Must-Read 4th-6th Grade Chapter Books
Looking for excellent and diverse chapter books for 4th-6th graders? Consider the titles on our Children's Core Collection Lists, curated by Denver Public Library staff to ensure that a variety of reading levels, topics, themes, genres and more have been included. These lists include timeless classics, soon-to-be classics, funny books, touching books and lots in between.
Check out our other must-read lists for kids.
43 Best Middle-Grade Books About Friendship
Middle-grade books about friendship are always in high demand because what’s more pressing to a middle-schooler than friendship drama? These middle-grade books about friendship highlight the struggles of forming friendships, the challenges of maintaining a friendship, and of course, the joys of true friendships.
It was hard to make this list, because honestly, every middle-grade book I’ve read has some kind of focus on friendship. So for this list, I’ve made the effort to select books whose plots center on friendship. Essentially, friendship is the main event in these middle-grade books about friendship.
I’ve separated these books into two categories. The first one features unlikely friendships — many of which will tug at your heartstrings. The next category has all of the drama — sometimes ending happily still, but other times, not so happily ever after.
Best Middle-Grade Books About Friendships
Middle-Grade Books About Friendships – Favorite Unlikely Friendships
You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P
Jilly thinks she’s figured out how life works. But when her sister, Emma, is born deaf, she realizes how much she still has to learn. The world is going to treat Jilly, who is white and hearing, differently from Emma, just as it will treat them both differently from their Black cousins.
A big fantasy reader, Jilly makes a connection online with another fantasy fan, Derek, who is a Deaf, Black ASL user. She goes to Derek for help with Emma but doesn’t always know the best way or time to ask for it.
As she and Derek meet in person, have some really fun conversations, and become friends, Jilly makes some mistakes . . . but comes to understand that it’s up to her, not Derek to figure out how to do better next time–especially when she wants to be there for Derek the most.
Within a world where kids like Derek and Emma aren’t assured the same freedom or safety as kids like Jilly, Jilly is starting to learn all the things she doesn’t know–and by doing that, she’s also working to discover how to support her family and her friends.
The Sky at Our Feet
Jason has just learned that his Afghan mother has been living illegally in the United States since his father was killed in Afghanistan. Although Jason was born in the US, it’s hard to feel American now when he’s terrified that his mother will be discovered—and that they will be separated.
When he sees his mother being escorted from her workplace by two officers, Jason feels completely alone. He boards a train with the hope of finding his aunt in New York City, but as soon as he arrives in Penn Station, the bustling city makes him wonder if he’s overestimated what he can do.
After an accident lands him in the hospital, Jason finds an unlikely ally in a fellow patient. Max, a whip-smart girl who wants nothing more than to explore the world on her own terms, joins Jason in planning a daring escape out of the hospital and into the skyscraper jungle—even though they both know that no matter how big New York City is, they won’t be able to run forever.
You Go First
Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana.
Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.
During the course of one week, Charlotte and Ben—friends connected only by an online Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. The New York Times-bestselling novel You Go First reminds us that no matter how hard it is to keep our heads above troubled water, we never struggle alone.
It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes.
When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.
The Bridge Home
Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman’s stirring middle-grade debut.
Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers
When three very different girls find a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion, the promise of adventure and mischief is too intriguing to pass up. Ofelia Castillo (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it isn’t love at first sight.
But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice, independence, and an unforgettable summer, the girls form their own troop and find something they didn’t know they needed: sisterhood.
Emmy in the Key of Code
In a new city, at a new school, twelve-year-old Emmy has never felt more out of tune. Things start to look up when she takes her first coding class, unexpectedly connecting with the material—and Abigail, a new friend—through a shared language: music.
But when Emmy gets bad news about their computer teacher, and finds out Abigail isn’t being entirely honest about their friendship, she feels like her new life is screeching to a halt. Despite these obstacles, Emmy is determined to prove one thing: that, for the first time ever, she isn’t a wrong note, but a musician in the world’s most beautiful symphony.
Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Aleppo, Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope.
Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy from Washington, D.C. Lonely and homesick, Max is struggling at his new school and just can’t seem to do anything right. But with one startling discovery, Max and Ahmed’s lives collide and a friendship begins to grow. Together, Max and Ahmed will defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave and how hope can change your destiny.
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
Mason Buttle is the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade, and everyone knows he can barely read or write. Mason’s learning disabilities are compounded by grief. Fifteen months ago, Mason’s best friend, Benny Kilmartin, turned up dead in the Buttle family’s orchard.
An investigation drags on, and Mason, honest as the day is long, can’t understand why Lieutenant Baird won’t believe the story Mason has told about that day.
Both Mason and his new friend, tiny Calvin Chumsky, are relentlessly bullied by the other boys in their neighborhood, so they create an underground haven for themselves. When Calvin goes missing, Mason finds himself in trouble again. He’s desperate to figure out what happened to Calvin and, eventually, Benny.
But will anyone believe him?
The Only Black Girls in Town
Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black-and they have a year-old daughter just like her.
Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living.
When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie’s attic, they team up to figure out exactly who’s behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.
Weird Little Robots
Eleven-year-old Penny Rose has just moved to a new town, and so far the robots she builds herself are her only company. But with just a bit of magic, everything changes: she becomes best friends with Lark, has the chance to join a secret science club, and discovers that her robots are alive. Penny Rose hardly remembers how lonely she used to feel.
But then a fateful misstep forces her to choose between the best friend she’s always hoped for and the club she’s always dreamed of, and in the end it may be her beloved little robots that pay the price. Quirky and wonderful, this illustrated chapter book from Carolyn Crimi and Corinna Luyken shows that making your own space and a true friend in the world is a kind of magic all its own.
The Way to Bea
Seventh grade isn’t starting off so well for Beatrix Lee. Bea used to have friends…and now she doesn’t. She was an only child…and now she’s going to be a big sister. She used to fit in…and now she stands out for all the wrong reasons.
She takes solace in writing poems in ink that is as invisible as she feels, and hiding them in a secret spot. But then something incredible happens–someone starts writing back. Is it her former best friend? The editor of the school paper? The caring librarian who always offers the perfect book? Or the boy whose obsession with labyrinths is as intense as Bea’s love for words? In solving the mystery, Bea just might discover where she belongs.
Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home.
To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.
Let’s Pretend We Never Met
If it were up to Mattie Markham, there would be a law that said your family wasn’t allowed to move in the middle of the school year. After all, sixth grade is hard enough without wondering if you’ll be able to make new friends or worrying that the kids in Pennsylvania won’t like your North Carolina accent.
But when Mattie meets her next-door neighbor and classmate, she begins to think maybe she was silly to fear being the “new girl.” Agnes is like no one Mattie has ever met—she’s curious, hilarious, smart, and makes up the best games. If winter break is anything to go by, the rest of the school year should be a breeze.
Only it isn’t, because when vacation ends and school starts, Mattie realizes something: At school Agnes is known as the weird girl who no one likes. All Mattie wants is to fit in (okay, and maybe be a little popular too), but is that worth ending her friendship with Agnes?
Liar and Spy
When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?
Mavis Jeeter is fearless and bold, but she has never lived in one place long enough to have a real best friend. Her flighty mother has uprooted them again to another new home and taken a job as a housekeeper for the Tully family. Mavis wants this home to be permanent—which means finding herself a best friend.
Rose Tully is a worrier who feels like she doesn’t quite fit in with the other girls in her neighborhood. Her closest friend is Mr. Duffy, but he hasn’t been himself since his dog died. Rose may have to break a few of her mother’s many rules to help Mr. Duffy—and find someone who really understands her.
Henry has run away from home, but he craves kindness and comfort—and doesn’t know where to look for them.
When Mavis and Rose hatch a scheme to find Mr. Duffy a new dog, their lives and Henry’s intersect—and they all come to find friendship in places they never expected.
Told from four intertwining points of view—two boys and two girls—the novel celebrates bravery, being different, and finding your inner bayani (hero). “Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast of misfits.”—Booklist
In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and she loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so he can concentrate on basketball.
They aren’t friends, at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.
My Jasper June
The school year is over, and it is summer in Atlanta. The sky is blue, the sun is blazing, and the days brim with possibility. But Leah feels. . . lost. She has been this way since one terrible afternoon a year ago, when everything changed. Since that day, her parents have become distant, her friends have fallen away, and Leah’s been adrift and alone.
Then she meets Jasper, a girl unlike anyone she has ever known. There’s something mysterious about Jasper, almost magical. And Jasper, Leah discovers, is also lost.
Together, the two girls carve out a place for themselves, a hideaway in the overgrown spaces of Atlanta, away from their parents and their hardships, somewhere only they can find.
But as the days of this magical June start to draw to a close, and the darker realities of their lives intrude once more, Leah and Jasper have to decide how real their friendship is, and whether it can be enough to save them both.
The Reckless Club
On the last day of middle school, five kids who couldn’t be more different commit separate pranks, each sure they won’t be caught and they can’t get in trouble. They’re wrong.
As punishment, they each have to volunteer one beautiful summer day-the last one before school-at Northbrook Retirement and Assisted Living Home, where they’ll push creamed carrots into toothless mouths, perform the world’s most pathetic skit in front of residents who won’t remember it anyway, hold gnarled hands of peach fuzzed old ladies who relentlessly push hard candies, and somehow forge a bond with each other that has nothing to do with what they’ve done and everything to do with who they’re becoming.
All the action takes place in the course of this one day, with each chapter one hour of that day, as the five kids reveal what they’ve done, why they did it, and what they’re going to do now.
Save Me a Seat
Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they’re both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL.
Joe’s lived in the same town all his life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own.
Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in.
Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common — but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.
Emily Out of Focus
Twelve-year-old Emily is flying with her parents to China to adopt and bring home a new baby sister. She’s excited but nervous to travel across the world and very aware that this trip will change her entire life. And the cracks are already starting to show the moment they reach the hotel—her parents are all about the new baby, and have no interest in exploring.
In the adoption trip group, Emily meets Katherine, a Chinese-American girl whose family has returned to China to adopt a second child. The girls eventually become friends and Katherine reveals a secret: she’s determined to find her birth mother, and she wants Emily’s help.
