Reading List for Grades 7-12
Updated: Oct 5, 2022
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1. The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver is an American young adult dystopian novel that centers on a young boy named Jonas. Jonas lives with his family in what seems like an ideal world, a world of contentment and conformity. When Jonas turns twelve, he is selected as the new Receiver of Memory--a person who carries the burden of memories from all of history, and who has access to books beyond schoolbooks. During the training, Jonas discovers new emotions and sensations that no ordinary member of the community is familiar with. The more he experiences these new things, the more he learns about the dark secrets of his community, and he realizes that not everything is as it seems...
2. A Long Walk To Water by Linda Sue Park
Told in alternating sections, A Long Walk To Water is about two Sudanese children, a boy in 1985 and a girl in 2008. The boy, Salva, fights for survival and endures hunger, dangerous animals, and the sweltering heat as he tries to escape the Sudanese Civil War in 1985. The girl, Nya, begins her tale in 2008 when her family struggles to find clean, fresh water. Nya spends most of her days traveling on foot to collect water from a pond for her family. This book is a compelling tale of hope, perseverance, and courage that intertwines two remarkable stories in an emotional and powerful way.
3. An Elephant In The Garden by Michael Morpurgo
During WWII, Lizzie's mother works as a zookeeper in Dresden, Germany. In anticipation of Dresden's imminent bombing, the zoo animals will be put down as a precaution. However, Lizzie and her family have become attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene. Her mother had convinced the zoo director to keep Marlene to stay in the family's garden. As the bombs begin to fall, Lizzie's family is forced to flee from the city. But how can they walk to safety when they have an elephant in tow? Inspired by a true story, An Elephant In The Garden is a story of hope, courage, and faith despite the darkest of times.
4. Poppy Mayberry, The Monday by Jennie K. Brown
People in the quirky town of Nova have special abilities based on the day they were born. 11-year-old Poppy was born on a Monday, which has gifted her telekinesis. Her teacher, born on a Thursday, can read minds. The kid next to her in class could turn back the clock just because he is a "Wednesday." But Poppy's Monday telekinesis isn't quite working out, and to make matters worse, she has to endure the constant teasing from her classmates Ellie and Celia. Having little confidence and struggling in school, she is sent to Power Academy, a summer school for kids who need to work on their powers. Will Poppy be able to master her gift? Poppy Mayberry, The Monday is the first in the Nova Kids series which readers are sure to enjoy and will eagerly anticipate reading the rest of the book series.
5. Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Set in 1968, 14-year-old Doug Swieteck struggles to deal with a dysfunctional family and adjust to life in a new town and school, where he feels out of place and unwelcome. Taking refuge at the local library and making friends with the librarian, he takes an interest in a book about birds and drawing. Despite mistrust and unfair expectations about him, that he is what his abusive father and brother are, Doug perseveres and makes positive life changes as he discovers new sides of himself. Okay For Now is both a moving and hopeful coming-of-age story that reminds us that despite hardships, we can still learn to find our best selves.
6. A Snicker Of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Midnight Gulch was once a magical place where people could conjure thunderstorms, become invisible when sad, bake magic into pies, and even catch starlights in Mason jars--until a curse drove the magic away.
When Felicity Pickle, who has a gift of seeing words everywhere she goes, arrives in Midnight Gulch where her mother grew up, she finally feels at home. She even starts seeing words she has never seen before like, "home" and "friend." But her mother, cursed with a wandering heart, is getting ready to leave again. Felicity must return the magic to Midnight Gulch and free her family from the curse so they can finally have a place to call "home." This book is a delightful and charming tale about family, love, and home with a sprinkle of magic. This is a good book for readers who would like to improve their vocabulary as well.
7. Death On The River Of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Amazon Adventure by Samantha Seiple
In Death on The River of Doubt, readers follow Theodore Roosevelt, his son Kermit and renowned Brazilian explorer Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon and other companions as they embark on a perilous journey as they go deep into the Amazon jungle to lead an expedition and chart an unmapped river. With new dangers waiting around every corner, including raging rapids, harsh weather, bloodthirsty piranhas, cannibals, and traitors within their own ranks, it seems that not everyone will make it out alive. Amidst all of this, the indomitable spirit of Teddy Roosevelt proved unwavering through the expedition, determined to complete the mission. This fascinating narrative, non-fiction story is a fast-paced and engaging read that will surely captivate middle-grade readers, giving them an insight into the life of the former US president.
8. Bluefish by Pat Schmatz
13-year-old Travis has to move in with his alcoholic grandfather in a new town. Travis feels lonely as he misses his old home and his dog, Rosco, whom he left behind. At the new school, Travis makes friends with Velveeta, a spunky, kindhearted girl with secrets of her own. He also meets Mr. McQueen, a kind and helpful teacher who discovered Travis’ secret--he can’t read. Bluefish is beautifully written with strong and believable characters about a boy with a learning disability, a dedicated and caring teacher, and a true friend who helps him through life's ups and downs.
9. Home Of The Brave by Katherine Applegate
Kek is a young Sudanese refugee who comes to Minnesota to live with his aunt and cousin. Kek adjusts to his new life in a new land and experiences snow for the first time. An elderly woman who owns a farm, a girl in foster care, and a cow whose name means "family" in Kek's native language are among the people Kek meets along the way. As Kek anxiously awaits news about his missing mother while braving the Minnesota winter, he finds comfort in the warmth of his new friendships and faith in his new country. Home of the Brave features short, heartwarming chapters which are lighthearted and funny, beautifully written in free verse.
