The Latest and Greatest Middle School Reads
‘Summer Reading’ time may be over, but students will need books to read for school before you know it. Here are some recent titles that are perfect for those in-between middle school students who are moving on from the grade 4-6 books but not quite ready to plunge into the sometimes scary ‘young adult’ section. We’ll call them ‘YA-lite’—kids will just call them great reads.
The Thing about Jellyfish (Benjamin, Ali)
Seventh grade narrator Suzy Swanson must come to terms with the death of her best friend after a drowning accident. When Suzy becomes convinced that Franny actually died from a rare jellyfish sting, she sets out to prove it—even if it means traveling the globe for answers. This is an imaginative and multi-layered story that will touch readers.
Armada (Cline, Ernest)
This follow-up to Cline’s popular debut, Ready Player One, will not disappoint fans. Zach Lightman trades his boring videogame existence to save the planet from an alien invasion. Here, readers will find not a realistic sci-fi plot, but a pop-culture infused coming-of-age adventure story that will unleash their the inner geek. Read on.
Full Cicada Moon (Hilton, Marilyn)
This historical novel may take place in 1969, but it is chock full of everything that has been happening in children/teen literature in the last few years. Written in verse (fans of Brown Girl Dreaming take note!), the story focuses on half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, recently relocated to Vermont. She encounters bigotry and sexism as she prefers shop class to home economics, and dreams about becoming an astronaut. Give this to spirited girls everywhere.
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club (Hoose, Phillip)
Denmark didn’t resist German occupation at the beginning of WWII—this is the true story of a group of teenage political resistors who did. After many acts of sabotage, the boys were eventually imprisoned, but not before inspiring a true Danish resistance and becoming war heroes. Perfect for a non-fiction project.
The Heartbreakers (the Heartbreak Chronicles) (Novak, Ali)
Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara, even though leukemia has overshadowed their lives for too long. When her siblings take Cara to see her favorite boy band, it’s Stella who meets the lead singer in Starbucks, and embarks on a relationship that leads them all to heartbreak, adventure, and self-discovery. It’s never too late for a summer romance…
The Seventh Most Important Thing (Pearsall, Shelley)
After Arthur’s father dies, Arthur loses it when he sees the neighborhood “Junk Man” wearing his father’s hat. Arthur throws a brick at him, earning Arthur court-imposed community service with the very man he assaulted. Inspired by real life artist James Hampton’s life and work, the story follows Arthur as he helps the Junk Man complete his creative masterpiece (collecting the seven most important things along the way) and also learn some life lessons in this coming-of-age novel.
The Hired Girl (Schlitz, Laura Amy)
Fans of period detail will enjoy Newbery award-winner Schlitz’ story of a farm girl in 1911, as she records her hopes and dreams for the future in her diary. When she is hired as the help to a wealthy Jewish family in Baltimore, fourteen-year-old Joan learns lessons about hate, love, and what it means to grow up.
Goodbye Stranger (Stead, Rebecca)
Newbery-winner Stead is back with a story of middle-school friendship unlike any you’ve read. With a cast of characters all navigating the awkwardness of being new teens, Stead perfectly captures the perils of love, change, and decision. Give this to a realistic fiction fan.
Check out these other recent titles for middle-schoolers:
Alender, Katie – The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
Alifirenka, Caitlin & Martin Ganda – I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives
Caine, Rachel – Ink & Bone: The Great Library
Danticat, Edwidge – Untwine
Gaiman, Nei – The Sleeper and the Spindle
Holt, K.A. – House Arrest
Johnson, Hal – Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: 20 Chilling Tales from the Wilderness
Kinsella, Sophie – Finding Audrey
Martin, Darragh – The Keeper
Norris, Andrew – Friends for Life