Favorite books for 6th graders
Brown Girl Dreaming
by: Jacqueline Woodson - (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014) 352 pages.
Jacqueline Woodson tells the story of her life, family, and first attempts at writing for younger audiences in this memoir in verse. She provides a rich historical perspective of what it was like growing up in Columbus, Ohio during the civil rights era as she sat at the back of the bus, learned about the death of Martin Luther King Jr., and watched the Black Panthers on TV. In other, more personal poems, Woodson recounts her struggles learning to read and eventually, wanting to write. This may look like a book of poetry, but once your child ventures into the first pages, the story will carry her along.
Perfect for: Aspiring writers who also love a historical memoir.
Find Brown Girl Dreaming at your local library.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
by: Jacqueline Kelly - (Henry Holt and Co., 2009) 352 pages.
A prize-winning book that explores the unconventional life of a brash young naturalist.
She’s a turn-of-the-century Texas girl, but 11-year-old Calpurnia Tate is more interested in becoming a scientist than in knitting or cooking. With the help of her grandfather, an amateur naturalist, and Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, she starts doing fieldwork. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is the critically acclaimed story of an outsider who has to forge her own way in the world as she discovers her unique identity.
Perfect for: Kids who like historical fiction.
Find The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate at your local library.
Just as Long as We’re Together
by: Judy Blume - (Orchard Books, 1987) 290 pages.
From celebrated author Judy Blume, this is the story of three friends and the trials and tribulations of being a tween. A great alternative to The Clique and Gossip Girl books.
Perfect for: Delving into what it means to be a good friend.
Find Just as Long as We’re Together at your local library.
Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator
by: Jennifer Allison - (Sleuth/Dutton, 2005) 321 pages.
Move over Nancy and Sammy, there’s a new crime-solving girl in town and her name is Gilda Joyce! When her teacher asks what she is doing for the summer, Gilda tells the class she’s going to San Francisco to work on a novel. Of course, this isn’t true, but that doesn’t stop our intrepid heroine. After writing a hilarious letter of introduction, she manages to score a trip to visit her mother’s estranged relative, and she’s off to San Francisco to win the hearts of her unknown family. Things don’t quite turn out the way she expects, however. Her uncle is cold and distant, as is his daughter — a cousin she didn’t know she had. In their amazing “painted lady” house, a secret holds the two of them in a state of fear, and Gilda’s psychic intuition tells her that its time to investigate.
Perfect for: Kids who like mystery.
Find Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator at your local library.
The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
by: Michael Scott - (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2007) 400 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.
The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History
by: Jennifer Armstrong, illustrated by: Roger Roth - (Random House, 2006) 368 pages.
This big, 360-page book tells stories drawn from the archives of American historical events, large and small. Its 100 short tales — each typically one to five pages — recount in cogent and chronological order stories of courage, struggle, discovery and freedom that shaped the American experience, from the 1565 founding of America’s first city to the confounding 2000 presidential election. … Smart and written in a lively fashion featuring clever watercolor illustrations, this book makes history digestible in appetizing bite-size pieces.
Perfect for: Kids who like history.
Find The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History at your local library.
The Chronicles of Narnia
by: C.S. Lewis - (HarperCollins, 1950)
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 children’s 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 world’s fate (a powerful fantasy for any child). In each of Lewis’s page-turning books, all crafted in masterful prose, Narnia’s very fate hangs in the balance: Will good win out over evil?
Perfect for: Readers, 8 and up, drawn to illusive symbols and magic.
The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World
by: E.L. Konigsburg - (Simon & Schuster, 2007) 244 pages.
This is brilliant writing for brilliant kids. There are mentions of matters sexual and violent, but they are glancing references, nothing more. There is some mild swearing. Families can talk about the general historical background and Hitler’s specific views of art. Why would controlling art have been so important to a dictator like Hitler? Why would others risk their lives for it? What could make a painting so important? Also, the author is sometimes very subtle, and even gifted readers may need some help sorting out the story.
Perfect for: Kids who like historical fiction.
Find The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World at your local library.
Wizardology: The Book of the Secrets of Merlin
by: Dugald A. Steer, illustrated by: Anne Yvonne Gilbert, John Howe, and Helen Ward - (Candlewick Press, 2005) 28 pages.
