Guidance: About the Year 6 Booklist
At the very centre of inspiring reading for pleasure in Year 6 is the element of choice. Readers who are motivated to choose to read are often the ones who are best able to exercise agency over where, when, what and how, knowing that they can read at their own pace in their own way. Key to this is providing a wide range of appealing and age-appropriate texts for readers to explore. Being exposed to different styles, formats and genres helps children to define themselves as readers, to have a range of alternatives to choose next if something they read is not for them and to make choices about the books that will give them the reading buzz. This process is crucial for children to develop the intrinsic motivation to read and to lay the foundations of a lifelong love of reading.
At the ages of 10 and 11, most children are able to read chapter books and to think critically about what they read. They begin to enjoy multi-layered stories that present different characters’ viewpoints about key issues, and to think deeply about books that explore relevant social issues. Also popular with this age group are graphic novels, funny books and illustrated non-fiction that delves deeply into a particular topic of interest. Storytime with adults continues to be important and enjoyed at this age – despite the high level of independence at the ages of 10 and 11, nothing can replicate the magic of a shared reading experience.
With these factors in mind, our team has carefully selected a list of books designed to encourage reading for pleasure in Year 6. Some of the books cater well for children who love to laugh, like Jenny Pearson’s The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates or David Solomon’s action-packed My Brother is a Superhero series. Other stories on the list are designed to leave readers on the edge of their seats, from Jennifer Killick’s super-spooky Crater Lake to dystopian thrillers like Orphans of the Tide. Graphic novels are also very popular with many children in Year 6, and we recommend trying the Amulet series or Cece Bell’s El Deafo.
Many children at this age are ready to engage with stories that explore social issues or offer insights into a diversity of ways of seeing the world. Catherine Bruton’s award-winning No Ballet Shoes in Syria charts the experience of a young refugee finding her feet in a new country and Boy in the Tower hauntingly explores the experience of isolation when it does not feel safe to go outside, as well as the topics of parental mental health and the coming together of community in the face of a crisis. Other stories in our collection give insight into what life is like for those who feel like they don’t quite fit in, from a would-be comedian with a stutter in The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh, to the gruelling tale of bullying and OCD in All the Things that Could Go Wrong, to Elle McNicoll’s neurodivergent main duo in the superbly gripping Show Us Who You Are.
If you are looking for classic stories suitable for 10-11 year olds, we recommend Tom’s Midnight Garden or Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. Poetry collections offer a wealth of enjoyment for reading for pleasure at this age too, from Mandy Coe’s upbeat Belonging Street or Joseph Coelho’s Overheard in a Tower Block, which is always a hit with Year 6.
For those without the time or reading stamina to pick up a longer read, try one of the shorter chapter books included in our Y6 reading list, like Lisa Thompson’s Owen and the Soldier or David Long’s Survival in Space, both of which are specially formatted to be accessible to dyslexic readers. For excellent picture books suitable for Year 6, we recommend the super-intriguing The Viewer by Gary Crew and Shaun Tan or the inspiring story of Eugenie Clarke in Swimming With Sharks.
High-quality non-fiction is a brilliant option for reading for pleasure in Year 6. We recommend the inspirational mountain-set recount of peril and resilience in Everest, the chemistry-inspired award-winner The Element in The Room and Rashmi Sirdeshpande ’s super-helpful guidebook to all things money-related in DOSH. If you are looking for books themed around a particular topic, head over to our KS2 topic booklists.
Where to purchase:
50 Recommended Reads Year 6 (2021)
Year 6 Checklist (2021)