“Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What happens when you die?”
These are some of the most difficult questions that anyone can ask, but they only really matter if you live long enough for them to become relevant. For much of human history, life was short and brutal. If someone lived past fifty or so, it could be expected that their death would soon be upon them.
If you’re a middle school student, this is the perfect book for you. It was written in 1979 and it has been translated into more than 30 languages.
The story centers around an Englishman, Arthur Dent, who wakes up one morning to find his house being demolished so that a bypass can be built through his street. He escapes with just seconds to spare!
As he looks back on Earth from space, the planet turns out to have only looked like an insignificant part of someone’s thumb sticking out from their hand when seen against the sky at night, hence why they call him "Arthur" instead of "Arturo." This leads him on many adventures throughout time and space as he searches for meaning in life while dodging various misadventures along the way.
Watership Down is a classic story about rabbits on the run.
The story begins with the rabbits’ home being invaded by humans. A fluffle of rabbits escape to find a new place to live. On their adventure they encounter challenges including a variety of predators, and in the process make many new friends along the way. When they discover an old network of interconnecting rabbit burrows, also called a “warren,” they realize that this might just be what they have been searching for. At first, life in the warren seems to provide safety and security, but just as the daily life with family begins to become routine, disaster strikes yet again!
Is their new home truly a safe place for the rabbit community? Pick up your copy of Watership Down to find out what happens next!
3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
It wasn't uncommon for Jo to sneak out at night. Since her sister Meg would often stay up late reading, she was the only one who knew about Jo’s secret adventures.
On this particular night, the air was cold as she ran through the streets of their little town towards a small cabin in the woods near where the sisters used to live with their father before he died from pneumonia. That felt like a lifetime ago. Jo had been told that the cabin now belongs to a mysterious man named John Carter, but they never saw him around town anymore.
When Jo finally arrived at the cabin, it looked abandoned, until all of a sudden she found herself face to face with a figure wearing an old brown coat with his hand on his gun holster.
In 1868, Louisa Alcott published Little Women to rave reviews and a resounding success. We invite you to follow in the lives of America’s four sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March. The story details the joys and sorrows of these young women as they grow from children to adults in America during the Civil War period.
The novel Little Women is a classic read for any Middle School student.
4. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (2014)
Kwame Alexander takes readers on a journey into the lives of basketball-loving twin brothers Josh and Jordan, who find themselves drifting apart as they face the challenges of middle school. The novel is told entirely through poetic verse and follows both boys' perspectives with an emphasis on how sports can be a pivotal point in life for pre-teens in this coming-of-age story.
Though the central plot of the story revolves around their gifted basketball skills, the real tension lies in the family dynamics. How can two people who are so similar be so different from each other?
The book provides readers with an opportunity to understand how teens struggle to live up to society’s expectations. Poetic author, Kwame Alexander, employs figurative language and clever wordplay that enhances comprehension while maintaining interest levels in the text.
Middle school students will be able to relate with Josh Bell and Jordan Bell in their struggles with family, friends, and sports. They will also enjoy reading about how the brothers work together despite their differences. This is a great way for them to develop empathy skills while learning valuable lessons from the characters in this novel!
5. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (2008)
If you’re looking for a book that will make you think, Chains is the perfect read.
Chains is the first book in the Seeds of America trilogy, followed by Forge and Ashes. This historical fiction novel tells the story of Isabel and her sister as they are sold into slavery during the Revolutionary War. The family is sold to Loyalists and Isabel is offered a chance to spy for Patriots so she can have her freedom back. Could a whole nation also claim its own freedom? It’s an emotional tale about two girls who fight to survive in a world where they have no rights or freedoms.
Laurie Halse Anderson brings history alive through her characters and their stories. Read the entire trilogy.
“Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty. But, I was such a girl… but before I begin relating what happened, you must know something about me… At the time my name was Charlotte Doyle. And though I have kept the name, I am not - for reasons you will soon discover - the same Charlotte Doyle” (1).
--Avi, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Thus begins the adventurous tale that chronicles the story of thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle as she boards a ship bound for America. As the lone female aboard, she must navigate her way through treacherous waters and even more treacherous sailors in order to survive. This book will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish!
This historical fiction is filled with action, suspense, and mystery all packed into one incredible read.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live forever?
Tuck Everlasting is a story about Winnie, a ten-year-old girl who meets the Tuck family and discovers that they have found the secret to eternal life. The family has been drinking from a magic spring on their property which allows them to become immortal. However, there is a catch; if they leave their property, they will die. Winnie befriends Jesse Tuck and together, they explore the world around them while trying to keep their friendship alive despite being separated by both time and space.
When a malicious stranger also discovers the Tuck family secret, everything changes. What will happen next? Will Winnie Foster find out the truth about the Tucks before she is caught up in their dangerous world of immortality?
The Illustrated Man is a classic collection of 18 science fiction stories from the golden age of sci-fi. Often, the most horrific of monsters lurk in the darkest places imaginable. The human mind is a dark and twisted place where even more frightening horrors can be found. In this collection of short stories from the golden age of science fiction, we are given a glimpse into some of these terrors that live inside us all. Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man is an engaging book with illustrations for each. This is a classic set-up for terrible things to go down.
This frightful collection is perfect for any sci-fi lover looking to get their adrenaline pumping.
9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
For many middle school students, emotions run strong, and they often feel as if they have met their first love.
