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Year 6: 50 Recommended Reads

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recommended books for year 6 ages 10 to 11

​50 Best Books for Year 6 (Ages 10-11)

Welcome to BooksForTopics’ recommended reading list for Year 6. If you’re looking for a list of the best books for children in Year 6, you’ve come to the right place. Our team of experts has selected a list of the 50 best books for children aged 10-11. We’ve tried to include something for all tastes – but look out for legendary sea monsters, Wundrous societies, clocks that strike thirteen and the scariest school detention ever…

With a mix of classic and contemporary titles, our selection of recommended reads is designed to provide children with a diverse range of literature that will encourage them to become lifelong readers. Our list includes popular Y6 books such as Amari and the Night Brothers, Murder Most Unladylike and Artemis Fowl as well as lesser-known treasures that are equally delightful, like Emmy Levels Up and Running Out of Time.

Our panel of reading experts, primary teachers and librarians helps us to read and review our books in order to select the best books to recommend to each year group. Along with evaluating the current popularity of books, we carefully assess each title on the merit of its age-appropriateness, quality of writing and illustrations, and ability to stimulate imagination, critical thinking and creativity.

This list of recommended books for Year 6 children is curated to match their developmental stage and cater to their interests, as they grow through their final year of primary school and prepare for the step up to secondary. There is also a downloadable checklist and a printable poster, and schools can purchase full sets of the 50 books through Peters.

Scroll down to find more purchasing options and printable resources.

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Favourite Storytime Books for Year 6

Hannah Gold
 & Levi Pinfold
Chapter book

A highly-recommended story with themes of family bonds, parental mental health and marine conservation. The story centres around a connection between an eleven-year-old boy, Rio, and a beautiful grey whale. The tale highlights the topic of environmental sustainability but also draws a picture of the wonderful connection that can develop between children and animals, placing hope and empowerment in the hands of the young to make a difference in the planet’s future.

Helen Rutter
Chapter book

This debut novel from Helen Rutter is inspired by her own son who has a stammer, and it delves into the worries and thoughts that Billy has about having a stammer and how he thinks the outside world will see him because of it.

When eleven-year-old Billy starts Bannerdale secondary school, he wants to fit in and be popular. In fact, he hopes to realise his dream of becoming a comedian and being known throughout the school as ‘Billy Plimpton, the Funniest Boy in School’. One thing stands in his way though – he decides he won’t talk until he’s ‘got rid’ of his stammer.

Each chapter begins with one of Billy’s jokes, and although the issues tackled in the book are serious, it’s a warm and funny read. The story shows that we all have differences, and it is important to accept ourselves as we are.

This is a lovely book with a positive message, as well as being packed with jokes which will make both children and adults laugh.

BB Alston
Chapter book
Amari Peters knows three things.Her big brother Quinton has gone missing. No one will talk about it. His mysterious job holds the secret...So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she's certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau, where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real , and her roommate is a weredragon.Amari must compete against kids who've known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent - one that the Bureau views as dangerous.With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn't pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton ...
Philippa Pearce
Chapter book

This entrancing and magical story is one of the best-loved classic children’s books and is a top choice for Year 6.

Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen chimes the old grandfather clock in the communal hallway of Tom’s Aunt and Uncle’s rented accommodation. Thirteen chimes? Surely this is impossible. What might happen in this magical extra hour? As Tom leaves the flat and explores the old house, he finds himself in an expansive garden full of life. It soon comes to light that this enchanting garden comes alive only in this thirteenth hour. Tom watches people go about their lives, invisible, until a little girl spies him and he finds himself a new companion. How can this be and why does the girl and the garden change every night?

This classic children’s story by Philippa Pearce is being celebrated again due to its recent 65th Anniversary. Having read this story when I was a child, I was excited to reread it and I was not disappointed. The story is full of adventure, mystery, history and emotion. Following Hatty growing up in the garden is such an enjoyable part of the story which is paralleled with Tom’s own life, having to spend the summer holidays away from his immediate family and feeling homesick. The book is hard to put down with chapters leaving you wanting more and wondering where Tom will find himself next.

A must-read classic for upper KS2.

Elle McNicoll
Chapter book

This story follows twelve-year-old Cora, who describes herself as autistic, as she befriends a boy called Adrien at a party that she never wanted to go to. A little unwilling at first, Cora is used to distrusting others and feels sure that Adrien’s intentions are unlikely to be driven by genuine interest in her. In no time at all, Cora learns to trust Adrien, who confides in her about his own ADHD, and as the pair become close they enjoy each other’s unquestioning acceptance and bond over their experiences of not quite fitting in at school.

Adrien’s Dad runs a company called ‘Pomegranate Technologies’, and Cora finds herself drawn to their innovative programme of creating incredibly lifelike holograms (or ‘grams’) of people. Having recently lost her own mother, the idea of being able to interact with a loved one after they die appeals instantly. Cora is intrigued to discover that scientists at the institute are keen to interview her as a ‘person with autism’, and after an unexpected event happens with Adrien she agrees to help. Before long, Cora notices something amiss with one of the grams and begins to unravel some surprising truths about what is really going on behind the scenes at Pomegranate…

There was so much to enjoy in this book. I loved the depth of the storytelling – the multilayered writing with its many allusions, symbols and reflections that provoke an enjoyable tension between feeling the need to pause for thought and wanting to rip on through the genuinely gripping plot. I enjoyed the artificial intelligence strand of the plot very much, and in particular, how thought-provoking the story was with regard to the ethics of AI in both the hypothetical sense of holograms, but also hinting at a closer, everyday sense too. There’s food for thought aplenty, and yet the writing is watertight and never strays from the plot to dwell on these themes or impose judgement. I also enjoyed the emerging themes of acceptance and the importance of being true to oneself.

