I had to split up the list of book recommendations for 11 year olds since it was getting so long. The first list of books is here, this is the second list. Hope this gives you lots of great ideas for what your 11 year old can read next and after that and after that . . .
MORE Recommended Books for 11 Year Olds (6th Grade)
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate REALISTIC
Crenshaw is the new book from the author of The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate, and it’s another amazing story dealing with poverty. I read this book after my 10-year old who loved it as much as me. After having lost their home and living in their van for 3 months, the family is now about to lose their apartment. Although Jackson’s parents don’t tell him this, he knows the signs. He knows why they’re having a yard sale. He knows it’s not his dad’s fault for having MS but he’s mad and worried and alone. It isn’t until Crenshaw shows up and pushes Jackson to speak the truth to his parents that Jackson learns that he’s not facing this alone. Oh, and who is Crenshaw? He’s Jackson’s large, imaginary cat friend from when he was little returned to help Jackson in his time of need. I felt like it was a God metaphor. I wonder what you’ll think?
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson REALISTIC / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Roller Girl shows the struggles of friendship and finding your place in the world as Astrid works hard to become a better roller derby skater, reconcile her ending friendship with her best friend, and develop a new one. (I recommend going to a roller derby event with your kids to help them know more about this cool sport for girls — it’s such a blast and would be helpful for reading this book, but not essential.) Well-written and relatable.
A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord REALISTIC
When Lily befriends Salma Santiago, a migrant worker’s daughter, Salma gives Lily a new perspective on life — to dream big, to see the possibilities in everything — even for Lily’s blind dog named Lucky. Salma also sees the possibility of winning the local Blueberry Queen pageant for a college scholarship. Lily worries that the community won’t accept someone who isn’t blond and white. This novel is a tender story about friendship and growing up.
Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds
Miles’ spidey sense is whacking out when he’s at school, especially in his history class. Add to that, he’s worried he will turn out like his criminal uncle. So, Miles, who is Puerto-Rican and African American, stops being Spider Man. Until he discovers a chilling plot of men named Chamberlain who work under the control of The Warden. Now, he must use all his skills to save the world from a racist threat. You’ll love the diversity, the two-parent family, and the complexity of Miles’ character.
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
One of my favorite books of 2016, The Seventh Wish is a magically captivating coming-of-age story filled with friendship and family challenges and . . . wishes. Charlie is struggling with her sister leaving for college and subsequent problems with drug addiction, her parent’s inattention, and trying to make sense out of her life. So when she accidentally catches a wish fish while ice-fishing, she’s sure that the fish will solve all her problems. Only that’s not exactly what happens.
Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the World by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone
MYSTERY / STEM (series)
Jack and his genius siblings, Ava and Matt, are orphans who start working for a scientist / inventor named Dr. Witherspoon. The three accompany their inventor boss to the Arctic for a science competition where they discover one of the researchers has gone missing. Is it because she’s made the biggest discovery of her life and another scientist is jealous? A decent read for science and mystery enthusiasts but be ready for sluggish pacing.
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
GRAPHIC NOVEL / MAGICAL REALISM
Catrina’s little sister, Maya, is sick with cystic fibrosis. A ghost tour outing with a neighbor boy sends Maya to the hospital. Cat feels guilt and fear for her sister, knowing that her sister’s lungs will never get better. But as the neighbor introduces Cat to the beautiful Day of the Dead celebration, Cat starts to see death and life differently. Beautifully written and illustrated, this story deftly deals with big issues in an interesting, unique way.
8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich REALISTIC
I’m in awe of how Rhuday-Perkovich created such a moving story and lovable main character, Reggie McKnight, an unpopular yet thoughtful middle-school student. Very relatable to middle school students.
The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson
You may know Paterson as the author of Bridge to Terabithia. Like that novel, this new chapter book is a powerful heart-gripping story of loss, acceptance, and coming of age. Angel’s mother abandons Angel and her brother at their ancient great-grandmother’s and since Angel’s dad is in jail, there is no one else. Angel’s used to taking care of her brother but now she must take care of her grandma, too. What’s worse, when her mom takes the brother and not Angel, now her worry and loneliness feels unbearable. Making things more bearable is a mysterious neighbor who teaches Angel about constellations, sparking a passion for astronomy. He tells Angel that she is made up of the same stuff as stars — and encourages her to keep surviving.
Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
An award-winning historical fiction adventure set in the late 1800s about Manjiro, a shipwrecked 14-year old Japanese boy who is rescued and adopted by an American ship’s captain. Americans are very prejudiced against Japanese but when he returns to Japan, he’s rejected as an outsider there and imprisoned. Excellent.
Sticks and Stones by Abby Cooper
Now that Elyse is twelve, it’s not just the words that other people say about her that appear on her skin, but also her own self-talk. The words stay about two weeks and the negative words itch badly. Because there are a lot of negative words right now ever since her best friend’s ditched her. Anonymous notes encourage Elyse to try new things, and grow out of her comfort zone. She does and is surprised with the positive results including a self-acceptance. This would be an interesting book to discuss with a book group.
Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Two good friends are separated by segregation in 1958 Arkansas. But their friendship is becoming dangerous with the KKK, phone threats, and a police force that does nothing.
The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi FANTASY
Follow along as Eva Nine, a 12-year old, raised by a robot named Muthr underground discovers a planet with unusual creatures and no humans to be found. The only trace of humanity she has is a scrap of paper with the letters “Wondla”. It’s a magical adventure you won’t want to put down.
Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke FANTASY
Secrets of Selkie Bay by Shelley Moore Thomas REALISTIC
Cordie’s the oldest of three daughters living with the hopes that their mother who left suddenly will return. Her sister believes their mom is a selkie who had to return to sea. After all, their mom looks like a selkie with her black hair and pale skin, and she owned a dark coat, and her favorite book is A Child’s Book of Selkies. To find out, the sisters take a boat to a secret island where they are helped by a mysterious seal. Is it their mother? Even more worrisome is that their boat leaks and the seal is injured. I couldn’t put this book down — Secrets of Selkie Bay is magical story that made me believe in the unbelievable. And see the magic in family, forgiveness, and love.
Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart
Sent to an isolated boy’s prison, Jonathan has little time to adjust before all the prison’s adults are killed in a freak lightning accident. Soon a Lord of the Flies scenario develops, Jonathan’s friend is banished from the group, and a mysterious old librarian gives Jonathan books to read that strangely are perfect for his situation. When a dangerous storm threatens the entire island, Jonathan must decide if he will abandon his guilt and step up to help the other boys. Moral dilemmas, suspense, and action, plus good writing make this an engrossing adventure for 11-year olds in sixth grade.
The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine
The title is the only math concept Mike understands — absolute value — a subject in which Mike’s dad wants Mike to excel. Only Mike hates math and when he gets sent to a small town for the summer with distant relatives, Mike learns is true value.
The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz
Alex’s parents raised him in their secret society of supervillains, training him all his life for a life of villainy. He surprises himself in a battle when he saves the life of his enemy, a Ranger of Justice girl named Kirbie. They secretly become friends making Alex question his entire life and the next big mission to wipe out all of the Rangers. Very adventurous and interesting!
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly FANTASY
Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Now that I’ve read this book, I can’t wait to read all of Jewel Parker Rhodes other books — this was amazing! We follow the youngest daughter of sisters as she visits her grandmère in the bayou for the first time. There, she discovers that she’s inherited her grandmother’s special connection (magic, if you will) with nature. Maddy loves everything about the bayou, including her new best friend, Bear, who has a father with severe alcohol issues. Trouble comes to the bayou when the big rig spills oil and makes its way towards them. Maddy calls upon her magical connection with the river goddess to stop the spill and save the Bon Temps bayou.
The Tapper Twins Go to War (with each other) by Geoff Rodkey
What I love about this book, besides the structure, is the true-to-life depiction of the twins. As the pair seeks revenge upon each other, they feel justified and sort of guilty at the same time. (Of course, this doesn’t stop either of them though.) The interjecting texts between the parents, mostly unsure of how to handle parenting these twins perfectly balance our view of the family. It’s written in interviews, text messages, photos, handwritten additions, and screenshots which is appealing to our kids who live with these styles of communications every day.
