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Recommended Pleasure Reading Grades 6 Through 10


Recommended Pleasure Reading Grades 6 Through 10

Cover photo by Anne Li ’14 Š Copyright 2012 Espinosa Library For the electronic version of this document please visit:

Recommended Pleasure Reading Grades 6 Through 10 Sun, sand, rest and relaxation . . . summer is a sensational season for reading! Your Castilleja librarians have developed this list to help you find some great books to read in your free time. (You’ll notice that we have not included some of the best-known recent titles—adventures of a certain boy wizard, for example. Instead, we tried to choose titles you may not have heard of yet.) Our list includes books from many genres, and you will find a guide to the symbols we use for the genres below. There should be something here to appeal to all readers. We have expanded our list this year to include materials of interest to both middle school and upper school students. Books for older teen readers can include some mature content. Each title in this list is accompanied by a suggested grade range, taken from School Library Journal when available. Be sure to take note of this when making your selections. If you read something excellent, we’d love to hear about it. Happy reading!

Key to Genres Adventure

Fantasy/Science Fiction

Historical Fiction

Modern Classics


Realistic Fiction

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie This semiautobiographical story follows Junior, a young cartoonist, as he makes the painful decision to leave the Spokane Indian Reservation and enroll in a nearby town school, where he hopes to get a better education. Grades 8 and up.

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel In this steampunk adventure, an airship cabin boy and an adventurous, rich young woman search for the mysterious creatures called cloud cats in the atmosphere high above Earth. (Airborn #1.) Grades 6-10.

Alanna by Tamora Pierce Alanna of Trebond trades places with her twin brother so that she can train to become a knight. Her path is filled with adventure, sorcery, and the beginning of self-knowledge. (Song of the Lioness #1.) Grades 5-8.

Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman Her father is disappointed when Meggy, who is lame and not a boy, comes to live with him in Elizabethan London. But her life is transformed as she learns about his work in alchemy and fights to keep him from committing a murder. Grades 5-8.


American Born Chinese by Gene Yang

The stories of three characters—the Monkey King from Chinese mythology, a Chinese American boy, and a boy whose cousin is an exaggerated   Chinese stereotype—suddenly connect in a coming-of-age graphic novel. Grades 7 and up.

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden This groundbreaking novel was first published in 1982. It is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship deepens into love. The unfolding of their relationship has profound effects on themselves and the people around them. Grades 9 and up.

Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch When the rest of her immigrant family return to Ireland, Rose must fend for herself and her younger sister in New York City. Her struggle to survive reaches a climax with the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. Grades 6-9.



Beware, Princess Elizabeth by Carolyn Meyer Young Elizabeth Tudor suffers betrayal, imprisonment, and much more between the death of her father, Henry VIII, and her coronation as Queen of England. (Young Royals #2.) Grades 5-8.

Blank Confession by Pete Hautman This story begins simply when Shayne Blank walks into a police station and confesses to murder. But flashbacks and alternative narratives quickly turn the story into a thrilling and not-so-simple whodunit. Grades 8 and up.

  Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale In this retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s “Maid of Maleen,” a maid shares her lady’s years of imprisonment in a tower and finally helps her escape to the lands of the man she is secretly betrothed to. Grades 5-9.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Bruno, nine-year-old son of an ambitious Nazi officer, uncomprehendingly sees the prison camp Auschwitz from the safe side of the tall fence around the   camp—until he finds a hole in the fence and crawls through to the other side. Grades 9 and up.

  The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd It’s 2015, and climate change has led to such environmental disaster that England has imposed severe carbon rationing. Laura Brown chronicles the punishing effects on her family and friends in this eco-thriller diary. Grades 8 and up.



The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer The much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes flees to London in disguise to look for their missing mother—and becomes involved in the kidnapping of a young aristocrat. (Enola Holmes Mystery #1.) Grades 4-8.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Jonah sets out to write a book about the atom bomb but ends up learning more than he wants to know about a new ice that will destroy the world. This classic novel is a gloomy but very funny vision of the future. High School (Scholastic).

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, teenage slave Isabel is sold to a cruel Loyalist couple. She tries to win her freedom by spying for the Patriot army—and soon learns that it’s hard to know whom to trust. Grades 6-10.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier In this classic story of a nonconforming teen confronting the system, ninth grader Jerry Renault refuses to participate in his school’s annual chocolate sale—and pays a cruel price. (Has sequel.) Grades 8 and up.

  Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman In 1941 India, Vidya’s father is brain damaged during a nonviolent demonstration for independence. She and her family move into the traditional household of her grandfather, and she has to struggle for her own independence. Grades 7-9.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon Christopher Boone discovers his neighbor’s dog stabbed to death with a garden tool. Despite his fears, the autistic, mathematically gifted teen   decides to investigate. This is a classic murder mystery—and much more. Adult/High School.

