My Students’ Top Ten (11) + 5 Favorite Books They’ve Read So Far This Year by Jillian Heise

Teaching adolescents can be so fun, and 7th & 8th graders definitely have opinions on books. Another great part about working with the kids I spend my days teaching is the books that are available for that age group. I talk daily with my students about the books they’re reading and what they’re thinking about them, and I often see them passing favorite reads hand-to-hand to their friends. I thought it would be fun to have them determine the content of a Nerdy Book Club post.


At the end of the first semester, I asked my students to each give me their list of favorite books they’ve read so far this year. When the results were tabulated (with combining two books from one series), we ended up with a clear top ten, and then one vote less was a five way tie. So, I give you My Students’ Top Ten (11) + 5 Favorite Books They’ve Read So Far This Year. We also talked about book blurbs that promote books people love and looked at models, so some of my students wrote their own book blurbs for their favorites. All blurbs are theirs. *Note: A few of these titles are more mature, edgy young adult books, which are a fit for my urban students, but may not be a fit for all middle school classrooms.

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth

“Was a thrilling and adventurous novel that kept me at the edge of my seat.”

“Reading Divergent is similar to eating ice cream – right out of the tub, you just can’t stop.”

“Action-packed, page-turning, thrilling, exciting, frustrating, great book that makes you want to read again. It has you on the edge of your seat.”

“A fast-paced, page-turning novel.”

Divergent was definitely the best dystopian book I read this year. I like how there was fighting, some romance and mystery.”

crash bang

2. Crash and Bang by Lisa McMann (Visions series)

“Brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced…it was great!”

“A page-turner from start to finish. Lisa McMann once again thrilled us.”

3. Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann

“This book is amazing! It’s probably the best book I read this year. 🙂 I highly recommend this book to people who like mysteries and scary books! Lisa McMann is an awesome author, her books are really interesting! They make you wanna keep reading!”

4. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

“I loved this book. It was mixed with my favorites: science fiction and action/adventure. I think Pittacus Lore worked at his best.”

5. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

“A romantic, caring, satisfying book.”

“One of my ALL time favorites! Fantastic, romantic, lovable, cute, and happy book. A great book to read after Allegiant.”

6. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

“A great mixture of things that I look for in a book.”

7. Legend by Marie Lu

“A very exciting book that will have your heart pounding and leave you wanting more. It is an exhilarating tale and a search to the death. It is legendary.”

“A great book that I suggest to anyone 7th grade and up.”

8. Dead to You by Lisa McMann

“A thrilling book that will give you a heart attack!”

“Ethan’s surprise return that takes you on an interesting, unspeakable, and tension-filled story.”

9. To Be Perfectly Honest by Sonya Sones

“A brilliant book; the only book I ever read that made me want to slap it!!!”

“You will be interested, but yet disturbed from this book. So much lying, yet such a good romantic, but sad story.”

10. The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

“This is the only book I know that teaches a lesson and is interesting.”

“Crazy nailbiter that will keep you guessing what will happen next.”

+ Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

“I don’t have words to describe how great this book is. All I have to say is that this books is a MUST READ!!”

“Amazing book that will give you soo many emotions throughout the whole story, but they’re worth it.

+ Fracture by Megan Miranda

“This book will have you on edge all day and night. There is not one part that is predictable. You have to read it yourself to find out!”

“This book was amazing; I highly recommend this book to all people who like science fiction books.”

+ Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

“The only book this year that I could not stop reading. So much emotion, drama, and romance. I absolutely loved this book!”

+ One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

One for the Murphys will have you in tears all the way through and make you laugh through your tears.”

+ Smile by Raina Telgemeier

“An entertaining and relatable story for all of us who’ve had braces.”

“Raina’s character’s voice is strong and insightful; this was a delightful graphic novel. Sweet, wonderful, lovely…I couldn’t put it down.”

“If there’s one book teens and preteens should read, it’s Smile.”


Mrs. Heise’s students are 7th and 8th graders in the Milwaukee area. They are embracing the amount of reading they’re doing while in her language arts class for two years and discovering that there are some very good books to be found while working toward 40 and 50 book challenges, and often beg for more read alouds and reading time. They have been known to ask Mrs. Heise if she can “tweet the author” from her @heisereads account, and get especially excited when authors respond to their comments. Some of their book responses also get posted at their teacher’s blog, Heise Reads & Recommends.