Year 6 recommended reading list for children aged 10-11

Books for Year 6. Here is our list of recommended titles compiled by professional teachers and librarians. Are you looking for a storybook for the school, the library, or your child’s collection, or are you putting together a class reading list or curriculum spine of year 6 novels to encourage your students to read more? The following list covers 40 works for students aged 10-11 in primary school KS2 that are appropriate for independent reading, partnered reading, class teaching, and book clubs. These age-appropriate reading-for-pleasure selections for UKS2 pupils have all received great feedback from children, librarians and teachers and include a variety of fiction and nonfiction books for all ability ranges and interests. The books in this list are reviewed termly and include middle-grade novels and stories by Jamila Gavin, Onjali Rauf, Jasbinder Bilan, David Almond, Lara Williamson, JRR Tolkien, Michelle Magorian, Maz Evans, Zizou Corder, Nina Bawden and more.

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Books for Year 6

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Books for Year 6 – our recommendations

Resist by Tom Palmer

Set in the village of Velp the Netherlands during the WW2 Nazi occupation, ‘Resist’ follows teenage Edda as she feels compelled to help the resistance in the face of oppressive control, arrests and starvation. Based on the experiences of Audrey Hepburn, this is a thought-provoking read, and an ideal text to discuss with Year 6 classes studying WW2, the Holocaust and Anne Frank. Full of warmth, empathy, emotion and determination, Resist is a fast-moving and gripping page-turner that will inspire upper KS2 readers to read more historical fiction.


Resist by Tom Palmer

Xanthe & the Ruby Crown by Jasbinder Bilan

Xanthe loves spending time with her grandmother in her cityscape paradise rooftop garden. But as she begins to lose her memory, Xanthe discovers a way to put together her grandmother’s remarkable life with the help of an enigmatic cat. This compelling novel spans continents and cultures to examine themes of home, family, and being a refugee. Highly recommended. Read our full review.

Family | Refugees

Xanthe & the Ruby Crown by Jasbinder Bilan

The Final Year by Matt Goodfellow and Joe Todd-Stanton

The end of Year 5 through to the end of primary school is told through fragments of life in this unique and powerful verse story. Accessible, powerful, and highly relatable, Year 6 children will empathise with Nate and the challenges he faces at home, his struggles with bullying at school, and deciphering what really matters between the ages of 10 and 11. Highly recommended. Featured as our fiction book of the month for September 2023.

Verse story

The Final Year by Matt Goodfellow and Joe Todd-Stanton

Vi Spy: Licence to Chill by Maz Evans

While Valentine’s former top spy mum and one-time supervillain dad divorce, a growing evil lurks in the form of an Evil Overlord who wants to take over the world. Will Valentine be able to save us all from certain doom? The addictive fast-paced and funny plot will keep readers mesmerised. Previously featured as our fiction book of the month.

Thriller | Series

Vi Spy: Licence to Chill by Maz Evans

Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick

Never, ever fall asleep in this fast-paced and mysterious horror thriller! When Lance sets foot in the Crater Lake activity centre, little does he realise what awaits him and his friends. Will they be able to stop aliens in time before they brainwash all their teachers and classmates? A cracking creepy page-turner for independent readers.

Horror | Adventure

Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick

Jodie by Hilary McKay

Feeling lonely and isolated on a school trip on the edge of a marsh, Jodie hears the sound of a barking dog. As she sets off to find it, the tide comes in and she finds herself trapped. Will she be able to find a way to safety, and is the rumour that the marshes are haunted true? ‘Jodie’ is a memorable and atmospheric middle-grade ghost story. A moving shorter text for less confident readers. Highly recommended.

Ghost story

Jodie by Hilary McKay

Wild by Ele Fountain

Jack is out of control, getting into trouble at school and pushing boundaries. He thinks his mum doesn’t notice until she invites him to join her on a surprise work trip, unexpectedly adventuring deep into the rainforest where real danger exists around every corner. Can Jack adjust and see what really matters in life? Covering themes of gang peer pressure, loss of a parent, attention-seeking behaviour and bravado, Wild is a book with bite – perfect for book club discussion and use as an impetus for creative writing.

Environment | Grief

Wild by Ele Fountain

The Boy At the Back of the Class by Onjali Rauf

Narrated in the first person by Ahmet, a nine-year-old Syrian refugee, this story follows how he copes with life in London, and how he plans to find the family he left behind. A masterpiece of empathy with situations and storylines that pupils will relate to, this is an excellent book to spark discussion, hot seating, and creative writing in Year 6 literacy and English lessons.


