Recommended 6th Grade Reading List

Whether you are looking for a 6th-grade reading list to supplement your child’s schooling or a great summer reading list, we have a list of books for you.

We included a list of inspiring biographies, classic novels and fun short stories that you may even remember reading when you were a kid.

Read to Master Comprehension!

By the time students enter the 6th grade, it’s important that they already have a foundational understanding of the basic tools that are needed to understand a text that they may not already understand. For instance, students need to be able to use context clues to identify words that they don’t know. They should be able to use word origins to break apart words and figure out their meaning even if they’d never encountered them before. Usually by the 6th grade, students have had quite a bit of exercise with this.

Once students reach 6th grade, it’s important for them to really bear down and improve the skill set that they’ve already developed. No longer is education covering the very basics; rather it has transitioned to using books to strengthen muscles that are already existent.

In this spirit, our reading list for the 6th grade incorporates a variety of books that are designed to challenge young readers. Students will likely encounter ideas and words that they’ve never experienced before, so they’ll need to be able to put to use the skills that they learned in previous grades to improve their comprehension.

Read to Encourage Deeper Thought!

Reading and talking about writing are some of the two best tools to increase one’s capacity for critical thought. Holes, for instance, is a book that is deliberately written with parts left out. This encourages young readers to attempt to fill in the blanks by making educated guesses using the information in which they have been exposed. This is a core element of creative thought.

In a different vein, the book Stargirl by Spinelli introduces a character who does not comply to the expectations of her school and her society. This provokes readers to consider both the merits of society’s prescribed behaviors as well as the merits of alternatives.

The book Tangerine by Bloor is a strange little novel the does unexpected things with narrative structure. In this case, students find that the things that they’ve learned about creating expectations and using critical thought to anticipate the outcome of a story can sometimes be subverted in ways that they previously had not expected.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift is, of course, a timeless satire of a specific historical culture. Teachers are encouraged to discuss the historical and social significance of the allegorical elements through which our hapless hero’s travels. Seeing the world through the lens of satire or allegory is a powerful way to provoke critical thinking.

In addition to fiction, we also supply a variety of myths and legends that students can encourage deeper consideration. Many students will  be familiar with such characters as Robin Hood, but others, like Gilgamesh, might not be as familiar. Students may think that they are familiar with the fairy tales of the Brothers Grim, but it turns out that the actual stories are much more complex and rich than the versions that Disney creates!

So in addition to investigating familiar territory, this reading list also prepares young students to engage more advanced texts. Beowulf: a Tale of Blood, Heat, and Ashes by Raven is nowhere near is muddled and complex as the actual narrative of Beowulf. However, as part of a student’s education, it is very likely that he or she will have to study Beowulf at some point or another. Experiencing the text in a simplified form earlier on acts as an excellent stepping stone in the future when they will be called upon to break apart the same narrative in a deeper way.

Read to Increase Empathy!

As part of everyday life, we never have the opportunity to be anybody but ourselves. However, through the magic of fiction, we are able to temporarily become another character in another place. For the brief time that were reading a book, we are Gulliver. We are Beowulf. We are Bilbo Baggins.

When students read, they get to experience a perspective but they haven’t before. Often this involves experiencing cultures and situations that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to engage without fiction. This has the natural side effect of increasing empathy within students.

In a world where we are facing increased levels of bullying among younger people and increased globalization in the business world, the ability to put yourself in another person’s place regardless of their appearance or origin, the ability to have true empathy and understand another person’s perspective, is a valuable skill set. This is why we have included a list of books that come from other cultures or depict other cultures. For instance, The Jungle Book has tales that come straight out of Africa. The biographies of Corrie Ten Boom, Abraham Lincoln, William Bradford, and David Livingstone serve to give students a glimpse into parts of history and different cultures that they probably haven’t been exposed to before.

Read to Become a Better Writer!

There’s an adage among academics that “writing is thinking.” In a lot of ways, this is true. The ability to write is the ability to stack ideas on top of one another in a coherent, organized way. Stronger writers are better able to articulate their opinions and perspective, and this gives them the ability to convince others to adopt their own views. Good writers are often good leaders. Good writers are often good speakers.

