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The Best Book-Report Books for Middle Schoolers
No need to dread a book report! When kids find titles that are engaging, interesting, and thought-provoking, they're hooked. If it's fiction, students can dissect plot, theme, and characters. If it's nonfiction, they can plunge into a subject that fascinates them or learn a lot about something they've never heard of before. Here's a list of surefire selections for students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. For even more ideas, check out 50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12 .
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Inspiring wartime journal reveals teen's inner life.
The Apothecary, Book 1
Cold War kids use magic to save world in brilliant novel.
Everything Sad Is Untrue: (A True Story)
Young refugee's story is told in memories, myths, fables.
Bittersweet, lovely story of friendship and social media.
Genesis Begins Again
Teen learns to love herself in uplifting tale of misfits.
Hold on tight for an intense tale of survival.
A Long Walk to Water
Touching take on Lost Boys of Sudan, based on true story.
One Crazy Summer
A gem, with strong girl characters, '60s black history.
Poverty, being unhoused explored in hopeful tale.
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
Little-known disaster gets overdue, in-depth treatment.
The Red Badge of Courage
Compelling Civil War novel questions morality of battle.
Uglies: Uglies Quartet, Book 1
Thoughtful sci-fi about the price of beauty.
Interned girl, Native boy find common ground in moving tale.
All-American Muslim Girl
Captivating coming-of-age tale explores identity, racism.
Moving, fast-paced novel-in-verse; great for teen boys.
Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
Complex, suspenseful story of developing The Bomb.
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club
Thrilling true story of teenagers who stood up to the Nazis.
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings
Poignant memoir-in-verse recalls Cuban American's childhood.
Long Way Down
Gripping, unnerving story of teen boy contemplating revenge.
My Name Is Not Easy
Fascinating story of Alaskan kids growing up in the 1960s.
Other great lists from our editors
- Coming-of-Age Books
- Books to Help Your Kid Survive Middle School
- How to Raise a Reader
- Help Your Kids Find Books with Diverse Characters
- How Comics Helped My Kid Love Reading
- Grades 6-12
- School Leaders
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42 Creative Book Report Ideas for Students
Inspire your students to share their love of books.
Responding to what you read is an important literacy skill. Reading about other people’s experiences and perspectives helps kids learn about the world. And although students don’t need to dive deeply into every single book they read, occasionally digging into characters, settings, and themes can help them learn to look beyond the prose. Here are 42 creative book report ideas designed to make reading more meaningful.
1. Concrete Found Poem
This clever activity is basically a shape poem made up of words, phrases, and whole sentences found in the books students read. The words come together to create an image that represents something from the story.
2. Graphic Novel
Have students rewrite the book they are reading, or a chapter of their book, as a graphic novel. Set parameters for the assignment such as including six scenes from the story, three characters, details about the setting, etc. And, of course, include detailed illustrations to accompany the story.
3. Book Snaps
Book Snaps are a way for students to visually show how they are reacting to, processing, and/or connecting with a text. First, students snap a picture of a page in the book they are reading. Then, they add comments, images, highlights, and more.
4. Diary Entry
Have your students place themselves in the shoes of one of the characters from their book and write a first-person diary entry of a critical moment from the story. Ask them to choose a moment in the story where the character has plenty of interaction and emotion to share in a diary entry.
5. Character To-Do List
This fun activity is an off-the-beaten-path way to dive deep into character analysis. Get inside the head of the main character in a book and write a to-do list that they might write. Use actual information from the text, but also make inferences into what that character may wish to accomplish.
6. Mint Tin Book Report
There are so many super-creative, open-ended projects you can use mint tins for. This teacher blogger describes the process of creating book reports using them. There’s even a free template for cards that fit inside.
7. Fictional Yearbook Entries
Ask your students to create a yearbook based on the characters and setting in the book. What do they look like? Cut out magazine pictures to give a good visual image for their school picture. What kind of superlative might they get? Best looking? Class clown? What clubs would they be in or lead? Did they win any awards? It should be obvious from their small yearbooks whether your students dug deep into the characters in their books. They may also learn that who we are as individuals is reflected in what we choose to do with our lives.
8. Book Report Cake
This project would be perfect for a book tasting in your classroom! Each student presents their book report in the shape of food. See the sandwich and pizza options above and check out this blog for more delicious ideas.
9. Current Events Comparison
Have students locate three to five current events articles a character in their book might be interested in. After they’ve found the articles, have them explain why the character would find them interesting and how they relate to the book. Learning about how current events affect time, place, and people is critical to helping develop opinions about what we read and experience in life.
10. Sandwich Book Report
Yum! You’ll notice a lot of our creative book report ideas revolve around food. In this oldie but goodie, each layer of this book report sandwich covers a different element of the book—characters, setting, conflict, etc. A fun adaptation of this project is the book report cheeseburger.
11. Book Alphabet
Choose 15 to 20 alphabet books to help give your students examples of how they work around themes. Then ask your students to create their own Book Alphabet based on the book they read. What artifacts, vocabulary words, and names reflect the important parts of the book? After they find a word to represent each letter, have them write one sentence that explains where the word fits in.
12. Peekaboo Book Report
Using cardboard lap books (or small science report boards), students include details about their book’s main characters, plot, setting, conflict, resolution, etc. Then they draw a head and arms on card stock and attach them to the board from behind to make it look like the main character is peeking over the report.
13. T-Shirt Book Report
Another fun and creative idea: Create a wearable book report with a plain white tee. Come up with your own using Sharpie pens and acrylic paint. Get step-by-step directions .
14. Book Jacket
Have students create a new book jacket for their story. Include an attractive illustrated cover, a summary, a short biography of the author, and a few reviews from readers.
15. Watercolor Rainbow Book Report
This is great for biography research projects. Students cut out a photocopied image of their subject and glue it in the middle. Then, they draw lines from the image to the edges of the paper, like rays of sunshine, and fill in each section with information about the person. As a book report template, the center image could be a copy of the book cover, and each section expands on key information such as character names, theme(s), conflict, resolution, etc.
16. Act the Part
Have students dress up as their favorite character from the book and present an oral book report. If their favorite character is not the main character, retell the story from their point of view.
17. Pizza Box Book Report
If you’re looking for creative book report ideas that use upcycled materials, try this one using a pizza box. It works well for both nonfiction and fiction book reports. The top lid provides a picture of the book cover. Each wedge of the pizza pie tells part of the story.
Have students create a custom illustrated bookmark that includes drawings and words from either their favorite chapter or the entire book.
19. Book Reports in a Bag
Looking for book report ideas that really encourage creative thinking? With book reports in a bag, students read a book and write a summary. Then, they decorate a paper grocery bag with a scene from the book, place five items that represent something from the book inside the bag, and present the bag to the class.
20. Reading Lists for Characters
Ask your students to think about a character in their book. What kinds of books might that character like to read? Take them to the library to choose five books the character might have on their to-be-read list. Have them list the books and explain what each book might mean to the character. Post the to-be-read lists for others to see and choose from—there’s nothing like trying out a book character’s style when developing your own identity.
21. File Folder Book Report
Also called a lap book, this easy-to-make book report hits on all the major elements of a book study and gives students a chance to show what they know in a colorful way.
Create a collage using pictures and words that represent different parts of the book. Use old magazines or print pictures from the Internet.
23. Book Report Triorama
Who doesn’t love a multidimensional book report? This image shows a 3D model, but Elisha Ann provides a lesson to show students how to glue four triangles together to make a 4D model.
Have students create a timeline of the main events from their book. Be sure to include character names and details for each event. Use 8 x 11 sheets of paper taped together or a long portion of bulletin board paper.
25. Clothes Hanger Book Report Mobile
This creative project doesn’t require a fancy or expensive supply list. Students just need an ordinary clothes hanger, strings, and paper. The body of the hanger is used to identify the book, and the cards on the strings dangling below are filled with key elements of the book, like characters, setting, and a summary.
26. Public Service Announcement
If a student has read a book about a cause that affects people, animals, or the environment, teach them about public service announcements . Once they understand what a PSA is, have them research the issue or cause that stood out in the book. Then give them a template for a storyboard so they can create their own PSA. Some students might want to take it a step further and create a video based on their storyboard. Consider sharing their storyboard or video with an organization that supports the cause or issue.
27. Dodecahedron Book Report
Creative book report ideas think outside the box. In this case, it’s a ball! SO much information can be covered on the 12 panels , and it allows students to take a deep dive in a creative way.
28. Character Cards
Make trading cards (like baseball cards) for a few characters from the book. On the front side, draw the character. On the back side, make a list of their character traits and include a quote or two.
29. Book Report Booklets
This clever book report is made from ordinary paper bags. Stack the paper bags on top of each other, fold them in half, and staple the closed-off ends of the bags together. Students can write, draw, and decorate on the paper bag pages. They can also record information on writing or drawing paper and glue the paper onto the pages. The open ends of the bags can be used as pockets to insert photos, cut-outs, postcards, or other flat items that help them tell their story.
30. Letter to the Author
Write a letter to the author of the book. Tell them three things you really liked about the story. Ask three questions about the plot, characters, or anything else you’re curious about.
31. Book Report Charm Bracelet
What a “charming” way to write a book report! Each illustrated bracelet charm captures a character, an event in the plot, setting, or other detail.
32. Fact Sheet
Have students create a list of 10 facts that they learned from reading the book. Have them write the facts in complete sentences, and be sure that each fact is something that they didn’t know before they read the book.
33. Cereal Box TV Book Report
This book report project is a low-tech version of a television made from a cereal box and two paper towel rolls. Students create the viewing screen cut-out at the top, then insert a scroll of paper with writing and illustrations inside the box. When the cardboard roll is rotated, the story unfolds.
34. Be a Character Therapist
Therapists work to uncover their clients’ fears based on their words and actions. When we read books, we must learn to use a character’s actions and dialogue to infer their fears. Many plots revolve around a character’s fear and the work it takes to overcome that fear. Ask students to identify a character’s fear and find 8 to 10 scenes that prove this fear exists. Then have them write about ways the character overcame the fear (or didn’t) in the story. What might the character have done differently?
35. Mind Maps
Mind maps can be a great way to synthesize what students have learned from reading a book. Plus, there are so many ways to approach them. Begin by writing a central idea in the middle of the page. For example, general information, characters, plot, etc. Then branch out from the center with ideas, thoughts, and connections to material from the book.
From Rainbows Within Reach , this clever idea would be a great introduction to writing book reports. Adapt the flap categories for students at different levels. Adjust the number of categories (or flaps) per the needs of your students.
37. Board games
This is a great project if you want your students to develop a little more insight into what they’re reading. Have them think about the elements of their favorite board games and how they can be adapted to fit this assignment. For more, here are step-by-step directions .
38. Comic strips
If you’re looking for creative book report ideas for students who like graphic novels, try comic strips. Include an illustrated cover with the title and author. The pages of the book should retell the story using dialogue and descriptions of the setting and characters. Of course, no comic book would be complete without copious illustrations and thought bubbles.
Create a timeline using a long roll of butcher paper, a poster board, or index cards taped together. For each event on the timeline, write a brief description of what happens. Add pictures, clip art, word art, and symbols to make the timeline more lively and colorful.
40. Cereal Box
Recycle a cereal box and create a book report Wheaties-style. Decorate all sides of the box with information about the book’s characters, setting, plot, summary, etc.
41. Wanted Poster
Make a “wanted” poster for one of the book’s main characters. Indicate whether they are wanted dead or alive. Include a picture of the character and a description of what the character is “wanted” for, three examples of the character showing this trait, and a detailed account of where the character was last seen.
42. Movie Version
If the book your students have read has been made into a movie, have them write a report about how the versions are alike and different. If the book has not been made into a movie, have them write a report telling how they would make it into a movie, using specific details from the book.
What creative book report ideas did we miss? Come share in our We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, check out the most popular kids’ books in every grade..
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How to Write a Book Report
Writing a book report can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. In essence, a book report is a summary of a book’s content, structure, and analysis. It is a way for you to demonstrate your understanding of the book and its themes. A well-written book report can showcase your attention to detail, comprehension, and critical thinking skills.
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What is a book report?
A book report is a written summary of a book’s content and your analysis of it. It includes an introduction, plot summary, analysis, and conclusion. A book report is typically assigned to students in middle or high school, but it can also be assigned in college. Book reports are typically 250–500 words long.
What is the purpose of a book report?
The purpose of a book report is to demonstrate your understanding of the book and its themes . It is a way for you to practice critical thinking skills and develop your writing ability. Additionally, a book report can help a teacher assess a student’s reading comprehension and analytical abilities.
What are the elements of a good book report?
A good book report should include the following elements:
- Introduction : This section should include the book’s title, its author, and any other relevant information.
- Plot summary: This section should provide a summary of the book’s plot, including the main characters, setting, and conflict.
- Analysis: This section should provide your analysis of the book, including its themes, symbolism , and other literary devices .
- Conclusion : This section should summarize your thoughts on the book and its relevance.
How to write a book report
Writing a book report might feel overwhelming, but breaking it down into smaller steps can make it more manageable. Here’s a detailed guide on how to write a book report that will help you get started:
1 Read the book
Read the book thoroughly, taking note of the significant plot points, characters, themes, and tones. It’s important to read the book carefully to identify these things.
2 Take notes
As you read, take notes on the plot, characters, and themes. This will help you organize your thoughts and keep track of important information.
3 Create an outline
Use your notes to create an outline for your book report. This will help you stay organized and ensure that you cover all the major points.
4 Write the introduction
The introduction should include the book’s title, its author, and any other relevant information. It should also include a thesis statement that summarizes your overall opinion of the book.
5 Write the plot summary
The plot summary should provide a brief summary of the book’s plot, including the main characters, setting, and conflict. Be sure to include any major plot twists or events that affect the story.
6 Write the analysis
The analysis explores your insights into the book, including its themes, symbolism, and any other literary devices. Use specific examples from the book to support your analysis and provide evidence for your arguments.
7 Write the conclusion
The conclusion should summarize your overall thoughts on the book and its relevance. Be sure to restate your thesis statement and provide a final analysis of the book.
Tips for writing a book report
When writing a book report, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, avoid repetition by adding a new perspective about the book. Second, be concise and keep your analysis focused on the content your readers are looking for. Third, support your claims and positions with insights from the book and provide evidence for your arguments.
