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Middle School Reading Suggestions  

Last Updated: Sep 10, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Middle School Outside Reading

Timeless Tales

Andersen, H.C. Andersen's Fairy Tales.
Andersen wrote some of the most beloved tales of all time including "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", "The Little Mermaid", "Tumbelina", "The Little Match Girl" and "The Emperor's New Clothes".

Babbitt, Natalie. Tuck Everlasting
A family accidentally stumbles upon a spring with water endowing them with the gift of eternal life. Seventy years later, without having grown a day older, a young girl discovers them and learns their secret.

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. Little Lord Fauntleroy.
An American boy goes to live with his grandfather in England where he becomes heir to a title, estate, and fortune.

Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
When a young girl falls down a rabbit hole, she discovers a strange and interesting world with fantastical, mad characters as she tries to find her way back home.

Gilbreth. Cheaper by the Dozen.
What do you get when you put 12 lively kids together with a father who believes a family can be run like a factory and a mother who is his partner in everything except discipline? You get a hilarious tale of growing up.

Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book.
Presents the adventures of Mowgli, the "man-cub," abandoned as a baby by his parents and raised by the wolves in the wilds of the jungle.

Magorian, Michelle. Good Night, Mr. Tom.
A battered child learns to embrace life when he is adopted by an old man in the English countryside during the Second World War.

Nesbit, E. The Railway Children.
When their father is framed and imprisoned, three children and their mother move to the country, where they prevent a train accident, befriend an old gentleman, and try not to quarrel.

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels.
The voyages of an eighteenth-century Englishman who visits such strange places as Lilliput, where people are six inches tall, and Brobdingnag, a land of giants.


NCDS Favorites

Birdsall, Jeanne. Penderwicks in Spring.
Springtime is finally arriving on Gardam Street, and there are surprises in store for each member of the family.

Draper, Sharon. Out of My Mind.
A brilliant, impatient fifth-grader with cerebral palsy, considered by many to be mentally retarded, discovers a technological device that will allow her to speak for the first time.

Erskine, Kathryn. Mockingbird.
Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger's Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.

Grabenstein, Chris. Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.
Twelve-year-old Kyle gets to stay overnight in the new town library, designed by his hero (the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello), with other students but finds that come morning he must work with friends to solve puzzles in order to escape.

Holm, Jennifer. The Fourteenth Goldfish.
Ellie's scientist grandfather has discovered a way to reverse aging, and consequently has turned into a teenager--which makes for complicated relationships when he moves in with Ellie and her mother, his daughter.

Hunt, Lynda Mullaly. One For the Murphys.
After heartbreaking betrayal, Carley is sent to live with a foster family and struggles with opening herself up to their love.

Lord, Cynthia. Rules.
Frustrated at life with an autistic brother, twelve-year-old Catherine longs for a normal existence but her world is further complicated by a friendship with an young paraplegic.

Palacio, R.J. Wonder.
Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.

Taylor, Mildred. The Land.
After the Civil War Paul, the son of a white father and a black mother, finds himself caught between the two worlds of colored folks and white folks as he pursues his dream of owning land of his own.


Amazing Adventures

Acampora, Paul. I Kill the Mockingbird.
When best friends Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic.

Arnold, David. Mosquitoland.
When she learns that her mother is sick in Ohio, Mim confronts her demons on a thousand-mile odyssey from Mississippi that redefines her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker.  The War That Saved My Life.
A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.

Grabenstein, Chris. Island of Dr. Libris.
What if your favorite characters came to life? Billy's spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on.

Lamana, Julie T. Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere.
At the end of August 2005, ten-year-old Armani is looking forward to her birthday party in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where she and her extended family live, but Hurricane Katrina is on the way, bringing destruction and tragedy in its wake.

Philbrick, Rodman. Zane and the Hurricane.
A twelve-year-old boy and his dog become trapped in New Orleans during the horrors of Hurricane Katrina.

Schindler, Holly. The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky.
Auggie and her grandfather use found objects to transform the appearance of their home and, in the process, change a whole town's perceptions of beauty and art.

