• Kara Cushway

101 Books for Middle-Grade Readers

Updated: Jul 26, 2019

This post was inspired by my sister-in-law, Cat, who started teaching sixth grade English/Language Arts and science in the fall of 2018. She asked if I could come up with a list of books that her sixth graders might like, so she could have a bunch of recommendations for them if they wanted something new to read.

I think middle school is the perfect time to "start again" with reading. It's an age of such immense growth in kids, not only physically, but mentally as well. Even if your students or children haven't been big readers before now, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade are the perfect time to re-introduce an interest in reading, especially if you help them find great books to read.

Writing this list was seriously the most fun I’ve had writing something in a long time, so I can’t wait to share it with you – and I hope that if you know someone between the ages of 10 and 13, or someone who just LIKES juvenile/YA literature (like me, I’m obsessed), that you’ll share this list with them, too. I haven’t read all of these books, but they are books that I either have on my reading list or come highly recommended as literature for this age group.

(Also, just as an aside: if your young reader has an aversion to reading “boy” books or “girl” books – encourage them to pick up a book of the “opposite gender” because all of these are great books for anyone. However, I would personally rather they read anything than nothing, so if they absolutely don’t want to read a book with “princess” or “boys” in the title, I’d let it slide.)

Key: (FIC) = fiction; (HIST) = historical; (FAN) = fantasy; (MYS) = mystery; (DYS) = dystopian; (NONFIC) = nonfiction

Books on this list are organized alphabetically by the author's last name.

Authors listed with an asterisk (*) by their name have many books for middle-school-aged readers. Check them all out!

1. The Night Gardener – Jonathan Auxier (FIC)

2. Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes – Jonathan Auxier (FIC)

3. The Button War – Avi (HIST)

4. Crispin series – Avi (FIC)

5. Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt (HIST)

6. The Girl Who Drank the Moon – Kelly Barnhill (FAN)

7. The Witch’s Boy – Kelly Barnhill (FAN)

8. The Penderwick Chronicles – Jeanne Birdsall (FIC)

9. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret – Judy Blume* (FIC)

10. The War That Saved My Life – Kimberley Brubaker Bradley (HIST)

11. The Sisters Grimm series – Michael Buckley (FAN)

12. The Selection series– Kiera Cass (DYS)

13. The School for Good and Evil – Soman Chainani (FAN)

14. Vanished – Sheela Chari (MYS)

15. See You in the Cosmos – Jack Cheng (FIC)

16. The Hunger Games series – Suzanne Collins (DYS)

17. Absolutely Normal Chaos – Sharon Creech* (FIC)

18. Ruby Holler – Sharon Creech* (FIC)

19. Walk Two Moons – Sharon Creech* (FIC)

20. Matilda – Roald Dahl* (FIC)

21. The BFG – Roald Dahl* (FIC)

22. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl* (FIC)

23. James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl* (FIC)

24. The Witches – Roald Dahl* (FIC)

25. The Twits – Roald Dahl* (FIC)

26. Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories – Roald Dahl* (short FIC)

27. The Maze Runner series – James Dashner (DYS)

28. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens (FIC)

29. Because of Winn-Dixie – Kate Dicamillo* (FIC)

30. The Tale of Despereaux – Kate Dicamillo* (FIC)

31. The Hardy Boys series – Franklin W. Dixon (MYS)

32. Hatching Magic – Ann Downer (FAN)

33. The Dragon of Never-Was – Ann Downer (FAN)

34. The City of Ember series – Jeanne DuPrau (DYS)

A well-loved story (notice the tape? it's falling apart!)

