I want to read most of these myself, but I guess I’ll share with my students too!

While there are always classic tried-and-true books for 6th graders we share with students, I’m always on the lookout for books that could become new classics. It’s not easy to find the time to go through everything that’s been published in the last few years, however, so we’ve saved you some time with this list. Below you’ll find historical fiction, memoir, nonfiction, and fiction books for 6th graders guaranteed to awaken your students’ imagination and love of reading.

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1. Lies I Tell Myself by Beth Vrabel

When Raymond is sent across the country to spend the summer with his grandparents, it throws his entire world out of order. While he normally likes letting other people do the adventuring, he finds himself needing to break out of his shell and show everyone how brave and untroubled he can be.

Buy it: Lies I Tell Myself

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2. The 6th Grade Nickname Game by Gordon Korman

Gordon Korman is such a gift for tween readers everywhere. I’ve turned so many reluctant readers into enthusiastic ones by putting one of Korman’s novels into their hands. This one is no exception! Jeff and Wiley, 6th graders famous for their ability to come up with perfect nicknames for everyone at their school, run into trouble when some of their nicknames start backfiring. What happens next may put their friendship to the test.

Buy it: The 6th Grade Nickname Game

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3. Wayward Creatures by Dayna Lorentz

Gabe wasn’t trying to start a small forest fire when he set off fireworks in the woods. He just wanted his friends and family to stop spending so much time in their own busy lives and pay attention to him. But now, he finds himself in a restorative justice program that is making him go back to the forest to repair some of the damage his prank caused. When he meets a coyote named Rill who was hurt by the forest fire, Gabe learns the importance of caring for those around us.

Buy it: Wayward Creatures

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4. Lunch Money by Andrew Clements

Greg loves making money with his comic book business, and he isn’t pleased to learn that fellow student Maura is cutting into his profits with her own graphic mini-books. Greg hates to admit it, but her books are good—really good. So he decides to ask her to become business partners. And their business is booming until the school principal bans comic book sales. How will their new business, and their new friendship, survive?

Buy it: Lunch Money

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5. The Ultimate Riddle Game for Kids: A Mind-Bending Book To Test Your Logic by Zeitgeist

For our kiddos who love puzzles, logic problems, and mind-bending riddles, this is one of the books for 6th graders that has everything. The brainteasers will ignite their curiosity and build their problem-solving skills. Perfect for kids who need a bit of an additional challenge, early finishers, or anyone who loves testing their brain with fun, engaging puzzles.

Buy it: The Ultimate Riddle Game for Kids

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6. Smile by Raina Telgemeier

This award-winning graphic novel is a memoir, which may explain why it feels so heart-felt and real. When Raina falls while on a Girls Scouts outing, she severely injures her two front teeth. The odyssey of braces, retainers, head gear, and even surgery will have every 6th grader who’s been to the orthodontist wincing with sympathy and laughing at how delightfully engaging Telgemeier manages to make this painful part of her childhood.

Buy it: Smile

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7. Thirst by Varsha Bajaj

This is one of the books for 6th graders that might be eye-opening for many students. In Mumbai, Minni’s family (along with thousands of other families) only has access to water for a few hours a day. When she discovers the powerful people who have access to water all the time and are keeping it from everyone else for money, she has to decide what to do. Should she come forward and expose this crime even if it puts her and her family at risk, or should she stay quiet?

Buy it: Thirst

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8. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

You’re going to want to put this Newbery Award winner into the hands of your mystery-loving students ASAP! When Miranda starts receiving mysterious notes telling her she must write a letter, a true story, and tell no one, she doesn’t know what to do. But when the mysterious notes start accurately predicting the future, she knows that she must act before it’s too late.

Buy it: When You Reach Me

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9. Holler of the Fireflies by David Barclay Moore

Javari knows that life is going to be different when he leaves his home in Brooklyn to go to a STEM camp in West Virginia, but his first few days in the small Appalachian town are still a shock. Throughout the summer, he will learn a lot about science, technology, engineering, and math, but that’s not all. When he befriends Cricket, a local boy who is an occasional thief and activist, he realizes he’s in for a summer he’ll never forget.

Buy it: Holler of the Fireflies

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10. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

You need this book in your classroom library for your Star Wars and science fiction fans. Sixth grader Dwight stands out for his quirky behavior. He wears the same T-shirt for weeks on end and sometimes insists on being addressed as “Captain Dwight.” Despite his oddities, Dwight possesses a unique talent for making origami. When he creates an origami Yoda finger puppet, a mystery unfolds (pun intended). This miniature Yoda seems to be able to predict the future and give students amazing advice for some of their most serious problems. Soon, students flock to seek guidance from Origami Yoda.

