Okay, I know threads like this have been posted before, but I'm curious based on this year:
What are some of your most successful 6th grade novels? In other words, thinking back on this year -- which novel studies seemed to go particularly well?
I'm curious to get a list started because I'd love to find out about some new ones to try. I like at least doing one "brand new" book each year, in addition to my "old" favorites . . . and I'm sure others might like getting some new ideas too. So, please share!
I used Iqbal for the first time this year. My kids are mostly G/T but the novel appealed to all of the students, regardless of reading level. I also taught the 4 types of writing at the same time (expository, persuasive, descriptive, narrative). Their culminating project for the novel was to do a desktop publishing project, making a newspaper with a 4 short articles (one of each type of writing)--related to Iqbal Masih, the book, or to child slavery in general. They did a great job on the projects. I'm looking forward to doing it again next year.
The other book I read every year is Silverwing. We read it in September/October. The kids always love it. We do some research about bats and publish paragraphs in an illustrated "bat quilt", which is usually not finished until Thanksgiving.
I would love to hear about some other novels that people are using successfully.
Seedfolks is a great read aloud. The book describes a community garden from the perspective of a different character for each chapter. Each chapter is only about 3-4 pages long, but they are packed with emotion. We do character analysis as we read along.
Iqbal is one of my favorites that I read each year.
The Breadwinner is another really great read aloud. It is set in Afganistan at the time of the Taliban. The main character, Parvanna, is an 11 year old girl who dresses as a boy in order to be able to work to support the family.
Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz is an Alex Rider novel. This was a pure pleasure read that I read to get some of my nonreaders excited about books. The gadgets, adventure and danger really gets them excited and makes them want to read more. As soon as a read a few chapters of this books, the library shelves in the "H" section are stripped bare.
Homeless Bird. This is the story of a girl that is forced to marry a boy in India, who is sick and dies shortly afterwards. The girl is only 12 and she is treated badly and eventually left homeless.
Dark Hills Divide. Not a great read aloud. I won't do this next year.
I always try to alternate between boy/girl protagonists. I also like to switch genres, though I prefer realistic fiction with a touch of historical reference.
I have read more books this year to my class than I ever have in the past. I have a group of low readers, most really disliked reading. My goal was to get them to like books and to give them more time on task. It seemed to work. By providing them silent reading time each day they would get interested in their books, and by reading aloud they learned to love stories again.
My favorites have been
The Giver, Messenger and Gathering Blue. (After we do The Giver in class, I assign Messenger and Gathering Blue for at home reading)
The Devils Arithmetic
The House of Dies Drear
Among the Hidden (the entire series)
"The Lightning Thief" was a huge hit this year. We spend quite a bit of time on mythology in sixth grade and this ties in perfectly. Some other favorites include:
"The Westing Game"
"The City of Ember" and the sequel "The People of Sparks"
"Running Out of Time"
"The Door in the Lake"
Hi! I just received my first teaching position and it is for 6th grade. Yikes, I have no experience with this grade at all and I prefer the younger ones. I am excited but scared out of my mind as well. If you have any advice please let me know.
Favorite books for my sixth graders in the past have been
House of Dies Drear
Watsons Go to Birmingham (some language - I always let parents know ahead of time)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Long Way to Chicago (lower level)
Dear America/My America books (Each student or pairs - depending on numbers get a book on their level and present to the class.)
Walk Two Moons
Loser (lower level)
I taught 6th for 8 years. I just finished my first year at 2nd. My school is starting a 6th next year and I have the option to switch if I want. I am so tempted, but want to give 2nd another year. Thus, why I am on the 6th grade board!
I used to love to do these novels:
* Summer of the Monkeys
* Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm
* The Westing Game (of course)
* The Wish Giver
* The Giver
* Sing Down the Moon
* The Egypt Game
Just thought I would reply to your message of nervousness about teaching your first year. This year will be my 21st year, but my first year in 6th grade! I feel like a brand new teacher, and I too am anxious about starting a new grade. I am basically starting over. I could give you lots of advice on 1st graders! I am very excited about this new job and new experience. I wish you well in your future years teaching. I hope we both have a great first year!
One great book is Touching Spirit Bear..especially for students that do not like to read...this hooks them in right away!! Freak the Mighty is another great book
Those new to 6th grade...is your 6th grade in a Middle School or still at Elementary? Ours is in the middle school. You have to treat these children like they really have not been taught anything yet...they need to "learn" how to become middle school students and how to operate in possibly 6 different teachers classes. You will be shocked at little things you "think" they should know, but don't. (EX: like how to grade their own paper when going over math answers) But the first nine weeks end most students have come around...
They do not hold you in the "ah" that elementary teachers are so often getting...you are like a parent now, and parents/teachers are not that important anymore...they are trying to figure things out and they think they are old enough to make it on their own..yet they are still needing very guiding hands that are willing to listen to them and help them make those right choices.