Senzai, N.H. Saving Kabul Corner.
Twelve-year-old Ariana, a tomboy, and her ladylike cousin Laila, recently arrived from Afghanistan, do not get along but they pull together when a rival Afghani grocery store opens, rekindling an old family feud and threatening their family's livelihood.

Springstubb, Tricia. Moonpenny Island.
On Moonpenny Island, eleven-year-old Flor O'Dell experiences a series of life changes after her best friend is sent away to a private school.


Life Lessons

Buyea, Rob. Saving Mr. Terupt.
Everyone is missing Mr. Terupt. When a fight threatens to break up the group forever, they think their favorite teacher is the only one who can help them. But the kids soon find out that it’s Mr. Terupt who needs saving.

Draper, Sharon M. Stella by Starlight.
When a burning cross set by the Klan causes panic and fear in 1932 Bumblebee, North Carolina, fifth-grader Stella must face prejudice and find the strength to demand change in her segregated town.

Frederick, Heather Vogel. Absolutely Truly.
Twelve-year-old Truly Lovejoy's family moves to a small town to take over a bookstore. Soon, she has to solve two mysteries involving a missing book and an undelivered letter.

Graff, Lisa. Lost in the Sun.
After a tragedy in fifth grade, Trent decides that he will speak the truth: that pain and anger and loss are not the final words, that goodness can find us after all—even when we hide from it.

Hunt,  Lynda Mullaly. Fish in a Tree.
Ally's greatest fear is that everyone will find out she is as dumb as they think she is because she still doesn't know how to read.

Jacobson, Jennifer. Paper Things.
Leaving with her brother when he decides he can no longer stay with their guardian, Ari endures a life of homelessness that challenges her schoolwork, friendships, and the promise made to her mother that she and her brother would stay together.

Martin, Ann M. Rain, Reign.
Struggling with Asperger's, Rose shares a bond with her beloved dog, but when the dog goes missing during a storm, Rose is forced to confront the limits of her comfort levels, even if it means leaving her routines in order to search for her pet.

Wiles, Deborah. Countdown.
The fearful events of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis are witnessed by eleven-year-old Franny, who finds her life and perspectives changing throughout the course of a week that is also marked by difficult family issues.

Williams-Garcia, Rita. Gone Crazy in Alabama.
Spending the summer with their grandmother in the rural South, three sisters from Brooklyn discover the surprising reason behind their mother's estrangement from their aunt.


Madcap Mysteries

Averback, Jim. Jim Averback Presents A Hitch at the Fairmont.
When his aunt is kidnapped, an eleven-year-old boy staying at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel in 1956 tries to find her, with the help of Alfred Hitchcock.

Balliett, Blue. Pieces and Players.
Thirteen pieces of valuable art have been stolen. The kids have been drawn in by the very mysterious Mrs. Sharpe, who may be playing her own kind of game with the clues. And it's not just Mrs. Sharpe who's acting suspiciously -- there's a ghost who mingles with the guards in the museum, a cat who acts like a spy, and bystanders in black jackets who keep popping up.

Bauer, Joan. Tell Me.
Feeling scared and powerless when her father's anger escalates and her parents separate, twelve-year-old Anna spends the summer with her grandmother and decides to make a difference when she sees what seems to be a girl held against her will.

Blackwood, Gary. Curiosity.
In 1835, when his father's put in a Philadelphia debtor's prison, 12-year-old chess prodigy Rufus Goodspeed is relieved to be recruited to secretly operate a chess-playing automaton named The Turk, but soon questions the fate of his predecessors and his own safety.

Bonk, John. Madhattan Mystery.
On her first day in New York City with her younger brother, Kevin, twelve-year-old Lexi overhears thieves discussing where to hide stolen jewels, and the siblings, along with their aunt's neighbor, Kim Ling, skip day camp to investigate "the crime of the century.".

Kerr, Esme. Girl with the Glass Bird.
When feisty Edie is sent to a remote school to spy on fragile Anastasia, she never imagines that they'll become best friends instead--and discover an ominous plot that puts both their lives in danger!

