Grateful American Kids

Reading Lists for Middle School

Suggested reading for 7th, 8th and 9th graders

7th grade reading books for children aged 12-13

The list of books suggestions for grade 7 students includes more challenging reads for 11 and 12-year-olds as well as gripping series and easier texts for reluctant readers. Authors include Lois Lowry, Markus Zusak, Kwame Alexander, and S.E. Hinton.

1. New Kid by Jerry Craft
Jordan loves to draw – especially cartoons. Denied the chance to go to art school by his parents, he is sent to an upmarket academic school away from his friends. Jordan has to find a new path and adapt to his new surroundings. A graphic novel – this will appeal to reluctant middle school readers.

2. A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata
An insightful chapter book that covers a less well known period of history. A Japanese / American family released from internment after WW2 are pressured to revoke their US citizenship and return to Japan. Bewildered hurt, and confused over her identity, young Hana finds herself living near Hiroshima with her elderly grandparents. Starvation, disease and the difficulty of coping with an unfamiliar Japanese culture awaken Hana to the realities of war.

3. The Giver by Lois Lowry
When 12-year-old Jonas is appointed the Receiver of Memory he starts to uncover and understand the buried secrets held by the people he lives amongst. The first in a gripping quartet.

4. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
When Winnie Foster stumbles upon a fountain of eternal youth she thinks all her prayers are answered. But then she meets a family who drank from the spring water. Will she decide to live forever? Will she keep the magic water secret? A modern classic and an ideal seventh-grade group reader.

5. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
When millionaire Samuel Westing dies, he leaves a will like no other. Sixteen people will have to play a cunning game to inherit his vast fortune. A cracking page-turner which will appeal to young adults.

6. The Wednesday Wars by Gary D Schmidt
Told over the course of one year between 1967 and 1968 in Long Island, this novel follows Holling, a seventh-grader who juggles his home life, getting into trouble at school and growing up amid the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Great to read in one sitting.

7. Watership Down by Richard Adams
An atmospheric quest story about a group of rabbits fleeing from danger to danger in search of a peaceful and safe life. When Fiver, Hazel, Bigwig, and friends think they’ve found the perfect location, events take a turn for the worse. An ideal 7th grade reading book for more advanced students.

8. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
A stunning story, set entirely in verse, about two brothers who compete against each other in life and on the basketball court. Gripping and ideal for reluctant readers.

9. Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
When Cole Mathews commits a terrible crime, the judge gives him an unusual choice: jail time or a rehabilitation program on a remote Alaskan wilderness island He chooses the latter and soon has to fight for his life in a captivating story of survival and iron will. A great addition to a 7th grade reading book shelf.

10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
A captivating and gripping story – told from the eyes of death – and set in Nazi Germany in 1939 which follows Liesel, a girl who steals books. A surprising friendship develops which allows her to read the vast library of a local dignitary. Her view of the world changes completely. A challenging and thought-provoking book for a 7th grade reading list.

11. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
A multi-award-winning middle-grade fantasy novel about Xan, a girl who breaks a sacred tradition and feeds a baby bound for sacrifice with moonlight. As a result, the child grows to become extraordinarily powerful with dangerous magical abilities.

12. Snow White by Matt Phelan
A highly engaging graphic novel film noir style retelling of the Snow White tale. Set in 1930s New York, Samantha White has come home after years of exile, protected by seven street urchins. With vibrant artwork, this book is great for reluctant seventh-grade readers.

13. Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan
Cast down from Mouth Olympus by his angry father Zeus, Apollo finds himself fending for himself as a regular teen boy in New York. A regular teen with no superhuman powers. Can he ever make it up with his father and return to the gods?

14. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
After years of saving and waiting, Billy buys two pups, Old Dan and Little Ann. Soon he feels invincible, exploring the Ozarks with his stellar hunting dogs. But danger lurks just around the corner. This modern classic is a perfect easy reader for 7th grade.

15. Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D Schmidt
A startling and moving story about family and sacrifice. 12-year-old Joe narrates the story of his friend Joseph, a father at the age of 13, but he has never seen his daughter and will do anything to find her. A gripping page-turner for more mature seventh-grade readers.

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8th grade reading books for children aged 13-14
The list of books for grade 8 students features a diverse selection of titles for 12 and 13-year-olds including must-read series, challenging novels, and texts for reluctant readers. Authors include Gerald Durrell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Sharon Creech, and Mary Shelley.

1. Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer
Ideal for middle-grade readers, this book has won numerous awards. Hope finds herself helping her aunt to run a diner in rural Wisconsin – a long way from lively New York. Her friendship with G.T. Stoop, the diner’s owner, develops into a coming of age story of trust and truth.

2. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
The first in the ‘Corfu Trilogy’, this book tells the story of Gerald Durrell’s childhood experiences for five years on the island of Corfu and the wildlife and animals he keeps. His larger than life relatives and the colorful characters encountered make this a funny novel bound to appeal to middle graders interested in nature and unconventional family life.

3. Animal Farm by George Orwell
In this classic allegory, the animals take over the farm. They tried to create a perfect world where everybody is valued and treated equally however things don’t go entirely to plan. Written as an antithesis to controlling totalitarianism this is a book every teenager should read.

4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
An evocative and humorous story based on the author’s own life. When Junior, a talented artist, realizes that he wants to follow his dream, his life changes completely when he joins a new high school where he is the only Indian on the campus. A modern classic. A good book for 8th grade reading group discussion.

5. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
A rollercoaster of a story about the life of young Huckleberry Finn and his friend Tom Sawyer and the shenanigans they get up to on the banks of the Mississippi River. This book features some controversial themes including his father’s alcoholism and the treatment of Miss Watson slave, Jim. A story, that once read, will never be forgotten.

6. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Collated by her father Otto, after the second world war, this is the diary of Anne Frank who, aged between 13 and 16 wrote about being in hiding from the Nazis and Amsterdam. Poignant and moving, this is a book that should be on every high school curriculum. Arguably one of the most important books written in the 20th century.

7. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
A gripping and moving story about a misfit and awkward teen, Dill, who lives in a small community Bible belt Tennessee. When deals father becomes a hated figure, Dill cannot cope and relies on the support of his two best friends. A heart-rending and powerful story about forgiveness and redemption.

8. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
A multi-award-winning novel about Starr Carter, a teenager who has one foot in the exclusive preppy world of her school and the other foot in the deprived neighborhood of her home. When her best friend is shot by a police officer, she is the only person who knows what really happened. A startlingly powerful young adult novel. A great book to discuss in 8th grade reading clubs.

9. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
A powerful psychological and unrelenting study of growing up in an abusive environment. When the protagonist, a 14-year-old boy, realizes that his family is not all that it seems, he starts to rebel against his self-righteous preacher stepfather in this gritty landmark first novel set in Harlem.

10. 2001 by Arthur C Clarke
When a scientist discovers a mysterious object on the Moon, mankind embarks on an expedition to the furthest reaches of space in search of an alien civilization. However, the voyage is a slowly building battle between man and computer, heading towards an inevitable catastrophe.

11. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
A disgraced naval officer redeems himself by protecting villagers from a local bandit. Written as a series of manuscripts told by a third party, using time shifts, this is a great book for eighth-graders to study.

12. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
A unique and genre-defying young adult novel that is perfectly suited to grade 8 book clubs. Set in the “Elsewhere”, a world where angels battle mythical creatures, Karou and Akiva are drawn, as if by magic, from the opposite sides of the conflict into a love story – and perhaps the only hope for peace.

13. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
A more challenging read for grade 8 students, Life of Pi chronicles 16-year-old Pi, the only survivor of a shipwreck. His only companions in the lifeboat are a hyena, and orangutan, and a huge tiger. Memorable, and beautifully written.

14. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Destined to become an important work in the 21st century, Malala’s autobiographical story takes her from a victim of Taliban in 2012 to becoming the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. An inspirational and motivating book which is bound to appeal to middle school and junior high school students in grade 8.

15. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Isabella’s new life in Forks, Washington takes an unexpected turn when a boy she is attracted to turns out to be a vampire. Extremely readable and popular, this five volume set is a great way to reignite the fire of reading in disenchanted teenagers.

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9th grade reading books for teens aged 14-15

A list of recommended books for grade 9, hand-picked and compiled by teachers and librarians for final year middle school and freshman high school students in the 9th Grade, aged 14-15. Authors include Liz Kessler, William Golding, Rick Yancey, and Marjorie Rawlings.

1. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
A highly rated and award-winning book. Written in hard-hitting and sharply crafted verse, it tells a cautionary tale of revenge. 15-year-old Will, gun at the ready and ready to kill, is forced to face the potential consequences of his actions as he descends the elevator of his building. This book is a harsh expose of the peer pressures felt by young men.

2. Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
Based on a true story, young African prince, Amos, was sold into slavery aged 15. Transported to Massachusetts, he was auctioned and began 45 years as a slave. Courageous, and retaining his dignity, he never stopped dreaming of freedom – and finally, his hopes were realized.

3. Nothing by Janne Teller
A modern masterpiece that has won awards worldwide. Teen Pierre Anton decides that nothing matters in life and climbs into a tree. He will not move, in spite of all the efforts of his fellow students to prove him wrong. A challenging read that asks questions teens will relate to. Controversial, thought-provoking and at times disturbing.

4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
A group of boys is marooned on a deserted island and left to fend for themselves. What could possibly go wrong? An ideal book to study in 9th grade literature classes.

5. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
A reluctant airman in WW2 gets closer and closer to achieving enough flights to go home but is thwarted every time in this absurdist portrayal of power and bureaucracy. This book is excellent for studying time-shifts and narrative plotting.

6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
In a dystopian world where humans and are bred and controlled, can one man bring normal life back to society? A challenging read for students in grade 9.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
In this classic Pulitzer Prize winning story of prejudice, a white lawyer represents a black man accused of the more heinous of crimes in the South. Votes the best novel of the 20th century by American librarians.

8. The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger
Disillusioned with school, 16-year-old Holden Caulfield escapes to New York for three days where the reader finds out more about Holden’s life and Holden finds out more about how ‘phony’ the people and the world are. A classic coming of age story.

9. Looking for Alaska by John Green
The gripping multi-award-winning debut novel by John Green which follows teenage Miles Halter as he leaves boarding school in search for “The Great Perhaps”. A great coming of age story, and a good novel to study and compare with The Catcher in the Rye.

10. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
The first book in a quintet of science fiction stories about human survival after a devastating alien invasion. Gripping and fast-paced, this series of novels will appeal to reluctant readers.

11. Monster by Walter Dean Meyers
The intelligent and distinctive story of Steve Harmon, charged with being the lookout in a homicide drug store robbery gone wrong – presented as a strangely detached screenplay written by Steve as a way of coping with the system and situation he finds himself trapped inside.

12. The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
In a dystopian society divided by blood, regular people serve the rich and powerful and the silver-blooded rule with superpowers, Mare Barrow finds out she has a power, a power which changes her life forever. Dark and poignant, this is an epic thriller.

13. Taking Hold by Francisco Jiménez
A beautifully written autobiography which charts Franciso’s journey from growing up in California and moving to Columbia University in New York. A great story of resilience.

14. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Two unlikely friends, George – small, quick-witted and sharp, and Lennie, large, and childlike find themselves enveloped in injustice and inevitable danger. Will they find a way to escape?

15. Every Day by David Levithan
A unique story about a teenager, A, who wakes up in a different life and different body each day. In many ways A has come to terms with this – until A meets Rhiannon who he wants to stay with every day. A great book for studying character and plot in the 9th grade. A great class reader for 9th grade students.

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Source: Compiled by Tom Tolkien for K-12 School Reading List