NonFiction Books for 11-Year-Olds (6th Grade)
It’s Up to You, Abe Lincoln: How I Made the Biggest Decisions of My Life by Tom & Leila Hirschfeld
Written in the second tense “you,” this book puts you squarely in the driver’s seat as Abe Lincoln. It describes your life starting from childhood with photos, fun facts, and quizzes of “What Would You Do?” For example, when you’re considering marrying Mary What Do You Do? You’ll be given a list of four choices, each with elaboration. The choices, in this case, are: A. Break up with Mary. B. Date other women. C. Marry fast, before your feet get even colder. D. Consult a pastor. Then, you’ll read the reveal — what choice you made. (A. Break up with Mary.) The writing flows smoothly, the layout is eye-catching, and the information is interesting and historically important.
Beavers: The Superpower Field Guides by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Nicholas John Frith
Meet Elmer who, like other beavers, has superpowers such as #1 Chainsaw Teeth or #2 Unstoppable Fur or #3 Ever-Toiling Tail. Each of the 10 superpower sections is fact-filled, funny, and illustrated. After you zip through this engaging nonfiction book, Elmer will be your new favorite kind of animal — and you’ll be a beaver expert, too. Here’s an example of the kid-friendly writing: “Once the lodge is finished, Elmer and Irma begin chewing on an opening underwater. They keep chewing upward until they are above the water level. Then they chew out one or two large rooms inside the lodge. One to sleep in and one for birthday parties and other special events. (That’s not true, but I like the idea of beavers wearing party hats.)” Excellent, engaging writing — I am looking forward to more books in this new 2018 nonfiction early chapter book series.
Two Truths and a Lieby Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Lisa K. Weber
This book is GENIUS! It’s an impressive dare really for kids to read and figure out what is true and what is a lie. Know that readers will not just be reading and thinking deeply, but they’ll also doing research while they’re immersed in the book… (Because 11 year old readers must know if a prehistoric dinosaur named “Bambi” exists, if the slyrking will take over your picnic, or if doctors really can implant a stimoceiver in the brain to control your behavior.)
Buy The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome by Jonathan W. Stokes
The Thrifty Guides Handbooks for Time Travelers are irresistible, wildly imaginative romps through history. These books are filled with tongue and cheek hilarity while also being boldly informative about their historical topics. If Ancient Rome is your preferred destination, you’ll need your handy handbook close by to make sure you survive — which seems to be unlikely since, since as the book says, “Rome is an absolute deathtrap.” Throughout these thrifty travel guides, you’ll read letters from your “Corporate Overlord at Time Corp“. These, as you may expect, are hilarious!
The guides are published by Time Corp in the year 2164 to help vacationing tourists with the most practical information for their time travel trips. Information such as:
- Where to find a decent hotel room
- How to dress (Ancient fashions are tricky — read the guide because you don’t wear a candy corn hat when you’re supposed to wear a tricorne hat! And if you’re in Rome, here’s a helpful tip: “While any chump can wear a tunic, only free Roman citizens are allowed to wear togas… If you think you can pass as a citizen and you’re planning to wear a toga, just know that it’s been bleached white using stale urine.“)
- What’s going on when you arrive
- Who is important
- Helpful hints (“What to Do If You Are Enslaved in Rome“)
- Who to take out to lunch
- Pranks to pull (“Install a metal detector at the Roman Senate in 44 BC and you can completely prevent Caesar’s assassination by knife-wielding Senators. Caesar will feel grateful, and it doesn’t hurt to have the most powerful man in the world as your new best friend.“)
- Charts (“Cleopatra’s Perfectly Normal Family Tree“)
(“All the Land Caesar Conquers in Europe, 58 – 51 BC”)
How to Be a Scientist (DK) by Steve Mould
Why Is Art Full of Naked People? by Susie Hodge
My 11-year-old, artistically-inclined daughter thinks this is the BEST book! In fact, she says it’s been much better than this year’s not-so-great art teacher at her school. You’ll find out so many useful facts to questions your probably didn’t even know you had such as: Why is everything blurry? Do artists copy each other? Why is art so expensive? This book takes common kid questions and helps children understand and appreciate art in a deeper way. Very interesting!! I’m glad we own it.
Girls Think of Everything Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
I really loved this expanded and revised edition because Melissa Sweet’s design and illustrations make the book so special. The author writes the biographies like a fictional narrative story with action and suspense but it’s all true. These biographies are about women who solved problems by inventing the solution. What great models for entrepreneurs, inventors, and having a growth mindset.
Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan, illustrated by John Rocco
My kids can’t stop reading and rereading this enormous volume of Greek myths, retold Riordan style — I’m talking laugh-out-loud style. Remember all the hilarious chapter titles in Riordan’s Percy Jackson books? And the witty, sarcastic voice of Percy? Yup. All here. 11-year-olds will GET this humor.
