20 Books for 6th Grade: New and Exciting Books for Middle School

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Good Books for 6th Graders

Voila! Exactly what you are looking for! A list of great books for peeps in the 6th grade that are new, exciting, and compelling!

Just the other day, a mommy friend of mine asked me what books she should get her 6th grade daughter and I realized that the topic of ‘good 6th grade books’ may be a little tricky to maneuver! It makes one wonder, “What exactly makes for a good book for a 6th grader – someone new to middle school and turning into a young adult (so quickly!)?”

What Do 6th Graders Want to Read?

Middle schoolers these days want books with characters they can relate to. Being new to middle school comes with new ways of navigating friendships and fitting in with their peers. So today, I decided to put together a list of some great books that 6th graders will love.

*Remember: Books in this list can be read by EVERYONE no matter your age or grade. However, the books in this list have been specifically selected with 6th graders in mind. 

What You'll Find in Middle Grade Books for 6th Graders

Topics and themes you’ll find in middle grade books range from navigating personal friendships during times of change (entering middle school or moving) and diverse family dynamics, to gaining a worldly perspective on human society through the lens of immigration and societal issues. 

This list of books for 6th graders also includes books that are magical and compelling and absolutely hilarious! You’ll still find lovely nuggets of wisdom in these books as well. 

Hopefully you’ll find some new favorites or at least be able to build your own ‘to be read’ list with these recommendations!

If you like what you see, be sure to check out other book lists on Reading A La Mode such as 

>>Award Winning Books for Kids : The California Young Readers Medal Winners and Nominees

>>13 Must Read Scary Books for Kids: Middle Grade Readers Beware!

Table of Contents

Jeanne DuPrau

If you are a dystopian book lover this one is for you! The people of City of Ember have made a home in this massive underground bunker for the past 200 years! It has been so long since Ember’s people have seen the sunlight; they don’t even know what the outside world is like. The problem now is that Ember’s people are running out of resources. The lights may go out for the final time! The protagonists, Lina and Doon, venture to find the answers to some ancient messages that hold a secret to the city and along the way they run into mishaps and corruption. Will they save their city for good?

Chris Grabenstein

Jake is average. In fact, his whole school is average. The principal herself is banking on the school disintegrating to a point the property can be sold to her uncle and demolished to build luxurious apartments.

Until one day…

Jake gets his hands on some magical jellybeans that contain “Ingestible Knowledge” making him the smart kid in the universe!

Jake did not think through the consequences of becoming the most smartest kid in the universe… another issue that becomes his is figuring out a way to save his school.

This book is packed with very interesting facts which makes this book unique and very exciting.

Other exciting books by Chris Grabenstein

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library books 1-4

World Champions! A Max Einstein Adventure
Susan Vaught

Publisher’s description: I could see the big inside of my Sam-Sam. I had been training him for 252 days with mini tennis balls and pieces of bacon, just to prove to Dad and Mom and Aunt Gus and the whole world that a tiny, fluffy dog could do big things if he wanted to. I think my little dog always knew he could be a hero.

I just wonder if he knew about me.

When the cops show up at Jesse’s house and arrest her dad, she figures out in a hurry that he’s the #1 suspect in the missing library fund money case. With the help of her (first and only) friend Springer, she rounds up suspects (leading to a nasty confrontation with three notorious school bullies) and asks a lot of questions. But she can’t shake the feeling that she isn’t exactly cut out for being a crime-solving hero. Jesse has a neuro-processing disorder, which means that she’s “on the spectrum or whatever.” As she explains it, “I get stuck on lots of stuff, like words and phrases and numbers and smells and pictures and song lines and what time stuff is supposed to happen.” But when a tornado strikes her small town, Jesse is given the opportunity to show what she’s really made of—and help her dad.

Told with the true-as-life voice Susan Vaught is known for, this mystery will have you rooting for Jesse and her trusty Pomeranian, Sam-Sam.

A heart-felt book about fitting in.
Ann M. Martin

Rose loves homonyms. Even her name is a homonym. She loves them so much she makes a point announce them whenever she sees them. She even names her dog Rain (Reign, Rein).

This obsession, among Rose’s other *rules* she has set in her own world, makes Rose very misunderstood by her teachers, classmates and her own father. Living with high-functioning austism can be challenging and often make individuals feel like they can never fit in.

One day a massive storm hits her town and her beloved pup Rain goes missing. Her father should have not let her dog outside. Rose goes on a search for her dog and must break her *rules* and in the process learns to consider different ways to view the world.

Also by Ann M. Martin

A Corner of the Universe
The Baby Sitters Club: Book Collection
Lindsay Currie

Publisher’s Description: Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones.

When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. And it involves a secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years.

With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her!

Mike Lupica

Michael Arroyo has a pitching arm that throws serious heat along with aspirations of leading his team all the way to the Little League World Series. But his firepower is nothing compared to the heat Michael faces in his day-to-day life. Newly orphaned after his father led the family’s escape from Cuba, Michael’s only family is his seventeen-yearold brother Carlos. If Social Services hears of their situation, they will be separated in the foster-care system—or worse, sent back to Cuba. Together, the boys carry on alone, dodging bills and anyone who asks too many questions. But then someone wonders how a twelve-year-old boy could possibly throw with as much power as Michael Arroyo throws. With no way to prove his age, no birth certificate, and no parent to fight for his cause, Michael’s secret world is blown wide open, and he discovers that family can come from the most unexpected sources.

