggling to read with no support from his home life. Not only are his dad and older brother abusive but they all live in abject poverty. What saves Doug is his connection to a librarian who shows Doug Audubon’s bird paintings and how to draw. This eventually leads to reading and hope.

Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat
In a Thai-inspired world where caste determines your future, Sai’s new job as a mapmaker’s assistant is far beyond her station, which is why she can’t wait to join the Mapmaker on a sailing quest to find a new continent and maybe, find herself a new home. During the trip, the Mapmaker reveals his past hubris of mapping and claiming already-inhabited lands, which their war-hungry country would then use and destroy. Add in a stowaway, a mutiny, a shipwreck, and a gigantic creature,  this is a compelling middle grade book about colonialism, discovery, and humanity.

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12) PATINA

Patina by Jason Reynolds
Patina’s anger sometimes gets the best of her but running helps. She’s mad about her dad dying, her mom’s legs being amputated, and her new school. When her track coach makes Patty work with her teammates in a relay, she’s forced to rely on them. And that changes things. Patina is a beautiful coming-of-age story that will tug at your emotions.

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12) DUET FOR HOME

A Duet for Home by Karina Yan Glaser
A powerful, hopeful story with complex, three-dimensional characters about grief, family, community, and homelessness. When their family becomes homeless after her dad dies, June helps her little sister and non-speaking mom get settled at Huey House. Despite the shock of their new situation, June finds kindness from many of the people at the shelter. But when Mrs. G, their social worker gets fired for not agreeing to the city’s new homeless policies, June helps organize a protest and discovers that home isn’t a place and family isn’t always blood.

96 Miles by J.L. Esplin
An apocalyptic event has happened, there’s no electricity, the brothers are alone, and all their dad and their survival supplies were stolen at gunpoint. Now John and Stewart are on the road trying to get to a friend’s ranch for their supplies. It’s not going well–they’ve picked up a girl and her little brother, not to mention Stewart is fighting nonstop with John. If your middle school kids like survival stories, sibling stories, and adventure, this is a great choice.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Hands down, this is one of the best life-changing books for 6th graders. Narrated by Melody, we learn what it’s like for her, trapped in a body with cerebral palsy that doesn’t allow her to speak or take care of herself. No one, except her parents think that she’s smart. Then one day, she gets a chance to prove that she’s smart with a talking keyboard tablet. Heartbreaking. Real. Inspiring. Beautifully written. This is one of my favorite books for 6th graders on this list.

The Iron Trial(Magisterium) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Even though Callum tries to fail the entrance trials, he is admitted to the school his dad says is evil. But the Magisterium school is not as bad as he expects. Call learns about his elemental powers, he forges bonds of friendship with his teammates and rescues a wolf puppy who is infused with the evil magic of Chaos. I couldn’t put this book down — especially after the surprise twist about who Callum really is!! One of the best books for 6th graders.

Max in the House of Spies: A Tale of World War II written by Adam Gitwitz
Max is a super-smart Jewish boy living in Germany during World War II. He loves his family and tinkering with radios. Then, his parents send Max to safety on the Kindertransport. He’s joined by two personality-filled (grumpy) mythical creatures, a dybbuk and a kobold, living on his shoulders. Once in England, Max’s sole focus is returning to Germany to help his parents. His clever tactics impress the British spies, and the government agrees to recruit Max if he can pass their rigorous spy training. Brilliant, exciting, and funny!


Sara and the Search for Normal by Wesley King
Sara wants to be “normal” like other kids, so she makes rules for herself. Among other diagnoses, Sara is bipolar. She hates her out-of-control brain. Meanwhile, she begins group therapy and makes a friend; a friend who is covered in hidden bruises. Eventually, Sara begins to realize she wants to change her inner dialogue and accept herself. For readers, it’s a valuable opportunity to see inside Sara’s mind and how painful it is to have an invisible disease. 

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
FANTASY (series)
We loved this so much that we read it twice for a bedtime story! You’ll love the strong female main character, a princess named Cimorene, who doesn’t want to live the typical princess life. She leaves her home to apprentice herself to a dragon. Just for fun. No prince rescuing involved, thank you very much. Then she must help save her dragon from a group of evil wizards. We LOVE and highly recommend this dragon series. BOX SET

Lockwood & Co The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Set in Victorian London, we learn that dangerous ghosts and spirits are everywhere, but only kids can see them. Teens Lucy, Anthony, and George badly need money for their ghost agency, so they take an inadvisable, perilous job that may just be their last. Sixth graders (and I) love this series with its addicting, edge-of-your-seat writing.

Masterminds by Gordon Korman
SCI-FI (series)
Eli and his friends discover that their utopian town is a large-scale, illegal science experiment to determine if kids cloned from criminal masterminds can be good when raised in the right environment. Eli and his cloned friends know they can’t stay in their town of lies anymore but how can they escape when the minute they reach the border, they experience violent pain and guards surround them? And if they do escape, what will they next?