New country, new family, new responsibilities—it’s all a lot to handle, and Emily has never felt more alone.
Other than their first names, Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are sure they have nothing in common, and they wouldn’t mind keeping it that way.
Naomi Marie starts clubs at the library and adores being a big sister. Naomi Edith loves quiet Saturdays and hanging with her best friend in her backyard. And while Naomi Marie’s father lives a few blocks away, Naomi Edith wonders how she’s supposed to get through each day a whole country apart from her mother.
When Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi Edith’s dad get serious about dating, each girl tries to cling to the life she knows and loves. Then their parents push them into attending a class together, where they might just have to find a way to work with each other—and maybe even join forces to find new ways to define family.
A Place at the Table
Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression.
The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners . . . but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends?
A Galaxy of Sea Stars
Eleven-year-old Izzy feels as though her whole world is shifting, and she doesn’t like it. She wants her dad to act like he did before he was deployed to Afghanistan. She wants her mom to live with them at the marina where they’ve moved instead of spending all her time on Block Island. Most of all, she wants Piper, Zelda, and herself―the Sea Stars―to stay best friends, as they start sixth grade in a new school.
Everything changes when Izzy’s father invites his former interpreter’s family, including eleven-year-old Sitara, to move into the marina’s upstairs apartment. Izzy doesn’t know what to make of Sitara―with her hijab and refusal to eat cafeteria food―and her presence disrupts the Sea Stars. But in Sitara Izzy finds someone brave, someone daring, someone who isn’t as afraid as Izzy is to use her voice and speak up for herself. As Izzy and Sitara grow closer, Izzy must make a choice: stay in her comfort zone and risk betraying her new friend, or speak up and lose the Sea Stars forever.
Middle-Grade Books About Friendships – Friendship Drama
Jamila Phillips and Tai Johnson have been inseparable since they were toddlers, having grown up across the street from each other in Pirates Cove, a low-income housing project. As summer comes to an end, Tai can’t wait for Mila to return from spending a month with her aunt in the suburbs. But both girls are grappling with secrets, and when Mila returns she’s more focused on her upcoming dance auditions than hanging out with Tai.
Paula Chase explores complex issues that affect many young teens, and So Done offers a powerful message about speaking up. Full of ballet, basketball, family, and daily life in Pirates Cove, this memorable novel is for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Jason Reynolds’s Ghost.
Well, That Was Awkward
Gracie has never felt like this before. One day, she suddenly can’t breathe, can’t walk, can’t anything—and the reason is standing right there in front of her, all tall and weirdly good-looking: A.J.
But it turns out A.J. likes not Gracie but Gracie’s beautiful best friend, Sienna. Obviously Gracie is happy for Sienna. Super happy! She helps Sienna compose the best texts, responding to A.J.’s surprisingly funny and appealing texts, just as if she were Sienna. Because Gracie is fine. Always! She’s had lots of practice being the sidekick, second-best.
It’s all good. Well, almost all. She’s trying.
The Thing About Jellyfish
After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting–things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.
Real Friends (Graphic Novel)
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.
Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group―or out?
The Friendship Experiment
Future scientist Madeline Little is dreading the start of middle school. Nothing has been right since her grandfather died and her best friend changed schools. Maddie would rather help her father in his research lab or write Standard Operating Procedures in her lab notebook than hang out with a bunch of kids who aren’t even her friends.
Despite Maddie’s reluctance, some new friends start coming her way—until they discover what she’s written in that secret notebook. And that’s just part of the trouble. Can this future scientific genius find the formula for straightening out her life?
Honeybees and Frenemies
It’s the summer before eighth grade and Flor is stuck at home and working at her family’s mattress store, while her best friend goes off to band camp (probably to make new friends). It becomes even worse when she’s asked to compete in the local honey pageant. This means Flor has to spend the summer practicing her talent (recorder) and volunteering (helping a recluse bee-keeper) with Candice, her former friend who’s still bitter about losing the pageant crown to Flor when they were in second grade. And she can’t say no.
Then there’s the possibility that Flor and her family are leaving to move in with her mom’s family in New Jersey. And with how much her mom and dad have been fighting lately, is it possible that her dad may not join them? Flor can’t let that happen. She has a lot of work to do.
Allie Navarro can’t wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. CLICK’D pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other.
And it’s a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking about CLICK’D. Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone’s making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition.
But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone’s secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt–all before she steps on stage to present CLICK’D to the judges?
Karma Khullar’s Mustache
Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.
With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.
The Queen Bee and Me
Meg has always found comfort in her best friend Beatrix’s shadow. Self-assured Beatrix is the one who makes decisions, and the girls have been a pair since kindergarten. But middle school has brought some changes in Beatrix, especially when Meg tries to step outside her role as sidekick.
A special science elective is Meg’s first step away, but when she’s paired with quirky new girl Hazel, Beatrix steps in to stake her claim on Meg. Meg is taken aback at how mean Beatrix can be–and how difficult it is to stand up to her friend. But as Meg gets to know Hazel while working on their backyard beehive project, she starts to wonder: Is being Beatrix’s friend worth turning down the possibility of finding her own voice?
This pitch-perfect exploration of middle-school friendship dynamics brims with heart and hope, and will resonate with readers of all ages.
Keep It Together, Keiko Carter
Seventh grade is supposed to be a game changer. And Keiko thinks she’s got it covered, especially with Audrey and Jenna by her side to shop for a new look, pick out a prime lunch spot, and even hit up that cute new bubble tea place after school. Her trio is ready to tackle life as they always have… together.
But when Audrey decides they need boyfriends before Fall Ball, it looks like things may be changing in all the wrong ways. Jenna is sick of caving in to Audrey’s demands, and soon Keiko’s besties are barely talking, leaving her caught in the middle. While she’s been dreaming about triple-dates, first kisses, and a boy she really shouldn’t have a crush on, the friendship she’s always thought was rock-solid is beginning to crumble.
Keiko feels pulled in two directions. Should she try to help her friends — even if it means losing one of them — or follow her heart? When it comes to flirting, friendships, and fallouts, how is Keiko supposed to keep it all together?
From the Desk of Zoe Washington
Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?
A crime he says he never committed.
Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.
But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.
That’s What Friends Do
Samantha Goldstein and David Fisher have been friends ever since they met on their town’s Little League baseball team. But when a new kid named Luke starts hanging out with them, what was a comfortable pair becomes an awkward trio.
Luke’s comments make Sammie feel uncomfortable—but all David sees is how easily Luke flirts with Sammie, and so David decides to finally make a move on the friend he’s always had a crush on.
Soon things go all wrong and too far, and Sammie and David are both left feeling hurt, confused, and unsure of themselves, without anyone to talk to about what happened.
As rumors start flying around the school, David must try to make things right (if he can) and Sammie must learn to speak up about what’s been done to her.
Deontae “Simp” Wright has big plans for his future. Plans that involve basketball, his best friend, Rollie, and making enough money to get his mom and four younger brothers out of the Cove, their low-income housing project.
Long term, this means the NBA. Short term, it means being a dough boy—getting paid to play lookout and eventually moving up the rungs of the neighborhood drug operation with Rollie as his partner.
Roland “Rollie” Matthews used to love playing basketball. He loved the rhythm of the game, how he came up with his best drumbeats after running up and down the court. But playing with the elite team comes with extra, illegal responsibilities, and Rollie isn’t sure he’s down for that life. The new talented-and-gifted program, where Rollie has a chance to audition for a real-life go-go band, seems like the perfect excuse to stop being a dough boy. But how can he abandon his best friend?
The Long Ride
Jamila Clarke. Josie Rivera. Francesca George. Three mixed-race girls, close friends whose immigrant parents worked hard to settle their families in a neighborhood with the best schools. The three girls are outsiders there, but they have each other.
Now, at the start seventh grade, they are told they will be part of an experiment, taking a long bus ride to a brand-new school built to “mix up the black and white kids.” Their parents don’t want them to be experiments. Francesca’s send her to a private school, leaving Jamila and Josie to take the bus ride without her.
While Francesca is testing her limits, Josie and Jamila find themselves outsiders again at the new school. As the year goes on, the Spanish girls welcome Josie, while Jamila develops a tender friendship with a boy–but it’s a relationship that can exist only at school.
The Friendship Lie
Cora Davis’s life is garbage. Literally. Her professor parents study what happens to trash after it gets thrown away, and Cora knows exactly how it feels–to be thrown away. Between her mom and dad separating and a fallout with her best friend, fifth grade for Cora has been a year of feeling like being tossed into the dumpster.
But Cora has learned a couple of things from her parents’ trash-tracking studies: Things don’t always go where they’re supposed to, and sometimes the things you thought you got rid of come back. And occasionally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, which Cora and Sybella learn when they come across a diary detailing best-friendship problems. Told in two intertwining points of view, comes a warm, wry story of friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself.
The Right Hook of Devin Velma
Devin wants to hit it big on the internet by pulling a stunt at an NBA game—one the entire nation will be watching. Addison can’t turn Devin down, but he can barely manage talking to his teachers without freezing up. How’s he supposed to handle the possibility of being a viral sensation?
Addi’s not sure why Devin is bent on pulling off this almost-impossible feat. Maybe it has something to do with Devin’s dad’s hospital bills. Maybe it all goes back to the Double-Barreled Monkey Bar Backflip of Doom. Or maybe it’s something else entirely. No matter what, though, it’s risky for both of them, and when the big day finally comes, Devin’s plan threatens more than just their friendship.
With memorable protagonists and a wonderful supporting cast, The Right Hook of Devin Velma is a one-of-kind knockout in middle-grade fiction.
It’s Amanda’s 11th birthday and she is super excited—after all, 11 is so different from But from the start, everything goes wrong. The worst part of it all is that she and her best friend, Leo, with whom she’s shared every birthday, are on the outs and this will be the first birthday they haven’t shared together.
When Amanda turns in for the night, glad to have her birthday behind her, she wakes up happy for a new day. Or is it? Her birthday seems to be repeating iself. What is going on?! And how can she fix it? Only time, friendship, and a little luck will tell. . .
