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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

TTT: Heading Back to School ... Wait, What?

A Top Ten Tuesday post is probably the last thing I should be publishing today, considering how behind I am on reviewing books.  But, yeah.  I just couldn't resist today's topic since it's a freebie.  Yay!

My friend messaged me a bookish question on Facebook yesterday and I thought a Top Ten list would be the perfect way to answer her query.  She will be starting her first year of teaching this Fall.  As she's trying to collect books for her classroom library, she asked which titles I would recommend stocking for her upcoming 6th graders.  This is a little tricky as kids this age want to read more mature books, but (in my opinion, anyway) they're not necessarily ready for hard-core YA novels yet.  In fact, there's been a bit of a brouhaha at my kids' elementary school about the recent availability of teen books in the library.  So, in thinking of volumes for a 6th grade classroom, I tried to come up with stories that are exciting/complex enough to hold an older reader's attention, while still being appropriate, especially for a school library.  Be sure to let me know whether you agree or disagree with my choices and what additional books you would suggest to my friend.  I'm sure she'd appreciate as much feedback as possible.

Before we get to that, though, why don't you join in the Top Ten Tuesday fun?  It's super easy.  Just go on over to The Broke and the Bookish, read the easy-peasy instructions, and jump on the bandwagon.  It's a good time, I promise.

Now, on to my list.  First of all, I would make sure I stocked lots of great classic lit, like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Diary of Anne Frank, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery, etc.  

Assuming I already had those on hand, these are the Top Ten Books/Series I Would Buy for a Sixth Grade Classroom Library:

1.  Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling—Most kids discover the wonders of Harry Potter long before sixth grade.  If they haven't, they need to.  This is also a series that kids (and adults!) love to re-read, so the more copies of the books a school has, the better.

2.  The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins—Although these books are pretty violent and grim, it's a YA series that definitely appeals to middle grade readers.  While it doesn't provide the most uplifting reading in the world, the series features books with tight prose, lots of action, and thought-provoking moral questions.

3.  The Percy Jackson series (and spin-offs) by Rick Riordan—These books are popular with readers of all ages.  Sixth graders love them as much as fourth graders do.  Also, watch for Riordan's new series based on Norse mythology—the first book will be coming out in October, I believe.

4.  The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer—Although this is a YA series, it's squeaky clean.  It's also got memorable characters, vivid writing, plenty of action/adventure, and a sci fi twist that makes it stand out from the crowd.  Sure, the books are "re-booted" fairy tales, but there's plenty for both girls and boys to love about this series.

5.  The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz—When my son was in 5th and 6th grade, these books were his absolute favorite.  Alex Rider is sort of a young James Bond.  I haven't read any of the novels, but they're very popular at my kids' elementary school and come highly recommended by my son.

6.  The Maze Runner series by James Dashner—Like #5, these books will appeal to reluctant readers, especially those of the male variety.  With dystopian elements, a mystery, and lots of action/adventure, this series is another really popular one.

7.  The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter—I don't know how much literary merit these books have, but who cares?  They're clever, upbeat, and tons of fun.  My 13-year-old daughter and I both adore this series.

8.  The Unwind series and, really, anything by Neal Shusterman—If you read this blog on any kind of a regular basis, you already now that I'm a huge Shusterman fangirl.  His books are complex, imaginative, and thought-provoking.  I love the Unwind series best of all, but I also really recommend his Skinjacker series.

9.  Anything by Margaret Peterson Haddix—Haddix is another author who will appeal to reluctant readers.  Most of her novels are short, quick reads that still manage to be suspenseful, exciting, and thought-provoking.  Every 6th grade library needs a little Haddix in it.

10.  The Al Capone books by Gennifer Choldenko—I adore this trilogy about families living on Alcatraz Island during the time it housed a working prison (and a very famous inmate).  It's a fascinating historical series that is unique, interesting and full of heart.  I love it.

I could seriously go on and on about this subject!  So, what do you think of my choices?  Which books/series would you buy/not buy for a 6th grade classroom?  I'd love to hear your answers and I know my friend would, too.

Happy TTT!


  1. Nice list, I would add Fabelhaven and Carl Hiaasen's books.

  2. On the ones I've read I'd have to disagree with you on The Hunger Games. They're just too violent and romantic. And I don't even mean that it's too violent for them to handle as much as I think they'd get bored or be confused. I think you've got a great list here, otherwise. I really want to read the Al Capone books. And I'd add the Antsy books by Shusterman and The Wednesday Wars.

