Best Books for Sixth-Graders

As tweens start figuring out the world and their place in it, well-told stories can help them explore different places, feelings, issues, and eras. Our list of engaging books for 11- and 12-year-olds has it all, from nonfiction and science fiction to exciting fantasy epics and gritty urban tales inspired by the headlines. And for more great books, check out our lists of the Best Book Series for Tweens and Books Tweens and Teens Recommend to Friends.

Browse Best Books for Sixth-Graders

Al Capone Does My Shirts: A Tale from Alcatraz, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Boy stands up for sister with autism in compassionate tale.
By Gennifer Choldenko
(2005)
(2005)
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Allies Book Poster Image
Gripping, must-read novel follows young soldiers on D-Day.
By Alan Gratz
(2019)
(2019)
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Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl Book Poster Image
Inspiring wartime journal reveals teen's inner life.
By Anne Frank
(2011)
(1947)
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The Apothecary, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Cold War kids use magic to save world in brilliant novel.
By Maile Meloy
(2011)
(2011)
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Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rise of Kyoshi Book Poster Image
Servant girl becomes mystical hero in fast-paced fantasy.
By F.C. Yee, Michael Dante DiMartino
(2019)
(2019)
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Bad Best Friend Book Poster Image
Eighth grader withstands friend rejection in funny story.
By Rachel Vail
(2020)
(2020)
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Better Off Friends Book Poster Image
Sweet, funny When Harry Met Sally romance for tweens.
By Elizabeth Eulberg
(2014)
(2014)
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The Boy on the Wooden Box Book Poster Image
Moving memoir of boy Holocaust survivor on Schindler's list.
By Leon Leyson, Leon Leyson, Marilyn J. Harran
(2013)
(2013)
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Chains: The Seeds of America Trilogy, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Powerful depiction of slavery in 1776 New York.
By Laurie Halse Anderson
(2008)
(2008)
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Echo Book Poster Image
Tales of injustice masterfully blend with a dash of magic.
By Pam Munoz Ryan
(2015)
(2015)
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Goodbye Stranger Book Poster Image
Bittersweet, lovely story of friendship and social media.
By Rebecca Stead
(2015)
(2015)
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The Green Bicycle Book Poster Image
Funny, poignant, cheer-worthy tale of spirited Saudi girl.
By Haifaa al Mansour
(2015)
(2015)
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Grenade Book Poster Image
Tense, gripping WWII drama has powerful cost-of-war message.
By Alan Gratz
(2018)
(2018)
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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Book Poster Image
Powerful penultimate book mines Voldemort's past.
By J. K. Rowling
(2005)
(2005)
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Hatchet Book Poster Image
Hold on tight for an intense tale of survival.
By Gary Paulsen
(2006)
(1987)
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It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood Book Poster Image
Comic's engaging memoir of growing up under Apartheid.
By Trevor Noah
(2019)
(2019)
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A Long Walk to Water Book Poster Image
Touching take on Lost Boys of Sudan, based on true story.
By Linda Sue Park
(2013)
(2010)
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March Forward Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine Book Poster Image
Must-read memoir of a childhood in the segregated South.
By Melba Pattillo Beals
(2018)
(2018)
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One Crazy Summer Book Poster Image
A gem, with strong girl characters, '60s black history.
By Rita Williams-Garcia
(2010)
(2010)
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Parked Book Poster Image
Poverty, homelessness explored in hopeful tale of community.
By Danielle Svetcov
(2020)
(2020)
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Prairie Lotus Book Poster Image
Stunning tale of Asian girl's struggle on 1880s frontier.
By Linda Sue Park
(2020)
(2020)
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Refugee Book Poster Image
Harrowing page-turner sheds light on child refugees.
By Alan Gratz
(2017)
(2017)
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The Ruins of Gorlan: The Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1 Book Poster Image
1st in popular series has positive characters, some battles.
By John Flanagan
(2010)
(2006)
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The Thickety: A Path Begins Book Poster Image
Thrilling, brilliant witch tale is vividly violent, scary.
By J.A. White
(2014)
(2014)
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Well, That Was Awkward Book Poster Image
Friendships tested in clever tween-texting romcom.
By Rachel Vail
(2017)
(2017)
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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Book Poster Image
Twain's classic is full of humor and suspense.
By Mark Twain
(2010)
(1876)
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All American Boys Book Poster Image
Haunting tale of two boys' lives changed by police assault.
By Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely
(2015)
(2015)
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All-American Muslim Girl Book Poster Image
Captivating coming-of-age tale explores identity, racism.
By Nadine Jolie Courtney
(2020)
(2019)
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Almost American Girl Book Poster Image
Tender graphic memoir of Korean teen's immigrant experience.
By Robin Ha
(2020)
(2020)
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The Beast Player Book Poster Image
Teen bonds with magical beasts in captivating fantasy.
By Nahoko Uehashi
(2020)
(2019)
