I’ve found that as my boys get older, they get a bit more selective about what they want to read. They’re becoming young adults, and they want to read things that make them feel mature. And, of course, they want an entertaining story, too!
Check out all of our Summer Reading Lists!
I chose the books on this summer reading list with the interests and reading level of upcoming 6th graders in mind. However, it’s important to remember that recommended grade levels on books are only guidelines; each child reads at their own level and moves up at their own pace.
Take this list as a suggestion, not an indicator of where your child should be! The best books for your child are the ones they can read and enjoy, no matter the suggested age or grade level.
6th Grade Summer Reading List
Rick by Alex Gino
Rick always seems to go with the flow, even when things bother him. He ignores his best friend’s bullying behavior, and his father’s awkward comments about girls. He even ignores his questions about his own identity.
When Rick joins his school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, he meets Melissa, a girl who seems to have it all together. Rick admires how self-assured he is, and wonders if he could ever get to the same place. His desire takes him on a journey to figure out who he is and what he wants from his life and his friendships.
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez
Rebellious Malú starts a band, much to the disapproval of her parents and school’s administration. Upsetting people seems to be what she’s done since her first day at her new school. But Malú is holding on to the first rule of punk: be yourself.
Malú finds the bravery to stand up to the folks who don’t want her to be herself — including her school’s administrators. Perez’s story of punk rock, finding an identity, and defying authority is ultimately about how to be yourself when the odds are against you.
Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj
When Karina’s grandfather begins tutoring Chris, the boy who lives next door, the two middle-schoolers strike up an unlikely friendship. Karina always assumed that Chris was annoying, like his friends, and she’s pleasantly surprised to discover that he’s a pretty nice guy.
Karina’s world is turned upside down when she and her grandfather are assaulted because they are Indian-American. In frustration, Karina makes a post on social media about the assault and asks others to #CountMeIn, her post goes viral. Soon people from all over begins adding their own photos, and a movement of positivity begins.
A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner
Glenn Burke is known as the inventor of the high five. He’s also the first openly gay Major League Baseball player. When Silas Wade does a presentation about Burke for school, he’s also taking a step toward revealing the truth about himself.
Silas shares that he is gay with his best friend Zoey, but works hard to keep it a secret from his friends on the baseball team, some of whom use “gay” as an insult. He ends up telling his teammates that Zoey is his girlfriend, a lie that ends up catching up with him. Can Silas find the courage to correct his lie and be himself?
What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado
Stephen wants to be able to do everything his friends can do, but he’s not sure he can. As a mixed kid, he’s having trouble finding his place. He’s beginning to see that the world looks at him differently than his white friends, and he’s not sure how to move forward.
Stephen finds himself weaving in and out of different lanes, as he navigates his friendship with his best friend Dan, and Dan’s racist cousin, Chad. Can Stephen find his place in the world where he doesn’t seem to fit in?
Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy and Ali Fadhil
In 1991, Ali was living a normal life in Iraq. He loved soccer, video games, and spending time with his friends. They have a housekeeper, candy and treats, and little cause for worry. But everything changes when Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait and starts a war with the United States and its allies.
Soon Ali and his family find themselves existing on rations, taking cover during bombings, and worry about their father’s safety when he goes to work as an army medic. Ali witnesses things no child should see, and wonders how his president could care so little for the citizens of his nation. This true story is an eye-opening look at life in Iraq during the Gulf War.
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Haley isn’t sure about having to meet with five other students at school every week. They’re left alone in a classroom and told that they can talk about anything. There’s a lot Haley would rather not talk about, like her deceased mother or her incarcerated father. What is she supposed to say to these kids?
Slowly but surely, the group of six begin to bond. They share deeply personal experiences with each other, like Esteban’s father’s deportation or Amani’s fears of being racially profiled. As they bond, they make a promise to each other: “I will harbor you.”
