27+ Must Read Books for 6th Graders

By Editorial Staff •  Updated: 11/25/23 •  Classroom Resources

Reading plays a crucial role in the development of 6th graders. It enhances their vocabulary, comprehension, and critical thinking skills, preparing them for the challenges ahead. By exposing children to new ideas and perspectives, reading broadens their horizons and encourages empathy and understanding of different cultures and experiences.

Moreover, it fosters a lifelong love of learning and discovery, setting the foundation for future academic success. Providing access to diverse books ensures that children can see themselves and their experiences represented in literature, promoting inclusivity and a sense of belonging.

Best books for 6th graders

So what are some must read books for 6th graders? This age is an inflection point where students are coming to an end being a “young learner” and now moving towards being an independent thinking young adult. Here are some books to help your students develop their vocabulary and spark discussion on important issues.

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis is a timeless classic that introduces young readers to the magical world of Narnia. This book uniquely blends adventure, fantasy, and Christian allegory. It follows the story of four siblings who discover a magical wardrobe that leads them on a journey to save Narnia from eternal winter.

Their adventures teach Readers valuable lessons about courage, friendship, and sacrifice. “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” has inspired numerous adaptations, including movies, T.V. shows, and stage productions. It is a must-read for sixth graders looking for an enchanting and thought-provoking story.

“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle

“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle is a classic fantasy novel that takes readers on an extraordinary journey through space and time. The story revolves around Meg, a young girl who embarks on a mission to rescue her long-lost father.

L’Engle explores themes of love, family, and self-acceptance throughout the book, making it relatable and captivating for 6th graders. With its unique blend of science fiction elements and heartfelt storytelling, “A Wrinkle in Time” is engaging and thought-provoking.

It is part of a more extensive series, offering young readers more reading options. This beloved tale has received praise for its positive messages about individuality and the power of love.

“The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan

“The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan is a popular fantasy book that seamlessly combines Greek mythology with modern-day settings. It follows the exciting journey of Percy Jackson, a demigod, as he embarks on a quest to recover Zeus’ stolen lightning bolt.

This book offers 6th graders an engaging adventure filled with relatable characters. Alongside the action-packed plot, it also imparts important lessons about friendship, loyalty, and self-discovery. “The Lightning Thief” is a fantastic introduction to a captivating book series, making it an excellent choice for middle school students.

With its blend of mythology and contemporary themes, this novel will captivate young readers and leave them eagerly reaching for the next installment.

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by Frank L. Baum

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by Frank L. Baum is a beloved classic fantasy book that has enchanted readers of all ages for generations. This timeless tale follows the magical journey of Dorothy through the captivating Land of Oz. Filled with adventure, colorful characters, and valuable life lessons, this book teaches 6th graders the importance of bravery, resourcefulness, and kindness in adversity.

With its beautiful illustrations and captivating narrative, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is a must-read for all 6th graders, transporting them to a world of wonder and imagination. It is truly a gem among the best books for 6th graders.

“Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry

“Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry is a powerful story set in Denmark during WWII. It follows a young girl’s journey and explores themes of courage, friendship, and the impact of war on children. The book is written in an accessible style for 6th graders, making it an excellent choice for middle school readers.

It has received multiple awards, including the prestigious Newbery Medal, and is considered a classic in children’s literature. Teachers can use “Number the Stars” to teach historical context, empathy, and critical thinking skills. With its compelling narrative and relatable characters, this book is a must-read for 6th graders.

“The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

“The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a historical fiction novel set during World War II. It tells the story of Ada, a young girl who escapes from her abusive home and embarks on a journey of self-discovery and resilience. This powerful coming-of-age story explores themes of family, courage, and the transformative power of kindness.

“The War That Saved My Life” has received critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Newbery Honor 2016. It is recommended for middle school students and resonates with adult readers. With its engaging narrative and compelling characters, this book is a must-read for anyone seeking an inspiring and thought-provoking read.

“Blood on the River” by Elisa Carbone

“Blood on the River” by Elisa Carbone takes readers back to the early 1600s in Virginia. The novel follows Samuel Collier, a page to Captain John Smith, as he navigates life and interacts with Native Americans during the colonization of America.

This historical fiction book offers a unique perspective on the struggles faced by both sides. Combining history and adventure, it is a must-read for any 6th grader. “Blood on the River” has received multiple awards, including the Jefferson Cup Honor for Historical Fiction, making it a valuable addition to any middle school reading list.

“Fever 1793” by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Fever 1793” by Laurie Halse Anderson is a captivating historical fiction novel during the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. The story revolves around the experiences of a 14-year-old girl named Mattie Cook as she faces the challenges brought about by the outbreak and its aftermath.