The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Rauf - a moving novel for year 6 books clubs

Nightfall in New York by Katherine Woodfine

The gloriously atmospheric and enigmatic quest story sees young heroines Sophie and Lil cross the Atlantic Ocean to New York in search of their captive friend. However, the dangerous and shadowy Fraternitas have other ideas and will stop at nothing to thwart their rescue attempt. A perfect class reader for year 6 teachers who are looking for a new Titanic-era text.


Nightfall in New York by Katherine Woodfine - a wonderful mystery for year 6 books clubs

The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff by Andy Seed

An extremely funny book of facts and true stories which will appeal to reluctant readers. Bright and engaging illustrations. A great book for year 6s to dip into.


A funny book for year 6 readers - The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff by Andy Seed

Absolutely Everything by Christopher Lloyd

“A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things Too Numerous” – this fantastic and unique non-fiction book is highly recommended to stretch and encourage inquisitive children and encourage critical thinking. This recently revised and expanded edition is a brilliant resource for any year 6 classroom or child’s bookshelf at home. Read our review for more details.


Absolutely Everything by Christopher Lloyd - a must-have resource book for year 6 classroom libraries

Britannica’s Encyclopedia Infographica by Valentina D’Efilippo, Andrew Pettie and Conrad Quilty-Harper

Dive into a world of knowledge with “Encyclopedia Infographica,” which features 200 infographics packed with information about space, Earth, animals, humans, and technology. Every page is laden with visual hooks and just the right amount of text to spark thought, imagination and higher-order questioning. Britannica’s Encyclopedia Infographica is highly recommended for children interested in STEM, real facts and learning how the world and universe beyond works.


Britannica's Encyclopedia Infographica by Valentina D'Efilippo, Andrew Pettie and Conrad Quilty-Harper

Moving Up: How to Ace Secondary School by Christian Foley

Rapping teacher Christian Foley offers invaluable guidance for students transitioning from primary to secondary school in this confidence-building and myth-busting guide. Daunting new classrooms, new friendship groups, increased academic expectations, social media and bullying are all covered in this comprehensive guide that will empower students to approach transition without fear. The accessible text and clear structure will help readers develop resilience and look forward to success in their new schools. Read our full review.


Moving Up by Christian Foley

A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson

Year 6 students will love this highly original and interesting peek into the life of Dan Hope and his dysfunctional family. Touching and thought-provoking, it is an excellent book to read after Wonder and a great book to discuss with Year 6 pupils in PSHE. This story is a brilliant study of family relationships and changing friendships.


A tense mystery book to read in year six - A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson

Illegal by Eoin Colfer

A thrilling graphic novel with sparkling text and dialogue. Ebo is left alone when his brother disappears and his sister has already fled. Now he must set out on an epic and dangerous journey across deserts and through dangerous city streets to reach the sea, and a chance to escape and find his family. An accessible and well-written illustrated text, this is an ideal year 6 book for guided reading groups.


A middle grade thriller - Illegal by Eoin Colfer

The Nowhere Emporium by Ross MacKenzie

When a strange shop appears out of nowhere, Daniel finds himself drawn into the mysterious building and its never-ending passages and surprises. He starts working for the owner – Mr Silver – but when Mr Silver vanishes into thin air, Daniel has to face threats and dark forces to save the Emporium. With rich language and sharply written descriptions, this is a great class reader book for Year 6.


A mysterious book year six students - The Nowhere Emporium by Ross MacKenzie

Time Travelling With a Hamster by Ross Welford

A moving and memorable story about time travel. When Al reads a letter it sets off a chain of events in which he races to travel back to 1984 to try and save his late father. A highly imaginative and thought-provoking middle-grade chapter book, this is a must-read novel for year sixes.

Science fiction

Touching book for year 6 pupils - Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

When her father goes missing in mysterious circumstances, Lily’s life is in sudden danger. Who took her father, and what do they want? A great page-turner book for ten-year-olds set in a steampunk Victorian world of shadowy clockmakers. With relatable characters and an ever-twisting plot, this is a compelling book for group reading in year 6.


An immersive Victorian KS2 book for year 6 classes - the first of a great series of books for year 6 - Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Isabella finds herself on a captivating quest to find the mysterious lands her father once mapped. In this beautifully realised adventure story with elements of magic, myth and legend, Isabella finds herself the unlikely heroine tasked with saving her world. With rich language and atmospheric description, this is a high-quality text to underpin a year 6 literacy unit.