35. Mandy – Julie Andrews Edwards (FIC)

36. The Birchbark House – Louise Erdrich (HIST)

37. Unstoppable Octobia May – Sharon G. Flake (HIST)

38. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy – Karen Foxlee (FIC)

39. The Thief Lord – Cornelia Funke (FIC)

40. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman (FIC)

41. Coraline – Neil Gaiman (FAN)

42. Julie of the Wolves – Jean Craighead George (FIC)

43. Princess Academy series – Shannon Hale (FAN)

44. The Goose Girl series – Shannon Hale (FAN)

45. Book of a Thousand Days – Shannon Hale (FIC)

46. Ever After High series – Shannon Hale (FAN)

47. Streetcar to Justice – Amy Hill Hearth (NONFIC)

48. Nightbird – Alice Hoffman (FAN)

49. The Night Garden – Polly Horvath (FIC)

50. Nancy Drew series – Carolyn Keene (MYS)

51. Foxheart – Claire Legrand (FAN)

52. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle (FAN)

53. Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine* (FAN)

54. Fairest – Gail Carson Levine* (FAN)

55. Princess Tales – Gail Carson Levine* (FAN)

56. Chronicles of Narnia series – C.S. Lewis (FAN)

57. The Giver series – Lois Lowry* (FAN)

58. Number the Stars – Lois Lowry* (HIST)

59. Becoming Maria – Sonia Manzano (NONFIC)

60. Firefly Hollow – Alison McGhee (FIC)

61. Anne of Green Gables series – Lucy Maude Montgomery (FIC)

62. Fablehaven series – Brandon Mull (FAN)

63. Molly & Pim and the Millions of Stars – Martine Murray (FIC)

64. The Seventh Tower series – Garth Nix (FAN)

65. Lara’s Gift – Annemarie O’Brien (HIST)

66. Wonder – R.J. Palacio (FIC)

67. Eragon series – Christopher Paolini (FAN)

68. Bridge to Terebithia – Katherine Paterson (FIC)

69. Hatchet – Gary Paulsen (FIC)

70. Dogsong – Gary Paulsen (FIC)

71. Brian’s Winter – Gary Paulsen (FIC)

72. Pax – Sara Pennypacker (FIC)

73. In the Shadow of the Banyan – Vaddey Ratner (HIST)

74. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls (FIC)

75. Summer of the Monkeys – Wilson Rawls (HIST)

76. Percy Jackson series – Rick Riordan (FAN)

77. Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling (FAN)

78. Rooftoppers – Katherine Rundell (FIC)

79. Holes – Louis Sachar (FIC)

80. King George: What Was His Problem? – Steve Sheinkin (NONFIC)

81. Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall – Anita Silvey (NONFIC)

82. The Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket (FIC)

83. The Sign of the Beaver – Elizabeth George Speare (HIST)

84. The Bronze Bow – Elizabeth George Speare (HIST)

85. The Witch of Blackbird Pond – Elizabeth George Speare (HIST)

86. Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli (FIC)

87. Heidi – Johanna Spyri (FIC)

88. Goodbye, Stranger – Rebecca Stead (FIC)

89. The Mysterious Benedict Society series – Trenton Lee Stewart (FIC)

90. Our Castle by the Sea – Lucy Strange (HIST)

91. The Secret of Nightingale Wood – Lucy Strange (FIC)

92. Nevermoor series – Jessica Townsend (FAN)

93. Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times – Emma Trevayne (FAN)

94. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making series – Catherynne M. Valente (FAN)

95. Elon Musk & the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance (NONFIC)

96. Calvin & Hobbes comic books – Bill Watterson (COM)

97. Homeless Bird – Gloria Whelan* (HIST)

98. Angel on the Square – Gloria Whelan* (HIST)

99. Little House on the Prairie series – Laura Ingalls Wilder (HIST)

100. Wolf Hollow – Lauren Wolk (FIC)

101. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series – Maryrose Wood (FIC)

102. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street – Karina Yan Glaser (FIC)

103. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (HIST)

Okay, you got me. There are more than 101 books on this list. What did you expect? This blog has the word "literary" right in the title. And I warn you, this list will only keep growing. There are beautiful new books for middle-school readers coming out even as we speak, and we have a duty to keep up with them! To keep reading and sharing and encouraging literacy in all the young people we know! And if you're interested in more book lists, check out several books perfect for summer in this post!

What is your favorite book for middle-school readers? Is there any book you love for this age group that you don't see on this list? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below! Happy reading!


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