20 Books To Teach in Middle School

Flexibility is required in today’s school, especially for young readers. Not every book needs to be read aloud or silently. Read some to your pupils aloud, give them CDs to listen to, or have them read one book at a time to one another. See what kinds of discussions arise. You don’t need a canned program from some organization to convince you that engaged pupils learn better. Each of these middle school texts provides a road to self-awareness and empathy. But remember that middle school maturity levels vary greatly, and you are the best judge of each pupil. Always read the books first.

Best Middle School Books

  1. Stamped by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi

This remix of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning, intended for young people, is an urgent investigation of how race history affects us in the here and now. There’s even a guide for teachers.

  1. Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

Khosrou isn’t like the other students at his Oklahoma middle school, but he can tell a good story. This actual story of Khosrou’s family’s midnight flight from Iran is a riveting depiction of middle school tumult and personal strife.

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This is the narrative of Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old girl who struggles with her emotions after witnessing her unarmed childhood friend being slain by police, a generational touchstone. Definitely for older children—and well worth the subsequent discussions.

  1. All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat

As the title suggests, this book is a fascinating and information-packed survival story. Thanks to interviews and first-hand accounts, the story will keep even the most energetic students on the tip of their seats.

  1. Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Louise Wolfe, a Muscogee high school student, is torn between familial commitments and the demands of adolescence. Another book for older children is a real coming-of-age narrative told in a new voice.

  1. Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman lifted the voice of her generation when she spoke at the inauguration in 2021. Her collection of poems is broad, innovative, and a must-read for today’s children.

  1. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

This is one of the best-written YA novels you’ll ever read. Leigh Chen Sanders’ voice is exquisite in this expertly written narrative of love, friendship, sorrow, and creativity.

  1. Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto

Yes, we’re going to this location. A few good Manga volumes are a must-have for each middle school library. It’s time to put your reservations aside and plunge into what your children are already reading. These books have been approved by teachers and are full of storytelling and character exposition, making them ideal for literary analysis. If these titles don’t seem appropriate for your kids, consult them—they are the experts! The first is Naruto, a narrative of a young, unruly youngster who is driven to become the greatest ninja in the world.

  1. Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata

This modern take on traditional manga (complete with high-flying warriors and action sequences) chronicles the story of two young manga creators. The protagonists are high school students attempting to realize their aspirations, which will appeal to young readers.

  1. A Silent Voice by Jerry Spinelli

Shoya learns about the ramifications of bullying when he encounters Shoko six years after he knew her in school. This is a fantastic narrative for middle schoolers, and it’s an excellent way to get started with manga.

  1. The March Series by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

The three-part graphic novel series tells the story of John Lewis’ journey from his family’s farm to the Edmund Pettis Bridge, where he met Martin Luther King Jr. for the historic Selma to Montgomery March. This trilogy lends itself to various classroom readings and activities since it is beautifully depicted and strongly told.

  1. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

This emotionally realistic narrative of Xiomara Batista, a first-generation Dominican American teen in a Catholic family who “feels ignored and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood,” is told with Acevedo’s slam poet sensibility.

  1. Wringer by Jerry Spinelli

When the boys in Palmer’s town reach the age of ten, they are supposed to become “wringers,” killing birds injured in a community event. Palmer, on the verge of turning nine, not only despises the custom but also keeps a pigeon in his bed, posing a moral quandary.

  1. The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

Explore the cultural gaps surrounding class and the gun debate through the eyes of seventh-grader Zoey, who lives on the outskirts of society and tries to make sense of it all.

  1. Monster by Walter Dean Myers

This novel, which has won numerous prizes, follows Steve, an amateur filmmaker. He resolves to transcribe his case into a script, much as in the movies, to cope with the awful events surrounding him.

  1. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

This novel follows Coyote, a young woman who travels the county with her father on an old school bus and has parallels to Common Core principles. Over thousands of kilometers, she will discover that returning home can be the most challenging voyage of all.

  1. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jerome, a 12-year-old boy, is shot by a cop who mistook his pretend gun for a real one. Jerome, now a ghost, witnesses the devastation wreaked on his family and neighborhood in the aftermath of what they perceive to be an unjust and terrible murder. Soon after, Jerome encounters another ghost: Emmett Till, a young man from a different era who lived in comparable conditions to Jerome.

  1. Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

This novel, which has won numerous prizes and is one of our favorite middle school books, is a dramatic story of a girl striving for success in a world that appears to be attempting to break her all the time.

  1. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Another one of our favorite novels for middle schoolers! Follow Melody, an eleven-year-old who is unlike the rest of her peers. She can’t walk, talk, or write because she cannot walk, talk, or write. It’s all due to her cerebral palsy. But she also possesses a photographic memory, recalling every detail of every encounter she has ever had. She is the brightest student at her school, but no one knows.

  1. Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez

For middle kids, this is a timely narrative. Tyler’s family is forced to hire migrant Mexican workers to help preserve their Vermont farm from foreclosure when Tyler’s father is injured in a tractor accident. Tyler isn’t sure how he feels about them.

Choose your Reaction!