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Great Middle School Reads

Compiled by Megan Schliesman and Merri V. Lindgren
© 2013 Cooperative Children's Book Center; updated annually

This list was originally developed by former CCBC librarian Hollis Margaret Rudiger for a presentation at the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) Leadership Conference in October, 2004. In her introduction to the original Hollis wrote, "the middle school period refers to a range of years when there are more variables among like-aged children than in any other period, so the only real common denominator among all of them is the building in which they are educated."

For this 2012 revision, we have expanded some of the categories and eliminated others while striving to maintain the original list's emphasis on emotional needs and interests of older children and young teens. While books are organized into specific categories, many of the titles would easily fit into two or more. An effort was made to incorporate fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, as well as graphic novels (both fiction and non-fiction) across the list and, when possible, within each category.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but we hope it provides ideas for reader's advisory, library or classroom displays, and other initiatives in which you are engaged to connect middle school-aged readers with books.

Click on underlined book titles to see the CCBC review of the book, and/or the cover image.
Complete list of CCBC bibliographies

Who Am I If Not My Family?

    Bolden, Tonya. Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl. Harry N. Abrams, 2005. 47 pages. Ages 9-14

    Danticat, Edwidge. Untwine. Scholastic Press, 2015. 303 pages. Age 13 and older

    Engle, Margarita. The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Henry Holt, 2006. 183 pages. Age 12 and older

    Frazier, Sundee T.. The Other Half of My Heart. Delacorte Press, 2010. 296 pages. Ages 10-13

    Herrera, Robin. Hope Is a Ferris Wheel. Abrams, 2014. 272 pages. Ages 9-12

    Lord, Cynthia. Rules. Scholastic Press, 2006. 200 pages. Ages 11-14

    Manzano, Sonia. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano. Scholastic, 2012. 224 pages. Age 12 and older

    Na, An. The Fold. Putnam, 2008. 280 pages. Age 12 and older

    Pérez, Celia C.. The First Rule of Punk. Viking, 2017. 336 pages. Ages 9-12

    Williams-Garcia, Rita. One Crazy Summer. Amistad / HarperCollins, 2010. 218 pages. Ages 8-12

    Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2014. 336 pages. Age 10 and older

    Yang, Gene Luen. Prime Baby. Illustrated by Derek Kirk Kim. Roaring Brook Press, 2010. 64 pages. Age 9 and older

Changing Relationships

    Alexander, Kwame. Crossover. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. 237 pages. Ages 10-13

    Booth, Coe. Kinda Like Brothers. Scholastic Press, 2014. 256 pages. Ages 9-13

    Carey, Mike . Re-Gifters. Illustrated by Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel. Minx, 2007. 176 pages. Ages 10-14

    Dowell, Frances O'Roark. The Kind of Friends We Used to Be. Atheneum, 2009. 234 pages. Ages 10 - 13

    Engle, Margarita. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir. Atheneum, 2015. 192 pages. Age 11 and older

    Frost, Helen. Hidden. Frances Foster Books / Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011. 147 pages. Ages 11-14

    Gansworth, Eric. If I Ever Get Out of Here. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2013. 359 pages. Age 11 and older

    Grimes, Nikki. Garvey's Choice. WordSong / Highlights, 2016. 108 pages. Ages 9-12

    Han, Jenny. Shug. Simon & Schuster, 2006. 248 pages. Ages 11-14

    Kendall, Christine. Riding Chance. Scholastic Press, 2016. 212 pages. 11-15

    Littman, Sarah Darer. Want to Go Private?. Scholastic Press, 2011. 332 pages. Ages 12-16

    Magoon, Kekla. Camo Girl. Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 2011. 218 pages. Ages 10-13

    Moore, David Barclay. The Stars Beneath Our Feet. Knopf, 2017. 294 pages. Ages 9-13

    Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Dairy Queen. Houghton Mifflin, 2006. 278 pages. Ages 13-16

    Stead, Rebecca. When You Reach Me. Wendy Lamb Books / Random House, 2009. 208 pages. Ages 10 - 13

    Tamaki, Mariko. This One Summer. Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki. First Second, 2014. 317 pages. Ages 11 and Older

    Trueman, Terry. 7 Days at the Hot Corner. HarperTempest / HarperCollins, 2007. 150 pages. Ages 12 and older