Remember, there are no firm requirements for what should be included in a book report. However, it’s important to pay attention to elements with specific formatting rules, such as the title page, table of contents, page numbers, headings and subheadings, citations , and the works cited page . Always refer to the assignment for specific guidelines and formatting requirements.
If you follow these steps and keep these tips in mind, you can write a thorough and thoughtful book report that will impress your readers. Don’t be afraid to share your opinion and insights into the book and remember to support your arguments with evidence from the text.
Book report vs. book review
A book report and a book review are often confused, but they are not the same thing. A book report is a summary of a book’s content and analysis, while a book review is a critical evaluation of a book’s content, style, and merit. A book review is typically written for a more advanced audience and is often published in a literary journal or newspaper.
Example book report
To provide a clear example of a book report, we’ll look at one on To Kill a Mockingbird , by Harper Lee.
Introduction: To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel written by Harper Lee and published in 1960. The book is set in the 1930s in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, and follows the story of a young girl, Scout Finch, as she learns about the injustices of the world around her. The novel explores themes of racism, prejudice, and the loss of innocence and is a powerful commentary on the social issues of its time.
Plot summary: The book revolves around the trial of Tom Robinson, a Black man accused of raping a white woman. Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, is the defense attorney for Tom Robinson and faces opposition from the town’s residents for defending a Black man. Throughout the story, Scout and her brother Jem learn about racism and prejudice and the importance of standing up for what is right. The trial serves as a catalyst for the children’s moral growth and understanding of the world around them. The plot also features Boo Radley, a reclusive neighbor who becomes a mystery for the children to solve.
Analysis: To Kill a Mockingbird is a powerful commentary on racism and injustice in America. The book highlights the importance of empathy and understanding and shows the devastating effects of prejudice. The characters in the book, especially Atticus Finch, serve as examples of how to stand up for what is right, even in the face of opposition.
Conclusion: To Kill a Mockingbird is more than just a story; it is a window into a time and place that many of us have never experienced firsthand. It is a reminder that racism and prejudice still exist today, and it challenges people to examine their own biases and beliefs. The book’s themes of justice, equality, and empathy are as relevant today as they were when the book was first published. To Kill a Mockingbird is a timeless classic that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.
Book report FAQs
A book report is a written summary of a book’s content and your analysis of it.
The purpose of a book report is to demonstrate your understanding of the book and its themes. It is a way for you to practice critical thinking skills and develop your writing ability.
What should a book report include?
A book report should include an introduction, a plot summary, an analysis, and a conclusion. It should also include the book’s title, its author, and any other relevant information.
This blog post was written with the support of Grammarly generative AI.
How to Write a Book Report
Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:
Book Report Fundamentals
Preparing to write, an overview of the book report format, how to write the main body of a book report, how to write a conclusion to a book report, reading comprehension and book reports, book report resources for teachers .
Book reports remain a key educational assessment tool from elementary school through college. Sitting down to close read and critique texts for their content and form is a lifelong skill, one that benefits all of us well beyond our school years. With the help of this guide, you’ll develop your reading comprehension and note-taking skills. You’ll also find resources to guide you through the process of writing a book report, step-by-step, from choosing a book and reading actively to revising your work. Resources for teachers are also included, from creative assignment ideas to sample rubrics.
Book reports follow general rules for composition, yet are distinct from other types of writing assignments. Central to book reports are plot summaries, analyses of characters and themes, and concluding opinions. This format differs from an argumentative essay or critical research paper, in which impartiality and objectivity is encouraged. Differences also exist between book reports and book reviews, who do not share the same intent and audience. Here, you’ll learn the basics of what a book report is and is not.
What Is a Book Report?
"Book Report" ( ThoughtCo )
This article, written by a professor emeritus of rhetoric and English, describes the defining characteristics of book reports and offers observations on how they are composed.
"Writing a Book Report" (Purdue OWL)
Purdue’s Online Writing Lab outlines the steps in writing a book report, from keeping track of major characters as you read to providing adequate summary material.
"How to Write a Book Report" ( Your Dictionary )
This article provides another helpful guide to writing a book report, offering suggestions on taking notes and writing an outline before drafting.
"How to Write a Successful Book Report" ( ThoughtCo )
Another post from ThoughtCo., this article highlights the ten steps for book report success. It was written by an academic advisor and college enrollment counselor.
What’s the Difference Between a Book Report and an Essay?
"Differences Between a Book Report & Essay Writing" ( Classroom)
In this article from the education resource Classroom, you'll learn the differences and similarities between book reports and essay writing.
"Differences Between a Book Report and Essay Writing" (SeattlePi.com)
In this post from a Seattle newspaper's website, memoirist Christopher Cascio highlights how book report and essay writing differ.
"The Difference Between Essays and Reports" (Solent Online Learning)
This PDF from Southampton Solent University includes a chart demonstrating the differences between essays and reports. Though it is geared toward university students, it will help students of all levels understand the differing purposes of reports and analytical essays.
What’s the Difference Between a Book Report and a Book Review?
"How to Write a Book Review and a Book Report" (Concordia Univ.)
The library at Concordia University offers this helpful guide to writing book report and book reviews. It defines differences between the two, then presents components that both forms share.
"Book Reviews" (Univ. of North Carolina)
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s writing guide shows the step-by-step process of writing book reviews, offering a contrast to the composition of book reports.
Active reading and thoughtful preparation before you begin your book report are necessary components of crafting a successful piece of writing. Here, you’ll find tips and resources to help you learn how to select the right book, decide which format is best for your report, and outline your main points.
Selecting and Finding a Book
"30 Best Books for Elementary Readers" (Education.com)
This article from Education.com lists 30 engaging books for students from kindergarten through fifth grade. It was written by Esme Raji Codell, a teacher, author, and children's literature specialist.
"How to Choose a Good Book for a Report (Middle School)" (WikiHow)
This WikiHow article offers suggestions for middle schoolers on how to choose the right book for a report, from getting started early on the search process to making sure you understand the assignment's requirements.
"Best Book-Report Books for Middle Schoolers" (Common Sense Media)
Common Sense Media has compiled this list of 25 of the best books for middle school book reports. For younger students, the article suggests you check out the site's "50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12."
"50 Books to Read in High School" (Lexington Public Library)
The Lexington, Kentucky Public Library has prepared this list to inspire high school students to choose the right book. It includes both classics and more modern favorites.
The Online Computer Library Center's catalogue helps you locate books in libraries near you, having itemized the collections of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries.
Formats of Book Reports
"Format for Writing a Book Report" ( Your Dictionary )
Here, Your Dictionary supplies guidelines for the basic book report format. It describes what you'll want to include in the heading, and what information to include in the introductory paragraph. Be sure to check these guidelines against your teacher's requirements.
"The Good Old Book Report" (Scholastic)
Nancy Barile’s blog post for Scholastic lists the questions students from middle through high school should address in their book reports.
How to Write an Outline
"Writer’s Web: Creating Outlines" (Univ. of Richmond)
The University of Richmond’s Writing Center shows how you can make use of micro and macro outlines to organize your argument.
"Why and How to Create a Useful Outline" (Purdue OWL)
Purdue’s Online Writing Lab demonstrates how outlines can help you organize your report, then teaches you how to create outlines.
"Creating an Outline" (EasyBib)
EasyBib, a website that generates bibliographies, offers sample outlines and tips for creating your own. The article encourages you to think about transitions and grouping your notes.
"How to Write an Outline: 4 Ways to Organize Your Thoughts" (Grammarly)
This blog post from a professional writer explains the advantages of using an outline, and presents different ways to gather your thoughts before writing.
In this section, you’ll find resources that offer an overview of how to write a book report, including first steps in preparing the introduction. A good book report's introduction hooks the reader with strong opening sentences and provides a preview of where the report is going.
"Step-by-Step Outline for a Book Report" ( Classroom )
This article from Classroom furnishes students with a guide to the stages of writing a book report, from writing the rough draft to revising.
"Your Roadmap to a Better Book Report" ( Time4Writing )
Time4Writing offers tips for outlining your book report, and describes all of the information that the introduction, body, and conclusion should include.
"How to Start a Book Report" ( ThoughtCo)
This ThoughtCo. post, another by academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming, demonstrates how to write a pithy introduction to your book report.
"How to Write an Introduction for a Book Report" ( Classroom )
This brief but helpful post from Classroom details what makes a good book report introduction, down to the level of individual sentences.
The body paragraphs of your book report accomplish several goals: they describe the plot, delve more deeply into the characters and themes that make the book unique, and include quotations and examples from the book. Below are some resources to help you succeed in summarizing and analyzing your chosen text.
Plot Summary and Description
"How Do You Write a Plot Summary?" ( Reference )
This short article presents the goals of writing a plot summary, and suggests a word limit. It emphasizes that you should stick to the main points and avoid including too many specific details, such as what a particular character wears.
"How to Write a Plot for a Book Report" ( The Pen & The Pad )
In this article from a resource website for writers, Patricia Harrelson outlines what information to include in a plot summary for a book report.
"How to Write a Book Summary" (WikiHow)
Using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an example, this WikiHow article demonstrates how to write a plot summary one step at a time.
Analyzing Characters and Themes
"How to Write a Character Analysis Book Report" ( The Pen & The Pad )
Kristine Tucker shows how to write a book report focusing on character. You can take her suggestions as they are, or consider incorporating them into the more traditional book report format.
"How to Write a Character Analysis" (YouTube)
The SixMinuteScholar Channel utilizes analysis of the film Finding Nemo to show you how to delve deeply into character, prioritizing inference over judgment.
"How to Define Theme" ( The Editor's Blog )
Fiction editor Beth Hill contributes an extended definition of theme. She also provides examples of common themes, such as "life is fragile."
"How to Find the Theme of a Book or Short Story" ( ThoughtCo )
This blog post from ThoughtCo. clarifies the definition of theme in relation to symbolism, plot, and moral. It also offers examples of themes in literature, such as love, death, and good vs. evil.
Selecting and Integrating Quotations
"How to Choose and Use Quotations" (Santa Barbara City College)
This guide from a college writing center will help you choose which quotations to use in your book report, and how to blend quotations with your own words.
"Guidelines for Incorporating Quotes" (Ashford Univ.)
This PDF from Ashford University's Writing Center introduces the ICE method for incorporating quotations: introduce, cite, explain.
"Quote Integration" (YouTube)
This video from The Write Way YouTube channel illustrates how to integrate quotations into writing, and also explains how to cite those quotations.
"Using Literary Quotations" (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison)
This guide from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writing Center helps you emphasize your analysis of a quotation, and explains how to incorporate quotations into your text.
Conclusions to any type of paper are notoriously tricky to write. Here, you’ll learn some creative ways to tie up loose ends in your report and express your own opinion of the book you read. This open space for sharing opinions that are not grounded in critical research is an element that often distinguishes book reports from other types of writing.
"How to Write a Conclusion for a Book Report" ( Classroom )
This brief article from the education resource Classroom illustrates the essential points you should make in a book report conclusion.
"Conclusions" (Univ. of North Carolina)
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Writing Center lays out strategies for writing effective conclusions. Though the article is geared toward analytical essay conclusions, the tips offered here will also help you write a strong book report.
"Ending the Essay: Conclusions" (Harvard College Writing Center)
Pat Bellanca’s article for Harvard University’s Writing Center presents ways to conclude essays, along with tips. Again, these are suggestions for concluding analytical essays that can also be used to tie up a book report's loose ends.
Reading closely and in an engaged manner is the strong foundation upon which all good book reports are built. The resources below will give you a picture of what active reading looks like, and offer strategies to assess and improve your reading comprehension. Further, you’ll learn how to take notes—or “annotate” your text—making it easier to find important information as you write.
How to Be an Active Reader
"Active Reading Strategies: Remember and Analyze What You Read" (Princeton Univ.)
Princeton University’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning recommends ten strategies for active reading, and includes sample diagrams.
"Active Reading" (Open Univ.)
The Open University offers these techniques for reading actively alongside video examples. The author emphasizes that you should read for comprehension—not simply to finish the book as quickly as possible.
"7 Active Reading Strategies for Students" ( ThoughtCo )
In this post, Grace Fleming outlines seven methods for active reading. Her suggestions include identifying unfamiliar words and finding the main idea.
"5 Active Reading Strategies for Textbook Assignments" (YouTube)
Thomas Frank’s seven-minute video demonstrates how you can retain the most important information from long and dense reading material.
Assessing Your Reading Comprehension
"Macmillan Readers Level Test" (MacMillan)
Take this online, interactive test from a publishing company to find out your reading level. You'll be asked a number of questions related to grammar and vocabulary.
"Reading Comprehension Practice Test" (ACCUPLACER)
ACCUPLACER is a placement test from The College Board. This 20-question practice test will help you see what information you retain after reading short passages.
"Reading Comprehension" ( English Maven )
The English Maven site has aggregated exercises and tests at various reading levels so you can quiz your reading comprehension skills.
How to Improve Your Reading Comprehension
"5 Tips for Improving Reading Comprehension" ( ThoughtCo )
ThoughtCo. recommends five tips to increase your reading comprehension ability, including reading with tools such as highlighters, and developing new vocabulary.
"How to Improve Reading Comprehension: 8 Expert Tips" (PrepScholar)
This blog post from PrepScholar provides ideas for improving your reading comprehension, from expanding your vocabulary to discussing texts with friends.
CrashCourse video: "Reading Assignments" (YouTube)
This CrashCourse video equips you with tools to read more effectively. It will help you determine how much material you need to read, and what strategies you can use to absorb what you read.
"Improving Reading Comprehension" ( Education Corner )
From a pre-reading survey through post-reading review, Education Corner walks you through steps to improve reading comprehension.
Methods of In-text Annotation
"The Writing Process: Annotating a Text" (Hunter College)
This article from Hunter College’s Rockowitz Writing Center outlines how to take notes on a text and provides samples of annotation.
"How To Annotate Text While Reading" (YouTube)
This video from the SchoolHabits YouTube channel presents eleven annotation techniques you can use for better reading comprehension.
"5 Ways To Annotate Your Books" ( Book Riot )
This article from the Book Riot blog highlights five efficient annotation methods that will save you time and protect your books from becoming cluttered with unnecessary markings.
