Suggestions for Middle School Readers
Avi. The Seer of Shadows. HarperCollins, 2008. In this intriguing historical ghost story set in New York City in 1872, Horace Carpetine becomes an apprentice to a local society photographer and learns more about deception, ghosts, and photography than he could ever have imagined.
Bauer, Joan. Close to Famous. Viking, 2011. Twelve-year-old Foster dreams of growing up to become a celebrity chef despite her reading disability. Can the quirky townsfolk of tiny Culpepper help Foster succeed?
Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. When the three younger Penderwick sisters go to
Bowen, Fred. Throwing Heat. Peachtree, 2010. Eighth-grader Jack Lerner relies on pitching fast balls until a young college coach teaches him that throwing the heat may not be the best way to win games.
Burg, Shana. A Thousand Never Evers. Delacorte, 2008. Addie Ann Pickett, an African American girl in 1963 Kuckachoo, Mississippi, journals about her family, the racial injustices they face, and her fears for her older brother Elias when he goes missing due to her own carelessness.
Calkhoven, Laurie. Will at the
Cody, Matthew. Powerless. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Soon after moving to Noble's Green, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Daniel learns that his new friends have super powers that they will lose when they turn thirteen, unless he can use his brain power to protect them.
Compestine, Ying Chang. Revolution is Not a Dinner Party: A Novel. Holt, 2007. During the Cultural Revolution in
Connor, Leslie. Waiting for
DeFelice, Cynthia. Wild Life. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. A gripping adventure story about a boy named Erik and a rescued dog living in the Middle of Nowhere, North Dakota, with grandparents he hardly knows, while his parents have been deployed to Iraq.
Dowd, Siobhan. The
Draper, Sharon. Out of My Mind. Atheneum, 2010. Considered by many to be mentally retarded, a brilliant, impatient, young girl with cerebral palsy discovers a way for her to speak for the first time.
Dubosarsky, Ursula. The Word Snoop. Dial Books, 2009. Brimming with humor, puzzles, and more, this book offers an entertaining look at the English language, from the origins of the alphabet to texting.
Engle, Margarita. Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in
Erskine, Kathryn. Mockingbird: (Mok’ing-burd). Philomel, 2010. Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.
Flanagan, John. The Emperor of Nihon-Ja. Philomel, 2011. The tenth and final volume of the Ranger’s Apprentice series brings Will, Halt, Horace, Alyss, and Evanlyn together to help defend the wise yet vulnerable emperor of Nihon-Ja from the renegade Senshi (samurai) force that threatens to overthrow his rule. Series
Fleischman, Sid. Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini. Greenwillow, 2006. Born Ehrich Weiss into a poor and struggling family, Harry Houdini sought out fame and went on to perform some of the world’s most astonishing magic tricks. Houdini’s story is a classic rags-to-riches story with plenty of personality to spare.
Fleming, Candace. The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum. Schwartz & Wade, 2009. Filled with reproductions of old photographs, circus posters, and museum flyers, this fascinating biography of the life of showman Phineas Taylor Barnum will both engage and entertain readers.
Grant, Katy. Hide & Seek. Peachtree, 2010. A survival story set in the isolated
Hahn, Mary Downing. Deep and Dark and Dangerous: A Ghost Story. Clarion, 2007. When thirteen-year-old Ali spends the summer with her aunt and cousin at the family's vacation home, she stumbles upon a secret that her mother and aunt have been hiding for over thirty years.
Hiaasen, Carl. Scat. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Nick and Marta are determined to find what happened to the biology teacher after she disappears on a school field trip to
Holm, Jennifer L. The Trouble with May Amelia. Atheneum, 2011. Set on a farm in
Jackson, Ellen. The Mysterious Universe: Supernovae, Dark Energy, and Black Holes. Houghton Mifflin, 2008. A fascinating and mysterious look at the universe with beautiful photographs, this book discusses various space phenomena.
Kelly, Jacqueline. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Holt, 2009. Calpurnia struggles with growing up as she spends more of her free time with her grandfather, an avid naturalist, examining the beauty of nature, while at the same time her mother wants to teach her the responsibilities of a young woman during the turn of the century in
Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody. The Reinvention of Moxie
Mass, Wendy. The Candymakers. Little, Brown, 2010. Four gifted twelve-year-olds, including Logan, the candymaker's son, are set to be contestants in the Confectionary Association's national competition to determine the nation's tastiest sweet, but nobody anticipates that a friendship will form between the children.
