Courtesy of Amazon: Top books for Middle Schoolers
1. Holes, by Louis Sachar--This book appeals to both boys and girls, and it's unusual in its circular plot. In the end, the subplot and the main plot collide in true Seinfeld form. The kids win over the adults, and the good guys over the bad. This book is particularly good for reluctant readers. They can't wait to get to the next page!
2. The Giver, by Lois Lowry--This book is on a higher level than Holes, so more advanced readers will have an easier time with it. It is set in the future in a society where everyone is assigned jobs at the Ceremony of Twelve. When Jonas is given a special job, he finds the stress unbearable. A dark book, but thought-provoking.
3. The Last Book in the Universe, by Rodman Philbrick--This book is another page turner for reluctant readers. The problem, though, is that it can be a little long for those who struggle with reading, and the plot and concepts are also complex. However, I never met a kid who didn't love this book. It can be understood on many different levels, so some take more from it than others.
4. Among the Hidden, by Margaret Peterson Haddix--This is the first book in the Shadow Children series. In the future, families are restricted to two children due to limited resources. But Luke is born a third child, and he finds it very lonely hiding inside his own home. He soon discovers another third child, and the book takes off from there. The other books that follow are also very good reads. So, this book is a great way to get a child interested in a new series. There will be plenty of reading to follow!
5. Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech--This book is unusual in its language and the way the story unfolds, but it is a stunning and beautifully told story that will stop your heart. Even though it's told from a girl's perspective, I find that boys can't help but like it, too. The book is about Salamanca Hiddle and her struggle with a great loss. It's definitely bittersweet, and it's a book adults love, too.
6. Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan--This book is about Koly, a girl from present-day India wfho is married off in an arranged marriage. Her circumstances are miserable, but the book paints a realistic picture of the lives of women and girls who aren't fortunate enough to live in the U.S. It is definitely eye-opening for kids this age, and especially appeals to girls.
7. The Watsons Go To Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis--In this book, two young boys travel with their parents to Birmingham, Alabama in the middle of the tumultuous civil rights movement. Violence and racism are everywhere, but the family does a great job of protecting itself until an unspeakable event impacts all of them. This is loved by boys and girls, and is a must read for everyone.
8. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros-This book follows a hispanic girl through different periods of her life. The language is poetic, and the story is told in sweet vignettes. Her age jumps from scene to scene, but the poignancy remains constant. Best enjoyed by girls, it will make them laugh hysterically, cry terribly, and feel good all at the same time.
9. The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo--This short book is about great loss and a boy's grief, and also about the social hierarchies present in schools. Bullies are everywhere, but the friendship between the boy and girl keep them protected. In the book, they both finally face their own fears and demons in an emotional climax. Boys and girls alike love it, and I can't read it anymore. I sob uncontrollably every time I do. I really like this book because it can be read by almost everyone. The language is simple, but even my advanced readers are touched by the story.
10. The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, by E.L. Konigsburg--This book is a great tale of a girl who spends the summer with her uncles, only to find herself in the middle of a great controversy. Yuppies have taken over her uncles' neighborhood, and the historic preservation committee is less than thrilled with what they find in their backyard. A decades-old found object sculpture is the subject of the debate. The story proves the power kids really do have to make changes in their world. It's funny, quirky, and extremely well-written. A great book for boys and girls in grades six through eight.
11. Monsters, by Walter Dean Myers
12. Touching Spirit Bear, by Ben Mikaelson
13. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
14. Raptor, by Paul Zindel