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Novels for Middle School - A Bakers Dozen

Updated on January 25, 2010


This particular Hub is inspired by my daughters. They have been given an assignment to find a novel that interests them, read it and do a report on it; No non-fiction, no biography's or auto-biography's, just straight fiction novels. They didn't know where to start. What exactly is a novel? What are some acceptable novels? (My daughters are already reading James Patterson and others of his style, not what you'd allow in an 8th grade school report!) Well, here's Mom to help them out.... and anyone else with the same question!

A "novel" is defined as "A fictional prose narrative of considerable length, typically having a plot that is unfolded by the actions, speech, and thoughts of the characters"1 Here are a bakers dozen of the best available for middle school (6th- 8th) readers according to 2009 - 2010 school reading lists I researched from several schools and libraries around the country.

Hunger Games
Hunger Games

1. Author: Collins, Suzanne.

Title: Hunger Games

Interest Level: 6th-8th

Reading level: 5.3

Part of my personal collection, both it and it's sequel, Catching Fire, are excellent read's and quite thought provoking.


America, now Panem, requires each of its twelve territories to select two children between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the Hunger Games. On television, these twenty-four kids will fight to the death, and only one will survive. (F)

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie

2. Author: Jorden Sonnenblick

Title: Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie

Interest level: 6th - 10th

Reading Level: 6.2

Thirteen-year-old Steven has a totally normal life: he plays drums in the All-Star Jazz band, has a crush on the hottest girl in the school, and is constantly annoyed by his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey. But when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, Steven's world is turned upside down. He is forced to deal with his brother's illness and his parents' attempts to keep the family in one piece.

Taking Sides
Taking Sides

3. Author: Gary Soto

Title: Taking Sides

Interest Level: 6th- 8th

Reading Level 5.7

A middle-school basketball player transfers to an affluent school, but he has to face his old team from the barrio on the court.

4. Author: Jan Adkins

Title: A Storm Without Rain: A Novel in Time

Interest Level: 6th - 8th

Reading Level: 5.6

A perennial favorite, reprinted for a new generation. Jan Adkins' young adult novel sends a spunky but alienated teenager back through time in "a storm without rain" to his New England home town in 1904, where he becomes the best friend, shipmate and co-conspirator to his own grandfather at his age. More than a fantasy, the town and times and most of the people the boys meet are factual. The textures, smells, sounds and sights of a vanished era return in this compelling narrative. What a young man learns about family, love and the march of time might just affect you as well.

So B. It
So B. It

5. Author:                                           

Sarah Weeks                                     


So B. it

Interest level : 7th - 10th

Reading Level : 5.6


Description: Although she lives an unconventional lifestyle with her mentally disabled mother and their doting neighbor, Bernadette, twelve-year-oldHeidi has a lucky streak that has a way of pointing her in the right direction. When a mysterious word in her mother's vocabulary begins to haunt her, Heidi's thirst for the truth leads her on a cross-country journey in search of the secrets of her past.

Hand-picked for you from Amazon

The Face on the Milk Carton
The Face on the Milk Carton


6. Author:                                           

Caroline B. Cooney                         


The Face on the Milk Carton (Series of 4 books)

Interest Level 6th - 8th

Reading Level: 6.2

Description: The Face on the Milk Carton is about 15-year-old high school student Janie Johnson. One day at lunch she sees the face of a young child on a friends milk carton and her life suddenly changes.  The child is her.  Though she cannot believe that her parents would have kidnapped her, she can come up with no other explanation for the memories of the family and home that begin to surface and play through her mind.  is she in danger or are her parents  innocent pawns as well?

The Witness
The Witness

7. Author: Karen Hesse

Title: Witness

Interest Level: 6th - 8th

Reading Level: 5.9

This title and Out of the Dust, another worthy Karen Hesse title, are part of my personal collection. Both are interesting and compelling reads.

