What were/are your favorite GOOD books for middle schoolers?

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good books for middle schoolers

Help! My kid keeps bring home terrible junky books with terrible junky writing.

I have a brilliant child who enjoys reading, and I love finding her books that are rich and wonderful. We’ve read Narnia, Matilda, Little women and all kinds of classics. My problem is when she goes to school she brings home these series about Disney characters, or the rescue the random animal book, or some book about how hard it is to be a popular girl.

If I give my child a reading list she can usually find the book in the schools library, but I am running out of ideas for her age group. Does any one have a favorite book from middle school that I can recommend for her literary treasure hunt? -Amy

Ooh, this is going to be a fun one. Mine middle school favorites were Black Beauty, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the Sherlock Holmes series for kids, and anything by Mark Twain.

Your turn! We’ve talked a lot about favorite books for adults, but what were your favorite good books to read when you were in middle school?

Comments on What were/are your favorite GOOD books for middle schoolers?

  1. I agree with so many of the ones already listed here. That’s the age I was definitely dipping into adult novels, but I would read just about anything that looked interesting.
    I was seriously into Star Trek when I was in middle school, so I read every Star Trek and Next Generation book I could get my hands on. I also adored Christopher Pike books and read them over and over.
    Some of the ones not listed that I loved included anything by Monica Hughes. It usually had a bit of a Sci-Fi, speculative fiction bent to it like Invitation To The Game, or The Guardian Of Isis.

    My all time favorite book at that age though was called The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy, which is a story told from the Perspective of African Elephants. It’s actually still my fav if I had to choose.

  2. Series of unfortunate events- loved that as a child.

    Also Anne of green gables. Their are a few more in the series than just the first 1. I think their are over 10 in total!!!

    Also the famous five by Enid byton. If you can find it as I’m British so you may not be able to find them.

  3. I love middle reader books! Here are some I’ve been into recently:
    -The Wildwood series (Wildwood, Under Wildwood, and Wildwood Imperium) by Colin Meloy
    -The Fairyland series (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, and The Boy Who Lost Fairyland) by Catherynne M. Valente
    -Mermaid in Chelsea Creek and Girl at the Bottom of the Sea by Michelle Tea (there’s also going to be a third in the series, but it’s not out, yet)

    And when I was younger I loved anything by Francesca Lia Block, although some of hers may get more young-adulty.

  4. I loved anything by Roald Dahl and the Animorphs book series at that age. Also The Hobbit by Tolkien, and like others have said, the Harry Potter series. Good luck finding books both you and your child love!

  5. I remember reading and LOVING “True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.” when I was in middle school.

  6. As a middle schooler, I loved The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm (sci-fy), and oddly was really fascinated with Holocaust stories like Number the Stars, Upon the head of the goat, and Anne Frank– I found them heartbreaking and such a huge disconnect from my own childhood, which is what interested me I think.
    We read soooo much as kids, my mom brought us to the library at least once a week to pick out our own books. There should be a YA section at your library with some good picks!

    • OMG The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm!!! Such a good book! My sixth grade teacher read it to us, and I have such positive memories associated with it. We would beg her to keep going whenever she got to the end of a chapter, but she would just grin an evil grin and put the book mark in. I was a sick child, but I went to as much school as possible whenever we were reading a good book.

  7. Some books I loved at that age were:
    All of Tolkien
    Dragonriders of Pern (but yeah the sex in there is a little iffy)
    Pendragon Series by D.J. MacHale (sci-fi)
    A Wrinkle in Time
    Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green
    Also while they were read to me at a younger age I would still recommend the Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen–even my “I hate reading” younger brother devoured those books

  8. First, I’ll advise that there’s probably a reason she’s choosing the books she’s bringing home. Maybe they’re popular at school and she enjoys talking about them with her friends, maybe they’re hitting on her interests or maybe they’re pure escape for her. Give her your exuberant blessing to read them, devour them and enjoy them. That’s what’s most important, whether it’s a high-brow classic or some Disney princess party. Feel free to introduce her to other books, but stop judging what she’s reading for its literary merit and start considering them in the context of her life and joy. I know you know this, but it’s really crucial that she knows you trust her with her entertainment and interests. She’s making the choice to read at all! It’s a good choice! Encourage it!
    All that said, if her middle school library has a reading program, encourage her to join. It’s a fun club where she can socialize with other readers and earn prizes. Important to you is that the reading list is probably chock full of “good” books. I did it and it introduced me to a ton of books I never would’ve picked up.