10. A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry
Swift, a young wolf cub, lives in the mountains with his pack, learning to hunt and compete with his siblings for hierarchy. When a rival pack attacks, Swift is separated from his family and finds himself alone and injured. As he travels through the Pacific Northwest, he endures hunger, hunters, and forest fires along the way. He's looking for a new home, but where? The story of OR-7 (or Journey), a real wolf from Oregon, has inspired this thrilling novel that will appeal to reluctant readers as well as lovers of wildlife.
11. Jeremy Fink And The Meaning Of Life by Wendy Mass
Jeremy's father died when he was eight. A month before Jeremy's 13th birthday, Jeremy received a package from his father containing a locked wooden box that requires special keys. The mysterious box is engraved with the words "The Meaning of Life: for Jeremy Fink to open on his 13th birthday." Jeremy is the kind of boy who never ventures more than four blocks from his apartment and who hates surprises. Lizzy, his best friend, is the opposite and gets into some kind of trouble every now and then. When Lizzy convinces Jeremy to look for the keys to the box, the two embark on an adventurous journey through the city with life lessons learned along the way. Lively characters, surprising twists, and thought-provoking ideas make this novel a must-read.
12. Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
At the end of World War II, 13-year-old Jack Baker from Kansas was sent to a boy's boarding school in Maine after losing his mother to a brain aneurysm. At first, Jack had trouble adapting to his new environment until he met Early Auden, an orphan. Early reads the numbers in Pi as a story, collects clippings about the great black bear sightings in the nearby mountains, and believes in impossible things. Jack and Early soon form an unexpected friendship, and while they are on break from school, they set out on a quest for the great black bear on the Appalachian Trail. In the mountains, they will meet some strange and dangerous characters and discover some surprising truths about themselves and others. As the readers follow their incredible quest on the Appalachian Trail, Navigating Early is a tale about friendship, loss, and family that will draw readers into this beautiful and hopeful story.
13. Posted by John David Anderson
As a result of a ban on cellphones at Branton Middle School, Frost and his friends devise a new way to communicate with each other by leaving sticky notes around the school. Soon, as the idea catches on, everyone in school starts to leave notes as well. Words are more than just words, especially in middle school. You can make friends with the right words or make enemies with the wrong ones, and sometimes they can change things forever. Posted, an award-winning young adult novel, explores themes of bullying, friendship, social media, and the inherent power of words.
14. Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank
When the Nazis occupied Holland in 1942, Anne Frank and her family left their Amsterdam home and went into hiding. Throughout the next two years, Anne's diary vividly described living in confined quarters as they faced constant hunger, boredom, and the imminent threat of discovery. Anne Frank's remarkable diary has become a world classic that chronicles the horrors of war and reveals the spirit of humanity in powerful and moving ways.
15. Wink by Rob Harrell
Seventh-grader Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal middle schooler. But when you have a permanent wink from rare eye cancer, goopy eyes from ointments, and wear a funny hat, it's hard to blend in. Ross has to endure cruel bullying and disappearing friends. But just as he was about to give up, he found out how music, art, and real friends can bring life to his world and can make a big difference. Based on the author's real-life experiences, this poignant novel blends humor and hope into an uplifting and unforgettable tale of survival and embracing life's quirks.
16. The Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling
One year after a random restaurant shooting that changed their family forever, to escape from their grief and to find peace, Nora and her father are exploring a canyon deep in the Arizona desert. Nora wishes things could get back to normal like they did when her mother was alive. But an unthinkable happens: a flash flood separates Nora and her father. To stay alive, not only does Nora have to fight scorpions and poisonous snakes, but also the Beast, who terrorized her dreams for the past year. Readers won't be able to put this book down as they follow and root for Nora on her harrowing journey as she faces her fears, copes with grief and trauma, and finds the courage to save herself and her father.
17. The List Of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead
Bea keeps a journal to list the things that will always stay the same despite the many changes in her life. Included in this list is the fact that her Mom and Dad will always love her despite the divorce and her dad marrying his boyfriend, Jesse. Readers will get glimpses into Bea's life as she copes with changes in her family dynamics, with school, and with Jesse's daughter, who she hopes will be her sister. The List of Things That Will Not Change is a positive and uplifting tale that discusses the importance of family, support, and acceptance; it also addresses anxiety and mental health in children, making it an ideal read for kids and adults alike.
18. Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick
Tess and Frankie are twins but unlike Tess, Frankie is neurodivergent. She doesn't like loud noises, can't stand being touched, and is easily distracted. This also means that Frankie has trouble making friends and keeping them. Although she did have a friend named Colette, the two had a falling out and are now no longer friends. A few weeks before the end of seventh grade, Colette suddenly goes missing. Determined to find Colette, Frankie and Tess work together to gather clues that will help find her...before it’s too late.
19. Turtle Boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein
For Will Levine, seventh grade isn't going well. Having a funny-looking chin makes him a target of bullying at school resulting in him being called Turtle Boy. Although his chin can be fixed by surgery, Will is terrified of hospitals ever since his father died during a routine surgery when he was little. As part of his bar mitzvah community service project, his mother and Rabbi make him visit RJ, a teenager with an incurable disease, to help him overcome his fear of hospitals. Will and RJ don't get along at first. Soon, Will learns that RJ has a bucket list and realizes that he must fulfill it as RJ's illness is worsening. The bucket list tasks are accomplished with RJ's guidance, as he helps Will come out of his shell and live his life.
20. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Sal is traveling cross country with her grandparents to find her mother. To pass the time during the long car trip, Sal entertains her grandparents with a story about a friend named Phoebe Winterbottom whose mother also vanished and who received secret messages after her disappearance. Sal narrates the stories and seems unaware of just how parallel her story is to Phoebe's story. Sal and Phoebe's stories intertwine throughout the book, which explores themes such as friendship, love, and family. A beautiful and heartfelt road trip story you won't soon forget.
21. Eleven by Tom Rogers
Alex dreamed of becoming a hero, but nothing heroic ever happened to him. He is also turning 11 on the 11th, and all he wants for his birthday is a dog. His parents, however, think he isn't responsible enough to take care of a pet, and they want him to focus on his studies. On the morning of his birthday, however, things seemed a little out of the ordinary: the school let them out early, his mom told him not to turn on the TV when he got home, and he rescued a stray dog. It is September 11, 2001, and it is the one birthday he will never forget. In Eleven, we see how the events of that day affected the world, and its message is one of hope, bravery, compassion, and kindness. It's a great book for children and adults alike
22. Shipwreck At The Bottom Of The World: The Extraordinary True Story Of Shackleton And The Endurance by Jennifer Armstrong
Sir Ernest Shackleton and 27 men left England in August 1914, hoping to become the first explorers to trek across the continent of Antarctica. This book tells the story of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and his crew as they desperately fight for survival after their ship, Endurance, becomes trapped in ice and is eventually destroyed. After countless close calls, Shackleton and five others reached the remote and unvisited Elephant Island where they set off to get help. In the most extraordinary adventure story in history, readers will be captivated by Shackleton's leadership and courage amidst dire circumstances, as well as how he brought every one of his men back alive.
23. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
A historical fiction set in the Gilded-Age Atlanta, 17-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady's maid to a vicious mistress in a grand house. But by night, Jo writes an anonymous advice column called "Dear Miss Sweetie." Using the power of her pen, she addresses some of society's ills, and challenges fixed ideas about gender and race. Despite her column's popularity and becoming the talk of the town, her opponents insist on revealing Miss Sweetie's secret identity, leading Jo to question whether it is best to remain silent or speak up. This compelling story of a Chinese-American woman living in the South during the late 19th century will surely captivate readers with its poignant portrayal of her experiences.
24. The Darkdeep by Ally Condie
Nico and his friends go to Still Cove to have fun and test out his new drone. The remote Still Cove is covered by dense fog and is off-limits due to numerous creepy sightings. However, when the local bullies arrive, things get out of hand, causing their drone to crash into the icy waters of Still Cove. Nico falls down the cliff while trying to retrieve his expensive drone. As Nico's friends rush to his rescue, not only is he safe, but they also discover a mysterious houseboat hidden in the swirling mists in the middle of the cove. As the friends explore deeper into the unknown, something ancient has awakened, and it can fulfill all their wishes and even make their nightmares come true. This supernatural thriller is fast-paced with alternating bits of humor, and is sure to captivate horror fans and those who enjoy "Stranger Things" and "The Goonies."
25. When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin
A former foster kid, Ben Coffin has never felt like he fits in, and has never been good at making friends. While at school, he keeps his head down to avoid bullies and prefers to spend his free time reading his favorite sci-fi books. In the alley beside Coney Island Library, he discovers a scruffy, neglected dog named Flip. Little did he know it would lead him to befriend a fellow book-lover named Halley--a girl with the brightest personality. Ben begins to feel as if he belongs in his own life for the first time, but then everything changes. This bittersweet book is a heartwarming tale of one boy's journey through life's ups and downs and a must-read for dog lovers as well.
26. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Francie lives in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn to Irish parents. Despite her tough and poverty-stricken life, she tries to find beauty in it. Neighbors often criticize her family's eccentric and erratic behavior, such as her father Johnny's hard-drinking and her aunt Sissy's constant liaisons with men. The book provides a glimpse into Francie and her family's daily life and struggles in the early 1900s Brooklyn and how she eventually pulled herself out of poverty by working hard despite hardships, loneliness, and loss. This book is a timeless, beautiful work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place with an emotional, realistic, and honest voice.
27. Bloom by Kenneth Oppel
The invasion that happened wasn't where you expected it to begin. It all started with rain, which triggered a strange and life-threatening event. Thick, black vine-like plants began sprouting everywhere and releasing toxic pollens. They bloom everywhere, rapidly taking over lands and fields and swallowing animals and people. Meanwhile, three kids on a remote island didn't seem to be affected by the toxic plants. Anaya, Seth, and Petra all suffer from strange allergies--but not to these plants. Could they be the key to fighting back the invasion?
28. The Fountains Of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, a son of an oil tycoon arrives in Madrid in 1957 to connect to his mother's birth country through the lens of his camera. His love for photography introduce him to Ana--the hotel maid assigned to care for his family while staying at the luxurious Hotel Castellana Hilton. By getting to know Ana, Daniel begins to discover the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War and the deep secrets of a country where people live in fear and terror under General Franco's rule. Both gripping suspense and a well-crafted love story, this book will hold readers' attention from the first page to the last.