The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
It’s not a Merry Christmas for Lolly Rachpaul. His older brother was recently killed in a gang-related shooting, and Lolly and his mother are still grieving his loss.
But a unique gift helps Lolly process his loss — LEGO bricks. Equipped with a bag of LEGO bricks and no instructions, Lolly is left to build whatever he chooses. As pressure from the outside world builds, the small plastic bricks provide an outlet and a purpose when Lolly needs it most.
Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
Everyone seems to think that Marcus is dangerous, just because he’s the biggest kid in the 8th grade. When his imposing presence leads him into some trouble at school, his mother decides it’s time for a family trip to see relatives in Puerto Rico — relatives Marcus doesn’t remember at all.
Marcus knows that his father is somewhere in Puerto Rico, but he hasn’t seen him since his father left the family a decade ago. Marcus decides he’s going to find his father while he’s on the island, and hopefully find some answers about why his father left. His journey helps him learn more about himself, and connects him with his Puerto Rican roots.
The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy
Rahul Kapoor just entered seventh grade where hormones are awakening all around him. His friends are suddenly getting crushes, and he is, too. However, his crushes are a bit different than his peers- he is crushing on boys.
While navigating his new emotions, Rahul is also trying to follow his beloved grandfather’s advice: to find something he loves and be the BEST at it. But what matters to Raul? What is he good at? What if he can’t be the best at anything? Rahul is having a hard time finding his place, until he finds the courage to be the best at being himself.
Middle School’s a Drag, You Better Werk! by Greg Howard
Young entrepreneur Mikey Pruitt is always looking for the next business opportunity. He’s had a few failed attempts, but when drag queen Coco Caliente (aka Julian Vasquez) comes to him looking for an agent, the the Anything Talent and Pizzazz Agency is founded.
It turns out lots of kids at school want to take advantage of their gifts to win the school talent show, which means Mikey has lots of eager potential clients. And as he works with Julian to get ready for the talent show, he wonders if he can follow Julian’s lead and be openly gay at school.
To Night Owl, From Dog Fish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer
Avery Bloom cannot believe it when she gets an email from a stranger named Bett Devlin; Bett claims that their dads are dating. Avery doesn’t think her dad would keep something like that from her, but it turns out the truth is worse than she imagined. Not only are the two dads dating, they’ve signed up Bett and Avery to go to summer camp together.
Bett and Avery commit to not getting along, but somewhere along the way, they become friends. They set out on an adventure that soon spins out of control in ways even their dads could not have imagined. Which bonds will stay strong and which will dissolve under the pressures of life? The answer might surprise you!
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
This powerful graphic novel follows three separate characters: Jin-Wang, who dreams of being the All-American boy; Danny, who is an All-American boy until his Chinese cousin ruins everything; and the Monkey King, who longs for a place in heaven even though he doesn’t belong.
What do these three characters have in common? As it turns out, quite a lot. Is it possible that these three could work together and help each other out of the messes they’ve made?
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Ryan’s award-winning book, Esperanza Rising, has become a modern classic, being assigned in schools nationwide and not without good reason. One of the earliest examples of mainstream children’s books featuring a Latinx girl, the story follows Esperanza during the Great Depression, as her family moves from Mexico to a camp for farm workers in California.
Esperanza is shocked by the conditions they find at the work camp, after a life of ease in Mexico. Things quickly become even worse for Esperanza when her mother becomes sick. Esperanza must summon all of her strength to help her mother and protect her family.
Mia Lee is Wheeling Through Middle School by Melissa Shang and Eva Shang
Mia Lee loves making stop-motion films, so she thinks she’s a natural choice for the president of her middle school’s video production club. However, she’s running against Angela Vanover, a mean girl who only seems to treat Mia nicely when others are around to see it.
When Mia’s campaign posters begin to disappear, she has a feeling she knows who’s behind it. With the help of her friends, she sets out to solve the mystery and prove that Angela is meaner than anyone thought.