Stevens, Robin. Murder is Bad Manners.
Two friends form a detective agency-and must solve their first murder case-in this start to a middle grade mystery series at a 1930s boarding school.

Voigt, Cynthia. Book of Lost Things.
When Max's parents leave the country without him, he must rely on his wits to get by, and before long he is running his own rather unusual business.

Around the World


Agosin, Marjorie. I Lived on Butterfly Hill.
When her beloved country, Chile, is taken over by a militaristic, sadistic government, Celeste is sent to America for her safety and her parents must go into hiding before they "disappear.".

Burg, Ann E. Serafina’s Promise.
In a poor village outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Serafina works hard to help her family, but dreams of going to school and becoming a doctor--then the earthquake hits and Serafina must summon all her courage to find her father and still get medicine for her sick baby brother as she promised.

Kerr, Philip. Winter Horses.
Kalinka, a Ukrainian Jewish girl on the run from the Nazis, finds unlikely help from two rare Przewalski horses.

Lai, Tanhha. Listen, Slowly.
Assisting her grandmother's investigation of her grandfather's fate during the Vietnam War, Mai struggles to adapt to an unfamiliar culture while redefining her sense of family.

Nanji, Shenaaz. Child of the Dandelions.
In Uganda in 1972, fifteen-year-old Sabine and her family, wealthy citizens of Indian descent, try to preserve their normal life during the ninety days allowed by President Idi Amin for all foreign Indians to leave the country, while soldiers and others terrorize them and people disappear.

Parry, Rosanne. Written In Stone.
A young girl in a Pacific Northwest Native American tribe in the 1920s must deal with the death of her father and the loss of her tribe's traditional ways.

Preus, Margi. West of the Moon.
In nineteenth-century Norway, fourteen-year-old Astri, whose aunt has sold her to a mean goatherder, dreams of joining her father in America.

Resau, Laura. The Queen of Water.
Living in a village in Ecuador, a Quechua Indian girl is sent to work as an indentured servant for an upper class "mestizo" family.

Ryan, Pam Munoz. Echo.
Lost in the Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and finds himself entwined in a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.



Rhythm and Rhyme

Atkins, Jeanine. Borrowed Names.
Told in vivid, compelling poems, this is the story of three daughters and their remarkable mothers whose work in literature, business, and science changed the world.

Bryant, Jennifer. Ringside, 1925:views from the Scopes trial.
Visitors, spectators, and residents of Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925 describe, in a series of free-verse poems, the Scopes "monkey trial" and its effects on that small town and its citizens.

Hoberman, Mary Ann. Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn By Heart.
Present a new collection of poems, from both classic and contemporary poets, which are especially suited for learning by heart and reciting aloud.

Levine, Gail Carson.  Forgive Me, I Meant To Do It.
Mischief and twisted scenarios are part of the fun in these fractured-fairy-tale poems, which include wry takes on the Brothers Grimm, Mother Goose nonsense, and popular folklore.

Lewis, J. Patrick. National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar!
Combines photography with lyrical text celebrating the animal world, in a compilation that includes works by such poets as Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and Rudyard Kipling.

Myers, Walter Dean. Riot.
In 1863, fifteen-year-old Claire, the daughter of an Irish mother and a black father, faces ugly truths and great danger when Irish immigrants, enraged by the Civil War and a federal draft, lash out against blacks and wealthy "swells" of New York City.

Salas, Laura. Bookspeak! Poems About Books.
A collection of wacky, whimsical poems about books and all the treasures they contain.

Singer, Marilin. Mirror, Mirror.
A collection of short poems which, when reversed, provide new perspectives on the fairy tale characters they feature.

Woodson, Jacqueline.  Brown Girl Dreaming.
Jacqueline Woodson shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South.


Shakespeare's World


Bauer, A.C.E. Come Fall.
Drawn together by a mentoring program and an unusual crow, middle school misfits Salman, Lu, and Blos form a strong friendship despite teasing by fellow students and the maneuverings of fairies Oberon, Titania, and Puck.

Blackwood, Gary. The Shakespeare Stealer.
A young orphan boy is ordered by his master to infiltrate Shakespeare's acting troupe in order to steal the script of "Hamlet," but he discovers instead the meaning of friendship and loyalty.

