The Best Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders (11-Year-Olds)

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Do you feel a little clueless about helping a 6th grader adjust to life’s changes? Are you frustrated or overwhelmed by the awkward pre-teen years? Does your 6th grader need some exposure to life beyond their own backyard or limited perception? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ve come to the right place: an in-depth look into the best nonfiction books for 6th graders.

How is your 6th graders’ awkwardness and nonfiction books connected? Glad you asked!

Nonfiction books for kids are a fantastic way to shape their worldview and to challenge them to think about people with respect, empathy, and compassion. Nonfiction books can also allow your 6th grader to come into contact with different lifestyles and experiences. This is a list of the best nonfiction books for 6th graders to help them see the world differently, to understand people better, and to encourage them to see life with a new perspective.

Keep reading to discover the best books for 6th graders to read!

Why Reading Nonfiction is Important for 6th GraderWhy Reading Nonfiction is Important for 6th Grader

Reading, no matter the genre, is valuable. However, while reading is both beneficial and necessary, engaging with different genres help readers become more versatile and well-informed. While there are articles about how fiction changes and enhances the brain, it is unfair to rule out nonfiction as not as important or significant to a 6th grader’s developing mind.

6th grade can be a hard time of adjustments, and the pre-teen years clouds a lot of mental clarity. As 6th graders engage with more factual and realistic information, nonfiction books help them to begin interacting and perceiving the world differently.

In an article from Educational Leadership, Bryan Goodwin and Kirsten Miller claim that reading nonfiction encourages students to engage with background information more readily. This skill is linked with helping students read textbooks more thoroughly and develop better study habits.

Even more, reading nonfiction establishes connections between intellectual and personal growth, helping your 6th grader grow into a more well-rounded individual.

Take a look below at the best books for 6th graders to read!

Award Winning Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

Award Winning Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

1. Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Carolrhoda Books

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story is a winner of the National Book Award Longlist, and it tells the story of six-year-old Sachiko Yasui’s survival after the Nagasaki atomic bomb on August 9, 1945. Following the aftermath of her dramatic survival, the story traces Sachiko’s journey for peace. This book provides an in-depth true account of a survivor’s story while offering perspective leading up to World War II’s final moments. As 6th graders begin to learn more about world history and events, this is a popular, award-winning book to help frame a different perspective about those directly affected by WWII.

On Sale
Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story
  • CAROLRHODA
  • Stelson, Caren (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


2. Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser

This book is a great for anyone who has felt excluded from the video game scene. The author’s of Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting it Done first met at a Girls Who Code summer camp; they teamed up and ended up creating a viral video game. Their work began during their teenage years, and carrying their work into adulthood, they ended up working and consulting with some of the largest start-ups in the technology industry. For the 6th graders who have been interested in gaming and felt excluded from the scene, this is a great book for 6th grade girls—and boys—to learn about how to turn a teenage passion into a career. This is also a good book to show 6th graders how to pursue and cultivate their creative outlets.

On Sale
Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done
  • Gonzales, Andrea (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 03/06/2018 (Publication Date) - HarperCollins (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-08-31


3. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings By Margarita Engle

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings is an Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction Award Finalist and the author, Margarita Engle, writes about how she lives in two worlds. Writing about being raised in Los Angeles and flying to Cuba to spend the summer months, Margarita frames her childhood as rich, yet tense. When the Cuban revolution begins, Margarita struggles to comprehend the tension between her two homelands. This memoir is a perfect text for 6th grade readers to learn more about diversity and culture.

On Sale
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Engle, Margarita (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


4. Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Smile is the perfect book for a 6th grader, because Raina Telgemeier writes specifically about her 6th grade experience. She recounts her humiliation and embarrassment after falling and knocking out her two front teeth. The memoir traces her fall, the subsequent orthodontic treatments, and the struggles that she faced during this time. This is a great nonfiction book for 6th graders who feel alone during some awkward and uncomfortable years!

On Sale
Smile
  • Graphix
  • Raina Telgemeier (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


5. El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo is the winner of the Newbery Honor Award and it is the true life account of author Cece Bell’s hearing loss at age four. She traces the experiences of elementary and middle school and elaborates on what it was like to wear a Phonic Ear hearing aid during this time. El Deafo is a great nonfiction book for 6th graders, because it’s funny and relatable.

On Sale
El Deafo
  • Harry N Abrams
  • Bell, Cece (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


The Best Arts Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

The Best Arts Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

6. Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd

Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design is, first and foremost, clever. The title’s pun is catchy, but even more, this nonfiction book provides hands-on, interactive elements to showcase how designers communicate through image and design. This is a great nonfiction book for a 6th grader who enjoys kinesthetic learning, too!

