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Incoming 6th Grade Summer Reading List - 2023

Summer 2023 Reading List

Incoming 6th Grade Students @ SCAPA

At SCAPA, we require that the incoming 6th grade students read a total of two books over the summer. Students are to choose one book from each list (fiction and nonfiction). Within two weeks upon returning to school in the fall, 6th grade students will be required to take AR tests on each of these books which will count toward a grade. In addition, students will prepare a project and/or writing assignment on each of the books they read over the summer. 

The books listed below may be located at the public libraries and at local or on-line bookstores. These books were chosen because of their relationship to core content and reflect a variety of genres, time periods, and themes. If you are concerned with the content of any of these books, please preview the book before your child reads it.

We have listed the Lexile Reading Level, AR Book Level, and AR point values next to each title.  In addition, texts are arranged from lowest to highest Lexile Level (i.e. difficulty).  This should help you assist your child in choosing the most appropriate books for his/her current reading level. If you have any questions about the list, please email Rebekah Reeves ( or Venecia Proctor (



Nothing but the Truth by Avi (Not Applicable Lexile/3.6/4.0pts): A ninth-grader's suspension for humming "The Star-Spangled Banner" during homeroom becomes a national news story.

Firegirl by Tony Abbot (631L/4.1/4.0pts): A middle school boy's life is changed when Jessica, a girl disfigured by burns, starts attending his Catholic school while receiving treatment at a local hospital.

Fire Thief by Terry Deary (660L/4.3/6.0pts):  Given a chance to escape the forcible daily removal of his liver while he searches for proof of the claim that humans can be as heroic as gods, Prometheus travels one million years forward to a 19th-century Earth polluted by his gift of fire. Book #1

Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow (670L/4.4/6.0pts):  In 1945 Russia, those who own German shepherds are considered traitors, but thirteen-year-old Mikhail and his family are determined to keep the dog a dying man brought them, while Mikhail's classmate Katia strives to learn his secret.

Breathe by Cliff McNish (680L/4.8/8.0pts): When he and his mother move into an old farmhouse in the English countryside, asthmatic twelve-year-old Jack discovers that he can communicate with the ghosts inhabiting the house and inadvertently establishes a relationship with the spirits.

Tangerine by Edward Bloor (680L/4.3/13pts): Paul, who lives in the shadow of his football-hero brother, fights for his right to play soccer despite his near-blindness.

Afrika by Colleen Craig (690L/4.9/7.0pts): Thirteen-year-old Kim learns the truth about her father and mother's homeland after visiting South Africa, where she meets relatives and other children her age and witnesses the Truth and Reconciliation Hearings.

The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going (701L/4.5/5.0pts): In Georgia during the summer of 1976, Gabriel, a white boy who is being bullied, and Frita, an African American girl who is facing prejudice, decide to overcome their many fears together as they enter fifth grade.

Remembering Green by Lesley Beake (730L/4.7/3.0pts):  Rain and her pet lion cub, Saa, were taken from their home and brought to the Tekkies' fortified island. The Tekkies believe that Rain and Saa can provide them with water, but when she discovers what they have in store for her, she has to try to escape.

Slob by Ellen Potter (740L/5.0/7.0pts): Picked on, overweight genius Owen tries to invent a television that can see the past to find out what happened the day his parents were killed. The plot contains mild profanity and violence, including bullying situations.

The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick (750L/4.6/8.0pts):  When the mothers of four sixth-grade girls with very different personalities pressure them into forming a book club, they find, as they read and discuss LITTLE WOMEN, that they have much more in common than they could have imagined. Book #1

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (750L/4.6/7.0pts): In 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover their mother wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (750L/4.5/6.0pts): In 1979, as her mother prepares to be a contestant on the THE $20,000 PYRAMID, a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.

Small Steps by Louis Sachar (750L/4.2/7.0pts): Three years after being released from Camp Green Lake, Armpit is trying hard to keep his life on track. But when his old pal X-Ray shows up with a tempting plan to make some easy money scalping concert tickets, Armpit reluctantly goes along.

