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The Best Books For 6-Year-Olds of 2021


Many 6-year-olds are learning how to read, but it can be hard to figure out good books for them. It is also a great age to continue to read aloud to your child. Pulling from my experience as a mom and my mom and sisters’ experiences as teachers and librarians, I have compiled a list of wonderful options for your 6-year-old. There are read-aloud books and books for your child to read themselves.

Best to Read-Aloud:
Best for Growing Readers:
Best for Independent Reading:


Best Books for 6-Year-Olds: Read Aloud

While they are both classic books, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is much shorter than the chapter book Ramona the Pest. The Day the Crayons Quit and Scaredy Squirrel are both award-winning books that are part of a series, but The Day the Crayons Quit is slightly bigger.

The Book With No Pictures

The Book with No Pictures
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The Book with No Pictures is sure to be one of your child’s favorites after the first read-through!

As the title says, there are no pictures, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it will be boring. The book lets kids in on a secret: Grownups have to say the words the book says. No matter what.

B.J. Novak (of The Office) leads the hapless reader through all sorts of silly sentences and sound effects that they have to read because they are in the book. There’s even a song you must sing about eating ants for breakfast.

Grandma introduced my kids to this one, and I am not sure I have heard them giggle more, even after repeated readings (and there will be repeated readings). At least until she got them My Book with No Pictures and they got to fill in their own silly words for us to read.

Jabari Jumps

Jabari Jumps
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Jabari Jumps is a book my sister loves to read to her 5- and 6-year-old students.

This is the story of Jabari and his dad and sister at the community pool. Jabari is ready to jump off the diving board. Or at least he thinks he is, but he ends up needing some time and encouragement to take the plunge.

The illustrations are mixed media and add a lot of details to the story. For example, Jabari is shown realistically getting his head stuck in his shirt trying to change into his swimsuit on a opening page before the story begins.

While race is not mentioned or emphasized, many adults love the representation of an African American family doing something familiar to most kids: spending a day at the pool. The caregiver is also the dad, which is unusual in a kids’ book. He is empathetic and encouraging, praising Jabari’s effort and not just the outcome.

The Day the Crayons Quit

The Day the Crayons Quit
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The Day the Crayons Quit is a book many parents enjoy reading aloud multiple times.

The story is about a boy’s crayons quitting because of various grievances they have about being used too much, too little, or only for certain things. Red is tired of working holidays, Black wants to be used for more than outlines, and Pink feels stereotyped, for example.

Each page spread features a letter in child-like handwriting from one of the crayons and a child-like picture of that crayon’s typical use. The illustrations are cute and manage to convey a lot of emotion.

The boy has to figure out a way to use the crayons in a way that will make each of them happy while he draws.

My sister likes to read this one to her class as well, but some parents don’t like the emphasis on coloring in the lines or the way pink is called a “girl color.”

There are other books in the Crayons series, including The Day the Crayons Came Home and The Crayons’ Book of Numbers

Saving Sweetness

Saving Sweetness
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Saving Sweetness is a book my mom used in her lower elementary classroom and I have enjoyed reading to my kids as well.

This book’s narrator is a not-too-bright sheriff who is tasked with finding a runaway orphan named Sweetness. She’s running away from the mean lady who runs the orphanage and is clever enough to keep thwarting the sheriff.

Eventually, Sweetness helps to save the day, and the tale ends with a heartwarming adoption. Though the sheriff doesn’t quite understand Sweetness’s abilities, 6-year-olds will see that she is the hero of the book, not the sheriff.

The text is full of Wild West language like “fit to be tied” and “desperado,” which makes it fun to read in a bit of an accent. My mom and sisters and I still repeat one of the lines to each other out of the blue (“I commenced to feel thirsty.”) 

There is also a sequel: Raising Sweetness.

Scaredy Squirrel

Scaredy Squirrel
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My other sister, who works in the children’s section of a library, loves Scaredy Squirrel!

In an almost graphic novel format, this book introduces us to Scaredy Squirrel. He is scared of some things that make sense, like bees and poison ivy, but he’s also scared of martians and sharks, which kids will know he’s unlikely to encounter.

The book is full of humor and colorful illustrations that help get across the message that trying new things can turn out really well, even if you are scared.

This is the first book in a series. Some other titles 6-year-olds will identify with are Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend and Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party.

