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Great Books for Middle Readers

Great books for younger teens and middle schoolers


Shipwreck at the bottom of the world : the extraordinary true story of Shackleton and the Endurance
Shipwreck at the bottom of the world : the extraordinary true story of Shackleton and the Endurance

In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew of 27 men made an incredible attempt to be the first men to cross the continent of Antarctica. When their ship, the Endurance, got trapped in the ice, the men found themselves caught in a fight against nature to survive the perilous conditions. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World narrates the dramatic story of Shackleton's survival and the rescue of his crew.


Crispin : the cross of lead
Crispin : the cross of lead

When Crispin's mother dies, he flees from his "mortal enemy" into a world of adventure. With only a lead cross to his name, and no idea why he is so despised by the steward of the manor, Crispin finds himself indebted to Bear. A roving entertainer, Bear becomes Crispin's teacher, mentor and friend - until he is captured by Crispin's enemies. Can Crispin rescue his only friend? And will he ever figure out who he really is?


Squashed
Squashed

Sixteen year old Ellie has two goals in life: raise the biggest pumpkin in town; and lose twenty pounds. To meet her goals, however, Ellie has to face drought, insects and pumpkin thieves. She also has to convince her widowed father that growing an award winning pumpkin is, in fact, a worthy goal. Squashed is equal parts touching and humorous - an excellent choice!


I have lived a thousand years : growing up in the Holocaust
I have lived a thousand years : growing up in the Holocaust

This memoir recounts the story of Elli Friedman, a Hungarian girl deported to Auschwitz at age thirteen. Maturing from a naïve child to an independent and hopeful young woman, Elli discovers many truths about herself, her people and the strength of the human spirit.


The moves make the man : a novel
The moves make the man : a novel

The Jayfox has all the moves down: the moves that allow him to deal with being the first black kid at school; the moves to grow up without a father; and definitely the moves that make him king on the basketball court. Then he meets Bix Rivers, the mysterious white kid who doesn't have a lot to say, but has the skills of a great athlete. Can the Jayfox (also known as Jerome) teach Bix the moves? After all %u2026 The Moves Make the Man.


Skeleton man
Skeleton man

When Molly's parents disappear, the sixth grader is sent to live with the mysterious old man who claims to be her great-uncle. Locked in his creepy house, Molly soon finds that the only way to escape is through her dreams %u2026 dreams that explore her Mohawk heritage, dreams haunted by the Skeleton Man


The perilous journey of the Donner Party
The perilous journey of the Donner Party

In 1846, George and Jacob Donner set out towards the West with ninety other settlers. In the beginning of November, they were snowed in in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where, ultimately, over half of the party died. The remaining half was forced to resort to "the last taboo": cannibalism. Through the eyes of Virginia Reed, a thirteen-year-old survivor, Marian Calabro describes the journey, the problems, and the decisions that resulted in one of the most disturbing and distressing tragedies of the American West.


Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is one of the greatest geniuses of our time, and he's only twelve years old. With his father missing and the family fortune gone, Artemis hatches a plan to kidnap a fairy and demand a ransom in fairy gold. What he's not counting on is the strength of the little people. With opposition that includes a centaur engineer, a thief who devours dirt and rocks (and expels them out the other end), a particularly nasty troll and the greatest LEPrecon force around, Artemis finds that his simple plan isn't so simple, after all.


The Watsons go to Birmingham--1963 : a novel
The Watsons go to Birmingham--1963 : a novel

When Kenny's big brother Byron starts slipping deeper and deeper into trouble, Kenny's folks are certain the city influences in Flint, Michigan are the problem. They decide to pack up the whole family - Byron, fourth grader Kenny, and Joetta, the youngest - and take them back down to Alabama where Mrs. Watson's mother lives. When they arrive, they learn to deal with racism and southern living %u2026 until one fateful Sunday, when a Birmingham church is burnt down - with little Joetta inside.


Catherine, called Birdy
Catherine, called Birdy

Can you imagine anything more boring than a life stuck inside a castle, embroidering until your fingers are numb, and watching the world pass by outside? This is the life that Birdy, a young noblewoman of the twelfth century, records in her journal: the tedium of a ladylike life. Tedious, that is, until her father decides it's time for her to wed.


Deal with it! : a whole new approach to your body, brain, and life as a gurl
Deal with it! : a whole new approach to your body, brain, and life as a gurl

Written by the creators of popular website gURL.com, Deal With It! frankly and humorously discusses topics important to young women today. No topics are taboo: found within the covers is information about sexuality (and sex); zit remedies; methods for coping with anger or anxiety; hair removal techniques; and more!


The city of Ember
The city of Ember

When the lights in Ember begin to flicker, twelve-year-old messenger Lina struggles to find out what's happening to her city. The secrets she discovers have the power to either save or destroy her world. What will happen when the lights go out?


The Sea of Trolls
The Sea of Trolls

Jack has only recently been apprenticed to the village bard when Viking Berserkers attack his home and he, along with his five-year-old sister, is taken with them onto their boat. With death always waiting around the next corner, Jack must use his skills as a story-teller to save his sister's life, as well as his own.