"How Do You Annotate Your Books?" ( Epic Reads )
This post from Epic Reads highlights how different annotation methods work for different people, and showcases classic methods from sticky notes to keeping a reading notebook.
Students at every grade level can benefit from writing book reports, which sharpen critical reading skills. Here, we've aggregated sources to help you plan book report assignments and develop rubrics for written and oral book reports. You’ll also find alternative book report assessment ideas that move beyond the traditional formats.
Teaching Elementary School Students How to Write Book Reports
"Book Reports" ( Unique Teaching Resources )
These reading templates courtesy of Unique Teaching Resources make great visual aids for elementary school students writing their first book reports.
"Elementary Level Book Report Template" ( Teach Beside Me )
This printable book report template from a teacher-turned-homeschooler is simple, classic, and effective. It asks basic questions, such as "who are the main characters?" and "how did you feel about the main characters?"
"Book Reports" ( ABC Teach )
ABC Teach ’s resource directory includes printables for book reports on various subjects at different grade levels, such as a middle school biography book report form and a "retelling a story" elementary book report template.
"Reading Worksheets" ( Busy Teacher's Cafe )
This page from Busy Teachers’ Cafe contains book report templates alongside reading comprehension and other language arts worksheets.
Teaching Middle School and High School Students How to Write Book Reports
"How to Write a Book Report: Middle and High School Level" ( Fact Monster)
Fact Monster ’s Homework Center discusses each section of a book report, and explains how to evaluate and analyze books based on genre for students in middle and high school.
"Middle School Outline Template for Book Report" (Trinity Catholic School)
This PDF outline template breaks the book report down into manageable sections for seventh and eighth graders by asking for specific information in each paragraph.
"Forms for Writing a Book Report for High School" ( Classroom )
In this article for Classroom, Elizabeth Thomas describes what content high schoolers should focus on when writing their book reports.
"Forms for Writing a Book Report for High School" ( The Pen & The Pad )
Kori Morgan outlines techniques for adapting the book report assignment to the high school level in this post for The Pen & The Pad .
"High School Book Lists and Report Guidelines" (Highland Hall Waldorf School)
These sample report formats, grading paradigms, and tips are collected by Highland Hall Waldorf School. Attached are book lists by high school grade level.
"Book Review Rubric Editable" (Teachers Pay Teachers)
This free resource from Teachers Pay Teachers allows you to edit your book report rubric to the specifications of your assignment and the grade level you teach.
"Book Review Rubric" (Winton Woods)
This PDF rubric from a city school district includes directions to take the assignment long-term, with follow-up exercises through school quarters.
"Multimedia Book Report Rubric" ( Midlink Magazine )
Perfect for oral book reports, this PDF rubric from North Carolina State University's Midlink Magazine will help you evaluate your students’ spoken presentations.
Creative Book Report Assignments
"25 Book Report Alternatives" (Scholastic)
This article from the Scholastic website lists creative alternatives to the standard book report for pre-kindergarteners through high schoolers.
"Fresh Ideas for Creative Book Reports" ( Education World )
Education World offers nearly 50 alternative book report ideas in this article, from a book report sandwich to a character trait diagram.
"A Dozen Ways to Make Amazingly Creative Book Reports" ( We Are Teachers )
This post from We Are Teachers puts the spotlight on integrating visual arts into literary study through multimedia book report ideas.
"More Ideas Than You’ll Ever Use for Book Reports" (Teachnet.com)
This list from Teachnet.com includes over 300 ideas for book report assignments, from "interviewing" a character to preparing a travel brochure to the location in which the book is set.
"Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report" (National Council of Teachers of English)
In this PDF resource from the NCTE's English Journal, Diana Mitchell offers assignment ideas ranging from character astrology signs to a character alphabet.
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How to Write the Best Book Report - With Examples
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Specific tips for writing effective book reports..
Write better book reports using the tips, examples, and outlines presented here. This resource covers three types of effective book reports: plot summaries, character analyses, and theme analyses. It also features many specific examples of how to structure each type of report.
Writing a Book Report
Book reviews can take on many different forms. Three types of effective book reports are plot summaries, character analyses, and theme analyses . Writing a book review helps you practice giving your opinion about different aspects of a book, such as an author's use of description or dialogue. You can write book reports of any type, from fiction to non-fiction research papers, or essay writing; however, there are a few basic elements you need to include in order to convey why the book you read was interesting when writing a good book report.
Looking for printable book report outlines?
Our printable guide to writing a book report includes outlines, examples, tips, and all the elements your students need to write great book reports.
Always include the following elements in any book report:
The type of book report you are writing
The book's title
The author of the book
The time when the story takes place
The location where the story takes place
The names and a brief description of each of the characters you will be discussing
Many quotations and examples from the book to support your opinions
A thesis statement
The point of view of the narrator
Summary of the book
The main points or themes discussed in the work of fiction or non-fiction
The first paragraph (introductory paragraph), body paragraphs, and final paragraph
The writing styles of the author
A critical analysis of the fiction or non-fiction book
Three Types of Book Report Formats
A plot summary.
When you are writing a plot summary for your book report you don't want to simply summarize the story. You need to explain what your opinion is of the story and why you feel the plot is so compelling, unrealistic, or sappy. It is the way you analyze the plot that will make this a good report. Make sure that you use plenty of examples from the book to support your opinions. Try starting the report with a sentence similar to the following:
Try starting the report with a sentence similar to the following:
- The plot of I Married a Sea Captain , by Monica Hubbard, is interesting because it gives the reader a realistic sense of what it was like to be the wife of a whaling captain and live on Nantucket during the 19th century.
A Character Analysis
If you choose to write a character analysis, you can explore the physical and personality traits of different characters and the way their actions affect the plot of the book.
- Explore the way a character dresses and what impression that leaves with the reader.
- What positive characteristics does the character possess?
- Does the character have a "fatal flaw" that gets him/her into trouble frequently?
- Try taking examples of dialogue and analyzing the way a character speaks. Discuss the words he/she chooses and the way his/her words affect other characters.
- Finally, tie all of your observations together by explaining the way the characters make the plot move forward.
EXAMPLE Try starting the report with a sentence similar to the following:
- In the novel Charlotte's Web , by E. B. White, Templeton the rat may seem like an unnecessary character but his constant quest for food moves the plot forward in many ways.
Exploring the themes (or big ideas that run throughout the story) in a book can be a great way to write a book report because picking a theme that you care about can make the report easier to write. Try bringing some of your thoughts and feelings as a reader into the report as a way to show the power of a theme. Before you discuss your own thoughts, however, be sure to establish what the theme is and how it appears in the story.
- Explain exactly what theme you will be exploring in your book report.
- Use as many examples and quotations from the book as possible to prove that the theme is important to the story.
- Make sure that you talk about each example or quotation you've included. Make a direct connection between the theme and the example from the book.
- After you have established the theme and thoroughly examined the way it affects the book, include a few sentences about the impact the theme had upon you and why it made the book more or less enjoyable to read.
- In the novel Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry , by Mildred Taylor, the theme of racial prejudice is a major catalyst in the story.
No matter what type of book report you decide to write, ensure it includes basic information about the main characters, and make sure that your writing is clear and expressive so that it’s easy for audiences in middle school, high school, college-level, or any grade level to understand. Also, include examples from the book to support your opinions. Afterward, conduct thorough proofreading to complete the writing process. Book reports may seem disconnected from your other schoolwork, but they help you learn to summarize, compare and contrast, make predictions and connections, and consider different perspectives & skills you'll need throughout your life.
Looking for more writing resources? You can find them in our creative writing center .
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The TeacherVision editorial team is comprised of teachers, experts, and content professionals dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and relevant information in the teaching space.
How to Write an Eighth Grade Book Report
How to Start a Good Book Report
Book reports are essential to the critical reading process. They are used as a device for the reader to take a closer look at what she has read and gain a better understanding of its meaning. In the eighth grade, you may be required to write book reports for several of your classes, including language arts and social studies. To write the best book report you can, there are some simple guidelines you should follow.
Make notes in the margins of the book or on a separate sheet of paper as you read. If a certain quote or plot point seems important to you, underline it. If you don't understand a word, circle it and look up its definition in a dictionary. If you have any questions, make note as you go along. A few simple notes will help focus your book report.
Summarize the plot of the book. When writing your summary, it is important to know your audience. You may want to ask the assigning teacher if you should write to a reader who has never read the book or to someone who is familiar with the text. Either way, you should include a brief summary that introduces the setting and plot as well as a description of the main characters.
Create a thesis for your book report. This is essential to all successful essay writing. You may want to focus your report on an argument. For instance, if the report is on Charles Dickens's "Great Expectations," you may write about how setting is portrayed in the lives of the characters. Your book report does not have to be persuasive, however. It can be a thorough summary, a detailed character map or even a personal response to some aspect of the text.
Put yourself in the mind of the author. What would the author want you to take away from reading this book? Support your report with evidence that you have actively engaged with the text. Use quotes or descriptions from the text to prove your point or show your understanding.
How to Teach Second-Graders to Write Book Reports
How to Write a Presentation of a Book
How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Summary
Stream of Consciousness Narrative Techniques
How to Write a Thesis Statement for "Robinson Crusoe"
High School Book Project Ideas
What Is the Theme for a Ballad?
How to write an informal report.
Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including USAToday.com. Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.
Guided Book Report for Kids- Printable Template
This post may contain affiliate links.
Is it book report time? It’s always nice to have an easy way to do book reports with your kids. In this post I have a printable guided book report for you! This is a fun and colorful book report template in a few different styles.
This Guided Book Report is great for elementary aged kids. It has 6 pages. The first two pages are for younger elementary-aged kids, the second set of pages are for upper elementary aged kids, and the last set of pages are for kids to use to take notes on the book as they are reading it.
These guided book report templates are perfect for teaching study skills and note taking in preparation for writing the book report.
I am curious, for my homeschooling parents, do you give your homeschooled kids book reports? I have from time to time and I think it is a good accountability opportunity for them. I do not always have my kids do book reports on the books they read, though. They read way too many books!
You can read some of my thoughts about reading in the post on the the Importance of Reading to Kids .
Need help encouraging your kids to read? Try our 12-Month Reading Challenge , or our Summer Reading Challenge .
Want something a little more basic, and with no colors or characters not hem? Also check out my Elementary Level Book Report Template post.
Need ideas for what books to read with your kids/students?
Check Out Some of Our Favorite Book Posts:
Must Read Classic Books for Kids
Best Books for Tween Boys
Best Books for Tween Girls
Newbery Medal Book List
How to Find Clean Books for Kids to Read
How to Print the Elementary Guided Book Report
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How to Write a Book Report (+ a FREE Step-by-Step Printable for Your Kids)
Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links. That means if you use them to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. You can read my full affiliate disclosure HERE .
We read a lot of books (homeschool moms, can you relate?). Right now, we are reading the Harry Potter series together as a family, and as my kids have grown, it’s been fun to see them become more interested in reading for fun. As part of our homeschooling this year, we have been learning how to write a book report, which has been a great way for me to evaluate how well my kids are understanding what they read.
My son is in 3rd grade this year and recently had a book report as one of his assignments in English. While there were a couple of steps given to him, he struggled with the process and actually putting the book report together. So I decided to create a step-by-step book report printable to help him learn how to write a book report.
I hope these printables will be a big help to your kids, too! They will walk your kids through the steps of organizing their book report, writing a draft, revising and proofreading, and writing a final copy. Plus, I’ve included a rubric for you that you can use to give helpful feedback if you’d like.
Not only will this template help your kids learn how to write a book report, but they will be fun to add to your homeschool portfolio and look back on in the future.
Why Should You Use Book Reports in Your Homeschool?
Writing a book report or using an organizer to respond to what they have read is a great way to help your kids with their reading comprehension . It’s also fun to see their unique writing styles come to light and learn what they think about the books they have read.
Plus, I have found that incorporating book reports into our homeschool is a fun way for my kids to practice their writing skills because they get to write about a book they have loved. My son doesn’t necessarily love to write, so making the writing topic interesting is really important in our current season.
They also will obviously get to practice their handwriting, and you can include an oral presentation component if you’d like to as well!
Teach Your Kids How to Write a Book Report
A book report is just what it sounds like – a detailed report your kids will write after reading a book. In the report, they will give a summary of the book and share some of the important plot points, as well as share their opinion of the book.
When my son first attempted to do his book report from his English assignment, he struggled with what to write, and how to pull it all together in one cohesive report. I wanted to really lay out the process for him, to break it down into manageable steps .
If your child is new to writing book reports, I would recommend doing the first one together . Choose a book you have been reading aloud as a family (or a new one to read together), so you can then walk through the template and process with them.
If you are reading the book together, model how to take notes of important characters and plot points as you read . These notes will be great to reference later when writing the report.
Once you are finished reading and taking notes, grab your book report template and work through the process of putting together the report ( this printable makes it so easy! ).
My Book Report Template for Kids
There are many options out there with ideas for creative and different styles of book reports (I love these ideas from We Are Teachers), but if you are looking for a simple way for your elementary-aged student to organize their thoughts into a basic book report, these are for you.
The pages include:
- 2 Book Report Planning Pages where your kids will organize their thoughts about the main characters, important plot events, and what they learned and liked about the book. They will also have space to draw out their favorite scene from the story.
- First Draft Pages where they will write a rough draft. These sheets also include checklists that will walk them through the revision and proofreading process.
- My Book Report Pages where your kids will write their final copy of their book report.
- Book Report Rubric which is a sheet you can use to offer comments and suggestions on their work, if desired.
- Reading Log page that your kids can use to keep track of what they are reading (great for your homeschool record keeping as well!)
Using a template like this will help your kids organize their thoughts in the planning pages, so it’s easier for them to put the final review together. They will see all of the important parts that need to go into their book reports, which will help them learn how to write effective reviews and recommendations.
Printable Book Report Template
I’d love for this book report template to be a blessing to you and your family as well! Grab it below when you join my subscriber list – I love to send out freebies, homeschool tips, inspiration and more as I go through my own homeschooling journey.
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Drop a comment below and let me know – what are some of your kid’s favorite books they have read, or what are they reading now?