Totally Amazing Facts About Military Vehicles by Cari Meister
Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl
Once I started reading these biographies (which I flipped and read in random order), I got very hooked. Hopefully this book will inspire kids as much as it did me. Plus, it’s really interesting to read about other people, ordinary people who did amazing things.
National Geographic Why’d They Wear That: Fashion as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee
Engrossing from front to back. Albee writes fantastic chapter titles and headings: (Notice a theme? Nonfiction is getting GOOD, people!) “Caulk like an Egyptian,” “Putting the “Protest” in Protestant,” and “Hazardous Hemlines.” The book is formatted so that you can pick and choose interesting sections such as Corsets, Dressed to Compress because the corset photo is so intriguing or the inset of information has such a tantalizing title, “Why Did Napoleon Always Have His Hand in His Coat?”
The Book of Heroines by Stephanie Warren Drimmer
Totally Wacky Facts About History by Cari Meister
This reminds me of the Strange But True books only about history and from a different publisher. And, I LOVE IT! This little book makes history interesting to kids — it’s filled with colorful photos and illustrations and yes, wacky facts. Here are a few to get you started:
Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins
Three girls lives, Maria Merian, Mary Anning, and Maria Mitchell, are showcased in this beautiful verse. Each girl’s interest is explained and elaborated. We see how these interests grew into something more, into the passions and discoveries that become their life’s work. I love the flow of the poems and the celebration of these ground-breaking women.
Women Athletes Who Rule! Sports Illustrated Kids
This book is set up so kids can flip through to find photographs and topics that interest them. Each page asks a question which it then answers. For example: Who has won the most beach volleyball tournaments of all time? or Who is the only American woman to win six medals in one Olympics? or Who was the first woman to play pro baseball? Find a question you like, then read the answer. I predict you’ll love learning about these amazing athletes. The variety of sports is impressive, too from hockey to diving to NASCAR and plenty more. Get inspired as you read about record-breakers, trailblazers, superstars, and champions!
The Doodle Book of Feel Good: A Doodle/Coloring Book for All Ages by Charise Mericle Harper
Pure fun and inspiration great you on every page in this coloring book. Each design has a saying like these: happy is the best flavor, you can say no thank you, and hooray day. Love these!
Issac The Alchemist Secrets of Issac Newton, Reveal’d by Mary Losure
This well-written biographical chapter book grabs your attention and holds it. I’m impressed! Newton had a difficult childhood but his curiosity and genius were always present throughout his life. After living at an apothecary, for several years he had a chance to go to the university and eventually Newton became one of the world’s most well-known scientists, the father of physics. I highly recommend this for a narrative nonfiction reading choice for 6th graders.
Never Caught, The Story of Ona Judge: Young Readers Edition by Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Kathleen Van Cleve
This is a VERY well-written narrative nonfiction book but to be honest, I felt sick reading about the world into which Ona was born and raised…and that George Washington owned human beings. The authors set the scene and context of the world into which Ona is born. At age 10, Ona becomes Martha Washington’s personal slave. After 13 years of this thankless work with no pay, no days off, no freedom to have a feeling,…many of those years in Philadelphia, Ona learns that Martha plans to send Ona as a “gift” to Martha’s unkind granddaughter. Ona escapes north with the help of other freed slaves living in the city. Washington is so mad he wants to break his own law —the fugitive slave act— by capturing her without a trial and returning her to his wife. But that doesn’t happen and even though Ona lives in poverty with many losses, she lives free.
Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron by Mary Losure
Based on a true story, this is a historical recounting of a wild boy the early 1800s found in France. I found the life fascinating as the author takes us on the journey of his life. He’s studied as a beast, less than person. In fact, scientists of the time believed he was not a human but something other. This book will make you think.
365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts by R. J. Palacio
If you’re like us and love quotes, this is the book for you. Even if you haven’t read the book Wonder, you will still find the quotes ch chosen n here (precepts) meaningful and thought-provoking from Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, Goethe, Sappho—and over 100 readers of Wonder who sent R. J. Palacio their own precepts.
Whoppers: History’s Most Outrageous Lies and Liars by Christine Seifert
I read this nonfiction book aloud to my kids — it was SO fun because it prompted great discussion and interaction. They couldn’t believe that people would make up such outrageous lies. Learn these incredible wild whoppers — from people you’ve heard of like Charles Ponzi to people you’ve never heard of like George Psalmanazar who convinced people he was a native from his made-up island of Formosa.
Mercy The Incredible Story of Henry Bergh: Founder of the ASPCA and Friend to Animals by Nancy Furstinger
This little nonfiction chapter book packs a big punch — it’s the absolutely fascinating life of a rich (and formerly lazy) man named Henry Bergh who devoted his life and his money to saving maltreated animals in the late 1800s. (He also is persuaded to start campaigning for children as well — they were often treated just as badly or worse!) This is one of my favorite narrative nonfiction books ever. One of the reasons I like this book so much is that the writing is excellent and the author paints a complete picture of a man who is flawed. The print is big (yeah!) and the illustrations throughout add to the narrative. FANTASTIC and I highly recommend this narrative nonfiction chapter book for schools and libraries!