Great book year six classes - The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

SeaBEAN by Sarah Holding

Set on the remote island of St Kilda, this is an interesting fantasy reality story involving a magic black box that can transport 11-year-old Alice and her friends to exotic and far-flung locations. There, they have to work together to safeguard the planet in this, the first of a unique trilogy of eco-climate thrillers. This is a useful book to inspire year six children who are interested in climate change.


An Eeo warrior climate change story for year 6 - SeaBEAN by Sarah Holding

Eren by Simon P Clark

A deceptively dark story about a boy taken by his mum to live in the country after a family drama. Eren is a strange and magical creature that lives in the attic. The surprising and unpredictable twists will keep year six children reading until the end. With taut plotting and short crisp chapters, this is a good option to read with a year six class that wants something slightly different.


A descriptive year 6 text - Eren by Simon P Clark

The Railway Children by E Nesbit

A classic story of adventure and loss. Three children and their mother leave their lives in London to live in a small cottage in the country. Will they discover the mystery of their father’s disappearance? A classic novel to study in year 6 literacy lessons, this book is a valuable resource for teaching empathy, characterisation and inference.


A classic book for Year 6 classes - The Railway Children by E Nesbit

Abomination by Robert Swindells

Martha lives with a dark secret – the abomination. Can she escape her strict upbringing and reveal the secret or is she better off keeping quiet? A more challenging novel, this text is a good option for year 6 children who are interested in books with bite and dystopian storylines.


A gripping book for year six boys - Abomination by Robert Swindells

Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden

Carrie and her brother Nick are evacuated to Wales to live with the strict Mr Evans. When Carrie visits Hepzibah Green she does perhaps the worst thing imaginable. How can she make things right? This modern classic is an ideal class reader for Year 6 pupils, and there are numerous teaching guides and resources available for this text.


A classic WW2 reading book for year 6 - Carrie's War by Nina Bawden

The Sports Timeline Wallbook by Christopher Lloyd

A mind-blowing fold-out wallchart book that chronicles the history of sport from the ancient Olympics to the present day. Presented thematically by different types of sport this two-metre-long fold-out timeline is painstakingly illustrated by Andy Forshaw. A perfect research book, extension activity or display resource for Year 6 classrooms.

A great year 6 book for non-fiction teaching- The Sports Timeline Wallbook by Christopher Lloyd

The Crowstarver by Dick King-Smith

Left abandoned as a baby on a farm, Simon Sparrow lives a tough life. However, he has an amazing gift. Every animal he meets understands and trusts him. A more challenging book, this award-winning children’s novel explores farming life, our relationship with animals and what defines friendship and loyalty. This is a great book to discuss with more advanced readers in year 6 book clubs.


A thought-provoking group reading book for upper KS2 - The Crowstarver by Dick King-Smith

From Hereabout Hill by Michael Morpurgo

An enchanting collection of nine short stories by the former Children’s Laureate. Each with a thought-provoking theme, these stories are perfect to read and discuss in literacy or PSHE with children in year 6, or to use as a guided reader with groups of children who prefer shorter texts.

Short stories

An atmospheric WW2 book for year six classes - From Hereabout Hill by Michael Morpurgo

Fruit and Nutcase by Jean Ure

A story, told in diary entries, of Mandy’s unpredictable life and crazy parents. Mandy has so many things to worry about she starts to wonder if she’s going mad. A lively choice to read and model for classes studying autobiographies in year six, this book will appeal to children who enjoy high-interest, funny, and shorter texts.


A funny middle-grade book for girls - Fruit and Nutcase by Jean Ure

Granny by Anthony Horowitz

Joe is miserable and longs to escape from his huge family mansion. But his dangerous and evil granny has truly horrid plans for him. Can Joe escape her clutches? This darkly humorous tale will appeal to children who want something quirky, with irony, wickedly nasty characters and clever plot twists.


A quirky and fun book for year six class libraries - Granny by Anthony Horowitz

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

The classic tale of Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit, and his quest to travel with Gandalf and a band of dwarves to steal the treasure of a fearsome dragon. A more challenging book, The Hobbit will appeal to children who enjoy immersive fantasy worlds and memorable characters.


A magical fantasy middle-grade book - The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

After a storm, Michael is washed overboard from his parent’s yacht and finds himself marooned on a distant island with a Japanese soldier who survived the Hiroshima bombing. Kensuke and Michael become unlikely friends and Kensuke has to make a decision whether to stay on his island home or help Michael complete a dangerous quest to find his mother and father. A great book for year 6 group reading and book clubs.