- Free Printable Game to Help Teach Your Kids Contractions
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- Why Visual Perceptual Skills are Important for Your Kids
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83 Brilliant Books For 8th Grade Readers
November 8, 2023 // by Lauren Du Plessis
It’s no secret that trying to motivate middle school students to read can be a tough challenge, even for the most experienced teacher. Thankfully, our collection of 83 carefully curated books for 8th graders will captivate even your most reluctant readers! These high-interest choices include everything from the classics to cozy mysteries and globe-trekking adventure stories. Your students are sure to find a winner! Read on to find the next 8th grade ‘bestseller’ for your classroom library!
1. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
This powerful novel is reminiscent of The Diary of Anne Frank and grapples with the same tough issues. Despite the serious subject matter, your eighth graders will enjoy getting to know two young boys who become the most unsuspecting of friends in this moving novel set during the Holocaust. With a devastating end, this truly is a remarkably written book.
2. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
A Long Walk to Water illustrates the lives of two Sudanese children. The novel sees Nya and Salva face many dangers in a feat to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. Your students will benefit from thought-provoking discussions that are sure to arise from this gripping story.
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set in Nazi Germany, your kiddies will learn how Liesel Meminger, a foster child discovers a blissful world between the spines of books – away from constant bombing raids. Reading becomes her escape, and students will learn about its power to transport readers like Liesel to magical worlds.
4. The Giver by Lois Lowry
Your readers will be captivated by twelve-year-old Jonas who has his life turned upside down when he receives his life assignment – taking on the role of The Giver. After the world’s memories have been bestowed upon him, Jonas soon learns that his seemingly ideal world isn’t as wonderful as he once thought.
5. Shadow Jumper by J.M. Forster
For your eighth graders who love a mystery adventure story, Shadow Jumper is sure to be a winner! Jack Phillips is on a mission to find his missing scientist father, but will his rare allergic condition interfere with his search? Jump into the action to find out!
6. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Outsiders is a powerful coming-of-age classic that is sure to be relatable to your 8th graders! Ponyboy and his gang of close-knit friends stand up to a gang of snooty rich kids in this timeless tale about bravery and friendship.
7. The Finest Hours by Michael J. Tougias & Casey Sherman
The true story of a shipwreck and dramatic rescue in The Finest Hours will captivate your non-fiction buffs! Explore the heart-rending tale of a shipwreck and the four brave men who managed to save the stranded sailors. Your students will also love comparing the book and movie versions of this harrowing story!
8. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Long Way Down is the gripping story of fifteen-year-old Will who is grappling with the murder of his brother. This is a good choice for your readers ready to tackle the serious issue of gun violence. Journey with Will as he considers whether or not to avenge his brother’s death.
9. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Cruel Prince is a wondrous book about a mortal girl who finds herself entangled in the tribulations of a mysterious and enchanted land, the High Court of Faerie. Your eighth graders will love following Jude as she battles the wicked Prince Cardan and fights to save her sisters.
10. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
This New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Finalist will grab the attention of your kids who enjoy stories about complex characters. After losing her seemingly perfect older sister, rambunctious Julia learns to navigate life outside of her sister’s shadow – all while uncovering shocking secrets about her sister’s past.
11. We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
The final book in ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ trilogy, We’ll Always Have Summer, continues the theme of young love and is perfect for eighth graders who enjoy a romantic read. Will Conrad have the courage to tell Belly his feelings, or will he lose her to Jeremiah forever?
12. You Have a Match by Emma Lord
Your readers will love this wild ride with Abby who signs up for a DNA service and discovers that she has an Instagram-famous sister that she knew nothing about! Eager to know more, Abby decides to meet her sister, Savannah, at camp and uncover the secret of Savannah’s adoption.
13. We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez
The touching stories in We Are Not from Here are inspired by the experiences of migrants. Your readers ready for more serious issues will enjoy following the journey of three teens who escape the dangers of their hometowns only to face more challenges on their way to the US-Mexico border.
14. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
For your eighth-grade readers who love stories that pull on the heartstrings, I’ll Give You the Sun is a humorous yet tear-jerking read. It follows the tale of two twins, Jude and Noah, who were once extremely close, but who have now been torn apart because of an unsuspected disaster.
15. Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
Have your readers embark on the journey of a lifetime with the four Tillerman children after their mother abandons them in a Connecticut parking lot. Follow the children as they try to make their way to their Great Aunt Cilla’s house, but will they make it?
16. House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
For your readers who love the supernatural, this magical read stars the uniquely beautiful seventeen-year-old, Iris, who yearns to belong. When her sister, Grey, mysteriously goes missing, Iris and her other sister, Vivi, discover the secrets of their past and learn that not everything is as it seems.
17. Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Echo is a well-crafted and heart-warming read that revolves around a harmonica, a prophecy, and a long-standing promise. Let your kiddos dive into this tale of finding friendship, overcoming life’s challenges, and pursuing your rightful destiny.
18. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Your eighth-grade readers looking for adventure will love this heart-racing read about a group of memory-wiped strangers who must escape from the center of an ever-changing maze. Their only hope for survival is to devise a plan of escape after receiving a message that reads, ‘Remember. Survive. Run’.
19. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This gripping read inspired by a dystopian-like world is sure to be a hit with your class! The Hunger Games is an annual event held in a metropolis of wealth called the Capitol of Panem-. Twelve representatives from outlying districts fight to the death until only one victor remains.
20. Downriver by Will Hobbs
If your eighth graders love wild adventure stories, this read is sure to deliver! At Discovery Unlimited, an outdoor education program, seven teenagers borrow the company’s rafting gear and face nerve-wracking consequences as they make their way downriver and through the Grand Canyon.
21. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition by Anne Frank
For more serious eighth graders, The Diary of a Young Girl is Anne Frank’s account of living in a secret annex while hiding from the Gestapo. For two years, Anne and her family faced the fear of being found and the challenges of hunger and living so closely together.
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Your kids will continue to be enthralled by this timeless classic about siblings on a quest to find their missing scientist father. Meg Murry and her brother Charles Wallace are joined by the most popular boy in high school as they explore new worlds and uncover their father’s whereabouts!
23. The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
Let your readers discover the courage of 11-year-old Parvana in this story set during Taliban rule in Kabul, Afghanistan. After her father is forced to stop working, Parvana saves her family by disguising herself as a boy so that she can work and become the family’s breadwinner!
24. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
All the Bright Places will remind your eighth graders of the beauty of life. This book tells the story of the chance encounter of two teenagers who meet on the ledge of a tower. Despite different outlooks on life, they fall in love while marveling at the adventure of life.
25. A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Send your readers on a transatlantic journey with this heartwarming read! When nothing goes right, Lila’s parents send her off to live in Winchester, England. She meets a teashop clerk named Orion Maxwell and begins to realize England might not be too bad after all.
26. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Striving to be accepted to the prestigious college of Pennington, there isn’t anything Liz Lighty won’t do to make her dream come true. In need of financial aid, she decides to run for prom queen in hopes of landing her school’s scholarship. Your readers will enjoy this spirited protagonist!
27. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Felix Ever After is a beautiful read about Felix and his journey to self-discovery and authentic identity. This coming-of-age story has a strong message that will inspire your eighth-grade readers to take a stand for themselves and never accept anything less than they deserve!
28. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
With this title, your students are guaranteed to be curious! Mateo and Rufus wake up only to be told they only have one day to live. The author narrates a special day for these two strangers- who bond over trying to live their final 24 hours to the fullest!
29. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Introduce your kids to Yadriel, a transgender high school student. Yadriel accidentally summons his ghost of a cousin, Julien, for help to share his true gender with his parents. As time goes on, the cousins become close, and eventually, Yadriel doesn’t want his cousin to leave.
30. The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
With themes of friendship, identity, and courage, this book is sure to strike a chord with your kiddos. Flávia and Nishat must navigate their relationship in a way like never before. Nishat risks not being accepted by her family, but she must make a choice about whether to share her true feelings for Flávia.
31. Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth
Not My Problem will make your readers pause and consider their interactions with and influence on others. In this brilliant coming-of-age novel, Aideen helps fellow classmates solve their personal issues in unwitting ways, but she struggles to solve any of her own problems!
32. The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
This novel is the perfect choice for your eighth graders who are passionate about social justice! When Duke Crenshaw is turned away at the voting booth, Marva Sheridan makes it her mission to ensure that Duke’s right to vote is upheld. On a path to help shape democracy, Duke and Marva find unexpected love.
33. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
This is a novel that was written for your students who like to live life a little on the wild side! Juliet feels more alive and free than ever. After she comes out to her parents, she sets off for a summer of motorcycling, love, and partying while also finding a place for herself in the world.
34. Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
Told with humor, Only Mostly Devastated is a book for your eighth graders who would enjoy a story about a boy-meets-boy teenage romance. Will and Ollie must navigate the shaky waters of their relationship and learn to trust again. They’re sure to love this super relatable tale about the trials and tribulations of teenage life!
35. Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales
Your students will love the drama of this super enjoyable read. Darcy secretly offers love advice to her classmates until her anonymity is threatened when the grade’s jock catches her collecting letters from a locker! She is then forced into helping him get back together with his girlfriend.
36. We Are Not Free by Traci Chee
This award-winning read will appeal to your readers interested in history and social justice. After their lives are forever changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II, fourteen teenagers rally together in a fight against injustice and blatant racism. In doing so, the teens become closer than ever as they create a community for themselves.
37. Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan
Hot Dog Girl spans both humor and romance and is sure to delight your readers! Elouise works as a hot dog girl at her local fair and finds herself pining over Nick the pirate. The only problem is that Nick has a girlfriend and hardly seems to notice poor Elouise!
38. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
This novel from acclaimed author Elizabeth Acevedo belongs in your eighth-grade library! Acevedo tells the story of a teenager who reclaims her power after having a child during her freshman year. Follow Emoni as she graduates, discovers a new passion for cooking, and becomes a chef!
39. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Your kiddies are sure to relate to teenager, Xiomara, who has so much to get off her chest, but has no way to vent! To find a creative outlet, she decides to join the school’s poetry society but must keep this a secret from her rather strict Mami.
40. Internment by Samira Ahmed
Your readers will be intrigued and inspired by courageous seventeen-year-old Layla Amin who is forced into a Muslim-American internment camp with her parents. In a bid to fight for her freedom, she leads a revolt against the guards and the camp director.
41. Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon
Follow Liliana as she fights to stay true to herself amidst a world of wealthy privilege! Proud of her LatinX heritage, Liliana must be courageous as she grapples with the divide between her new suburban high school and the inner-city home of her Boston neighborhood. Your class will be rooting for her the whole way through this great read!
42. Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson
Transport your readers to 1998 Brooklyn! In this fantastic story, three teens plan to promote the rap music of their deceased friend by pretending he’s still alive. How long can this rambunctious group keep up their lie when tensions start brewing and secrets begin to be revealed?
43. Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore
Passionate readers who fiercely support equal rights will find a friend in Carey Parker, the protagonist at the center of this tender yet powerful novel. Fed up with the discrimination faced at high school, this queer teen stands up for what is right and invites others to do the same!
44. The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch
Sky Baker plans to ask his crush, Ali, to prom in just 30 days at the annual beach party! Sky’s plans are ruined when a homophobic hacker releases an email detailing his plan. Your techies will be hooked as the next 30 days quickly turn into a mission to expose the hacker.
45. It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland
Your students will relate to the trials of friendship explored in this fantastic novel. Members of a queer pop band formed in middle school must reconcile with the past when a tragic storm in their hometown brings them together for one last show. Find out if their friendship will stand the test of time!
46. Love & Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura
Your eighth-grade rom-com fans will enjoy Love & Other Natural Disasters . In this queer romance, Nozomi is eager to pose as the girlfriend of gorgeous Willow. But not everything goes according to plan in this plot to make Willow’s ex jealous when Nozomi finds herself falling unexpectedly in love.
47. The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos
The Fascinators is sure to charm your kiddos with its magical plot! Despite living in a place that shuns magic, Sam, Delia, and James bond over their participation in the school’s magic club, but soon find that even magic can’t fix the obstacles they are about to face!
48. House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
Lovers of adventure stories will enjoy this fascinating tale about Linus, the caretaker of an orphanage who is summoned on a mission that will take him to a magical island. Your students will enjoy the twists and turns of Linus’s journey and appreciate the messages this novel offers its readers.
49. The Marvelous by Claire Kann
Your gamers and readers alike will be thrilled by The Marvelous ! They’ll follow six teenagers who are gathered together by famed heiress, Jewel, in a competition to win a life-changing prize. The players quickly learn that more than money is at stake as they go head to head in a game spanning Jewel’s entire estate!
50. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Your readers who are ready to tackle themes of identity, friendship, and family will soak up the beautiful story of Aristotle and Dante. These two lonely boys form an unforgettable friendship after meeting at a public swimming pool. This tale eloquently depicts the importance of friendship in discovering your own self.
51. Rules For Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno
This empowering tale is all about Marin who reclaims her power after being sexually assaulted by her English teacher. When no one believes her story, she decides to take it to the school newspaper – an act that starts an inspiring feminist club! This read is perfect for your kids who are ready for a more sophisticated story.
52. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Sal, once a confident, secure teenager, is suddenly questioning everything about life, his identity, and his place in the world. Your students will connect with relatable, humorous, and comforting characters while journeying with Sal as he navigates the universal questions of life.
53. The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen
Your eighth graders will be fascinated by star running back Caleb’s plight to navigate a special ability allowing him to be extremely empathetic. Caleb’s empathy leads to a new friendship with his classmate, Adam, and the realization that his new ability to connect with others might also be dangerous.
54. Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring by Angela Cervantes
Have your kiddies join Paloma Marquez on her search to connect with her late father and his Mexican roots. While traveling in Mexico, she relives her father’s memory and helps two siblings hunt for Frida Kahlo’s missing ring – a find that could lead to a reward and the adoration of all of Mexico!
55. Greenglass House by Kate Milford
This Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery winner is perfect for your readers who love a cozy mystery. On a wintry night, Milo, the inn owner’s son, greets the arrival of guests who hold secrets about Greenglass House’s past. The story ends with a twist that is sure to leave your kiddos wanting more!
