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Middle School Books Hot off the Presses

Great New Books for Middle School Kids

This great list is from the Newton Free Library system. I find that they have great book lists but sometimes there are so many of them that they are challenging to locate on the website. I was at my first Middle School Curriculum night and my daughter’s English teacher (who is her favorite teacher so far!) said that he expects his students to read 250 minutes a week. He wants them to get in the groove of reading because stats show that reading drops off at seventh and eighth grade and he’s hoping that won’t happen if the kids get some momentum. Here’s hoping!

My sixth grade daughter is currently enjoying reading but, of course, things change rapidly in Middle School. She complains often that we have no good books in the house — shocking if you saw our bursting bookshelves — and has been re-reading for the third time The Hunger Games chapter book series Trilogy. I spend a lot of time on these lists, quite frankly, in search of good books for her. We also visit bookstores and libraries and I coordinate a peer book club for her. Still, finding books for her is often stressful.

She has read and recommends these books, if a peer recommendation helps. Her friend at school who liked realistic fiction loved Schooled also. Her book club is currently reading Karen Day‘s third book, A Million Miles From Boston. I will blog on her book club meeting which is tomorrow. Karen Day is coming! And she’s going to some short and fun writing exercises reflecting on change and Middle School. She watched the Disney movie Lemonade Mouth several times and said the book was better than the movie (always!). Finally, she loved Keeper and asked for more of Kathi Appelt’s books.

What are your Middle School children reading? Any recs from them? Please share!

Just Like Real Life

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Foster and her Mama arrive in Culpepper with big dreams only to discover that other residents have their own dreams. Unexpected events and surprises test Foster and her new friends one cup cake at a time.

Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes

A disparate group of high school students thrown together in detention form a band to play at a school talent show and end up competing with a wildly popular local rock band.

Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Alan Silberberg

In love with the girl he sneezed on the first day of school and best pals with Marshall, the “One Eyed Jack” of friends, seventh-grader Milo Cruikshank misses his mother whose death has changed everything at home.

Schooled by Gordon Korman

Cap lives in isolation with his hippie grandmother; but when she falls from a tree and breaks her hip, Cap is sent to a foster home where he has his first experience in a public school.

Tell Us We’re Home by Marina Tamar Budhos

Three immigrant girls from different parts of the world meet and become close friends in a small suburban town where their mothers have found domestic work, but their relationships are tested when one girl’s mother is accused of stealing a precious heirloom.

Other Worlds

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Twelve-year-old Liam, who looks like he is thirty and is tired of being treated like he is older than he actually is, decides to pose as the adult chaperone on the first spaceship to take civilians into space. When he ends up in outer space with a group of kids and no adult supervision, he must think fast to make things right.

Dark Life by Kat Falls

When fifteen-year-old Ty, who has always lived on the ocean floor, joins Topside girl Gemma in the frontier’s underworld to seek and stop outlaws who threaten his home, they learn that the government may pose an even greater threat.

Flora Segunda by Ysabeau Wilce

While taking a shortcut in her eleven-thousand-room home, fourteen-year-old Flora Fyrdraaca discovers Valefor, the family butler who was banished years earlier by the girl’s mother, and tries to restore the magical being’s position in the household.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

After a prom-night spell goes badly wrong, witch Sophie Mercer is exiled to an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, supernaturally gifted teenagers, where she learns that an unknown predator has been attacking students.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Twelve-year-old Gratuity “Tip” Tucci is left to fend for herself after Earth is colonized by aliens and her mother is abducted, and must try to stop another alien invasion with only the help of a cat named Pig and an alien named J. Lo.

Back in Time

Heart of a Samurai: based on the true story of Nakahama Manjiro by Margi Preus * Newbery Honor Book

In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a terrible shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, fourteen-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States.

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman

In 1949, thirteen-year-old Francine goes to Catholic school in Los Angeles where she becomes best friends with a girl who questions authority and is frequently punished by the nuns, causing Francine to question her own values.

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

In 1961 after Castro has come to power in Cuba, fourteen-year-old Lucia and her seven-year-old brother are sent to the United States when her parents, who are not in favor of the new regime, fear that the children will be taken away from them as others have been.

Sources of Light by Margaret McMullan

Fourteen-year-old Samantha and her mother move to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962, and during the year they spend there Sam learns about photography from a new friend and witnesses the prejudice and violence of the segregationists of the South.

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

From his 1776 Pennsylvania homestead, thirteen-year-old Samuel, who is a highly-skilled woodsman, sets out toward New York City to rescue his parents from the band of British soldiers and Native Americans who kidnapped them after slaughtering most of their community.