Broach, Elise. Shakespeare’s Secret.
Named after a character in a Shakespeare play, misfit sixth-grader Hero becomes interested in exploring this unusual connection because of a valuable diamond supposedly hidden in her new house, an intriguing neighbor, and the unexpected attention of the most popular boy in school.

Hicks, Deron. The Secrets of Shakespeare’s Grave.
Twelve-year-old Colophon Letterford has a serious mystery on her hands. Will she discover the link between her family's literary legacy and Shakespeare's tomb before it's too late.

Klein, Lisa M. Ophelia.
In a story based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, Ophelia tells of her life in the court at Elsinore, her love for Prince Hamlet, and her escape from the violence in Denmark.

Rees, Celia.  Fool’s Girl.
Violetta and Feste have come to London to rescue a holy relic taken from a church in Illyria by the evil Malvolio, and once there, they tell the story of their adventures to playwright William Shakespeare, who turns it into a play.

Schmidt, Gary D. The Wednesday Wars.
During the 1967 school year, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker's classroom where they read the plays of William Shakespeare and Holling learns much of value about the world he lives in.

Tiffany, Grace. Ariel.
A retelling of William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" from the point of view of Ariel, the mischievous air spirit.


Grimm Tales


Black, Holly.  In the Darkest Part of the Forest.
In the town of Fairfold, where humans and fae exist side by side, a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives awakes after generations of sleep in a glass coffin in the woods, causing Hazel to be swept up in new love, shift her loyalties, feel the fresh sting of betrayal, and to make a secret sacrifice to the faerie king.

Burt, Melissa. Storybound.
Shy, twelve-year-old Una Fairchild is suddenly transported by a mysterious book into the Land of Story, where characters from books hope to be cast into a tale of their own, and Una attends the Perrault Academy while trying to discover why she is there.

Colfer, Chris.  A Grimm Warning.
Discovering a clue left by the famous Brothers Grimm, Conner, his classmate Bree, and the outlandish Mother Goose embark on a mission across Europe to crack a code while Alex haphazardly trains as the next Fairy Godmother.

Dowell, Frances O’Roark. Falling In.
Middle schooler Isabelle Bean follows a mouse's squeak into a closet and falls into a parallel universe where the children believe she is the witch they have feared for years, finally come to devour them.

Funaro, Gregory. Alistair Grimm’s Odditorium.
In Victorian England, Grubb, an orphan about twelve years old, escapes his life of drudgery as a chimney sweep's apprentice and finds himself in a very strange house filled with magical objects and creatures, but soon he learns that there are dark forces seeking his new master.

Gardner, Lyn. Into the Woods.
Pursued by the sinister Dr.DeWilde and his ravenous wolves, three sisters, Storm, the inheritor of a special musical pipe, the elder Aurora, and the baby Any, flee into the woods and begin a treacherous journey filled with many dangers as they try to find a way to defeat their pursuer and keep him from taking the pipe and control of the entire land.

Gidwitz, Adam.  A Tale Dark and Grimm.
Follows Hansel and Gretel as they walk out of their own story and into eight more tales, encountering such wicked creatures as witches, along with kindly strangers and other helpful folk.

Shurtliff, Liesl. Jack. 
All work and no play makes Jack extremely bored. And when Jack gets bored, he makes mischief.


Get Real


Aronson, Marc.  Sugar Changed the World: a Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science.
Traces the panoramic story of the sweet substance and its important role in shaping world history.

Fleming, Candace. Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
Tells the story of Amelia Earhart's life--as a child, a woman, and a pilot--and describes the search for her missing plane.

Fleischman, Sid. Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini.
A biography of the magician, ghost chaser, aviator, and king of escape artists whose amazing feats are remembered long after his death in 1926. Profiling his early years, personal life, and great accomplishments in show business, the story of the famous magician, Harry Houdini.

Hopkinson, Deborah.  Titanic: voices from the disaster.
A critically acclaimed nonfiction author pieces together the story of the "Titanic" and that fateful April night in 1912, drawing on the voices of survivors and archival photographs.