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus (760L/5.4/8.0pts): In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, fourteen-year-old Manjiro learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (760L/5.2/9.0pts): Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy's attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (770L/5.0/9.0pts): When seventeen-year-old Ginny receives a packet of mysterious envelopes from her favorite aunt, she leaves New Jersey to criss-cross Europe on a sort of scavenger hunt that transforms her life.

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass (770L/4.7/9.0pts): Afraid that she is crazy, thirteen-year-old Mia, who sees a special color with every letter, number, and sound, keeps this a secret until she becomes overwhelmed by school, changing relationships, and the death of her beloved cat, Mango.

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (800L/5.3/12.0pts): Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is the daughter of a drifter who, in the summer of 1936, sends her to stay with an old friend in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up and where she hopes to find out some things about his past.

Angel on the Square by Gloria Whelan (820L/5.6/8.0pts): In 1913 Russia, twelve-year-old Katya eagerly anticipates leaving her St. Petersburg home to join her mother, a lady-in-waiting in the household of Tsar Nicholas II. The ensuing years bring world war, revolution, and undreamed of changes to her life.

Dragon’s Gate by Laurence Yep (829L/5.3/10.0pts): A young immigrant boy from China joins his father and uncle in helping to build the transcontinental railroad.

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt (850L/4.9/11.0pts): Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck faces an abusive father, a brother traumatized by Vietnam, and suspicious teachers and police officers, but when he meets a girl known as Lil Spicer, he finds a safe place at the local library. **Companion novel to The Wednesday Wars.

Homesick by Jean Fritz (860L/5.1/6.0pts): This fictionalized autobiography tells the heartwarming story of a little girl growing up in an unfamiliar place. While other girls her age were enjoying their childhood in America, Jean Fritz was in China in the midst of political unrest.

The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg (870L/5.9/7.0pts): Four students, with their own individual stories, develop a special bond and attract the attention of their teacher, a paraplegic, who chooses them to represent their sixth-grade class in the Academic Bowl competition.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (920L/6.2/13.0pts):  On his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton discovers that he is the last of the Old Ones, destined to seek the six magical Signs that will enable the Old Ones to triumph over the evil forces of the Dark. 

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burdett (951L/6.3/13.0pts): Mary moves to a huge estate to live with her mysterious uncle, his ailing son, the servants--and a secret garden.

***The novels of Mike Lupica (ranging in Lexile Levels and point values):  Mike Lupica writes novels pertaining to various sports, so any of them are acceptable summer reads.  Some possible titles are Hot Hand, Long Shot, Summer Ball, Travel Team, Two-Minute Drill, and Million Dollar Throw (among others).

The Chosen by Chaim Potok (970L/6.6/15.0pts): This story of Jewish family life reveals optimism and good humor.

The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox (970L/6.0/6.0pts): In this spellbinding novel of suspense and survival, young Jessie, a musician, is hired to play for the slaves aboard a ship bound for America.

Ginger Pie by Eleanor Estes (990L/6.0/9.0pts): The disappearance of a new puppy named Ginger and the appearance of a mysterious man in a mustard yellow hat bring excitement into the lives of the Pye children.

The Boggart by Susan Cooper (1020L/6.1/8.0pts): After visiting her family's castle in Scotland and returning home to Canada, twelve-year-old Emily finds that she has accidentally brought back with her a boggart, an invisible and mischievous spirit with a fondness for practical jokes.

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Dubois (1070L/6.8/6.0pts): This tale relates the incredible adventures of Professor William Waterman Sherman, who in 1883 journeys in a balloon across the Pacific Ocean, survives the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa, and is eventually rescued in the Atlantic Ocean.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1100L/8.3/12pts):  While going through the possessions of a deceased guest who owed them money, the mistress of the inn and her son find a treasure map that leads to a pirate fortune and great danger.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin (1190L/8.1/13.0pts): Talkative, ten-year-old Rebecca goes to live with her spinster aunts, one harsh and demanding, the other soft and sentimental, with whom she spends seven difficult but rewarding years growing up.

Little Women by Louis May Alcott (1210L/7.4/15.0pts): This classic story chronicles the joys and troubles of the four March sisters -- Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth -- as they grow into young ladies.

The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford (1320L/7.6/5.0pts): Three house pets migrate through the wilderness to find their family.