The Probability of Everything by Sarah Everett
(For this book review, I’m not going to tell you too much about the story– because it would spoil your reading experience.) Kemi adores her close-knit family, her African American artist mom, her baby sister, a baby sibling on the way, and most of all, her beloved Nigerian dad. When an asteroid threatens everyone on Earth with imminent death, Kemi and her family leave for her cousins’ house, where she starts a time capsule. The exceptional storytelling is emotional (I cried SO MUCH) and important with themes of family, racism, and values. A must-read, must-experience-for-yourself-kind-of book.

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12)

Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber
Sarah’s mom’s dysfunctional relationship with food is affecting Sarah– who now thinks that her slowness in basketball is related to eating too much or too many “unhealthy” foods, instead of being from the normal growing pains of puberty. She’s confused, starving herself, and stressed out. Finally, a friend pushes Sarah to get help…and, help is just what Sarah needs to understand the truth about her body, what health truly is, and how her mom’s disordered eating has affected her.

The Liar’s Society written by Alyson Gerber
Wetherby is a girl whose sailing skills land her a scholarship at the prestigious Boston School, the school her deceased father attended Boston School. But she gets in on a lie. At the school, Jack is a rich kid whose driven, perfectionist father owns everything, including an island. He and Weatherby get paired up in a sailing team. Both kids are invited to be part of a secret society, which turns out to be made up of other kids who’ve lied, cheated, and stolen, like Jack and Wetherby. Is it the school’s infamous secret society? Excellent pacing, a compelling story, and rising tension make this a page-turner filled with secrets, truths, and danger. A must-read!

Medusa (The Myth of Monsters, 1) written by Katherine Marsh
Ava and her brother are forced to attend a special boarding school, Accademia del Forte, for descendants of the Greek monsters meant to reform them and the other monstrous students. When the school takes away Ava’s new friend Fia’s voice, Ava, a descendant of Medusa, starts to question who the monsters really are…and if the stories of the gods and goddesses are true. To help her friend Fia get back her voice, Ava and their fury friend Arnold travel to meet Medusa, then Hecate, Hestia, and Metis. They learn that Zeus retold the stories to favor him and to oppress powerful women. A twisty, exciting feminist mythological adventure.


A Perfect Mistake by Melanie Conklin
This is a great read for anyone who likes mystery, adventure, and well-developed, interesting characters. Max is living with the tragic aftermath of a night out that left one of his best friends in a coma. Initially, Max doesn’t want to think about what happened when he snuck out to the Res because he left before his friends did. While he’s trying to navigate school with ADHD and being exceptionally tall, Max also decides he must find out what happened to his friend. And he and a new friend named Sam discover that more than one person is lying.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
A Newbery Honor winner!!! Ada and her brother escape their mother’s abuse when the London children are evacuated during WWII and go to live with a grieving woman in a small country town. It’s difficult for both the woman and children to trust each other but slowly the trust grows. As it does, all three regain something lost — hope and love. I can’t recommend this book enough, it will touch your heart at such a deep level.  One of the best books for 6th graders.

Framed! A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery by James Ponti
Captivating from the first page, 12- year-old Florian Bates uses his brilliant, observing brain to implement T.O.A.S.T. (the Theory of All Small Things) to notice things that others have missed. Including the FBI when there’s an art heist at the museum his mother works at. The FBI hires him to help unravel a mysterious art heist which he does with the help of his best friend, Margaret. Fast-paced and interesting.

Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation by Sylvia Liu
In a world where corporations control everything, at age 13, kids get “meshed” into the multiweb. Hana meets a mysterious hacker who makes her see that getting meshed might not be good. When Hana’s school friends get sicker and sicker, Hana discovers that someone is using kids as human experiments. Even worse, her mom is involved in it. With the help of a wise old man, two friends, and her sister, they work together to help the sick students and stop the corporation’s nefarious plans.

Edge of Extinction The Ark Plan by Laura Martin
It’s a dangerous world where cloned dinosaurs have taken over above ground. Sky and her fellow humans live belowground with Noah, their supreme ruler. Sky leaves the underground city to find her missing dad. Barely outside a day, she and her friend Shawn meet a human boy who lives in treetop enclaves. But Noah’s soldiers attack, and Sky realizes that everything she believed about Noah is wrong. Mesmerizing and exciting!

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12) SONG FOR A WHALE

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
Iris is a lonely Deaf girl who feels alone at her school and in her immediate family. She identifies with Blue 55, the loneliest whale in the world whose song is at a different hertz than other whales. Iris uses her compassionate heart, intelligence, and tinkering skills to write and record a whale song that Blue 55 will hear so he’ll know that he’s not alone. Her subsequent adventure is profoundly life-changing. This is a heartening, poignant story that gives readers insight Deaf children, the richness of Deaf culture, and the life-changing power of compassion.