Buy it: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

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11. The Fort by Gordon Korman

When five middle schoolers discover an abandoned bomb shelter, they know they’ve found the best hideout ever. As they fix it up and make it their own, they discover the true meaning of friendship, secrets, and trusting each other.

Buy it: The Fort

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12. Blood Diaries: Tales of a 6th-Grade Vampire by Marissa Moss

As if middle school weren’t hard enough, Edgar has to deal with all of it while also handling the challenges of being a young vampire. His only weapons? His wit, his sense of humor, and his friends. This is a perfect choice for your fantasy and humor-loving students.

Buy it: Blood Diaries: Tales of a 6th-Grade Vampire

96 Miles book cover

13. 96 Miles by J.L. Esplin

Their dad trained them to survive anything, but brothers John and Stew Lockwood are unprepared when a massive blackout strikes while their father is out of town. After being robbed of their supplies, the brothers must walk 96 miles through the desert for help. As they do, they’ll question their father’s obsession with self-reliance and what it means to be there to help out others.

Buy it: 96 Miles

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14. One Crazy Summer by
Rita Williams-Garcia

Delphine, an 11-year-old taking on a motherly role for her younger sisters Vonetta and Fern since their mother Cecile left them for a new life in California, experiences a surprising turn of events when they visit Cecile for the summer. Instead of the Disneyland trip they hoped for, Cecile sends them to a Black Panthers day camp. Despite their initial disappointment, the sisters discover unexpected lessons about their family, their nation, and themselves during this eventful summer.

Buy it: One Crazy Summer

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15. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Perfect for your nonfiction lovers or for your reluctant readers who love their sneakers, this young readers edition of Nike founder Phil Knight’s memoir is engaging and real. Beginning with how he refused to give up hope after he was cut from his high school baseball team to how he started Nike with just $50, this is one of the books for 6th graders that will have your students hooked.

Buy it: Shoe Dog

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16. Hundred Percent by Karen Romano Young

Christine, dubbed “Tink,” finds herself grappling with a nickname that no longer fits as she confronts uncomfortable situations like awkward Halloween costumes, premature sleepovers, unrequited crushes, and shifting friendships. Through these trials, Christine discovers the significance of self-identity and the power of self-expression.

Buy it: Hundred Percent

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17. Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King

When Mac realizes that all the copies of a book he’s supposed to read for class have been censored by the school, he is outraged. When he complains to the principal, he’s told to not make such a big deal out of it. But Mac knows that censorship is wrong, and he’s not going to sit around and do nothing. This is one of the great books for 6th graders for jump-starting important discussions about censorship.

Buy it: Attack of the Black Rectangles

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18. Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet by Kirk Scroggs

Danvers Blickensderfer, a 6th grader, finds his life plummeting to new lows, particularly when his daring talent show act honoring Gonzo the Great loses to a middle school boy band named, Emo Shun. He goes to bed that night utterly defeated, but when he wakes up he discovers he’s been transformed into a Muppet. Luckily, he lands an internship at the Muppet Theater, where he gets to meet his stunt-loving hero. From here Danvers embarks on a wild adventure as he becomes part of the eccentric Muppet crew aboard The Electric Mayhem bus. This quirky fun tale is sure to delight your 6th graders.

Buy it: Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet

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19. Two Degrees by Alan Gratz

A searing look at the climate crisis told through the perspectives of three young people. Akira is coping with raging wildfires in California. Owen is faced with a polar bear hunting far too close to residential areas in rural Canada. And Natalie hunkers down with her family as a massive hurricane barrels toward her Miami home. These three young people share more in common than climate disasters. Will they survive long enough to discover what that connection is and what it means for them and the world?

Buy it: Two Degrees


20. The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick

Sixth grade can be a tough place. A place where bullies prey on weaknesses and louder voices overshadow the quieter ones. Maverick, carrying his late father’s toy sheriff’s badge as a reminder, aims to change this dynamic. Despite his own struggles at home, Maverick sets out to make his school a better place for everyone. This heartwarming tale explores the journey of standing up for oneself and becoming a hero both at home and in the school corridors.

Buy it: The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade

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21. Tumble by Celia C. Pérez

Twelve-year-old Addie knows she should be thrilled when her stepfather asks to adopt her. She really wants to say yes, but she has so many questions about her biological father. After discovering he and even more members of her family are famous luchadores (lucha libre wrestlers), she sets off to get to know them. As she does, she learns a lot about what being part of a family truly means.