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock Jock D. J. spends the summer doing all the chores on her family’s farm, in addition to helping train the attractive quarterback of the rival football team. Then she decides she wants to try out for the sport herself. (Dairy Queen trilogy #1.) Grades 7 and up.

The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding Orphan “Cat” Royal knows that a valuable diamond is hidden in the theater where she lives. In this eighteenth-century thriller, she and her friends must find the diamond before others do. (Cat Royal Adventure #1.) Grades 6-8.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart Frankie—over summer having turned into a beautiful, curvy fifteen-year-old— becomes the girlfriend of a popular senior. Offended by his all-male secret society known for its pranks, she schemes to pull some pranks of her own. Grades 7 and up.

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah Sixteen-year-old Australian Amal decides to start wearing the hijab full-time as a mark of her Muslim faith, and she must deal with the consequences—both funny and more serious. Grades 7 and up.



Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card Ender, a boy genetically engineered to be a military leader, struggles with his human feelings as he is groomed to save Earth in the long war against alien forces. (Ender #1.) Grades 7 and up.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan Esperanza’s father is killed, and the teen and her mother must leave their luxurious life in Mexico for the hard life of Depression-era farm labor camps in California. Grades 6-9.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly A young girl figures out how to deal with six brothers, explores the world around her with her naturalist grandfather, and learns what it means to be a girl in 1899 Texas. Grades 5-8.

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine In a land where beauty is prized, Aza is homely—but has a beautiful and magical voice. Her gift brings her to the attention of a handsome prince and a wicked queen. Grades 6 and up.

The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal Princess Nalia learns that she is a stand-in for the real princess, who has been in hiding for many years. Nalia, now called Sinda, lives as a peasant until she discovers her magic and another deception that will change the kingdom. Grades 7 and up.



The Fault in Our Stars by John Green Hazel and Gus, who meet in a teen support group, both have cancer, Hazel’s being terminal. When Gus uses his one-wish-for-a-sick-child to take Hazel to Amsterdam, they learn unforgettable lessons about life and love near death. Grades 9 and up.

  Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Lumatere’s royal family has been murdered, an imposter made king, and the land cursed. Young Finnikin, exiled for a decade, meets the mysterious girl Evanjalin with her prophetic dreams, and they begin a quest to free their land. Grades 8 and up.

  The First Part Last by Angela Johnson On his birthday, Bobby, a carefree New York City teenager, learns that his beloved girlfriend is pregnant. The social worker says they should give the baby up for adoption. What can Bobby do? (Has companion novel.) Grades 8 and up.

  Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

A light-skinned African American girl dreams of being a pilot like her father. When the United States enters World War II, she pretends to be white in   order to become a member of WASP—the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots. Grades 6-10.


The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler A jewel is stolen at the Tokaido Inn, and young Seikei risks his life to speak out for a girl accused of the crime. His bravery leads famous Judge Ooka to hire him to help solve the mysterious crime. (Samurai Mystery #1.) Grades 6-8.



The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman Lyra loves her free-spirited life in a fantasy version of Oxford, England. But everything changes when her friend Roger disappears and she sets out on a dangerous magical journey to find him. (Dark Materials #1.) Grades 7 and up.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman Bod (for “Nobody”) is adopted by graveyard spirits when the rest of his family is murdered. As this normal boy grows up surrounded by his spirit family, the murderer continues to hunt him. Grades 5-8.

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman A lonely teenage girl gets a job in a library with a special collection of rare objects from the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales. When the objects start to go missing, she must lead the dangerous rescue effort. Grades 6-9.

Heist Society by Ally Carter Katarina Bishop has conned her way into an exclusive boarding school. But she is framed and expelled—so that she can head a team of teenage art thieves hoping to steal back a stolen painting and save her father’s life. Grades 6-10.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik In this adventure set during the Napoleonic Wars, ship captain Will Laurence is suddenly forced into the dragon aerial corps—and with his young dragon Temeraire becomes a new kind of hero. (Temeraire #1.) Upper Grade (Accelerated Reader).



The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams Just before Earth is demolished to make way for a cosmic freeway, Arthur Dent is whisked into space by his friend Ford Prefect, and they set off on a rollicking and hilarious adventure through the galaxy. High School (Scholastic).

  I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith Cassandra, who lives in a ramshackle English castle, wants to be a writer. Her witty and thoughtful journal entries cover her eccentric family, the new American family in the neighborhood, and her first romance. Grades 6-8 (Scholastic).

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan Four teenagers vow an oath of secrecy after they cause a hit-and-run death. A year later, someone seems to know their secret—and is out for revenge. Upper Grade (Accelerated Reader).

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher Finn is trapped inside Incarceron, a futuristic prison that actually thinks and acts; Claudia, daughter of the prison warden, is about to be trapped in an arranged marriage. Can they help each other escape? (Incarceron #1.) Grades 7 and up.