Kops, Deborah. The Great Molasses Flood: Boston 1919.
An account of the January 1919 molasses tank explosion in Boston, Massachusetts, seeks to uncover why the tank blew up and who was to blame through primary sources and archival photographs that show the extent of the damage.

Marrin, Albert. Flesh and Blood so Cheap.
Describes the conditions in the textile industry in the early 20th century behind the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company that led to the death of many young women, and explains its impact on the labor movement and on society.

Nelson, Kadir. We Are the Ship: the Story of Negro League Baseball.
Satchel Paige, Hank Aaron, Josh Gibson, Jackie Robinson. These men are some of baseball's all-time greatest players, but in the days of segregation, none of them could get a job with a professional team. In a voice that sounds like an old ballplayer telling a tale, this book's narrator tells all about how and why baseball's Negro Leagues began, how their brand of baseball was unique, what players' lives on the road were like, and much more.

VanHecke,  Susan. Raggin, Jazzin, Rockin’: A History of American Musical Instrument Makers.
Presents a history of the invention of musical instruments, including the inventors who created Zildjian cymbals, the Steinway piano, the Martin guitar, the Hammond organ, and the Moog synthesizer.

Prize Winners


Applegate, Katherine. The One and Only Ivan.
When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.

Black, Holly. Doll Bones.
Zach, Alice, and Poppy, friends from a Pennsylvania middle school who have long enjoyed acting out imaginary adventures with dolls and action figures, embark on a real-life quest to Ohio to bury a doll made from the ashes of a dead girl.

DiCamillo, Kate. Flora and Ulysees: the Illuminated Adventures.
Rescuing a squirrel after an accident involving a vacuum cleaner, comic-reading cynic Flora Belle Buckman is astonished when the squirrel, Ulysses, demonstrates astonishing powers of strength and flight after being revived.

Holm, Jennifer L. Turtle in Paradise.
In 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in far away Key West, Florida.

Lai, Thanhha. Inside Out and Back Again.
Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.

Lin, Grace. Where Mountain Meets the Moon.
Minli, an adventurous girl from a poor village, buys a magical goldfish, and then joins a dragon who cannot fly on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon in hopes of bringing life to Fruitless Mountain and freshness to Jade River.

Preus, Margi. Heart of a Samurai.
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.

Rhodes, Jewell Parker. Ninth Ward.
In New Orleans' Ninth Ward, twelve-year-old Lanesha, who can see spirits, and her adopted grandmother have no choice but to stay and weather the storm as Hurricane Katrina bears down upon them.

Schlitz, Laura Amy. Splendors and Glooms.
When Clara vanishes after the puppeteer Grisini and two orphaned assistants were at her twelfth birthday party, suspicion of kidnapping chases the trio away from London and soon the two orphans are caught in a trap set by Grisini's ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it is too late.

Stead, Rebecca. When You Reach Me.
As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1970s television game show, "The 20,000 Pyramid," twelve-year-old Miranda tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.

Timberlake, Amy. One Came Home.
In 1871 Wisconsin, thirteen-year-old Georgia sets out to find her sister Agatha, presumed dead when remains are found wearing the dress she was last seen in, and before the end of the year gains fame as a sharpshooter and foiler of counterfeiters.

Turnage, Sheila. Three Times Lucky.
Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now eleven, and her best friend Dale turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a cafe and co-parent of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder.

Vanderpool, Clare. Moon Over Manifest.
Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is the daughter of a drifter who, in the summer of 1936, sends her to stay with an old friend in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up, and where she hopes to find out some things about his past.

Vawter, Vince. Paperboy.
When an eleven-year-old boy takes over a friend's newspaper route in July, 1959, in Memphis, his debilitating stutter makes for a memorable month.

Williams-Garcia, Rita. One Crazy Summer.
In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

Yelchin, Eugene. Breaking Stalin’s Nose.
In the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, ten-year-old Sasha idolizes his father, a devoted Communist, but when police take his father away and leave Sasha homeless, he is forced to examine his own perceptions, values, and beliefs.


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