Arthur and the Baby

Arthur and the Baby: A Classic Arthur Adventure
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Arthur and the Baby: A Classic Arthur Adventure is a great introduction to the Arthur series. Though it isn’t the first book about Arthur and his family, I prefer it to Arthur’s Eyes, which has a much different illustration style on the interior.

Arthur and the Baby begins with Mom and Dad telling Arthur and little sister D.W. that they are going to have a new baby in a few months.

Arthur is nervous about the changes coming; his friends share all the negative aspects of babies (crying, diapers, etc). When Kate arrives, he’s still uncomfortable, but he learns to take care of her.

Other great Arthur books are Arthur’s Tooth (Arthur Adventures), Arthur Goes to Camp (Arthur Adventure Series), and Arthur’s Christmas: An Arthur Adventure (Arthur Adventures).

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
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Your child may be familiar with the movie version, but Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a classic children’s book.

In the book, a grandpa tells the story of the town of Chewandswallow, where they don’t get normal weather. Instead, food falls from the sky.

The ink illustrations cover an entire page with interesting details, like the billboards in town. Some illustrations are black and white, but Grandpa’s story comes to life in color pictures.

There are also two sequels: Pickles to Pittsburgh: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3: Planet of the Pies.

Ramona the Pest

Ramona the Pest (Ramona, 2)
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Ramona the Pest is actually the second book in the Ramona Quimby series, but it chronicles Ramona’s year in kindergarten, so it is great for 6-year-olds who are in kindergarten or first grade.

Five-year-old Ramona is super excited to start kindergarten, but it doesn’t always go as she expects. She’s never trying to be a pest, but it seems she often is one.

Though the book was published in the 1960s and many aspects are dated, I think Beverly Cleary captures kids’ thoughts and feelings so well. As you read it aloud, you can explain any old-fashioned references that confuse your kids.

My kids have really enjoyed the entire Ramona series. You can find them in one set: The Complete Ramona Collection. We have listened to the audio versions several times, too, and those are very well done by Stockard Channing.

Best Books for 6-Year-Olds: Growing Readers

National Geographic Readers comes with less books than The Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set and the Bob Books Set. Chronicles of Narnia is a classic, while National Geographic Readers and Bob Books are more educational.

Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set

The Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set
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The Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set is a wonderful series to read aloud to your children. It features adventurous, magical stories with Christian themes underlying them.

Currently, the box sets put the stories in a different order than C.S. Lewis wrote them. I would recommend starting with the first written, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, with your 6-year-old. From there, follow the original publication order.

The first book tells how four siblings stumble upon the magical world of Narnia, where a wicked queen has kept the land in perpetual winter for ages. The children have a role to play in restoring order for the land’s talking animals and other magical inhabitants.

Bob Books Set 

Bob Books Set 2-Advancing Beginners
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The Bob Books Set is a great option for 6-year-olds who are still getting started learning to read. The reading level is about C and D on the F&P scale with Lexile levels of 3-8, according to simplecheapmom.com.

This set has 12 books that use many three-letter words and consistent vowel sounds to help your child practice their skills. There are basic illustrations to go along with the silly stories your kids will enjoy as they learn.

We used different box sets of phonics readers for my kids, but many parents love the Bob series. One thing to be aware of is that Set 2 has some of the same books as Collection 1, so pay attention if you already have some Bob Books.

If your child needs a little bit easier level to start, try Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers. For more advanced readers, try Bob Books Set 3- Word Families, then Bob Books Set 4 – Complex Words.

Waiting Is Not Easy! 

Waiting Is Not Easy! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) (Elephant and Piggie Book, An)
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Waiting Is Not Easy! is part of a wonderful series for early readers. 

Elephant and Piggie books follow best friends Gerald and Piggie through a number of funny scenarios. The simple, background-less illustrations are well done and help convey the story. The text is only dialogue (with a few sound effects as well), so the pictures are key to following the action and characters’ emotions.

While this is a great read-aloud book, too, the simple yet engaging text will be great for kids learning to read as well. My kids have all really enjoyed all of Gerald and Piggie’s adventures.

In Waiting is Not Easy!, Piggie has a surprise for Gerald, but Gerald has to wait for it. This is very tough for our nervous elephant friend, but he discovers it was worth it in the end.

This book is very relatable for kids, who we know have a hard time waiting, too. Some of the other titles are not as applicable to kids’ lives, but they are all funny and heartfelt. My other favorites are Can I Play Too?, There is a Bird on Your Head!, and We Are in a Book!.