This is a stand-out story and a must-have for classrooms and school libraries where there are mature readers aged 10+.

Emma Carroll
Chapter book

Emma Carroll never fails to disappoint. The Tale of Truthwater Lake is a gripping and fast paced adventure story, set in part, in the future and in part in the past.

The story revolves around Polly and her brother, Joel who are growing up in 2032 when climate change is causing a prolonged summer heatwave, with daily government warnings sent to warn people to stay indoors. The children live with their parents in a small flat in Brighton and are sent away to their aunt’s house in the country for a few weeks in the summer holiday – although not before Polly has to be rescued by her brother from a late night swim resulting in some online bullying.

Their aunt, Jessie lives by a reservoir but in the drought, it has shrunk to reveal the village, Syndercombe that was flooded in the 1950’s to enable the flooded valley to become a reservoir. What ensues is a story of time travel, with Polly being transported back in time (through the magic of 2 AM swims and an old door handle) to the weeks before the flooding of the village. Polly inhabits the life of Nellie, a young orphan with great ambition. Nellie, is a fabulous swimmer and dreams of swimming the English Channel, but her chance is taken away by a young boy called Nate, who is the son of the man brought in to organise the evacuation and flooding of the village.

There are so many twists and turns of this adventure, with friendship, bullying, the climate, old age and even parenting, making it a story to read rather than describe! Emma Carroll paints a real and vivid picture of each character and scene and evokes empathy, excitement and suspense in every chapter.

The story reaches an exciting climax when Nellie does in fact swim the Channel and is a real page turner in the build-up, swim and aftermath of her achievement. Emma Carroll is a master of happy endings – tying up loose ends, resolving all of the problems raised in the story and by bringing together estranged characters. This is a great book for an upper KS2 primary classroom.

Fantasy Stories for Year 6

Jessica Townsend
Chapter book
Enter the Wundrous world of Morrigan Crow and Nevermoor - the start of a fantastical children's series. Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks - and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor. It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart - an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests - or she'll have to leave the city and confront her deadly fate once and for all. Perfect for fans of the Harry Potter series and His Dark Materials, this series takes readers into an extraordinary world, setting hope and imagination alive.
Thomas Taylor
Chapter book

A hugely popular sea themed mystery laced with monstrous humour. Welcome to Eerie-on-Sea, a seaside setting with its own legend of the mysterious sea creature called the Malamander. Young friends Herbie and Violet find themselves on a whirlwind of a coastal adventure steeped in imagination and eccentric humour, involving a book dispensary, a mermonkey, a Boathook Man and a flotsamporium shop. Can Herbie and Violet put together all the pieces of the puzzle before it is too late?

Malamander mixes scary parts, mysterious parts and whimsically funny parts too, as Thomas Taylor creates an original fantasy mash-up with a nautical twist that will no doubt be enjoyed by readers across KS2 classrooms. I enjoyed the quirky humour and wordplay, the imaginative characters and the galloping pace of the unravelling mystery that is edged with peril throughout. A teachers’ resource pack is available to download from the publisher.

A. F. Steadman
Chapter book

Take everything you think you know about unicorns and discard it. They are not the shiny, mythical creatures that you believe you know. They are ferocious, magical and deadly creatures who are very much real. Each year, mainlander children hope to pass the Hatchery exam in order to become unicorn riders. Thirteen-year-old Skandar Smith is no different. He wants to be a hero.

When it is finally Skandar’s time to realise his dreams, everything seems to turn against him. The Island’s most powerful unicorn is missing after being stolen by a haunting enemy that has returned with a vengeance and Skandar discovers a secret that could change everything and crush his dreams forever.

It is no surprise that film rights have already been acquired for this book. It is sure to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. Skandar is an unlikely hero and author A.F. Steadman has written in a way that allows readers to delve deep into the characters’ emotions and motivations.

Similar to the Percy Jackson series, Skandar and the Unicorn Thief has enough magic and fantasy to engage children without it becoming too immature for older children. It would make the perfect read-aloud and could inspire lots of writing, although is most suitable for children in Upper KS2 and beyond with well-developed reading stamina. It would be a great addition to any school or class library, especially for those more confident readers to get their teeth into.

Eoin Colfer
Chapter book

Artemis Fowl is now an award-winning fantasy series of books and a huge hit with children in the 9-12 age range. The stories mix supernatural action, thrilling adventure and a good sprinkling of humour. The story follows 12-year-old Artemis, a criminal mastermind, as he plans to kidnap a fairy leader for a ransom of fairy gold, only to find the fairies are armed and ready to fight back. Throughout the series, Artemis finds himself involves in kidnappings, heists and dangerous battles with a host of supernatural beings including goblins, pixies, dwarves and trolls, each with their own quirky characteristics. We recommend this entertaining series for children who love fantasy characters, action-charged adventures and the feeling of getting stuck into a gripping series.

Melissa Harrison
Chapter book

If you’ve ever stared in awe at the complexity of a mighty tree and allowed yourself to wonder if creatures beyond our knowledge might dwell in its branches, or even wondered hopefully whether there are fairies at the bottom of the garden, this book will validate each and every one of those secret, imaginative musings. The story follows the adventure of three tiny, funny, eternal beings – also known as the Hidden Folk. When the trio wake from winter hibernation one year in their cherished ash tree home, things don’t go as expected. Their beautiful home becomes destroyed, and the three set off on an adventure to find others like them. They journey through town and country, greeted along the way by a series of friendly and not-so-friendly animals. Will they ever find a place to call home – and are they really the last ones of their kind left? This would make a fabulous read-aloud for children in KS2, and will resonate well with anyone who loved the worlds of tiny people in The Borrowers, The Minpins or Toby Alone. The story sings of the wonders of nature on almost every page, and gives a gentle plea for humans to take conservation more seriously

Adventure Stories for Year 6

Juliette Forrest
Chapter book

A gripping mountain-based adventure with strong female role models. Clova has grown up with the mountains and moors as her playground, with her Mum and Dad’s love of the outdoors shared passionately since the day she was born. When her Mum’s life is lost during a search and rescue mission, Clova loses not just her Mum, but her Dad, her best friend and the freedom to run wild that, to her, is the very essence of life itself. By chance she meets Taffy, an abandoned collie, and a bond develops between them that might just save more than one life, including their own.