This book provides a unique window into that period’s societal and political issues. It also explores themes such as resilience, survival, and community, making it an excellent resource for young readers to understand historical events engagingly.

Teachers highly recommend “Fever 1793” as a must-read for 6th graders.

“The Bicycle Spy” by Yona Zeldis McDonough

“The Bicycle Spy” is a captivating historical fiction book during World War II. The story revolves around Marcel, a young boy who becomes a spy for the French Resistance. Marcel uses his trusty bicycle to transport crucial messages and supplies while facing dangerous situations.

What makes this book unique is its perspective, as it offers a glimpse into the war through the eyes of a child. With its engaging storyline and educational value, “The Bicycle Spy” is an excellent choice for 6th graders interested in history and adventure. It is a must-read for middle schoolers looking for a powerful and immersive story.

“Esperanza Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan

“Esperanza Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan tells the story of a young girl’s journey from a life of privilege to working in a migrant farm camp. This captivating novel not only teaches 6th graders about empathy, perseverance, and the importance of family but also delves into Mexican culture and the hardships faced by migrant workers during the Great Depression.

Through its powerful narrative, “Esperanza Rising” sparks discussions about social justice and immigrant rights. The relatable characters in the book allow 6th graders to connect with and learn from their experiences. It is a must-read for middle schoolers seeking a meaningful coming-of-age story.

“When You Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead

“When You Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead is a captivating Newbery Medal-winning novel that seamlessly combines time travel and mystery elements. Set in 1970s New York City, the story follows the journey of Miranda, a young girl who receives enigmatic notes predicting the future. Intrigued, she begins to unravel the mystery behind these messages.

Through her adventure, Miranda learns the importance of friendship, family, and sacrifice. This thought-provoking book is an excellent introduction to fantasy, making it an ideal choice for 6th graders who enjoy puzzles and suspense. With its engaging plot and relatable characters, “When You Reach Me” is a must-read for middle schoolers seeking an immersive reading experience.

“The City of Ember” by Jeanne DuPrau

“The City of Ember” by Jeanne DuPrau is a thrilling post-apocalyptic adventure perfect for young readers. In this captivating book, two friends embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries of their underground city. The unique setting and plot twists throughout the story will keep readers engaged and eager to uncover what lies beyond the darkness of Ember.

With strong themes of friendship, perseverance, and discovery, this book offers valuable lessons for 6th graders. Moreover, “The City of Ember” is just the beginning of an exciting series allowing young readers to continue exploring this fascinating world.

“Refugee” by Alan Gratz

“Refugee” by Alan Gratz is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that tells the stories of three refugee children from different backgrounds and periods. This book explores empathy, resilience, and survival themes, making it an excellent choice for young readers.

Teachers highly recommend “Refugee” for its historical accuracy and engaging storytelling. The book captivates readers and sparks conversations about current events and global issues. With its relatable characters and fast-paced plot, “Refugee” will surely be a page-turner for 6th graders. It’s a must-read for a compelling and impactful read for middle schoolers.


In the dystopian novel Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, set in a future society, plastic surgery is mandatory at age 16 to become “pretty.” The main character, Tally Youngblood, decides between conforming to societal norms or embracing her individuality.

This thought-provoking story delves into themes of beauty standards, self-acceptance, and rebellion against authority. Uglies is captivating for young readers who enjoy adventure and science fiction. It has garnered critical acclaim and won the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel.

With its compelling narrative and exploration of relevant themes, Uglies is a must-read for sixth graders seeking an engaging and thought-provoking experience.

Al Capone Does My Shirts

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko is a captivating and humorous read for 6th graders. Set on Alcatraz Island, the story revolves around a boy whose family lives there. As the narrative unfolds, it explores friendship, acceptance, and coming-of-age themes.

This Newbery Honor Book has garnered praise for its engaging writing style, relatable characters, and historical accuracy. With its unique setting and compelling storyline, Al Capone Does My Shirts offers an immersive reading experience for young readers. It’s a must-read for 6th graders looking for an entertaining and enlightening book.


Mayday by Karen Harrington takes readers on a thrilling adventure through time travel and parallel universes. With its strong characters and well-developed plot, this book will keep 6th graders engaged from start to finish. Exploring themes of friendship, family, and tough decision-making, Mayday offers a captivating reading experience. Perfect for advanced readers, the book’s complex storyline and vivid descriptions create an immersive world.