This book is chock full of information presented in somewhat old English. The fascinating thing about this book is all the manipulatives it has on each page. These manipulatives give added depth to the spells, diagrams, and ultimately to the learning.
Perfect for: Kids who like science fiction and fantasy.
Find Wizardology: The Book of the Secrets of Merlin at your local library.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
by: Anne Frank - (Bantam, 1993) 304 pages.
The Nazis occupied Amsterdam in 1942, forcing 13-year-old Anne Frank and her family to hide in the secret annex of a warehouse. Anne memorializes her two years of claustrophobic confinement in this witty, fearful, intimate diary, that concludes when the Gestapo discover the hideout. (Anne died in March 1945, in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.) This is a remarkable coming-of-age classic, set in tragic circumstances. Anne wrote, “I want to go on living even after my death!… Will I ever be able to write anything great?” Her wish has been realized.
Perfect for: Teenagers, wanna-be writers, or children interested in Nazi Germany.
Find Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl at your local library.
Survivors: True Stories of Children in Holocaust
by: Allan Zullo and Mara Bovsun - (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2005) 208 pages.
The experiences of nine boys and girls who escaped death during the Holocaust are chronicled in this intense, graphic collection. Interviewed as adults, the survivors recount their terrifying, heart-wrenching childhoods. Markus played dead in the snow; Matheis jumped out of a boxcar and fled into the woods; Luncia hid in a tiny trunk; others hid in haystacks or attics, disguised their identities, or survived the concentration camps. Every child possessed moral and physical courage, resolute optimism and the will to keep living — and yet they are scarred for life.
Perfect for: Mature children interested in the Holocaust. Those interested in stories of survival and seeing the will to live in the human spirit.
Find Survivors: True Stories of Children in Holocaust at your local library.
Walk Two Moons
by: Susan Creech - (HarperTrophy, 1995) 288 pages.
In this Newbery-Medal-winning story from 1995, a young girl traveling with her grandparents entertains them by weaving tales about her imaginary friend. At the same time, she must confront her feelings about her estranged mother. Find Walk Two Moons at your local library.
The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials, Book 1
by: Philip Pullman - (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996) 432 pages.
Like everyone in her world, 10-year-old Lyra’s soul exists outside of her body in the form of an animal companion, or daemon. Lyra and her fierce, mischievous daemon, Pantalaimon, have been raised at Oxford college, where they’ve been left to do mostly as they please by the elderly scholars who are Lyra’s guardians. When Lyra’s friend Roger is kidnapped by the mysterious child-snatching Gobblers, Lyra sets off to find him with the dazzling Mrs. Coulter and a magical compass which foretells the future — but only to one who can read it. This dramatic tale of armored polar bears, witch clans, and hot air balloon rides interweaves science, theology, and magic. And the adventure continues in two more books.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 2007 adaptation starring Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter, which follows the plot of the first book in the series.
Perfect for: Kids who like brainy fantasy with an edge.
Find The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials, Book 1 at your local library.
My Friend Flicka
by: Mary O’Hara - (Lippincott, 1941) 352 pages.
Ten-year-old Ken McLaughlin is a daydreamer. He can’t concentrate on school and is desperate for the chance to train his own colt on his family’s horse farm in Wyoming. When he finally gets his chance, the bond that develops between Ken and the fiery mustang, Flicka, is intense and life changing.
Want to see the movie? Fans of classic movies might enjoy the 1943 version, which closely follows the book, but readers looking for a modern remake should check out the 2006 film Flicka, which reimagines the story with a girl protagonist.
Perfect for: Kids who dream of having their own horse.
Find My Friend Flicka at your local library.
by: S.E. Hinton - (Viking Press, 1967) 224 pages.
Ponyboy, a proud Greaser from the wrong side of the tracks, is always up for a rumble against the rich Socs (short for “Socials”). But when his best friend, Johnny, accidentally kills one of the Socs gang, 14-year old Ponyboy must confront the violent reality of his life and make choices that will determine his future. The Outsiders was written by a high school student in 1967, and the story’s themes about class, violence, and teen coming-of-age still resonate with tweens and teens today.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 1983 adaptation directed by Francis Ford Coppola, though parents should note that the movie features violence and underage drinking.
Perfect for: Kids who like gritty realistic fiction.
Find The Outsiders at your local library.