The Midnight Tunnel: A Suzanna Snow Mystery by Angie Frazier HISTORICAL FICTION / MYSTERY
My 11-year old says this is a GREAT mystery. Set in 1905 in New Brunswick, Suzanna works at her family’s inn. When a young guest disappears, Suzanna’s detective uncle arrives for the search. But, Zanna finds clues of her own that lead her to think there is more than one mystery going on.
Erec Rex by Kaza Kingsley FANTASY
Life is not easy for twelve-year-old Erec Rex. His single mother can barely support her six adopted kids. And they’ve moved into an apartment so tiny that Erec sleeps with the washing machine. Worse, there is a strange force within Erec that is making him do odd things. His urge to obey these thoughts grows — until it becomes impossible to resist them. Then one morning, Erec’s mother is missing. The force inside Erec commands him to find her, leading him on an adventure that will change him forever. When he arrives in Alypium, a hidden world where old knowledge of magic is kept, Erec learns that his mother and the entire kingdom are in peril. And he might be the only one who can save them. This is an excellent series for 11 year old readers.
The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari REALISTIC
This book is a journey of grief with a tempting allegorical shadow world where Charlie and Imogene Price’s mom is “alive”. But not everything is right in this shadow world world where you lose memories, especially the sad ones, to “feed” family members who have died. Charlie is afraid he’ll lose his sister, Imogene. forever to the shadow world, like he did his best friend, Frank. So well-written, this is a thoughtful treatment of emotions and grief — I highly recommend it, especially for book club discussions.
The Cup and the Crown by Diane Stanley FANTASY
Second in a series but a stand alone story, this is a fun adventurous tale of Molly and her friends, who must help King Alaric discover how to use the Cup. Molly finds a secret city called Harrowsgode where her grandfather grew up and is taken prisoner. How will her friend, Tobias, a rat-catcher, and an intelligent raven help Molly to escape and why is the town so secretive?
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands FANTASY
Christopher’s apprenticed to an apothecary whose just been murdered in the same way as many other apothecaries. He and his best friend decide to solve the puzzles and find new clues to find the culprits for these horrible crimes. They hope it’s not the dangerous cult they’ve been hearing about — and are as surprised as us when they find out what’s really going on. Part historical, part fantasy, and all adventure.
The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman ADVENTURE (series)
Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco by Judith Robbins Rose REALISTIC
Poignant and important, this is a well-written coming-of-age story about a Mexican-American girl named Jacinta who gets herself a mentor, a local TV news reporter whom she calls Miss. Both Jacinta and Miss have their struggles and Miss doesn’t want to be anyone’s mentor. Even so, Miss exposes Jacinta to her world and neighborhood which is very different from what Jacinta knows. When Jacinta’s mama tries to return to the U.S. illegally, she gets in a bad situation. Will Miss help Jacinta’s mama or are the stakes too high?
The List by Patricia Forde DYSTOPIAN
Like any dystopian story, this one begins after the cataclysmic event. One man controls the society, including the 500 words approved in “The List” people can use. (Because words = dangerous thoughts.) Letta is the Wordsmith’s apprentice, the job that controls and manages all the words from now and before. When the Wordsmith disappears, Letta asks her dangerous outsider friend to help her find out what happened. She discovers a sinister plan meant to wipe out the community’s language altogether. There aren’t too many dystopian middle-grade books (lots in YA) but this one is worth reading.
Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper HISTORICAL FICTION
Stella watches her father when he registers to vote and then votes. She watches her neighbor’s house burn for voting. She watches her classmates learn even as she struggles with writing down her thoughts. Draper skillfully shares this historical time from Stella’s 11-year old’s perspective. It’s understandable and not too overwhelming – we learn about the KKK but aren’t exposed to the horror that could have been included.