56. When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
When Lily moves in with her sick grandmother, the family’s Korean folktales come to life. The magical tigers of the stories have a history with Lily’s grandmother and demand retribution for her past actions. Will Lily make a deal with the tiger or find another way to right the wrongs of the past? Let your 8th graders read to find out!
57 . Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
Kira-Kira is an excellent choice for drama lovers. Readers follow Katie Tekeshima and her sister, Lynn, as they move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the unfamiliar Deep South of Georgia. Your readers will be hooked as the family navigates difficulties and finds hope in the future through the idea of ‘glittering’ or kira-kira.
58. Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Your kiddos will love this book all about the strength of community and Native pride. This collection of unique stories highlights the experiences of young Native people from the perspective of new and established First Nation writers. The stories take root at a large Michigan powwow where Native families gather to celebrate their heritage and honor their traditions.
59. No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen
Dive into this powerful story about poverty, homelessness, and family life with your class. No Fixed Address is a story about Felix, a teenager living out of a car with his mom who enters a game show competition to win a cash prize. This novel is perfect for a read-aloud that is guaranteed to lead to rich discussions.
60. Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman
Girl of the Southern Sea is the choice for those longing for an adventurous and faraway setting. Your readers will meet Nia who dreams of a life beyond the slums of Jakarta. She devises a plan to change her circumstances, but how will she reach her dreams while facing ongoing obstacles?
61. As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh
This novel is a moving story about a teenager living and working in war-torn Syria. Her choice of whether to stay or flee for a new chance at life elsewhere is made all the more difficult when Khawf – the physical manifestation of her fears – adds pressure to her decision.
62. The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
Let your students follow the inspirational story of sisters, Viji and Rukuu, who escape from an abusive father. While their new, temporary home under a bridge is not easy, it provides the sisters with new relationships, independence, and the confidence that they can care for themselves and each other.
63. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
When Julie’s family life becomes untenable, she leaves her Alaskan village in search of better things. However, when she becomes lost in the icy tundra, she has to rely on a curious wolf pack to survive. Julie of the Wolves is an excellent addition to your middle school classroom for your readers who love survival stories!
64. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Out of My Mind is a classic coming-of-age story that is sure to resonate with your kiddies. They’ll follow the story of a brilliant young girl with a photographic memory who is also navigating preteen life with cerebral palsy. Her world dramatically changes when she acquires a machine that helps her express her complex thoughts and feelings to her family and friends.
65. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Have your more serious readers, check out Counting by 7s ! It’s an emotional but uplifting read about a young girl who quiets her anxious mind through routines like counting by 7s. When she loses her parents, she must face her fears and learn to form connections with others.
66. Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
Look Both Ways consists of ten short stories that diverge to detail the lives of individual teenagers and converge again upon a sudden shared experience (a falling school bus!). Add this novel to your eighth-grade reading list to inject a little humor into your reading time!
67. Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Let your kids lose themselves in this bestselling commentary on the growing pains of preteen friendship. Bridge, Emily, and Tab must learn to navigate the new stresses of seventh grade, with personal traumas, budding romances, and strained loyalties that are all battling to take precedence over their friendship.
68. Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf
Who knew Scrabble could be this tense? In this teen thriller that’s centered around a Scrabble competition, Najwa Bakri is mourning the death of her best friend. But when her friend’s Instagram suddenly begins posting again, Najwa begins to wonder if her friend’s death may not have been an accident.
69. A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials by Ann Rinaldi
This is the perfect choice for your historical fiction lovers! A Break with Charity is a compelling read about the time of the Salem Witch Trials. The main character, Susanna, has to determine how to protect her own family from the lies and accusations being thrown around. It’s a “must-have” for your eighth-grade reading list!
70. The Rig by Joe Ducie
Will is a highly intelligent but troubled young man whose criminal activities have landed him on the Rig, a high-security facility that is supposedly impossible to escape. Supernatural elements soon come into play in this science fiction book as the true nature of the prison is revealed. Your 8th graders will love this interesting and mysterious read!
71. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
This series may not be the most challenging for your 8th graders, but A Series of Unfortunate Events is a captivating tale certain to pique the interest of even the most reluctant readers. Follow the unlucky adventures of three orphaned siblings as they search for answers about their parents’ untimely and suspicious deaths.
72. Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Jump into these thrilling fantasy offerings from Cassandra Clare! In this gripping series, Clary enters an alternate world of mythical creatures in order to find her missing mom. She’s soon pulled deep into the drama of this mysterious place, linking up with the warrior Shadowhunters and fighting against demons who want her eliminated.
73. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
Introduce your kiddos to Cassie, in this dystopian novel of survival. She is one of the few remaining humans on planet Earth after apocalyptic waves of destruction wreak havoc on Earth and dangerous beings arrive to wipe out humanity. When she meets Evan, another survivor, she must decide whether to take a new chance at life by learning to trust others again.
74. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
The first book in a fantasy trilogy follows the escapades of Kelsier, a rebel who fights against a tyrannical ruler in a kingdom perpetually full of ash. Magical metals, compelling characters, and vivid imagery make this novel and series a favorite among YA fantasy readers. They’ll love the fact that there are another two books waiting for them once they’ve finished this first read!
75. The Selection by Kiera Cass
This YA romance series follows the Bachelor-esque “Selection,” where 35 girls compete for a chance at love with Prince Maxon. Contestant America, however, wishes that she had never been selected; that is until she actually meets the prince! This dramatic series is perfect for any of your readers who love a bit of fairy tale and romance!
76. Entwined by Heather Dixon
Based on Grimm’s Fairytale of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses,” Entwined follows Azalea, whose family tragedy spurs a deal with the mysterious Keeper. When Keeper’s promise turns out to be a trap, Azalea must find a way to save her family. This is perfect for your 8th graders who love fantasy!
77. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Use this post-apocalyptic series to explore themes of vanity and loyalty with your class. Tally is set to undergo a mandatory surgery to turn her into a “Pretty” on her 16th birthday when she discovers that there is more behind the surgery than aesthetics.
78. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
Tuck Everlasting is definitely one to add to your middle-grade book lists! Winnie must decide whether to live life as a mere mortal or join the Tucks, who have found immortality in a magical nearby spring. This heartwarming tale is sure to be one that your kids will love!
79. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice will stretch your advanced readers’ minds by exposing them to the twists and turns of classic literature. This novel also provides an opportunity for your kiddos to compare a classic version of Elizabeth and Darcy’s epic love story with contemporary retellings.
80. Slider by Pete Hautman
Slider is a coming-of-age story about David, a 14-year-old caught in a serious bind! When an accidental credit card charge sets in motion a series of events involving a competitive eating competition, he must win the grand prize. This humorous and touching novel will delight your readers.
81. A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat
Your class will love this sweet novel detailing the life and middle school trials of Dan, an awkward but quintessential ‘good kid’, that is based on the author’s own experiences. Thrust from his comfortable family life to a class trip to Europe where he is on his own, Dan experiences several life-changing “firsts”.
82. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a delightful and beautifully written story about a family’s day-to-day life in a NYC borough. From the beginning of this novel and through every dramatic turn, Francie’s determination and wit make her a lovable character that your readers will champion.
83. Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Green Gables is a timeless classic, yet even your contemporary readers will adore the spunk and tenacity of the protagonist, Anne. On a deeper level, this book explores the themes of belonging, friendship, and the quest to find oneself amidst the throes of young adulthood.
Instill a love for reading in your 8th grade students by encouraging independent reading. Reading allows children to learn about the experiences of others and therefore foster better empathy. Furthermore, they gain valuable knowledge and expand their vocabulary as well as explore more imaginative and creative thought patterns.
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FREE Book Report Templates (All Grades Included)
By Bonnie Rose Hudson on October 18, 2019
Some kids love them. Other kids dread them. But nearly every kid has to learn how to write a book report. Help make it fun (and less painful!) with these FREE Book Report Templates .
This set of 16 book report templates helps alleviate the stress of staring at the blank page. With prompts and questions, they help students remember key parts of the book as well as what is important to share in a book report.
These FREE Book Report Templates include forms for:
- middle school
- high school
They are designed to be used with:
- biography or autobiography
- informational books
Print just the ones you need. Scroll down to get your FREE Book Report Templates.
Could you use some more tools to help your kids learn (and enjoy!) writing? Be sure to take a look at all the writing resources available in our Subscriber Library ! They are all FREE to our subscribers. Check them out today! There is even another DIY Book Report Kit.
You might also want to take a look at these free book report posts:
Instant Download: FREE Book Report Templates
Bonnie Rose Hudson’s heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She would love for you to stop by her website WriteBonnieRose.com for homeschool and history curriculum, resources to help teach your children about missions and the persecuted Church, free history and writing printables, and to check out her newest release from JourneyForth, The Hidden Village , an early reader set in India.
Be sure to check out the open and go homeschool curriculum and resources over at www.dailyskillbuilding.com
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Books for Kids and Grown Ups
60 of the Best Books for 8th Graders
The best books for eight graders (who are usually around age 13) are upper middle-grade and young YA titles! That’s what you find recommended on this list. Still, I tend to lean toward conservative choices, especially for kids who are still under the age of 16. So I’ve included books about crushes, body image, sexual harassment and consent, and identity. Many of these books are personal favorites that I would certainly hand to my favorite 13 year olds.
For newer books for 8th graders, check out our brand new list of books for 13 year olds .
Click on the graphics to head over to the book’s Amazon page.
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Published: April 7, 2020
Mary Murphy feels like she’s drowning. Her violent father is home from prison, and the social worker is suspicious of her new bruises. An aunt she’s never met keeps calling. And if she can’t get a good grade on her science project, she’ll fail her favorite class.
But Mary doesn’t want to be a victim anymore. She has a plan: build a real submarine, like the model she’s been making with Kip Dwyer, the secretly sweet class clown. Gaining courage from her heroine, Joan of Arc, Mary vows to pilot a sub across the Chesapeake Bay, risking her life in a modern crusade to save herself.
Published: May 11, 2021
Mary O’Malley is tired of keeping secrets. Secrets like her older brother, Jonny’s, drug use. Starting seventh grade is tough enough without the upheaval her brother is bringing to their family.
It seems the only person who might understand is Griffen Connolly, whose older sister runs with Jonny in the wrong crowd. Mary thought Griff was too cool, too popular for her. But now he wants to hang out with her, and listen.
When two girls Mary thought were her friends decide to slam another girl online, Mary tries to look the other way. Then the girls turn on Mary, and suddenly, she doesn’t have a safety zone. Her brother is out of control, her family’s energies are all spent on him. There is only one person she can turn to. But can she trust Griff? Or is he one of the bullies?
13 and Counting
Published: August 6, 2019
With winter break almost over and seventh grade spinning beyond their control, best friends Kaylan and Ari write a new list of 13 resolutions to make the New Year, middle school, and their friendship even more amazing before they go to separate camps next summer.
But what happens when their bestie bucket list reveals issues in their friend group? Can they want totally different things and still be BFFs?
Told in the alternating POVs of Ari and Kaylan—and with goals inspired by suggestions from readers—this contemporary coming-of-age story is bound to be the most heartbreaking and hilarious Friendship List yet.
Taking Up Space
Published: May 18, 2021
Sarah loves basketball more than anything. Crushing it on the court makes her feel like she matters. And it’s the only thing that helps her ignore how much it hurts when her mom forgets to feed her.
But lately Sarah can’t even play basketball right. She’s slower now and missing shots she should be able to make. Her body doesn’t feel like it’s her own anymore. She’s worried that changing herself back to how she used to be is the only way she can take control over what’s happening.
When Sarah’s crush asks her to be partners in a cooking competition, she feels pulled in a million directions. She’ll have to dig deep to stand up for what she needs at home, be honest with her best friends, and accept that she doesn’t need to change to feel good about herself.
Related : Alyson Gerber on Taking Up Space
Published: July 25, 2017
JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .
ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .
MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .
All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers — from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow . And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.
This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.
Give Me a Sign
Published: July 11, 2023
Lilah is a teen with hearing loss but who isn’t profoundly deaf. So she has always felt caught in the middle — not deaf enough to be part of the Deaf community and not fully hearing to fit in completely there either. But when she becomes a counselor at a summer camp for deaf and blind kids, her experiences (and the boy she falls in love with) change the way the views her disability.
I loved this beautiful exploration of Deaf culture with a nostalgic summer camp setting and sweet first love. This book is a great addition to the slim pickings of YA books about disability . I’d recommend this for readers ages 13+ who want to learn more about deafness and Deaf culture + are looking for a summer camp romance.
Cuba in My Pocket
Published: September 21, 2021
When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father’s clarinet, the smell of his mother’s lavender perfume.
Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own. With each day, Cumba feels more confident in his new surroundings, but he continues to wonder: Will his family ever be whole again? Or will they remain just out of reach, ninety miles across the sea?
Red, White, and Whole
Published: February 2, 2021
The year is 1983 and 13-year-old Reha is caught between two cultures: her Indian family and community at home; and the all-American experience at school and with her white “school best friend.” But it’s not all rosy. Her mother doesn’t approve of Reha acting more American than Indian. She makes all of Reha’s clothes herself and is upset when Reha says she would like to go to the school dance.
Reha is understandably frustrated at her mother’s lack of understanding, but she’s about to have more problems. Her mom is diagnosed with leukemia and Reha’s life is turned upside down. Between school, family issues, and navigating her affection for a boy in her neighborhood, Reha has her plate full.
This is a heartwarming and heartbreaking verse novel about mothers and daughters, the eighties, and straddling two cultures. This moving middle-grade novel with a protagonist coming of age in the midst of a traumatic life experience will appeal both to younger and older readers between ages 10-14
Related : Rajani LaRocca on Red, White and Whole, Family and the 80’s
Carry Me Home
Published: August 24, 2021
Twelve-year-old Lulu and her younger sister, Serena, have a secret. As Daddy always says, “it’s best if we keep it to ourselves,” and so they have. But hiding your past is one thing. Hiding where you live—and that your Daddy has gone missing—is harder.
At first Lulu isn’t worried. Daddy has gone away once before and he came back. But as the days add up, with no sign of Daddy, Lulu struggles to take care of all the responsibilities they used to manage as a family.
Lulu knows that all it takes is one slip-up for their secret to come spilling out, for Lulu and Serena to be separated, and for all the good things that have been happening in school to be lost.