This is a story filled with loss and heartbreak, hope and fear, and a delicate web of characters, each experiencing and dealing with loss in their own way.  I found myself wanting to pack a rucksack and hiking boots and head straight off to the highlands of Scotland, then became mindful of the dangers that might arise if I did just that. Masterful and sweet, each character is introduced, sometimes fleetingly, only to return at a poignant point later as their paths cross again and the elaborate tapestry that Forrest sews comes together.


Jasbinder Bilan
Chapter book Picturebook

This story from classroom favourite author Jasbinder Bilan features Xanthe and tells of how she begins to understand that her precious grandmother has early dementia.

Xanthe and her grandmother have always been exceptionally close and it is very difficult for her to accept what is happening. She and her best friend, along with a new friend, Padma, set out to create a special memory museum of Grandmother’s life to help her remember the past. Xanthe is helped by a mysterious cat who seems to appear out of thin air at the right time. This cat helps Xanthe find parts of her gran’s childhood and she begins to piece together her gran’s life as a child.

The book covers big themes of family, illness and racial injustice. This book is an excellent way to introduce children to the reality of dementia and the effects it has on people and their loved ones. It also sheds light on some of the history of Uganda that may surprise readers; such as how in 1972, Asian people were driven out by the president and forced to flee the country. I think all of the themes in this book are excellent teaching and talking points for learning. The book is beautifully and sensitively written as well, making it a very enjoyable read. Jasbinder Bilan is another one of my favourite authors. I have all of these books and have happily shared them with my Upper KS2 classes over the past years.

Katherine Rundell
Chapter book

Winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award 2017, ‘The Explorer’ is set in the Amazon and follows the story of Fred, whose plane accidentally crashes into the rainforest canopy.

The Explorer is an exciting and gripping adventure that sees four children learning to survive as they journey through unfamiliar and challenging circumstances. This book transports you to a richly drawn land and you will find yourself right there with the children as they follow a map to a lost city, eating tarantulas and swimming with river dolphins.

Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer is a perfect class read for children learning about rainforests, the Amazon, friendships, resilience and much more. Exquisite writing from Katherine Rundell; teachers report that the quality of discussions that ensued in classrooms was inspiring.


Historical Fiction for Year 6

Tom Palmer
 & Tom Clohosy Cole
Chapter book Dyslexia-friendly

Best-selling author Tom Palmer has a track record of bringing together his passions for sport and history in popular stories with a high appeal in primary schools. His gripping story, Armistice Runner, brings into the spotlight messenger runners on the front line of World War I. As with all of Tom’s books published by Barrington Stoke, these books are ‘super-readable’ due to their accessible layout including a dyslexia-friendly font and tinted paper. This is a wonderful story to use in KS2 classrooms to explore the history of the World War 1 Armistice.

Judith Kerr
Chapter book
This semi-autobiographical classic, written by the beloved Judith Kerr, tells the story of a Jewish family escaping Germany in the days before the Second World War. The book has become a classic story for Year 6 children or for primary classes learning about World War 2.Suppose your country began to change. Suppose that without your noticing, it became dangerous for some people to live in it any longer, and you found, to your surprise, that your own father was one of those people. This is what happened to Anna in 1933.Anna is too busy with her schoolwork and tobogganing to listen to the talk of Hitler. But one day she and her brother Max are rushed out of Germany in alarming secrecy, away from everything they know. Their father is wanted by the Nazis. This is the start of a huge adventure, sometimes frightening, very often funny and always exciting.Judith Kerr wrote When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit fifty years ago, based on her own journey, so that her own children would know where she came from and the lengths to which her parents went to keep her and her brother safe. It has gone on to become a beloved classic that is required reading for many children all over the world and is an unforgettable introduction to the real-life impact of the Second World War.
Barbara Henderson
Chapter book

Set in Victorian times, this is the story of the children who worked on the dangerous job of building the famous Forth Bridge.

This is a truly exciting adventure that brings a real historical scenario to life. The thought of being perched up on top of the bridge with no safety measures at all made my blood run cold! Add into that some villainous villains and a child hero and you have a recipe for breath-taking episodes and action-packed escapades, with a seamless blending of fact and fiction.

The book is quite a slim one and very easy to read. The shorter length makes it very attractive to children who want to read more complex material but have less stamina and are put off by lengthy books.

As Tom Palmer, quoted on the cover, says , “I loved it”. The cover image behind Palmer’s quote turned out to be a photograph and a montage (by Richie Chan and Tsekhmister)- it looks like a painting by an impressionist artist and is very beautiful. There are also small drawings dotted around the text by Sandra McGowan. Based on real people and real events, the additional photos at the end add to the reality of the time and place.

The topic of Victorian child labour is often covered in schools and this story has a new dimension to add to the more commonly covered workplace scenarios of mines and factories. The story will also appeal to budding engineers, with fascinating insights into the construction of one of the UK’s most iconic bridges.

