• Kristin Hankins

Book List for Teens

Our guest, Ashlyn Hudson, is back again with book suggestions for your teens! Ashlyn says:

As a middle school teacher, I’m often asked what books I recommend for students, so I’ve compiled a list of my favorite middle school reads. From graphic novels, to historical fiction, and even novels written in verse, this list provides options for book lovers of almost any genre.

I’ve included the Lexile score of each novel to help match readers to appropriately leveled books. Below is a chart with each middle school grade and its corresponding Lexile range.

Grade 6: Lexile 665L-1000L

Grade 7: Lexile 735L-1065L

Grade 8: Lexile 805L-1100L

American Born Chinese (GN530L)

This captivating graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang focuses on a young boy named Jin who wrestles with being the only Chinese-American student in his school. Jin tries his hardest to blend in with American culture, but his façade is spoiled when his cousin Chin-Kee comes to visit for the holidays. Meanwhile, in an alternate storyline, the legendary Monkey King seeks to become an immortal god. Both plot lines weave together to create an inspiring story about being true to yourself.

Stargirl (630L)

Tenth grade student Leo lives a mundane life until loud and eccentric Stargirl enters Mica High and captures his heart. Before long, however, Leo begins to wish Stargirl were a bit more “normal.” Jerry Spinelli tells a charming tale on the battle between individuality and conformity.

The Crossover (750L)

The Crossover centers on two brothers, Josh and Jordan, who are stars of their school basketball team. As the boys age, they begin to drift apart. Bursting with themes of family and loss, Kwame Alexander’s verse novel inspires middle school readers to ponder the important relationships in their lives.

The Maze Runner (HL770L)

James Dashner’s novel, The Maze Runner, is perhaps now best known for its film adaptation, but the novel was famous in its own right long before the movie premiered. In the novel, a teenager named Thomas awakens in an elevator, remembering absolutely nothing but his name. The elevator emerges from the ground into “the Glade”—a grassy clearing surrounded completely by tall, stone walls. Thomas and the other boys in the Glade must find a way to escape.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (950L)

Jeff Kinney puts a new and comedic spin on the coming of age novel genre with his series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This first book in the series follows 6th grade student, Greg Heffley, who chronicles the ups and downs of middle school in his diary. Complete with illustrations and plenty of opportunities for laughter, this novel never sits for long on the library shelf.

The Hobbit (1000L)

J. R. R. Tolkien’s prequel to The Lord of the Rings follows Bilbo Baggins as he goes on a quest to reclaim treasure stolen by the dragon Smaug. Along the way, he encounters all kinds of fascinating creatures, such as dwarves, goblins, and elves. Centering on themes of bravery and self-discovery, The Hobbit is perfect for readers of all ages.

Out of the Dust (1040L)

Out of the Dust is a historical novel by Karen Hesse written in verse which focuses on the struggles of a young girl, Billie Joe, living during the 1930s. Billie Joe lives during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, and although this produces challenges for her which are unfamiliar to contemporary readers, she also faces challenges with which many modern readers can relate.

One last tip: consider challenging your young readers to select books outside of their typical genre. This will push them outside of their comfort zone and, who knows, maybe they’ll even find a new interest!

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