    – Dragon’s Milk by Susan Fletcher (weird title, great book)
    – The His Dark Materials series
    – Walk Two Moons
    – City of Ember (et al.)
    – Weetzie Bat (Google this one, has some content that some parents are ehhh on.)

  9. I don’t want to duplicate, triplicate, etc. some of the suggestions here — there are some really fantastic ones in this thread, and thanks to Dootsie Bug I think I’m going to dust off & re-read my copy of Weetzie Bat.

    I’m assuming that the original poster is familiar enough with their kid’s reading history that they could pull some of the titles she’s read that the poster really was happy with her choosing. If that’s the case, this website can be a fun way to discover similar books: http://www.whatshouldireadnext.com. I’ll admit that it’s a bit hit or miss & the titles that pop up will need vetting for age-appropriateness. However, I keep going back to it when I’ve finished everything on my reading list and am looking for something to help me build another long list of books to reserve from the library. I also use it when I’m stumped to find a good recommendation for a student or friend. It’s a great starting point!

  10. I really loved the Song of the Lioness and Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce. There are some great strong leading ladies in both of the series, that I really connected with growing up. I still reread both series and I’m 30 now.

  11. To this day my favorite books are the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In fact, I’m now reading Pioneer Girl, which is her original writing when she started the books, with a ton of notations that makes it feel like an amazing research paper.
    And yes, I still re-read the Little House series from time to time.

  12. I remember reading a lot of Laurence Yep, Michael Crichton, Anne McCaffrey, and Terry Brooks at around that age. I think I got into the 2001 series by Arthur C. Clarke around that time too.
    It’s a little dry in the beginning, but if you can get through the introductory chapters, Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland is a quick, fun read.
    I was also into The Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew and those kinds of fluff, which do have their own merits. I saw a mention of the Saddle Club books, which I had completely forgotten about, but second that. I wouldn’t worry about the fluff too much, everyone needs some light reading now and again.

  13. I haven’t read all the comments so this might have been mentioned, but the American Library Association releases “best of” type lists every year, often targeted toward a particular age group. Many state library organizations have similar lists. You cmight consult those lists for new books for your daughter.

    To get you started (some YA might be too older for her, but not all):
    2016 Notable Children’s Books (see older readers section): http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncb
    Alex Awards (ages 12-18): http://www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists/alex
    Excellence in Non-Fiction for Young Adults (12-18): http://www.ala.org/yalsa/nonfiction
    Coretta Scott King Awards (by African-Americans): http://www.ala.org/emiert/cskbookawards
    Lonestar Books (from Tx Library Association, for grades 6-8): http://www.txla.org/groups/lone-star

  14. My absolute favorite book from my middle school years (or childhood in general, I can’t really remember when I found the book) was ‘the true confessions of Charlotte Doyle’. It’s a book about a young girl who becomes a sailor in 1832, and there is a murder mystery as well.
    I still like to go back and re-read it every now and then.
    But also, the series of unfortunate events are wonderful. I like to re-read those, too.

  15. The Giver is one of my favorite books- it was the first to make me think! I also read a lot of Lois Duncan books- generally a female lead, I guess I would consider it “young adult thrillers” or something. I also enjoyed reading Watership Down (though my classmates did not), the Hobbit, and now I am having trouble remembering back that far. Good luck! Happy reading! 🙂

  16. Can I just start with how much I love that mom popped in with an update that her girl was making a list of all these great book suggestions! I remember reading lots of Ray Bradbury, Tom Clancy, T.A. Barron, Mercedes Lackey, and Anne Mccaffrey to name a few. My friends kids really loved all the Gregory Maguire books I loaned them.

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