Go Hardcover – Illustrated, 16 April 2014
  • Workman publishing
  • Binding: hardcover
  • Language: english

Last update: 2021-08-31


7. Drawing from Memory by Allen Say

For the 6th graders who feel misunderstood or neglected, Drawing from Memory is a fantastic nonfiction book for them to relate to. Say, an artist who felt abandoned by his father, finds solace in a mentor-figure, who encourages him to pursue art. This is a great book for 6th graders who need to be reminded that their interests are important and they can pursue a hobby or passion that their parents might not understand.

On Sale
Drawing From Memory
  • Hardcover Book
  • Say, Allen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


8. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

This graphic novel is funny, lighthearted, and instructional. Lucy Knisely is the daughter of a chef/foodie, and she shares food, recipes, and memories that have shaped and inspired her life. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen is a great book for any 6th grader who loves cooking, or who love reading memoirs and graphic novels.

On Sale
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Knisley, Lucy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


9. The Girl Who Drew Butterflies How Maria Marian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies How Maria Marian’s Art Changed Science is a beautiful nonfiction book. It connects art and science as Joyce Sidman illustrates her interactions and observations of the natural world. She also incorporates illustrations and photographs of museums, science, photography, and women. Her work is reflective and personal, and this artistic nonfiction book would be great for any 6th grader who is interested in art, science, or history.

On Sale
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science
  • Hardcover Book
  • Sidman, Joyce (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


The Best History Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

The Best History Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

10. Animals in the House: A History of Pets and People By Sheila Keenan

The best book for a 6th grader to read is obviously one about the history of animals. In Animals in the House: A History of Pets and People, a text designated especially for middle readers, Sheila Keenan traces the history of pets. This a popular nonfiction book for 6th graders because it traces the history of wild animals and domestic pets. The book also showcases famous pets and their owners. If your 6th grader has ever wondered about the relationship between pets and their owners, then look no further!

On Sale
Animals in the House: A History of Pets and People
  • Hardcover Book
  • Sheila Keenan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


11. Terrible But True: Awful Events in American History By Dinah Williams

Terrible But True: Awful Events in American History sheds light on some very strange and horrifying events and people in American history. This is a great nonfiction book for a 6th grader, because what kid wouldn’t want to learn about vampire-like diseases?

Last update: 2021-08-31


12. Leon’s Story By Leon Walter Tillage, Illustrated by Susan L. Roth

Leon’s Story is a superb nonfiction book for 6th graders, because it incorporates small vignettes with illustrations. This book is a memoir of an African-American man who grew up during segregation and the small chapters and pictures inspires a 6th grade reader to more actively engage with the text. Leon’s Story is one of the best books for a 6th grader, because it couples prose and pictures, encouraging both readers and non-readers alike to access and understand the book.

Leon's Story (Sunburst Books)
  • Farrar Straus Giroux
  • Tillage, Leon Walter (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


13. Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America by Marc Favreau

Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America is one of the best nonfiction books for a 6th grader to read in terms of American history and the American Dream. The focus on the Great Depression provides a historical account of early twentieth century America, but the shift towards the prosperity and ingenuity of America is also extremely important to consider. This is a great 6th grade level nonfiction book, because it showcases the evolution and advancement of America.

Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America
  • Hardcover Book
  • Favreau, Marc (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


14. Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain, illustrated by Larry Day

Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud is a great book for 6th grade history buffs. This book explores America’s past by examining the tense relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and interweaving history with humor. It is a great nonfiction book to better understand the early days of America’s government, and it’s made interesting and lively with the Jefferson/Adams disagreement as a central focal point.

Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the True Story of an American Feud
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Jurmain, Suzanne Tripp (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


The Best Science Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

The Best Science Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

15. Outdoor Science Lab For Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Experiments for the Yard, Garden, Playground, and Park by Liz Lee Heinecke

For the curious and adventurous kid, Outdoor Science Lab For Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Experiments for the Yard, Garden, Playground, and Park is a great book on outdoor experiments for the 6th grade level.

On Sale
Outdoor Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Experiments for the Yard, Garden, Playground, and Park
  • Heinecke, Liz Lee (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 06/01/2016 (Publication Date) - Quarry Books (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-08-31


16. Kitchen Science Lab For Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Experiments from the Pantry by Liz Lee Heinecke

If your 6th grader does not enjoy the outdoors, Liz Lee Heinecke also has a kitchen science lab series, which also includes 52 experiments. Heinecke’s experiment series are some of the best books for a 6th grade reader, because it prompts them to read the text with a goal or outcome in mind. These nonfiction books encourage hands-on learning, which can help make reading fun!