Thought-provoking Reads for Year 6

Zillah Bethell
 & Saara Soederlund
Chapter book

It’s no secret that we are big fans of Zillah Bethell’s books here at BooksForTopics HQ. The Shark Caller is a stunner of a story – rich with the sights and sounds of its Papua New Guinean setting while also reflecting sagely on universal themes of life and death, family, friendship and time. Full of depth, this story is most suitable for mature readers in KS2 who can handle plot twists and deeper, philosophical themes to discuss. It’s beautifully written, wise, enticing – haunting at times – but also full of thrills and surprises….

Phil Earle
Chapter book
1941. War is raging. And one angry boy has been sent to the city, where bombers rule the skies. There, Joseph will live with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. Her only loves are the rundown zoo she owns and its mighty silverback gorilla, Adonis. As the weeks pass, bonds deepen and secrets are revealed, but if the bombers set Adonis rampaging free, will either of them be able to end the life of the one thing they truly love? Inspired by a true story.
Catherine Bruton
Chapter book

A superb read. This is a gripping and thought-provoking story exploring the experience of an eleven-year-old girl fleeing conflict in Syria. Aya’s tale is told with such compassion that takes the reader on a real empathy journey. No Ballet Shoes in Syria is an important story that is beautifully told with warmth and compassion.

Kirsty Applebaum
Chapter book

A thoroughly modern narrative about the ethics of artificial intelligence with relatable domestic themes of friendship, family and identity.

With busy working parents, Sarah longs for a pet for company. Her parents agree that some company would be good for Sarah and it soon arrives, but not quite in the form that Sarah was hoping for. Instead, Sarah receives a Jenson & Jenson TrooFriend 560 Mark IV – a robot marketed as an artificially intelligent ‘better choice’ of playmate who is like a human child but does not bully, harm, lie or envy.

It takes Sarah a while to warm up to her new friend, which she names Ivy. At first, Sarah interacts with Ivy only to please Mum, but is quick to flick the off-switch as soon as possible. But slowly, Sarah and Ivy start to become true friends, bonding over hairstyles, clothing and art. Ivy tries to help Sarah with friendship problems at school, and soon Sarah finds herself wondering whether her human-like friend might have feelings of her own. When a fault in Ivy’s model is announced and all TrooFriend 560 Mark IVs are recalled to the factory for destruction, Sarah finds herself embroiled in a battle of android rights that centres around the very essence of what it means to be human.

In the current times, the offer of a robotic companion to entertain the children of busy, working parents would be an easy sell. But when it comes to real relationships and emotions, things are rarely straightforward, and the potential issues of replacing humans with androids emerge early in the plot. The narrative is told from the first-person perspective of TrooFriend robot Ivy, which gives the story a unique edge and immediately plunges the reader into considering the book’s key questions around what gives androids (or anyone) rights, identity and worth. Ivy’s voice develops gradually through the book, from a series of repeated, pre-programmed platitudes to an independent flow of consciousness affected by human connections. The evolution of Ivy’s voice occurs in increments so small – and is so skillfully written – that you hardly notice it happening, as she moves away from her programming and develops a real personality of her own. Ivy’s self-liberation emerges in parallel with Sarah beginning to treat her as an equal rather than an object; this makes a really interesting thread of the plot that could develop into much thought and discussion around wider issues of oppression and human rights.

There’s plenty of humour to be found too in Ivy’s sharp observations about human behaviour and despite the ambitious nature of its themes the story never feels too heavy. It’s a relatively quick read with a gripping storyline, but the questions it raises about human nature, the ethics of artificial intelligence and the complications of android rights will stay in your musings for quite some time after finishing.

Kelly Yang
 & Maike Plenzke
Chapter book

This is a deeply moving story that has left an impact long after reading it and is the first a highly recommended series. Inspired by the author’s own childhood, the story charts the experiences of a Chinese girl called Mia living in America with her parents, and explores the themes of immigration, prejudice, poverty, institutionalised racism and what it looks like to hold onto hope in turbulent times.

Having immigrated to California from China, Mia’s family run a motel. Life is hard work, money is short, the American people are unpredictable and the motel owner, Mr Yao, is not somebody to be crossed. Yet Mia observes life around her with heart and humour, seeing the best in people and following her parents’ lead to offer compassion and help in all circumstances. Full of concern for the plight of immigrants in America, Mia’s parents use the empty motel rooms as a place of refuge. The racial injustice and sheer cruelty that Mia witnesses in the treatment of fellow human beings is deeply unsettling. Throughout the story, Mia becomes a beacon of light for many, as she works to navigate the challenging circumstances around her with integrity and hope.

Mia’s account of the difficulties her family faces as immigrants in modern-day America is moving and powerful. Mia is a thoroughly likeable main character who shows courage, determination and kindness even in the most difficult of circumstances and – on top of all of life’s difficulties – never gives up on pursuing her own dreams and reaching for the stars.

This is a beautiful story that gently stirs the soul and is recommended for upper KS2.

Cath Howe
Chapter book

A captivating and thought-provoking dual narrative from the author of Ella on the Outside.

As Ren and her family drove home one evening they could see orange flames dancing in the sky and bursting like fireworks and flashing fire engines – this excitement soon turns to terror and misery when they realise it is their home on fire. Their lives change instantly when they have to rebuild their lives and home due to the devastating fire. Ren, her parents and little brother Petie have to move in with their strict Gran, who starts to take care of them more due to her parents being busy sorting out the house, business and money troubles.

Renn feels empty and lost with nothing left and soon finds a way to help herself feel better – by taking small items that are meaningful to her old life or other people. Whilst doing this, she feels better but simultaneously she feels wracked with guilt. Meanwhile, Caspar is chatty, inquisitive and really helpful. When things start to go missing in school, he is on a mission to find the culprit. What will happen when he finds out it is his new friend?