Legend of the Dream Giants by Dustin Hansen 
A beautifully crafted story about a young, naive giant named Berg who doesn’t want to be like the monstrous Ünhold giant. But Berg is manipulated and becomes a prisoner. His friend Anya tries to help Berg see what’s really happening, but Berg believes the human’s lies until tragedy strikes. This is a story about trust, hope, belonging, friendship, and truth.

Allies by Alan Gratz
Written from many different voices about one day in history, readers easily can see the massive amount of cooperation, planning, and troops from different countries involved in D-Day (when the Allies invaded France at Normandy.) We hear from an American teenage soldier who was born in Germany, a French Algerian girl whose mom is a recently captured spy,  a Canadian paratrooper who lands in the wrong spot, and an American black medic. It’s violent, with terrible losses, racism, and injuries, but the fighters persist despite everything to accomplish their goal — to take back the area for the Allies. 

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day
An important, heartfelt story about growing up, family, and finding your identity in the context of adoption, the historical maltreatment of Native Americans, and the mystery of your own heritage. When Edie unexpectedly finds a box of photos and letters from the woman she suspects was her mom’s birth mother, it prompts a journey to discover the truth of her Native heritage. 

Beneath the Swirling Sky (The Restorationists) written by Carolyn Leiloglou, illustrated by Vivienne To 
Vincent learns his mom’s greatest secret when his little sister Lili wanders INTO a painting–and doesn’t come out! His cousin Georgia leads him through paintings, corridors, and museums to find Lili. At the same time, she explains their family’s talent –they travel into paintings to protect the art from other nefarious travelers. They track Lili to where she’s been kidnapped by a mysterious Lady. But they are captured, too. Forced to attend the Lady’s training, it becomes clear that the Lady is using stolen children and art to gain power and wealth. Even still, Vincent never expects the horrifying truth of who the Lady really is! Fast-paced and exciting with unique world-building, this art-filled, faith-implied, illustrated adventure will captivate readers from cover to cover.

Dead City by James Ponti
Molly’s recruited to hunt zombies in New York City, just like her mother, who is dead. Or is mom actually a zombie? And why is she trying to contact Molly? This is a terrific action-adventure-mystery book series for 6th graders with a zombie focus.

The Supervillain’s Guide to Being a Fat Kid by Matt Wallace
An outstanding, surprisingly philosophical, poignant story about dealing with bullies, growing in confidence, and the complexities of human beings. Matt doesn’t think he can survive 3 more years of middle school bullying so he writes supervillain Master Plan who is also a “gentleman of size”, asking for help. Surprisingly, Master Plan emails back with helpful, sage advice but is Master Plan actually looking out for Max or for himself?

The Fog Diver by Joel Ross
DYSTOPIAN (series)
The world is covered by a deadly “fog” that kills humans, so the humans live only on the highest mountain peaks. Our heroes, a band of scavenging orphans, are trying to find something in the world below that they can sell in order to travel to another city where they can treat the cloud sickness of their beloved mother figure. Tweens reading this book will love the suspense, the fascinating world, the characters, and the happily ever after. 

Anyone But Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp
HUMOR (series)
I read many parts out loud to my kids while I was reading this book because they were just so funny!! Now my kids are addicted to this series, too and even talk about it as one of their favorite years later. Quirky but lovable Ivy’s adventures involve a sinister ghost, a mystical jewel, and a surprising destiny.

The Outcasts: Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan
6th graders love this well-written book series of a young, fatherless boy named Hal whose mom was an Araluen slave. To survive the town’s prejudice against him, he is helped by another outcast, his dead father’s former shipmate, a one-armed recovering drunk. When it’s time for his Brotherband training, he becomes the leader of a rag-tag group of boys. They’ll compete against better, stronger teams who don’t always play fair. The stakes are high and Hal must win even with his group of misfits.

Voyage of the Sparrowhawk by Natasha Farrant
If you want a new favorite warm-hearted adventure with brave kids, dogs, and a happy ending, you don’t want to miss this captivating and beautiful story. The war has made Ben an orphan –again. All that he has left are his dog and his dad’s boat, the Sparrowhawk. When a policeman gets suspicious of Ben’s living situation and his new friend, Lotti’s abusive guardians try to kill her rescue dog, the two friends set off on the boat for France to find Ben’s missing older brother. The boat isn’t meant for a channel crossing but the two kids are determined to make it work…but it won’t be easy. Nor will it be easy to find Ben’s missing brother in a country decimated by war.