I have taught 3-8th grade and really enjoy the 6th graders
I read Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein to Yr 6 this year. It's Australian and oldish (80s) and was made into a movie. The movie was updated to teenagers but the book was set in Year 6 where a difficult class go to camp. The kids loved it and I read it just before we went to school camp.
that sixth grade teachers seem to be able to pick books that are appropriate for their grade (and all of these are) but elementary teachers don't seem to be able to do the same thing for their kids? I have seen a terrible number of fourth and fifth grade teachers using books that are way, way too high. How come sixth grade teachers don't seem to have that problem? I don't see anyone on here piping up with The Grapes of Wrath or The Great Gatsby.
Well, Shucks! I was just about to suggest those two.
Seriously, I wonder if it has to do with the fact that the TEACHERS like the books. "The Grapes of Wrath" is my favorite book and confess to being tempted when we talk about the depression. But far more appropriate are
Julie. Catherine Marshall No Promises in the Wind. Irene Hunt Out of the Dust. Karen Hesse
A couple of the Dear America books
The Lightning Thief -- This was a HUGE favorite
Watsons Go to Birmingham
Anything by Sharon Creech -- but especially The Wanderer and Walk Two Moons
Freak the Mighty
Homeless Bird & Blue Jasmine
The View from Saturday
Surviving the Applewhites
I could go on and on!
I have to agree with "The Breadwinner". Amazing story that his developed a real love of reading in my students. In Australia this book was called "Parvana". Also check out "Pavana's Journey" which is excellent and we're about to read the third in the series "Shauzia". Goodluck...
My absolute favorite (and the kids' as well) is an not-so-common book call The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards. It is a fantasy book, but uses great discriptions. Every year the kiddos are bummed when we finish the book, and many of them read it again on thier own.
I also like The Westing Game, Surviving the Applewhites, Loser, and The View From Saturday.
The Boy Who Saved Baseball
The Westing Game
The Naked-Mole Rat Letters (easy, used as a read aloud)
No More Nasty (as a read aloud)
Anything by Roland Smith (Zach's Lie, Jack's Run, Cryptid Hunters)
Al Capone Does My Shirts
Oh my goodness, so many great books! I agree with many who have already written, but would like to add some more as well.
Walk Two Moons and Searching for David's Heart are a must. Both talk about life struggles, and the main characters are around 12-years-old. Zach's Lie and Jack's Run were the new favorites of my students last year. Jack's Run is the sequel for Zach's Lie, although you can stop after the first book. Both are about a boy whose family is in witness protection. If you like some great older literature, Summer of the Monkeys and Where the Red Fern Grows are both great! Stargirl, Maniac Magee, Wringer and Loser by Jerry Spinelli are all superb. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, an adventure book, was another favorite last year among my students. The Cay, the Westing Game, and the Egypt Game are also used among our sixth grade teachers. Touching Spirit Bear is also phenomenal! You won't get through all of these, but you will expose students to great literature!
Thank you so much for sharing so many 6th grade Novels. You have truly helped me introduce great books of reading for my son. I truly appreciate all the comments posted on this site. Kudos to Great Leaders!
I have to add a novel that I do every year with my 6th grade students. The book is called Straw Into Gold by Gary Schmidt. My students LOVE this book and it fits nicely into our folk tale/fantasy genre study. The story is a spin off of Rumplestiltskin and is a huge hit.
You will love 6th grade!! They are old enough to really participate and challenge, while young enough to still respect and love their teacher. My philosohpy is to always be Firm, Fair, and Consistent. I have one golden rule in my classroom: RESPECT!! It covers everything. (respect teacher and staff, classmates, and school environment) Expect 100 percent and they will give it (most of the time) Good Luck and enjoy!
SO many excellent suggestions here, but I am shocked not to see one title, in particular. Wondering if people know of it and don't care for it, or have not yet discovered it, or perhaps consider it an elementary book, not middle school?
"Flipped," by Wendelin Van Draanen, is one of my all-time favorite books.
It was made into a movie that was released this past summer. I didn't see the movie, but the book is so wonderful for adolescents.
This seems to be an age when kids once again become very egocentric, but in a very different way than when they were 3-6 years old. We all know that adolescent children desperately WANT to understand others and to be accepted by their peer groups. However, their tendency to see only their own perspective makes it very difficult at times to fit in and especially easy to feel slighted or insulted. At the same time, they are primed and ready to become EMPATHETIC - creating their perspectives on right & wrong and trying to relate to the world and all of the wonderful and horrible things they hear about in stories or on the news.
"Flipped" provides an opportunity for kids to realize that two people can share an experience - can be in the EXACT SAME situation/place at the EXACT SAME time but their separate recollections of the event will sound as if they were almost in two different places!
Imagine the discussions this can begin - about conflicts/issues on national or international levels like elections, wars and other historical events; as well as problems they experience daily like science experiments with a partner or a game played at PE with classmates. EVERYONE experiences their world from their own perspective and their understanding of it depends upon their past experiences and prior knowledge. But opportunities to stand outside of the fray - TO SEE BOTH SIDES WITHOUT TAKING SIDES - are few.