On Sale
Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family Friendly Experiments from Around the House (Lab for Kids, 4)
  • Kitchen Science Lab for Kids 52 Family Friendly Experiments from Around the House Hands On Family
  • Heinecke, Liz Lee (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


17. Bones Never Lie: How Forensics Helps Solve History’s Mysteries By Elizabeth Macleod

Bones Never Lie: How Forensics Helps Solve History’s Mysteries is an excellent 6th grade level nonfiction book. The book explores the deaths of seven historical figures, but incorporates an interactive approach to the material. Kids will learn how scientists utilize autopsy results, DNA testing, and fragments—to name a few—as a way to determine the cause of death. This is a great nonfiction book for a 6th grader interested in history, science, and murder mysteries.

On Sale
Bones Never Lie: How Forensics Helps Solve History's Mysteries
  • MacLeod, Elizabeth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 02/01/2013 (Publication Date) - Annick Press (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-08-31


18. The Great Brain Book by H.P. Newquist, Illustrated by Keith Kasnot

One of the best ways to get a 6th grader to interact with nonfiction is to have the text be interactive and stimulating. The Great Brain Book is certainly a fantastic nonfiction book for kids, because it provides accurate and factual information in addition to anatomical illustrations of the brain and how it functions. This is a great book for 6th grade boys and girls alike!

The Great Brain Book, The: an Inside Look at the Inside of Your Head
  • Hardcover Book
  • HP Newquist (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


The Best Biography Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

The Best Biography Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

These two books are great for both 6th grade boys as well as 6th grade girls.

19. Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America by Teri Kanefield

If your 6th grader has memorized every single word to Hamilton: An American Musical then they probably need to check out Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America. This is a great biography to help 6th graders learn more about Hamilton and his contributions to America.

Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America #1
  • Kanefield, Teri (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 03/13/2018 (Publication Date) - Abrams Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-08-31


20. Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrerra and Raul Colón

This book is easy and accessible, making it a perfect nonfiction book for 6th graders to learn further about prolific Hispanic and Latin American men and women. Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes is a wonderful biography for 6th graders, because it profiles nearly twenty individuals, showcasing their work in arts, politics, philanthropy, and sports. This is a great book for 6th graders who enjoy learning about their own and/or other cultures!

On Sale
Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes
  • Dial Books
  • Hardcover Book
  • Herrera, Juan Felipe (Author)

Last update: 2021-08-31


The Best Sports Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

The Best Sports Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

21. I Got This: To Gold and Beyond by Laurie Hernandez

I Got This: To Gold and Beyond is a memoir about the Olympic champion Laurie Hernandez. A New York Times Bestseller, Hernandez’s story about her gymnastics and Olympic journey are inspiring and motivating. This is a great nonfiction book for a 6th grade girl who is interested in gymnastics!

On Sale
I Got This: To Gold and Beyond
  • Hernandez, Laurie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 05/08/2018 (Publication Date) - HarperCollins (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-08-31


22. All Heart: My Dedication and Determination to Become One of Soccer’s Best by Carli Lloyd and Wayne Coffey

All Heart: My Dedication and Determination to Become One of Soccer’s Best is an adaptation of Carli Llyod’s memoir. In this text, she makes her memoir accessible to young readers, which makes this a great nonfiction book for 6th graders. A 6th grade student can read about Lloyd’s journey from elementary soccer player to World Cup Athlete. For 6th graders who are interested in soccer or sports, this is a great nonfiction book for kids!

All Heart: My Dedication and Determination to Become One of Soccer's Best
  • Lloyd, Carli (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 03/20/2018 (Publication Date) - Clarion Books (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-08-31


23. Strong Inside (Young Readers Edition): The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line by Andrea Maraniss

For basketball players and non-basketball players alike, Strong Inside (Young Readers Edition): The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line is an age-appropriate nonfiction book detailing how the first African-American succeeded in playing college basketball in the segregated Southeastern Conference. This is a wonderful nonfiction book for 6th graders, because it displays a dark part of American history and how it affected sports culture.

Last update: 2021-08-31


24. Life in Motion by Misty Copeland and Brandy Colbert

Life in Motion is a young reader edition of Copeland’s memoir about her experience as the first African-American principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre. Adapted from the original memoir, the young reader’s edition provides a great way for 6th graders to learn more about professional ballet and Misty Copeland’s success in the artform. This is a good book for 6th grade girls and it demonstrates undefeated resilience and perseverance.