Buy it: Tumble

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22. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Rafe Khatchadorian faces a heap of troubles at home, and now he’s tackling his first year of middle school. Armed with a daring scheme for the ultimate year, he aims to break every rule in the school’s strict Code of Conduct. From chewing gum in class to running in the hallway, each infraction earns him points. Yet, as Rafe’s rebellious antics begin to backfire, he must confront whether winning at any cost is worth it, or if it’s time to confront the rules, bullies, and realities he’s been evading.

Buy it: Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

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23. Sweet Valley Twins adapted by Nicole Andelfinger

Graphic novels are the perfect way to introduce the Sweet Valley Twins to a new generation. Elizabeth and Jessica are just about to start middle school, and they’re sure they’ll be as inseparable as ever. But while Elizabeth is ready to organize a school newspaper, Jessica wants to start an exclusive Unicorn Club. What will happen when they realize they might not have as much in common as they thought?

Buy it: Sweet Valley Twins

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24. The Night Before Middle School by Sean Kolczynski

Perfect for the first days of the new school year! Written by a fifth grader as an amusing takeoff on the classic Clement C. Moore Christmas poem, the story is a walk through what the fifth grader imagines his first day of school might be like. It includes all the scary, new experiences your students are likely worried about themselves it’s a perfect way to affirm your students’ feelings while making them feel more calm and comfortable about starting middle school.

Buy it: The Night Before Middle School

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25. Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega

Twelve-year-old witchling Seven dreams of being part of one of the most powerful covens with her best friend. But when it comes time to be assigned her coven, the worst thing imaginable happens: She’s not given a coven and is instead is deemed a Spare! How will she and the other Spares save their reputations and earn their rightful place as full-fledged witches?

Buy it: Witchlings

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26. 6th Grade Supernatural: Abigail’s Curse by J.B. Cantwell

Zander Casey is unafraid of ghosts, living in a world where the undead are commonplace. However, when Abigail Stone arrives at Plainsbury Middle School, she brings with her a horde of malevolent spirits that even the most seasoned parallel would fear. Now, Zander must persuade Abigail to join forces with him and his eccentric scientist father to seal the gateway to the underworld she inadvertently opened. Failure to protect Plainsbury from the impending invasion could expose their secret and endanger their community. But gaining Abigail’s trust is no easy task, especially as time ticks away and the greatest threat of all threatens to break through, permanently unlocking the gateway.

Buy it: 6th Grade Supernatural: Abigail’s Curse

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27. Ravenfall by Kalyn Josephson

Ravenfall Inn is a sprawling, magical B&B at the crossroads of the human world and the Otherworld. Thirteen-year-old Annabella Ballinkay and her family have run the B&B for generations, using their psychic powers to help and protect their guests. Annabella’s powers have always been a bit different from the rest of her family. But when Colin, a 14-year-old searching for his missing older brother, shows up at Ravenfall, her powers might be just what is needed.

Buy it: Ravenfall

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28. President of the Whole Sixth Grade by Sherri Winston

Brianna Justice has her sights set on raising funds for the much-anticipated class trip to Washington, D.C. However, her path is fraught with challenges: classmates putting on facades, a formidable new adversary aiming to usurp her position, and the looming fear of losing her closest friendships. Despite moments of doubt, Brianna discovers that unexpected twists can lead to outcomes even more fulfilling than her carefully crafted strategies.

Buy it: President of the Whole Sixth Grade

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29. The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

This powerful story follows Kofi, a boy in Ghana in 1860. Kofi loves his life and his family, but one day everything is turned upside down. This is one of the perfect books for 6th graders to pair with discussions about the lives and experiences of Africans prior to them becoming enslaved and shipped to the Americas.

Buy it: The Door of No Return

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30. Wildoak by C.C. Harrington

Maggie will do almost anything to avoid speaking. Her stutter makes talking to others embarrassing and exhausting. Her father wants to send her away to a special hospital for “treatment,” but her mother suggests a few weeks with her grandfather in Wildoak Forest. Even though Maggie barely knows her grandfather, she accepts this offer as the better of two rotten choices. When she meets an abandoned snow leopard cub in the forest, she is caught up in an adventure she could never have imagined.

Buy it: Wildoak

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31. Iceberg by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Hazel is traveling all alone on the famous ship Titanic. Her mother is sending her to the United States to work in a factory so that she might send money back home to help her family make ends meet. But Hazel hasn’t told anyone that she secretly wants to be a journalist, and she’s planning on writing a story about the Titanic‘s maiden voyage that will land her a job with a newspaper. Then she could earn enough money to send home without having to work in some smelly factory. With the help of some new friends aboard the ship, Hazel explores the Titanic, but when disaster strikes, she has to worry more about surviving than about the story she wanted to tell.