    1. Maybe, but A LOT of 6th graders at my kids' elementary school are reading HG. I didn't let my kids read it until 6th, but yeah, maybe that's still too young ...

  3. These are great and I agree that most 6th graders are going to already know about The Hunger Games. Plus, Harry Potter definitely gets darker and older based. What about Tamora Pierce's books? Several quartets of stories.

  4. When I finished reading the HP series to Ivan, it was really hard to find something he liked. Really hard! So we read the series, they are packed right now so I don't remember exact names, but it was the Case of Oragami Yoda. Darth Paper Returns etc. He also, even though he got lost a few times, was "All the Wrong Questions " series by Lemony Snicket. Harmony highly recommends the Warriors books.

  5. I really like this list idea, and the books are all wonderful!

  6. I totally agree with these. I loved The Gallagher Girls series when I was in middle school and the Alex Rider series! Great picks!

  7. I would definitely want to be in a sixth grade class that you bought the books for, Susan! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  8. My daughter loved the novels by Haddix. Thanks for sharing your list!

  9. Percy Jackson is a great middle grade series (which I didn't read until after that...) and I know there was at least one Margaret Peterson Haddix book read in my sixth grade class.

  10. Great list! I especially love Al Capone Does My Shirts. Have you ever read "The Wednesday Wars" by Gary D. Schmidt? That's another of my middle grade favorites.

    I think I'm going to have to check out the Marissa Meyer books - they sound great!

  11. I love the topic of this but I feel so disconnected with the idea of a 6th grader. I can't remember what that age is like and my kids are still super young. But either way those are some great books!

  12. This is a great start! I know that my students (5th and 6th) have also loved A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, the Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo, and Beauty by Robin McKinley.
    I would also throw in the Circle of Magic books by Tamora Pierce and some of the Once Upon a Time fairy tale retellings (authors for this series include Cameron Dokey, Tracy Lynn, Suzanne Weyn, and Nancy Holder).

  13. Great list! I would definitely take a 6th grade class, even if I'm way too old, to read all of those books, haha! :)

  14. Really like your topic this week. Some great picks in there! x

  15. Great list! I had to Google 6th grade, but I totally agree with you on these selections for kids of that age. I'd perhaps include Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Philip Pullman's Dark Materials.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Lauren @

  16. Great list. The Lunar Chronicles isa great choice that I would not have thought of. Love those books!

  17. Great list. I would add The Eighth Day by Dianne Salerni. I recommended it o my friends 8th grade son and he loved it

  18. This is a great list! What about Artemis Fowl, Ranger's Apprentice, Young Samurai, Young Bond and the Declaration series by Gemma Malley?

  19. Great topic and choices! Choosing books for 6th graders is always hard. I think you came up with some awesome choices. I especially love The Lunar Chronicles and The Hunger Games. I definitely need to read the Unwind Series.

  20. I really enjoyed Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain when I was in 6th grade.

    My son's 2nd/3rd grade classroom has a copy of Pride and Prejudice in it. They're an advanced bunch of kids, but I wonder if any of them have even tried to read it . . .

  21. I read Al Capone in sixth grade for school and absolutely loved it. I also remember reading A Wrinkle in Time in fifth grade. The whole class loved it so much, that the teacher had to get the rest of the series so we could borrow them to read for our pleasure!

    And Harry Potter remains a favorite, of course! Great suggestions!

    Ally @ The Scribbling Sprite

  22. I read the Al Capone series when I was in middle school and had NO idea it was a trilogy! I'll be checking it out now, thanks for the heads up!

    Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

  23. Awesome list!! I would read all of these in middle school :) I love HP and it's a perfect one to start at that age as is Percy Jackson.

  24. Totally agree with all of these! I read Unwind last year, and devoured the rest of the series pretty damn fast! I can't wait to read more Shusterman books. Harry Potter of course, I would recommend them to anyone. The Hunger Games are great too and of course Percy Jackson, I started reading them when I was 14, but i would have still be interested if I heard about them when I was younger, they're perfect for that age (any age really!).
    My TTT:

  25. I had never heard of the Lunar Chronicles but I think I'd actually find them quite interesting myself!


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