29. The Land (Logan Family Saga) by Mildred D. Taylor
Nine-year-old Paul-Edward Logan's life has been different from most freed slaves, as he is the son of a prosperous plantation owner. His white father acknowledged and raised him, and his white brothers treat him no differently. However, as he grows into a young man, he discovers that having a multiracial heritage is not easy, especially in post-Civil War Georgia. Black people distrust him because he looks white, and he is discriminated against when white people learn of his black heritage. So Paul, with his friend, Mitchell, leaves Georgia to fulfill his dreams of owning land. A powerful, thought-provoking story based on the author's own history, The Land will appeal to readers from 7th grade and up.
30. A Whale Of The Wild by Rosanne Parry
A gripping animal fiction story about a young orca whale named Vega who lives in the Salish Sea. Young Vega is learning how to find salmon for her group and preparing for when she becomes the matriarch of her family. As she and her brother Deneb find themselves out in the open ocean after a devastating earthquake and tsunami, the siblings must find a way to survive, as they encounter shark attacks, starvation, and polluted waters on their journey back to their family. Beautifully illustrated and powerful, this educational novel explores family bonds, survival, and the ever-present threat of climate change and its effects on marine life. Animal lovers will also enjoy the back pages, which offer additional information about orcas and their natural habitats.
1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
It's an ordinary day for Arthur Dent--until his home gets demolished. Soon after, Earth was also destroyed to make way for an intergalactic freeway. However, Arthur's friend, Ford Prefect, reveals to him that he is an alien and saves him just in time. With only just a towel, a small yellow fish, and a book, Arthur and Ford hitch a ride on a spaceship and begin their journey through the galaxy in the company of fellow space travelers. Its strange, wonderful, and well-developed characters and its mind-boggling, suspenseful storyline make The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy a science-fiction classic that is sure to captivate readers.
2. Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
Spensa's world has been under attack for decades, almost driven to extinction. With the human race constantly attacked by alien starfighters called the Krell, humanity's only hope is the courageous, young pilots who fight the enemies in the skies. Seventeen-year-old Spensa has always dreamed of becoming one of them. However, her chances of becoming a pilot seem impossible due to her father's actions during the historic Battle of Alta. When Spensa discovers an ancient starship, she realizes her dream may be possible after all. For this ship, uniquely, seems to have a soul, and may be willing to help her. Skyward is an action-packed and compelling novel that will make readers eager to get their hands on the sequel, as they follow Spensa's quest to claim the stars and ultimately save humanity.
3. Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
Calliope June has Tourette Syndrome, which can cause her to make faces or noises that she doesn't mean to make. Her mother and Calliope have been moving around a lot since her father died. After arriving in yet another town, Callie tries to hide her TS to fit in her new school but soon finds it difficult and seems to make her tics worse. Exhausted by her inability to fit in, she seeks out solace in her friendship with Jinsong, the student body president, who lives next door. He's hesitant to be seen with her at first, but then beautiful friendship blossoms between them. Written in free verse, this book beautifully reflects Calliope's strength and spirit, and its story of acceptance, self-love, and friendship will stay in the minds of readers for a long time.
4. The Witch Of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Sixteen-year-old Katherine "Kit" Tyler had to leave her island home of Barbados to live with her aunt and her strict uncle in colonial Connecticut in 1687, after her grandfather, who raised her, passed away. In her relatives' stern Puritan community, she feels out of place, and people don't trust her. Feeling lonely and misunderstood, she finds friendship in Hannah Tupper, a Quaker shunned out of the community and believed by the colonists to be a "witch." After Kit's friendship with Hannah is discovered, she couldn't have anticipated the consequences that follow. Full of wonderful historical details and lively characters, this book is a charming classic and a must-read for any fan of historical fiction.
5. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Jacob was raised by his grandfather and grew up hearing fantastic stories about his childhood during World War II, and about a children's home where he grew up. As Jacob grows older, he begins doubting his grandfather's tales and assumes that the old photographs that accompany them are also fake. But when Jacob's grandfather mysteriously died, this led him to embark on a journey to a mysterious island off the coast of Wales, to find the children's home from his grandfather's past and to figure out his grandfather's cryptic dying words and what they meant. A fast-paced, fascinating story characterized by unique photographs throughout the book, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children will appeal to mystery lovers.
6. Peter And The Starcatchers by Dave Barry
In 19th century London, an orphaned boy named Peter is shipped out to an island aboard the Never Land, a decrepit ship carrying a magical and mysterious trunk. Peter then meets a passenger his age named Molly Aster, a sweet but sophisticated girl who knows much more than she lets on about the magical trunk's contents. Meanwhile, when the fearsome Captain Black Stache plots to capture the magical trunk and the ship, Peter and Molly must keep the trunk safe against pirates and raging storms. This adventure story is carefully crafted, with its fast-paced chapters and unforgettable characters. It sets the stage to reveal the secrets and mysteries of the beloved story of Peter Pan and serves as a "prequel" to the original story.
7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
It is 1939 in Germany. The story follows Liesel Meminger, who moves into her foster parents' home after the death of her younger brother. Soon, she starts to settle down into her new home, makes friends with her next-door neighbor, Rudy, and develops a love for books. With the help of her foster father, Liesel learns how to read and begins to steal books wherever she can find them. As the Nazis take over Germany, her foster parents hide a Jewish man named Max Vandenburg in their basement. During their time together in the basement, Liesel would share her stolen books with Max, who would then write a story for her. However, these are dangerous times, and Liesel will bear witness to the atrocities of war, loss, and love, which will turn her life upside down.