Miller, Sarah. Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller. Atheneum, 2007. This is Annie Sullivan’s story of challenge and determination as she tries to become a teacher of the child Helen Keller, who is blind, deaf, and overindulged by her desperate parents.
Olson, Tod. How to Get Rich in the
Prineas, Sarah. The Magic Thief. HarperCollins, 2008.
Rex, Adam. The True Meaning of Smekday. Disney-Hyperion, 2007. Aliens called “The Boov” abduct Gratuity “Tip” Tucci’s mother, leading Tip to begin a wild adventure to rescue her mother with the help of her cat named Pig and a friendly Boov named J.Lo.
Ryan, Pam Muñoz. The Dreamer. Scholastic, 2010. A fictionalized biography of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who grew up a painfully shy child, ridiculed by his overbearing father, but still became one of the most widely-read poets in the world.
Selznick, Brian. Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures. Scholastic, 2011. Rose and Ben are deaf children living fifty years and worlds apart, yet both marvel and connect with the world around them. The
Shearer, Alex. Canned. Scholastic, 2006. Fergal Bamfield has a unique hobby: collecting tin cans without labels. He meets Charlotte, a fellow can collector, and they find some gruesome things inside the cans, like an ear and a human finger! Together, Fergal and Charlotte set out to learn the origins of these mysterious cans. Despite the macabre subject matter, Canned is a funny, quirky read.
Smith, Roland. Tentacles. Scholastic, 2009. After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, Marty and Grace go to live with their scientist uncle and accompany him on what soon becomes an increasingly dangerous expedition to
Stanley, Diane. The Mysterious Case of the
Stephens, John. The Emerald Atlas. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. Using an enchanted atlas, Kate, Michael, and Emma battle evil as they seek to be reunited with their parents in a magical world. Series
Tanner, Lian. The
Thor, Annika. A Faraway
Tubb, Kristin O’Donnell. Selling Hope. Feiwel and Friends, 2010. This story, set in 1905, is about a smart, savvy girl named Hope who travels the vaudeville circuit with her magician dad and a cast of quirky characters (including Buster Keaton and his family) and invents anti-comet pills in an effort to make money and to save people from Haley’s Comet which some people believe is about to hit the earth.
Wiles, Deborah. Countdown. Scholastic, 2010. As eleven-year-old Franny Chapman deals with drama at home and with her best friend in 1962, she tries to understand the larger problems in the world after President Kennedy announces that
Suggestions for Advanced Middle School Readers
Aguirre, Ann. Enclave. Feiwel and Friends, 2011. Following her 15th birthday, Huntress Deuce is sent with topsider Fade to determine the fate of a neighboring enclave. After a shocking discovery, the pair is banished by their own enclave’s elders and must face the darkness and dangers unlike any ever seen.
Anderson, Laurie Halse. Chains. Simon & Schuster, 2008. After being sold to a cruel couple in
Arbuthnott, Gill. The Keepers’ Tattoo. Chicken House, 2010. Months before her fifteenth birthday, Nyssa learns that she is a special member of a legendary clan, the Keepers of Knowledge, as she and her uncle try to escape from Alaric, the White Wolf, who wants to use lines tattooed on her scalp to destroy the rest of her people.
Aronson, Marc. Robert F. Kennedy: A Twentieth-Century Life. Viking, 2007. This is a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the “runt” of a wealthy and powerful political family came to represent the poor in the race for the presidency in the late 1960s.
Asimov, Isaac. The Stars, Like Dust. First published 1951. At the death of his father, Biron Farrill becomes involved in the plot to rebel against the Tyranni who have conquered many worlds.
Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. Little, Brown, 2010. In a futuristic world, teenager Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living. When he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl. Michael L. Printz Award 2011
Bradford, Chris. Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior. Disney-Hyperion, 2008. Orphaned by a ninja pirate attack off the coast of
Brande, Robin. Fat Cat. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Overweight teen Catherine embarks on a high school science fair project in which she decides to emulate the ways of hominids, the earliest ancestors of human beings, by eating an all-natural diet and foregoing technology as much as possible.
Bryant, Jen. Pieces of
Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Game. First published 1985. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, who spends his childhood at military school in outer space, believes he is playing computer-simulated war games. However, he comes to realize he is really commanding the last great fleet of Earth. Hugo Award; Nebula Award. Series
Carter, Ally. Heist Society. Disney-Hyperion, 2010. A group of teenagers uses its combined talents to re-steal several priceless paintings and save fifteen-year-old Kat Bishop's father, himself an international art thief, from a vengeful collector. Series
Chatterton, Martin. The Brain Finds a Leg. Peachtree, 2009. In
Chibbaro, Julie. Deadly. Atheneum, 2011.
