Top 10 Books Middle Schoolers Love (As Decided by Middle Schoolers) by Olivia Myers
I am, by no means, an expert on the middle grade psyche. They deal in ultimatums, and I find that their opinions are fast, fierce and at times, flippant. However, I love everything about middle grade students. They are so funny, smart and at a unique place where they are coming into themselves.
As a middle school teacher, I know it can be hard to get your students excited about reading. There is so much other stuff happening out there – how can a book beat Fortnite, friends, and YouTube?
I have curated a list of books straight from the selections of my own students. Books they find speak to their own unique truths and love to share with their friends. In the world of middle grade literature and YA, it’s an ever changing list that is constantly getting updated. However, i have found these 10 titles are ones my students keep coming back to time and time again.
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
Orbiting Jupiter is a an incredibly moving story about the relationship between two foster brothers. It really speaks to the redemptive power of second chances. (You’ll need tissues for this one!)
Track Series by Jason Reynolds
Track Series is a masterpiece. Each story personifies a different member of a select track team, and each story has its own background, plight, and voice. Plus, my students like to tell me “[the characters] sound like them” – which to middle schoolers, makes you very cool.
Gallagher Girls Series by Ally Carter
Espionage! High Tech Gadgets! Missing family members! Homework! Honestly, every world Ally Carter creates I want to be a part of myself. Carter takes the fantastic and keeps the realism of friendship troubles, crushes, and familial relationships.
House Arrest by K.A. Holt
A sibling out to save his brother – where do you draw the line between right and wrong? Now he has to serve a year long penance where he’s forced to keep a journal (can you hear your student’s groaning at that? Ha!) Students were on the edge of their seat with this story, all written as a novel in verse!
The Unwanteds series by Lisa McMann
In a world where there are only three options of who you can be, twins Aaron and Alex are separated. In a world full of magic, whimsy, and treachery – it will keep you on your toes! My students are burning through these, and then lending them to each other when they finish one.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds
Ok, so I know- another Jason Reynolds book on the list. I’m not going to lie, I have a little bit of an author crush on him, but my kids seriously think he’s great too. I can still hear my student’s snickering about Miles’ “razor sharp hairline.” (I’ve learned hairlines are a VERY big deal in the world of middle school jokes.) In light of the amazing movie that was just released, this story picks up where the movie leaves off.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Sometimes, when books become movies, I get nervous. I think as educators, a lot of us share this fear – that students will forsake the book in light of viewing the movie. If anything, I believe the movie only heightened my student’s awareness of this novel. I don’t think it being called a “modern classic” is any sort of understatement. I literally cannot keep this one on my shelves.
Code of Honor by Alan Gratz
Kamran is the perfect, all American Iranian kid. He plans on enlisting just like his brother Darius, until the unthinkable happens – Darius is accused of being a terrorist. In a book that feels almost like an action movie, it’s another triumph for Alan Gratz. (Really though, all of Alan Gratz’s work is a big hit – my students also really enjoyed Refugee!)
Live In Infamy by Caroline Tung Richmond
Think “ The Man in the High Castle” but with genetic super soldiers and made for middle grade students – then you get a pretty good picture of what this novel is all about. A book that starts with a tragic loss, Ren is forced to walk on eggshells in a world run by the Axis Powers. He has an opportunity to be part of the resistance, but is it worth the risk?
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Honestly, all of Raina Telgemeier’s stories my students can’t put down. They are constantly asking our librarian when the next one comes in, and the waiting list is long. However, Sisters is the one they love the most. My classroom copy is falling apart at the seams, literally. It is constantly sending my students into a fit of giggles, even if it’s a third or fourth reread.
Olivia Myers is a middle school teacher in Northwest ISD and a graduate of Texas Tech University. She is an avid reader and a Slytherin (the only personality test that really matters.) You can find her online on Twitter at @missmyersELA and Instagram as @OliviaGraceReads