Biggest and Smallest! Guinness World Records Over 300 Fun Facts by Christy Webster
Photos accompany fun facts about the biggest and smallest of so many things — food, instruments, and more. Fun for 11 year olds (6th grade) who love facts.
Wacky and Wild! Guinness World Records by Calliope Glass
The smallest living horse, a girl with the biggest collection of Hello Kitty items (one 4,000!), and the fastest snowman to run a marathon — all of these wacky facts are fun to read!
The Real Princess Diaries by Grace Norwich
My daughters and I love this fascinating book. It gives us a glimpse into the lives of a variety of international princesses. From historical princesses like Theodora of the Byzantine Empire to current princesses like Sikhanyiso of Swaziland or Victoria of Sweden, each has her own section including basic facts, cool facts, and big achievements. Special sections on royal pets, royal duties, hairdos, princes, and fashion add extra juicy tidbits for kids to enjoy.
Human Body Theater: A Nonfiction Revue by Maris Wicks
This nonfiction graphic novel ROCKS! It should be required reading for students studying the human body because the information presented this way is so memorable and understandable. I love Skeleton’s narration and the awesomely cute illustrations of every body system from the smallest cell parts to the biggest organs.
The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin
If only all nonfiction books for children were this engaging and well-written! This reads like a story, a narrative. Thank you, Mr. Sheinkin!
Bomb: The Race to Build –and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
Another knock-out nonfiction book from the talented Steve Sheinkin! I’m so impressed how Sheinkin makes this story come ALIVE like it’s an adventure / mystery / thriller and not real life. Well, they do say truth is stranger than fiction. But usually it’s written like it’s duller than dirt. This book is a great exception — totally engaging and kept my interest.
Untamed The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey, forward by Jane Goodall
This is not your average biography for kids with small font and ugly black and white photos. No, it’s so much better! Untamed is an excellent depiction of Jane Goodall’s life with kid-friendly language using kid-appealing layouts of colorful photos. Interesting insets throughout describe tips for kids and information such as sign language. I love the Gombe Family Scrapbook at the end with some of the significant chimps in Jane’s life. I also found it really interesting to learn how this English girl read about Africa as a child and fell in love with it.
The Disney Book: A Celebration of the World of Disney (DK)
My oldest daughter loves anything Disney and proclaimed that this is the best book ever written. 🙂 While I’m not sure about that, it is a dense fact-filled tome from the early years to the present day.
Genius! The Most Astonishing Inventions of All Time by Deborah Kespert
A visually appealing graphic layout makes it easy to access the invention information — in fact, it’s down-right enticing! Who knows I’d care about the Archimedes Screw and want to read all about it. Or the Elephant Clock — yes, that was a real thing which was super cool. You’ll learn about these early inventions and more modern inventions such as the space rocket. This is an well-done, readable nonfiction book.
Treasury of Norse Mythology: Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love, and Revenge by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrations by Christina Balit
This is a large, kid-friendly collection of Nordic myths with colorful illustrations and informative insets explaining more about subjects such as the Berserkers and the Norse diet. Excellent for 11- year old 6th graders doing research or who just love mythology.
Fashion Rebels: Style Icons Who Changed the World of Fashion by Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia
If you have an interest in fashion, you’ll love this fascinating book of biographies and style tips. Learn how Coco Chanel loved to visit graveyards and how to make your own Frida Kahlo style outfit. This was a hit for me because it was so engaging and well-written with fun, colorful illustrations.
The Way Things Work Now From Levers to Lasers, Windmills to Wi-Fi, a Visual Guide to the World of Machines Revised and Updated by David Macaulay with Neil Ardley
You won’t believe how much there is in this illustrated 400 page informational guide to the inner workings of machines and devices! It starts with simple machines and move on to more complex machines and technology such as helicopters, digital videos, electric circuitry, automatic transmission, even the Internet. I’m thinking it would take months, if not years, to read everything in this enormous, updated book. A must own for schools and libraries.
Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome by Brad Montague & Robby Novak
Robby, the Kid President, and his brother-in-law, Brad Montague, started Kid President videos to put something positive into the world. Robby embodies this. He went through countless surgeries and broken bones due to his brittle bone disease and kept a positive attitude. So when Robby says, “You were made to be awesome. Keep going,” He knows. He’s been there and kept going.
The book is filled with ways to be awesome and spread awesomeness in the world. It’s numbered advice. It’s interviews and stories. It’s inspiration. It’s a LOT (240 pages) — you could spend hours and hours reading this book and be the better for it.
#5 Let’s live in a world with more high fives.
#30 Listen (more than you talk).
#58 Be like cheese (or bacon) and make everything you touch better.
#84 Take a moment to reflect.
NonFiction Books for 11 Year Olds (6th Grade)
Fiction Book Lists By Age:
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!