A classic adventure book for 9-12 year olds - Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

Lion Boy by Zizou Corder

Charlie can speak to cats – and every type of cat – even a lion. He sets out on a perilous journey to find his kidnapped parents who have found a cure for asthma. Can his circus animal friends protect him from being captured before he finds them? A moving and emotive animal story with rich language and evocative descriptions, this is an ideal class reading text for year six.


A moving animal book for ten year olds - Lion Boy by Zizou Corder

The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall

Chas has a good collection of wartime bullets, shells and memorabilia. But it’s not quite the best collection in Garmouth. That’s until he finds a machine gun and 2000 rounds of ammunition, ready to fire. A gripping and fast-paced story with lots of dialogue, this is an ideal addition to Year 6 WW2 topics.


A tense WW2 adventure for 9-12 year olds - The Machine Gunners

The Viewer by Gary Crew

An imaginative picture book ideal for older reluctant readers. Tristan finds an old picture-viewing device in a rubbish dump and becomes drawn further and further into the places and worlds he sees – until finally, he disappears into one of them. A perfect book for year 6 children who are imaginative, but reluctant readers.

Picture book

An imaginative picture book for 10-11 year olds - The Viewer by Gary Crew

My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick

A mystical historical story of travelling gypsies, vampire slayers and a princess. Peter discovers there’s more to his father than meets the eye. An ideal book for those interested in historical fiction, this multi-layered story is a useful text to use when analysing and modelling characterisations with pupils who are working at a ‘greater depth’ level in year 6 literacy lessons.


A gripping historical fiction for 10-11 year olds - My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick

Once by Morris Gleitzman

A young Jewish boy is determined to escape from an orphanage to find and rescue his parents from Nazi Germany. The first of a ground-breaking series, this story is an excellent analysis of war from a child’s perspective. A moving book to discuss in year 6 books clubs with more able pupils, it is also a good choice to compare and contrast with The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier.


A thrilling WW2 book: Once by Morris Gleitzman

The Other Side of the Truth by Beverley Naidoo

Sade and her brother Femi are ‘illegals’. They have fled from Nigeria where their father is being persecuted only to find London a harsh and unforgiving environment and not the safe haven they had hoped for. This modern classic is a children’s novel that lends itself to character hot seating and discussing different viewpoints in year six literacy lessons.


A political novel for ten year olds - The Other Side of the Truth by Beverley Naidoo

The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

Separated from his parents in Poland in World War Two, Jan and his three friends travel through war-torn Europe to Switzerland with only a silver sword for protection. Will he find his parents? This gripping children’s novel is an addictive storytime read-aloud that pupils will look forward to each day.


A gripping adventure story for 9-12s - The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

Skellig by David Almond

In the run-down garage of his new home, Michael finds a magical creature called Skellig. At the same time, Michael’s baby sister is gravely ill in hospital. Somehow Skellig seems to hold the key to saving her. Great for reluctant readers and perfect to add to a year 6 classroom library.


A descriptive book for pupils in Year 6 - Skellig by David Almond

Tell Me No Lies by Malorie Blackman

Gemma struggles to deal with the pain of losing her mother and Mike struggles with a dark secret. When the two children meet they uncover a shocking secret that explains both of their pasts. A gripping psychological thriller that examines social issues, this is an ideal book for Year 6 readers who want a more challenging read.


A gripping middle-grade thriller - Tell Me No Lies by Malorie Blackman

The Changes Trilogy – The Weathermonger by Peter Dickinson

Set in the future, Adults have decided machines cannot be trusted and a world without them is better. When Geoffrey tries to repair a motor, he and his sister are hunted as witches. The story follows their flight to France, where everything is very different. A clever dystopian novel, this book will appeal to more able more mature readers who enjoy fantasy, magic and imagination.

A scary story for Year 6 children - The Changes Trilogy: The Weathermonger by Peter Dickinson

What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge

Katy is a tomboy, her hair is always a mess and her clothes look awful. But when there’s an awful accident, her life changes forever. The first in a series of books, this story will appeal to upper KS2 pupils who enjoy school-based stories with laugh-out-loud funny moments.


A great book for girls in year six - What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge

The Wheel of Surya by Jamila Gavin

Jaspal and Marvinder travel from civil war-torn India in 1947 to find their father who is studying far away in England. A stunning historical novel, the epic and atmospheric story will immerse pupils in the landscape, politics and culture of post-war colonial India. This is a memorable narrative to discuss in book clubs or read as a class novel in year six.


