The Best Read Aloud Books for 6th Grade

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When you select a 6th grade read aloud book for your 6th graders (ages 11-12), use this list to find the best recommendations from other teachers and from me.

All of these books are compelling and well-written so before you decide what to read, consider the purpose of your read-aloud book.

Here are some things to consider as you’re choosing a title. Are you looking to:

  • develop a specific topic or theme
  • expand cultural awareness
  • introduce a new genre
  • introduce a new author or a book series
  • something else?

Start with this list to find the best possibilities for middle-grade books for 6th-grade read-aloud choices. (Teacher and kid-approved.)

More Read Aloud Book Lists

7th and 8th Grades
5th Grade
4th Grade
3rd Grade
2nd Grade
1st Grade
Families with Kids of Different Ages

The Best Read Aloud Books for 6th Grade (Ages 11- 12)

Realistic

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
Aven Green makes up creative stories for why she doesn’t have any arms. Especially now in Arizona where her parents are the new managers of a rundown theme park. She befriends a boy at school who, like her, feels different and isolated from the other kids. Together he, another new friend named Zion, and Aven investigate a storage shed at the theme park which leads them to Aven’s biological past.


Okay for Now
 by Gary D. Schmidt
Doug is a boy who can’t read well, has no friends, and lives in abject poverty with an abusive dad and older Vietnam vet brother. What saves Doug is a connection to a kind librarian who shows Doug the bird paintings of Audubon, helping him see the world differently and discover his place in it. Transformative!

House Arrest by K.A. Holt
Timothy is under house arrest for the next year, living with a brother who needs constant medical care, and feeling so much pain over his big life changes. Part of his year-long punishment is to meet with a probation officer, meet with a therapist, and write in a journal which is the book we’re reading. When his little brother gets assigned an abusive new nurse, Timothy feels like even if he gets thrown in juvie, he must do something drastic to help his brother.


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. Not even Ellie’s dad stands up to her own mom’s cruel treatment of Ellie. Fortunately, Ellie finds an understanding therapist who helps her move from powerless to powerful. 

Across the Desert by Dusti Bowling 
Across the Desert is a stunning story about a brave girl who has been secretly dealing with her mother’s opioid addiction and who makes a daring (and possibly foolheartedly) trek to the desert to rescue her only friend. The story is about trust, relationships, boundaries, addiction, survival, and family; it’s also an emotional journey of inner and outer strength that leads to hope and healing. 


Isaiah Dunn is My Hero
by Kelly J. Baptist
With themes of grief, family, poverty, poetry, the power of writing, and friendship — this beautiful story captures your heart with a struggling, heroic main character whose hopeful journey makes you believe in humanity again. After Isaiah’s dad dies, his mother stops working and starts drinking too much. The family of three now lives in a smokey motel where Isaiah watches his 4-year-old sister when his mom is passed out. He finds strength and inspiration in his father’s journaled stories about Isaiah Dunn Superhero and eventually, begins to write poems again in his own journal…poems.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
This beautiful story captures the essence of love, family, and self-discovery. It’s compelling and exquisitely crafted. Osh, a solitary island man, rescued baby Crow when he found her in a small boat on the sea. Crow loves Osh but now at age 12, she wants to know where she came from — was it the island across the way where the leper colony was? She, Crow, and their friend, Miss Maggie journey to the island to find out. The island brings them closer to answers but also into danger, too.

Fantasy and Science Fiction

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 book. Amari is an exciting action-packed, suspenseful story about Amari whose beloved older brother has vanished. But, she gets a virtual message from him revealing that she’s a magician like him and at his bequest, gets to attend a secret school. There, she discovers she’s actually a dark magic magician (which is outlawed) but she’s determined to prove she isn’t evil, stay in the school, and find her brother.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
A mysterious nobleman takes Sage and three other orphans for training to impersonate the kingdom’s missing prince. Despite the obvious deceit and competition from the other orphans, Sage can’t leave, now trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation which has more plot twists than you can imagine. His wit, skills, and defiance might just be what saves him in the end and helps him uncover the truth of the real missing prince. This read aloud choice gets 6th-grade kids hooked on the entire series.


Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows
by Ryan Calejo
When Charlie’s house burns down and his parents go missing, he’s sent to a foster home. That’s bad. But it gets worse when he grows horns and wings and meets the MYTHS in real life — like calacas, mukis, and El Justo Juez. Fortunately, a persistent classmate named Violet Rey (also his crush) helps Charlie follow the clues to find his parents and learn if he’s the prophesied Morphling meant to save the world. This story is immediately engaging with the perfect balance of action, dialogue, & description interspersed with Spanish words and phrases.


The Iron Trial 
(Magisterium) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Even though Callum tries to fail the entrance trials, he gains admittance to the school his dad says is evil. But the Magisterium school is not as bad as he expects. Call learns more 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. Kids love this book series, choose this book in order to introduce the series.

Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan
Get ready for action, intrigue, plot twists, and super-cool technology! Ana’s freshman class at her specialized marine and naval academy are the only survivors when the academy is blown up. As the class races to board their field trip ship, their chaperone reveals several essential secrets…Jule’s Verne’s novels based on Captain Nemo are true, Ana’s the only surviving relative of Captain Nemo, and they will be attacked by the land school if they don’t get to safety immediately.

Historical Fiction


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 and disheartening yet despite terrible losses, racism, and injuries, the fighters persist despite everything to accomplish their goal — to take back the area for the Allies. What an incredible retelling of this day!

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.

When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler
Inspired by the author’s family history, three friends in Vienna, Leo, Max, and Elsa, can’t imagine just how much war, location, and ideology will separate them. Because Leo and Elsa are Jewish, their path includes ghetto housing, escape, and prison camp. But, Max is not Jewish and his main goal is to get the approval of his brutal Nazi father. To do so, he gladly pursues Nazi beliefs and actions, despite the nagging voice that reminds him that his friends weren’t “dogs” or less than human. The story weaves together the three children’s stories in a heartbreaking, beautiful ending that will leave you thinking about humanity, morality, hope, and love.

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?

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. But she and her little brother are separated from their family. As they continue south, they experience death, kidnapping, starvation, killings, winter’s brutal cold with the Red Army marching right behind them. Even worse, her brother, Youngsoo, is getting sicker and sicker…

Mystery

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 important things that other people miss. Including the FBI when there’s an art heist at the museum his mother works. The FBI hires Florian to help unravel a mysterious art heist. With the help of his best friend, Margaret, Florian keeps up with homework while investigating the enormous crime syndicate behind the heist.

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 is fascinating, and the characters are enchanting.

The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks
Written like an adult suspense novel, this is one of the best edge-of-your-seat mystery books for middle-grade that I’ve ever read. The author jumps around showing various incidents and people. You’ll have no idea what is going on or what will happen next. A boy with no memory is found at the National Gallery staring at a Degas sculpture. Strangely, this boy does know a great deal about art and artists. Soon we learn he’s being hunted by a team of professional bad guys.

More 6th Grade Read Aloud Books

Because of Mr. Terupt by Bob Buyea

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Crash by Jerry Spinelli

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

House Arrest by K.A.Holt

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

6th grade read aloud books

KEEP READING

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All Book Recommendations for 11 Year Olds

All Read Aloud Book Lists

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2 Responses

  1. Julie Spak says:

    Hi, I am a mystery reader for my son’s 6th grade class and I have 30 minutes to read aloud. Any ideas/advice? My son is a bio/nonfiction guy but I want to appeal to all the kids in the class.
    With appreciation,
    Julie Spak

    1. Oh, how fun! I would recommend Knucklehead by Jon Scieska. It’s his memoir and organized into short stories/chapters about his crazy childhood. It’s HILARIOUS and appealing to everyone. The teacher will probably want to borrow it as a mentor text to teach memoir and voice.

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    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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