But family is all around us, and Lulu must learn to trust her new friends and community to save those she loves and to finally find her true home.
I Love You So Mochi
Published: May 28, 2019
Japanese-American, Kimi Nakamura is fashion-loving teen who spends her time designing and sewing bold, creative outfits. The only problem is that her mother — a graphic designer who always wanted to be an artist — expects Kimi to become a “real artist.” To her, Kimi’s designs should remain a “hobby.”
Although Kimi has already been accepted to a reputable fine art college, she hasn’t told her mother that she’s dropped out of Advanced Fine Art and hasn’t painted anything all semester. When her mother finds out and is sorely disappointed, Kimi takes advantage of her estranged grandparents’ offer to visit Kyoto.
This is a delightful, delicious young adult novel, perfect for anyone desperate for a trip to Japan on a page. Yet, it isn’t all fluff. It features a determined, artistic heroine and sheds light on all the ways parental pressures can change a person’s path in life. I would highly recommend this novel to fans of American Panda , fashion aficionados, and anyone whose dreams have run contrary to parental wishes.
Related: 72 Asian YA novels to Read ASAP
Big Apple Diaries
Published: August 17, 2021
Big Apple Diaries is Alyssa Bermudez’s graphic memoir detailing her life experiences in New York City between the 7th and 8th grades. Her middle school years also coincide with the attack on 9/11 and the book documents the impact on her and her circle.
I enjoyed this relatable and enjoyable coming-of-age graphic memoir . Managing crushes, schoolwork, and a living in two homes after her parents divorce , young Alyssa is also actively doodling/journaling — a skill she will continue to use. This is a much-needed personal account of 9/11 that will appeal to a younger audience. I would recommend this one to kids ages 11 and up.
The Love Report
Published: June 13, 2023
Grace and Lola are BFFs who decide to do a project to study love. Their research (if you can call it that) opens their eyes to how fickle romantic love can be (especially among infatuated teens), the negative effects of stereotypes (a goth has more to her personality than the way she dresses, an assumed “bimbo” is more than just a pretty face). But it also forces them to examine their own friendship and how well they show up for each other.
I loved the illustration style in this book and I liked the way the story connects to both girls’ families and the depiction of toxic masculinity and its impact on young boys. This book covers many themes, from parental separation to sexual harassment, but I think what it does best is extolling the value of female friendships through the ups and downs of life. I’d hand this to older kids ages 11+
Published: September 12, 2017
14-year-old David is a quintessential middle child. His sister Bridgette is in college and the family’s academic success story. Mal, his younger brother is on the autism spectrum, although his family prefers not to use the autism label. Mal is almost non-verbal and only says the word “okay.” David has always has a large appetite and an interest in competitive eating, but after he accidentally leaves a $2000 bill on his mother’s credit card, he’s forced to join a pizza-eating contest to win the grand prize of $5000.
This is an engaging, funny, true-to-life story about competitive eating, navigating friendship dilemmas , understanding an autistic sibling , and finding one’s place in their family. David is easy to love and the family dynamics in this story are truly heartwarming. I would totally hand this to anyone looking to read more “boy books.”
Published: March 30, 2021
Thirteen-year-old Olivia is excited about going on a road trip back to California with her sister and their uncle and aunt. Their family moved to Tennessee from California three years ago, and the girls had buried a time capsule before their move. Olivia’s big sister Ruth is now 16 and clinically depressed. She has good and bad days and is on medication to manage her depression.
Olivia feels responsible for Ruth’s happiness and has a plan to recover their time capsule, while doing a photo project during their trip to remind Ruth of good times and make her just a little happier. But she soon finds out that with mental illness, it’s not always so simple.
This a beautifully written, moving middle grade novel about sisterhood, art, and loving a sibling with a mental illness. This book portrays depression realistically, showing the highs and lows while reminding loved ones that sometimes loving people the way you know how to is the best you can do. Fans of books about road trips, family stories, or emotional stories will love this quiet middle grade novel.
The Next Great Jane
Published: May 19, 2020
Jane Brannen wants nothing more than to become a famous author like Jane Austen–she just needs to figure out the key to literary success! Her chance to uncover the secret arrives when bestselling author J. E. Fairfax visits her tiny town of Whickett Harbor. Unfortunately, a hurricane rolls in and Jane gets stuck with the author’s snobbish son, Devon, instead.
But when the skies clear, Jane realizes the wind has blown in something worse than annoying boys: Her mother, Susan, and Susan’s new fiancé, Erik, have flown all the way from Hollywood to file for custody and bring Jane back to California. Now she needs to find a mate for her marine biologist father and figure out what’s truly important about Whickett Harbor, so she can prove to her mother that this is where she’s meant to stay.
Gabe in the After
Published: June 28, 2022
Two years after a global pandemic, twenty survivors (most of them children) have relocated from their coastal Maine island full of sad memories to a mansion on a small, neighboring island where they have school and farm chores. When Gabe and his dog, Mud, find Relle Douglas alone in the woods on the mainland, they take the strange new girl across the channel to live with them.
Relle changes the island with her hopeful attitude. She tells big stories and makes plans for activities like talent shows. Despite a growing crush, Gabe doesn’t quite understand the point of it all; why have a talent show at the end of the world? But when tragedy strikes, Gabe sets out on a dangerous journey to try and find other survivors where the world might be normal. Like Before.
Nikki on the Line
Published: March 5, 2019
13-year-old Nikki Doyle feels one step closer to her pro basketball player dreams when she gets signed on to an elite-level club team. But her mother doesn’t have enough to pay for the club, and so Nikki offers to watch her little brother after school so they can save on daycare money. Unfortunately, playing for the club isn’t nearly as easy as Nikki expects.
Shorter than her teammates and suddenly no longer point guard on the new team, she feels out of place. What’s more, her new busy schedule means she can’t hang out with the team as much as she’d like. On top of that, a new genetics project at school reminds Nikki that her biological father was a sperm donor. Between juggling all her responsibilities and proving herself a valuable member of the team, it feels like everything is on the line for Nikki.
Rhythm and Muse
Published: May 30, 2023
High school junior Darren Johnson lives in his head. There, he can pine for his crush—total dream girl, Delia Dawson—in peace, away from the unsolicited opinions of his talkative family and showboat friends. When Delia announces a theme song contest for her popular podcast, Dillie D in the Place to Be, Darren’s friends—convinced he’ll never make a move—submit one of his secret side projects for consideration.
This was very sweet! I loved the message of putting yourself out there instead of living in your head. I also liked that while we’re in Darren’s head, we learn enough about his love interest that she’s not just a manic-pixie dream girl. This young YA features lovely teen-parent relationships and main characters who attend church without it being a preachy book. I thought it was really fun and perfect for younger teens 12+ with nearly no language!
Published: August 28, 2018
It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes.
When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.
Published: February 19, 2019
12-year-old Riley has an eating disorder and now she can’t do the things she used to love doing — like art and running. Her parents check her into a treatment facility with other girls who have eating disorders.
I liked this book about a girl in treatment for anorexia. The author does a fantastic job depicting the experience of struggling with an eating disorder and how non-linear the healing process can be. The story feels authentic and is highly insightful about the therapy process. I also liked the diary-style format .
Abby, Tried and True
Published: March 9, 2021
When Abby Braverman’s best friend, Cat, moves to Israel, she’s sure it’s the worst thing that could happen. But then her older brother, Paul, is diagnosed with cancer, and life upends again. Now it’s up to Abby to find a way to navigate seventh grade without her best friend, help keep her brother’s spirits up during difficult treatments, and figure out her surprising new feelings for the boy next door.
Published: September 15, 2020
This book focuses on Monique (Mo) and Rasheeda (Sheeda)’s friendship and how it changes over a summer when both girls are drawn into different pursuits. Mo is off at a ballet intensive with Mila, while Sheeda is stuck at church (with her church “friends”) feeling like she has no life.
At the ballet intensive, Mo comes face to face with her competitive attitude which is fueled by feelings of not “fitting in” with the mostly white, skinny ballet dancers. Even though she makes a couple of friends (who basically lovingly force her to befriend them), she’s insecure at times, afraid to be vulnerable because everything feels so different. On the other hand, Sheeda is desperate for something new. Unfortunately, she falls into a risky situation with Mo’s brother whom she happens to have a crush on.
This is a compulsively readable upper middle-grade book for kids ages 11+ that explores a horde of important themes–everything from female friendships , body image , sexual harassment, religion, racial prejudice, to ballet. If you’re looking for a middle-grade book about ballet, I’d highly recommend this one.
Related : 23 Best Middle-Grade Books About Body Image and Body Positivit
Published: August 7, 2018
Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Aleppo, Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope.
Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy from Washington, D.C. Lonely and homesick, Max is struggling at his new school and just can’t seem to do anything right. But with one startling discovery, Max and Ahmed’s lives collide and a friendship begins to grow. Together, Max and Ahmed will defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave and how hope can change your destiny.
When the Vibe Is Right
Tess Crawford wants to be a Carnival costume designer, but she won’t be able to do that if her uncle’s designing business closes. Business has been slow, and they need a social media presence to compete with newer designers. Enter the funny Brandon, social media expert extraordinaire, whom Tess can’t stand.
This was certainly enjoyable, with lots of information and love for the Trini carnival and a nice approach to grief, vulnerability, and pursuing dreams. I iked the male protagonist’s sunshine to mellow out Tess’s grumpiness. Overall, really fun and wonderful on audio. Great for teens ages 13+
Beverly, Right Here
Published: September 24, 2019
It’s the summer of 1979. 14-year-old Beverly Tapinski leaves home and arrives at the Seahorse Court RV community in Florida. She’s grieving the death of her (and the Three Rancheros’ dog, Buddy) and has left her friend Raymie without even saying goodbye. Beverly’s alcoholic mother, Rhonda doesn’t care much about what happens to her.
All alone and away from home, Beverly meets an older, eccentric woman named Iola. Iola takes Beverly in and the two begin to build a friendship despite Beverly’s initial resistance. She also gets a job as a busgirl at a fish place, even though she hates fish. Then she meets 16-year-old Elmer, who wants to study engineering at Dartmouth.
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
Published: May 16, 2017
For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it.
Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí.
Keep It Together, Keiko Carter
Published: May 5, 2020
Keiko is thrilled that her two BFFs, Jenna and Audrey, are reuniting with her after their first ever summer apart. But when Jenna returns from Texas, she doesn’t seem to fit back in seamlessly anymore — probably because they stopped texting each other after a while. It doesn’t help that Audrey seems boy-crazy and has never really gotten on too well with Jenna anyway.
As Jenna and Audrey’s friendship deteriorates over the fall, Keiko feels torn between both girls. She also rekindles some old friendships that threaten her relationship with Audrey. As a result, confrontation-averse, peace-making Keiko is forced to decide whether or not she will stand up for herself in her friendship with Audrey.
On top of everything else, Keiko’s family seems to be changing: her mom is working later and later, and seems to be avoiding coming home — and her little sister seems to keeping a secret. Will Keiko keep it all together?
Violets Are Blue
Published: October 12, 2021
12-year-old Wren lives with her mom after her parents’ divorce. Her dad has moved to New York City and married his lover (with whom he was unfaithful to her mother), who is now expecting twins. Wren is also a special effects makeup aficionado. Caught up in a new school, navigating new friendships, and balancing her relationships with her parents — whose relationship with each other is strained — Wren notices her mom has begun behaving strangely.
I loved this engaging middle grade book with a relatable, creative protagonist dealing with parental substance abuse. It also spotlights the reality of coping with parental divorce after infidelity and thereafter adjusting to a new blended family. Fans of stories with kids who love arts and crafts, as well as musical theater, will also enjoy this book.
Summer at Meadow Wood
Vic and her little brother have been sent off to summer camp for eight weeks. Although summer at Meadow Wood seems to be a regular occurrence, Vic is convinced that the reason they’ve been “shipped off” this time is different. Besides, things are going poorly between her parents. As a result, she’s not excited to be there. Still, she tries to make it work, reconnecting with her friends in Yarrow camp while trying to be a good camp sister to a younger camper, Vera.
When her mom says she doesn’t have money to pay for canteen for Vic and her brother, Vic starts working at the farm with one of the camp owners, Earl. She also goes with him to the market — which she gets paid for. Eventually, Vic learns more about the state of her parents’ relationship and forms closer bonds with everyone at camp and even a certain boy at the market.
Maid for It
Published: September 5, 2023
Franny and her mom are finally bouncing back from her mother’s battle with opioid addiction when her mom gets in an accident and is prescribed opioids for the pain. Now her mom can’t do her cleaning jobs and the bills are piling up. The last time that happened, her mother relapsed. So Franny decides she’ll keep doing her mom’s jobs behind her back to keep them afloat and keep her mom out of rehab.
Like everything Sumner writes, this was impossible to put down. It has just about everything middle grade readers love in a good book: the struggle to find good friends, family drama, a strong-willed protagonist, secrets, and suspense. There’s also plenty of info about addiction, which is why this is better for kids ages 10+
All Summer Long
Published: May 1, 2018
Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he’s off to soccer camp for a month, and he’s been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it’s up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own.
At first it’s a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin’s older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he’s acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.
Published: March 28, 2017
Rachel Brooks has finally scored a spot as a forward on her soccer team. She just needs one more doctor’s visit to check on her scoliosis — one she hopes will be the last.
Unfortunately, the doctor has bad news for her: the curve has worsened and she’ll have to wear a back brace. Worse still, she needs to be in a back brace for twenty-three hours a day. How will she still play soccer? What will her friends think? And what about Tate, the boy she’s crushing on?
This is an important, realistic story of a girl dealing with scoliosis in middle school. With an immersive, charged plot, this story touches multiple themes from scoliosis, to soccer, family , the death of a parent , and even the emotions of welcoming a new sibling.
The Many Meanings of Meilan
Meilan Hua’s world is made up of a few key ingredients: her family’s beloved matriarch, Nai Nai; the bakery her parents, aunts, and uncles own and run in Boston’s Chinatown; and her favorite Chinese fairy tales.
After Nai Nai passes, the family has a falling-out that sends Meilan, her parents, and her grieving grandfather on the road in search of a new home. They take a winding path across the country before landing in Redbud, Ohio. Everything in Redbud is the opposite of Chinatown, and Meilan’s not quite sure who she is–being renamed at school only makes it worse.