Chima, Cinda Williams. The Demon King. Disney-Hyperion, 2009. The first in a high fantasy series that tells of the intertwining fates of former street gang leader Han Alister and headstrong Princess Raisa as Han takes possession of an amulet that once belonged to an evil wizard and Raisa uncovers a conspiracy in the
Christie, Agatha. And Then There Were None (alternate title: Ten Little Indians). First published 1940. Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a lonely mansion on
Cummings, Priscilla. Red Kayak. Dutton, 2004. Living near the water on
Dendy, Leslie A. The Guinea Pig Scientists: Bold Self-Experimenters in Science and Medicine. Holt, 2005. Recounts the true and amazing stories of ten scientists and medical researchers who endured extreme hardship and discomfort in order to test new discoveries and inventions in the fields of medicine and science.
Deuker, Carl. Gym Candy. Houghton Mifflin, 2007. Freshman running back Mick Johnson works hard to make his dream of football stardom come true, finding the edge he needs to become bigger, stronger, and faster with the help of steroids despite consequences to his health and social life.
Dionne, Erin. Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet. Dial Books, 2010. Hamlet's attempts to be a "normal" eighth grader become increasingly difficult when her genius seven-year-old sister and her eccentric Shakespeare scholar parents both begin to attend her school.
Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir. The Hound of the Baskervilles. First published 1902. Sherlock Holmes is asked to investigate the tale of a mysterious death and a hound that haunts the lonely moors around the Baskervilles' ancestral home.
Doyle, Marissa. Bewitching Season. Holt, 2008. Persephone and Penelope, seventeen-year-old twins, are to be presented at court in London and meet Princess Victoria when they suddenly are catapulted into a romantic adventure involving their governess (a magician tutor), and a sinister Irish magician. Series
Draper, Sharon M. Fire from the Rock. Dutton, 2007. In 1957, honor student Sylvia Patterson is thrilled to be chosen to be among the first African American students to attend the all-white
Dumas, Alexandre. The Three Musketeers. First published 1844. Young d’Artagnan comes to
Engle, Margarita. The Surrender Tree: Poems of
Eulberg, Elizabeth. Prom & Prejudice. Point, 2011. For Lizzie Bennett, a music scholarship student at
Fisher, Catherine. Incarceron. Dial Books, 2007. Finn is struggling to escape from the Inside of Incarceron, a prison controlled by technology, while Claudia, the privileged warden's daughter, is trapped in a forced seventeenth century world on the Outside. Series
Fleischman, Sid. Sir Charlie Chaplin: The Funniest Man in the World. Greenwillow, 2010. Charlie Chaplin, who was raised by a mentally ill mother and an alcoholic, mostly absent, father, spent his childhood in the depths of poverty but grew to international fame as perhaps “the funniest man in the world” in vaudeville, silent movies, and finally “talkies” at the end of his career.
Flinn, Alex. Beastly. HarperTeen, 2007. Kyle Kingsbury, a vain, spoiled, private school student who judges others by their appearances, is turned into a frightening monster by a girl he humiliates. In order to break the spell, Kyle must find true love.
Freedman, Russell. The War to End All Wars:
Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. HarperCollins, 2008. Toddler Bod, short for Nobody, crawls into a graveyard after his family is brutally murdered. He is then raised lovingly and carefully to the age of eighteen by the graveyard’s ghosts and otherworldly creatures. Newbery Award 2009
Gardner, Sally. The Red Necklace: A Story of the French Revolution. Dial Books, 2007. In the late eighteenth-century, Sido, the twelve-year-old daughter of a self-indulgent marquis, and Yann, a fourteen-year-old Gypsy orphan raised to perform in a magic show, face a common enemy at the start of the French Revolution. Series
Gier, Kerstin. Ruby Red. Translated from the German by Anthea Bell. Holt, 2011. Sixteen-year-old Gwyneth Shepherd unexpectedly travels through time to the eighteenth century where she discovers a mystery about her real birth date and finds to her dismay that she must work with Gideon -- another time traveler who hates her!
Gleitzman, Morris. Once. Holt, 2010. After living in a Catholic orphanage for nearly four years, a naive Jewish boy runs away and embarks on a journey across Nazi-occupied
Gonzalez, Christina Diaz. The Red Umbrella. Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. In 1961, fourteen-year-old Lucia’s comfortable life in
Green, Tim. The Big Time: A Football Genius Novel. Harper, 2010.