School for S.P.I.E.S. Playing with Fire book 1 by Bruce Hale, illustrated by Brandon Dorman ADVENTURE
When Max gets kicked out of another foster home, he’s sent to an Orphanage which is actually a training school for spies. Great action and plotting will hook you right away. I enjoyed this book and am glad the 2nd book is already out.
I admit to not liking the cover and being reluctant to read this book because of that. (I know, shouldn’t judge and all that . . . ) Luckily, I did read it and it was a great book. The Girl in the Torch is a touching middle-grade historical fiction novel that follows an orphaned girls journey to America and struggle to stay. For awhile she hides out in the Statue of Liberty, then the watchman finds her and lets her stay at his boarding house. This is very well-written and shows a glimpse into the history of immigrants. I didn’t want to put it down once!
Vordak the Incomprehensible by Vordak T. Incomprehensible HUMOR
I haven’t laughed like this when reading a book in years – too funny! It’s pee-your-pants funny.
The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett (Great pick for a Newbery) HISTORICAL FICTION
Tissue alert – this story made me weep. A lot. Racking sobs, I’m not kidding. It’s a breathtaking story; a fable about life set in Nazi Germany. We follow three Gypsy siblings who have witnessed the capture of their family and friends. While walking and searching for food, they find an abandoned zoo, with talking animals. That’s all I’ll reveal. You NEED to read this beautiful story. It will change your life. **Teachers, read this book and use it in your classrooms — it’s rich in allegory, theme, metaphor, imagery . . . I’d consider it for middle and high school more than elementary school.
The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore ADVENTURE
Three kids, Ephraim Appledorre, Mallory Green, and Will Wylie, begin at odds but as they work together, will they discover the secret Water Castle? Does it contain the secret water for eternal youth? I loved this great adventure!
The Misadventures of Benjamin Bartholomew Piff by Jason Lethcoe FANTASY
Mal-treated orphan Benjamin follows all the wishing rules and makes the perfect birthday wish — for more wishes. He doesn’t realize that by doing this he’s taking away other kids wishes and creating a powerful wish magic that can be stolen and used by the Curseworks Factory. He’s recruited by the Wishworks Factory to set things right. A delightful, imaginative story with the perfect ending.
The Peddler’s Road: The Secrets of the Pied Piper by Matthew Cody FANTASY
It all started in Hamlin, a little town in Germany, in 1284. Now, in the present day, the Pied Piper is looking for the last child to repay his dept. So he takes Max and her brother, Carter. They’re transported to an island filled with the original stolen children, and an island filled with massive, evil rats and other creatures. Will the Peddler help the kids find their way back home? Or will the Piper’s magic be too strong? This ended on a cliff-note which is always kind of irritating but was an interesting take on this Grimm fairy tale. I can’t wait to read the next chapter book in this series when it’s published.
Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar SCI-FI
They’re not supposed to be in the woods, but to avoid Chad the bully Tamaya and Marshall go there anyway. Tamaya discovers the weird looking “fuzzy mud” and throws it at the Chad’s face who followed them. When Chad goes missing, and Tamaya’s hand gets a bloody rash, it’s clear that the mud is not just mud. Fast-paced and adventurous, kids won’t be able to put this book down. I couldn’t.
The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee FANTASY
Wild Boy and the Black Terror by Rob Lloyd Jones HISTORICAL / MYSTERY
This second book in the series makes me so eager to read the first book — it’s really a fascinating story with it’s absolutely excellent character development and an intriguing plot. Wild Boy is literally covered in fur — yes, literally. He now lives with the Gentlemen who rescued he and his best friend, Clarissa, from the circus and the crazed Londoners who believed him to be a dangerous murderer. The Queen of England ask Wild Boy to solve the mystery of a most frightening terror that scares people to death — again, seemingly literally. Is is a really a demon’s curse or something more human at work?
The Baking Life of Amelie Day by Vanessa Curtis REALISTIC
I enjoyed this book so much! The writing flows, the plot is engaging, the characters are fascinating — especially Amelie — and learning about living with Cystic Fibrosis is quite eye-opening. Amelie loves to bake (could you guess from the title?) and she’s made it to the semi-finals of a teen baking contest in New York City. Unfortunately, her health deteriorates (which happens when you have CF) and her mom won’t let Amelie compete. You won’t just love this story but also want to try the various recipes throughout the book – I love when authors do that.
The Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby HISTORICAL FICTION / STEAMPUNK
The wild west plus fantastical elements combine in this marvelous adventure of an expedition to find the lost people of the Welsh Prince Madoc. This is the wild west like you’ve never imagined. And you’ll love it.
Winterling by Sarah Prineas FANTASY
In the forest Fer finds a puck who shows her the secret passage to another world – a world of magic where she feels like she belongs finally. But who were Fer’s parents and why does the evil Mor want to keep the land in endless winter? I think this book should be more recognized – it’s a great adventure.
Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, & a Very Strange Adventure by Lissa Evans MYSTERY
Horten’s magician great-uncle Tony, whom he just learns about, disappeared mysteriously years ago. Horten and one of the triplet neighbors must piece together the clues left behind before his uncle’s house is destroyed by the city. He’s facing a deadline and also another scheming magician who wants to find the hidden secrets in Tony’s lost workshop.
Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders by Kevin Sylvester MYSTERY
Arrogant, yet endearing, 14-year old chef Neil Flambe is known for his keen powers of smell – especially by the police detectives who need Neil’s help with a series of mysterious murders of chefs in the area. The clues lead to something about a trip of Marco Polo and spices. It’s a delightful, aromatic read for 11 year olds with interesting in baking or cooking!)
Red Blazer Girls by Michael Beil MYSTERY
Are these sleuths in school uniforms modern-day equivalents of Nancy, Harriet, or Scooby? Not really, they’re just three nice girls who decide to help out a weird lady, and end up hiding under tables, tackling word puzzles and geometry equations, and searching rather moldy storage rooms for “the stuff that dreams are made of” (that’s from an old detective movie). Oh, and there’s A Boy, who complicates things. As boys often do.
Son (The Giver, #4) by Lois Lowry SCI-FI
Did you know that The Giver is a series? This is the last book, and it’s excellent. You’re going to love (and be surprised) the way Lowry incorporates all the characters of the original story, too. Claire, grows up to become a Vessel, and births a baby boy. She’s reassigned to the Fish Hatchery but Claire can’t stop thinking about the son (the Product) taken away from her. As time goes on, Claire realizes that everyone else takes pills that make them seem numb, and unquestioning. When Claire’s faced with a choice, she decides for her son and for freedom. But it all goes wrong . . . she does escape and washes up on a new land with no memories. At least for now.
Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson ADVENTURE / FANTASY
My daughter loved this series but I have to admit it had too many main characters for me so I didn’t enjoy it. However, if you like Disney and non-stop adventure, you’ll love these books. Our main characters, teenagers, protect the park agains the Disney villains. At least they will try. Because catching the bad guys isn’t always easy.
The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin FANTASY
A clever story about a magical Renaissance painter who created real worlds in his elaborately painted canvases. Years later, when her step-brother accidentally goes into a painting, Sunni and her classmate must follow to rescue him. Strangely, their art teacher’s brother follows, too and he doesn’t seem very nice. It’s a world is filled with pirates, labyrinths, monsters, and world within worlds but an exciting, adventurous story.
Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine and Vinson Compestine HISTORICAL FICTION
If your kids aren’t interested in Chinese history, they will be after reading this novel. Ming lives in rural communist China with his father, who finds artifacts for the museum. A discovered terra-cotta soldier who comes to life and befriends Ming. They must work together to protect the soldiers and Emperor Qin’s tomb. I like how the authors wove in historical photos and information.
Manhunt by Kate Messner ADVENTURE / MYSTERY
At midnight all over the world, works of art vanish from houses and museums. Anna, Henry and Jose are kids of parents in the Silver Jaguar Society, a society who protects priceless works of art, head to Paris to guard the Mona Lisa. But there’s someone in the society who is feeding information to the art thieves. And it’s up to the kids to figure it out. A fun adventure – I really liked it.