Jane Eyre is a classic tale of love, loss, and redemption that junior high students will fall in love with. The story follows the life of Jane Eyre as she experiences some challenges in her childhood but eventually finds happiness with Mr. Rochester. This book, full of romance and suspense, tells the story of an orphaned young woman who struggles against adversity to find love and happiness. This classic tale of passion, heartbreak, hope, and redemption that is sure to delight everyone from die-hard Bronte fans to first-time readers and has resonated with readers around the world since its publication in 1847. If you enjoy books like Pride & Prejudice or Wuthering Heights, then this one is definitely worth checking out as well.
10. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985)
Have you ever wondered what the world will be like in the future?
Ender's Game is an exciting sci-fi novel about a young man who must fight to save his planet from alien invaders. The story follows Ender Wiggin, a child hero who goes through Battle School and eventually Command School. That’s when he learns how to become the leader needed to fight against the alien race, Formics, once and for all. The stakes are high and this story will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end!
This novel is perfect for readers of all ages looking for an exciting read with plenty of action and adventure. It has been adapted into two major motion pictures so if you love the adventure as much as we do, make sure to check them out!
A mad tea party, a white rabbit with a watch on its back, and some very curious flowers. All of these things are just the beginning of Alice's adventures in Wonderland. Join her as she meets strange creatures and travels through wonderland to find her way home again.
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll will take you on an exciting journey through the world of nonsense and make believe. Get ready to have your imagination run wild with the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter in this fantastic tale that will keep you entertained from start to finish.characters like the.
A mysterious host invites ten guests to an island. But these are not any ordinary guests. They have all been accused of murder in their past, and they all have dark secrets that could destroy them if exposed. When they arrive, they find that there is no one else on the island and only ten chairs set up for them. They all sit down and wait for their host to show up, but no one ever does. Soon after, people in the group of ten begin to die in unusual ways: one falls out of a window and another is poisoned. The suspense builds up gradually as people die off one by one with each chapter ending on a cliffhanger. As each one dies, it becomes clear that someone among them must be responsible for these grisly murders…but who? This book is perfect for anyone looking to get lost in a thrilling tale with lots of twists and turns!
This thrilling mystery novel by Agatha Christie has captured the minds of tens of millions of readers and moviegoers over the years. You might be thinking, “Why should I read it?” Well, for one thing this is not your typical murder-mystery. It was written in such a way that you don't know whom to trust until the very end!
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is a collection of short stories and poems that will take you on an emotional journey through the life of Esperanza, a young Latina girl growing up in a poverty-stricken section of Chicago. Drawing from her own experience, Sandra Cisneros has created an empowering story of growing up in America that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt as if they don't belong or have experienced the sting of discrimination.
The story revolves around Esperanza's family and her time spent living on Mango Street with her mother and siblings. It follows their struggles including being evicted from their house and not having enough food to eat. Cisneros, having lived in both poverty and in wealth, offers insight into what it means to live in poverty and provides young readers with hope that there are ways to break the poverty cycle.
As we follow Esperanza’s story, we learn about what it means to be poor and Hispanic in America during the 1960s. We also see how powerful hope can be as Esperanza struggles to find peace within herself despite all the hardships she faces every day.
14. New Kid by Jerry Craft (2019)
Being the new kid in middle school can be tough.
In this humorous graphic novel by Jerry Craft, New Kid explores the story of Jordan Banks, who is just like any other kid his age. He likes playing video games and drawing cartoons. But when he transfers from his neighborhood public school to a private one where most students are white, things get complicated fast. He doesn't understand why everyone keeps asking if he plays soccer (he doesn't) or why they're obsessed with winter break (It's only October!). And then there's all that homework. Jordan misses his old friends but soon makes new ones through art class and band practice. .With its relatable protagonist and positive message, New Kid is sure to inspire readers everywhere!
“She was named Omakayas, or Little Frog, because her first step was a hop.”
-- Louise Erdich, Birchbark House
In this rich historical fiction, Louise Erdich expertly weaves a tale as told from the perspective of Omakayas, a young Ojibwa girl living on an island in Lake Superior around 1847. The novel tells her coming of age story as she learns about the traditions and heritage of her people.
Drawing from her own life experience as a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, author Erdrich lends a “personal voice” and perspective of this band of 19th century Native Americans.
The story starts with the narrator, Nector, having to leave his family for work. He leaves his wife Cora and their five children behind to live on their own near Red Lake. When he returns home, he finds that Cora has been living in fear because she cannot provide food for her children without him there. She also worries about her husband's safety after hearing gunshots outside of their house one night while she was preparing dinner. These events make Nector realize how important it is to be at home with his family instead of working away from them all summer long.
Louise Erdich’s Birchbark House is a beautifully written story about the Ojibwe people. It depicts their traditional lifestyle in stark contrast to how white settlers changed everything when they arrived in North America centuries ago. In this book, we see the clash between cultures and all of its consequences- from identity loss to genocide. This novel forces the reader to confront the reality that many Native Americans still face today, which is why it's an important read for anyone seeking a better understanding of Native American people in North America.
16. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (2002)
In Hoot Carl Hiaasen introduces us to Roy Eberhardt, a bright and lovable 13-year old who lives in the Florida Everglades. Roy is an avid bird watcher and spends his days exploring the swamps with his friends.
One day at school Roy learns about a group of developers who are trying to turn their swamp into a golf course! He becomes determined to stop them from harming this delicate habitat. The story captivates readers as Roy attempts to save the environment from being destroyed by greedy business people.
Hoot deals with some difficult topics, but it does so in an entertaining way that provokes thought and discussion without being preachy or condescending. But more importantly, the lessons of this story are universal - about friendship, family loyalty, corruption on both small scales and large-scale government malfeasance.