National Geographic Readers

National Geographic Readers Level 1 : Caterpillar to Butterfly, Ponies, Frogs, Koalas, Sea Otters, Polar Bears - 6 Book Set
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If your 6-year-old loves animals, try National Geographic Readers. This set has easy readers about butterflies, ponies, frogs, koalas, sea otters, and polar bears.

We didn’t have the whole set, but we have several of these types of National Geographic books. My son loved reading them as he was learning to read.

The books feature great National Geographic photos and some nice facts about each animal in easy-to-read text.

If you aren’t sure what level your child needs, try these collections that have some Level 1 and some Level 2 books: National Geographic Readers: Planet Earth Collection: Readers That Grow With You and National Geographic Readers: Predators Collection: Readers That Grow With You.

Best Books for 6-Year-Olds: Independent Reading

The Cat in the Hat is slightly shorter than Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, and they are both picture books. Magic Tree House Boxed Set and The Kingdom of Wrenly Collection are both sets with 4 books each, but The Kingdom of Wrenly Collection is significantly longer.

Magic Tree House Boxed Set

Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-4: Dinosaurs Before Dark, The Knight at Dawn, Mummies in the Morning, and Pirates Past Noon
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The Magic Tree House Boxed Set is a great start to the Magic Tree House series of early chapter books.

In Book 1, siblings Jack and Annie discover a magic tree house with the power to transport them in time and space. As the series goes, they complete a mission or task on each trip in the treehouse, learning about an animal, time in history, or historical figure.

This box set includes the first four books. In these, Jack and Annie are learning how the treehouse works while also studying dinosaurs, castles, mummies, and pirates close up.

The text is great for kids who are ready to tackle a true chapter book, and there are plenty of black and white pictures throughout.

My two older kids both really enjoyed reading Magic Tree House books (and still do, even though they can read more complex books). I liked that they were learning about a different topic in each book in an exciting way. Seeing the way the siblings care for each other is nice, too.

Once your kids love reading Jack and Annie’s adventures, there are lots more books in the series for them to continue reading. Check out Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 5-8 and Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 9-12 next.

The Magic Tree House Merlin Missions books are longer and more complex for readers a bit further along.

Ultimate Predator-Pedia

Ultimate Predatorpedia: The Most Complete Predator Reference Ever (National Geographic Kids)
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Ultimate Predatorpedia: The Most Complete Predator Reference Ever is a great book for animal lovers.

With great photos and a page of text for each predator covered, this is a great book to read aloud in short chunks (or even one animal at a time).

Predators are split into categories like mammals, birds, and reptiles. There are plenty of fun facts about each animal and how they catch their food. My son absolutely loves to look through this book and to have me read it aloud to him.

There are other books in this series by National Geographic Kids as well: National Geographic Kids Ultimate Dinopedia, Second Edition, Ultimate Bugopedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever (National Geographic Kids), Ultimate Reptileopedia: The Most Complete Reptile Reference Ever, and Ultimate Oceanpedia: The Most Complete Ocean Reference Ever (National Geographic Kids).

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat
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The Cat in the Hat is a classic book for kids learning to read. The word list in the book is limited to about 200 of the words that kids learn to read first.

Dr. Seuss’s genius was to use that small list of words to create a really fun and engaging story about a cat who comes to brighten up the day of two kids home alone. You probably remember this book from when you were a kid.

The Cat in the Hat brings some games to the house of Sally and her brother on a rainy day. The games make a mess as he attempts to balance many things and then lets Things 1 and 2 wreak havoc in the house.

It is a long book for a new reader to get through in one sitting, I’ve found, but the vocabulary is at a good level for many 6-year-olds.

It doesn’t sit too well with me for kids to let a stranger in the house while home alone and then imply that they will lie to their mother about it. But it provides a good opportunity to talk about how you want your child to handle a real-life situation and then you can enjoy the simple absurdity of the story.

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea 

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #1)
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Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea is more of a graphic novel than a traditional chapter book, but it is great for early readers, too.

Narwhal is a whacky narwhal who is friends with a more straightforward jellyfish named Jelly. This book features the friends in three stories about friends and books. There is also a page of facts about sea creatures.

There isn’t a lot of text in the book (mostly dialogue), but if you need to entice your 6-year-old to do some reading on their own, the pictures and format may work well.

My kids have read at least three of the books in this series, and they enjoy them. I think they are funny, too, and they have good messages about friendship.