A cultural story for 10-11 year olds - The Wheel of Surya

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

When four children are evacuated to a country house, Lucy looks into the wardrobe and discovers a doorway to the world of Narnia with Aslan, Mr Tumnus the Faun and the White Witch. This classic fantasy puts characters pupils will empathise with into perilous situations that only heroic actions can overcome. The sparkling storyline has a timeless and endearing quality that may well help to engender a lifelong love of reading in your child.


Fantasy classic for middle grade pupils - The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

Set during WW2, William “Willie” Beech, a boy from London who is abused by his mother, arrives at the home of Mr Thomas Oakley, a bad-tempered widower in his sixties who lives in the village of Little Weirwold. An ideal book for year 6 pupils studying 1939-1945.


Modern WW2 classic for primary school - Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

Why the Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo

There are rumours that the Birdman is mad and dangerous. When Gracie and Daniel cannot find a place to sail their boats they eventually run into him. Despite all they have been told, they build up a friendship and the Birdman reveals the island is under an ancient curse. An enchanting and magical story, this is a good text to read as part of WW1 or Remembrance topics.


Great group reading text for top juniors - Why the Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

A wonderful story about a family of tiny people who live secretly in the walls and floors of an English house and “borrow” from the big people in order to survive. This immersive classic is a great novel to encourage your ten-year-old to read for pleasure.


Classic novel for juniors - The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Siverfin by Charlie Higson

The adventures of the 13-year-old young James Bond, set at school and in the Scottish Highlands. With a fast-paced plot, quick-fire dialogue and great action sequences, this would make an exciting adventure option group reader for Year 6 pupils.


Adventure for boys in year six - Silverfin by Charlie Higson

Oranges in No Man’s Land by Elizabeth Laird

Ayesha is a ten-year-old living in Beirut. Her father left the family for work and her mother was killed by a missile strike. Living with her grandmother and younger siblings, she faces a huge dilemma when her grandmother falls ill. Does she stay to look after her, or does she travel into the unknown to find help? An ideal issue-based storybook for Year 6 reading groups.


More advanced book 10 and 11 year olds - Oranges in No Man's Land

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Books for year 6 video

Below is a video highlighting all our Year 6 book picks in a catchy 5-minute slideshow which can be displayed in primary school libraries, used in the classroom, at home, for CPD or shared as a link for home learning or remote teaching.

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Books for year 6 - our free background wallpaper

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Books for Year 6 – what titles to recommend to children

Navigating the transition to secondary school can be a pivotal time for Year 6 students. Recommending books that address themes of resilience, self-discovery, and coping with change can offer valuable insights. Consider titles that explore the challenges of exams and SATS pressure, providing relatable stories that depict characters overcoming stress and uncertainty. Books focusing on the emotional aspects of being the oldest at primary school can help students process their feelings and embrace leadership roles. Additionally, introducing literature that delves into issues of social and peer pressure equips Year 6 readers with the tools to make thoughtful choices and build strong interpersonal skills as they embark on this significant phase in their academic journey. A well-curated booklist for Year 6 pupils can prove beneficial here.

What reading level should a year 6 be?

Determining the appropriate reading level for Year 6 students involves considering both individual abilities and broader literacy benchmarks. Generally, students in Year 6 are expected to comprehend and analyse more complex texts, demonstrating proficiency in understanding nuanced themes and characters. At this stage, a good indicator is their ability to handle books with increased vocabulary, varied sentence structures, and challenging content. However, it’s crucial to recognize that reading levels can vary among individuals, so providing a range of books that cater to different reading abilities ensures inclusivity and fosters a love for reading in all students. Personalised Year 6 book lists can help to achieve this.

Click for more children’s reading book recommendationsPicture books to read before you are 5 years oldReception books | Year 1 books | Year 2 books | Year 3 books | Year 4 books | Year 5 books | Year 6 books (this page) | KS2 Sats Revision books | Topic books | KS3 books

For less demanding books for year 6, try the Books for Year 5 reading list.

For even more books for 10-11-year-olds, see this list.

For the more able child, try the Books for Year 7 reading list.

Books for Year six and KS2 book fairs via Scholastic.

About Tom Tolkien

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Tom Tolkien is a highly qualified (BA Hons, PGCE, QTS) children's literature expert and teacher with over 25 years of experience. He has led inset courses, developed curriculum materials, spoken at conferences, advised on longlisting for several international children's literature literature awards and written for educational publishers including contributing to a BETT award-nominated app. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin

This booklist was last updated on June 14th, 2024 and first published in 2013.