The 10 Best Historical Fiction Books for 6th Graders

Historical fiction books offer a unique and engaging way to learn about history while also developing important reading and comprehension skills. For 6th graders, this genre can help spark curiosity and foster a love for reading. In this article, we will explore the benefits of historical fiction for 6th graders and introduce you to the top 10 historical fiction books recommended for this age group, separated into two categories: books set in ancient times and those set in more recent history.

The 10 Best Historical Fiction Books for 6th Graders

Why Historical Fiction is Important for 6th Graders

Historical fiction combines the excitement of fictional stories with the informative nature of historical events, making it a great way for children to explore different time periods and cultures. For 6th graders, reading historical fiction can provide several benefits, such as enhancing imagination, developing empathy, and building critical thinking skills.

Enhancing Imagination and Creativity

One of the main benefits of reading historical fiction is that it stimulates a child’s imagination and creativity. By exposing them to different settings, characters, and plotlines, historical fiction encourages 6th graders to think outside the box and explore new ideas. This genre, in particular, provides an opportunity for students to see how people in the past lived, giving them a chance to compare their own lives with those of characters in the story.

For example, a historical fiction novel set during the Great Depression could transport a 6th grader to a time when jobs were scarce, and families struggled to make ends meet. By reading about the hardships faced by characters in the story, students can gain a new appreciation for the privileges and opportunities they have today. This newfound perspective can inspire them to think creatively about how they can make a positive impact on the world around them.

Developing Empathy and Understanding

Historical fiction also helps 6th graders develop empathy and understanding for people from various backgrounds and time periods. By reading about the difficulties and triumphs of different historical characters, students can learn to see the world through another person’s eyes. This increased understanding can encourage students to be more compassionate and understanding of others in their everyday lives.

For instance, a historical fiction novel set during the Civil Rights Movement could introduce 6th graders to the experiences of African Americans during that time. By reading about the struggles and injustices faced by characters in the story, students can gain a deeper understanding of the ongoing fight for equality and social justice. This newfound empathy can inspire them to take action in their own communities to promote equality and justice for all.

Building Critical Thinking Skills

Reading historical fiction can help 6th graders improve their critical thinking skills, as they are often asked to make connections between events and characters in the story and real historical events. This process encourages students to think critically about the causes and effects of different events, as well as the decisions made by various characters throughout the story.

For example, a historical fiction novel set during World War II could prompt 6th graders to consider the reasons behind the war, the impact it had on different countries and people, and the decisions made by leaders on both sides. By analyzing the historical context of the story and comparing it to real-world events, students can develop their critical thinking skills and gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of history.

Overall, historical fiction is an important genre for 6th graders to explore, as it can enhance their imagination, develop their empathy and understanding, and build their critical thinking skills. By reading historical fiction, students can gain a deeper appreciation for the past and a greater understanding of the world around them.

Top 5 Historical Fiction Books Set in Ancient Times

If your 6th grader is looking to explore the mysteries and wonders of ancient civilizations, these five books set in ancient times are sure to keep them engaged and entertained. From Egypt to Greece, from Israel to Rome, and from Mesopotamia to beyond, these novels offer a glimpse into the rich tapestry of human history.

The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

The Golden Goblet

The Golden Goblet” is an exciting novel set in ancient Egypt that follows the story of a young orphan named Ranofer, who dreams of becoming a master goldsmith. Through Ranofer’s journey, the reader is immersed in the culture and customs of ancient Egypt, providing a rich and vivid historical backdrop for the story. From the bustling markets of Thebes to the grand temples of the pharaohs, “The Golden Goblet” transports readers to a world of wonder and magic.

As Ranofer struggles to uncover a conspiracy against his beloved mentor, readers will learn about the importance of loyalty, perseverance, and justice in ancient Egyptian society. They will also discover the fascinating art of goldsmithing, from the delicate shaping of precious metals to the intricate designs and symbols that adorned the tombs and temples of the pharaohs.

Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff

Black Ships Before Troy

In “Black Ships Before Troy,” a reimagining of Homer’s “Iliad,” young readers will be introduced to the heroes, gods, and legends of ancient Greece. Sutcliff’s retelling of the tale captures the excitement and drama of the legendary Trojan War, making it accessible for 6th graders to enjoy.

As they follow the adventures of the brave warrior Achilles and the cunning strategist Odysseus, readers will learn about the values and customs of ancient Greek society, from the importance of honor and glory to the role of women and slaves in daily life. They will also discover the rich mythology and religion of the Greeks, from the wrath of the gods to the power of prophecy.

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

The Bronze Bow: A Newbery Award Winner

Set in first-century Israel during the time of Roman occupation, “The Bronze Bow” tells the story of a young Jewish boy named Daniel, who is consumed by thoughts of revenge after witnessing the death of his family. As the story unfolds, readers learn about the culture, politics, and life in ancient Israel, all while Daniel’s journey tests the limits of his faith and loyalty.