11 before 12
The first day of middle school means trading in freeze tag at the pool for new schedules, fabulous outfits, and a fresh start. But for eleven-year-old Kaylan, the chaos of new locker combinations, cafeteria cliques, and potential first kisses is more than she can handle. She dreads the start of sixth grade and feels like she wants—no, needs—a winning game plan.
Luckily, Kaylan and her effortlessly chill BFF, Arianna, have a fool-proof plan for tackling transitions: a list of eleven things they need to do to totally transform themselves before they both turn twelve in November.
But between making guy friends, getting detention (and makeovers!), helping humanity, and having super-candid conversations with their moms about their flaws, the first days of school turn out worse than Kaylan ever imagined. Kaylan and Ari forget to focus on their friendship and soon their loyalty to the list—what was meant to help them keep it together—becomes the very thing tearing their lives apart.
Lemonade Liberty Witt’s mama always told her: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But Lem can’t possibly make lemonade out of her new life in Willow Creek, California—the Bigfoot Capital of the World—where she’s forced to live with a grandfather she’s never met after her mother passes away.
Then she meets eleven-year-old Tobin Sky, the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives Inc., who is the sole Bigfoot investigator for their small town. After he invites Lem to be his assistant for the summer, they set out on an epic adventure to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film. But along the way, Lem and Tobin end up discovering more than they ever could have imagined. And Lem realizes that maybe she can make lemonade out of her new life after all.
There they are: 43 of the best middle-grade books about friendships! Whether you’re looking for a book for tweens about unlikely friendships or some major friendship drama, there’s something for you on this list!
Do you enjoy middle-grade books about friendships? Which are your best middle-grade books about friendships? I’d love to hear your recs!
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45 Book Series for 6th Graders (11 Year Olds)
Find 26 compelling book series for your 6th graders (year-olds) to keep them reading. Because theres nothing like a good book; even better when its in a series!
See the 5th grade list here.
Go to the 7th grade list here.
45 Book Series for 6th Graders (Year-Olds)
Fantasy & Sci-Fi
Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadowsby Ryan Calejo
FANTASY / ADVENTURE
Charlie Hernándezs house burns down, his parents go missing, and he is sent to a foster home. But its when he grows HORNS, the WINGS, and meets the MYTHS in real life like calacas, mukis, and El Justo Juez that hes 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 if hes the prophesied Morphling who is meant to save the world. I highly recommend Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo its immediately engaging with the perfect balance of action, dialogue, & description interspersed with Spanish words and phrases.
The Serpents 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 shes a princess from another realm and her parents are trapped in a black hole-type place. But theres a lot more shell learn like who her real parents are (yikes!) and that demons can be your friends. The princes demon grandma, Ai-Ma, is my FAVORITE character. She says things like Be good, sweet beetle-dung toadstools. Okay, Kiranmalas parents are super awesome, too. Youll love every second of this entertaining, Indian mythology adventure.
The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier, illustrated by Douglas Colgate
An easier read for 6th graders that makes the zombie apocalypse fun. At least thats how Jack approaches life and zombie fighting. He and his best friend, Quint, live in an upgraded, well-defended treehouse where they plan to rescue his crush June (she doesnt need rescuing by the way) and fight zombies. Illustrations throughout make this even more appealing to read and imagine. Delightful. Who would have thought?! BOXED SET HERE.
A Tale of Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
This book is macabre but an excellent, imaginative story that weaves Hansel and Gretel with eight more Grimm fairy tales. Hansel and Gretel abandon their terrible parents in order to find better ones ones that won’t try to kill them. The narrator, a strong, quirky voice, warns us of the bloody things to come. While hes sometimes distracting, for the most part, I liked how 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. This book will make you want to reread your Complete Brothers Grimm. The other books in the series are not so gruesome as this first one but equally well-done.
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
review written by year old JJ
This series was AMAZING! It was a murder mystery on the moon. I can never turn down a good, realistic si-fi PLUS murder mystery. It has it all! It was placed in and their second-in-command had died. He had walked out the airlock (to the moon’s surface) with his space suit on wrong he died in seconds. Everyone thought he had gone crazy, but Dashiel Givson suspected differently. Murder. The first book is almost mirrored in the second the base commander this time disappears. With just enough breaking the rules, they can figure out where she is and who did it. Boxed set here.
The Ruins of Gorlan: Rangers Apprentice by John A. Flanagan
Will is apprenticed to become a Ranger, a job hes unsure about. But as he develops a relationship with his master and learns what being a Ranger is all about (spying for the kingdom), and comes to embrace his new life. When an old enemy of the kingdom sends out dangerous beasts to attack Wills master, Will is instrumental in getting help and killing the creatures. Action, fantasy, adventure, friendship, excellent writing this book has it all!Rangers Apprentice is a must-read, mesmerizing epic fantasy. Boxed Set HERE.
Edge of Extinction The Ark Plan by Laura Martin
Action from the first page! Its a dangerous world ever since cloned dinosaurs have taken over the earth. Now Sky and her fellow humans live below ground in safety with Noah as their supreme ruler. Sky discovers that her missing (maybe traitor?) father left her a secret note with cryptic instructions on how he could be found. She decides to leave the underground city in order to find her dad. Barely outside a day, she and her friend Shawn are rescued from hungry dinosaurs by a boy who lives in a treetop enclave. When his enclave is attacked by Noahs soldiers looking for her, Sky realizes that everything she believed about Noah is wrong and is even more determined to find her father. I LOVED every page of this book series and know your 6th graders will, too!
Lockwood & Co The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Dangerous ghosts and spirits are appearing everywhere in London but only certain kids can see them. Teens Lucy, Anthony, and George badly need money for their ghost-hunting agency, Lockwood & Co., so they take a perilous job that, if the ghosts have their way, may just be their last. An enthralling, spooky adventure series. Boxed set here.
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
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 shell face danger from both worlds. Her only hope is to regain the memories about her past. Boxed set here.
The Fog Diver by Joel Ross
SCI-FI / DYSTOPIAN
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. Excellent suspense in a fascinating world with interesting characters and plot.
Masterminds by Gordon Korman
This is a really well-written series! If youre like us, youll be on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what is going on. Eli and his friends discover that their utopian town is all a big science experiment. To determine if kids with bad genes, kids cloned from criminal masterminds, can be good when raised in the so-called right environment, a group of scientists pose as parents and create a perfect, closed community. Once the kids discover the truth, they know they cant stay in the town anymore. But when they try to escape, they feel violent pain and guards are alerted. If they do escape, what will they do next?
Ali Cross by James Patterson
ADVENTURE / MYSTERY
If you want an enthralling adventure & mystery that you cant put down, read this one next. Its Christmas Eve and Alis 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 dads service weapon. Ali knows he has to try to fix things, starting by finding his friend Gabe. Dont miss book two, Like Father, Like Son.
Hera: The Goddess and her Glory by George OConner
MYTHOLOGY / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Both my kids love OConners graphic novels and cant wait for his next book, Hades. If youre big Greek mythology fans, check out his other books, Athena and Zeus: King of the Gods.
Jinxed by Amy McCulloch
SCIENCE FICTION (series)
This is “a fairy tale, but not of princes and frogs, ball gowns and pumpkins, but of makers and metal, of wire and ingenuity and inspiration and creativity and invention. In this evolved society, the 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. When her baku Jinx starts to work, hes noticeably different than the others because he can speak into her mind and think for himself! So when she starts competing with other kids at her prestigious school in the battle of the bakus, Jinx doesnt follow the rules which lead to two bad things his capture and the discovery of a sinister truth about the MONCHA company. Fantastic, fast-paced, and thought-provoking.
The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke
When the government cracks down and discovers her moms secret lab, Nere learns that her mom has experimented on her . . . and many other kids . . . so that they can survive underwater. Suddenly Nere has gills and is forced to swim for her life to meet up with the other kids who are part of the Neptune Project, traveling to where her not-really-dead-after-all father has built an underwater headquarters. The journey is dangerous and theres tension within the group. Will they survive the trip and if they do, to what end? (The second book, The Neptune Challenge, is also fantastic.)
Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks
SCI-FI / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Sanity and Tallulah are two good friends who live on a space station. Sanity is a brilliant inventor but her newest (illegal) creation, a three-headed kitten named Princess Destroyer of Worlds has escaped and is living up to her name destroyer. The friends look for their missing kitten but instead discover a big problem that will destroy the space station only its not caused by the kitten. While the station is evacuated, the friends work hard to stop the duct weasels and the engine from overheating. I love the space station setting, the super-smart problem-solving main characters, and the non-stop action.
Podkin One-Ear The Legend Begins by Kieran Larwood
Well-written and enthralling, youll love every moment of this story about a young rabbit who reluctantly grows into his destiny. One cold winter night, the night before Bramblemas, a traveling bard seeks shelter in Thornwood Warren. Hes offered shelter and food in exchange for his stories; stories about the heroic Podkin One-Ear. Alternating between the bards present moment experience and the story of Podkin, we learn that young Podkin was a lazy, spoiled prince. When the cruel Gorm who are metal dark magic rabbits arrive at his familys burrow to kill everyone inside, Podkin escapes with his much braver sister and little brother. No longer able to be spoiled and lazy, Podkin tries his best to be brave and pull his weight, often failing miserably but occasionally succeeding, too.
Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard
ADVENTURE / SCI-FI (series)
Darkus Cuttles museum director dad mysteriously disappears from a locked room in the museum. Darkus learns that theres something very strange going on . . . and it has to do with intelligent beetles and a cruel benefactress of the museum. This middle-grade chapter book took me by surprise, its filled with charm, uniqueness, and interest.
Impyrium by Henry H. Neff
Hazel is the third granddaughter, a princess who resembles no one else in the family except the most dangerous magician ruler the kingdom ever knew. She, like her ancestor, is gifted at magic and her grandmother wants to use Hazels magic to protect the kingdom. But its an unjust kingdom, and Hob, a young spy and commoner boy in her service, wants things to change. Hazel will face a choice to follow in the dark magic footsteps of her ancestor. Hob will face doing what hes ordered or following his heart. Plots within plots, twists and turns, make this an enthralling new fantasy adventure.