The skin I'm in
The skin I'm in

Maleeka's spent the last two years taking care of her mother after her father died, and enduring the bullying of her classmates. Her skin is the darkest around, her clothes are far from stylish and her brains just provide more fodder for Charlese and her gang. When a new teacher, smart and confident despite her white birthmark, singles Maleeka out for attention, Maleeka begins to learn that other people's perceptions aren't as important as she thinks.


Bound for the North Star : true stories of fugitive slaves
Bound for the North Star : true stories of fugitive slaves

A collection of true stories about runaway slaves, Bound for the North Star illustrates the courage and determination found in the many African-American slaves who attempted to escape.


Inkheart
Inkheart

Meggie's father used to read to her, but when she was five her mother went away, and he stopped. It's not until she's twelve that Meggie learns the reason why: when Mo reads aloud, he can read characters out of books. And when he reads a character out, someone or something from the real world goes in. Now Meggie and Mo are on the run from an evil character from a book called Inkheart, who is trying to force Mo to read out a horrible monster. Can Meggie and her father escape from Capricorn? Or will Capricorn force them to do his bidding?


Joey Pigza swallowed the key
Joey Pigza swallowed the key

Joey Pigza can't concentrate, and he can't sit still. He tries really hard to be good, but every day around lunchtime his medication wears off, and that's when he gets into trouble. Joey knows he has to learn to control himself %u2026 but how?


Witness
Witness

Written as a series of free-verse poems in eleven different voices, Witness tells the story of the Ku Klux Klan in small-town Vermont in 1924. Included are the stories of a twelve-year-old African-American and a six-year-old Jewish girl, combined with the stories of numerous adults with differing viewpoints.


Hoot
Hoot

The first time Roy sees the barefoot boy running down the street, he's on the school bus being strangled by a bully. He makes finding out the identity of the barefoot boy his first priority. When he discovers that the boy, Mullet Fingers, is waging a war against the contractors who are destroying the habitat of the wild burrowing owls, he has to make a decision: should he join Mullet Fingers in his war against the small South Florida town? Hoot is an excellent environmental escapade.


Everything on a waffle
Everything on a waffle

After her parents are lost at sea, eleven-year-old Primrose is moved around between babysitter, uncle and foster care. The accident-prone girl touches the lives of all those who live in her British Columbia town as she learns about human nature and what makes life worth living.


The misfits
The misfits

A marvelous story of friendship, The Misfits chronicles the efforts made by a group of outcasts to elect one of their own as student council president. Their goal is to force the teachers at their school and their peers to recognize them as worthy individuals. Throughout the tale the kids evolve as they take their protest against labeling and name-calling to a whole new level.


A poke in the I : a collection of concrete poems
A poke in the I : a collection of concrete poems

Illustrated with watercolors and collages, this collection of "concrete poems" - poems that are carefully designed to combine words into images - engages the mind and the imagination.


A wizard of earthsea
A wizard of earthsea

The first in a four-book cycle, A Wizard of Earthsea follows the story of young Sparrowhawk as he discovers his true name, becomes a wizard's apprentice, and learns to be a man. During his apprenticeship, Sparrowhawk accidentally unleashes a terrible evil upon the earth and must struggle to put it back in its place.


Ella enchanted
Ella enchanted

A retelling of the classic fairytale Cinderella, Ella Enchanted tells the story of a young woman who has been cursed with obedience. When her father marries a shrew of a woman with two horrible daughters and then leaves on a long trip, Ella must battle against her stepfamily and various other terrors %u2026 while always doing exactly what she's told to do.


Dragonsong
Dragonsong

Menolly wants nothing more in life than to be a Harper, but her father forbids it for no reason other than that she is female. So, of course, Menolly runs away to pursue her dreams. She finds a safe haven with a group of fire lizards, who with their own musical abilities foster Menolly's talents and encourage her to stay true to her dreams.


Tomorrow, when the war began
Tomorrow, when the war began

When Ellie and her friends return home after a winter camping trip, they find that nothing is as they left it. Their homes have all been destroyed, their families taken away and a foreign military force in their place. Ellie and her friends must make a very difficult decision: do they abandon their families and attempt to survive in the bush, or do they take on the invading forces head on?


The greatest : Muhammad Ali
The greatest : Muhammad Ali

This biography chronicles the life and career of Muhammad Ali, including details of his life in 1950s segregated Louisville, his transformation from Cassius Clay into the black Muslim Muhammad Ali, his political activism and his achievements as a professional fighter.


Shiloh
Shiloh

Marty Preston's had a moral code all his life. His family's taught him that you never steal, you never lie, and you never cheat. But when a beautiful young beagle follows him home one day and he later realizes that the dog's owner is the mean-hearted, animal hating Judd Travers, Marty realizes that the difference between right and wrong isn't always clear.


Carver, a life in poems
Carver, a life in poems

Combining lyrical poems with black and white photographs, this volume offers readers a glimpse into the fascinating life of George Washington Carver.