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Uprising. Simon & Schuster, 2007. Newly arrived in
Hale, Marian. Dark Water Rising. Holt, 2006. While salvaging and rebuilding in the aftermath of the
Higgins, F. E. The Eyeball Collector. Feiwel and Friends, 2009. Homeless and orphaned after his father is blackmailed and dies, Hector seeks revenge against the creepy con man who ruined them and follows him to the mansion of the cruel Lady Mandible.
Hinds, Gareth. The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel. Candlewick, 2010. Homer's epic tale of Odysseus - the ancient Greek hero who encounters witches and other obstacles on his journey home after fighting in the Trojan War - is retold in graphic novel format.
Ibbotson, Eva. A Countess Below Stairs. Speak, 2007. First published 1981. Anna, a young Russian countess forced to flee to
Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book. First published in magazines, 1893-1895. This is a collection of stories which center on Mowgli, a “man-cub,” raised by wolves. His journey to adulthood is aided by Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther. Also included is the story of a mongoose, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.
Kirby, Matthew. The Clockwork Three. Scholastic, 2010. As mysterious circumstances bring Giuseppe, Frederick, and Hannah together, their lives soon interlock like the turning gears in a clock and they realize that each one holds a key to solving the others' mysteries.
Korman, Gordon. Pop. Balzer + Bray, 2009. Lonely after a midsummer move to a new town, sixteen-year-old high school quarterback Marcus Jordan becomes friends with a retired professional linebacker who is great at training him, but whose childish behavior keeps Marcus in hot water.
Lane, Andrew. Death Cloud. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. In 1868, with his army officer father suddenly posted to
Le Guin, Ursula K. A Wizard of Earthsea. First published 1968. After pride causes him to unleash a demon, Zed is compelled to either chase or escape from the ever-pursuing shadow. Series
Leavitt, Martine. Keturah and Lord Death. Front Street, 2006. Lord Death comes to claim sixteen-year-old Keturah when she is lost and starving in the King's
Lee, Y.S. A Spy in the House. Candlewick, 2010. Rescued from the gallows in 1850s
Li, Moying. Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in
Lu, Marie. Legend. Putnam’s, 2011. In a dark future, when North America has split into two warring nations, fifteen-year-olds Day, a famous criminal, and prodigy June, the brilliant soldier hired to capture him, discover that they have a common enemy.
Morris, Paula. Ruined. Point, 2009. When Rebecca moves to
Mulligan, Andy. Trash. David Fickling Books, 2010. A group of fourteen-year-old boys -- who make a living picking garbage from the outskirts of a large city -- finds something special and mysterious that brings terrifying consequences.
Murphy, Jim. The Real Benedict Arnold. Clarion, 2007. A comprehensive biography and history of Benedict Arnold that examines many of his heroic deeds and contributions to the Revolutionary cause before he decided to switch sides.
Nelson, Peter. Left for Dead: A Young Man’s Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis. Delacorte, 2002. Fifty years after the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis at the end of World War II, a young boy helps the survivors set the record straight, bringing to light the Navy cover-up and an unfair court-martial of the ship’s captain.
Ness, Patrick. A Monster Calls. Candlewick, 2011. Troubled by the recurring nightmare that started with his mother’s cancer treatments, twelve-year-old Conor is shocked by a monster in the form of a giant yew tree that appears at his window -- a monster who has three stories to tell and who wants “the truth” from Conor.
Nye, Naomi Shihab. You & Yours. BOA Editions, 2005. Nye’s poetry is filled with small moments in her
O’Brien, Caragh M. Birthmarked. Roaring Brook, 2010. Sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, a midwife who dutifully delivers at least three babies a month and hands them over to the Enclave, a community within walls where the children are adopted and live with conveniences which are not available to the outside world, begins to question her loyalty to the group after her mother is brutally taken away from her by the people she serves.
O’Neal, Eilis. The False Princess. Egmont
Park, Linda Sue. A Long Walk to Water. Clarion, 2010. Young Salva survives many dangers growing up in war-torn
Pearson, Mary E. The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Holt, 2008. In the not-too-distant future, when biotechnological advances have made synthetic bodies and brains possible but illegal, a seventeen-year-old girl, recovering from a serious accident and suffering from memory lapses, learns a startling secret about her existence.