She decides she is many Meilans, each inspired by a different Chinese character with the same pronunciation as her name. Sometimes she is Mist, cooling and invisible; other times, she’s Basket, carrying her parents’ hopes and dreams and her guilt of not living up to them; and occasionally she is bright Blue, the way she feels around her new friend Logan. Meilan keeps her facets separate until an injustice at school shows her the power of bringing her many selves together.
Almost American Girl
Published: January 28, 2020
Robin is 14 when she and her mother leave for one of their regular visits to the US. Except, this time it’s not Hawaii or any other vacation hotspot — it’s Alabama. Robin’s mother has been encouraging her to learn English like she has been doing, but Robin is uninterested, preferring to enjoy her Korean comics and spending time with her friends buying stationery and Korean street food.
When they arrive in Huntsville, Robin realizes that her mother is there to visit a man she has been corresponding with. His family welcomes them, but Robin feels out of place since she can neither speak nor understand English. She dreams of returning to Korea when the vacation is over. However, Robin is in for a shocker as her mom announces that she’s marrying this man, and she and Robin are staying put in America. Her whole life changes forever, as she struggles to assimilate, while handling the ups and downs in her mother’s relationship.
What About Will
Published: September 14, 2021
Twelve-year-old Trace Reynolds has always looked up to his brother, mostly because Will, who’s five years older, has never looked down on him. It was Will who taught Trace to ride a bike, would watch sports on TV with him, and cheer him on at Little League. But when Will was knocked out cold during a football game, resulting in a brain injury–everything changed.
Now, seventeen months later, their family is still living under the weight of “the incident,” that left Will with a facial tic, depression, and an anger he cannot always control, culminating in their parents’ divorce. Afraid of further fracturing his family, Trace begins to cover for Will who, struggling with addiction to pain medication, becomes someone Trace doesn’t recognize. But when the brother he loves so much becomes more and more withdrawn, and escalates to stealing money and ditching school, Trace realizes some secrets cannot be kept if we ever hope to heal.
Published: June 6, 2023
Fifteen-year-old Jessie, a quirky loner obsessed with the nineties, is diagnosed as autistic just weeks before starting high school. Determined to make a fresh start and keep her diagnosis a secret, Jessie creates a list of goals that range from acquiring two distinct eyebrows to getting a magical first kiss and landing a spot in the school play. Within the halls of Holy Trinity High, she finds a world where things are no longer black and white and quickly learns that living in color is much more fun. But Jessie gets more than she bargained for when two very different boys steal her heart, forcing her to go off-script.
Truly Madly Royally
Published: July 30, 2019
Zora Emerson is not here to play. She’s enrolled in a prestigious summer program, and is ready to use what she’s learning to change the world (or at least her corner of New Jersey, for now). Zora’s not expecting to vibe with any of her super-privileged classmates. So she’s shocked to find she’s got chemistry with Owen Whittelsey, who is charming, funny, undeniably cute…and turns out to literally be a prince. As in, his parents are the king and queen of a small European country. What?
This is a charming young adult novel featuring a positive representation of Black teens. There are also strong undercurrents of community outreach, strong female friendships , and being true to oneself. If you’re a sucker for royal romances, this one will steal your heart. Perfect for readers ages 12+
Related : 65 Black Young Adult Novels to Add to Your TBR
Published: September 7, 2021
For every adolescent who’s ever believed they’re all alone in their misery, here’s a hilarious graphic novel about a new kid awkwardly trying to navigate the social pressures of making friends, dealing with crushes, avoiding bullies — a.k.a. middle school! Dave doesn’t have high hopes for himself on his first day at a new school in a new town called Muddle. But he has no idea just how bad things are going to be.
Getting knocked into a mud puddle by a trio of bullies. Having his secret crush revealed to the entire math class. And then that snot bubble … No, Dave is totally not killing it at Muddle School. He may just have to resign himself to dorkdom, content with drawing in his sketchbook to deal with life. But then Dave begins working on a time machine for the science fair and he gets a brilliant idea. What if he goes back in time to that first day of school?
What if he has a redo, and avoids doing all the dumb and embarrassing stuff he did? Could that turn everything around for him? Could Dave actually become … cool?
Related : 90 Best Middle Grade Books Releasing in Fall 2021
Piecing Me Together
Published: February 14, 2017
Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And Jade has: every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities. But some opportunities she doesn’t really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn’t mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She’s tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference.
Published: January 1, 2017
Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he’d give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy, including the loss of his mother. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming Blade will become just like his father.
In reality, the only thing Blade and Rutherford have in common is the music that lives inside them. And songwriting is all Blade has left after Rutherford, while drunk, crashes his high school graduation speech and effectively rips Chapel away forever. But when a long-held family secret comes to light, the music disappears. In its place is a letter, one that could bring Blade the freedom and love he’s been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.
The Queens of New York
Best friends Jia Lee, Ariel Kim, and Everett Hoang are inseparable. But this summer, they won’t be together.
Everett, aspiring Broadway star, hopes to nab the lead role in an Ohio theater production, but soon realizes that talent and drive can only get her so far. Brainy Ariel is flying to San Francisco for a prestigious STEM scholarship, even though her heart is in South Korea, where her sister died last year. And stable, solid Jia will be home in Flushing, juggling her parents’ Chinatown restaurant, a cute new neighbor, and dreams for an uncertain future.
As the girls navigate heartbreaking surprises and shocking self-discoveries, they find that even though they’re physically apart, they are still mighty together.
Published: July 7, 2020
Molly Frost is FED UP…
Because Olivia was yelled at for wearing a tank top.
Because Liza got dress coded and Molly didn’t, even though they were wearing the exact same outfit.
Because when Jessica was pulled over by the principal and missed a math quiz, her teacher gave her an F.
Because it’s impossible to find shorts that are longer than her fingertips.
Because girls’ bodies are not a distraction.
Because middle school is hard enough.
And so Molly starts a podcast where girls can tell their stories, and before long, her small rebellion swells into a revolution. Because now the girls are standing up for what’s right, and they’re not backing down.
How to Be a Girl in the World
Published: August 11, 2020
Lydia hasn’t felt comfortable in her own skin since the boys at her school started commenting on the way she looks in her uniform. Her cousin and friends think she should be flattered, but the boys—and sometimes her mom’s boyfriend, Jeremy—make Lydia uncomfortable and confused. Even more confusing is when Jeremy hovers too close and hugs a little too long.
Then her mom surprises her by buying a dilapidated house in their neighborhood. Lydia hopes to find a little bit of magic in their new home. But just like the adults in her life, and God, and her friends, the magic Lydia deeply believes in eventually loses its power to keep her safe.
And as seventh grade begins, Lydia wonders: Is there a secret to figuring out how to be a girl in the world?
Maybe He Just Likes You
Published: October 1, 2019
For seventh-grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. A few days later, at recess, one of the boys (and fellow trumpet player) Callum tells Mila it’s his birthday, and asks her for a “birthday hug.” He’s just being friendly, isn’t he? And how can she say no? But Callum’s hug lasts a few seconds too long, and feels…weird. According to her friend, Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?
But the boys don’t leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.
It doesn’t feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself.
The Truth According to Blue
Published: May 12, 2020
Thirteen-year-old Blue Broen is on the hunt for a legendary ship of gold, lost centuries ago when her ancestors sailed to New York. Blue knows her overprotective parents won’t approve of her mission to find their family’s long-lost fortune, so she keeps it a secret from everyone except her constant companion, Otis, an 80-pound diabetic alert dog. But it’s hard to keep things quiet with rival treasure hunters on the loose, and with Blue’s reputation as the local poster child for a type 1 diabetes fundraiser.
Blue’s quest gets even harder when she’s forced to befriend Jules, the brainy but bratty daughter of a vacationing movie star who arrives on the scene and won’t leave Blue alone. While Blue initially resents getting stuck with this spoiled seventh grade stranger, Jules soon proves Blue’s not the only one who knows about secrets — and adventure.
Will Blue unravel a three hundred year-old family mystery, learn to stand up for herself, and find the missing treasure? Or is she destined to be nothing more than “diabetes girl” forever?
Published: August 4, 2015
Long ago, best friends Bridge, Emily, and Tab made a pact: no fighting. But it’s the start of seventh grade, and everything is changing. Emily’s new curves are attracting attention, and Tab is suddenly a member of the Human Rights Club. And then there’s Bridge. She’s started wearing cat ears and is the only one who’s still tempted to draw funny cartoons on her homework. It’s also the beginning of seventh grade for Sherm Russo. He wonders: what does it mean to fall for a girl—as a friend? By the time Valentine’s Day approaches, the girls have begun to question the bonds—and the limits—of friendship. Can they grow up without growing apart?
Published: April 18, 2023
When Jarrett J. Krosoczka was in high school, he was part of a program that sent students to be counselors at a camp for seriously ill kids and their families. Going into it, Jarrett was worried: Wouldn’t it be depressing, to be around kids facing such a serious struggle? Wouldn’t it be grim?
But instead of the shadow of death, Jarrett found something else at Camp Sunshine: the hope and determination that gets people through the most troubled of times. Not only was he subject to some of the usual rituals that come with being a camp counselor (wilderness challenges, spooky campfire stories, an extremely stinky mascot costume), but he also got a chance to meet some extraordinary kids facing extraordinary circumstances. He learned about the captivity of illness, for sure but he also learned about the freedom a safe space can bring.
Closer to Nowhere
Published: October 6, 2020
For the most part, Hannah’s life is just how she wants it. She has two supportive parents, she’s popular at school, and she’s been killing it at gymnastics. But when her cousin Cal moves in with her family, everything changes. Cal tells half-truths and tall tales, pranks Hannah constantly, and seems to be the reason her parents are fighting more and more. Nothing is how it used to be. She knows that Cal went through a lot after his mom died and she is trying to be patient, but most days Hannah just wishes Cal never moved in.
For his part, Cal is trying his hardest to fit in, but not everyone is as appreciative of his unique sense of humor and storytelling gifts as he is. Humor and stories might be his defense mechanism, but if Cal doesn’t let his walls down soon, he might push away the very people who are trying their best to love him.
Told in verse from the alternating perspectives of Hannah and Cal, this is a story of two cousins who are more alike than they realize and the family they both want to save.
Published: August 31, 2021
Four girls from different backgrounds are selected to become “The Flyers” for Spread Your Wings Magazine . Elena is a shy Latina who lives in her best friend’s shadow and is uncomfortable about the pubescent changes in her body. Harlow is a Japanese-American wannabe journalist, Cailin, a young influencer, and Whitney, a Black fashionista who secretly has panic attacks. The girls spend a week in New York City together than bonds them as friends and gives them the courage to find their voices.
Shannon is in eighth grade, and life is more complicated than ever. Everything keeps changing, her classmates are starting to date each other (but nobody wants to date her!), and no matter how hard she tries, Shannon can never seem to just be happy .
As she works through her insecurities and undiagnosed depression, she worries about disappointing all the people who care about her. Is something wrong with her? Can she be the person everyone expects her to be? And who does she actually want to be?
With their signature humor, warmth, and insight, Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham have crafted another incredible love letter to their younger selves and to readers everywhere, a reminder to us all that we are enough.
Sorry for Your Loss
Evie Walman is not obsessed with death. She does think about it a lot, though, but only because her family runs a Jewish funeral home. At twelve, Evie already knows she’s going to be a funeral director when she grows up. So what if the kids at school call her “corpse girl” and say she smells like death? They’re just mean and don’t get how important it is to have someone take care of things when your world is falling apart. Evie loves dusting caskets, polishing pews, and vacuuming the chapel―and on funeral days, she dresses up and hands out tissues and offers her condolences to mourners. She doesn’t normally help her parents with the grieving families directly, until one day when they ask her to help with Oren, a boy who was in a horrific car accident that killed both his parents. Oren refuses to speak and Evie, who is nursing her own private grief, is determined to find a way to help him deal with his loss.
Keeping It Real
Published: October 19, 2021
Keeping It Real is Paula Chase’s latest upper middle grade offering. It follows Marigold Johnson, daughter of the media moguls who own Flexx Unlimited. Marigold’s friend and crush, Justice hates their private school where both kids are part of the token number of Black kids. Marigold on the other hand tries to conform to white expectations and fit in with the kids and both she and Justice quarrel about this regularly.
When Justice gets into Flexx Unlimited’s fashion program for teens, Marigold wants to get in as well to avoid summer boredom and spend time with Justice — despite warnings from both parents that she may not fit in with the other kids who are from lower income families. But when her parents get her into the program, one girl in particular, Kara can’t seem to stand Marigold. Add that to the tension between Marigold and Justice and Mari’s summer internship seems more stressful than inspiring.
The Unofficial Lola Bay Club
Sixth graders Iris and her best friend Leeza love singer Lola Bay. But after some mean girls take over their plan to start an official Lola Bay fan club, the girls befriend eighth-grader Dana, who says she’s starting an “unofficial” fan club. Leeza quickly gets bored and finds other interests, while Iris is delighted to be friends with an older girl. But soon, Dana’s actions start to worry Iris. She keeps hacking into websites, then she uses Iris’s parents’ credit card to buy tour tickets! Can Iris find help before it’s too late?
Published: January 12, 2021
Alone is Megan E. Freeman’s debut survival middle-grade novel in verse. It follows 12-year-old Maddie who gets abandoned by some twist of fate when her entire town is mysteriously evacuated. Left alone with no human in sight, she bonds with a Rottweiler named George who is one of many abandoned pets. Soon after, they lose power and then water and Maddie has to fend for herself using a variety of ingenious means and the town resources at her disposal, including an empty library, grocery store, neighbors’ homes — you get the picture.
Maddie is alone for months and has to safeguard herself from wild animals, terrible weather, and dangerous intruders, on top of the fear and loneliness of being all by herself.
I Know Your Secret
Published: December 7, 2021
The email arrives Sunday night: Do exactly what I say, when I say it, or I will reveal your secret.
On Monday morning, seventh graders Owen, Gemma, Ally, and Todd, who have nothing in common and barely know each other, must work together and follow the instructions of an anonymous blackmailer. None of them want to go along with the blackmailer’s instructions, but each of them have a secret they must protect at all costs.