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Beasts Made of Night, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Riveting, intricately detailed, Africa-influenced fantasy.
By Tochi Onyebuchi
(2017)
(2017)
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Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon Book Poster Image
Complex, suspenseful story of developing The Bomb.
By Steve Sheinkin
(2013)
(2012)
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The Bone Witch Book Poster Image
Tale of dead-raising witch more coming-of-age than morbid.
By Rin Chupeco
(2017)
(2017)
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Boots on the Ground: America's War in Vietnam Book Poster Image
Powerful, intimate must-read account of the Vietnam War.
By Elizabeth Partridge
(2018)
(2018)
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Dragon Hoops Book Poster Image
Cartoonist tracks winning season in riveting graphic novel.
By Gene Luen Yang
(2020)
(2020)
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Ender's Game Book Poster Image
Boy genius trains to crush alien invasion in sci-fi classic.
By Orson Scott Card
(2005)
(2005)
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The Family Romanov:  Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia Book Poster Image
Vivid, sometimes violent tale of Russia's last royal family.
By Candace Fleming
(2014)
(2014)
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The Fellowship of the Ring Book Poster Image
Spectacular fantasy classic is where Frodo's journey begins.
By J.R.R. Tolkien
(2003)
(1954)
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The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington (Young Reader's Edition) Book Poster Image
Brits try to assassinate Washington in gripping page-turner.
By Brad Meltzer, Josh Mensch
(2020)
(2020)
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For Every One Book Poster Image
Bold, blunt encouragement for dreamers pulls no punches.
By Jason Reynolds
(2018)
(2018)
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From Twinkle, with Love Book Poster Image
Sparkling romantic comedy has lots to say about friendship.
By Sandhya Menon
(2018)
(2018)
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The Hunger Games, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Exciting, provocative tale of lethal reality show.
By Suzanne Collins
(2008)
(2008)
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Legend, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Stylish dystopian thriller in a not-so-future Los Angeles.
By Marie Lu
(2012)
(2011)
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Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case Book Poster Image
Powerful true tale of mixed-race couple's fight for justice.
By Patricia Hruby Powell
(2017)
(2017)
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Long Way Down Book Poster Image
Gripping, unnerving story of teen boy contemplating revenge.
By Jason Reynolds
(2017)
(2017)
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Lord of the Flies Book Poster Image
Gripping story of marooned schoolboys and their savagery.
By William Golding
(2011)
(1954)
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Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and the Black American Dream Book Poster Image
Compelling history of an epic journey that changed America.
By Blair Imani
(2020)
(2020)
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March: Book One Book Poster Image
Powerful graphic novel captures spirit of desegregation.
By John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
(2013)
(2013)
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Miles Morales: Spider-Man Book Poster Image
Exciting, smart, cool version of comic book superhero teen.
By Jason Reynolds
(2017)
(2017)
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My Name Is Not Easy Book Poster Image
Fascinating story of Alaskan kids growing up in the 1960s.
By Debby Dahl Edwardson
(2011)
(2011)
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Okay for Now Book Poster Image
A troubled boy discovers his self-worth through art.
By Gary D. Schmidt
(2011)
(2013)
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The Outsiders Book Poster Image
Story of ostracized kid a timeless fave of teens, preteens.
By S. E. Hinton
(2003)
(1967)
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P.S. I Like You Book Poster Image
Charming contemporary romance hits all the right notes.
By Kasie West
(2016)
(2016)
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The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh Book Poster Image
Riveting bio reveals the dark side of an American hero.
By Candace Fleming
(2020)
(2020)
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Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You Book Poster Image
Conversational history traces U.S. ideas about race.
By Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi
(2020)
(2020)
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Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz Book Poster Image
Unforgettable true story of boy sent to death camp at age 4.
By Michael Bornstein, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat
(2017)
(2017)
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The Tequila Worm Book Poster Image
Moving tale of Latina going to white boarding school.
By Viola Canales
(2006)
(2006)
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They Called Us Enemy Book Poster Image
Powerful graphic memoir of actor's internment as a child.
By George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott
(2019)
(2019)
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Under the Mesquite Book Poster Image
Latina teen faces mom's cancer in award-winning verse novel.
By Guadalupe Garcia McCall
(2012)
(2011)
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We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide Book Poster Image
A must-read history of racism and oppression in America.
By Carol Anderson, Tonya Bolden
(2018)
(2018)
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White Rose Book Poster Image
Intense, inspiring story of students who defied the Nazis.
By Kip Wilson
(2019)
(2019)
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