Petersen, David. Mouse Guard, Volume 1: Fall 1152. ASP Comics, 2007. A graphic novel about the world of Mouse Guard, mice with capes and swords defending themselves against their enemies as if they were Knights of the Round Table. Series
Reeve, Philip. Fever Crumb. Scholastic, 2009. Foundling, Fever Crumb, has been raised as an engineer although females in the future
Rice, Condoleezza. Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and
Riggs, Ransom. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Quirk Books, 2011. Sixteen-year-old Jacob, having traveled to a remote island after a family tragedy, discovers an abandoned orphanage, and, after some investigating, he learns the children who lived there may have been dangerous and quarantined and may also still be alive. Haunting vintage photographs are dispersed throughout the book, giving the story a hint of creepiness.
Riordan, Rick. The Red Pyramid. Disney-Hyperion, 2010. Siblings Carter and Sadie Kane, who have been living apart the six years since their mother’s death, are reunited with their Egyptologist father who takes them to the
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos. The Prince of Mist. Little, Brown, 2010. In 1943, in a seaside town where their family has gone to be safe from war, thirteen-year-old Max Carver and sister, fifteen-year-old Alicia, with new friend Roland, face off against an evil magician who is striving to complete a bargain made before he died.
Rylant, Cynthia. Boris. Harcourt, 2005. The narrator of these nineteen poems speaks directly to her cat, Boris, about his life and her own since his arrival at her door. This book is a good introduction for newcomers to poetry and is especially appealing to cat lovers.
Sachar, Louis. The Cardturner: A Novel About a Queen, a King, and a Joker. Delacorte, 2010. When his wealthy uncle, a champion bridge player who has lost his vision, asks seventeen-year-old
Schmatz, Pat. Bluefish. Candlewick, 2011. Longing for the country and his missing dog Roscoe, Travis tries to survive in a new school while living with his alcoholic grandfather and burdened by a painful secret. Hope comes in the form of a teacher and a new friend named Velveeta.
Schmidt, Gary D. Trouble. Clarion, 2008. Fourteen-year-old Henry, wanting to honor his brother
Scieszka, Jon. Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka. Viking, 2008. Part memoir and part scrapbook, this book is a very funny autobiography of growing up in a family of six boys in the 1950s.
Sepetys, Ruta. Between Shades of Gray. Philomel, 2011. On a calm, beautiful night in 1941
Shulman, Polly. The Grimm Legacy. Putnam’s, 2010. High school student Elizabeth gets an after-school job as a page at the "New York Circulating Material Repository." When she gains coveted access to its Grimm Collection of magical objects, she and the other pages are drawn into a series of frightening adventures involving mythical creatures and stolen goods.
Shusterman, Neal. Unwind. Simon & Schuster, 2007. Three teens embark upon a cross-country journey in order to escape from a society that salvages body parts from children ages thirteen to eighteen.
Smiley, Jane. The Georges and the Jewels. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Seventh-grader Abby Lovitt grows up on her family's
Smith, Roland. Independence Hall. Sleeping Bear Press, 2008. Quest and his stepsister Angela are thrust into the dangerous world of the American Secret Service and the Israeli Mossad when they learn Angela's real mother was a former Secret Service agent who was killed by a terrorist group.
Springer, Nancy. The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline: An Enola Holmes Mystery. Philomel, 2009. In late nineteenth-century
Stiefvater, Maggie. The Scorpio Races. Scholastic, 2011. Some race for fame. Some race for fortune. Then there is the story of Puck Connolly who, for the sake of her family, willingly risks her life as she races the legendary water horses in the bloody and brutal Scorpio Races.
Stork, Francisco X. The Last Summer of the Death Warriors. Arthur A. Levine, 2010. Seventeen-year-old Pancho is bent on avenging the senseless death of his sister. After he meets D.Q, who is dying of cancer, and one of D.Q’s caregivers, Marisol, both boys find their lives changed forever.
Stroud, Jonathan. The Ring of Solomon. Disney-Hyperion, 2010. Bartimaeus, a wise-cracking djinni, finds himself in the tenth century and at the court of King Solomon with an unpleasant master and a sinister servant, and he gets himself into trouble with King Solomon's magic ring. Series
Supplee, Suzanne. Somebody Everybody Listens To. Dutton, 2010. When Retta Lee Jones graduates from high school and leaves her small town in search of a big break in
Swanson, James L. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. Scholastic, 2009. This is a nail-biting and detailed telling of the assassination of
Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. First published 1937. Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return. Series
Valente, Catherynne M. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Feiwel and Friends, 2011. The narrator tells a story, not unlike the perils of
Verne, Jules. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. First published 1869. This is a nineteenth-century science fiction tale of an electric submarine, its eccentric captain, and an undersea world.