Books for Sixth-Graders Which Encourage Learning about Oneself and One’s World
Sixth grade can be an awkward time in many ways. Everyone is maturing at their own rate. Some students read at an advanced level and pace, some students find themselves struggling to keep up, and there is a core of students who are right at the sixth-grade reading level. Therefore, sixth grade literature must include books that are approachable to many stages and a challenge to the readers who need extra stimulation. The material should also include likeable and relatable characters as well as a compelling plot to interest even the most reluctant reader.
This is why I highly recommend the series of The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Since it’s a series, speedier readers can move along while the rest of the class can go at their own pace. These books can be read at different levels, too. There is a basic storyline (with twists and turns provided by nefarious characters) plus riddles throughout for those students who appreciate brain teasers. The characters are intriguing – kids who are extra intelligent and resourceful, but don’t know it until they are put to the test in a series of seemingly insurmountable predicaments.
Another great series for inclusion in sixth-grade literature is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Again all students can be encouraged to read at a speed that suits them and their comprehension. These books encourage extensive critical thinking with a powerful backdrop. Now that the first movie is out and the second is on its way, readers may be enticed and one possible discussion topic could be the difference between the books and the movies. The only feature of this series that some might find questionable is the violence. The first two books are set on the brink of revolution by districts which are leeched by a ruling Capitol which forces each district to contribute children for a fight-to-the-death contest in a perilous environment. The third book covers the revolution itself.
The Lightning Thief series by Rick Riordan is tailor-made for sixth-grade literature. One could teach only the first book or delve into the five-book series. These books complement nicely a study on Greek mythology. We find the books’ main character, who is a seventh-grader named Percy Jackson, who has yet to realize the extent the Olympians have their hands in the modern world and specifically in his life. Percy is struggling with dyslexia and attracting trouble everywhere he goes, getting kicked out of one school after another until a series of adventures helps him realize who he truly is and what his personal strengths are.
Above are three books for sixth-graders that would be ideal for teaching. They all provide prompts for practicing thinking critically as well as examining their own development into active participants of their communities and world. All three series give options to the varying levels of reading comprehension that every sixth-grade classroom contains. These books are compelling enough for sixth-graders to develop an interest in reading more, which is perhaps the most valuable reason for introducing these books.