When You Have To Be the Grown-Up

    Choldenko, Gennifer. Al Capone Does My Shirts. Putnam, 2004. 225 pages. Ages 10 - 14

    Connor, Leslie. Waiting for Normal. Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins, 2008. 290 pages. Ages 10-14

    De Goldi, Kate. The 10 p.m. Question. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2010. 245 pages. Ages 11 - 14

    Ellis, Deborah. Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees. Groundwood / House of Anansi Press, 2009. 128 pages. Ages 11 and older

    Jones, Traci L.. Silhouetted by the Blue. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011. 200 pages. Ages 12-15

    Say, Allen. Drawing from Memory. Scholastic Press, 2011. 64 pages. Age 10 and older

    Williams, Michael. Now Is the Time for Running. U.S. edition: Little, Brown, 2011. 233 pages. Age 12 and older

Living and Dying

    Appelt, Kathi and Alison McGhee . Maybe a Fox. A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2016. 262 pages. 8-12

    Brahmachari, Sita. Mira in the Present Tense. U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2013. 284 pages. Ages 10-13

    Forrester, Sandra. Leo and the Lesser Lion. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 298 pages. Ages 10 - 13

    Henkes, Kevin. Olive's Ocean. Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins, 2003. 224 pages. Ages 10 - 14

    Kadohata, Cynthia. Kira-Kira. Atheneum, 2004. 244 pages. Ages 10-14

    Knowles, Jo. See You at Harry's. Candlewick Press, 2012. 310 pages. Ages 11-14

    Martin, Russell and Lydia Nibley . The Mysteries of Beethoven's Hair. Charlesbridge, 2009. 120 pages. Ages 12 and older

    McCall, Guadalupe Garcia. Under the Mesquite. Lee & Low, 2011. 240 pages. Ages 12-16

    Ness, Patrick and Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd . A Monster Calls. Illustrated by Jim Kay. Candlewick Press, 2011. 224 pages. Ages 11-14

    Reynolds, Jason. The Boy in the Black Suit. Atheneum, 2015. 255 pages. Age 13 and older

    Thomson, Ruth. Terezín: Voices from the Holocaust. Candlewick Press, 2011. 64 pages. Age 11 and older

    Woodson, Jacqueline. Locomotion. Putnam, 2003. 128 pages. Ages 9 - 12

Laughing through the Tears

    Bell, Cathleen Davitt. Little Blog on the Prairie. Bloomsbury, 2010. 276 pages. Ages 10 - 14

    Dumas, Firoozeh. It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel. Clarion, 2016. 378 pages. Ages 9-13

    Ferraiolo, Jack D.. Sidekicks. Amulet/Abrams, 2011. 309 pages. Ages 11-14

    Fleischman, Sid. Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World. Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2010. 268 pages. Ages 12 and older

    Gantos, Jack. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1998. 154 pages. Ages 9 - 12

    Howe, James . Totally Joe. Ginee Seo Books / Atheneum, 2005. 189 pages. Ages 10-14

    Jung, Mike. Unidentified Suburban Object. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2016. 272 pages. Ages 9-13

    McKay, Hilary. Saffy's Angel. U.S. edition: Margaret K. McElderry, 2002. 152 pages. Ages 9 - 13

    Nielsen, Susin. Word Nerd. Tundra, 2008. 248 pages. Ages 10-14

    Reynolds, Jason. Ghost. A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2016. 181 pages. 9-12

    Yee, Lisa. Warp Speed. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic Inc, 2011. 310 pages. Ages 10-14

Facing the Challenge

    Applegate, Katherine. Home of the Brave. Feiwel and Friends, 2007. 249 pages. Ages 10-14

    Brown, Daniel James. The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team’s Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics. Viking, 2015. 227 pages. Age 11 and older

    Cronin, Doreen. Cyclone. A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2017. 336 pages. Ages 9-13

    Flake, Sharon G.. Begging for Change. Jump at the Sun / Hyperion, 2003. 235 pages. Ages 12 - 15

    Gaiman, Neil. The Wolves in the Walls. Illustrated by Dave McKean. HarperCollins, 2003. 56 pages. Ages 7 - 14

    Grande, Reyna. The Distance Between Us. Young Readers Edition. Aladdin, 2016. 322 pages. Age 13 and older