The next books are Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt and Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Kingdom of Wrenly

The Kingdom of Wrenly Collection (Includes four magical adventures and a map!): The Lost Stone; The Scarlet Dragon; Sea Monster!; The Witch's Curse
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The Kingdom of Wrenly Collection kicks off another series on par with Magic Tree House.

It was my toddler who discovered this series at the library, but it quickly became my son’s favorite in first grade. There are 10 short chapters in each book and black and white illustrations on many pages, which I know my son loved.

The books follow the adventures of Prince Lucas and his commoner friend Clara in a land of castles, knights, magic, and dragons. In the first four books, they search for missing jewels, help hatch a dragon, and encounter a sea monster and a witch.

I like how brave Clara is and how Lucas doesn’t treat her like an inferior. While they do sometimes disobey their parents, I think the overall lessons mixed with the adventures are good.

Their adventures continue in The Kingdom of Wrenly Collection #2 and The Kingdom of Wrenly Collection #3.

The Best Books for 6-Year-Olds Compared

The table below compares only the recommended products on this page. A low or high Price means it is low or high compared to the other products listed. The Popularity Score reflects how often readers click on and buy the product. The Quality Score is our assessment of the overall performance and satisfaction with the product compared to others in the table.


How to Choose a Book for a 6-Year-Old

Books Everyone Will Enjoy

For read-aloud choices, choose titles that you and your 6-year-old will love. When your child might ask to hear a favorite picture book over and over, it’s important that you won’t get tired of it quickly.

Books 6-Year-Olds Can Read Themselves

For books for 6-year-old readers, I picked some at a variety of levels, from beginners to advanced readers. It can be so difficult to know what books are exactly right for your child, but I’ve tried to give options you can feel good about trying.

Chapter Books with Illustrations

At this age, most children still like to see illustrations in books, whether they are reading or you are. Many of the chapter books I’ve chosen have plenty of pictures.

Classic and Contemporary Books

I’ve included a mix of classic books you may remember reading and newer books that teachers, librarians, and parents recommend.

Good Themes and Messages

I’ve chosen books with positive, healthy messages you can feel good about your child consuming. This is a great time for kids to learn about equality, perseverance, bravery, friendship, and compassion.

FAQs – Books For 6-Year-Olds

What kinds of books should 6-year-olds read?

Most 6-year-olds are learning to read or growing their reading skills. I think they should be reading almost anything they are interested in reading! As long as the material isn’t too mature (sexual, gory, etc) or difficult, many kinds of books are great for this age.

Some kids will like adventurous books, some will like more realistic. Some will like nonfiction, some will prefer fiction. Of course, it is good to expose them to a variety of books, but I wouldn’t sweat it too much if they have a strong preference for a specific topic, series, or author at this time.

Should I read picture books or chapter books to my 6-year-old?

Both! Reading aloud is still important at this age. It helps to continue to build reading skills and the bond you have with your child.

Working through a longer book a chapter at a time before bedtime is a nice tradition to continue or start with your 6-year-old. But reading picture books is also still appropriate and helpful for your child.

Should I read Harry Potter to my child at age 6?

I love the Harry Potter series, but I think 6 is a little young for a kid to hear the books. There is some dark and scary stuff even from the start of the series, and it definitely gets heavier as you go through.

I think older children are also better able to separate the story’s magic from any real-life dark spirituality.

How do I know my 6-year-old’s reading level?

Asking your child’s teacher what level books your child is reading at school is a good place to start. But it can feel overwhelming to match up that info to books at home.

If you are given a Lexile number or range for your child’s level, you can find books at that Lexile score. If you go to the advanced search in the top right corner of that page, you can look up a specific book to get its Lexile score.

I have used this reading level correlation chart to compare Lexile numbers with F&P letter levels as well.

What are good gifts for a 6-year-old?

Books are wonderful gifts, but if you don’t know a child’s interest or reading level, there are plenty of other options. Check out our Best Gifts for 6 Year Old Girls and Best Gifts for 6 Year Old Boys.

Sources

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia, en.wikipedia.org
  2. Lexile & Quantile Hub, fab.lexile.com
  3. Learning A-Z Level Correlation Chart, www.readinga-z.com

Megan Ryan    

Megan Ryan is a stay-at-home mom to three kids in elementary school. She is also freelance editor who enjoys editing novels and Christian books. She still has a lot to learn about being a mom, but she's happy to share the lessons she's already learned.



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