Description: When the Klu Klux Klan invades a small Vermont town in the early 1920's it's denizens are divided and uncertain. Ester Hirsh, a small Jewish girl and Leonora Sutter, a young African- American girl befriend each other even in this heated climate and together witness what hate and prejudice can do to people.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

8. Author: Avi

Title: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle: A Spellbinding Tale of Intrigue and Murder on the High Seas

Interest Level: 6th - 8th

Reading Level: 6.9

Description:Accused and convicted of murder, thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle decides to reveal what really happened aboard the Seahawk, a ship piloted by a tyrannical captain and crewed by mutinous seamen on a long Atlantic Ocean crossing during the summer of 1832. This is her terrifying account of that fateful voyage.

Song of the Sparrow
Song of the Sparrow

9. Author: Lisa Ann Sandell

Title: Song of the Sparrow

Interest Level: 6th - 8th

Reading Level: 5.2

Part of my personal collection; a "can't put down" read for fans of Arthurian Legend.

The year is 490 AD. Fiery 16-year-old Elaine of Ascolat, the daughter of one of King Arthur's supporters, lives with her father on Arthur's base camp, the sole girl in a militaristic world of men. Elaine's only girl companion is the mysterious Morgan, Arthur's older sister, but Elaine cannot tell Morgan her deepest secret: She is in love with Lancelot, Arthur's second-in-command. However, when yet another girl — the lovely Gwynivere— joins their world, Elaine is confronted with startling emotions of jealousy and rivalry. But can her love for Lancelot survive the birth of an empire?


10. Author: Jerry Spinelli

Title: Milkweed

Interest level: 5th - 9th

Reading Level: 5.2

He's a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. Happy. Fast. Filthy son of Abraham.

He's a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He's a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He's a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He's a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he's a boy who realizes it's safest of all to be nobody.

Hand-picked offerings from Amazon

11. Author: Jim Murphy

Title: Death Run

Interest Level: 6th - 8th

Reading Level: 4.9

Slamming a basketball into the face of a high school boy sets off an epileptic seizure which leads to his death. Told from Brian's point of view as one of the four boys involved in the initial prank and alternately by the detective who is investigating the case and his daughter. This riveting novel probes guilt, fear, peer pressure, death, and ultimately taking responsibility for your own actions.

The Beguilers
The Beguilers

12. Author: Kate Thompson

Title: The Beguilers

Interest Level: 6th - 8th

Reading Level: 6.5

Part of my personal collection, an enjoyable read for lovers of fantasy

Description: In Rilka's village, it isn't safe to go out after dark. That's when the beguilers drift through the streets, as bright and visible as fireflies. Everyone knows their power-they hypnotize their victims and, in the end, lead them to their deaths. When Rilka declares her Great Intention to capture a beguiler, her family and friends mourn her. Still, a determined Rilka sets out on her lonely, danger-filled journey, where she will struggle to keep her strength and her sanity. What she learns there will change her life-and the life of her village-forever. . .

The Giver
The Giver

13. Author: Lois Lowry

Title: The Giver

Interest Level: 7th - 12th

Reading Level: 5.9

Part of my personal collection, this book is Highly recommended as both an excellent read and a family discussion book.

Description:Set in a world where fear, pain, and war no longer exist, this is the story of Jonas, a twelve year old boy who has just received his Life Assignment as "The Receiver", a highly prestigious position as keeper of memory for his entire society. Unfortunately, with this assignment come realizations about his community and their life that are not all he has been led to believe. When the life of a newchild (baby) his family is caring for comes to hang in the balance, he and his mentor, the Giver, hatch a desperate plan to change a society.

No doubt you have noticed the disparity between Interest level and Reading level on the vast majority of the above books. It is a sad fact that many of our students today are unable to read on grade level. To enable and encourage them to read we must supply them with engaging and quality literature that is on their intellectual level while remaining at a Reading level they can comprehend. It is a delicate balance but thankfully one that many authors have understood and begun to write to. They have our thanks and admiration.

There are ,of course, dozens more excellent books that did not make it onto my list than ever could have. However, I have included several of these books that I was unable to include in my "bakers dozen" in my "Amazon Picks". I hope you find them as worthy and enjoyable as I have.








Must Reads For Young Adults by James Patterson


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