Voyage of the Frostheart by Jamie Littler
Voyage of the Frostheart is a fantastic, illustrated adventure chapter book story about an orphan boy with forbidden musical powers. After Ashs Pathfinder parents disappear, Ash moves in with a strict guardian Yeti named Tobu. Unfortunately, theyre banished from their home when Ash uses his forbidden Song Weaver magic. They leave the village with a Pathfinder crew, a ship that sails over the snow. On their journey, Ash realizes that he can find his parents using the words in his childhood lullaby. But hell be tried, tested, and tricked. Who will he trust? And which side will he choose light or dark?
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Youll love this strong female princess named Cimorene who doesnt want to be a damsel in distress princess and leaves her home to apprentice herself to a dragon. For fun. No rescuing involved, thank you very much. Once there, she must help save her dragon from a nasty group of wizards. We LOVE and highly recommend this girl-power series. Box set here.
The Ghost Network: Activate by I.I. Davidson
Jack and his friend are hackers who get taken to a top-secret tech school where dangerous secrets are hidden behind the STEM school facade. Not only are the kids in danger but there also seems to be a computer implanted inside their brains telling them what to do! The story intrigued me from the get-go but after about the middle, the action was so fast-paced and suspenseful, I was totally hooked.
The Quest for the Truth by Brock Eastman
SCI-FI / CHRISTIAN
Fast-paced and engaging, this story itself is set in intriguing, a futuristic world. Four siblings archeologist parents are kidnapped by forces trying to find artifacts which will lead them to eternal life. The kids pursue both the artifacts and their missing parents across different planets where they discover a hidden civilization of blue-colored people, escape a dangerous laboratory with predatory creatures including dinosaurs, learn a friend is really a foe, and get captured by pirates.
The Last Dogs: The Vanishingby Christopher Holt
All humans mysteriously vanish one day. Max, a yellow Lab, knows that he must find and save his human family, wherever they are. From the moment he escapes the kennel at the vets, Max and his friends, Rocky and Gizmo, face huge obstacles in his quest to find his humans including starving wolves, no food, a gang of subway rats, a house of cats, and the controlling Corporation, a perfect society for dogs where everyone works and no one can leave. I LOVED this entire series.
Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams
DYSTOPIAN ADVENTURE (series)
In pursuit of his missing father, Will finds a crazy, cult-like subterranean group (The Colony) controlled by frightening leaders who will stop at nothing to maintain control and order in their colony below the surface of the earth.
Rump by Liesl Shurtliff
FRACTURED FAIRY TALE
In this powerful story from Rumplestiltskins perspective, youll read how Rump discovers who he is and grows into his potential. It takes some work but Rump learns hes trapped in his moms 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.
Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older
HISTORICAL FICTION (+ FANTASY)
Take a thrilling ride through Civil War history with DINOSAURS! In this exciting adventure with diversity, slavers kidnap most of the orphans in NYCs Colored Orphan Asylum but the small group of kids that escapes to join with the Vigilance Committee to fight back and rescue their kidnapped friends. What I LOVE about this book:
* action-packed plot
* both reimagined & actual history
* the diversity of the main characters
* that dinosaurs and dactyls still exist!! And are used as air, land, and sea transportation * couldnt put it down!
Five Kingdoms: Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull
FANTASY / ADVENTURE
Brandon Mull has outdone himself with an inventive, totally unique world and characters! Cole, a regular kid, is trick-or-treating with his friends when kidnappers arrive. Cole manages to hide in safety so he can follow the kidnappers but its to another world, a world of five kingdoms, slavery, and magic. Cole isnt safe for long. Hes discovered and sold to slavers. There hell battle mysterious beings living on cloud castles, discover an exiled princess, escape from slavery, and have unimaginable adventures trying to find his missing friends. Dont miss this epic fantasy adventure. Box set here.
The Adventurers Guild by Zach Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos
Get ready for your new favorite fantasy adventure series. Zed and Brock dont 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 on a outside the city fact-finding mission that uncovers treachery, fiendish beasts, and Zeds untapped magic. Imaginative world-building, intriguing plot twists, and complex characters kept me enthralled from page one!
Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit
This is National Geographics first fictional book series with full-color illustrations that hits the spot with an exciting mix of science, technology, adventure, and mystery. Newly accepted into the prestigious Explorer Academy for science and exploration, Cruz realizes that someone is trying to kill him; someone who doesnt want him finding out about his mothers mysterious research and untimely death. Youll love the cool tech, amazing friendships, plot twists, and intriguing premise.
The Last Gate of the Emperorby Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen
Yareds Uncle Moti moves them around frequently so when Yared gives his real name during an augmented reality game, he doesnt think the soldiers that arrive are after him. But they are. And everything he believed about his life turns out to be a lieincluding his identity. Yared partners with another game player, the Ibis, to escape the troops and the giant monster and find the truth. The two clever, quick-witted kids face incredible danger, insurmountable odds, and a galaxy-spanning war but Yared has been trained for this and he is ready to fight. Set in a futuristic Ethiopian empire, this exciting adventure grabs your interest and keeps it through wild twists and turns that feature heroic main characters!
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Set in a dystopian society, this Newbery medal winner grabs your attention and keeps it until the end. What is going on in this strictly controlled community? When Jonas is assigned his job as Receiver of Memory he learns just how much the government has suppressed from the peoples knowledge not to mention that theyre giving pills meant to control peoples behavior and that they murder so-called defective babies and older people. When his foster baby brother is up to be killed, Jonas must decide how he will save them both. BOX SET
Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster
Tor Lulna wishes for a different gift that hes given and ends up with a curse. This prompts a journey with his friends to leave their homes and search for the evil Night Witch who might break Tors curse. Along the way, the friends encounter new lands, people, and dangerous monsters. Interspersed through the story are myths from their culture that may actually give them a map to find the Night Witch. Columbian mythology, an exciting adventure, and a very surprising ending add up to a fantastic first book in a new series.
Crown of Three by J.D. Rinehart
The realm is ruled but a power-hungry and despicable king. When his mistress gives birth to triplets of a prophecy, the three children are spirited away and hidden separately. Now that the children are older, each of them face challenges and adventures that lead them to the truth of who they really are the foretold saviors of the empire. Its a great adventure story with cool creatures, a few zombies, danger, and epic kid-power.
Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, illustrated by Laura Park
REALISTIC / HUMOR
Rafes 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 story is will crack you up. A totally hilarious premise and fantastic writing. Boxed Set HERE.
The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
Hilarious. While on a class trip to Washington D.C., Wyatt and his best friend, Matt, are positive theyve discovered a plot to blow up the White House. Wyatts 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.
A Whole Nother Story by Cuthbert Soup
Mr. Cheeseman, his three relatively odor-free children, a psychic hairless dog, and a sock puppet named Steve are on the run. Why? Because Mr. Cheeseman invented a time machine, of course. Now theyre being chased by international super spies, top-secret government agents, and a genius monkey. Dr. Cuthbert Soup, the head of the Center of Unsolicited Advice, narrates this wild wacky adventure that 6th graders with a love for quirky humor will enjoy.
Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan
The artistic Applewhite family offers to homeschool Jake after hes expelled from yet another school. Jake moves in with this unusual family to attend their Creative Academy but clashes with E.D., one of the not-so-artistic children. Quirky and funny.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
A boy whose nickname is Ghost accidentally gets on a track team and its life-changing. His coach becomes a mentor and father figure who pushes Ghost to take responsibility for his mistakes (stealing sneakers) and to start dealing with the ghosts of his past. Well-written and hopeful about growing up and growing into yourself.
The Vanderbeekers of st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Like The Penderwicks, your 6th graders will 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 its almost Christmas and their efforts are only making things worse. What will they do? Charming and heart-warming.
New Kid by Jerry Craft
REALISTIC / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Jordans parents make him go to a private school across town where hes 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 artwork. This story feels truthful, relatable, and important.
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
ven Green is used to making up creative stories for why she doesnt have any arms. Especially now in Arizona where her parents are the new managers a rundown theme park. She befriends a boy at school who, like her, feels different and isolated from the other kids. His name is Connor and he has Tourette Syndrome. Together, he, another new friend named Zion, and Aven investigate a mysterious storage shed at the theme park which leads them to a mystery involving Avens past. This story is about restorative friendship, facing your fears, and discovering your true (significant) potential. I loved the physical and mental diversity shown with so much strength and compassion. This would be a GREAT read-aloud for classrooms and for at home. Theres much to love and discuss!! (Added to my Physical Disabilities Book List.)
Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick
This series kept one of my daughters reading all summer last year. The story begins when a group of 6th graders start a mother-daughter book club. Each book in the series focuses on one of the books the girls read (such as Little Women, Daddy Long Legs, and Pride and Prejudice) as well as the relationships of the girls among themselves, the relationships with their mothers, and the tricky business of growing up. Box Set Here.
All Four Stars by Tara Dairman
I loved this engaging story about food-enthusiast Gladys suffering in a house of microwaving parents without a taste bud between them. Gladys not only appreciates good food, but she also loves to cook and wants to be a food critic. She already has lots of practice writing her daily notes about her parents horrid creations. When a mix-up in a writing contest has the editors of a paper thinking she’s an adult, can she actually write a published review without letting anyone know she’s 10 years old? A FAVORITE book of my year-old daughter!
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 in middle school are doing.
Adventure / Mystery
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham
ADVENTURE / MYSTERY
Even though hes only years-old, Theo knows all about being a lawyer. In fact, to prepare for his career, he gives legal advice to anyone who needs it. But when he learns about a reluctant murder witness, the only witness, who is an illegal immigrant and scared to come forward, Theo must figure out what the right thing to do is. Box set here.
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 delightful, atmospheric mystery series.
Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibb
The story starts out fast and furious with Einstein’s death and a huge secret he accidentally says in German Then it goes to the present day when the CIA asks a super genius 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 youll love!
The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
I LOVE this fantastically developed historical fiction story for several reasons the girl-centric history is really interesting (and empowering), the characters are so well-developed you feel as if you know them, and the plot is a grand adventure! The author imagines a friendship between Ada Byron, genius daughter of Lord Byron and the worlds first computer programmer, and Mary Shelley, the worlds first science-fiction author who almost could have been friends in real life but for about a decade of years. Mary joins Ada to study with Adas tutor and the duo form a detective agency. In this first adventure, Mary and Ada learn about another historical figure who invented hypnotism and solve the case of a stolen heirloom.