The story is told through two perspectives: Ren and Caspar. They are two completely different characters with very different lives, but in the end become true allies and a real help to each other. The narrative was easy to read and having the two perspectives in two different fonts made it easy to decipher which character was telling their version of events. As the story progresses, the pace quickens and I was desperate to read on to find out what was going to happen to Ren and Caspar. The ending was satisfying and wholesome.

The story focuses on complex moral choices and what to do when your friend is in trouble even though it could cause trouble for yourself. The story would make a great class read for Year 6 with links to PSHE, empathy work or class discussions.

Stewart Foster
Chapter book
A profound story about inner strength and perseverance in the face of a life-changing event, from the award-winning author of The Bubble Boy . Perfect for fans of R. J. Palacio's Wonder and Lisa Thompson's The Goldfish Boy. Life is going well for Sophie. She's getting by at school, has some pretty awesome friends, and their band have made it through to the semifinals of the Battle of the Bands competition. But when Sophie wakes up completely deaf one morning, the life she once knew seems like a distant memory. With lessons replaced by endless hospital appointments, and conversations now an exercise in lip-reading, Sophie grows quieter and quieter. Until she discovers the vibrations of sound through an old set of drums and wonders whether life onstage is actually still within reach. Drawing on the author's own hearing impairment, Can You Feel the Noise? is a deeply personal and moving story that will stay with you long after reading.

Thrillers and Science Fiction for Year 6

Polly Ho-Yen
Chapter book

A deeply thought-provoking and thrilling story, dealing with the themes of mental health issues, isolation and a young boy being a carer for his mother.

When the tower block where the family live is under attack by mysterious plants, Ade’s mother’s anxieties mean that the family is not able to flee. Ade watches the plants attack the tower blocks that surround them and the threat is growing closer and closer. He realises that his best friend’s tower block is at risk and he is torn between helping his mother and his best friend. 

Gripping and emotional, this is a greatly exciting and edgy read that will hit the spot for Year 6.

Dan Smith
 & Chris King
Chapter book

The Invasion of Crooked Oak is a fast-paced adventure that will appeal to older KS2 children. It is the first instalment of the stories set in the town of Crooked Oak. Children who love horror stories like Crater Lake or Goosebumps will be thrilled to discover this quick and accessible read.

Strange things are happening in the town of Crooked Oak. People have started to behave oddly and the zombie-like symptoms seem to be spreading through the town. As Nancy and her friends Pete and Krish get stuck into the mystery, something scary is spreading its tendrils across the town. Can the friends get to the root of the mystery before time runs out?

As ever with Barrington Stoke books, this is an accessible book, printed with clear text on a coloured background that is specially formatted to cater for dyslexic readers. The illustrations by Chris King really add to the atmospheric mood of the book and also draw upon the details contained in the descriptive writing.

The children we read this to absolutely loved the story and moaned at the end of each session when it was time to finish. Each chapter finished on a cliffhanger, so it left them eagerly anticipating the next instalment. This short and spooky read was a definite hit with Year 6!

Chris Bradford
 & Andres Frang
Chapter book
Street kid Scott jumps at the chance to be a Virtual Kombat gamer. If he can battle his way up the ranks, the ultimate prize will be his. But then his friend Kate goes missing in the battle arena, and Scott's dream turns into a nightmare. A sleek new edition of the first book in Bodyguard author Chris Bradford's action-packed dystopian trilogy. Particularly formatted for dyslexic readers in KS2.
Simon Fox
Chapter book

Following the journey of Alex and his father across Europe as they attempt to escape a brutal government and seek refuge, Running Out of Time is a unique blend of science fiction and thriller, while also tackling some difficult real-life current events including refugee journeys across Europe.

The story is full of action and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat while showing just a fraction of the emotional toll those fleeing conflict face in their journey to safety. The author states in their afterword that the book is not an attempt to convey all the difficulties that refugees face, however, I believe that the book would be a great way to begin to open up conversations about this topic.

The narrative alternatives between different time perspectives, with each chapter having a title page identifying which time period it is set in.

A five-star read for Y6!

Popular Independent Reads for Year 6

David Baddiel
Chapter book
From the million-copy bestselling author of THE PARENT AGENCY and BIRTHDAY BOY comes a wildly entertaining wish-fulfilment adventure that asks the question: what would happen if the strictest head teacher swapped bodies with the naughtiest kid in school?Strictest head naughtiest boy = chaos.Bracket Wood is about to be visited by the school inspectors. But there's one big problem: Ryan Ward.The maestro of practical jokes, Ryan has played so many tricks that in the end the Head Teacher just walks out. And then the new Head Teacher, Mr Carter, arrives. A man so strict even the teachers are scared of him. So imagine his surprise - and Ryan's - when they swap bodies.Now Ryan is Head Teacher - and his mortal enemy is one of his pupils. It's every naughty kid's dream!But soon Bracket Wood School is in a total mess - and only its worst ever pupil can fix it...
Marcus Rashford
Never underestimate your actions – even the smallest changes can have the biggest impact. That’s the power of kindness.From Marcus Rashford MBE and Carl Anka, the bestselling authors of You Are a Champion, comes the eagerly-awaited inspiring and positive follow-up, You Can Do It: How to Find Your Voice and Make a Difference.Marcus uses the power of his voice to shine a light on the injustices that he cares passionately about, and now he wants to help YOU find the power in yours! From surrounding yourself with the right team, to showing kindness to those around you, to celebrating and championing difference, You Can Do It shows you that your voice really does matter and that you can do anything you put your mind to. You don't have to be an International footballer to make a difference – even the smallest changes can have the biggest impact.Packed with more inspiring stories from Marcus's own life, brilliant advice, and top-tips from social justice educator Shannon Weber, this book will show you how to use your voice and make a difference in this world.
Karen McCombie
Chapter book
Who said friends have to match to matter?When the Star Boy’s space-pod crashes in the grounds of Fairfield Academy he knows he must seek shelter. Taking refuge in the school’s boiler room to await rescue he discovers that the room’s small window is the perfect place to watch humans go by. The Star Boy knows about humans from his Earth lessons but no one from his planet has ever studied them up close. Now he has the perfect opportunity. There are two humans in particular that catch his attention – a boy called Wes and a girl named Kiki. But as his curiosity grows so does his courage and, making a momentous decision, the Star Boy follows Wes and Kiki into class … and into their lives.A warm and otherworldly story about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places, for fans of Tamsin Winter, Cath Howe and Ross Welford.
David Solomons
Chapter book