Spilling Ink:  A Young Writer’s Handbook by Anne Mazer (830L/5.9/7.0pts): Authors Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter offer advice for aspiring young writers, discussing finding a voice, character development, plot, revisions, and other related topics.

The Thread that Runs So True by Jesse Stuart (880L/6.0/16.0pts): The autobiography of a teacher who began in a Kentucky one-room school.

The House Baba Built:  An Artist’s Childhood in China by Ed Young (900L/5.6/1.0pt): When war came to Shanghai, the home that Ed Young's father built to keep his family safe became a place to picnic, roller-skate, play hide-and-seek, and watch planes.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (920L/5.7/12.0pts): In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore.

R.L. Stine:  Creator of Creepy and Spooky Stories by Michelle P. Rock (Lexile unavailable/6.1/2.0pts): Even as a child, R.L. Stine had a vivid imagination, a thirst for stories, and a passion for writing. More than anything else, Stine wanted to be funny. He wanted to write comics and make people laugh.

Saving the Baghdad Zoo by Kelly Milner Halls (Lexile unavailable/7.1/2.0pts): This photo-illustrated book gives a firsthand account of how United States soldiers and volunteers saved the animals of the Baghdad Zoo after the start of the Iraq War. The coauthor is Major William Sumner.

Flesh and Blood So Cheap:  The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin (1000L/7.4/6.0pts): This book provides a detailed account of the disastrous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, which claimed the lives of 146 garment workers in 1911, and examines the impact of this event on the nation's working conditions and labor laws.

Into the Unknown:  How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air by Stewart Ross (1120L/7.9/4.0pts): Descriptions of fourteen historic journeys convey how some of the greatest explorers in history, including Marco Polo and Neil Armstrong, plunged into the unknown and boldly pieced together the picture of the world we have today.

The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll’s History and Her Impact on Us by Tanya Lee Stone (1120L/7.5/5.0pts): This book explores how Barbie has influenced generations of girls, discussing criticisms of the doll, her role in fashion, and her surprising popularity during her first fifty years.

Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, and Science by Marc Aronson (1130L/8.0/5.0pts): Today, people think of sugar as just an additive for drinks or cereal, but it once fueled both the slave trade and the Industrial Revolution. The text contains descriptions of violence. The coauthor is Marina Budhos. 

Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London by Andrea Warren (1160L/8.2/6.0pts): This biography discusses how Charles Dickens's upbringing and observations of the poor led him to write novels to bring attention to the plight of London's destitute children.

Navajo Codes Talkers by Nathan Aaseng (1170L/9.5/4.0pt):  The story of the Navajo Indians who served in World War II by using their ancient tribal language as a means of secret military communication.


** Indicates books that are KBA winners for 23-24. (Kentucky Bluegrass Award) 

L– Lexile     AR-- (Accelerated Reader) Book Level/Point Value 

Any of these books will also count for one of your summer reading choices for fiction


**Alone / Megan E. Freeman (690L AR: 4.7/4.0) When twelve-year-old Maddie hatches a scheme for a secret sleepover with her best friends, she wakes to a nightmare. She's left behind in a town that has been mysteriously evacuated and abandoned.  

**Daughter of the Deep / Rick Riordan (700L 5.0/9.0) Ana Dakkar is a freshman at Harding-Pencroft Academy, a high school that graduates the best marine scientists and naval warriors in the world. She puts her leadership skills to the test against a rival school and makes some astounding discoveries. 


**The Fort / Gordon Korman (740L  AR: 5.0/9.0)  The morning after Hurricane Leo rips through the town of Canaan, friends exploring the widespread destruction discover an underground bomb shelter.  


**Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood / Gary Paulsen (1030L AR: 5.9/11.0)  Gary Paulsen was born during World War II, and his turbulent childhood provided plenty of subject matter for his bestselling novels, and librarians gave him inspiration to explore the world through books.  


**The In-Between / Rebecca K. S. Ansari (690L  AR: 5.5/9.0) Cooper and his sister, Jess, whose family is going through a difficult time, learn of an unsolved mystery and work together to solve it. 


**Invisible / Christina Diaz Gonzalez (260L  2.6/1/0) This book tells a story about five very different students who are forced together by their school to complete community service... and may just have more in common than they thought.  