On Sale
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina
  • Touchstone Books
  • Copeland, Misty (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-08-31


25. Kevin Durant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Greatest Small Forwards (Basketball Biography Books) by Clayton Geoffreys

Kevin Durant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball’s Greatest Small Forwards (Basketball Biography Books) is a top release from Clayton Geoffreys’ basketball series. Known for his biographical work in the sports world, Geoffreys’ work includes biographies about basketball, tennis and football players. This particular book focuses on the life and basketball legacy of Kevin Durant. Kevin Durant, and any of Clayton Geoffrey’s biographies are popular nonfiction basketball books for 6th grade boys.

Kevin Durant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Greatest Small Forwards (Basketball Biography Books)
  • Geoffreys, Clayton (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 154 Pages - 12/01/2014 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-08-31


FAQ When Buying Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

FAQ When Buying Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

Buying nonfiction books for a 6th grader can be tricky. Like fiction, nonfiction also has a number of genres and it can be difficult to find a book that would interest a 6th grader. However, because nonfiction encompasses biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, histories—and more, there is a book to interest any child.

When buying a nonfiction book for a 6th grader, it is important to consider their interests. There are so many different types of nonfiction books, and the most popular nonfiction books are often memoirs or histories. However, introducing a 6th grader to nonfiction is also a way to help shape their interests and encourage them to try different genres.

Keep reading for some tips on how to find nonfiction books for 6th graders!

What’s the Best Way to Find the Reading Level of a Book?

There are a couple of different ways to determine the reading level of a book. Some books have the age group published on the front or back cover of the text; other books might have it published on the copyright page. If a book doesn’t have the reading level included on or inside the book, there are a few other ways to check it out.

Some other options to identify the appropriate reading level are to scan the book’s contents. This can be a time-consuming task, though. Other options include internet research or looking at school book lists. The New York Public Library has a great list of age appropriate books with their reading levels.

What’s the Average Reading Rate for a 6th Grader?

Reading rates are broken down into two categories: silent and oral. Researchers anticipate that a 6th grade student can read approximately 160-200 words per minute silently and 100-150 words per minute orally. Dr. Beth M. Frye from Appalachian State University in North Carolina created calculation to configure word speed based on time limit and page numbers. You can find the link here with the calculation and reading rate chart breakdown.

Is 6th Grade a Good Time to Introduce More Nonfiction to a young reader?

6th grade is a great time to introduce a reader to nonfiction! There are so many great nonfiction books for kids and it is never too early to help cultivate a love of reading. The New York Times suggests introducing reading at as little as five or six months.

By reading to your child early on, it intentionally creates and instills a draw to literature. However, as the NYT shares, no matter how early you start to cultivate a child’s reading interest, nonfiction should always be included. Some children are natural fact-gatherers, and nonfiction is a great way for them to learn more about science, history, art, and more!

To answer this question directly, 6th grade is the perfect to introduce nonfiction books. The sooner the better, but 6th grade is a great time to cultivate the practice, because many kids are starting to form their own opinions.

What Makes a Good Nonfiction Book for a 6th Grader

A good nonfiction book for a 6th grader is both accessible, engaging, and age-appropriate. The writing needs to be comprehensible, the content should match their life experience, and the material should be fun and exciting. A good nonfiction book should express truth and facts in a manner that is appealing. The best books for 6th graders include interesting facts and fun illustrations.

Wrapping Things Up: The Best Nonfiction Books for 6th Graders

Cultivating a love of reading can be difficult—especially for many young readers. The earlier children are introduced to reading, the more they are willing to maintain the practice later on in life. When it comes to 6th graders, they are at a perfect malleable age: they are still young enough to enjoy fun material, but they are old enough to be introduced to new perspectives, historical facts, and mysterious truths.

6th graders are growing into themselves, forming their own opinions and mindsets. It is the perfect time to introduce books that allow them to engage and participate with the world differently.

There are far too many middle-age nonfiction books to even begin to include all of them on this list, but the books on this list portray different genres, themes, and experiences. By encouraging 6th graders to read nonfiction books about history, science, people, and places, their worldviews grow larger and more multifaceted. Nonfiction for 6th graders is simply allowing them to form their own opinion about something they might have little knowledge about.

Did you enjoy this post? Then you may also like our posts on the best 7th grade non-fiction books and 8th grade non-fiction books.

We also go over the best middle school books of all time here.

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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