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 hes maltreated and bullied. In this prequel to the series, Nicholas discovers theres a treasure somewhere in the orphanage. He and his friend search for clues as well as find ways to improve life for all the orphans there. Boxed set here.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
On his way to visit his dad, year-old Brians plane crashes in the Canadian wild. All alone with only a hatchet, hes forced to grow up quickly in order to survive each harrowing day. Readers will quickly imagine themselves in Brians perilous situation. An award-winning chapter book with a compelling narrative.
Lost in the Pacific, Not a Drop to Drink by Tod Olson
ADVENTURE / TRUE STORY HISTORICAL (series)
Lost is a riveting retelling of a soldiers plane crash then weeks of thirst and starvation in the perilous south seas on precarious lifeboats. The fast-paced writing moves the story along with purpose and the photographic evidence is fascinating. 6th grade readers will be hard-pressed to put this intense true-story down.
To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson
Someone is trying to frame Jackson for a prank he didnt even commit and theyre 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 his innocence but it wont be easy. A fun plot with twists and turns and the 2nd book after The Great Greene Heist.
Strandedby Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts
A storm sinks the stepsiblings ship and they barely make it to a deserted island. Theyll have to work together to survive. And hope their parents can find them. The books are great fast-paced reading for anyone who loves action and adventure.
Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick
When 7th grade Frankies 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 Colettes whereabouts keeps every moment of the story suspenseful. Frankie and her twin sister piece together Colettes last known locations. As they do, it helps Frankie accept herself and forgive Colette and her sister. Its a brilliant, touching first-person story that gives us insights into a neurodivergent characters brain in a suspenseful mystery story.
Chains, Forge, Ashes(Seeds of America) by Laurie Halse Anderson
Live the Revolutionary War time period through the eyes of an African-American girl named Isabel and her friend, Cuzon. Enslaved, escaped, or enlisted, these two are determined survivors. The writing is amazing and the stories, captivating. I love and highly recommend these books; theyll transport you back into history. Boxed Set Here.
Mad Wolfs Daughter by Diane Magras
FANTASY / HISTORICAL (series)
Set in medieval Scotland, this is an action-packed adventure of a strong female protagonist with close family bonds, medieval and mythical elements, and an exciting plot. When Drests war-band family is kidnapped by knights she sets off in pursuit, taking a wounded soldier hostage with her. Throughout their travels, the two develop a complicated friendship and Drest learns uncomfortable truths about her family. I love when a girl rescues boys from death! What an excellent story I highly recommend it.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
A Newbery Honor winner!!! Ada and her brother escape their mothers abuse when the London children are evacuated during WWII and go to live with a grieving woman in a small country town. Its 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 slipped my hand into hers. A strange and unfamiliar feeling rand through me. It felt like the ocean, like sunlight, like horses. Like love. I searched my mind and found the name for it. Joy. I cant recommend this book enough, it will touch your heart at such a deep level. Dont miss the equally amazing sequel: The War I Finally Won.
The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts by Avi
Action-packed from the first page, this is one historical fiction novel you dont want to miss. Oliver wakes to find his house flooded and his father missing. After being thrown in the poorhouse for orphans, he manages to escape with stolen money only to be accosted by a highwayman. Its one misfortune after another but Oliver is determined to find his father and sister in London. Somehow.
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6 Books That 6th Grade Girls Are Raving About
Sixth graders lead busy lives. With sports practice, homework, weekend debate tournaments, and walking to Starbucks with friends after school, it can be hard to find time to read for pleasure. But this is a time in their changing lives when they’re seriously in need of a safe outlet like reading to help them make sense of the world and escape from the pressures of everyday life.
So, how do we get them to read? The secret to getting anyone to read, especially busy middle schoolers, is finding the book that hooks.
Here are six books that the sixth graders in my Bookoplis Book Club are raving about right now and made time in their busy schedules to read.
by Rebecca Stead
The newest book from the Newbery winning author of When You Reach Me has three intertwined storylines about friendship, loyalty, and love. At the center of the book are three seventh grade girls — Bridge, Emily, and Tabitha — who have been best friends since third grade. Their ups and downs with new friends, new interests, and family issues perfectly capture what it’s like to be in middle school. Julia, 11, says, “You have to read this book it’s a really funny realistic fiction book about friendship. It is SUPER good.”
The Thing About Jellyfish
by Ali Benjamin
Another great pick for fans of realistic fiction and “sad” books. Suzy learns that her best friend, Frannie, has died. In her attempt to process this horrible news, she develops a theory that Frannie’s death must have been caused by a jellyfish. It’s a story about friendship and change and dealing with hard things in life. Molly, 11, says, “This book is very good, exciting, and sad at times, too. I would recommend this book to any girls in middle school.”
The School for Good and Evil
by Soman Chainani, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
Mio, 11, highly recommends this modern fairy tale that re-examines our assumptions about what it means to be good or evil. “It is a perfect mixture of mystery and fairy tale. I love it!” There are three books in this popular series about the adventures of Sophie and Agatha who have been selected to enter the prestigious School for Good and Evil and find themselves living in the fairy tales they’ve known since childhood.
by Kiera Cass
Charlotte, 11, declares, “This series is the best. Really, you have to read it.” A great vacation book for those who enjoy stories about princesses and love and glittering balls. In this dystopian romance, the world is divided into “castes” and a group of girls are given the chance to move up in their rank and marry the prince. Most girls see this as the chance of a lifetime, but for America it sounds like a nightmare since it would take her away from her secret love, Aspen. This YA novel is also super popular with teens (and many adults) who are fans of romance, fantasy, and fairy tales with a bit of adventure.
by Neal Shusterman
Bridget, 12, raves, “This is the best series in the entire world full of mystery, adventure, and a touch of creepiness.” Set in a future world where pro-choice and pro-life proponents compromise that human life cannot be touched from conception to age 13, but from ages 13 to 18 troublesome tweens can be eliminated through an “unwinding”. The series follows three teens who become runaway Unwinds and work to change the system. This twisted dystopian story is definitely best suited to more mature readers due to the subject matter and some violent scenes.
For 6th books graders drama
The Best Middle Grade Books About Life in Middle School
Life in middle school isnt easy. Kids experience lots of different things in middle school but one thing is for sure, middle school life is full of ups and downs.
This list of fictional middle-grade chapter books is all about middle school life. With themes ranging from general student life to struggles with friendships and identity, these books are relatable to most kids. Not only that, many of these books talk about relevant topics such as racism, immigration, friendship, learning disabilities, culture, and family.
Note: For those of you who are not in the United States, we consider middle school to usually be 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, or ages 11, 12, and
Middle-Grade Books About Middle School
Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dees
Middle schooler Mila is feeling trapped— a group of basketball-playing boys is getting too close, grabbing her, touching her, and then telling her that she’s imagining it. Ignoring doesnt stop the behaviors, neither does telling an adult, telling her friends, or wearing baggier clothing. Now her toxic friend Zara is acting mad and jealous that Milas getting the boys attention. Unexpectedly, Mila finds her strength when she starts karate classes. That helps her find what works to put a stop to the harassment. I highly recommend this essential book; it should be shared widely with middle school boys and girls.
More to the Storyby Hena Khan
Jameela is one of four girls in a Pakistani-American family and shes passionate about journalism. When her father leaves for a new job out of the country, Jameela wants to write an epic article for her middle school newspaper that will make her dad proud. Unfortunately, in the process, she hurts a new friend. As she digests her hard-earned lessons, she learns that her beloved little sister has lymphoma. Despite the challenges, her family sticks together with laughter and love. Khan skillfully weaves a story of family, culture, community, and social justice that is sure to become a modern-day classic.
Exceptional! Korean American Pippa is a great basketball player but her guardian older sister wont let her play unless her grades improve. Then, an unexpected scholarship at a prestigious private school leads Pippa to reinvent herself, hiding her background from the popular kids and treating her old friends differently. In a satisfying ending with valuable life lessons, Pippa decides to not be ashamed of her working-class family, her culture, or her friends. Girl readers, in particular, will be able to relate to the social hierarchy of middle school and the temptation to change yourself to suit others.
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
In a word: powerful. This is middle school at its most intimate when friends experience the challenges of growing up, from an embarrassing sexting photo to a friendship betrayal. Through it all, we see the power of forgiveness and love. I only recommend this book for middle school kids unless youre reading it with your child because of the sexting topic.
Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, illustrated by Laura Park
Rafes 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 story will crack you up. (And please dont try this at home!)
Kyle’s Little Sister by BonHyung Jeong
Grace constantly lives in her brother’s shadow, only having two friends who like her for her. But when the trio gets into a big fight, will their friendship be able to survive? And when will everybody stop comparing her to Kyle!? This is a relatable and engaging read about the ups and downs of middle school perfect for younger siblings or any reader who enjoys realistic stories.
Aven Green is used to making up creative stories for why she doesnt 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 has Tourette Syndrome. They investigate a mysterious storage shed which leads them to a mystery involving Avens past. This story is about restorative friendship, facing your fears, and discovering your true (significant) potential.
Genius story crafting and meaningful life lessons. When his grandfather’s butler arrives to help out 6th grade Carters family, sharing his passion for the game of Cricket, filling a void the family didn’t know they had. Butler gives Carter purpose, structure, and belonging. “Make good decisions and remember who you are,” he often reminds Carter and Carter’s sisters. Along this journey, Carter learns to do just what the title commands pay attention to his life and to who loves him.
Stef Soto, Taco Queenby Jennifer Torres
In a sweet story of figuring out who you are and taking pride in your culture, initially, Stef Soto feels embarrassed by her dads taco truck, especially when he picks her up at school.But that changes when she learns that new city regulations could force her dad to sell the truck and get a different job. Filled with relatable middle school struggles, Spanish words, Latinx culture, friendship troubles, and a loving family, this yummy middle school book is a savory treat.