David Solomons’ science fiction adventures are laugh-out-loud funny and have won several book awards. In this latest, Gavin finds himself with the fate of the world in his hands. The new girl at school, Niki, is really getting on his nerves, following him everywhere and declaring that she has never seen anyone so cosmically insignificant. He doesn’t believe her assertion that she is a galactic princess, trying to evade her warring, alien despot parents.

However, a series of surreal events including being taken hostage by a talking bounty hunter cat called Cupcake, soon make him change his mind. To avoid Earth being obliterated, Gavin must help Niki’s crew repair her spaceship as well as try and bring her parents together again.

Family and friendship are at the heart of this story. Gavin is fostered but worried that he is about to be moved on again, ousted by the baby he calls the Tiny Horror. Although Niki may seem to live a privileged life as a princess, her parents are fighting, forcing her to choose between them. Despite her annoying behaviour, Gavin realises he will miss Niki if she leaves whilst she has come to understand that families can grow from other relationships.

Hilarious and ultimately heartwarming, with inventive detail, this will appeal to readers in upper KS2.

Helen Harvey
Chapter book
Emmy is brilliant at the computer game, Illusory Isles. Her avatar is a powerful fire elemental with magma claws and flaming breath. When Emmy's gaming video gets a front-page feature, thousands of devoted fans flock to watch her battle the ultimate online baddie, the Mulch Queen herself. Life at school is the exact opposite. Emmy is friendless and bullied by Vanessa AKA the Queen of Mean. To Vanessa and her gang, Emmy is a weirdo with bad handwriting, horrible fashion sense and no dad.But if Emmy can take on the Mulch Queen online, perhaps she can also find a way to take on Vanessa too? Emmy decides to level up and solve this challenge alone. But then Emmy discovers that Mulch Queens and Mean Queens are much easier to face when you have a little help from new friends...

Robin Stevens
Chapter book

The Murder Most Unladylike books form a series of children’s murder mystery novels written by Robin Stevens. Popular with children aged 9-12, the stories follow the adventures of two schoolgirls who set up their own detective agency.

Fans of the Murder Most Unladylike series enjoy the stories’ unfolding mysteries told through Hazel’s witty case notes. Readers also love the fast-paced plots with clever twists, the character-centred drama and also the 1930s boarding school setting. The stories deal with important themes like friendship, diversity, loyalty and social class against the backdrop of the murder investigations. Additionally, many children enjoy the collectibility of the series with their rainbow-hued covers and sprayed edges.

Recommended Graphic Novels for Year 6

Jerry Craft
Graphic Novel
Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang, New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft. Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds-and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself? This middle grade graphic novel is an excellent choice for tween readers, including for summer reading.
Raina Telgemeier
Graphic Novel
Raina just wanted to be a normal girl, but one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there's still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion and friends who turn out to not be so friendly.
Neill Cameron
Graphic Novel

Mega Robot Bros is a long-running comic strip in The Phoenix, written and illustrated by Neill Cameron. The stories are not available in a series of graphic novels and are huge hits with KS2.

Alex and Freddy are robots and also brothers, doing typical brother things like arguing, going to theme parks and annoying each other at school. The boys band together when a series of robot attacks take place in London and the pair need to work as a team to defeat Evil Robot 23.

An action-packed graphic novel weaving feel-good themes of family and school life with a good scattering of deadly lasers, jet packs, danger and some excellent sidekicks.

Picturebooks For Year 6

Gary Crew
 & Shaun Tan
In intricate picturebook for older children and younger teens. Young Tristan, a curious boy who rescues all sorts of objects from the rubbish dump, finds an old Viewmaster in its elaborate box, complete with a set of disks. He finds that these represent the ages of humankind, seen as a cyclical structure in which patterns of growth and decay are repeated.Tristan becomes more and more drawn in to the world of the disks, and eventually disappears.The book is full of metaphors and symbols of seeing and watching, circularity and never-endingness, in a complex, fantastical tale, which was Shaun Tan's first picture book.
Shaun Tan

A very topical migrant story told through textless images. When a man leaves his family to search for a better life for them far away, he finds himself in a strange city with all sorts of unfamiliar people, bizarre animals and floating objects. Nothing is familiar, and owning only a suitcase and a little bit of money, the immigrant must navigate his way through his sense of deep displacement and find a way of connecting with the people he meets. This compelling book captures the brave act of leaving everything behind and searching for a future in another world.

Kim Hyo-eun
A cinematic journey through the Seoul subway that masterfully portrays the many unique lives we travel alongside whenever we take the train. A poetic translation of the bestselling Korean picture book.Accompanied by the constant, rumbling ba-dum ba-dum of its passage through the city, the subway has stories to tell. Between sunrise and sunset, it welcomes and farewells people, and holds them — along with their joys, hopes, fears, and memories — in its embrace.Originally published in Korean and brought to English-speaking audiences with the help of renowned translator Deborah Smith (The Vegetarian), I Am the Subway vividly reflects the shared humanity that can be found in crowded metropolitan cities.Translated by Deborah Smith.