  **The Last Mapmaker / Christina Soontornvat (740L  5.2/11.0) As assistant to Mangkon's most celebrated mapmaker, Sai plays the part of a well-bred young lady. In reality, her father is a commoner. When she joins a charting expedition, she isn't the only one aboard the ship with secrets.  

**Violets are Blue / Barbara Dee (630L  4.4/7.0) Twelve-year-old Wren, who is learning special effects makeup, is thrilled to be makeup artist for her new school's production of Wicked, but her parents' divorce is seriously affecting her mother.  

**We Were Kings / Court Stevens (No Lexile available  No AR available) Twenty years ago, eighteen-year-old Francis Quick was convicted of murdering her best friend, Cora King, and sentenced to death. Now the highly debated Accelerated Death Penalty Act has passed giving Frankie thirty final days to live. Surprising everyone, one of the King family members sets out to challenge the woefully inadequate evidence and potential innocence of Frankie Quick. The at-first reluctant but soon-fiery Nyla and her unexpected ally—handsome country island boy Sam Stack—bring Frankie’s case to the international stage through her YouTube channel, Death Daze. They step into fame and a hometown battle that someone’s still willing to kill over. But who? The senator? The philanthropist? The pawn shop owner? Nyla’s own mother? 


**We Were the Fire: Birmingham 1963 / Shelia P. Moses  (No Lexile available.  No AR available)   Rufus Jackson Jones is from Birmingham, the place Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the most segregated place in the country. A place that in 1963 was full of civil rights activists including Dr. King. The adults are trying to get more attention to their cause--to show that separate is not equal. Rufus’s dad works at the local steel factory, and his mom is a cook at the mill. If they participate in marches, their bosses will fire them. So that’s where the kids decide they will come in. Nobody can fire them. So, on a bright May morning in 1963, Rufus and his buddies join thousands of other students to peacefully protest in a local park. There they are met with policemen and firemen who turn their powerful hoses on them, and that’s where Rufus realizes that they are the fire. And they will not be put out.  


Two Degrees /  Alan Gratz  (770L  AR: 5.2/11.0) When three children endure separate climate change disasters, they emerge from their experiences committed to changing the world.  


Squished: A Graphic Novel / Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter (520L 2.5/1.0)   Avery Lee loves living in Hickory Valley, Maryland, but she's tired of feeling squished by her six siblings.  


The Windeby Puzzle / Lois Lowry (730L No AR available)  Estrild is not like the other girls in her village; she wants to be a warrior. Varick, the orphan boy who helps her train in spite of his twisted back, also stands apart. In a world where differences are poorly tolerated, just how much danger are they in? Inspired by the true discovery of the 2,000-year-old Windeby bog body in Northern Germany, Newbery Medalist and master storyteller Lois Lowry transports readers to an Iron age world as she breathes life back into the Windeby child, left in the bog to drown with a woolen blindfold over its eyes. 


Hummingbird / Natalie Lloyd (610L  AR: 4.5/10.0)  Eleven-year-old homeschooled Olive is tired of being seen as "fragile" just because she has osteogenesis imperfecta (otherwise known as brittle bone disease), so she's thrilled when she convinces her parents to let her attend Macklemore Middle School. 


Rain Rising / Courtne Comrie (Reading Age: 8-12yrs.  Grade Level: 3-7  No AR available) An inspiring debut middle grade novel-in-verse about Rain, who must overcome sadness after her all-star brother is badly beaten up at a frat party. 

PLEASE NOTE— The FCPS Middle School Battle of the Books List has also been included with this Summer Reading List. Students are more than welcome to select books from the Battle of the Books list for summer reading, especially if they are interested in participating in Battle of the Books this school year. Please see below for information about Battle of the Books.

What is Battle of the Books?

Battle of the Books is a reading promotion program in Elementary and Middle Schools where students compete in a tournament style competition by answering questions about books on a designated book list. For Middle School, students read a total of 15 books in preparation for the BOB competition. Participation in Battle of the Books is voluntary. For more details, please reach out to Ms. Jeanene Jones, SCAPA Librarian,  OR 859-381-3332 Ext. 41623.