New Kidby Jerry Craft
This graphic novel is the Newbery winner for ! Jordans parents make him go to a private school across town where hes 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 his artwork. This story feels truthful, relatable, and important.
Dont miss this important middle-grade book from about self-worth, beauty, and colorism. Genesis hates her dark skin, believing that if only she were lighter-skinned, shed be pretty and have a better life. Despite this and troubles at home with a neer-do-well father who cant keep a job, at her newest school an insightful music teacher introduces Genesis to jazz legends like Billie Holliday. This changes everything. Now Genesis can find her voice, literally and metaphorically.
Winkby Rob Harrell
I highly recommend this funny, standout cancer story based on the authors life for readers who like humorous but emotion-filled stories. When Ross is diagnosed with a rare kind of tumor, he immediately starts radiation treatment. School becomes pretty challenging because his eye is goopy, he has to wear a hat, and his hair starts falling out in clumps among other things made funny with his cartoon drawings. A goofy, kind-hearted radiation tech gets Ross interested in alternative punk music and in order to impress a girl, Ross asks the tech for guitar lessons. Turns out, the guitar and his new music, help Ross both express his frustrations and find his joy, leading to some surprising results like a new, unexpected friend.*A few bad words.
Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
A funny but poignant chapter book 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 to Dwight and his friends during the many trials of 6th grade.
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl is a thoughtful coming-of-age story about a girl genius with OCD whose grandma wants her to go to public middle school for three reasons: to make one friend, read one non-math book, and join one school activity. Although shes reluctant to go, Lucy finds friends and connects with a rescue dog for a school project. Its a well-written, heart-warming story that will change your perspective of OCD and give you hope for humanity.
The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcarcel
Quijanas doesn’t fit with the other Latino kids because she doesn’t speak Spanish fluently. Not only that, she knows she wont fit in with her fathers family in Guatemala and is planning on running away instead of visiting. The only place she knows she fits is with her scientist, Florida-living grandmother but shes worried about grandmothers cancer diagnosis. Meanwhile, her little brother seems to be adding more unusual behaviors besides not talking, hes averse to lights, sounds, and touch. Heartfelt and relatable, this coming of age story will appeal to readers who like to read about complicated, diverse characters trying to figure out who they are.
Emmy in the Key of Codeby Aimee Lucido
An exquisite novel in verse that celebrates music, STEM, making friends, and growing into yourself. Emmys eager to start a new school and make friends but shes thwarted by rudeness at every turn. A daughter of professional musicians, Emmy decides to abandon music and take a computer programming class. She sort of makes a friend with a girl in her programming class named Abigail but shes only friendly during that class. Which makes Emmy feel conflicted. As Emmys family adjusts to San Francisco, Emmy figures out her place in the world, especially as it relates to her growing passion for programming. The author skillfully connects music and programming in a memorable, poetic way that even non-programmers can understand.
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 trying to figure out life.
Restart by Gordon Korman
After a bad fall, Chase has no memory of who he is or was. But he soon realizes that he used to be a cruel troublemaker. Now that he has a second chance, he can decide who hell be with his fresh slate. Because hes enjoying his new life in the film club and the new (nerdy) friends hes made and doesnt really want to go back to his old self. This thought-provoking novel shows that who we are is a choice.
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée
Middle school is hard enough with friend drama but add to it not-being-black-enough drama, personal and community race-related drama, and boy drama. Frankly, its a lot for year-old Shayla who, unlike her older sister with all-black friends, has a diverse friend group that she calls The United Nations. When a jury finds a cop innocent in the shooting death of a black boy, despite a video showing the boy walking away, Shayla decides to take a stand and support the Black Lives Matter movement. She wears an armband to school and rallies many of her classmates of all ethnicities to join her, even though the principal says its against the rules. This is a powerful story about a girl finding her voice.
Alls Faire in Middle Schoolby Victoria Jamieson
Growing up, Imogene (aka. Impy) always loved her familys part in the Renaissance Faire . . . that is, until middle school. Even though she gets her dream to work in the faire as a squire, she also just wants to be like the other girls at her school, too.Her journey is painful and honest as she figures out who she wants to be. Its narrated as a heros journey which, with the faire background and middle school drama, feels perfect. Beyond being a terrific coming-of-age story, Im sure this book will interest tween readers in Renaissance festivals themselves.
Focusedby Alyson Gerber
Clea is a chess-loving girl who gets distracted easily (except when she can hyper-focus in chess) and its becoming a problem, especially in school but also with friends.Shes resistant to do the testing her parents want, refusing to believe she could have ADHD. But blurting out things and living with regret, she feels like shes not in control. As she learns more about her brain, she realizes that she can figure out strategies to help her keep focused. Readers who dont have ADHD will get a glimpse into the way this kind of brain works. An essential middle school book to read.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Ghost accidentally gets on a track team and its life-changing. His coach becomes a mentor and father figure who pushes Ghost to take responsibility for his mistakes (stealing sneakers) and to start dealing with the ghosts of his past. Well-written with a hopeful message about growing up and growing into yourself.
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
This book about life in middle school is perfect for any reader who struggles with confidence and speaking up for themselves because so does the main character, Peppi. This well-done graphic novel tackles the issues of friendships and confidence, among other things. My kids and I highly recommend this graphic novel.
Vordak the Incomprehensible by Vordak T. Incomprehensible
I havent laughed like this when reading a book in yearsits pee-your-pants funny. Because the evil villain Vordak accidentally transforms himself into a middle schooler. And life in middle school is not going well for him at all
Smileby Raina Telgemeier
6th grade is hard enough for Raina but its even worse with braces, headgear, and friend troubles. My daughter loves this series starting with Smile. She read Sisters four times the first week she owned it theyre all excellent books and quite addictive. ALSO READ: Drama, Sisters
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Both Ally and her older brother have hidden that they cant read until Mr. Daniels who helps her learn to read and discover her value. Its a beautiful, emotionally resonate story that will help kids either see themselves or develop empathy and compassion.
Rules by Cynthia Lord
I highly recommend reading this meaningful, coming-of-age story about year old Catherine. Read it in your classroom and with your children to develop empathy and compassion for children who have autism. Catherines worked hard to help her autistic brother, David, learn the rules about life. But now that she has new friends, shes feeling more embarrassed about her brother than compassionate.
Mother Daughter Book Clubby Heather Vogel Frederick
The story begins when a group of 6th graders starts a mother-daughter book club. Each book in this middle school book series focuses on one book the girls read (such as Little Women, Daddy Long Legs, and Pride and Prejudice) and the relationships of the girls among themselves, the relationships with their mothers, and the business of growing up.
8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Im in awe of how Rhuday-Perkovich created such a moving realistic story and lovable but insecure main character, Reggie McKnight, an unpopular yet thoughtful middle-school student who is hoping to get past his horrible nickname (Pukey). He spends a lot of time with his church youth group which leads to an interest in his schools elections for president. This book for middle school students explores the themes of social justice, faith, friends, and family.
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
Joseph is an abused boy with a violent father, a parent at age thirteen, and is now living as a foster kid with Jacks family on their organic farm. As he learns to trust them, we slowly learn about Josephs deep love for a rich girl named Maddie, his daughter named Jupiter who hes never seen, and his shattering heartbreak. This is an amazing story painful yet filled with redemption and hope beautifully written and one that will give middle school readers much to ponder.
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Harbor Me tackles some very big issues including race, immigration, bullying, learning differences, friendship, and forgiveness. The story is about six diverse children with learning differences. They bond during a special kids-only time on Friday afternoons where they share their stories, many of which Haley records on a tape recorder. Even as she learns about the other kids who are, Haley is reluctant to share that her own dad is in jail for the car accident killing her mother. When she does eventually share, its beautiful to see the other kids support her. Amazing!!
Flying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh
This is a powerful middle school anthology of diverse stories written by talented #OwnVoices authors such as Matt de la Peña, Jacqueline Woodson, Kwame Alexander, and others. The stories are all excellent some are hilarious (Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains), some are inspiring (How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium), some are both (The Difficult Path), and some are meaningful slice-of-life stories (Main Street).
Kids will relate to the ups and downs of Shannons friendship in elementary and middle school in this true-to-life graphic novel with incredible artwork. We see Shannon struggle with friends, the popular girls, and even her own behavior, we watch as she discovers her passion using her big imagination to make up stories.
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Anyone who remembers the awkward years of middle school—or is currently experiencing them—understands the anxieties and possibilities that come with that tender age. Books can serve as loyal companions for 6th graders to help them get through life with self awareness and the knowledge that they are not alone. It’s also such a wonderful age to be introduced to books with diverse voices and cultures that stir compassion, curiosity and creativity. Here is a list of the best books for 6th graders to soothe their insecurities and broaden their vision.
Graphic Novels for 6th Graders
1. Stargazing by Jen Wang
“When Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friendmaybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.
But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?
New York Times–bestselling author-illustrator Jen Wang draws on her childhood to paint a deeply personal yet wholly relatable friendship story that’s at turns joyful, heart-wrenching, and full of hope.”
2. New Kid by Jerry Craft
“Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.
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As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?”
3. Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
“Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri’s mom avoids these questions–the topic of India is permanently closed.
For Pri, her mother’s homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she find a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film. But is this the real India? And what is that shadow lurking in the background? To learn the truth, Pri must travel farther than she’s ever dared and find the family she never knew.”
4. El Deafo by Cece Bell and David Lasky
“Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.
Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school — in the hallway… in the teacher’s lounge… in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?”
5. Smile (Smile #1) by Raina Telgemeier
“Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly. This coming-of-age true story is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in middle school, and especially those who have ever had a bit of their own dental drama.”
6. Invisible Emmie (Emmie & Friends) by Terri Libenson
“This is the story of two totally different girls—quiet, shy, artistic Emmie and popular, outgoing, athletic Katie—and how their lives unexpectedly intersect one day when an embarrassing note falls into the wrong hands.”
7. Real Friends (Real Friends #1) by Shannon Hale (Writer) , LeUyen Pham (Illustrator), Jane Poole (Colorist)
“When best friends are not forever . . .
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.
Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?
Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.”
8. Coraline by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell
“The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.
Only it’s different.
At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there’s another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.
Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.
Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.”