The Indigo Notebook by Laura Resau

The latest home for Zeeta and her mother is a mountain village in Ecuador. There, Zeeta meets an American boy searching for his birth parents. She helps him in what becomes a mysterious and dangerous adventure. (Has sequel.) Grades 6-9.



The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick In this “novel in words and pictures,” a Paris orphan dreams of activating a human-looking mechanical figure found by his dead father. The story deepens when the boy meets a mysterious toymaker also connected to the automaton. Grades 3-6.


The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes Esti, beginning a theater program in the West Indies, becomes obsessed with a mysterious male presence whose voice comes only to her as she rehearses for Romeo and Juliet. In a dramatic finale, she faces some shocking truths. Grades 8 and up.

  The Last Girls of Pompeii by Kathryn Lasky It’s Pompeii in 79 A.D. Two girls—one, a wealthy girl with a deformity; the other, her beautiful slave—find their lives utterly changed when Mount Vesuvius erupts. Grades 6-8.

Legend by Marie Lu Fifteen-year-old June is being groomed for a brilliant military career in her dystopian society. Day, a slum teen, is the society’s most-wanted criminal. The two are pitted against each other in a deadly conflict. Grades 8 and up.

  London Calling by Edward Bloor In Martin’s recurring dreams, a boy from World War II London asks for his help. Martin travels back in time to the London Blitz—and learns some truths about his family and about how he wants to live his own life. Grades 6-9.



The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd Ted watches his cousin Salim board the London Eye (the largest observation wheel in the world), but Salim never comes off. Ted, who has something like Asperger’s syndrome, and his sister race against time as they search for Salim. Grades 5-8.


A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park In alternating passages, we hear the story of Nya, the water carrier for her Sudanese family, and of Salva, who flees his war-torn Sudanese village as a   boy and returns as an adult to help the people left behind. Grades 5-8.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork Marcelo accepts that he has a high-functioning form of autism, but his father does not accept it. Marcelo must take a normal summer job in the mailroom of his father’s law firm, where the teen uncovers an injustice that changes his world. Grades 8 and up.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (from an idea by Siobhan Dowd) Conor’s mother has cancer, and he is visited by monsters in terrible nightmares. But then a monster actually appears, offering three stories and demanding from Conor a fourth story—one that will tell the painful truth. Grades 7 and up.

  My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger Musical theater, baseball, social activism, friendship, and love come together in this warm and witty story—told in e-mails, diary entries, IMs, and more—about three teens doing a school report on their “most excellent year.” Grades 8-11.



The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart Four gifted children are accepted into the society. What is their mission? To infiltrate a school where children are being trained by a criminal mastermind to take over the world. Can they stop the plot in time? (Mysterious Benedict Society #1.) Grades 5-9.

Newsgirl by Liza Ketchum To make a new life, Amelia’s mother and a woman friend move the trio to 1851 San Francisco. Amelia learns to sell newspapers in the mainly male city and finds out about the Gold Rush firsthand when she crashes in a hot-air balloon. Grades 5-8.


Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner In this mix of myth and history, young Helen of Sparta (who later becomes Helen of Troy) wants to be more than just a princess. She trains as a warrior, hunts a great boar with a legendary woman warrior, and visits the Oracle at Delphi. (Has sequel.) Grades 6-9.

Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard Accidental drowning? Alex, a junior at a boys’ boarding school, knows there’s more to the story of his friend’s death. But he is caught in a web of lies and   finally must choose between his own future and that of a young teacher.   Grades 9 and up.

  Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King In this edgy, smart novel, Vera has been betrayed by Charlie, her best friend since childhood. When her troubled friend dies in incriminating circumstances, she has to decide whether to step forward to clear his name. Grades 9 and up.



Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks

Sent to a Canadian tuberculosis sanatorium during World War II, prickly, stubborn teenager Marie-Claire and her little brother and sister wage their separate wars against their dreadful disease in this portrait of a long-forgotten world. Grades 7-10.

  The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner During the French Revolution, a gypsy boy with a traveling magic show and the daughter of a cruel marquis meet and find their lives intertwined against a backdrop of mystery, murder, and devilish intrigues. (Has sequel.) Grades 7-10.

The Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

When Moxie goes off to boarding school on a music scholarship, she decides to reinvent herself with a personality to match her unusual name. But what personality will she choose? She tries various ones, with funny and more-serious results. Grades 5-8.

Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney Tom Ward is apprenticed to the Spook, who must keep the local villages safe from supernatural beings. Tom is not sure he’s cut out for this work, especially after he makes a big mistake and frees a horrifying witch. (The Last Apprentice #1.) Grades 5-8.


The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil In this witty puzzle mystery, three students from a Manhattan girls’ school race villainous types to find a valuable ring and return it to its owner. At the same time, they cope with family, friends, and boy issues. (Red Blazer Girls #1.) Grades 5-8.



