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READALICIOUS! Books for Tweens

A Top 17 List: Sixth Graders Read, Rank 1,752 Books

When you want to know what books kids like, ask some kids, right?

This past school year, I did more than ask. We listed, tallied, and ranked all the books everyone in the class read from September to May. The results, listed below, surprised me a bit in terms of which books kids choose to pick up.

First, the raw data. Last year was impressive: 85 students read 1,752 books. One young lady accounted for 119 of those titles! Of the top 10 readers, four were boys.

To compile the data, I asked the 85 sixth graders to rank their 10 favorite books from the titles they read, from 1 (top choice) to 10. Some students had only read seven books (the minimum required by my Book Buddies incentive program), so I told them to add three titles they enjoyed in fifth grade.

We awarded a book one point for each time it appeared on someone’s top 10 list. If a book appeared as one of the top three on a list, we gave it two bonus points.

The students insisted on being able to list a whole series, instead of one book, as a choice. So, just like the individual titles, I awarded points for a series mention and created a mixed list—single titles and series.

I now present you the finalists in order of popularity. I’d be curious to hear from other sixth grade teachers how our list compares to yours and from sixth graders about their thoughts on the list.


1. *Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis
2. Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling
3. Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
4. *The BFG, Roald Dahl
5. Percy Jackson Series, Rick Riordan
6. *Each Little Bird that Sings, Deborah Wiles
7. *Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse
8. Wolf Brother, Michelle Paver
9. *The White Giraffe, Lauren St. John
10. Maximum Ride Series, James Patterson
11. Hunger Games Series, Suzanne Collins
12. Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
13. The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak
14. Witch and Wizard, James Patterson
15. Swindle, Gordon Korman
16. Every Soul a Star, Wendy Mass
17. Icefall, Matthew Kirby (my review)

What’s a bit surprising to me is the how strong the influence of adults was on the reading material kids choose. The five starred books on the list are from our Battle of the Books competition in March. Two of the books are ones that I presented in class: Every Soul a Star and Icefall. (I’m becoming a big Wendy Mass fan.)

In the case of The Book Thief, which is a World War II historical novel with some difficult subject matter, I had recommended it to a handful of kids. I was confident those kids could handle it and would enjoy it. They loved it so much that the book took off by word of mouth, kid to kid.

At the beginning of the year, I also asked parents to write down their favorite tween books. Sadly, of the 35 titles returned to me, only four were from dads. They included The Hardy Boys series (2 votes), The Call of the Wild, and a nonfiction book about sharks (the title had been forgotten).

Among moms, the most frequently mentioned favorites were the Nancy Drew series (6 votes), anything by Judy Blume (4 votes), and the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (3 votes). I encouraged parents to pass along their treasured stories to their children and watch them enjoy it—a great feeling.

We adults really do have the power to put books in the hands and minds of kids! What books would you recommend to a tween? Please share your titles and thoughts in the comments.

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