Home » Book Recommendations » Middle School Books Recommended by Teachers

Middle School Books Recommended by Teachers

Looking for books to challenge middle school students while also retaining an element of “appropriateness” in terms of content? This post is for you. Keep reading for middle school books recommended by teachers.

A month ago, someone wrote to me, asking for recommendations for eighth grade students. This teacher is looking for books to challenge honors students but that also don’t push the envelope too far in terms of content.

Middle school books recommended by teachers...appropriate and challenging #classroomlibrary #middleschoolela
Middle school books recommended by teachers

As I thought about her request, I could completely relate. It can be challenging to recommend books for middle school students because they aren’t as mature as high school students (typically), but many of them are ready for books written at a higher lexile or level. There’s tension between content and complexity.

Wanting to help, I posted on Instagram, asking teachers to recommend books they think fit these requirements: challenging yet appropriate. My post was specifically geared toward eighth grade students, but some of the book suggestions would work for any middle grade reader.

The problem is that the word “appropriate” is different to every teacher, parent, and administrator (as is the word “challenging”). I think the important thing is to remember that our job is not to pigeon hole students into a level. Instead, we need to continually focus on helping them select books that are just right for them.

What follows is a list of middle school books* recommended by teachers around the web. Before adding them to your classroom library, I recommend checking their “appropriateness” on websites like Common Sense Media and Amazon. You can also check Lexile.com for a recommended age range.

As you make selections, consider the expectations of your district and community as well as the interests and needs of your students. Also, remember that what’s most important is getting students to love reading.

You may also find it helpful to send a letter home to parents. It’s important to communicate that we value their input. Let them know they always have the right to request their child read a different book. This is also the perfect opportunity to suggest they read the books with their children to open the door for meaningful conversations about issues relevant to teens.

Books Recommended by Teachers

  1. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
  2. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
  3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  4. Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
  5. Arcane by Sever Bronny
  6. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  7. Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson
  8. The Big Game by Tim Green (and others)
  9. The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan
  10. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusack
  11. Boy: Tales of a Childhood by Roald Dahl
  12. Boy 21 by Matthew Quick
  13. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
  14. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  15. Chasing King’s Killer by James Swanson
  16. Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa
  17. Cinder series by Marissa Meyer
  18. The Clique series by Lisi Harrison
  19. The Compound by S.A. Bodeen
  20. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
  21. The Crossover (and others) by Kwame Alexander
  22. The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
  23. The Egypt Game by Terreece Clark
  24. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  25. Eragon by Matt Berman
  26. The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen
  27. Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
  28. Ghost (and others) by Jason Reynolds
  29. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  30. The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
  31. Hoot by Cark Hiaasen
  32. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  33. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  34. How They Croaked by G. Bragg & K. O’Malley
  35. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  36. Just Mercy (YA adaptation) by Bryan Stevenson
  37. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  38. Left for Dead by Pete Nelson
  39. A Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  40. Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  41. Monster by Walter Dean Meyers
  42. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  43. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  44. No Slam Dunk by Mike Lupica (and others)
  45. OCD Daniel by Wesley King
  46. Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan
  47. Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
  48. Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan
  49. Refugee by Alan Gratz
  50. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  51. Schooled by Gordon Korman
  52. Scrawl by Mark Shulman
  53. Scythe by Neal Shusterman
  54. The Selection by Kiera Cass
  55. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
  56. Skinny by Donna Cooner
  57. Summoner by Taran Matharu
  58. Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt
  59. Unbroken (YA adaptation) by Laura Hillenbrand
  60. The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
  61. Unwind series by Neil Shusterman
  62. Warcross by Marie Lu
  63. Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin
  64. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  65. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

What are your thoughts? Have you read these books? Would you agree or disagree with the level of “challenge” and “appropriateness” for eighth grade students? What books would you add to this list? Add to the conversation and collection by leaving your thoughts in the comments below.

If you’re looking for a way to communicate with parents about the importance of classroom libraries, ways to help students connect with reading at home, and books their child would benefit from reading, download this free resource with handouts for each.

*Links included in this post are affiliate links.

Looking for challenging books that are also appropriate in content for junior high students? Check out this list of teacher-recommended books for middle school students #middleschoolela #classroomlibrary
Teacher-recommended books for middle school students