Mayday is a must-read for middle schoolers who enjoy science fiction and want to dive into a powerful story that sparks the imagination. It’s a book that will leave a lasting impression on young readers, making it an excellent addition to any 6th-grade book list.

I Have Lived A Thousand Years

“I Have Lived A Thousand Years” is a powerful historical fiction novel by Livia Bitton-Jackson that delves into the harrowing experiences of a young girl during the Holocaust. This gripping book offers a unique historical perspective and critical lessons about empathy and resilience.

The protagonist’s journey through loss, fear, and survival resonates deeply with young readers, immersing them in a world fraught with unimaginable challenges. Accurately portraying life in concentration camps, this well-researched story paints a vivid and haunting picture of the Holocaust.

Through its inspiring message of hope, “I Have Lived A Thousand Years” stands as a must-read for sixth graders and a poignant reminder of the strength of the human spirit.

Red Scarf Girl

Red Scarf Girl, a memoir by Ji-li Jiang, takes readers through the Cultural Revolution in China. This powerful and thought-provoking book explores themes of identity, family, and political turmoil through the eyes of a young girl. Red Scarf Girl offers a unique perspective on Chinese history and culture not often found in Western literature.

It has been praised for its accessibility to young readers while providing a captivating story. Parents and educators looking to introduce their children to significant historical events and diverse perspectives will find Red Scarf Girl a must-read.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice

“Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice” is a captivating historical fiction book that chronicles the inspiring journey of a brave young girl who played a pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. This book is an excellent introduction to the real-life heroes of the civil rights movement, fostering empathy and compassion in young readers.

Through Colvin’s story, students will understand the significance of standing up for what is right, even in adversity. Whether it’s their first time exploring history or engaging with social justice issues, this thought-provoking and powerful narrative is a must-read for 6th graders interested in making a positive difference.


Fantasy books have the power to ignite a child’s creativity and imagination, making them an excellent choice for 6th graders. One classic favorite among students of this age group is “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling.

This adventure-packed novel takes young readers on a journey to the magical world of Hogwarts. Another popular fantasy book for 6th graders is “Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan, which combines Greek mythology with a modern-day setting. “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis is a timeless fantasy novel that transports readers to a magical land through a mysterious wardrobe. Lastly, “The Hobbit” by J.R.R.

Tolkien is a beloved classic that introduces children to the enchanting world of Middle Earth. These books are sure to captivate the imaginations of 6th graders and leave them eagerly turning the pages.

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Free Lunch

“Free Lunch” by Rex Ogle is an emotionally charged and powerful story that delves into the struggles of a young boy dealing with poverty and bullying. This book explores important themes such as social inequality and middle school students’ challenges. With its authentic portrayal of complex issues, “Free Lunch” has garnered critical acclaim.

It catalyzes thought-provoking discussions on empathy, compassion, and resilience. Teachers and parents can utilize this book as a valuable tool to promote social awareness and emotional intelligence among young readers. By tackling complex topics head-on, “Free Lunch” provides a captivating and relatable narrative for sixth graders.

The Island

“The Island” by Gary Paulsen is an exhilarating tale of survival blended with fantasy elements. Wil Neuton, the protagonist, finds himself stranded on an enigmatic island and must rely on his ingenuity to stay alive. This gripping novel delves into themes of resilience, bravery, and the boundless power of imagination.

With its thrilling adventure and suspense, “The Island” is a top choice for readers who love a good adrenaline rush. Teachers highly recommend this thought-provoking read as it encourages students to think critically about their lives. Embark on this captivating journey and discover the transformative power of determination on “The Island.”

The River

“The River” by Gary Paulsen is a riveting survival adventure story that combines fantasy elements. The protagonist, Brian, finds himself in a challenging situation when he becomes stranded in the Canadian wilderness.

Throughout the book, readers are introduced to themes of resilience, problem-solving, and the awe-inspiring power of nature. This action-packed tale is perfect for young readers who enjoy stories with relatable characters and non-stop excitement. Teachers can use “The River” to foster critical thinking skills and inspire students to develop a deep appreciation for the great outdoors.

The Summer of My German Soldier

“The Summer of My German Soldier” is a captivating historical fiction novel by Bette Greene. During World War II’s turbulent times, this thought-provoking book delves into family, identity, and prejudice themes. The story revolves around the protagonist, a young Jewish girl, who forms an unlikely friendship with a German prisoner of war.

As the narrative unfolds, the protagonist faces complex moral dilemmas that test her beliefs and values. Renowned for its engaging plot, complex characters, and powerful messages, this book is highly recommended for 6th graders who enjoy historical fiction and want to explore deeper themes within a captivating story.