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman
In Skandar’s world with bloodthirsty unicorns and unicorn riders, he’s denied as a unicorn rider until a mysterious woman sneaks him in. He learns he and his unicorn have the forbidden 5th spirit element like the evil Weaver who has been wreaking destruction and stealing unicorns. His new friends help him hide the magic and control his unicorn, who hates pretending to be a water elemental. But he and his unicorn’s elemental magic may be the only ones who can stop the Weaver.

Refugee by Alan Gratz
Follow three distinct, alternating stories about being displaced from your country, on the run, and in danger. First is a young Jewish boy who escapes from Nazi Germany on a ship to Cuba, only to be turned away from the Cuban port and sent back to Europe. Next is a Cuban girl in the 1990s who, with her family and neighbors, flees in a homemade raft to the United States at great peril. Last is a Syrian boy whose home is bombed in a country at war. He and his family travel a great distance to find a country that will allow them shelter. Gatz skillfully connects all three stories with a satisfying, realistic conclusion.

dystopian books for middle grade readers ESCAPE FROM ATLANTIS

Escape from Atlantis by Kate O’Hearn
Don’t miss this wildly inventive, exciting, and thought-provoking adventure. Riley, her dad, her cousin, and her aunt are sailing in the Bermuda Triangle when they’re attacked by a leviathan. Riley and her unpleasant cousin, Alfie, wake up on an island with overly friendly, rule-centered people including half-animal people. They soon learn the sinister truth of the rule-centric community and are determined to escape.


Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
ADVENTURE (series)
Kyle and a few classmates win a sleepover at the new town newly created library by game-creator Mr. Lemoncello. The silly Mr. Lemoncello devises a fun way to get OUT of the library — you can only get out if you solve the puzzles around the entire library. Will the kids work together or will it be every child for himself? BOX SET

Blended by Sharon Draper
Isabella spends one week with her dad and his girlfriend, the next week with her mom and her boyfriend, and she hates it. She feels like nowhere is home, she’s always visiting. And her parents, one who is white and one who is black, don’t get along. Tensions between the families get worse when both parents decide to remarry — on the same date. Add to this hurtful race issues like when she and her stepbrother are pulled over because he’s Black. This middle grade book captures Isabella’s feelings as she searches for who she is in her own story.

The Monster Missions by Laura Martin 
If your tweens like adventure, fast-paced action, cool world-building, and heroic kids, then give them this book next! In a post-apocalyptic world covered by water, Berkly rescues her ship from a sea monster and is taken to a mysterious submarine to hunt monsters. When their sub is hijacked by pirates, she uses the sea creatures in the aquarium tanks to stop them.

Rump by Liesl Shurtliff
In this powerful story from Rumplestiltskin’s perspective, you’ll read how Rump discovers who he is and grows into his potential. It takes some work, but Rump learns he’s trapped in his mom’s magical “rumple” which requires him to make straw into gold for any trade that another person offers. This is what the miller takes advantage of, leaving Rump without options or any control. With the help of his troll friends, his friend Red, and his aunts, Rump finds a way to stop the magical curse and give the queen back her child.


Black Brother Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Twins with very different skin colors, one whiter and one darker, are treated differently, most noticeable at their school. Donte is unfairly accused of something and when he tries to defend himself, the police are called, and he’s suspended from school. Not to mention, a popular guy at his school calls Donte “black brother” because he’s darker than his twin, Trey. Donte starts fencing to get revenge but as he trains, he finds that he’s smart, good at fencing, and courageous. If you think the world still isn’t racist and colorist, read this compelling story, and you’ll see that we still have a long way to go.

Greetings From Witness Protection by Jake Burt
A winsome story of adventure and finding where you belong. Nicki leaves the group home to live with a family in the witness protection program. She likes her newest foster family and takes her role seriously. She must stay vigilant against potential threats, not stand out, and try to keep her kleptomania under control. As she grows closer to her new family, both their past and hers catch up to them.


Whale of the Wild by Rosanne Parry, illustrated by Lindsay Moore
Beautiful, this story about two orca siblings separated from their families, trying to find food and their seasonal home, is filled with adventure and danger and suspense. After her mother loses a calf, Vega leaves her pod to bury her little sister, her brother chasing after her. Then, a Tsunami hits and they both are lost from their pod. Vega, a stranger, and her little brother travel together toward recognizable landscapes and hopefully, food. As they journey, they meet other orca pods with different customs and who eat different foods, as well as other sea creatures. 

Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan
Get ready for action, intrigue, plot twists, and super-cool technology in the book for 6th graders! Ana’s freshman class at her specialized marine and naval academy are the only survivors after the academy is blown up. As the class races to escape on a ship, their chaperone reveals that Jules Verne’s novels based on Captain Nemo are mostly true and Ana’s the only surviving relative of Captain Nemo. They must thwart the first of many attacks and then evade the enemies to find Nemo’s infamous ship, the Nautilus. 

