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My Favorite Books for 6th Graders

I am by no means the absolute expert on the best books for certain age groups, but now that I have spent a solid amount of time in each 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade as a reading and writing teacher, I definitely have my favorites for each group.

If you want to read my favorite books for 5th grade, click here. 

Even more so, this is probably one of the most asked questions I get on instagram, email, and TPT questions. Teachers always want to know the best books for their age group. 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I will not even once kind of even sort of mention reading levels. I don't subscribe to that kind of thinking, and since most of these are read aloud anyway, levels don't matter. That is a blog post for another day (and would honestly take pages of work for me to get through, because I have pretty strong feelings about that). 

When I say who these books are for, I am simply going on what grade levels I have read them with and we've enjoyed reading them together. 

These are my favorite books to read with sixth graders. Back then, when I loved a book, I would usually make an accompanying reading unit. I will link my affiliate links on Amazon for each book, and if I have a unit, I will link to that on TPT. 

When I taught fifth and sixth, I was always looking to teach all the genres, books that had movies to go with them, and just all around good books. When I went from fifth to sixth, I was also doing my best to try and make my 6th graders feel more grown up (because of how they wanted to feel) but also remembering they're still just kids.

A LONG WALK TO WATER

I honestly can't remember what drew me into this book, but I ended up reading it right before I became a sixth grade teacher and fell in love. I loved how it was based on multiple true events, stories, and people. Even more so, Ioved how it could teach students about being thankful for what they have, and giving back when they can. When I taught 6th grade, it was just a really hard year, but my kids were so enthralled by this story that many even went on line to read about Salva's water initiatives, and some even wanted to donate. It was probably one of the most impactful stories I've ever read with a class. 
 THE MAZE RUNNER

I am going to be SUPER honest about The Maze Runner. I have a super love-hate relationship with it. I personally love The Maze Runner series. I think it's a great middle grade/middle school series. Every year, when I have let my 6th grades pick a book from the class set options I have, every single year they pick The Maze Runner. I think 6th graders are drawn to it because it's more mature, but not so young adult that it's inappropriate. 

The struggle is that it's a long books and takes a long time to build. And every year I question why I let them choose it because about halfway through they just want to be done. BUT then every year, the last 1/4 of the book, they are completely hooked and beg for more and LOVE watching the movie. Even more so, many end up reading more of the books in the series. 

So every year, I swear off of it, and every year I come back to it. It truly never disappoints, and it honestly teaches me and the kids the importance of sticking with some books. 
 THE FINEST HOURS

Non-Fiction books are not my favorite (the exception is teacher professional development books) but each grade I teach I REALLY try hard to find at least one good non-fiction novel for us to read together. Even more so, I love when there's a movie :). The Finest Hours really is a great non-fiction book to read with middle school students. The story lines are a little hard to follow at first, because there were multiple boat rescues needed all at the same time, but the kids get so into it after a while. They want to know who gets saved and how. Even more so, it's great to read about what happened after the boat rescues took place, and how it impacted the lives of those involved. 

 THE CROSSOVER

I have about five author that I could seriously start and run the ultimate fan clubs for. Kwame Alexander is one of them. If you are not reading or suggesting his books to middle schoolers, you all are totally missing out. His books are written in verse, he has diverse and complex characters that SO MANY kids can relate to, and the story lines are so good. Basketball was my life growing up, so The Crossover might be my favorite, but every time he releases a book, I devour it. Seriously, if you get nothing else out of this post, just go get one of this books, like yesterday. 


 FEVER 1793

My third year of teaching 5th grade, I had the best teaching partner. She taught me about so many great historical fiction books and this was one of them. I read it, but didn't have a chance to teach it with my 5th graders, but thought it would make a great one to read with my 6th graders. It was. My 6th graders were entranced about and intrigued about the lack of knowledge by some when treating yellow fever, but also with the knowledge of many who did know how to treat it. We fell in love with multiple characters, and I have become a BIG Laurie Halse Anderson fan ever since. 
 WONDER

I will be completely honest and say that this book was hard for my class and I to get through because it was my first year of teaching and I was horrible about sticking to read aloud. I will be honest and say that I also don't LOVE the writing, but I think the message is truly beautiful and I know a lot of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade teachers love this book.

AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS 

This book is VERY surprising. A lot of people think it is simply about Al Capone, but really it has a historical fiction component about Alcatraz prison. More importantly the main character, Moose has an autistic older sister in a time where autism wasn't supported, and instead was hidden. 

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE

It shouldn't be surprising that this is one of my favorite books to teach with 5th and 6th graders. So many people are hesitant to teach it. I promise you totally will be shocked how many kids have no idea about the books or the movies. They love all the fun stuff we do with it in my classes. Here's a blog post all about it. 

 FREAK THE MIGHTY

Here is another book that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that it's on my list of favorites. It is THE ONLY book that I have taught in all the grades I've taught (5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th). I think it's perfect for 6th or 7th, BUT if I was only a 5th grade teacher I would still teach it. It is probably my favorite book ever. 



UNGIFTED

This book honestly kind of fell in my lap. It went on sale on Scholastic so I bought a class set. I had recently read Swindle by Gordan Korman and loved his writing. My fifth graders LOVED it. It's funny, relatable, and has great themes, including recognizing that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. 



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