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1) by Jeff Kinney
“Boys don’t keep diaries—or do they?
The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to
It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.
In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion.
Author/illustrator Jeff Kinney recalls the growing pains of school life and introduces a new kind of hero who epitomizes the challenges of being a kid. As Greg says in his diary, “Just don’t expect me to be all ‘Dear Diary’ this and ‘Dear Diary’ that.†? Luckily for us, what Greg Heffley says he won’t do and what he actually does are two very different things.”
Awkward (Berrybrook Middle School #1) by Svetlana Chmakova
“Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.
Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.
On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!
Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!”
The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1) by Kazu Kibuishi
“Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a giant robot—and two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission.
After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.
Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.”
To find more illustrated books for 6th graders, check out our graphic novels recommendations for middle graders.
Realistic Books for 6th Graders
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée
“Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she’d also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)
But in junior high, it’s like all the rules have changed. Now she’s suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she’s not black enough. Wait, what?
Shay’s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn’t think that’s for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.
Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn’t face her fear, she’ll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that’s trouble, for real.”
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
“A warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging, infused with humour, from the bestselling author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?”
Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls
“My name is Sam. I am eleven years old. I collect stories and fantastic facts. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead.”
Sam loves facts. He wants to know about UFOs and horror movies and airships and ghosts and scientists, and how it feels to kiss a girl. And because he has leukaemia he wants to know the facts about dying. Sam needs answers to the questions nobody will answer. “Ways To Live Forever” is the first novel from an extraordinarily talented young writer. Funny and honest, it is one of the most powerful and uplifting books you will ever read.”
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
“Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.
Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.
Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.
Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?
It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?”
Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai
“A California girl born and raised, Mai can’t wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, though, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai’s parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. Vietnam is hot, smelly, and the last place she wants to be. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn’t know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.”
Martin McLean, Middle School Queen by Alyssa Zaczek
“Seventh-grader Martin McLean has always been surrounded by people who can express themselves. His mother is an artist, his colorful Tío Billy works in theater, and his best friends Carmen and Pickle are outgoing and don’t care what other people think. But Martin can only find the right words when he’s answering a problem at a Mathletes competition—until his tío introduces him to the world of drag. In a swirl of sequins and stilettos, Martin creates his fabulous drag queen alter ego, Lottie León.
As Lottie, he is braver than he’s ever been; but as Martin, he doesn’t have the guts to tell anyone outside of his family about her. Not Carmen and Pickle, not his Mathletes teammates, and definitely not Chris, an eighth-grader who gives Martin butterflies. When Martin discovers that his first-ever drag show is the same night as the most important Mathletes tournament, he realizes that he can only pull off both appearances by revealing his true self to his friends—and channeling his inner drag superstar.”
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.”
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
“A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel for fans of Counting by 7s, Walk Two Moons, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.
Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.”
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
“I am learning how to be
at the same time.
Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.
At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.”
George by Alex Gino
“BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part… because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte—but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.”
Five on a Treasure Island (The Famous Five #1) by Enid Blyton
“The very first Famous Five adventure, featuring Julian, Dick, Anne, not forgetting tomboy George and her beloved dog, Timmy! There’s a shipwreck off Kirrin Island! But where is the treasure? The Famous Five are on the trail – looking for clues – but they’re not alone! Someone else has got the same idea. Time is running out for the Famous Five, who will follow the clues and get to the treasure first?”
Fantasy Books for 6th Graders
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
“When Gregor follows his little sister through a grate in the laundry room of their New York apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland beneath the city. There, humans live uneasily beside giant spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rats–but the fragile peace is about to fall apart.
Gregor wants no part in this conflict, but again and again, he and his family are drawn into the Underland. Gregor must find his place in the frightening prophecies he encounters, the strength to protect his family, and the courage to defend against an army of giant rats.
In this action-packed and masterful series, Suzanne Collins unfolds the fate of the Underland and its great warrior, Gregor the Overlander.”
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
“Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.”
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordon
“Magnus Chase has seen his share of trouble. Ever since that terrible night two years ago when his mother told him to run, he has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, staying one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.
One day, Magnus learns that someone else is trying to track him down—his uncle Randolph, a man his mother had always warned him about. When Magnus tries to outmaneuver his uncle, he falls right into his clutches. Randolph starts rambling about Norse history and Magnus’s birthright: a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.
The more Randolph talks, the more puzzle pieces fall into place. Stories about the gods of Asgard, wolves, and Doomsday bubble up from Magnus’s memory. But he doesn’t have time to consider it all before a fire giant attacks the city, forcing him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents. . . .
Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die.”
Furthermore (Furthermore #1) by Tahereh Mafi
“Alice Alexis Queensmeadow 12 rates three things most important: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Father disappeared from Ferenwood with only a ruler, almost three years ago. But she will have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is Oliver whose own magic is based in lies and deceit. Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.”
The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend
“A cursed girl escapes death and finds herself in a magical world – but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.
But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.
It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart – an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.”
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (Sal and Gabi #1) by Carlos Hernandez
“How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker?
When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.
Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.
A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in this mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.”
Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega
“Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.
For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business.
Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late.”
The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding (Prosper Redding #1) by Alexandra Bracken
“I would say it’s a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness.
Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type.
The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.
Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host.”
City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab
“Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.
When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.”
Fablehaven (Fablehaven #1) by Brandon Mull
“For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite.
Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken — Seth is a bit too curious and reckless for his own good — powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world, Kendra and Seth must find the courage to do what they fear most.”
Akata Witch (Akata Witch #1) by Nnedi Okorafor
“Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?”
Find more fantasy books for 6th graders.
Classic Books for 6th Graders
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
“Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure—one that will threaten their lives and our universe.
Winner of the Newbery Medal, A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in Madeleine L’Engle’s classic Time Quintet.”
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, W.W. Denslow (Illustrator)
“When Dorothy and her little dog Toto are caught in a tornado, they and their Kansas farmhouse are suddenly transported to Oz, where Munchkins live, monkeys fly and Wicked Witches rule. Desperate to return home, and with the Wicked Witch of the West on their trail, Dorothy and Toto – together with new friends the Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow and cowardly Lion – embark on a fantastic quest along the Yellow Brick Road in search of the Emerald City. There they hope to meet the legendary, all-powerful Wizard of Oz, who alone may hold the power to grant their every wish.
Just as captivating as it was a hundred years ago, this is a story that all ages will love.”
Matilda by Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (Illustrator)
“Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Miss (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.
She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull. There is never any doubt that Matilda will carry the day. Even so, this wonderful story is far from predictable. Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings.”
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
“The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a year-old boy. The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider. According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs.
A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.”
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
“As soon as Anne Shirley arrives at the snug white farmhouse called Green Gables, she is sure she wants to stay forever . . . but will the Cuthberts send her back to to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected—a skinny girl with fiery red hair and a temper to match. If only she can convince them to let her stay, she’ll try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes and blurting out the first thing that comes to her mind. Anne is not like anyone else, the Cuthberts agree; she is special—a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreams of the day when she can call herself Anne of Green Gables.”
The Chronicles of Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia #1–7) by C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (Illustrator)
“Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.
For the past fifty years, The Chronicles of Narnia have transcended the fantasy genre to become part of the canon of classic literature. Each of the seven books is a masterpiece, drawing the reader into a land where magic meets reality, and the result is a fictional world whose scope has fascinated generations.
This edition presents all seven books—unabridged—in one impressive volume. The books are presented here in chronological order, each chapter graced with an illustration by the original artist, Pauline Baynes. Deceptively simple and direct, The Chronicles of Narnia continue to captivate fans with adventures, characters, and truths that speak to readers of all ages, even fifty years after they were first published.”
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Michael Hague (Illustrator)
“Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie Peter Pan, the mischievous boy who refuses to grow up, lands in the Darling’s proper middle-class home to look for his shadow. He befriends Wendy, John and Michael and teaches them to fly (with a little help from fairy dust). He and Tinker Bell whisk them off to Never-land where they encounter the Red Indians, the Little Lost Boys, pirates and the dastardly Captain Hook.”
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Garth Williams (Illustrator), Rosemary Wells (Illustrator)
“This beloved book by E. B. White, author of Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, is a classic of children’s literature that is “just about perfect.” This high-quality paperback features vibrant illustrations colorized by Rosemary Wells!
Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.
E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. This edition contains newly color illustrations by Garth Williams, the acclaimed illustrator of E. B. White’s Stuart Little and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, among many other books.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
“After a tumble down the rabbit hole, Alice finds herself far away from home in the absurd world of Wonderland. As mind-bending as it is delightful, Lewis Carroll’s novel is pure magic for young and old alike.”
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Richard Howard (Translator), Ivan Minatti (Translator), Nguyn Thành V (Illustrator)
“Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.”
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
“Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.
It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with “woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the “girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.”
Find free books online and check out Project Gutenberg and Read Print for classics.
Poetry And Short Stories For 6th Graders
Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander
“Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award–winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.”
One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
“In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking. This special book also includes original artwork in full-color from some of today’s most exciting African American illustrators, who have created pieces of art based on Nikki’s original poems. Featuring art by: Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, Nikki Grimes, E. B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.”
Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners by Naomi Shihab Nye
“Acclaimed and award-winning poet, teacher, and National Book Award finalist Naomi Shihab Nye’s uncommon and unforgettable voice offers readers peace, humor, inspiration, and solace. This volume of almost one hundred original poems is a stunning and engaging tribute to the diverse voices past and present that comfort us, compel us, lead us, and give us hope.
Voices in the Air is a collection of almost one hundred original poems written by the award-winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye in honor of the artists, writers, poets, historical figures, ordinary people, and diverse luminaries from past and present who have inspired her. Full of words of encouragement, solace, and hope, this collection offers a message of peace and empathy.
Voices in the Air celebrates the inspirational people who strengthen and motivate us to create, to open our hearts, and to live rewarding and graceful lives. With short informational bios about the influential figures behind each poem, and a transcendent introduction by the poet, this is a collection to cherish, read again and again, and share with others. Includes an index.”
Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
“This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen. They were all too busy—
Talking about boogers.
Stealing pocket change.
Executing complicated handshakes.
Planning an escape.
But mostly, too busy walking home.
