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Science Fiction for Sixth Graders

Science Fiction Fans

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1craso
Dec 16, 2007, 11:51pm Top

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.

2readafew
Dec 17, 2007, 8:56am Top

Asimov? The Foundation and Robot books.

Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L'Engle

3andyl
Dec 17, 2007, 11:18am Top

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.

4CliffBurns
Dec 17, 2007, 11:31am Top

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...

5andyl
Dec 17, 2007, 11:56am Top

#4

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.

6rdaneel First Message
Edited: Dec 17, 2007, 12:25pm Top

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.

7avaland
Dec 17, 2007, 12:50pm Top

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.

8avaland
Dec 17, 2007, 12:53pm Top

Added note: the DuPrau books would work well for the 6th grades who are less proficient readers, I think.

9iansales
Dec 17, 2007, 1:12pm Top

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.

10Unreachableshelf
Dec 17, 2007, 1:18pm Top

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.

11iansales
Dec 17, 2007, 2:05pm Top

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?

12greendragongirl
Dec 17, 2007, 5:34pm Top

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.

13craso
Dec 17, 2007, 9:54pm Top

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!

14SunnySD
Edited: Dec 18, 2007, 12:56pm Top

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.

15CliffBurns
Dec 18, 2007, 1:29pm Top

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...

16Unreachableshelf
Dec 18, 2007, 1:36pm Top

>11 iansales:

In the case of Fahrenheit 451: yes.

17iansales
Dec 18, 2007, 1:42pm Top

According to Bradbury himself, Fahrenheit 451 isn't about censorship...

Cydonia by Ken MacLeod is a good, modern sf YA novel. It's part of a series by different authors, The Web.

18avaland
Dec 18, 2007, 9:59pm Top

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...

19iansales
Dec 19, 2007, 6:47am Top

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.

20DavidBoultbee
Edited: Dec 19, 2007, 1:10pm Top

I just re-read Rocket Ship Galileo by Heinlein.

Here is a Wikipedia entry about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_Ship_Galileo

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.

21rgurskey
Dec 19, 2007, 2:06pm Top

Try Islands in the Sky by Arthur C. Clarke. It's about winning a trip on a TV game show (very real world there) to an orbiting space station (international space station is coming along).

22drmamm
Edited: Dec 19, 2007, 2:54pm Top

The Tripod Trilogy by John Christopher (The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and I forget the 3rd one - it's been 25 years!) They were easy to read, but didn't "talk down" to the young reader.

23Trai
Edited: Jan 26, 2008, 7:58pm Top

Colors of Space by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Empire Star by Samuel Delany
Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold (may be too mature for some)
1984 by Orwell (same as above)
Expendable by James Allen Gardner

24HoldenCarver
Jan 26, 2008, 8:10pm Top

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.

25CliffBurns
Jan 27, 2008, 10:33am Top

My sons, who fall roughly within that age group, are enjoying an anthology of young adult SF short stories called TOMORROWLAND:

http://www.amazon.com/Tomorrowland-Ten-Stories-About-Future/dp/0590376799/ref=sr...

26usnmm2
Jan 29, 2008, 1:23am Top

22: drmamm

The third one was The Pool of Fire and they are all good read for junior high school age group.

27DeusExLibris
Jan 29, 2008, 1:33am Top

I would advise against Ender's Game, and 1984. I read both of these in highschool and again in college. 1984 scared the shit out of me, and I'm not sure a sixth grader would really understand the book. I remember reading Martian Chronicles in middle school and being bored out of my mind.

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