As Daniel joins a group of rebels fighting against the Roman oppressors, readers will discover the complex history and religious traditions of ancient Israel, from the strict laws of the Torah to the passionate beliefs of the Zealots. They will also witness the clash of cultures and values between the Jews and the Romans, from the brutal tactics of the Roman army to the heroic sacrifices of the Jewish rebels.

Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld

Detectives in Togas

This lighthearted mystery novel transports readers to ancient Rome, where a group of young detectives must solve a perplexing crime using their wit and knowledge of Roman history. “Detectives in Togas” is not only an entertaining read but also offers educational insights into Roman life and customs.

As the young sleuths navigate the streets and alleys of Rome, readers will discover the wonders and quirks of ancient Roman society, from the grandeur of the Colosseum to the decadence of the emperors. They will also learn about the daily life of the common people, from the bustling markets and shops to the humble homes and apartments.

The Golden Bull by Marjorie Cowley

The Golden Bull: A Mesopotamian Adventure

The Golden Bull” is a captivating tale of two siblings working together to survive in ancient Mesopotamia during the reign of King Hammurabi. Jomar and Zefa’s struggles and triumphs offer readers a glimpse into daily life in one of the world’s first great civilizations, exploring family life, religion, and the quest for freedom.

As Jomar and Zefa face the challenges of drought, famine, and war, readers will discover the fascinating history and culture of ancient Mesopotamia, from the invention of writing and the wheel to the rise of the mighty Babylonian empire. They will also learn about the complex social and religious structures of Mesopotamian society, from the powerful priests and kings to the humble farmers and artisans.

Top 5 Historical Fiction Books Set in More Recent History

For 6th graders interested in delving into more recent historical events and periods, these five books provide exciting stories and valuable insights into the past.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars: A Newbery Award Winner

Set during World War II, “Number the Stars” follows young Annemarie Johansen as she risks her life to help her best friend, a Jewish girl named Ellen Rosen, escape the Nazis. Lowry’s novel is both thrilling and educational, teaching readers about the courage and sacrifices made during this dark time in history.

Readers will be transported to a time when the world was at war and the fate of millions of people hung in the balance. Through the eyes of Annemarie, they will witness the bravery of everyday people who risked everything to help their fellow human beings. They will also learn about the horrors of the Holocaust and the devastating impact it had on the lives of millions of people.

Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi

Crispin: The Cross of Lead (Newbery Medal Winner)

Crispin: The Cross of Lead,” tells the story of a young serf named Crispin who must find his way in 14th-century England after being falsely accused of a crime. Not only does this book provide a gripping narrative, but it also offers an in-depth look at the brutal life of peasants during the medieval period.

Readers will be transported back in time to a world where life was harsh and unforgiving. They will witness the struggles of a young boy who is forced to fend for himself in a world that is hostile and dangerous. They will also learn about the social and economic systems that governed life in medieval England and the challenges faced by those who were born into a life of poverty and servitude.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

The Witch of Blackbird Pond: A Newbery Award Winner

Set in Puritan New England, “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” follows the trials and tribulations of Kit Tyler, a young girl accused of witchcraft. The novel sheds light on the harsh realities of life in 17th-century colonial America and the hysteria surrounding witch hunts.

Readers will be transported back in time to a world where superstition and fear ruled the day. They will witness the struggles of a young girl who is accused of a crime she did not commit, and the challenges she faces as she tries to clear her name. They will also learn about the social and religious systems that governed life in colonial America and the dangers faced by those who dared to question the status quo.

My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

My Brother Sam Is Dead

This powerful novel explores the emotional turmoil of a family divided by the American Revolution. Told from the perspective of young Tim Meeker, whose older brother Sam joins the revolutionary forces, “My Brother Sam is Dead” delves into the complexities of war, loyalty, and family during this pivotal time in American history.

Readers will be transported back in time to a world where the fate of a nation hung in the balance. They will witness the struggles of a family torn apart by war and the challenges faced by those who had to choose between loyalty to their family and loyalty to their country. They will also learn about the political and social systems that governed life in colonial America and the events that led up to the American Revolution.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963: A Novel

Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, “The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963” chronicles the journey of a young African American family as they travel from their home in Flint, Michigan, to visit family in Birmingham, Alabama. This heartwarming and sometimes humorous story nimbly weaves in heavy themes such as racism and segregation, providing 6th graders with a thought-provoking and engaging read.

Readers will be transported back in time to a world where segregation and racism were the norms. They will witness the struggles of a young family as they navigate a world that is hostile and unwelcoming. They will also learn about the Civil Rights Movement and the brave men and women who fought to bring about change in America.

With these historical fiction novels, 6th graders have the opportunity to learn about different time periods and cultures while also enjoying entertaining and thought-provoking stories. These books can help foster a love of history and reading that lasts a lifetime.


How many books should a 6th grader be reading?

A frequent reader should be aiming to finish around 45 books per year. This number can be made up of a mixture of genres, book lengths, and difficulties.

Why should 6th graders be reading historical fiction?

Historical fiction is a brilliant genre to get 6th graders involved in. It’s a great way to get young people interested in history and introduce them to real historical eras and figures through gripping and entertaining plot lines.

What is the best historical fiction book for 6th graders?

The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis is a great choice.

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