In my hands : memories of a Holocaust rescuer
In my hands : memories of a Holocaust rescuer

Irene Gutowna was a seventeen-year-old nursing student when Poland was invaded by Germany in 1939. In this, her autobiography, she details her life after the invasion: hiding in the forest with a Polish military unit; being captured and forced to work in a Russian hospital; living under an assumed identity in Kiev. Unable to watch the brutality being visited upon the Jews in her country, Irene began working with smugglers and rescued numerous individuals at great risk to herself. A tale of extraordinary adventure and compassion.


Guts : the true stories behind Hatchet and the Brian books
Guts : the true stories behind Hatchet and the Brian books

Unlike his most famous character, Brian, Gary Paulsen never had to live by himself in the wilderness for months. However, he did base many of Brian's adventures on incidents in his own life: plane crashes he has seen; making and using his own arrows and bows; and many more events that help make Brian's story seem so real.


All alone in the universe
All alone in the universe

Debbie and Maureen have been inseparable since they met in third grade. All of a sudden, though, Maureen starts to spend all of her time with Glenna, the new girl, and Debbie is left all alone. Debbie begins to realize that friendships don't always last forever, and making new friends can be as important as keeping the old.


Anne Frank : a hidden life
Anne Frank : a hidden life

In this volume, Mirjam Pressler (editor of The Diary of Anne Frank: The Definitive Edition) draws on her extensive knowledge of one of the world's most famous Holocaust victims. By comparing the three editions of The Diary of Anne Frank, Pressler offers insights and opinions that serve to educate the reader and answer questions that may arise after reading the diary. Anne Frank: A Hidden Life is not a biography: rather, it is an exploration of the society and the family that raised her, and an examination of those things that made Anne who she was.


Angus, thongs and full-frontal snogging
Angus, thongs and full-frontal snogging

Georgia Nicholson is fourteen years old, and like most fourteen year olds she has a lot on her mind: clothes, school, boys, the size of her nose, and so much more! In this, the first of her diaries, readers will laugh out loud at the events in her life. By turns crazy, kooky, and poignant, Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging is - despite being fiction - very real.


Gutsy girls : young women who dare
Gutsy girls : young women who dare

Profiling 25 young women, real and fictional, this title seeks to inspire girls to do whatever they want to do. Beyond providing biographical information, Gutsy Girls also offers guidelines on "How to Be Gutsy Yourself," including information on how to get in shape and ways in which young women can take action; an annotated bibliography of further resources; and an extensive list of "gutsy" women in history.


Rimshots : basketball pix, rolls, and rhythms
Rimshots : basketball pix, rolls, and rhythms

Combining prose and poetry with vibrant illustrations and photographs, Rimshots is an expression of the author's love of basketball.


Shabanu : daughter of the wind
Shabanu : daughter of the wind

Eleven-year-old Shabanu, a nomadic desert-dweller in Pakistan, is very independent. However, independence is not respected in her society, and her free will often works against her. When Shabanu's sister's betrothed is killed and their society is at risk of collapsing, Shabanu finds herself forced into an arranged marriage. Can she conquer her will and live at peace with her fate, or will her independence prove to be her undoing?


Daring to be Abigail : a novel
Daring to be Abigail : a novel

Timid, wimpy Abigail decides that this summer at camp will be the summer she learns how to be courageous and stand up for herself. Despite trying to reinvent herself, Abigail still misses her mother and, even more, her dead father. During a summer of macramé, boating and swimming, Abigail never turns down a dare%u2026even when one dare threatens her friends.


Teen angst? Naaah-- a quasi-autobiography
Teen angst? Naaah-- a quasi-autobiography

Vizzini, still almost a teen himself, writes about his junior high and high school years with wit and honesty. Through a series of essays, he exposes to the reader the truth about being a teenager: filled with fear, anxiety, laughter and hope.


Dicey's song
Dicey's song

In this sequel to Homecoming, the four Tillerman children have finally settled into their own place: their grandmother's house. But their struggles are not yet over. Now they have to deal with school, making friends, finding a job, and forming a bond with a prickly old woman who's been alone for a long time. Can they do it?


Locomotion
Locomotion

Written as a series of poems, Locomotion describes the life of eleven-year-old Lonnie: his parents are dead, he's been separated from his sister and placed in foster care, he's having trouble at school. Lonnie has a lot to learn about getting by and finding his own voice, a voice that's gradually revealed throughout the book.


Dealing with dragons
Dealing with dragons

Princess Cimorene would rather be eaten by a dragon then marry the dull prince to whom she is betrothed. So, risking life and limb, she volunteers to be the dragon's captive! Her day to day duties include cooking, cleaning, acting as librarian in the dragon's library - and shooing off all the princes and knights who try to rescue her!


Dragonwings
Dragonwings

This work of historical fiction details the life of a young boy and his father who are new immigrants to San Francisco. While in China, they dreamt of life in the New World, but soon find that they must struggle to make their dreams - which include building a flying machine -- come true.