Also by Mike Lupica

Million Dollar Throw

Travel Team
Barbara Dee

When twelve-year-old Zinnia Manning’s older brother Gabriel is diagnosed with a mental illness, the family’s world is turned upside down. Mom and Dad want Zinny, her sixteen-year-old sister, Scarlett, and her eight-year-old brother, Aiden, to keep Gabriel’s condition “private”—and to Zinny that sounds the same as “secret.” Which means she can’t talk about it to her two best friends, who don’t understand why Zinny keeps pushing them away, turning everything into a joke.

It also means she can’t talk about it during Lunch Club, a group run by the school guidance counselor. How did Zinny get stuck in this weird club, anyway? She certainly doesn’t have anything in common with these kids—and even if she did, she’d never betray her family’s secret.

The only good thing about school is science class, where cool teacher Ms. Molina has them doing experiments on crayfish. And when Zinny has the chance to attend a dream marine biology camp for the summer, she doesn’t know what to do. How can Zinny move forward when Gabriel—and, really, her whole family—still needs her help?

Cynthia Kadohata

Summer knows that kouun means “good luck” in Japanese, and this year her family has none of it. Just when she thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong, an emergency whisks her parents away to Japan–right before harvest season. Summer and her little brother are left in the care of their grandparents — Obaachan and Jiichan — who come out of retirement in order to harvest wheat and help pay the bills.

The thing about Obaachan and Jiichan is that they are old-fashioned and demanding, and between helping Obaachan cook for the workers, covering for her when her back pain worsens, and worrying about her lonely little brother, Summer just barely has time to notice the attentions of their boss’s cute son. But notice she does, and what begins as a welcome distraction from the hard work soon turns into a mess of its own.

Having thoroughly disappointed her grandmother, Summer figures the bad luck must be finished–but then it gets worse. And when that happens, Summer has to figure out how to change it herself, even if it means further displeasing Obaachan. Because it might be the only way to save her family.

Laura Martin

Regan Fitz and Elliot Mason have been enemies since they started training to become Glitchers—people who travel through time to preserve important historical events. But everything changes when they find a letter from Regan’s future self, warning them about an impending disaster that threatens them and everyone they know.

Will they be able to set aside their past in order to save the future?

Andreas Davis Pinkney
Life in Amira’s peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when Janjaweed attackers arrive, unleashing unspeakable horrors. After losing nearly everything, Amira needs to find the strength to make the long journey on foot to safety at a refugee camp. She begins to lose hope, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind — and all kinds of possibilities.
R.L. Ullman

All Elliott Harkness wants is to be a superhero. His parents are superheroes. His older sister is a superhero. Heck, even his dog is a superhero. But Elliott has a problem—he’s a “Zero”—which is super-speak for powerless! So, while his family is off fighting crime, Elliott is stuck muddling through middle school.

But when danger strikes and Elliott is Earth’s last hope, will he find the power to be the epic hero he’s always wanted to be—or will he always be just an Epic Zero? Follow Elliott’s hilarious journey to fit in with his family, save the world, and make it home for dinner.

James Ponti

Sara Martinez is a hacker. She recently broke into the New York City foster care system to expose her foster parents as cheats and lawbreakers. However, instead of being hailed as a hero, Sara finds herself facing years in a juvenile detention facility and banned from using computers for the same stretch of time. Enter Mother, a British spy who not only gets Sara released from jail but also offers her a chance to make a home for herself within a secret MI6 agency.

Operating out of a base in Scotland, the City Spies are five kids from various parts of the world. When they’re not attending the local boarding school, they’re honing their unique skills, such as sleight of hand, breaking and entering, observation, and explosives. All of these allow them to go places in the world of espionage where adults can’t.

Before she knows what she’s doing, Sara is heading to Paris for an international youth summit, hacking into a rival school’s computer to prevent them from winning a million euros, dangling thirty feet off the side of a building, and trying to stop a villain…all while navigating the complex dynamics of her new team.

No one said saving the world was easy…

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T.J. Klune

Welcome to Charon’s Crossing.
The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through.

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead.

And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead.

But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home.

Svetlana Chmakova

Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.

Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.

On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!

Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

Eugene Yelchin

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:

The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.

A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.

A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.

But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate’s glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway. And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night.

Eugene Yelchin’s moving story of a ten-year-old boy’s world shattering is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility.

A stellar graphic novel!
Victoria Jamieson

For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.

In this graphic novel debut that earned a Newbery Honor and five starred reviews, real-life derby girl Victoria Jamieson has created an inspiring coming-of-age story about friendship, perseverance, and girl power!

Lori R. Snyder

Maddy Adriana knows that magic is real. All her life, her heart has pulled her towards things too perfect to be ordinary. One day, that tug leads her to a magical street circus, hidden in plain sight among the canals and boardwalks of Venice Beach.

For the first time in Maddy’s life, she finally feels like she belongs. But the circus is in grave danger. Maddy will need to confront the frightening side of magic, as well as her own deepest fears, if she’s to have any hope of saving the place she dreams of calling home.

This unforgettable debut shows readers the magic of following your heart and finding where you belong.

Gordon Korman

Chase’s memory just went out the window. Chase doesn’t remember falling off the roof. He doesn’t remember hitting his head. He doesn’t, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again . . . starting with his own name. He knows he’s Chase. But who is Chase? When he gets back to school, he sees that different kids have very different reactions to his return. Some kids treat him like a hero. Some kids are clearly afraid of him. One girl in particular is so angry with him that she pours her frozen yogurt on his head the first chance she gets. Pretty soon, it’s not only a question of who Chase is–it’s a question of who he was . . . and who he’s going to be. From the #1 bestselling author of Swindle and Slacker, Restart is the spectacular story of a kid with a messy past who has to figure out what it means to get a clean start.