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Nonfiction, Including Autobiography & Biography

Excel Academy Charter School

2012 Rising 6th Grade Recommended Summer Reading List1

Reading Level Guide:

not too challenging challenging very challenging

Nonfiction, Including Autobiography & Biography:

Pele (A DK Biography)

by James Buckley

This amply illustrated title in the DK Biographies series introduces Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known to the world as soccer legend Pelé. The chapters stretch from Pelé’s Brazilian youth, when he honed his soccer skills with homemade balls, through his astonishing career and his current retirement. 

My Life with Chimpanzees

by Jane Goodall

So enthusiastically does Goodall relate the first 28 years of her life in the jungles of Tanzania that her odyssey appears to have just begun. . . . Stories of the chimps dominate the bookthey threaten to steal the show in many instances; readers will love meeting these personable animals.

Sweet! The Delicious Story of Candy

by Ann Love

Sweet! The Delicious Story of Candy

 takes us through history from 4,000 B.C., when islanders in Papua New Guinea cut sugarcane for its sap, and 2,600 B.C., when the first-known beekeepers produced honey to embalm the dead, to 500 A.D., when the Chinese made pear and plum syrups from unripe fruit, and all the way through to the world’s first chocoholics and modern-day candy factories.

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot

by Sy Montgomery

On remote Codfish Island off the southern coast of New Zealand live the last ninety-one kakapo parrots on earth. These trusting, flightless, and beautiful birds—the largest and most unusual parrots on earth—have suffered devastating population loss. Now, on an island refuge with the last of the species, New Zealand’s National Kakapo Recovery Team is working to restore the kakapo population. With the help of fourteen humans who share a single hut and a passion for saving these odd ground-dwelling birds, the kakapo are making a comeback in New Zealand.

Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting by

Jim Murphy

On July 29th 1914, the world’s peace was shattered as the artillery of the Austria-Hungary Empire began shelling the troops of the country to its south. Soon most of Europe was fighting in this calamitous war that could have been avoided. This was, of course, the First World War. But who could have guessed that on December 25, the troops would openly defy their commanding officers by stopping the fighting and having a spontaneous celebration of Christmas with their “enemies”?

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of the Shackleton Expedition

by Jennifer Armstrong

In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 men sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross Antarctica from one side to the other. Five months later and still 100 miles from land, their ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World vividly re-creates one of the most extraordinary adventure stories in history.


by Roald Dahl

Where did Roald Dahl [author of James and the Giant Peach, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and many other popular stories] get all of his wonderful ideas for stories? From his own life, of course! As full of excitement and the unexpected as his world-famous, bestselling books, Roald Dahl?s tales of his own childhood are completely fascinating and fiendishly funny.

Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini

by Sid Fleishman

Fleischman looks at Houdini’s life through his own eyes, as a fellow magician. Guarding the secrets, yet entertaining readers, he tells the rags-to-rags story of a poor Jewish boy named Ehrich Weiss, who longed to be like his idol, French magician Robert-Houdin. Not satisfied to perform the usual magicians’ fare, he began perfecting tricks involving illusion, particularly escaping from restraints such as trunks, handcuffs, and straightjackets.

Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary

by Walter Dean Myers

Profiles the late African American leader, providing a startling picture of the life of the controversial and important historical figure. Malcolm X’s pivotal impact on the civil rights movement of the ‘60s was the result of his distinctive, dramatic approach.


Pals in Peril

(series) by M. T. Anderson

In Whales on Stilts, a madman has unleashed an army of stilt-walking, laser-beaming, thoroughly angry whales upon the world! Luckily, Jasper Dash and his friends Katie Mulligan and Lily Gefelty are around to save the day.

Shredderman: Secret Identity

(series) by Van Draanen

Fifth-grader Nolan Byrd has suffered at the hands of school bully Bubba Bixby for too long. Inspired by a class project, Nolan (a.k.a “Byrd-the-Nerd”) creates a “cyber-superhero” alter ego called Shredderman, and sets out to avenge himself and his fellow Bubba-sufferers.

Jack Henry Adventures

(series) by Jack Gantos

. . . . narrator, Jack, travels through the often poignant moments that highlight his sixth grade year, at the same time describing his unpredictable family life: “Since I was born, we had already lived in nine different houses. I hated that word ‘renter.’ It made me feel that I didn’t really belong anywhere, like we had to pay people to put up with us,” he says. Stuck between an older sister he emulates and a pesky if appealing younger brother, Jack always strives to do the right thing – often to land in trouble.

