< Back to booklists

Great Middle School Reads

©2021, 2013 Cooperative Children's Book Center

Compiled by Merri Lindgren and Megan Schliesman

This list was originally developed by former CCBC librarian Hollis Margaret Rudiger. 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 2020 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 far from 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.

Who Am I If Not My Family?

Cartaya, Pablo Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish. Viking, 2018. 249 pages. Ages 10-13

Draper, Sharon M. Blended. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 2018. 308 pages. Ages 9-12

Khorram, Adib Darius the Great is Not Okay. Dial/Penguin Random House, 2018. 314 pages. Age 12 and older

King, Amy Sarig The Year We Fell From Space. Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2019. Ages 9-12

Moreno, Nina Don't Date Rosa Santos. Disney/Hyperion, 2019. Age 12 and older

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

Rhodes, Jewell Parker Black Brother, Black Brother. Little, Brown, 2020. 239 pages. Ages 10-13

Stead, Rebecca The List of Things That Will Not Change. Random House/Wendy Lamb Books, 2020. 224 pages. Ages 8-12

Sylvester, Natalia Running. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. 328 pages. Age 12 and older

Vermette, Katherena Pemmican Wars (A Girl Called Echo, Vol. 1). Illustrated by Scott Henderson. HighWater, 2017. 47 pages. Age 12 and older

Changing Relationships

Bigelow, Lisa Jenn Drum Roll, Please. Harper, 2018. 306 pages. Ages 10-13

Callender, Kacen King and the Dragonflies. Scholastic Press, 2020. 259 pages. Ages 9-12

Craft, Jerry New Kid. Illustrated by Jerry Craft. Harper, 2019. 249 pages. Ages 9-13

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

Jamieson, Victoria All’s Faire in Middle School. Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson. Dial, 2017. 248 pages. Ages 8-13

Maldonado, Torrey Tight. Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House, 2018. 180 pages. Ages 9-13

Ribay, Randy After the Shot Drops. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. 325 pages. Age 12 and older

Seeing Myself in New Ways

Acevedo, Elizabeth The Poet X. HarperTeen, 2018. 361 pages. Age 12 and older

Draper, Sharon M. Out of My Heart. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2021. 342 pages. Ages 9-12

Ha, Robin Almost American Girl. Illustrated by Robin Ha. Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2020. 227 pages. Age 12 and older

Mahoney, Kristin The 47 People You'll Meet in Middle School. Knopf/Random House, 2019. 291 pages. Ages 9-12

Mbalia, Kwame Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong, #1). Disney/Hyperion/Rick Riordan Presents, 2019. 482 pages. Ages 9-13

Reynolds, Jason Ghost. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2016. 181 pages. Ages 9-12

Rodkey, Geoff We're Not From Here. Crown/Random House, 2019. 249 pages. Ages 9-12

Yelchin, Eugene The Genius Under the Table. Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. Candlewick, 2021. Age 9 and older

Growing and Healing

Allen, Kate The Line Tender. Dutton/Penguin Random House, 2019. 371 pages. Ages 9-13

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker Fighting Words. Dial/Penguin Random House, 2020. 259 pages. Ages 9-13

Curato, Mike Flamer. Illustrated by Mike Curato. Henry Holt/Macmillan, 2020. 366 pages. Age 12 and older

Harrell, Rob Wink. Dial/Penguin Random House, 2020. 314 pages. Ages 9-12

Keller, Tae When You Trap a Tiger. Random House, 2020. 297 pages. Ages 9-12

Reynolds, Jason Long Way Down. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2017. 320 pages. Age 11 and older

Woodson, Jacqueline Before the Ever After. Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House, 2020. 161 pages. Ages 9-13

Living Through History

Atkins, Jeannine Grasping Mysteries: Girls who Loved Math. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 2020. 305 pages. Age 10 and older

Boyce, Jo Ann Allen and Debbie Levy This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality. Bloomsbury, 2019. 310 pages. Age 11 and older

Curtis, Christopher Paul The Journey of Little Charlie. Scholastic, 2018. 234 pages. Age 11 and older

Engle, Margarita Jazz Owls. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 2018. 179 pages. Age 12 and older

Hiranandani, Veera The Night Diary. Dial/Penguin, 2018. 264 pages. Ages 10-13

Kadohata, Cynthia A Place to Belong. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2019. 405 pages. Ages 9-13

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

Medina, Tony I Am Alfonso Jones. Illustrated by Stacey Robinson and John Jennings. Tu, 2017. 167 pages. Age 11 and older

Pinkney, Andrea Davis Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It. Illustrated by Brian Pinkney. Little, Brown, 2020. 269 pages. Ages 9-13

Takei, George and Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott They Called Us Enemy. Illustrated by Harmony Becker. IDW/Top Shelf, 2019. 204 pages. Age 11 and older

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

Rising to Challenges

Cartaya, Pablo The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora. Viking, 2017. 236 pages. Ages 10-13

Emezi, Akwaeke Pet. Make Me A World/Random House, 2019. 204 pages. Age 12 and older

Jamieson, Victoria and Omar Mohamed When Stars Are Scattered. Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson. Dial/Penguin Random House, 2020. 256 pages. Ages 9-13

Khan, Hena Amina's Voice. Salaam Reads, 2017. 208 pages. Ages 9-13

Kuklin, Susan We Are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Young Adults. Candlewick, 2019. 182 pages. Age 11 and older

Little Badger, Darcie A Snake Falls to Earth. Arthur A. Levine Books/Levine Querido, 2021. 372 pages. Age 12 and older

Morrow, Bethany C., compiler. Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance. Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2019. 245 pages. Age 12 and older

Ramee, Lisa Moore A Good Kind of Trouble. Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2019. 358 pages. Ages 10-13

Smith, Cynthia Leitich Hearts Unbroken. Candlewick, 2018. 286 pages. Age 13 and older

Smith, Pauline Vaeluaga Dawn Raid. Illustrated by Mat Hunkin. Levine Querido, 2021. 217 pages. Ages 9-12

Soontornvat, Christina All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team. Candlewick, 2020. 280 pages. Age 10 and older

Yang, Gene Luen Dragon Hoops. Illustrated by Gene Luen Yang. First Second/Roaring Brook, 2020. 445 pages. Age 12 and older

I Am Enough

Alexander, Kwame The Undefeated. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Versify, 2019. 40 pages. Age 8 and older

Bunker, Lisa Zenobia July. Penguin Random House/Viking, 2019. 313 pages. Ages 8-13

Charleyboy, Lisa and Mary Beth Leatherdale, compiler. #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women. Annick, 2017. 109 pages. Age 12 and older

Fipps, Lisa Starfish. Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House, 2021. 244 pages. Ages 8-12

I Am the Night Sky: & Other Reflections by Muslim American Youth. Shout Mouse, 2019. 171 pages. Age 12 and older

Manfredi, Angie, compiler. The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce. Abrams, 2019. 206 pages. Age 11 and older

Watson, Renee and Ellen Hagan Watch Us Rise. Bloomsbury, 2019. 360 pages. Age 12 and older

Williams, Alicia D. Genesis Begins Again. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2019. 364 pages. Ages 11-14

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Our Recommended Book Search includes subject access to CCBC-recommended titles based on subject headings created by our staff.