The list author says: "Here's a list of some high-interest, well-written books for middle school students. Although I will occasionally include time-tested classics on this list, I am more interested in including contemporary literature."
"Sharon Creech uses a story within a story plot structure and interesting characters to engage students (and English teachers) alike. This book is a truly wonderful coming of age story filled with unique characters."
"Not only is this an exciting read (especially for fantasy lovers), but it was also written by a teenager (something most middle school kids will find fascinating). In addition, the book follows the archetypal hero's journey which can really enrich discussions about the book."
"This book provides a haunting new twist on adolescent literature about the Holocaust. It doesn't provide gory details about concentration camps, but it would be a great departure for discussion. It would be great to pair with classic Holocaust literature like Number the Stars and The Diary of Anne Frank."
"Sumiko, a Japanese-American twelve year old girl, struggles with adolescent issues as well as the complexity of having Japanese heritage in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The U.S. government moves Sumiko's family from their flower farm in California to different interment camps. This book would be an interesting comparison to Holocaust literature and the current immigration issues in the U.S."
"If you're looking for a graphic novel to share with your sixth graders, this is the one! It's the only graphic novel I've found so far that truly has no bad language or explicit scenes. It's also a great example of the archetypal hero's journey and a fun story."
"A really neat graphic novel version of the popular Anthony Horowitz book. Like the book, there is some mildly bad language in the graphic novel. However, it's nothing that most 6th graders haven't heard on MTV and the like. This would be great for reluctant readers because of the flashy graphics!"
"This is a wonderful book if you're looking to add some Asian literature to your class or personal reading. Warning: there are some violent scenes in this book that some may be too much for some sixth graders. Make sure you read the book before you recommend or incorporate it into your class."
"For kids (and adults) who like fantasy, this is a great series! The likeable characters and fast-paced plot will keep you reading! This would be a great book to teach the archetypal hero's journey pattern as well."
"A girl and her twin brother defy social convention by switching places. Alanna pretends to be a boy and undertakes a knight's training, while her brother takes her place in the convent. The story focuses on Alanna's quest to become a knight. Pierce creates a realistic world with a touch of magic to make an engaging fantasy. Caution: later books in the series have mature scenes."
"This is a great book for your more skilled 6th grade students or older middle school kids. Charlotte Doyle embarks on a journy to America from her temporary home in England. Little does she know that she will be the only woman aboard a ship rife with problems in which she will become ensnared. Charlotte is a great female protagonist who learns a lot about herself during this adventure."
"A hilarious play that is perfect for 6th graders who are just becoming interested in dating. This would be a great book for a class to act out. Middle schoolers will get a kick out of these silly characters."
"Moose's family moves to Alcatraz Island where his dad has gotten a new job. Moose misses his old friends, and he struggles with his responsibility for taking care of his autistic older sister. Kids (especially boys) get excited about reading this book because of the setting and Al Capone, but they fall in love with its wonderful message about family and friends."
"Just like with Al Capone Does My Shirts, Gennifer Choldenko presents important issues like race and friendship with a humorous, realistic style that kids will love. From the first line to the last, her book is engaging and heart-wrenching."
"Another great book by Jerry Spinelli! This fast-paced read targets one of the great struggles in middle school: should I be me or be who everyone else wants me to be? This book has great characters and a heart-warming message."
"This sequel to Stargirl was not immediately gripping for me; however the last 100 pages make it worth the read. The book tells what happens to Stargirl after the first book, and it's interesting to have her point of view."
"I had forgotten about this wonderful survival story that I loved as a child. Its action and suspense make Hatchet a great book for both boys and girls. Gary Paulsen is a great author for middle school kids to fall in love with!"