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus
An absolutely wonderful, heartwarming historical fiction story with close-knit siblings who stick together and eventually find their forever home. Evacuated from London during WWII these siblings need to find a new home. Unfortunately, their placements are horrid. It’s only the library and the kind librarian who help them survive the bullying and hunger. Unfortunately, the librarian is deemed “unsuitable” to be their foster mother since her missing husband is German. When things go from bad to worse in their latest home, can the children fight for a home with the librarian no matter what the town thinks?

The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
While on a class trip to Washington D.C., Wyatt and his best friend, Matt, are positive they’ve discovered a plot to blow up the White House. Wyatt’s crush, Suzanna, helps the friends make a plan, and as you can imagine, disaster and humor strike as the kids try to stop the bombing.

Ali Cross by James Patterson
If you want an enthralling adventure & mystery that you can’t put down, read this one next. It’s Christmas Eve and Ali’s friend Gabe is missing, his FBI agent dad is falsely accused of murdering an old man, and someone broke into their house while they were at church and stole his dad’s service weapon. Ali knows he has to try to fix things, starting by finding his friend Gabe. Don’t miss book two, Like Father, Like Son.

Jinxed by Amy McCulloch
Tech company MONCHA makes computerized pets called bakus that act like smartphones and computers. Lacey finds an unusual, half-destroyed cat baku and rebuilds it using a 3D printer and found parts. She starts competing with other kids at her prestigious school in the battle of the bakus. When Jinx doesn’t follow the rules, it leads to two bad things — his capture and the discovery of a sinister truth about the MONCHA company. Fantastic, fast-paced, and thought-provoking.

The Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling
Written in verse, this is a heart-wrenching, heart-stopping, suspenseful adventure about Nora and her dad’s climb into a Sonoran Desert canyon for the first time in the year since Nora’s mom died. Just as Nora tells her father she hates him, a flash flood careens through the canyon, carrying her father and their supplies away. Alone and terrified, Nora forces herself to find shelter and keep searching for her father, even with the venom from a scorpion bite slowing her down.

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
If your child hasn’t learned about Norse mythology, this will be a great (short) intro! To end the long winter, Odd must journey to find Asgard, a city under siege from the Frost Giants. A wonderful, nail-biting adventure and a great book to read for 6th graders.

A Tale of Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
FANTASY (series)
Bloody and macabre, Hansel and Gretel abandon their terrible parents in order to find better ones –ones that won’t try to kill them. The narrator warns us of the bloody things to come. While he’s sometimes distracting, for the most part, his snarky voice kept me from getting too freaked out by the gruesome parts. Once in the wild forest, Hansel transforms into a ravenous, hunter-beast, and Gretel continues on her own. 

The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams written by Mindy Thompson
In this historical time-travel story, Poppy’s family’s magical bookshop is open to anyone from any time period if they need it! But it’s losing its magic. Dark creeps in, influencing the customers with anger and lies. Even worse, Poppy’s brother, Al, in his grief over his best friend’s death in WWII, is taken over by the Dark. And Papa is very sick. Poppy must save both the shop and her brother, but how? I loved this sweet, exciting, and unique story, and so will anyone who loves bookstores, stories with themes of good vs. evil, family, and awesome heroes.

Brothers Keeper by Julie Lee
Based on her grandmother’s escape from North Korea, this historical fiction story is a powerful read that captures the fearful culture of North Korea, the marginalization of females, and the bond between siblings. As war erupts between North and South Korea, Sora and her family decide to flee from North Korea while they still have a chance. As they continue south, they experience death, kidnapping, starvation, killings, and winter’s brutal cold with the Red Army marching right behind them. Amazingly, the two siblings make it south, where they’re reunited with their family.

Across the Desert by Dusti Bowling 
Jolene is a brave girl who has been secretly dealing with her mother’s opioid addiction and makes a daring (and foolheartedly) trek to the desert to rescue her only friend. She steals her mom’s phone and credit card and takes the bus as close as she can to Addie’s location, planning to walk to find Addie. On the bus, she meets a kind and helpful teenager named Marty who, despite Jolene’s reluctance and mistrust, helps Jolene. The story is about trust, relationships, boundaries, addiction, survival, and family.

Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick
When 7th grade Frankie’s former best friend, Colette, vanishes, Frankie begins to look for clues on her own. As she does, we see how complicated it is to be in her brain. Loud noises, changes, touch, and so many things affect her intensely. Frankie realizes that Colette was trying to finish the list of dares that they made up when they were younger. The mystery of Colette’s whereabouts keeps every moment of the story suspenseful. It’s a brilliant, touching first-person story that gives us insights into a neurodivergent character’s brain in a suspenseful mystery story.

To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson
MYSTERY (series)
Someone is trying to frame Jackson for a prank he didn’t even commit — and they’re doing a great job of it! It will take months to prove the video is falsified and by then Jackson will have missed the robot contest due to his punishment. Jackson and his friends are determined to prove their innocence but it won’t be easy. This is a great adventure filled with twists and turns.