Recommended Poetry For Year 6

Mandy Coe
The life-affirming ‘You are Here,' on the first page is a wonderful introduction and sets the positive and optimistic tone for the poems to come with the final line; ‘You are Here! You are Here!' The book is jam-packed with original verse; all of them perfectly written for reading aloud - well suited for both pure enjoyment and also as a base for children's own poetry within their English lesson. Each poem explores different aspects of a child's life; from rainy days in ‘Puddle Ocean' to wandering around a house at night in ‘Tiptoe'. ‘Helping Hands' touches on the complexity and diversity within each and every family; it really is beautiful to read and savour, while ‘Save You' would be a really powerful poem to use as part of topic work around conservation. There's a tone of warmth and wonder in the collection's everyday observations that encourages the reader to find so many things to enjoy in the mundane moments that they share with those around them. Themes of inclusion, positivity and seeing the world through the eyes of others weave through the collection as well as a sense of humour and playfulness that sees puzzles and riddles mixed in with the poems. Belonging Street would be a great investment for every Key Stage Two classroom reading area.
Sharon Creech
A story told entirely through narrative verse. Slowly Jack learns the pleasures of writing poetry as Miss Stretchberry encourages him to tell his own story through verse. What emerges is a moving and memorable verse novel about a boy and his dog and his growing passion for poetry.
Benjamin Zephaniah
Enter the crazy world of rap poet Benjamin Zephaniah! A reissue of the wonderfully irreverent collection of poetry for young people, touching on anything from vegetables to the Queen and from sewage to the sun. There's plenty of humour as well as poems on racism, pollution and the murder of a cat.

Top Non-Fiction Books for Year 6

Stefan Milosavljevich
 & Sam Caldwell
What links shipwrecks, Egyptian treasure, and fossilized Viking poo? They've all been discovered by archaeologists! Dig inot the world of archaeology in this book by YouTuber Stefan Milosavljevich. Read about incredible finds such as the terracotta army that hid underground for 2,000 years and the mysterious Ice Age temple made from mammoth bones. Along the way see if you have what it takes to be an archaeologist and meet the pioneering women and men who have brought the past back to life.
Lara Albanese
 & Tommaso Vidus Rosin

Space Maps is a super-sized visual treat. It will appeal to those already interested in the topic of space and will attract those who are new to the subject. The reader is invited to take a tour of all things space in the company of a diverse crew of space guides. During our space tour, a wealth of facts are covered -each double page focuses on a different aspect and so information is given in speedy, bite-sized fact boxes making this an ideal book for dipping into.

There is a good balance of facts and exciting nuggets from history, science and folklore. The legends behind the science add charm and warmth. Large and detailed illustrations guide the reader through their journey, each page devoted to a thorough, labelled map or diagram. For readers who struggle to visualise the images behind the arrangements of the constellations, this book certainly helps! I was able to ‘see’ Orion in the night sky having studied the beautiful constellation map.

This full-sized feast for the eyes would happily sit amongst a collection of Space books and interesting non-fiction books for readers who love to dive into the detail of a topic.

Adam Kay
 & Henry Paker

An absolute hit with children in KS2! This funny non-fiction compendium of knowledge explores the intricacies of the human body through engaging cartoon-style illustrations that cover everything from major organs to microscopic DNA, including the less glamorous details.

Authored by doctor-turned-author Adam Kay, this comprehensive guide digs deep into bodily functions, genes, and germs but also dispels common myths and addresses frequently asked questions.

This recommended book reminds me of a biology version of Horrible Histories. In addition to the basics of anatomy, Adam Kay navigates wider biological topics, including common diseases and medical history as well as provides a thoughtful yet light-hearted section on puberty. Kay’s combination of humour and information hit the perfect spot for children in KS2 with a thirst for knowledge.


Loveday Trinick
 & Teagan White

This impressive hardback is the closest thing you can get to a museum in book form. Suited to more mature readers in KS2, the book exhibits aspects of marine biology, diverse ocean habitats and environmental conservation. This is a beautiful large-sized non-fiction with full-page colour illustrations to pore over and plenty of scientific detail and vocabulary to learn. Oceanarium is a book to treasure and for readers who want even more, there’s an accompanying activity book available too.

David Long
 & Stefano Tambellini
Dyslexia-friendly Non-fiction
On 4 November 1922, a young Egyptian boy working on Howard Carter's archaeological dig in the Valley of the Kings stumbled across a strange piece of rock. On closer inspection it turned out to be a stone step that would lead Carter to a long-lost tomb - and to treasures beyond his wildest dreams.The tomb belonged to boy pharaoh Tutankhamun and was packed full of priceless artefacts. It had been largely untouched for over 3,000 years and remains one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time. But did the opening of the tomb trigger a deadly curse?David Long's fact-filled account shows how Carter's amazing discoveries told us so much about life in Ancient Egypt.

Discover an all-in-one encyclopedia that takes you on an explanatory tour of the world from your own body to outer space.Have you ever wondered how an email gets to someone on the other side of the world in just a few seconds or why it's a bad idea to stand under a tree during a thunderstorm? Discover the answers to all these questions and more with this mind-boggling books of factsEach page of this mind-blowingly detailed and ambitious encyclopedia will guide you through the natural world and the technology that surrounds you. Giant, page-filling illustrations take objects apart - or take the roofs and walls off buildings - to show you how they work, explaining both basic principles (such as photosynthesis) as well as broader concepts (like how all the living things in a rainforest interact).

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Guidance: About the Year 6 Booklist

How should you encourage Year 6 children to read?

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. 

