Science Fiction for Sixth Graders
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I have a friend who teaches sixth grade math and science. He needs a reading list of sixth grade level science fiction. The books need to have real world applications. They should be science fiction and not fantasy. I would appreciate any help you can offer. Here are some of my suggestions: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Red Planet by Robert Heinlein, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. I thought Ender's Game would work because of the use of video games and the internet. Books about Mars would lead to research into the possiblility of colonization. Thank you for your help.
Asimov? The Foundation and Robot books.
Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L'Engle
Some Hal Clement. His work is particularly suited as it is hard SF - Mission Of Gravity is his best known work.
Fountains Of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke is also a top story (I've just read it) and as it is about the construction of a space elevator probably good for getting kids thinking about engineering.
More recently, Philip Reeve's MORTAL ENGINES was a terrific YA book. It's about a far future where cities on treads hunt each other, trying to devour one another for resources. Nancy Farmer has also written some interesting near future Young Adult SF, including THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION and THE EAR, THE EYE AND THE ARM and let me also cite M.T. Anderson's FEED and the works of Scott Westerfeld as possibilities...
They might be great books but do they have some "real world application" as the OP asked for? I haven't read them so can't comment.
I suggest Have Spacesuit, will Travel by Robert Heinlein. It's about a boy who gets a spacesuit and then has all kinds of adventures. He talks about the spacesuit itself quite a bit, including how getting rid of heat is the real problem in space, not conserving it. That kind of thing would set off some thinking and discussion, I imagine.
City of Ember and its sequel People of the Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau would fall in the 4th - 6th grade level. It's a fabulous post-apocalyptic story. The second book in particular opens up discussion on immigration, the sharing of resources, working together...etc.
Ender's Game is usually recommended for slightly older grades (8th and 9th) probably because of the violence.
I assume he wants a reading list of books which are still in print, thus one would want to check Mission of Gravity to see if anyone has reprinted it.
Cliff's suggestions are pretty good for the better readers of 6th graders. Feed may not be appropriate for a 6th grade list because of the language (I'd have to look at it again, though). The Westerfeld trilogy Uglies, Pretties, and Specials is okay. Theme there is mostly about our obsession with beauty and being yourself.
Gwyneth Jones writing as Ann Halam has three SF YA titles out, but I've only read Siberia which is essentially one long chase scene but the SF idea in the book in environmental. She is a writer of the quality of Nancy Farmer, imo.
Perhaps Gary Paulsen's Transall Saga? Stephen Gould's Jumper was reissued under Tor's Starscape (YA) imprint.
Added note: the DuPrau books would work well for the 6th grades who are less proficient readers, I think.
I've read pretty much all of the Ann Halam books. My favourites would be The N.I.M.R.O.D. Conspiracy and the Inland trilogy of Daymaker, Transformations and Skybreaker. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say the Inland trilogy is comparable with, if not better, than Le Guin's Earthsea books. Oh, and it is sf, not fantasy - it's set in a post-apocalyptic society in which technology has been banned.
I don't remember any science fiction in school from sixth grade, but Fahrenheit 451 and Flowers for Algernon were two that we read at the beginning of seventh grade. That shouldn't be too far off from the end of sixth, right? Fahrenheit 451 definitely has real world application, though if you're talking about *scientific* real world application, maybe not so much. Flowers for Algernon... well, I guess it depends where you want to dig and what you want to get into.
Of course, sixth grade level has a lot to do with what sixth graders we're talking about. I'm going by memories of the beginning of honors seventh grade English, which should be close to the end of honors level sixth graders, but could be a bit farther off for lower level students.
Is there going to be much relevant real world application in books written between 60 and 120 years ago? Surely something more contemporary would be better?
A Wrinkle In Time by L'Engle. I read this in 5th to 6th grade the first time. It is a great primer on relativity and the possibility of time travel.
Thank you so much for your responses. I will pass along all the suggestions to my friend.
I haven't read much of the new young adult books so I appreciate the input. Heinlein, Bradbury and L'Engle had come to mind as authors from my youth.
Please let me know if anyone can think of more authors. I love being a part of this talk group. You guys are great!
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster has math and language tie-ins, and might be worth taking a look at.
**Hmmm -- touchstones don't seem to be working at present... Sigh.
One last title comes to mind, Garry Kilworth's THE ELECTRIC KID. I read it to my sons a few years ago and just lately they reread it and professed to like it very much. It's kind of a Young Adult cyberpunk novel set in 2061, quite dark, and I think relevant to kids trying to grasp the implications of the digital age.
On a different thread I listed Garry Kilworth as one of those authors whose work, sadly, is too much neglected. The guy is inventive and literate, with a unique vision. I urge everyone to search out more of his writing, you'll be well-rewarded for the efforts you expend...
The old stuff is great but remember, times have changed: girls get to have adventures and save the world now, too.
iansales, I think less of Ann Halam's novels are available in the US. Last time I checked the ones I could easily get were Siberia, Taylor Five, and Dr. Franklin's Island. I may have go browsing for others now...
Are UK published books available on Amazon.com? Because Amazon.co.uk sells books published only in the US.
That Web series I mentioned - here's some more info on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Web_(Series) There are some top sf authors involved.
There's also another UK YA sf series: Dreamtime. See here - http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/series/dreamtime/ Again, some top notch authors.
I just re-read Rocket Ship Galileo by Heinlein.
Here is a Wikipedia entry about it.
It's a little dated, having been written in 1947, but it deals with three teenage boys and the way they use the the scientific method so it would have some good real life application.
The third Tripod book is The Pool of Fire.
Are short stories an option as well? Plenty of those perhaps distill down better for teaching purposes. The one I can think of off the top of my head is "The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin, though that might be a little bleak for the age range you're looking at.
My sons, who fall roughly within that age group, are enjoying an anthology of young adult SF short stories called TOMORROWLAND:
The third one was The Pool of Fire and they are all good read for junior high school age group.
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