A View from Saturday

A View from Saturday, written by E.L. Konigsburg, is an enchanting Newbery Medal-winning book that takes readers on a captivating journey of self-discovery alongside four students and their teacher. This remarkable story successfully merges elements of magic and adventure with real-life issues like bullying and social isolation.

The diverse and relatable characters make it an engaging read for students in the sixth grade. A View from Saturday encourages critical thinking and prompts readers to reflect on their lives and relationships. With its themes of empathy and friendship, this book holds immense value as an addition to any middle school classroom library.


“Wringer” by Jerry Spinelli is a captivating book that delves into the themes of peer pressure and bullying uniquely and unbelievably. This thought-provoking story follows the journey of Palmer, a young boy who faces a difficult decision. As an award-winning children’s author, Spinelli has crafted a compelling narrative that resonates with readers. “Wringer” has received accolades such as the Newbery Honor award and is highly recommended for 6th graders seeking emotionally impactful stories.

With its exploration of important themes and engaging storytelling, “Wringer” will captivate young readers and spark meaningful discussions.

Harry Potter Series

The Harry Potter Series has captured the imagination of millions of readers around the world. Its well-developed characters, intricate plotlines, and magical setting make it a must-read for 6th graders. Through Harry Potter and his friends’ adventures, the series teaches valuable lessons about friendship, loyalty, and standing up for what’s right. It encourages young readers to think critically, solve problems, and unleash creativity.

With its captivating storytelling, the Harry Potter Series has the power to ignite a lifelong passion for reading in 6th graders. It’s a journey into a world of magic and wonder that will leave a lasting impression on young minds.

The Hunger Games

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins is a thrilling and thought-provoking dystopian novel that follows the journey of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen as she fights for survival in the Hunger Games. This book explores themes of rebellion, sacrifice, and the consequences of power, making it an excellent choice for young readers.

It is often used in classrooms to teach critical thinking and analysis skills. Additionally, “The Hunger Games” has been adapted into a successful movie franchise, further popularizing the book among young readers. With its gripping storyline and powerful themes, “The Hunger Games” is a must-read for sixth graders.


“Echo” is a captivating historical fiction/fantasy novel that delves into music, identity, and family. Penned by Pam Muñoz Ryan, this book masterfully intertwines three stories across different periods and locations. With its diverse cast of characters and a central focus on music, “Echo” offers a unique reading experience for 6th graders.

Garnering critical acclaim, this New York Times bestseller has received numerous prestigious awards. It is highly recommended for readers who seek a harmonious blend of history, enchantment, and heartwarming narratives. “Echo” is a must-read for sixth graders looking to embark on a captivating literary journey.


“Crenshaw” by Katherine Applegate is a heartwarming story that follows a young boy and his imaginary friend, a giant cat. This book tackles tough topics such as homelessness and poverty with compassion and accessibility. It promotes empathy and kindness towards others, making it a valuable read for readers of all ages. The themes of friendship and family in “Crenshaw” are relatable and well-developed, creating a memorable reading experience.

The book has received several accolades, including the Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children and the Josette Frank Award. With its powerful storytelling and important messages, “Crenshaw” is a must-read for middle schoolers and anyone looking for a compelling and thought-provoking book.

Book Scavenger

Book Scavenger, written by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, is an exciting mystery adventure that captivates young readers. The story revolves around 12-year-old Emily, who embarks on a thrilling journey of solving clues and puzzles to uncover hidden books. In addition to its gripping plot, the book delves into essential themes such as friendship, family, and the love of books.

Book Scavenger has garnered multiple awards and is highly recommended by educators and librarians. This fantasy novel entertains and cultivates problem-solving and critical-thinking skills in young readers. With its engaging storyline and thought-provoking content, Book Scavenger is a must-read for sixth graders seeking an immersive reading experience.

Which book should you start with?

If you’re wondering where to begin, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is an excellent choice for 6th graders. Other popular options include “Wonder,” “The Giver,” and “Holes.” Consider your child’s interests and reading level when selecting a starting book. Please encourage them to explore different genres for a well-rounded reading experience.


So where should you start with these books? It ultimately depends on your child’s preferences and reading ability. Consider their interests and let them choose a book that captivates their imagination. Remember, the joy of reading lies in discovering new stories and characters, so encourage them to explore beyond the recommended list.

Editorial Staff

I'm David Unwin and I head the editorial staff here at Teach and GO. I've taught as an ESL teacher in Thailand for 5+ years at all levels of education, from elementary to University. I was also one of the first 1000 VIPKID teachers. I and my team now share my extensive experience as a teacher here at Teach and GO. Learn more.

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