Realistic Fiction, Action, & Adventure:

The View from Saturday

by E. L. Koningsburg

This is a tale about a team, a class, a school, a series of contests and, set in the midst of this, four jewel-like short stories – one for each of the team members – that ask questions and demonstrate surprising answers.


by Cynthia Lord

Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She’s spent years trying to teach David the rules from “a peach is not a funny-looking apple” to “keep your pants on in public”– in order to head off David’s embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new sort-of friend, and Kristi, the next-door friend she’s always wished for, it’s her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?

Bad Girls

(series) by Cynthia Voight

Best friends Margalo and Mikey, two girls from the other side of the tracks, begin fifth grade with chips on their shoulders and seek to prove to everyone that they fear nothing, trust nobody, and can be tough even if they are not boys.

Chasing Redbird

by Sharon Creech

Always the quiet (and often forgotten) middle child in a bustling family, Zinnia’s life begins to change when she stumbles upon a hidden, overgrown pathway that stretches from the edge of her family’s farm into the great unknown. Determined to find where the path leads, Zinnia begins the daunting task of uncovering brambles and weeds along every inch of its length.

The Falconer’s Malteser

(the Diamond Brothers mysteries series) by Anthony Horowitz

 Nick Simple’s life is anything but simple. His parents have moved to Australia, leaving him in the care of his incompetent older brother who is trying to make a living as a private detective and changes the family name. They are visited by a dwarf who leaves a package with them for safekeeping and later turns up dead. Set in England and filled with a variety of colorful characters, the plot reads like a 1940s detective movie.

Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam

by Cynthia Kadohota

A German shepherd trained to sniff out bombs, traps, and the enemy. The fate of entire [army] platoons rests on her keen sense of smell. She’s a Big Deal, and she likes it that way. Sometimes Cracker remembers when she was younger, and her previous owner would feed her hot dogs and let her sleep in his bed. That was nice, too. When Cracker is paired with Rick, she isn’t so sure about this new owner. He’s going to have to prove himself to her before she’s going to prove herself to him. They need to be friends before they can be a team, and they have to be a team if they want to get home alive.

Travel Team

by Mike Lupica (and any others by him)

Twelve-year-old Danny Walker may be the smallest kid on the basketball court -- but don’t tell him that. Because no one plays with more heart or court sense. But none of that matters when he is cut from his local travel team, the very same team his father led to national prominence as a boy. Danny’s father, still smarting from his own troubles, knows Danny isn’t the only kid who was cut for the wrong reason, and together, this washed-up former player and a bunch of never-say-die kids prove that the heart simply cannot be measured.

The Higher Power of Lucky

by Susan Patron

Ten-year-old Lucky is sure that if she finds her Higher Power she will gain special insight into her life, just like the people she eavesdrops on at the Anonymous meetings. Lucky knows about the uncertainty of life because she lost her mother in a sudden accident two years ago and her guardian, Brigitte, is homesick for France. Hard Pan, California, population 43, is a unique and sometimes harsh place, but Lucky loves life at the edge of the desert with people that she knows and loves. The youngster wants to be a scientist and has so many questions in the crevices of her brain. Her motto is to stay alert and to carry a survival kit at all times because things happen when you least expect them. When she thinks that Brigitte plans to leave, Lucky knows she has hit rock bottom and must run away, although things don’t turn out the way she plans.


(series) by Gary Paulsen


This Newbery Honor book is a dramatic, heart-stopping story of a boy who, following a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness, must learn to survive with only a hatchet and his own wits.

Becoming Naomi Leon

(series) by Pam Munoz Ryan

Half-Mexican Naomi Soledad, 11, and her younger disabled brother, Owen, have been brought up by their tough, loving great-grandmother in a California trailer park, and they feel at home in the multiracial community. Then their alcoholic mom reappears after seven years with her slimy boyfriend, hoping to take Naomi (not Owen) back and collect the welfare check. Determined not to let that happen, Gram drives the trailer across the border to a barrio in Oaxaca to search for the children’s dad at the city’s annual Christmas arts festival. Ryan, the author of the award-winning Esperanza Rising (2000), makes Naomi’s search for her dad a search for identity, and both are exciting.


by Jerry Spinelli

2014-07-19 18:44
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