There are really only two ways to become a better writer. The first, of course, is to write. However, the second is to read a lot of diverse works. Reading and reading frequently can really go miles toward making a student a better writer. This is why it is essential to pair of reading with writing activities. Writing about the tools that authors use to construct their works makes students stronger readers and stronger writer simultaneously.

These skills will be important in high school and critical in college. Reading extensively in earlier grades really lays the groundwork for having success in later grades.

Click on the story link for a complete description and reviews from Amazon if you want to learn more.

If you have never read these, they are even great to read as adults!


Abe Lincoln Grows Up, by Carl Sandburg

The Complete Book of Christian Heroes by by Dave Jackson and Neta Jackson

Corrie Ten Boom, Keeper of the Angel’s Den, by Janet & Geogg Benge

Nate Saint, On a Wing and a Prayer, by Janet & Geoff Benge

David Livingstone, Africa’s Trailblazer, by Janet & Geogg Benge

C. S. Lewis: Christian and Storyteller, by Beatrice Gormley, Wm B. Eerdmans

Heroes Tales for Kids, Vol. 1, 2, and 3, by Dave and Neta Jackson

Margaret Bourke-White: Racing with a Dream, by Catherine A.. Welch

Secret Soldier: The Story of Deborah Sampson, by Ann McGovern, Scholastic Inc.

William Bradford, Plymouth’s Faithful Pilgrim, by Gary D. Schmidt, William B. Eerdmans

Fiction Recommended Reading List

Return to Sender by Alvarez

Tangerine by Bloor

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Cochrane

My Life in Pink and Green by Greenwald

Bird by Johnson

The Thing About Luck by Kadohata

Schooled by Korman

Rain Reign by Martin

Darius and Twig by Myers

Wonder by Palacio

Keeper by Peet

Bamboo People by Perkins

The Red Pencil by Pinkney

Slob by Potter

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Rundell

Esperanza Rising by Ryan

Holes by Sachar

Guys Read: Funny Business by Scieszka

Counting by 7s by Sloan

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Sonnenblick

Love, Stargirl by Spinelli

Stargirl by Spinelli

Emma-Jean Lazurus Fell Out of a Tree by Tarshis

Drama by Telgemeier

Make Lemonade by Wolff

After Tupac and D Foster by Woodson

Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt, Follett

Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne

Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink, Macmillan

Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift.

Heidi, by Johanna Spyri

Johnny Tremain, by Ester Forbes

My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Sounder, by William H. Armstrong

Sourland, by William H. Armstrong


Hold Fast by Balliett

The Brixton Brothers by Barnett

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Berry

Zora and Me by Bond

The Grace Mysteries by Cavendish

Under the Egg by Fitzgerald

Skink: No Surrender by Hiaasen

Alex Rider by Horowitz

Kiki Strike by Miller

The Boy Sherlock Holmes by Peacock

Sally Lockhart by Pullman

Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues by Robinet

The Egypt Game by Snyder

Liar and Spy by Stead

Sammy Keyes by Van Draanen

Palace of Spies by Zettel

Legends and Myths

Will in Scarlet by Cody

Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection by Dembicki, ed.

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Gidwitz

Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood by Lee

Egg and Spoon by Maguire

Gilgamesh the Hero by McCaughrean

Rose Daughter by McKinley

Treasury of Egyptian Mythology by Napoli

Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Nelson

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Pullman

Beowulf: A Tale of Blood, Heat, and Ashes by Raven

The Kane Chronicles by Riordan

The Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greek Myths, Retold by Rylant

Breadcrumbs by Ursu

Short Stories for Sixth Grade Students

“A Candle for St. Bridget” by Ruth Sawyer, published in A Newbery Christmas

Farmer Giles of Ham” and “Smith of Wootton Major.” by J. R. R. Tolkien

Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving, The Sketch Book.

The Reluctant Dragon” by Kenneth Graham, from Dream Stories

“Rikki Tikki Tavi” by Rudyard Kipling, from The Jungle Book