Ella Enjoyed: 5 Good Books for 6th Graders

I’m kind of in denial that Ella is almost done with her tenure as a sixth grader and will be going to middle school this fall.

Am I getting old?!

Nevertheless, we still have a bit more time with her as a sixth grader and I’m soaking it up. Here are five books she’s loved recently!

good books for 6th graders

Ella Enjoyed: 5 Good Books for 6th Graders

Jailbreak at Alcatraz: Frank Morris & the Anglin Brothers’ Great Escape by Tom Sullivan
112 pages
This is the second book in this nonfiction series. Ella read the first one, Escape at 100 Feet: D.B. Cooper and the Missing Money and absolutely loved it, so I wasn’t surprised when she picked this one up as well. This one is about the thrilling escape from the island Alcatraz prison. It’s not a traditional book with tons of texts – instead, it’s more like a cross between a textbook and a graphic novel. It’s SUPER fun and perfect for non-fiction lovers. 

What Ella has to say: I really liked the first book in this series and I really liked this one too, but after I read it I had to ask everyone I knew if they were secretly an Alcatraz escapee. I like the way it shows a case file and tells you what happens and makes you want to solve it so badly because it’s never been solved. I liked seeing all the pictures and learning the facts too. These are probably my favorite non-fiction books.


The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
544 pages
I love a good book that involves familiar characters from classic fairy tales and this one does it in such a unique way. Sophie is set to go to the School for Good, just like Cinderella and the like of her did. Agatha is a shoe-in for the School for Evil with her black clothing and naughty cat. With no explanation, the girls are each put in the exact opposite schools that seem fitting for them. This is a series of six books and Ella has blown through them all this spring.

What Ella has to say: This is one of my favorite books – I love fractured fairy tales and this one is like a stained glass window. Basically, they shattered the whole window and put it together completely differently and it works! I’ve read the whole series and I really like the characters and the excellent character development. One thing I like about them is that it feels like they had a plan for the whole series from the beginning – there are more parts that keep getting revealed through the series. Definitely read them in order. Also, note that these are for older readers, not early elementary school readers.


A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home bHenry Cole
352 pages
If you’re looking for a great middle grade book with a historical background and pictures, this one is perfect. Celeste is anxious to find a home in the 1800s and strikes up a friendship with John James Audubon’s young apprentice (who is a famous naturalist best known for his bird paintings). I’m pretty sure Ella would never have picked this up if wasn’t a Battle of the Books title, but I was delighted she loved it so much.

What Ella has to say: This was a Battle of the Books book. When I picked it up, I assumed I’d spend hours reading it, but when I opened it, nearly every other page is an illustration. It really annoys me when illustrations don’t match up with the book’s description and this one didn’t do that at all!


Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
262 pages
I read this in one of my children’s lit classes in grad school and just seeing the cover takes me right back to 2009. Esperanza never thought she would leave her incredibly nice ranch, beautiful dresses and all of the help around her home. Unfortunate events strike her family hard and force her and her mom to flee to California and make a home on a Mexican labor camp. Esperanza has to grow up quickly and adjust to her new lifestyle especially when her mom falls ill. 

What Ella has to say: This was a Yoto card (and I love Yoto cards because they’re so cute). It was especially fun because I’ve been learning some Spanish and so I liked being able to understand some of the Spanish words in this book. I loved that it was based on a true story, but it’s definitely a sadder book. It was very interesting to learn more about Mexican culture – it was a good balance of interesting and informational.


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile
256 pages
I’m sort of trying to read all the Newbery winners (not fast or on any sort of timeline), so I read this one several years ago, despite the fact that it’s both about basketball and a novel-in-verse, two things I’m not particularly into. And then, predictably, I LOVED this story of twin brothers who are pushing hard to excel in basketball and follow in the footsteps of their pro player dad.

What Ella has to say: I like this book a LOT. I like the verse format in books – it makes it more interesting, even if I’m not always sure why it’s considered verse. I really liked the graphic novel version. Combining the words and the graphics makes it feel more alive. It’s a great book; super interesting and a really good plot. Right now I’m reading the other Crossover books, but I don’t think they are as good.


And if you’d like a printable copy of this 6th grade books to read list so you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!



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