The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman A young woman newly orphaned in Victorian England defies convention as she tries to uncover the truth about her father’s death, learn the meaning of the words “the Seven Blessings,” and locate a ruby that was left to her. (Sally Lockhart #1.) Grades 7 and up.

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sabriel must enter the Old Kingdom to find her missing father, the Abhorsen, who guards the Living Dead. With her companions, a cat and a young mage, she journeys toward a battle with the forces of life and death. (Abhorsen #1.) Grades 7 and up.

Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay

Part of the hilariously nutty Casson family, Saffy feels alone when she learns that she is an adopted cousin. But in her searches for a stone angel left her by their grandfather, she relearns to appreciate her family. (Casson Family #1.)   Grades 4-6.


Scat by Carl Hiaasen In this environmental thriller filled with oddball characters, Nick and Marta search the Florida swamps as they puzzle out the disappearance of an unpopular   biology teacher. Meanwhile, Nick deals with his dad’s injury from the Iraq war.   Grades 5-8.


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater Every November, when the man-eating water horses rise from the sea, competitors try to ride them in the deadly Scorpio Races. The girl Puck Connelly never meant to enter the races, but fate has given her no choice. Grades 8 and up.  



The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu Charlotte and her popular English cousin find themselves at the center of a plot involving Greek mythology, strangely sick children, and a powerful god trying to take over the underworld. (The Chronus Chronicles #1.) Grades 7-9.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi In a dystopian world, Nailer survives by scavenging metal from wrecked ships. After a hurricane, he finds a beached clipper ship. He could strip the ship to   make his fortune—or rescue the only survivor, a beautiful and rich young girl.   Grades 7 and up.

  Shug by Jenny Han

Middle schooler “Shug” faces some painful truths—about her childhood crush’s rejection, her mom’s alcoholism, a fight with her best friend, and the perceptiveness of a bad boy she tutors—as she prepares to enter adolescence. Grades 5-8.


Sisters of the Sword by Maya Snow When their uncle murders their father, two aristocratic sisters trained in the martial arts flee in disguise, find a place as servants in a samurai school, and dedicate themselves to restoring their family honor. (Sisters of the Sword #1.) Grades 5-8.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson Melinda starts high school as the outcast who called the police to break up a big end-of-summer party. She withdraws into silence until she can face the fact that she was raped at the party—by a boy who threatens her again. Grades 8 and up.



Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson Scarlett inherits a suite in her zany family’s old Manhattan hotel—and the care of the occupant. Her adventures include assisting this aging actress, supporting her brother’s theater group, and starting an ill-starred romance. Grades 8 and up.

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene When a World War II prisoner-of-war camp is set up in Patty’s Arkansas hometown, the lonely Jewish girl befriends a young German in the camp. She helps him escape and must face the consequences. Grades 6-8 (Scholastic).

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner Gen is a gifted young thief who has been sentenced to life in prison. But he can gain his freedom if he joins a quest by the king’s mage to steal a legendary stone from a mysterious temple. Grades 6 and up.

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke Two orphan boys flee to Venice, where they join a gang of street children protected by a mysterious boy called the Thief Lord. A kind-hearted detective and a magical carousel change the lives of all the children. Grades 6-8.

Troy by Adele Geras The siege of Troy is described by several characters—mainly by two girls serving in the royal court. But gods and goddesses also play their parts, especially Aphrodite, who interferes in the girls’ lives with awful consequences. Grades 8 and up.



The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly In 1461, a Polish boy makes uses of an old legend—about an earlier boy and his trumpet in wartime—to keep an ancient oath taken by his family and to save his father’s life. Grades 6-8 (Scholastic).

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld In Uglyville, everyone gets surgery at age sixteen to make them beautiful. When Tally’s friend flees to avoid the surgery, Tally has a terrible choice—to find and betray her friend or to stay ugly forever. (Uglies #1.) Grades 6 and up.

The Wager by Donna Jo Napoli In 1169, an earthquake and tsunami hit Italy, and Don Giovanni, an arrogant young nobleman, loses everything. In despair, he makes a painful wager with the Devil. It is not clear who will win—or at what cost. Grades 9 and up.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin Rich and eccentric Samuel Westing leaves a will requiring his possible heirs to solve a puzzle. A girl named Turtle and fifteen others endure blizzards, bombs, disguises, and word games as they compete for the inheritance. Grades 6-8 (Scholastic).


When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead Miranda is comfortable with her life. But suddenly everything changes: Her friend Sal rejects her, and she begins receiving mysterious letters predicting the future and suggesting that only she can prevent a death. Grades 5-8.


Recommended Pleasure Reading List 2012  

Pubished by Castilleja School Library, this list provides recommended books for grades 6 through 10.