I love using book clubs in my middle school classroom. It can be a challenge to find engaging yet rigorous middle school book club books. Two teacher-bloggers have teamed up to share our best middle school book club picks for your students.
When selecting middle school book club books it is important to provide a variety of reading levels in the book selection. You need to be mindful that one group is not reading a 500-page book, while others are reading 150-page novels. Also, ensure that the middle school novels you select have a wide range of appeal to different genders and interests. The ten books for middle schoolers listed below will help your students to think deeply about the challenges each character faces and how they overcome adversity.
The best part about using the book club model in your middle school classroom is that students get to read their book with a small group and have a discussion about what they have read without the whole class listening to their answers. Some students do not enjoy sharing their ideas in front of the whole class and book clubs provide a safe space for students.
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Brynn from The Literary Maven and Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog have teamed up to share our top 10 picks for middle school book clubs. These books will engage your students and lead to thought-provoking discussions amongst the groups.
Here are our recommendations for middle school book club books that would be great for literature circles/book clubs in the middle school classroom.
Rules by Cynthia Lord (Kristy)
Catherine loves her little brother David who has Autism, but she is also embarrassed by the things he sometimes does. She develops a plan to help him – making “rules” for him to follow. Throughout the novel, Catherine learns some lessons on acceptance and that “normal” might look different than she thought.
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt (Brynn)
Short with a simple plot, this book has such great messages about love, loss, trust, family (not just the one you are born into), and sacrifice. Jack and Joseph are still more boys than young men and are feeling their way into young adulthood. Jack has been blessed with two loving parents and peaceful life in his rural small town, while Joseph’s journey has been more of a struggle.
Refugee by Alan Gratz (Kristy)
Three young people leave their homes in Berlin, Cuba and Syria to seek refuge from the unsettling events taking place in the countries they call home. Each of these stories takes place during different time periods 1938 Berlin, 1994 Cuba, and 2015 Syria, but all three face imminent dangers throughout their lives and journeys.
The Misfits by James Howe (Brynn)
The Misfits is a sweet story of four friends who seem much wiser than their seventh-grade years. Despite having four very different personalities, Skeezie, Addie, Joe, and Bobby support and care for each other because they understand what it is like to be different.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (Kristy)
Set in Sudan during the Civil War of the 1980s, this book will immediately capture your student’s attention as the story begins with Salva’s school being attacked. He and his classmates flee for their lives in what will start a journey through the desert to find safety and shelter.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds (Brynn)
The narrator, Castle, quickly grabs your attention as he reveals a traumatic incident involving his father in the first few pages and a chapter later strolls into a track practice and challenges the fastest runner, despite having never run track before. Castle doesn’t claim to be fearless, but he is bold and unwilling to let others define him.
Girls, Drums and Dangerous Pies by Jordan Sonnenblick (Kristy)
Steven’s life was perfectly normal until things take an unexpected turn. His lifestyle has changed from being a carefree middle school student to someone who is constantly worried about their five-year-old brother’s diagnosis of leukemia. Steven tries to help his family through this crisis using humour to offset their current reality.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Brynn)
Conor is struggling to accept that his mother is losing her fight against breast cancer and holds out hope that a monster, in the form of a yew tree, will have a way to help him. The monster tells Conor three tales and each cause him to question what is good and bad, what is right and wrong.
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen (Kristy)
Bryce and Juli met in the Second Grade. She falls madly in love with her new neighbour Bryce. Unfortunately, he does not reciprocate her feelings. During the various events of the novel, Bryce is not as nice to Juli as he should be. Something happens that makes Juli lose her feelings for Bruce, just as he finally starts to see her differently.
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Brynn)
This is book one in a series about life in a very realistic post-apocalyptic world. An asteroid has knocked the moon closer to Earth causing all sorts of natural disasters. Miranda, the main character, and her family must make difficult choices about survival with no end to the disaster in sight.
Additional Reading Resources
Save time planning your next reading assignment – check out the ready to go reading lessons below.
Looking for more middle school book recommendations?
Find my middle school book recommendations list here.
Kristy has taught ELA and almost every other subject to 7th and 8th-grade students for 12 years. She is guilty of always having a book in her hand – even at the dinner table! She writes the blog, 2 Peas and a Dog and shares her education resources for middle school teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Brynn has taught all levels of English from Grade 6 to 12 as well as a variety of literacy interventions. She co-hosts a #2ndaryELA Twitter chat and Facebook group to support middle and high school English Language Arts teachers. You can find her writing about teaching and young adult literature on her blog, The Literary Maven, and find her resources for teachers on TeachersPayTeachers.