    Kelly, Erin Entrada. Blackbird Fly. Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2015. 296 pages. Ages 10–13

    Moore, Perry. Hero. Hyperion , 2007. 428 pages. Age 12 and older

    O'Connor, Barbara. How to Steal a Dog. Frances Foster Books / Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2007. 170 pages. Ages 9-11

    Palacio, R.J. . Wonder. Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. 315 pages. Ages 10–13

    Parker Rhodes, Jewell. Ninth Ward. Little, Brown, 2010. 224 pages. Ages 9 - 13

    Polonsky, Ami. Gracefully Grayson. Disney Hyperion, 2014. 243 pages. Ages 10-13

    Schmatz, Pat. Bluefish. Candlewick Press, 2011. 240 pages. Ages 10-14

    Smith, Hope Anita. The Way a Door Closes. Illustrated by Shane W. Evans. Henry Holt, 2003. 52 pages. Ages 10 - 14

    Timberlake, Amy. One Came Home. Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. 272 pages. Ages 11-14

    Wadsworth, Ginger. First Girl Scout: The Life of Juliette Gordon Low. Clarion, 2012. 210 pages. Ages 9-13

That's Not Fair!

    Alexander, Elizabeth and Marilyn Nelson . Miss Crandall's School for Young Ladies & Little Misses of Color. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Wordsong / Boyds Mills Press, 2007. 47 pages. Age 11 and older

    Brown, Don. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 96 pages. Age 11 and older

    Crowe, Chris. Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case. Phyllis Fogelman Books / Penguin, 2003. 128 pages. 12 and older

    Hoose, Phillip. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Melanie Kroupa Books / Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009. 133 pages. Ages 13 and older

    Manzano, Sonia. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano. Scholastic, 2012. 224 pages. Age 12 and older

    Marrin, Albert. Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 182 pages. Age 12 and older

    Park, Linda Sue. When My Name Was Keoko: A Novel of Korea in World War II. Clarion, 2002. 199 pages. Ages 11 - 14

    Sheinkin, Steve. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Roaring Brook Press, 2014. 200 pages pages. Age 13 and older

    Sheth, Kashmira. Boys without Names. Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, 2010. 320 pages. Ages 9-13

    Spinelli, Jerry. Stargirl. Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. 186 pages. Ages 12 - 16

    Stone, Tanya Lee. Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. Candlewick Press, 2009. 133 pages. Ages 12 and older

    Stratton, Allan. Chanda's Wars. HarperTeen / HarperCollins, 2008. 384 pages. Ages 12-15

    Tingle, Tim. How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story. Roadrunner Press, 2013. 141 pages. Ages 10-13

Coming of Age

    Bruchac, Joseph . The Way. Darby Creek, 2007. 156 pages. Ages 11-14

    Carter, Anne Laurel. The Shepherd's Granddaughter. Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2008. 224 pages. Age 13 and older

    Diederich, Phillippe. Playing for the Devil's Fire. Cinco Puntos Press, 2016. 254 pages. 12 and older

    Dowd, Siobhan. The London Eye Mystery. U.S. edition: David Fickling Books / Random House, 2008. 322 pages. Ages 10-14

    Erlings, Fridrik. Fish in the Sky. Translated by Translated from the Icelandic by the author. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2012. 288 pages. Ages 12-14

    Li, Moying. Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. 192 pages. Ages 11-14

    Magoon, Kekla. 37 Things I Love (in No Particular Order). Henry Holt, 2012. 224 pages. Age 12 and older

    Mass, Wendy. Every Soul a Star. Little, Brown, 2008. 322 pages. Ages 10-14

    Mucha, Corinne. Freshman: Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations, and Other Nonsense. Zest Books, 2011. 112 pages. Ages 11-14

    Nye, Naomi Shihab. There Is No Long Distance Now: Very Short Stories. Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins, 2011. 201 pages. Age 12 and older

    Prince, Liz. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir. Zest, 2014. 255 pages. Ages 12 and Older

    Rupp, Rebecca. After Eli. Candlewick Press, 2012. 245 pages. Ages 11–14

    Sanchez, Alex . So Hard To Say. Simon & Schuster, 2004. 230 pages. Ages 12-15

    Sís, Peter. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain. Frances Foster Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. 48 pages. Age 9 and older

This list may be reproduced and distributed by educational and/or nonprofit organizations so long as credit is given to the Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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