Mystery & Adventure

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

In a near-future New York City, fourteen-year-old computer genius Sam Wilson manages to hack into the AT&T network and sets off a chain of events that have a profound effect on human activity throughout the world.

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Fifteen-year-old Kat schemes her way into the best boarding school, hoping to leave the thieving antics of her family behind her, but Hal, a former co-conspirator, appears on campus to tell Kat that a powerful mobster believes her father stole art from a priceless collection, and in order to save him, Kat will have to recover the paintings.

How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found by Sara Nickerson

With a swimming medal, the key to a mansion, and a comic book about a half-man/half-rat as her only clues, a twelve-year-old girl seeks the true story of her father’s mysterious death four years earlier near an island in the Pacific Northwest.

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Max and Alicia Carver explore the circumstances surrounding the haunting of their house by a spirit named Jacob, the previous owner’s son who drowned; but their search uncovers a sinister character who returns from beyond in order to collect a debt from the past.

Trash by Andy Mulligan

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.

Just the Facts

Bigfoot Caught on Film: And Other Monster Sightings by Michael Teitelbaum

Examines investigations into the existence of such creatures as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster, describing the work cryptozoologists perform to determine whether they are real or hoaxes and explaining how the kraken was shown to be the very real giant squid.

The Dark Game: True Spy Stories by Paul Janeczko

A collection of true spy stories from throughout the history of the United States, discussing personalities, missions, traitors, technological advances, and more.

Show Off: How to Do Everything One Step at a Time by Sarah Hines, Stephens and Bethany Mann

Provides illustrated, step-by-step instruction to master various tricks and feats, and details how to draw manga, customize shoes, put an egg into a bottle, breed butterflies, read minds, concoct edible–fake–vomit, and more.

Sweet Eats: Mmmore than Just Desserts by Rose Dunnington

Contains more than 35 recipes with step-by-step instructions to create various dessert and snack foods, such as fudge, cakes, cookies, and more; and also includes preparation tips and cooking techniques.

The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time by Len Berman

Profiles baseball greats including Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Alex Rodriguez, providing player statistics, career highlights, and records held.

Great Books Too Good to Miss

 All Alone in the Universe by Lynne Rae Perkins

Debbie is dismayed when her best friend Maureen starts spending time with ordinary, boring Glenna.

Everlost by Neal Shusterman

When Nick and Allie are killed in a car crash, they end up in Everlost, or limbo for lost souls, where although Nick is satisfied, Allie will stop at nothing–even skinjacking–to break free.

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass

Ally’s family owns a campground that will be the perfect viewing site for a total eclipse that is attracting visitors from all over the world including Bree and Jack who arrive with personal problems which take a back seat to the job they must do together and the friendship that develops among them.

First Boy by Gary Schmidt

It’s an election year in New Hampshire, and fourteen-year-old Cooper Jewett, who runs a dairy farm by himself since his grandfather’s death is being watched and followed by men in big dark cars.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Through journal entries sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family’s struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

 Moving Up to 6th Grade

 Keeper by Kathy Appelt

Ten-year-old Keeper heads to a sandbar in a small boat along with her dog BD and a seagull named Captain in order to find her mother, a mermaid who left her when Keeper was only three.

A Million Miles from Boston by Karen Day

Rising seventh-grader Lucy plans on a perfect summer at the Maine lake where her family has owned a cottage for decades, but an annoying classmate and her dad’s new girlfriend make life less than perfect.

Nature Girl by Jane Kelley

Forced to spend the summer with her family in rural Vermont with no Internet, no cell phone and, worst of all, no best friend, rebellious eleven-year-old Megan gains self-confidence and maturity as she and her dog survive being lost on the Appalachian Trail.

Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott

In the fall of 2004, twelve-year-old Oscar Egg is sent to live with his father in a strange netherworld under Boston’s Fenway Park, where he joins the fairies, pooka, banshee, and other beings that are trapped there, waiting for someone to break the eighty-six-year-old curse that has prevented the Boston Red Sox from winning a World Series.

 The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Sixth-grader Tommy and his friends describe their interactions with a paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, as they try to figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future.

To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.


By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. You should follow some Mock Newbery blogs as they mostly look at books that work with children up to age 14. I especially like Eva Perry and Laura’s Life. Laura is a 6th grader too!

  2. Al Hardy

    Thanks for putting this great list of books together. I will be Christmas shopping for my 5 grand kids and I am sure this list will come in handy.

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