8. Grenade by Alan Gratz
A historical fiction novel set during World War II in Japan, it is the story of Hideki from Okinawa, who was forced to join the Japanese army, and Ray, a young US Marine who just arrived on the island of Okinawa. As Hideki and Ray struggle to make it across the island, surviving gunfire, snipers, and ambushes, neither knows if they will make it out alive. When the two collide in the middle of the battle, the choices they make at that moment might be the difference between life and death. Compelling and gripping, Grenade tells the story of the Battle of Okinawa, as seen from the perspectives of Hideki and Ray. It is a riveting story of survival and bravery that would appeal to anyone interested in learning more about World War II, from middle school and up.
9. Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
Troublemaker Cole Matthews has been stealing and fighting for years. He takes his rage out on other people, and this time, he severely injured Peter Driscal, causing irreparable brain damage. In place of incarceration, Cole is sentenced to attend Circle Justice, a program that focuses on healing and changing the offender's ways based on Native American traditions. To avoid jail, Cole plays along and is then sent to live on a remote Alaskan island, where he encounters the Spirit Bear, which soon causes him to reevaluate his actions and gain a deeper understanding of himself, others, and his world.
10. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Marie-Laure is a young blind girl living with her father, who is a locksmith at the Paris Museum of Natural History. During the Nazi invasion of Paris, Marie-Laure and her father are forced to flee to Saint-Malo, where her reclusive uncle lives. Marie-Laure does not know that her father also holds a jewel that might be the museum's most valuable and dangerous treasure. Meanwhile, Werner Pfennig, an orphan from Germany, is exceptionally knowledgeable about anything electrical, especially radio transmitters. The German military recognizes Werner's skills, but Werner is not a soldier and soon sees that his talent comes at a price. Eventually, we see how Marie-Laure and Werner's paths collide in this poignant tale of secret radio broadcasts, a cursed jewel, and the power of kindness in the face of a devastating war.
11. I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Martin Ganda & Caitlin Alifirenka
A simple assignment turned into a life-long friendship between two students from two different parts of the world. Caitlin, a 12-year-old American girl, has to write a letter to an unknown student from another country for her English class. Choosing a pen pal from Zimbabwe, she matched with a bright and cheerful 14-year-old boy named Martin. Although there were only ten letters for forty students in Martin's class, he was given the first letter as his class's top student. Through their correspondence over the years, they learned about each other's cultures and way of life resulting in a more positive outlook and a new understanding of the world. Told in alternating chapters and featuring excerpts of their actual letters, this heartwarming true story will appeal to readers of all ages.
12. Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
Luck of the Titanic is a historical fiction that tells the story of the Luck twins aboard the ill-fated ship, Titanic. Valora Luck dreams of leaving England for a better life for her and her brother in America. Despite having a ticket for the largest ocean liner in the world, she was turned away due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. Determined to make it to America, Val devises a plan to audition as an acrobat for a circus in New York. The only problem is: her twin brother Jamie doesn't share her desire to make a life in the US. Then one moonless night in the middle of the North Atlantic, the supposedly unsinkable ship is struck by disaster, and Val now has to fight to stay alive.
13. One For The Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Twelve-year-old Carley Connors finds herself in the foster care system after a violent episode with her stepfather. A caring and loving household has never been a part of Carley's life, and she doesn't believe she deserves one. However, when she moved in with the Murphys, she is treated with kindness, respect, and patience; a new experience for Carley which she finds confusing and uncomfortable. Soon, she learns to trust the Murphys until her mother wants her back. One For The Murphys is a touching and thought-provoking novel that shows how unconditional love can change a person's life. It is a quick read that will have readers rooting for Carley and the Murphys.
14. The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Ten-year-old Ada has never been outdoors. Born with a twisted foot, her cruel, abusive mother felt too embarrassed to let her outside. In addition to beating her, her mother locks her in a cabinet as a form of punishment. During World War II, the British government began evacuating children from urban areas to the countryside, however, her mother refuses to send Ada, claiming that no one will care for her. Despite this, Ada sneaks away with her little brother Jaimie to escape the war. A new adventure awaits for Ada and her brother as they are taken in by Susan, a woman who was forced to take them in and have issues of her own. Ada's spunk and determination will captivate readers as she learns to navigate the outside world and grows to trust their new guardian in Susan, despite dangerous times ahead.
15. Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Melody Brooks, an 11-year-old born with cerebral palsy, tells her story in Out Of My Mind. Melody is unable to talk, walk or even feed herself. However, Melody is extremely intelligent and has a photographic memory, and she is determined not to let her disability define her. Although she wants to express her thoughts and feelings, most people look past her and treat her as mentally challenged, even when she is not. Through this book, readers are given a glimpse into Melody's world through an inspiring and powerful story about her quiet strength and determination, and about disabilities and the challenges they entail.
16. The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall
Following the death of his father and being traumatized by the loss, 13-year-old Arthur T. Owens, hurled a brick at a man that collects junk in his neighborhood. While the brick struck the Junk Man in the arm, it didn't matter to the judge, and Arthur was sentenced to juvenile detention. However, James Hampton (the Junk Man) offers an alternative: Arthur will complete 120 hours of community service, helping him out by collecting discarded light bulbs, foil, mirrors, pieces of wood, glass bottles, cardboard, and coffee cans. Initially, Arthur is embarrassed when he finds himself rummaging through people's trash, but it's not long before he realizes the Junk Man isn't who he seems to be. Arthur's life is shaped by each item on Mr. Hampton's list, allowing him to grow and gain a deeper understanding of the world. Involving a cast of well-rounded, interesting characters, it is a memorable read that will stay with you forever.