Buy it: Iceberg

The Swifts

32. The Swifts by Beth Lincoln

Shenanigan Swift understands that her family gave her an unusual first name for a reason. Shenanigan Swift: Little sister. Risk-taker. Mischief-maker. But when the annual family reunion is shook by a horrible accident (or mysterious crime?), Shenanigan decides she is going to be more than what her family expects of her—she’s going to be a detective.

Buy it: The Swifts

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33. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

We love historical fiction stories about events our students probably don’t know much about, and this one is a perfect choice. Set in 1947 India, 12-year-old Nisha is struggling to come to grips with what’s happening in her homeland. Newly independent of British rule, her country has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. This is causing tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Nisha’s family decides it’s too dangerous to remain in what is now Pakistan, and so they become refugees, heading toward India. As she travels, Nisha writes letters to her deceased mother that tell the story of their journey and her hopes to find a home.

Buy it: The Night Diary

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34. The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

Eleven-year-old Ella is a new student at the Arcanum Training Institute, a school for children who can perform magic. She can’t wait to learn everything that she can, but some at the school think that the type of magic Ella can do—conjuring—is dangerous and wrong. When a violent criminal escapes a nearby prison with the help of a conjurer, some at the school think Ella might be to blame. With the help of her new friends and her growing powers, Ella has to set things right and clear her name.

Buy it: The Marvellers

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35. The Elephant Girl by James Patterson and Ellen Banda-Aaku

Perfect for students who loved The One and Only Ivan and Because of Winn-Dixie, this novel tells the story of Jama and the baby elephant named Mbegu she befriended. When the baby elephant’s mother kills someone after being frightened by poachers, Jama and the baby elephant are blamed. Jama will have to find a way to save Mbegu’s life, even if it means reaching out to a boy at her school that no one else will talk to.

Buy it: The Elephant Girl

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36. Rise of the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

This fantasy fairy tale is a perfect book for 6th graders who love anime or fantasy, or are just looking for something different. Deep in the endless woods, two brothers, one good and one evil, started a school. They choose students to attend either the School for Good or the School for Evil. Best friends Sophie and Agatha are excited to attend the schools. Sophie has dreamed of attending the School for Good and Agatha the School for Evil. But when they arrive, they’re placed in the wrong schools … and that changes everything.

Buy it: Rise of the School for Good and Evil

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37. Wild Bird by Diane Zahler

In 14th-century Norway, the plague has destroyed the entire village of Skeviga. To stay alive, Rype, the only one left, must embark on a sweeping adventure across Europe. He joins an English ship captain’s son and a band of musicians in search of a brighter future and a new home.

Buy it: Wild Bird

Simon Sort of Says

38. Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow

Simon wants to be a normal kid, but he’s famous for being the only student to have survived a school shooting. In an attempt to escape this horrible reality, Simon’s parents move their family to the National Quiet Zone, the only place in America where the Internet is banned. Here, Simon expects his life to be quiet and a little boring, but when he meets scientists searching for extraterrestrials, things start to get interesting.

Buy it: Simon Sort of Says

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39. The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh

Thirteen-year-old Matthew is miserable. The pandemic has everyone trapped at home. His dad is stuck overseas, and his mom has moved his 100-year-old great-grandmother into their house. Then he finds an old photo in his great-grandmother’s belongings. It gives him a clue to her hidden past. This leads to a family secret that shatters his life. The novel is historical fiction that flashes back to the 1930s. It sheds light on the Holodomor, a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians, which the USSR covered up for decades.

Buy it: The Lost Year

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40. Project (Un)Popular Book #1 by Kristen Tracy

In the realm of middle school, it’s not a popularity contest—it’s a battlefield. Perry and her closest companion, Venice, are thrilled to document their school’s story as yearbook photographers, only to uncover a troubling reality: The candid moments they’re meant to capture are staged.

Yearbooks are meant to reflect everyone, even the less popular. Perry feels trapped until she realizes that only by photographing the popular kids will her work be chosen. Pushing back could isolate her further, even cost her friendships. Now, she must choose: Blend in or stand out.

Buy it: Project (Un)Popular Book #1

Looking for even more fantastic books for 6th graders? Check out our big list of Refreshing and Relatable Books To Teach in Middle School for even more books for 6th graders to add to your classroom library.

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