Jason Reynolds conjures ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings, and brilliantly weaves them into one wickedly funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life.”
Flying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh (Editor)
“Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.
In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.
From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.”
Us, in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos by Lulu Delacre
“Acclaimed author and Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre’s beautifully illustrated collection of twelve short stories is a groundbreaking look at the diverse Latinos who live in the United States.
In this book, you will meet many young Latinos living in the United States, from a young girl whose day at her father’s burrito truck surprises her to two sisters working together to change the older sister’s immigration status, and more.
Turn the pages to experience life through the eyes of these boys and girls whose families originally hail from many different countries; see their hardships, celebrate their victories, and come away with a better understanding of what it means to be Latino in the U.S. today.”
To find more great, diverse books for 6th graders, check out our middle grade books collection.
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Best book series for 6th graders — ever
by: Eoin Colfer - (Disney-Hyperion, ) pages.
The hook: Artemis Fowl is no regular kid. He happens to be an evil genius — a criminal mastermind with high-tech toys — and only 12 years old. Delve into the murky underworld of fairies, elves, and other sprites as they battle Artemis in his relentless quest for the fairyfolks pot of gold.
Perfect for: Kids too jaded to be entertained by old-fashioned fairies and elves.
Find our favorites at your local library: Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Incident, The Eternity Code.
The Chronicles of Narnia
by: C.S. Lewis - (HarperCollins, )
The hook: Sure, they may have seen the movie already, but even so, this seven-book series — which deftly combines the supernatural and reality — is a classic that has influenced childrens literature for a half century. The protagonists, children from the real world, are magically transported to Narnia, where under the wise guidance of the lion Aslan, they play essential roles in shaping events in this alternate worlds fate (a powerful fantasy for any child). In each of Lewiss page-turning books, all crafted in masterful prose, Narnias very fate hangs in the balance: Will good win out over evil?
Perfect for: Readers, 8 and up, drawn to illusive symbols and magic.
Find our favorites at your local library: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Magicians Nephew, Prince Caspian.
The Land of Stories series
by: Chris Colfer - (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, ) pages.
The hook: On the night of their twelfth birthday, sixth grade twins Alex and Bailey are ready for something to change. It has been a year since their father was killed in a car accident. Their mom, a nurse, has been working extra hours to support them. Their grandmother gives them a special gift: a book of the fairy tales they grew up hearing. The book is magic, of course, and the twins fall in, entering a world of kings and queens, witches and trolls. So begins this kid-friendly series that follows the twins’ adventures as they travel through a fantasy world learning new lessons from old stories.
Perfect for: Kids with big imaginations.
Find our favorites at your local library: The Wishing Spell, A Grimm Warning, Beyond the Kingdoms.
Eragon: The Inheritance Cycle, Book 1
by: Christopher Paolini - (Knopf, ) pages.
The hook: On a hunting trip on the foreboding mountain range known as the Spine, year-old Eragon finds a mysterious blue stone that turns out to be a dragon egg. The dragon hatches and brands his palm with the silver mark that signifies that the two are a bonded pair, the last dragon and dragon rider in all of Alagaesia. When terrifying visitors destroy Eragon’s farm, Eragon and Saphira set out with the town storyteller, Brom, to pursue their destiny — to defeat the evil king, Galbatorix. This is the first book in the four-book Inheritance Cycle series, which is reminiscent of Tolkien and full of ancient magic, elves, dwarves, and dragon lore. A map and glossary help kids keep track of the exotic place names and words in fantasy languages. And the fact that the author was 15 when he began writing the series may inspire young readers to get writing themselves.
Want to see the movie? The adaptation, Eragon, may help readers visualize creatures and events in the book.
Perfect for: Readers (and budding writers) of epic fantasy fiction.
Find our favorites at your local library: Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr.
by: Scott Westerfeld - (Simon Pulse, ) pages.
The hook: A clever conceit that challenges societys obsession with physical beauty. This four-book series takes place in a future world where looks are prized above all. When Tally Youngblood turned 12, she became an Ugly. Living in an ugly dorm, she and the other uglies are educated on their despicability. But on their sweet 16, each one will be rewarded with an operation to be made Pretty, thus beginning a life of constant pleasure. But even young Tally can see the downsides to conformity.
Perfect for: Tweens who understand that beauty’s not skin-deep.
Find our favorites at your local library: Uglies, Pretties, Specials.
by: Mark Walden - (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, )
The hook: This hefty series transports late elementary schoolers into a dark world of evildoers and elaborate plots. With eight books and the ninth due out in , author Mark Walden has produced literally thousands of pages of over-the-top, sci-fi escapades. Recruited to the Higher Institute of Villainous Education, a secret school hidden in a volcano, the main characters Wing, Shelby, Laura, and Otto discover they’ve been recruited to become the world’s next supervillains. It may sound exciting at first but as they are held prisoners, they realize being trained as criminal masterminds isn’t what they bargained for.
Perfect for: Kids who like superhero stories and want a wild ride into the land of nefarious deeds.
Our favorites: Start it at the beginning with Higher Institute of Villainous Education. Like Harry Potter the earlier books are geared toward younger readers. Move on quickly to The Overlord Protocol, Rogue, all the way through Deadlock.
His Dark Materials Trilogy
by: Philip Pullman - (Knopf Books for Young Readers, ) pages.
The hook: The main heroine, Lyra Belacqua, along with Pantalaimon, Will, and a band of other brave souls, have been entrusted to save the universe. Its nearly impossible to put down each of the trilogys three books that create a fantastical alternate reality your child wont forget.
Perfect for: Older readers drawn to an epic (and eccentric) story of good and evil.
Find our favorites at your local library: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass.
The Clique series
by: Lisi Harrison - (Poppy, )
The hook: This series will appeal to middle-school-age readers because it deals with many real-life experiences, from being the new kid at school to dealing with mean girls and learning how to maintain friendships.
Perfect for: Tweens dealing with the social intricacies of middle school.
Find our favorites at your local library: The Clique, Best Friends for Never, and The Revenge of the Wannabes.
Peter and the Starcatchers series
by: Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson - (Disney Editions/Hyperion Books for Children, )
The hook: The first three books in the series chronicle the spellbinding prequel of how a boy named Peter became the Peter Pan of J.M. Barries classic tale. Each page — particularly in the first book — is riveting. All along the way, Peter and his friends encounter an incredible cast of characters, including flying crocodiles, vicious mermaids, and even Zeus and Michelangelo.
Perfect for: Pirate-lovin kids looking for swashbuckling on the high seas.
Find our favorites at your local library: Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon.
The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
by: Michael Scott - (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, ) pages.
The hook: Twins Josh and Sophie Newman are spending the summer with their aunt and working in San Francisco while their parents are away on an archaeological dig. One day when Josh is working at his bookstore job, a black limousine pulls up and several men in overcoats step out. They kidnap the wife of the bookstore owner, an ancient metal-bound book is stolen, and Sophie and Josh must run for their lives with the bookstore owner.
A great pick for Harry Potter fans, The Alchemyst does not disappoint readers longing for another series to be excited about. The story is filled with enough battles and magic to satisfy even the most cynical teen fantasy fans. Look for the next book in the series, The Magician.
Perfect for: Kids who like fantasy stories.
Find our favorites at your local library: The Alchemyst, The Magician, The Sorceress.
Harry Potter series, books
by: J.K. Rowling - (Scholastic Paperbacks, ) pages.
The hook: Starting with the fourth book, Harry Potter (and hopefully his fans) have matured a bit as Harry enters his fourth year at Hogwarts. While Harry and his friends have been aware of He-who-must-not-be-named, aka Lord Voldemort, for a few years, this second part of the series is when the battle between good magic and the dark arts really begins. Lord Voldemort is gaining strength and returns in human form. As Harry, Ron, and Hermione work to keep up in school and build their magical abilities to fight Voldemort, theyre also facing the dances, crushes, and first loves that come with adolescence.
Want to see the movie? Check out movies four through seven, which, like the books, now reflect the open battle against Voldemort and his followers.
Perfect for: Fan of the first three Harry Potter books who are ready to grow up with the characters.
Find our favorites at your local library: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The Five Ancestors series
by: Jeff Stone - (Random House, )
The hook: In this adventure series, we meet five foster brothers who were raised in a temple by warrior monks. When their temple is destroyed by one of their former brothers, the grandmaster orders them to uncover the secrets of their past. Now, each brother must use his skills and training to discover his own destiny and the truth behind their betrayal. Young martial arts fans will love the kung-fu-filled action in this fast-paced series, which nicely balances fighting with slapstick humor. When the boys split up, each book in the series follows a different brother’s adventures. A great series that is sure to lure kids away from video games.
Perfect for: Tweens who think theyd rather be gaming than read.
Find our favorites at your local library: Tiger, Monkey, and Snake.
Keeper of the Lost Cities
by: Shannon Messenger - (Aladdin, ) pages.
The hook: Twelve-year-old Sophie has always felt out of place. One day she meets a mysterious blue-eyed boy named Fritz who tells her why: Shes not human. Sophie is whisked away to live with the elves in a remarkable parallel world, and discovers that she is special in that world too. In fact, the details surrounding her very existence are at the center of a dangerous mystery. This story of Sophies magical education and her struggles with friendship and fitting in is the first in a series.
Perfect for: Tweens who’ve ever felt they don’t belong.
Find our favorites at your local library: Keeper of the Lost Cities, Everblaze, and Neverseen.
The Unwanteds series
by: Lisa McMann - (Aladdin, ) pages.
The hook: Every year in Quill, year-olds are sorted into wanted, necessary, and unwanted. Wanteds will be educated and trained to join the highest levels of society. Necessaries will be trained for menial jobs. Unwanteds will be eliminated. When Alex is deemed Unwanted because of his creativity, he says goodbye to his family and prepares to die — and then discovers that theres a magical parallel world where his abilities are valued. The first book in a series, this mildly dystopian, Harry-Potter-meets-The-Hunger-Games tale has lots of fun magical details and friendship drama to lighten the mood.
Perfect for: Kids who didnt get into Hogwarts.
Find our favorites at your local library: The Unwanteds, Island of Silence, Island of Fire.
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