Whether it’s popular bestsellers like Marcus Rashford’s You Can Do It or magical realism like Xanthe & The Ruby Crown, it is best to make sure that a wide range of appealing and age-appropriate books are available for Y6 children to choose from.

What kind of books do 10 and 11 year olds like to read?

At the ages of 10 and 11, most children are able to read chapter books and 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. Try feeding the Y6 appetite for interesting themes by giving them thought-provoking stories about the environment like The Lost Whale or the eco-thriller Boy in the Tower, as well as stories that explore contemporary social issues like No Ballet Shoes in Syria and Front Desk, which both address the complexities of immigraiton at a level appropriate to Year 6.

Children in Year 6 are often drawn in by stories set in fantasy worlds like Skandar and the Unicorn Thief,  Nevermoor and the darkly humoured seaside fantasy Malamander. You’ll also see flying off the Y6 bookshelves laugh-out-loud funny books, inspirational books and non-fiction that cover topics of interest.

Also popular with this age group are graphic novels and books with illustrated elements. Year 6 children who are not keen on longer sections of text might prefer graphic novels like Mega Robot Bros, or the thrill of a mild horror element in the shorter-length books Gamer and The Invasion of Crooked Oak. Some of the most popular read-it-yourself books for this age include stories with a humorous tone, like A Beginner’s Guide to Ruling the Galaxy.

We recommend that teachers and parents supplement children’s independent reading with adult-lead storytime through Year 6 and beyond. Some books are extremely well suited for being read aloud and benefit from deeper discussions with adults – try The Explorer or The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh for books with a real storytelling quality about them.

Which books are recommended for Year 6 to be reading?

The books on our Y6 booklist feature 50 recommended reads for pleasure in Year 6. Some of the books cater well for children who love to laugh, like David Baddiel’s Head Kid or the humorously information-packed Kay’s Anatomy. Other stories on the list are designed to leave readers on the edge of their seats, from Phil Earle’s gripping WW2 story When the Sky Falls to puzzling murder mysteries like Murder Most Unladylike . Graphic novels are also very popular with many children in Year 6, and we recommend trying Raina Telgemeier’s popular middle school series starting Smile or Jerry Craft’s more serious story of displacement in New Kid.

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 case of trauma-induced kleptomania in Cath Howe’s My Life on Fire, to the tale of hearing loss in Can You Feel the Noise, 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 RabbitPoetry collections offer a wealth of enjoyment for reading for pleasure at this age too, from Mandy Coe’s upbeat Belonging Street or Benjamin Zephaniah’s Funky Chickens, 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 Dan Smith’s The Invasion of Crooked Oak or David Long’s Tutankhamun’s Treasure, 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 beautifully illustrated exploration of shared humanity in I Am the Subway.

What are the best non-fiction books for Year 6?

High-quality non-fiction is a brilliant option for reading for pleasure in Year 6 and there are some really interesting offerings available for this age group. Look for information books that offer children a deeper insight into a particular topic, including biographies of interesting figures or deep dives into geography, science and history topics.

For Y6 non-fiction, we recommend the inspirational trip across the galaxy in Space Maps, the intricately presented Oceanarium and DK’s super-helpful guidebook to the science and technology behind everyday things in How Everything Works.

If you are looking for books themed around a particular topic, head over to our KS2 topic booklists.

Where can I purchase the books on the BooksForTopics Year 6 booklist?

What other booklists for children in Y6 are available?

Looking for the best booklists for children ages 10 and 11? Look no further than BooksForTopics! Our website offers a selection of booklists tailored to popular Year 6 curriculum topics, including World War II topic texts, a list of children’s books about Crime and Punishment, science books for the human body topic or geographical children’s books about the USA.  We also have lists for special interests and events, like stories about the Olympics and children’s books about space.

A great place to start for reading-for-pleasure recommendations for each age is our lists of Best Books for 10-Year-Olds or Best Books for 11-Year-Olds. If your Y6 children are fans of a particular author or series, our Branching Out booklists offer a variety of alternative suggestions for the most popular authors and series, like books for fans of Lottie Brooks, books similar to Bunny Vs Monkey, and more books in the style of Jacqueline Wilson. For teachers and parents looking for storytime read-alouds for this age group, our Storytime Favourites for Ages 9-11 booklist can help.

But that’s not all – we also offer guidance on alternative formats like graphic novels suitable for upper primary school children, picture books for older readers, and poetry books for upper KS2. Our booklists for reluctant readers aged 9-11 and dyslexic readers provide more options to appeal to different types of readers. Plus, our Diverse and Inclusive Children’s Books for Upper KS2 collection showcases a diverse range of characters, cultures, and experiences.

We also offer booklists to support the emotional and mental well-being of children in Year 6, including Mental Health Awareness, anti-bullying stories, and books about environmental sustainability.  For children preparing for the move to secondary school, try our Year 6 to Year 7 Transition Booklist.

Visit the BooksForTopics website to discover all these resources and more to support the reading, development and learning of Year 6 children.

Can I download a printable version of the Year 6 Booklist?

All of our Year Group Recommended Read lists come with a printable poster and checklist. Schools are very welcome to display the posters or to share the printable resources with their community.


Printable Poster – Best Year 6 Books PDF

y6 recommended reading list poster

Printable Checklist – Best Year 6 Books PDF

y6 recommended reading list checklist


Where can I find recommended reading lists for other primary school year groups?

Discover recommended books for primary school year groups at BooksForTopics. Our expert team has curated a top-quality collection of books for each Year Group, reviewed by our school-based Review Panel. Each booklist includes 50 recommended titles, a printable poster, and checklist. Schools can buy full sets of each Year Group’s list through our trusted partner, Peters.

Don’t miss these recommended reading lists for other year groups – find them using our quick links:


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Year 6: 50 Recommended Reads

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