The Tuesday 12: 12 Fantastic Middle School Novels that will Captivate Even Your Most Reluctant Readers!

In this week’s addition of The Tuesday 12, we’ll be looking at 12 novels to use with your middle school students.  The novels that I’ve chosen are those that would captivate and motivate even the most reluctant readers in your class.

1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”  Each year my students and I study this book and each year I look forward to it.  The conflict, turmoil, and tragedy experienced by the Greasers and Socs is still relevant today, as it was when this novel was first published in 1967.  How do I know?  The boys in my class hide the book between the pages of their math textbooks so that they can keep reading during math lessons.  Is it wrong that I think that’s great?

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry

Classic dystopian novel depicting a “perfect” world—no pain, war, hunger, or disease.  So everyone must be happy, right?  Not quite.  We learn about the community through Jonas’ eyes and what he experiences/learns cannot be forgotten or taken back.  Excellent discussions will result.

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

A modern dystopian novel where each year, twenty-four adolescents are selected to participate in a reality TV death match known as the Hunger Games. Katniss must make difficult choices if she is to survive the games.  A great discussion with students is how they think Panem became the way that it is…how did this come to be?

4. Shakespeare’s Secret by Eloise Broach

Hero is a girl stuck with a name from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.  When she moves (yet again) to a new town, she learns that she now lives in the Murphy diamond house and this revelation will have her questioning the real identity of Shakespeare and the scandal surrounding Anne Boleyn.  A great way to introduce students to Shakespeare!

5. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

During the Great Depression, Bud leaves his foster home in the hopes of finding the man he believes is his father, bass player Herman E. Calloway.   Bud’s adventure is told with humor and hope, as Bud gives readers a set of “life rules” along the way!

6. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

When fellow high school students meet Stargirl, they don’t really know what to make of her.  She was homeschooled and is just so different from them.  Will she be accepted?  Does she want to be accepted?  Does she need to be accepted?

7. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Brian is the sole survivor of a small plane crash in the Canadian wilderness.  Can this thirteen year old boy survive on his own?  A dramatic story of survival as Brian learns to trust his own instincts and his trusty hatchet to understand and survive the wild and dangerous new world around him.  A great read especially for Canadian students, as lessons about the area where Brian is stranded can be linked to Geography and Science lessons.

8. Holes by Louis Sachar

Stanley Yelnats is found guilty of a crime that he did not commit and is sentenced to a boys’ work camp.  The inter-connectedness of the various stories within Stanley’s experience at Camp Green Lake is a great way to teach students that

9. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) by Rick Riordan

In this first installment, Percy learns that he is a demi-god and he’s been accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bold!  An interesting read that weaves mythology, adventure, mystery, and teenage drama into one compelling story.

10. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Anne Frank’s diary has become a world-known classic, but it always surprises me when some students are not aware of her story.  Anne’s diary recounts the two years that she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis.  Although she is only 13 when she begins to keep her journal, Anne’s views on the world around her are both hopeful and profound.  A must-read for adolescents.

11. Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker

Julilly and Liza are two young girls who have been slaves their whole lives.  They hear of freedom in Canada and begin a harrowing journey towards freedom by way of the Underground Railroad.  Another excellent choice for Canadian students, as lessons from this novel can be connected to History/Social Studies and Geography.

12. The City of Ember: The First Book of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

In this post-Apocalyptic society, humans live in a world that is always dark, as there is no sun, moon, or stars and the only light comes from flood lamps.  Can Doon and Lina save their city and its inhabitants?


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, but all opinions are the author’s own

2 thoughts on “The Tuesday 12: 12 Fantastic Middle School Novels that will Captivate Even Your Most Reluctant Readers!

  1. Cindy Lou August 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Love looking through book title ideas for reluctant middle school readers.

    • Loriana August 21, 2012 at 9:52 am

      There are so many great books that it was hard to narrow it down to only 12!

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