The title of the book has multiple meanings, but one of them is clearly evident as the author tells each chapter from two different perspectives. I have read this aloud to kids several times, including my OWN two children, and they hang on every word and never want to stop reading. But I have found VERY FEW books that kids didn't love when read aloud. Kids just LOVE to be read to!
What I have found to be more important is finding books that make kids WANT to discuss their schema and to synthesize the story. With "Flipped" they seem almost driven to discuss the interpersonal relationships in the story - what went wrong and why, and how each character could have done things differently to fix the problem or to prevent it from ever occurring in the first place.
Well put. I taught 7th grade for many years until I was moved down to 6th five years ago. Every single year, I forget how little they know upon arrival. It is hard work transitioning them into the middle school setting. Their textbooks become secondary level, they have lockers to manage, they change classes and instructors frequently, on and on. After five years, I still forget at the beginning of each year "little" things I need to explain to them. They truly are "unique" children. Good Luck.... you can learn together: remember that you are BOTH new to the situation. All you can do is your best: students and teachers. Parents sometimes react differently at this level. They are still expecting the nurturing teacher who can "walk" their child through many things during their day. They don't realize that the average teacher sees over a hundred students a day, manages many tasks and transitions throughout the day, and that we just aren't able to provide the same nurturing attention as our colleagues in an elementary setting.
Patricia Polacco's- Thank You, Mr. Falker celebrates what a good teacher can be. And now her heartwarming tribute to the teacher who changed her life is available in a special unjacketed mini edition that makes the perfect gift for both kids needing encouragement and the teachers who are their heroes.
When Trisha starts school, she can't wait to learn how to read, but the letters just get jumbled up. She hates being different, and begins to believe her classmates when they call her a dummy. Then, in fifth grade, Mr. Falker changes everything. He sees through her sadness to the gifted artist she really is. And when he discovers that she can't read, he helps her prove to herself that she can - and will!
I have dyslexia and I went to school every Friday dreading the spelling test. I made sure I was sitting in the principal’s office before each test or I would make friends with “smart” kids and they would take the test for me. I am now a dyslexic teacher. I loved teaching kindergarten because I could read their writing. If you always point out what is wrong they will quit writing!
DID I SPELL THAT RIGHT?
[ i luv u becz u r prete n gob to em n mi frenz]
[I love you because you are pretty and nice to me and my friends.]
Your motto should be "strict but fun. Insist (and wait for) their attention. Say,'I'm waiting..." Or "Are you with me? Eyes up here." One invaluable tool is this: set the stage for a productive class by immediately setting them for the first five minutes with a writing prompt, (which later may be tied into a writing or literature assignment). The emphasis here is not on punctuation or perfect sentences but simply thoughts on paper. It could be something to get them thinking like: Write about a time when you noticed someone treated unfairly because of the way they looked or dressed. How did you feel? What did you do? Note by a check plus, check, or a check-minus in your log who actually made good use of time. They need to see you notice and are giving credit for doing the writing.
(Maybe this will connect with an issue in the book your class is reading and you can touch upon this later.) Have a few (not all) share their sparks. Move on. Grammar or vocabulary lesson, introducing a new concept would be a logical next step. Make sure to use visuals (whiteboard writing/ SMARTboard/ iPads) to engage various types of learners who may get overwhelmed or lose it if too much is said verbally with no overlay or backup. Do some class work in groups or partners to reinforce the lesson. Open the floor to questions on what you just taught.
Toward the third (end) part of class (15-20 minutes) move to your literature piece. Round-robin reading is not the greatest for this socially sensitive age group. Do not be afraid to read animatedly to them, modeling inflection and correct tone and stop frequently to discuss things like: character development, tone and the use of sensory details to create mood,etc. Keep a "word wall" in the classroom so they can visually access learned concepts like:metaphor/ simile/ narrator/protagonist, etc. Any writing on the literature you do should involve demonstration of learned grammar, so good grammar is expected and seen as useful and necessary. For instance, (this is Collin's method) in your writing assignment, you may have three focus correction areas. They can help you decide what they are, even. One might be to use semicolons or subordinate conjunctions correctly at least three times inthe essay. This will help them establish a working use of the new concepts.
Choose awesome books. Sixth grade LOVED Tuck Everlasting; there is a great movie you can watch and compare/contrast after you read the book. The Giver is good too, but deeper-maybe end of year. Watsons Go To Birmingham is a light-hearted take on cicik rights issue, with a sense of humor.
This is actually a fun grade-they are eager to learn and help. Remember, class take time to come togther and you all grow together in trust and shared moments. Best of luck this year.
The Giver is a great book ,,it teaches us a number of things ,,and one does not loose interest
It will be great reading it collectively and discussing about the books ...our vocabulary increases and it captures interest which a good book can only do..