Based on the life of folk artist James Hampton and his work of art, "The Throne of the Third Heaven" which is now displayed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
17. Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
Genesis doesn't feel comfortable in her own skin. The dark complexion of her skin makes her the target of taunts not only from kids at school but also from her own family. It has been a struggle for Genesis to cope with her father's verbal abuse and her grandmother's backward ideas about skin color, to the point where she has tried bleaching her skin. Not to mention her father's gambling habit, which threatens to evict her and her Mama from the house at every turn, destroying her sense of security and adding to her sense of self-loathing. But things aren't all bad as Genesis and her Mama move into a nice house bought by her Dad, who promises to be better. Soon, she begins attending a new school where she makes new friends and even finds a talent for singing. Yet Genesis often wonders if this change is for good and what will happen when they get evicted again?
Genesis Begins Again is the perfect middle-grade story about the pressures to fit in with a powerful message about colorism, belonging, self-love, and the power of friendship and music.
18. The Line Tender by Kate Allen
Lucy Everhart's mother, a marine biologist and shark expert passed away five years ago. Lucy, now twelve years old, lives with her father in a sleepy tourist town in Rockport, Massachusetts. In the summer, Lucy and her best friend, Fred, work on their summer assignment, a field guide that documents all living creatures they encounter along the beach. When Lucy finds out about the Great White shark caught in the harbor, it piques her interest as it reminds her of her mother's work. Suddenly another tragedy strikes and Lucy draws strength from her mother's research, determined to complete the research she left behind. Lucy's father, a local fisherman, and an elderly neighbor help Lucy with the research, and thanks to their unlikely bond, they might be able to overcome their grief and struggle with loss...simply by following the sharks.
19. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
The only thing Castle Crenshaw (a.k.a. Ghost) has ever known is running. He ran for the first time as a small boy--and it was for his life, as his father chased him and his mother with a loaded gun. Ghost, now older, uses his natural talent by joining the track team. Ghost is determined to be the fastest sprinter on his middle school team, but his past seems to be holding him back. Rather than simply a sports story, Ghost is a sensitive, realistic portrayal of a young person dealing with trauma, overcoming obstacles, and believing in oneself.
20. Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh
14-year-old Ahmed and his father flee Aleppo, Syria, after losing most of their family due to the bombing of their home. To make matters worse, Ahmed also loses his father during their perilous journey to Europe. Ahmed now finds himself all alone in Brussels, Belgium, and with no one to turn to and no one to trust, he loses hope. Then he meets an American boy named Max, who is homesick and lonely. While they both face struggles and uncertainties, they form an unlikely friendship that encourages them to be brave. Nowhere Boy is a touching story of hope, resilience, and friendship, which also promotes discussion about the difficulties refugees and immigrants face.
21. Whirligig by Paul Fleischman
After being humiliated at an after-school party, Brent Bishop tries to end it all by crashing his car. He escapes with only minor cuts and bruises, but the crash kills a young woman named Lea. As part of his sentence, Lea's mother asks Brent to create four whirligigs and place them in the four corners of the United States in honor of her daughter. Along the way, Brent learns some important lessons about himself and meets people who help him realize that he can still change for the better. Interwoven alongside Brent's story are the stories of people whose lives have been touched and changed by Brent's creations. It is a beautiful and compelling story of redemption that is well-worth reading.
22. No Summit Out Of Sight: The True Story Of The Youngest Person To Climb The Seven Summits by Jordan Romero
A remarkable account of the youngest person to climb each continents' highest mountains. Meet Jordan Romero. At the age of 13, he became the youngest person to summit Mt. Everest. At 15, he was able to reach all seven summits. Jordan recounts in this book his experiences and adventures climbing mountains, the struggles he faced, and the sacrifices he made to achieve his goals. Jordan's extraordinary story will surely inspire readers to pursue their dreams and work hard to achieve them. The perfect book for young adults and adventure lovers.
23. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who lives comfortably in an underground hole. A comfortable, peaceful life in his hobbit-hole is suddenly disturbed when Gandalf the Grey appears on his doorstep, whisking him away on an adventure with a group of dwarves seeking to get back the treasure guarded by the dragon Smaug the Magnificent. After reluctantly joining the journey, Bilbo eventually meets the tormented Gollum and finds himself in possession of a powerful and dangerous ring. As a charming and entertaining prequel to Tolkien's classic masterpiece, The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit is a timeless classic that is an absolute must-read for all ages.
24. When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk
Cleo and Layla have been best friends for years. As their sophomore year begins, though, they start to take different paths. When Layla began to hang out with new friends from the school chorus group, the two became increasingly distant until they ended their friendship. It hurts Cleo's feelings, because not only is she losing her best friend, she is dealing with her parent's divorce as well. Cleo desperately wants to forget everything about her ex-best friend, but it proved impossible when she was assigned to be Layla's tutor. When You Were Everything merges past and present into a deeply relatable, emotional tale about the ending of a friendship, forgiveness, and being open to new beginnings.
25. Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman
Southern California is running out of water. The drought--or the "Tap-Out", as everyone calls it, escalates to catastrophic proportions. Alyssa's neighborhood is wracked by chaos as she witnesses people turning against each other in search of water. After Alyssa's parents go missing after going out to find water, Alyssa, her brother Garrett, and their nerdy survivalist neighbor Kelton must find a way to survive. The plot of the novel is thought-provoking and realistic, keeping readers riveted as they follow the teens struggle in a world without water.