When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler
Three friends in Vienna, Leo, Max, and Elsa, become separated by war, location, and ideology. Leo and Elsa are Jewish, so their path includes ghetto housing, escape, and prison camp. But, Max is not Jewish and to gain the approval of his brutal Nazi father, he pursues Nazi beliefs, despite the nagging voice that reminds him that his friends weren’t “dogs” or less than human. The story’s conclusion weaves together their stories in a heartbreaking, beautiful ending that will leave you with a lot to discuss humanity, morality, hope, and love.

Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties by Kellye Crocker
I loved this book so much that I read it in one sitting! Ava’s dad surprises her with a visit to his girlfriend in the mountains of Colorado. This is a big problem for Ava because 1) a GIRLFRIEND? and 2) the mountains are DANGEROUS! (Ava knows!) Even though the Girlfriend’s daughter Z is nice, Ava wants to go home, so she sabotages the trip. But they don’t go home and Ava ends up hurting her new friend Z and her new ally, the Girlfriend, who is keeping a big secret. This is an emotional, multi-layered story of change, family, growing up, and living with anxiety with a main character you will adore.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, illustrated by Laura Park
What a totally hilarious premise paired with fantastic writing! Rafe’s goal in middle school is to break every single rule. You can imagine how his plan will go, right? Filled with cartoon-like illustrations, this good book for 6th graders is going to crack you up and be a hit with 6th grade kids.

Farther Than the Moon by Lindsay Lackey
Houston wants to find a way for his brother Robbie to go to space even though there’s never been an astronaut with CP. At space camp, he meets his astronaut grandfather for the first time –and is rejected. Plus, he’s fighting with his fellow crewmates. Then, Houston gets surprising advice from the person he least expects–about taking responsibility for his actions and putting the crew first. When he apologizes to his crew, it changes everything for the better. This storhelps us see someone as MORE than their disability and is filled with wisdom, heartfelt writing, and relatable and interesting characters.


The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart
9-year-old Nicholas Benedict, a genius orphan with narcolepsy, lives in a poorly run orphanage where he’s maltreated and bullied. In this prequel to the series, Nicholas discovers there’s a treasure somewhere in the orphanage. While he and his friend search, he finds a way to improve life for all the kids living there. Boxed set here.

Sweep by Jonathan Auxier
Set in Victorian London, this is a beautiful, bittersweet story about a young girl and her protector golem. To survive, Nan works for a cruel chimney sweep who uses children to make himself richer. When another sweep tries to burn Nan alive, a charcoal golem, formerly a piece of charcoal left to her by Sweep, emerges to save her. She and her growing protector golem, Char, find a new place to live but must stay vigilant so her old master doesn’t find them. On their own, they are helped by a street boy and a kind Jewish teacher.

A Seed in the Sun by Aida Salazar 
A tender and poignant middle-grade novel in verse showing an important time in history, the power of collective voices against injustices, and a girl finding her strength. Lula’s family are migrant workers. When Lula’s mom gets sick from pesticides, they can only get her medical care if they join the worker strikes started by Phillipino migrant workers. Eventually, her violent dad is convinced to join the strike which transforms their family, gives the girls hope, and helps Lula’s mom get health care.

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
Written in a diary as letters to her Mama, Nisha shares how her life is turned upside down when the British rule of India ends in 1947, splitting the country into two — the Muslim north where she lives becomes Pakistan and the Hindu south remains India. Even though Nisha’s mom was Muslim, Nisha, her brother, her doctor Papa and her grandmother are forced to leave their home in the north because they are Hindu. There’s violence everywhere; nowhere is safe, not even the trains. It’s a harrowing journey and confusing time. One of the best books for 6th graders to teach about this historical time.

All of Me by Chris Baron
Ari’s lonely since his dad left, and he’s bullied for being fat and Jewish. Ari hates being fat so much that one day, he hurts himself. So, his mom helps him start a diet which works to help him lose weight –but it doesn’t fix everything. As Ari grows into himself, he is supported by a kind rabbi who accepts him unconditionally offering patience and wisdom. Soon, Ari realizes that he’s more than his weight. This is a moving and powerful story with heart and hope.

100 Best Books for 6th Graders (Age 11 – 12) PIPPA PARK

Pippa Park Raises Her Game by Erin Yun
Korean-American Pippa is a great basketball player but her guardian older sister won’t let her play unless her grades improve. Math tutoring by a cute, rich boy leads to a scholarship at a prestigious private school and Pippa uses the new school to reinvent herself, hiding her background from the popular kids (not wealthy, from a rival middle school.) Ultimately, Pippa decides not to be ashamed of her working-class family, her culture, or her friends. 

Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts by Erika Lewis
Fast-paced with Celtic mythology, read about a foster child attending a magical school and searching for answers about her mysterious heritage. Kelcie is a foster kid raised in the human world. At the Academy, she discovers that she’s a mistrusted elemental called a Saiga, a mistrusted elemental, and finds friends who help her learn about her unique powers. They’ll also fight the monsters who continue to attack Kelcie. 

Skyborn Sparrow Rising by Jessica Khoury
FANTASY (series)
Ellie is an orphan Sparrow girl in a world of avian-human caste system who flees the orphanage so she can compete for a coveted spot in the knight training school. She travels with a group of thieves and their friendship and adventures open her eyes to who is actually honorable and heroic. She also discovers that the stolen gargol eye has powerful healing properties. This fantasy adventure checks all the boxes with a courageous main character and complicated companions, an interesting world, and lots of surprises.

Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood
Thinking Hitler will invade England next, Ken’s family sends him to safety in Canada. But, Ken’s ship is torpedoed and sunk only days into the journey. Written in verse, this is a moving account of bravery as Ken, several other kids, a priest, the ship’s only woman, and members of the crew spend weeks adrift at sea in an ill-stocked lifeboat. You’ll read about their swollen feet, dehydration, and starvation as well as the stories and songs that helped keep the kids distracted and somewhat hopeful. Ultimately, you’ll be left with a sense of amazement at the resiliency of the human spirit. 

The Serpent’s Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1) by Sayantani Dasgupta
This story pulls you in from the first page. Kiranmala discovers on her 12th birthday that she’s a princess from another realm and her parents are trapped in a black hole type place. But there’s a lot more she’ll learn — like who her real parents are (yikes!) and that demons can be your friends. The prince’s demon grandma, Ai-Ma, is my FAVORITE character. She says things like “Be good, sweet beetle-dung toadstools.” Okay, Kiranmala’s parents are super awesome, too. You’ll love every second of this entertaining, Indian mythology adventure.

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
FANTASY (series)
I stayed up all night to finish this book –it was fantastic! Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. And Sophie has a secret; she’s a Telepath and not human. She must leave the human world for the Elvin world where she’ll face danger from both worlds. Her only hope is to regain the memories about her past.


Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
A funny but poignant story of middle-school angst and discovery! Unpopular Dwight can make origami Star Wars characters. When his puppet of Yoda comes to life, just like Yoda, the origami Yoda is wise and helpful during the many trials of Dwight’s middle school experience.

Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo
Get ready for an exciting adventure filled with Latin American and Spanish mythology! This story is the perfect balance of action, dialogue, & description interspersed with Spanish words and phrases. Charlie Hernández’s house burns down, his parents go missing, and he is sent to a foster home. But it’s when he grows HORNS, the WINGS, and meets the MYTHS in real life — like calacas, mukis, and El Justo Juez — that he’s really freaked out. Fortunately, a  persistent classmate Violet Rey (also his crush) helps Charlie follow the clues to find out what happened to his parents — and discover what it has to do with La Mano Peluda and the prophesied Morphling who is meant to save the world.

Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Nielsen deftly captures the history of Lithuania’s book smugglers as well as the fundamental truth that books give readers freedom from oppression; books keep alive a language, culture, and identity, no matter how hard someone tries to erase it. Audra doesn’t know her parents are book smugglers until they are arrested by the Cossacks. She flees to their contact’s house, not wanting anything to do with smuggling books. Part of her reluctance is because she herself can’t read or write but she slowly learns and develops a passion for stories. Not only that, she became a clever smuggler.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
SCI-FI (series)
I’ve read this book so many times, I can’t count — many times with my classes as a read aloud — and every time it’s just as fantastic. (That doesn’t always happen with books.) A Wrinkle in Time is a remarkable, well-written adventure in space that deals with the overarching theme of good vs. evil. Meg and her brother, Charles Wallace, and friend, Calvin, set off to find her scientist father who disappeared while researching tesseracts.

The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, illustrated by Katie Harnett
Beautiful storytelling! Grisha is a dragon who spends a few hundred years enchanted as a teapot. Once he’s a dragon again, he meets a lonely girl whose first and only friend is him. Grisha slowly begins to remember that an evil wizard has imprisoned other dragons. He and Maggie decide to find the missing dragons and free them— no matter the cost. And there will be a cost. The ending is HEARTBREAKING but so, so good.

Running Out of Night by Sharon Lovejoy
I highly recommend this powerful story of two maltreated girls who hope for a better future. The narrator is a white girl in the south who is nothing more than a slave to her family, she doesn’t even have a name. She meets and joins a runaway slave who is escaping the horrific brutality of slavery and separation from her family. Together they find kindness and hope with a Quaker family.

