2018 Favorite Books for Middle Schoolers

And now, I present to you… my favorite books for middle school readers published in 2018!

(…that I’ve read so far.  I’ll get back to you on the rest.)

 

Click a book cover to see its Goodreads page.

 

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

This is showing up on all the award prediction lists, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s an honest, vulnerable piece of realistic fiction with an engaging voice. I want to give Mason a huge hug. Recommended for grades 4 and up.

 

 

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

This funny, inventive adventure is full of powerful young women, growing friendship, and best of all, fascinating Hindu mythology. It’s sparked a big interest in the subject for me. I love that Rick Riordan is supporting Own Voices authors telling stories based in their own mythology to complement his Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse ones. Recommended for grades 4 and up.

 

Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald

This title has a ton of potential for reluctant readers.  It’s a loving examination of football that also takes a serious look at some serious problems with the sport and its culture.  And since it’s written in verse, it flies by. Recommended for grades 6 and up. (There is some mention of underage drinking, though it doesn’t occur “onscreen” and isn’t condoned.) Continue reading

Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee (2017)

every falling starThis tense, heartbreaking true story about a boy’s struggle to survive on the streets of North Korea offers a rare glimpse into a country shrouded in mystery.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up

Pages:   336 (for ISBN 9781419721328)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, memoir, survival, diverse, dystopian, current events, Kylie’s favorites

Tone/Style: grim, determined

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: North Korea, gangs, orphans, poverty

Themes: loyalty, trust, injustice, family, friendship

Summary: Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who is forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly re-creates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, his “brothers”; to be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.  (Source)

Continue reading

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (2011)

monsterA moving and heartbreakingly honest modern fairy tale.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up; maybe older for sensitive readers

Pages: 216 (for ISBN 9781406311525)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, (light) horror, drama, British import, Europe (England), Kylie’s Favorites

Tone/Style: mysterious, sad

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: monsters, fables, ill parents

Themes: being honest with oneself, death, acceptance, grief and loss, denial, change, moving on, family

Summary:  The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012)

Wonder_Cover_ArtHere’s a book that needs no introduction.

Recommended grade level: 4-8 (younger is fine for kids who are reading up)

Pages: 320 (for ISBN 9780375869020)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, Kylie’s favorites

Tone/Style: hopeful, personal

Pace: moderate

Topics: facial differences, new schools, making friends, fitting in, overcoming bullies

Themes: being different, familybetrayal by friends, perseverance, trying something new

Summary: August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. Continue reading

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai (Young Readers Edition) (2014)

malala

Inspiring, heartbreaking, and timely, this is must-read nonfiction.

Recommended grade level: 6-12

Pages: 240 (for ISBN 9780316327930)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, memoir, current events, international, diverseMiddle East (Pakistan),  Kylie’s favorites

Tone/Style: personal, resolute

Pace: moderate

Topics: women’s rights, education, Al Qaeda, terrorism, war, Islam, assault, politics, activism, survival

Themes: social justice, courage, standing up for beliefs, reaching for dreams

Summary: I Am Malala. This is my story.

Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren’t allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn’t go to school. Continue reading

Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend (2016)

whereAnna discovers some surprising things about herself and her loved ones as she struggles to come to terms with her mother’s suicide attempt in this painfully honest depiction of life with a bipolar parent.

Recommended grade level: 6-9

Pages: 272 (for ISBN 9780374302306)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, Kylie’s favorites

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The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron (1996) (aka Merlin: The Lost Years)

The-Lost-Years-of-Merlin-Book-CoverThis modern classic embraces its epic roots along with a dash of humor and a down-to-earth sensibility in the tale of a young Merlin and a captivating magical island.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 326 (for ISBN 9780399230189)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, high fantasy, myth, Kylie’s favorites

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