26. The Memory Of Things by Gae Polisner
16-year-old Kyle Donohue watches out the window as the first tower comes crashing down on that morning of September 11, 2001. Kyle is rushing to get to safety when he encounters a teenage girl on the Brooklyn Bridge. She is wearing a pair of angel wings and covered in ash. Kyle thinks she's going to jump, but he was able to convince the girl to come home with him and to try and help her find her family. It appears, however, that the mysterious girl has lost her memory. What follows is the story of their budding friendship despite the tragedy and chaos following the 9/11 attacks. The Memory of Things tells a gripping and moving story of loss and devastation, but also hope, healing, and love.
27. A List Of Cages by Robin Roe
Adam Blake is a high school senior with ADHD. A bright and popular student, he just landed the best elective--serving as an aide to the school psychologist. His first assignment is to track down a troubled freshman who keeps skipping his counseling sessions. Little did Adam know that the freshman was his former foster brother, Julian. Adam is excited to be reunited with Julian again. Though kind-hearted and still enjoys writing stories, Julian seems quite shy and secretive. As Adam tries to find out what is happening with Julian, he finds that his involvement could prove more dangerous than he anticipated. A List of Cages is an inspiring and powerful book filled with unforgettable characters that will make you root for them. It is a touching tale about the power of friendship and self-discovery.
28. The Kingdom Of Back by Marie Lu
Nannerl Mozart has just one wish: to be remembered. A masterful musician with a gift of music, Nannerl delights audiences with her compositions. However, as a young woman in 18th century Europe, things were different for her and her passion. Being a woman musician at the time was a forbidden profession. Having reached marriageable age, she no longer was permitted to perform alongside her brother Wolfgang, who achieved fame and recognition through his musical career. Until one day, a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer to grant her wish–but it might just cost Nannerl everything. Beautifully written historical fiction, The Kingdom of Back is a story of music and magic that will captivate readers of all ages.
29. Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
12-year-old Mai, born and raised in California, is looking forward to spending the summer at the beach with her best friend and the boy she has a crush on. Her plans were interrupted when she was selected to accompany her grandmother to Vietnam, who wants to find out what happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai's parents think that this trip will help her learn more about her Vietnamese heritage, however, Mai isn't thrilled to go. Initially, Mai finds it difficult to adjust to the hot, humid climate of Vietnam, the local customs, and even communicate with her relatives. After learning more about her heritage and becoming more aware of the richness of her culture, Mai gradually begins to see things from a different perspective. Listen, Slowly is an engaging and thoughtful story of family, heritage, and friendship.
30. The Color Of My Words by Lynn Joseph
Ana Rosa enjoys writing and expressing her feelings through it. She wants to become a writer, despite knowing that writing is a career that is fraught with danger in the Dominican Republic. However, this doesn't stop Ana Rosa from writing as she writes about her community, her family, and her struggles. When Ana Rosa attempts to find her own voice and her place in the world, she realizes how powerful her words and stories can be. A beautiful blend of poetry and prose, The Color of My Words beautifully conveys family loyalty and love, as well as a deep sense of community.
1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The story takes place in a small fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s, as told through the eyes of six-year-old Scout Finch. She lives with her older brother Jem and her middle-aged lawyer father, Atticus Finch. Her father was assigned to defend a wrongly accused black man named Tom Robinson. The trial sends their small Southern town into a frenzy, and Jem and Scout soon find themselves involved in the events that followed the trial and the aftermath of it. One of the most powerful and deeply moving novels about injustice, racism, and equality, and the painful process of growing up, To Kill a Mockingbird is widely regarded as a masterpiece of American literature. It is a novel that will continue to speak to future generations.
2. First Test (Protector of the Small # 1) by Tamora Pierce
Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl in the medieval realm of Tortall who dares to take advantage of a new rule permitting women to train for knighthood. Kel believes that women can be fearless warriors and aspires to be one after spending her childhood in a land where women are trained to be warriors. She is prepared to face the rigorous training of a page as well as to face harsh criticisms and discrimination. However, Lord Wyldon, the training master, who is against girls becoming knights, puts her on one-year probation in which no male page has ever had to endure. Good-natured as Kel is, she is not one to be underestimated. Will Kel rise to the challenge and prove that she is worthy?
3. Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand
Unbroken is the biography of World War II hero and former Olympian Louis Zamperini. Louis became an airman during World War II, which led to the doomed flight and his imprisonment in Japan as a POW. His experiences in the prison camp are described in the story, along with his survival and resilience in overcoming the hardships and torture he endured. Unbroken brings the story of one of history's most thrilling survival epics to life with more than a hundred photos and an exclusive interview with Zamperini. This is an amazing and inspiring book for young readers.
4. Ben Archer And The Cosmic Fall by Rae Knightly
12-year-old Ben Archer witnessed UFOs crash into the fields next to his grandfather's house. Ben also discovers he has been given an alien power, whose significance could put human lives at risk. After government agents rush in to remove all evidence of the crash, Ben is forced to flee with an alien named Mesmo, the sole survivor of the crash. Throughout the book, readers will be glued to the page as they follow Ben and his family outruns a mysterious shape-shifter while dealing with alien powers. Readers who enjoy science fiction and adventure will love this fast-paced, action-packed read.