The Adventurers Guild by Zach Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos
Get ready for your new favorite middle grade fantasy adventure series. Zed and Brock don’t want to be chosen for the Adventurers Guild. Nobody does. Unlike the mages or merchants guild, the adventurers must leave the safety of their walled city to fight the monsters who live on the outside. Unfortunately, Zed and Brock are picked as Adventurers. And before they can finish training, Zed, Brock, and others are sent outside the city on a fact-finding mission that uncovers treachery, fiendish beasts, and Zed’s untapped magic. Imaginative world-building, intriguing plot twists, and complex characters kept me enthralled from page one!

Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas
Bree and her dad move to Florida, where she has to take Swim 101 at school. But she ditches because she can’t swim and is afraid. luckily, her neighbor and babysitter is a former swim team captain, and she teaches Bree how to swim. When Bree accidentally makes the swim team, she learns about teamwork and friendship. This is a wonderful feel-good story about failure, perseverance, and teamwork.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
This book brilliantly addresses the very real issue of police violence against black children, but it does not vilify or stereotype. The author shows us the complexity of issues and the humanity of a police officer from the perspective of his daughter. After Jerome is shot by her father, he becomes a ghost. Sarah is the only one who can see and talk to him. Except for the other ghost boys who he’ll find out were also killed in racially motivated violence. 

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
The compelling, well-written story jumps into the action immediately when Nizhoni, from the Diné (Navajo) people, sees a monster (disguised as a human) at her basketball game. Making matters worse, it’s her dad’s new boss who kidnaps her dad and wants her little brother, too. She escapes with her brother and best friend to ask the Spider Woman for help, learning that she and her brothers are the descendants of the Hero Twins. Her journey challenges her with heroic trials to meet the Sun who will give her weapons to fight the monsters and culminating in a fierce battle between the good guys and the monsters. 


The Shape of Time (Rymworld Arcana) by Ryan Calejo
Our hero, Antares, is kidnapped and taken to a prison in another world. He meets two other prisoners who explain that his world is flat and surrounded by a world outside the edges called Rymworld. Rymworld is in peril from a group of mystics who seek to control time. Antares escapes prison with his friend, Magdavellía, but they’re almost immediately kidnapped AGAIN by space pirate aliens. Encountering one problem after another, the friends race to find the mysterious star artifact and, possibly, Antares’ missing parents. Detailed, creative world-building, this is a thrilling adventure that many kids will love.

Brick Dust and Bones by M.R. Forunet 
Marius Grey is a 12-year-old Cajun Cemetery Boy and student. But he’s also working nights as a monster hunter to earn mystic coins for a really important spell that will bring his mother back to life…and time is running out. In desperation, Marius decides to hunt one of the most dangerous monsters in the swamp, a rougarou, even though his only friend, a monstrous mermaid, doesn’t want Marius to risk his life. The story is compelling and entertaining, with a heroic main character who loves his mom more than anything. You won’t be able to put this one down!

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
Set in India, Viji and her little sister Rukku run away from an abusive father and sick mother. They meet two friendly brothers and join them under a bridge, scrabbling to survive by collecting trash. Unfortunately, Rukku gets a terrible cough and fever, and what happens next will almost destroy Viji. Ultimately, it is the kindness of her new family that helps her see more in the future than misery. It’s an honest, eye-opening story that reveals the plight of many homeless children in India and yet, finds a way to be hopeful, too.

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Amal’s life is turned upside down when she offends a regional Pakistani overlord and is forced to leave her home and school to work in his home as a servant — indefinitely. She finds her inner strength and fights back, freeing herself and the other household slaves. The author deftly sets the scene of rural Pakistan. Readers will feel transported, feel the injustice, and cheer for Amal’s bravery.

Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban
It would be hard as an author not to vilify this country for sending thousands of Japanese Americans to prison camps. But this author doesn’t. She just skillfully shares the evocative story of 10-year-old Manami of Washington State, who is sent with her family to a dusty camp, leaving behind her beloved dog, Yujiin, and everything else they owned. Devastated, Manami stops speaking. Her story is painful, sprinkled with hope, and all too real. Please read this with your kids– it’s important.


Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
Rose Lee Carter is a girl who is raised by her grandma and father, works in the cotton fields, and is best friends with the preacher’s son. She dreams of leaving Mississippi for the north like her mom and aunt, especially after the white men who killed Emmett Till are found not guilty in a real-life historical trial.

Do graphic novels count as good books for 6th graders?

Yes! Reading graphic novels requires literacy skills and strategies including sequencing, drawing inferences, and predicting. The graphic novels of today are fully developed narrative stories with a story arc and complex characters. Reading books like graphic novels counts as reading books!

What are good books for a 6th grade book club?

Go to this list of books to find recommendations for your book club. That being said, any book on this list that interests your child or student can be good to read and discuss.

What book from this list should tweens read first?

Whatever looks interesting to your readers should be the book they read. There’s something for everyone on this book list.

best books for 6th graders

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