Set during a single day of school, the students race against the clock to complete a disquieting set of tasks, with fast-paced chapters detailing each moment of the day interspersed with a later interview-style recording made by the quartet.
Where We Used to Roam
Published: March 23, 2021
Where We Used to Roam is Jenn Bishop’s fourth middle grade book! I had read two of her books before this one, and loved both! In this story, we meet Emma whose ordinary life is upended when her beloved older brother Austin develops an addiction to opioids. In the midst of her brother’s health issue, Emma is also dealing with a strained friendship with her BFF, Becca from whom she seems to be growing apart. So she is half-relieved when her parents send her off to Wyoming to be with family friends while they get Austin to a rehab facility.
In Wyoming, Emma becomes interested in bisons and makes a new friend with whom she shares more than she knows. She deals with her emotions about Austin’s addiction and her issues with Becca until an unexpected event cuts her trip short.
Related: Jenn Bishop on Where We Used to Roam
The Shape of Thunder
The Shape of Thunder follows two former best friends Quinn and Cora whose lives have been altered by a tragic event. Quinn’s brother Parker killed Cora’s sister in a school shooting. Understandably, this created a rift between both girls, even though they still deeply care for each other and have been friends since kindergarten. As they approach the first anniversary of the shooting, Quinn thinks she’s found a way to undo what happened and reaches out to Cora to work with her.
The story is told from alternating points of view (Quinn and Cora) as both girls try to figure out time travel, while processing the grief and trauma they both hold.
Related : Jasmine Warga on The Shape of Thunder (+ Giveaway!)
This Time It’s Real
Published: February 7, 2023
When seventeen-year-old Eliza Lin’s essay about meeting the love of her life unexpectedly goes viral, her entire life changes overnight. Now she has the approval of her classmates at her new international school in Beijing, a career-launching internship opportunity at her favorite magazine…and a massive secret to keep.
Eliza made her essay up. She’s never been in a relationship before, let alone in love. All good writing is lying, right?
Desperate to hide the truth, Eliza strikes a deal with the famous actor in her class, the charming but aloof Caz Song. She’ll help him write his college applications if he poses as her boyfriend. Caz is a dream boyfriend — he passes handwritten notes to her in class, makes her little sister laugh, and takes her out on motorcycle rides to the best snack stalls around the city.
But when her relationship with Caz starts feeling a little too convincing, all of Eliza’s carefully laid plans are threatened. Can she still follow her dreams if it means breaking her own heart?
There they are: 60 of the best books for eighth graders! Yes, a few of these books are yet to be released, but they tackle serious issues like parental addiction and parental abuse. I’m getting through my ARCs of these books and I can tell you, they’re worth pre-ordering!
Have you read any of these books? Which of them would you recommend for your eighth graders? And which awesome books for eighth-graders would you add to this list?
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Afoma Umesi is the founder and editor of Reading Middle Grade where she curates book lists and writes book reviews for kids of all ages. Her favorite genre to read is contemporary realistic fiction and she'll never say no to a graphic novel.
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Best Books for Eighth Grade
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25 Captivating Books for 8th Graders
Alison Doherty is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on the subway, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.
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Finding books for eighth graders can be a tricky tightrope to walk. Some 8th graders are already immersed in adult books. Others might not love reading or still might be struggling to read with ease. Both of these are normal. And between middle grade fantasy , classics, romances, and graphic novels , I tried to pick 25 books that will appeal to all kinds of 8th grade readers.
With a mixture of books from middle grade, young adult, and adult categories, I searched through reviews to make sure these were all considered appropriate for 13- and 14-year-old readers. Many are also suggestions I’ve gotten from 8th grade students where I teach. Without further stalling, here are 25 books for all kinds of 8th grade readers.
Best New Books for 8th Graders
When you were everything by ashley woodfolk.
Cleo and Layla used to be best friends. But in Sophomore year, everything changes. The two drift apart until their friendship dramatically ends. Cleo is still trying to make sense of what happens as she tries to move forward making new friends, listening to jazz and reading her beloved Shakespeare. Told in two timelines, before and after, Cleo’s story of grieving for a lost friendship will be relevant for many 8th graders trying to process past middle school friend drama and looking forward to high school.
The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
This is a historical fantasy novel based on Mozart’s older sister, Maria, that came out in March. Maria Anna is a musical prodigy in her own right. She travelled around Europe with her brother performing throughout her childhood. This story mixes the 18th century world they lived in with the fantasy world of Back, which the real Mozart siblings invented on their travels as children. Throughout the story Maria Anna must straddle the worlds: one full of magical fairy friends who may or may not have her best interest at heart and another where her brother’s gender means he will achieve musical accolades she can only dream of.
The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune
A queer superhero story full of suspense, action, and romance. Nick Bell doesn’t have any super powers. But he writes super popular fan fiction about the heroes who do. And after a chance encounter with his favorite figure, Shadow Star, he begins a quest to turn his ordinary life into something more.
Infinity Son by Adam Silvera
Emil and Brighton are brothers living in a speculative version of New York City, where people can be born with special powers and abilities and Spell Walkers fight the specters who want to take those powers away. When Emil discovers his own powers and Brighton uploads a video of him, both brothers’ futures and their relationships are tested in a story of jealousy, loyalty, and adventure. This is a science fiction/fantasy hybrid story that came out earlier this year. It’s almost guaranteed to keep 8th grade readers turning pages.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic. Yahaira Rio lives in New York City. They don’t know about each other, or even know they have a sister, until their beloved Papi unexpectedly dies in an airplane crash, flying from New York to the Dominican Republic to visit Camino. As both grieve, they learn about each other and unravel the web of secrets their family kept from them. Told in dual perspectives, through the beautiful verse of each girl’s poetry, the Rios sisters try to figure out how to keep pursuing their dreams even when tragedy strikes.
Classic Books for 8th Graders
The house on mango street by sandra cisneros.
This 1984 novel by Mexican American writer Sandra Cisneros uses vignettes to tell the story of Esperanza Cordero. Esperanza is a middle school girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago. Living in a poor neighborhood, she dreams of moving somewhere else. But the book explores the culture around her, both celebrating her Mexican American culture and exposing the sexist influences in her life that Esperanza tries to overcome throughout the story.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
This familiar fantasy story is a precursor to the longer and more challenging Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It’s a contained adventure story in an epic fantasy world. With dwarves, hobbits, sword fights, wizards, and dragons, the book’s plot and humor have stood the test of time. There is a reason this book has been popular with children and adult readers for more than eighty years!
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
For budding mystery readers, introduce them to a classic whodunnit. The famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion Watson set out to investigate a new case in Dartmoor, England. A man is dead with enormous dog pawprints leading to his body. Some believe it is a coincidence. Others believe in a family curse and a local legend of a supernatural dog, able to frighten people to death. Holmes and Watson arrive in Dartmoor to find several unexplainable occurrences and clues. Together, they start to unravel a puzzle that defined mystery and detective fiction ever since this book was published.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
This is a classic that’s great to read at almost any age. I read this in middle school and again in college. It was published in 1959 and has become a rare African book accepted into the academic cannon. The fascinating novel follows the character Okonkwo, who’s living in an Igbo village in Nigeria. His life dramatically changes as white missionaries and colonialism influence the world around him. Despite a bleak subject, the story is infused with lyrical writing and moments of humor.
Award-Winning Books for 8th Graders
Brown girl dreaming by jacqueline woodson.
Winner of the National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and a Newberry Honor Book, Brown Girl Dreaming uses poetry for the author to tell her true story of growing up Black in the 1960s and 1970s. Woodson’s beautiful, sparse language explores big ideas, while describing her family, her growing awareness of race and the Civil Rights movement, and her life split between South Carolina and New York City.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
This book won the Printz Award and is a Stonewall Honor Book. It follows twins Noah and Jude, alternating between their perspectives and two different periods of time. One, when they are 13, inseparable, their mother is still alive, and Noah is falling in love for the first time with their new neighbor Brian. The second is when the twins are 16, barely speaking, and without their mother. Along with powerful, lyrical prose, the book explores what it means to be an artist, what it means to be a family, and what it means to grow up.
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
This book won the Printz award and gained several other honors and smaller awards as well. In a dystopian (or perhaps utopian) future, technological advances have eliminated death by natural causes. Society has created a new roll “Scythes” who kill people to keep the population under control. Two teenagers, Rowan and Citra, are training to become Scythes. But in the course of their training, they uncover massive corruption within the Scythe system. The secrets they uncover and their relationship with each other will change both their destinies and the course of society at large.
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
This book is the 2020 winner the Morris Award, which honors new writers making their young adult debut. In it, Norris a Black French Canadian teenager who must acclimate to a new life in Austin, Texas. He observes and categorizes everyone around him and longs to go home to Canada. And sometimes—just sometimes—Norris learns to see past his assumptions and categorizations to make friends or, at least, understand the individual people around him more clearly.
Challenging Books for 8th Graders
The interpreter of maladies by jhumpa lahiri.
This Pulitzer Prize–winning short story collection explores the lives of Indian and Indian American characters who feel caught between the cultures of both countries. The immigrant experience is portrayed through lyrical prose and intense character study. This book does touch on adult themes, such as death, grief, and sexuality, but appears on some middle school and 9th grade curriculums. The Interpreter of Maladies will be a challenging book for advanced and mature 8th graders to read.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
With multiple perspectives, sophisticated setting descriptions, and a complicated magic system, this novel could be a good “reach” book for 8th graders. Two young magicians, Celia and Marcus, have been training for a magical duel their whole lives. The duel involves one upping each other in the creation of a magical circus. But when they meet and have feelings for each other, the competition is put at risk. But in love or not, the game keeps demanding more and more from each magician. Neither wants to lose the game or each other.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
This nonfiction book addresses racism in America and describes Baldwin’s early life growing up in Harlem. The book consists of two essays: “My Dungeon Shook—Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation” and “Down at the Cross—Letter From a Region of My Mind.” They were written in the 1960s, but function as both a historical read and one that is unfortunately still relevant in America today. The essays were written for an adult reader, but are appropriate for mature 8th grade readers and sure to spark important discussions.
Fantasy Books for 8th Graders
Nocturna by maya motayne.
In a Latinx inspired fantasy world, Finn is a thief with the magical ability to change her appearance and Alfie is prince with magical powers of his own. Their paths cross when Alfie unleashes a powerful dark magic in the hopes of bringing back his dead older brother. Finn just happens to be in the palace, attempting to steal a mystical cloak of invisibility. They’re pasts and personalities couldn’t be more different. But they have to work together, or their world will be destroyed forever.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
Eighth graders who love mythology and Rick Riordan books (AKA pretty much every eighth grader I’ve ever taught who likes reading) will devour this new fantasy series. While spending the summer at his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, Tristan accidentally opens—punches—a portal to the magical and scary world of MidPass. MidPass weaves together African American and West African gods. To return home, Tristan must convince the trickster god Anansi to seal the hole he created in the sky. But first, Anansi asks for a dangerous favor in return.
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Steampunk, science-forward Cinderella retelling. Do I need to say more to convince 8th grade readers to pick up this book? I doubt it, but I’ll keep going. Nic is called Mechanica by her cruel stepsisters. They think it’s an insult, but being an inventor is one of her proudest accomplishment. She’s created impressive technology to do all the chores her stepmother pushes on her. And instead of a ball, Nic is preparing for the royal science exposition in hopes of finding funders to gain her independence. There is a prince. He is dreamy. But he is also not the only way for Nic to get the future she dreams of for herself.
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Sunny was born in New York but now lives in Alba, Nigeria. This and the fact that she’s albino make her feel like an outsider. But when she’s 12, she makes friends with Orlu and Chichi and is thrust into the magical world of the Leopard People. In this world, she learns how to perform her own magic and harness her power. She must keep it a secret from her family, but also gives her a sense of belonging. But the stakes are raised when Sunny and her friends are tasked with finding Black Hat Otokoto, a Leopard man responsible for kidnapping and hurting many children.
Romance Books for 8th Graders
I wanna be where you are by kristina forest.
Eighth graders will love looking ahead to high school in this road trip ballet romcom. Chloe’s dream is to dance at a ballet conservatory in New York City. Her mom, however, won’t let her audition. But when her mom goes on vacation, Chloe road trips down to Washington, D.C., to try out. The only problem is her ex–best frenemy and neighbor Eli finds out and blackmails her into taking him and his smelly dog Geezer along. Eli is trying to figure out his future as well. If he’ll go to the school his dad wants or follow his own dream to study art. Along the way, both characters learn lessons, gain confidence, and sparks fly between them.
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
Cal and Leon are both the sons of astronauts and meet when their fathers are preparing for a new NASA mission to Mars. For publicity, they become involved in a space-themed reality TV show. Both must deal with being thrust into the national spotlight as they figure out their romantic attraction and connection. But when Cal finds out secrets about the space program, he feels torn. He wants to world to know the truth. But he doesn’t want to hurt the people he loves.
All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani
A first love story that unfolds against the backdrop of the basketball court. When basketball players Carli and Rex meet, they fall for each other fast. But is love for each other enough when secrets, uncertain futures, and self-doubt enter the relationship? Equal parts hilarious and emotional, this book is always Romantic with a capital R. Prepare to swoon, 8th grade readers!
Graphic Novels for 8th Graders
New kid by jerry craft.
An own voices graphic novel about following your passions and fitting in. Jordan wants to go to art school, but his parents enroll him in a fancy private school where is one of the only kids of color. He appreciates the education and starts making friends, but feels like he is being split between two worlds. And he realizes that neither his neighborhood self or his school self feel like real, authentic versions of him.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Prince Sebastian’s parents want him to find a bride. But he is hiding a key part of his identity from everyone: At night, he wears the most fashionable dresses and charms the Parisian social scene as Lady Crystallia. Only his best friend and dressmaker, Frances, knows his secret. But Frances has her own ambitions beyond making dresses for just the prince. This is a romantic fairytale that embraces the power of true friendship and the truth that boys can wear dresses.
I hope there’s something here for almost every 8th grade reader, spanning interests and reading level. But of course, there are hundreds and hundreds of other wonderful books for 8th graders to fall in love with. After going through these one, this list of 100 must-read middle school books should be next on your list!