5. Once by Morris Gleitzman
Once tells the story of a young Jewish boy named Felix, who lives in Poland in 1942. He has been hidden from the Nazis in a Catholic orphanage and believes his parents will be coming for him any day. Felix has a knack for creating stories that shield him from facing the horrible reality around him. As the story progresses, we see that Felix doesn't know anything about the war or what's happening in his Nazi-occupied town. One day, believing his parents might be in danger, he runs away to find them. Despite witnessing the reality and the true horrors of war as he travels outside the orphanage, Felix never loses hope.
6. Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck
George Milton and Lennie Small are an unlikely pair. George is small and quick, and highly protective of Lennie, while Lennie is huge and physically strong but has the mind of a young child. Affected by the Great Depression, the two are migrant ranch workers who move from place to place in California in search of work. They hope to achieve their dream of owning their own piece of land one day. The fulfillment of their dream seems within reach when they find a job on a ranch, however, Lennie, unaware of the physical strength he possesses, gets himself into trouble and their hopes and dreams begin to crumble. Of Mice and Men is a gripping and powerful classic fiction that is well worth reading.
7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Comprised of 12 districts and a wealthy capitol, a country called Panem has emerged in the ruins of what once was North America after an unspecified apocalyptic event. As a way of keeping the districts in line and as a punishment for a past rebellion against the Capitol, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are chosen to take part in the annual Hunger Games. 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteered to be a tribute at the 74th Hunger Games to replace her 12-year-old sister, Primrose. She will represent District 12 along with Peeta Mellark. Pitted against bigger and stronger contenders, Katniss and Peeta must find a way to survive.
8. The Librarian Of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe
Based on the story of Dita Kraus's real-life experience as a Holocaust prisoner as a young girl. Along with her parents, fourteen-year-old Dita is imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. As Dita is adjusting to the constant terror and appalling living conditions inside the camp, she is assigned to be the protector and keeper of eight forbidden books. As Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz, she must find the courage to protect her family and the books at all costs, even if it means risking her own life. It is a moving and unforgettable story of courage, survival, and hope amid the darkest of times.
9. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Natasha is a Jamaican girl facing deportation and on her last day in NYC. Daniel, a Korean-American, who is on the path that his parents want whether he likes it or not, is on his way to a college interview for Yale. When Natasha--a realist and a science nerd, and Daniel--a hopeless romantic and a poet, meet by some random chance, a sweet love story unfolds as they teach each other different ways to look at life.
10. I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
Ed Kennedy is an uninspired cab driver just living his life day by day and with nothing much of a future. Living in a shack with his coffee-drinking dog, Doorman, he prefers to play cards with his friends every week and does nothing to improve his situation. Ed also has an unrequited love for his best friend, Audrey. When he inadvertently stops a bank robbery one day, he becomes an overnight hero. His routine and mundane life are interrupted when he found himself receiving mysterious playing cards in the mail. This is when Ed becomes the messenger...but who is behind all this?
11. Goddess In The Machine by Lora Beth Johnson
Andra wakes up 1,000 years later from cryogenic sleep. She needs to figure out what went wrong as she is supposed to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Now, everyone around her calls her a Goddess, and what's worse, everyone she knew-including her family and friends--are all dead hundreds of years ago. Somehow, people think that she is a deity in this strange new world, so she plays along to find out what really happened, and to get back to Earth. Goddess in the Machine is an intriguing and fast-paced novel with unique characters and shocking plot twists that makes reading this sci-fi adventure truly worthwhile.
12. Game by Walter Dean Myers
Drew Larson lives in Harlem. He is the star player of his high school basketball team. He dreams to play college basketball and getting drafted to the NBA someday. But there are some obstacles. His coach lets a new player, Tomas, be the team's new star player. As Drew starts to get less playing time, he must find a way to prove that he is serious about his goals and dreams even when things don't go as planned. Thought-provoking and with a lot of detailed court action, Game is a must-read for sports fans.
13. Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan
It is the summer before senior year and Lou is determined to make it the best and most epic summer of her life. She and her friends work at the Magic Castle Playland, an amusement park that she love since childhood. This summer, she is assigned to be the dancing hot dog--again. She works with her best friend, Seeley, who is not too thrilled about Lou's schemes to get close to her crush who plays the park's pirate. To make matters worse, it turns out that Magic Castle will be closing for good--unless they find a way to stop it. Hot Dog Girl is a cute romantic comedy and a coming-of-age story with likable characters that will make summer readings so much more enjoyable.
14. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
In this story, we follow a college freshman named Marin. Marin stays alone in her university dorm during Christmas break instead of returning home to San Francisco. Marin's best friend, Mabel, comes to visit her from California. The presence of Mabel forces Marin to confront the painful memories of her past and why she fled and left everything behind. Throughout the story, readers learn more about Marin's life and the tragedy that she tries to escape. An emotional journey awaits readers in this thought-provoking, bittersweet, and powerful novel.
15. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
Scott Hudson knows that being a high school freshman isn't easy. Bullied, trying to impress his crush, and seeing that his childhood friends are growing apart, it can be easily overwhelming. There are a lot of changes happening in Scott's life, and to top it off, his mother announces that she is pregnant. So Scott decides to make a survival journal of his freshman year for when his soon-to-be-born brother reaches his teen years and gets to high school. In the journal, he writes down his thoughts and advice for his baby brother on his view of freshman year. Scott's experiences in this quick, witty, and fun read will resonate with high school freshmen and those who are beginning high school.