With homework and assigned reading on hold until fall, summer is the perfect opportunity for your middle schooler to dive into page-turners that pique her unique interests. Luckily, there are many titles written just for this age range that represent a wide range of genres and meaningful story themes.
Start with acclaimed summer reads for middle schoolers, which will help bolster your child’s love of reading just for fun. That’s important because kids agree that reading can help them understand bigger issues in their community, and even helps them through their personal rough spots, according to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report.
These 12 books are all hand-picked for your middle schooler from the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge, a free, fun educational program. During this Challenge, kids enter reading minutes to earn exclusive digital rewards and help donate books to kids in need across the country. Ask your middle schooler if any of her teachers are participating — doing the Challenge as a class is a powerful motivator. If not, kids can register separately and enjoy these incredible reads on their own time.
1. Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord
Eager to feel understood and accepted, middle schoolers often find comfort in realistic fiction stories that reflect their own real-life experiences. This book explores familiar middle school themes of friendship and wanting to fit in through the story of Emma, who is about to go to public school after being homeschooled her entire life. Emma has a plan to find the perfect best friend, but finding a place for herself at school is more difficult than she ever imagined — especially when she is paired to work on a school project with a boy who simply doesn’t fit in.
2. A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese
Times are hard for the inhabitants of Cliffs Donnelly, Ohio, until suddenly, the town’s old wishing well begins granting wishes. But the results aren’t always what the wisher intended! Only three 6th-graders know why it’s happening, and their story about lending everyone a little hope will captivate your middle schooler.
3. That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger
This story appropriately touches on themes of violence and grief your middle schooler has likely heard about on the news or in school. It’s been three years since a student opened fire at Lee’s high school, killing seven students and two teachers. Lee’s best friend Sarah was one of those killed. Since her death, Sarah has become a martyr; she supposedly died defending her faith, but Lee was there and she knows that’s not what happened. Struggling to heal, Lee insists that she must stand up for what really happened that day.
4. Gamer Army by Trent Reedy
Few genres stir the imagination like science fiction, and this title provides the perfect foray into it. Twelve-year-old Rogan is one of the world’s best young gamers and he’s been invited to compete in the ultimate gaming experience, testing cutting-edge, virtual reality gaming equipment in digital battles with four other gamers. But when Rogan and his rivals sense not all is as it seems, they must summon the collective power of their Gamer Army in a dangerous world where video games have invaded reality.
5. Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds
The real world and superhero worlds collide in this story about Miles, a teen from Brooklyn who's attending an elite prep school on scholarship. Following a rough start to school during his junior year and with his spidey senses seemingly going haywire, Miles begins to wonder if he should really be a superhero at all, especially when saving the lives of others could potentially ruin his own.
6. HALO: Battle Born by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Students Evelyn, Victor, Saskia, and Dorian must unite in an attempt to save themselves, their families, and their community when their coastal town is attacked by an alien enemy organization known as the Covenant. Armed with only a few weapons and the assistance of an injured Spartan soldier, the four teens are determined to uncover what the Covenant wants from their town.
7. Amulet: Supernova by Kazu Kibuishi
Graphic novels are immensely popular with middle schoolers right now, and the Amulet series is no exception. Amulet follows the adventures of Emily and her brother, Navin, as they battle for the freedom of a dangerous alternate world from an Evil Elf King, following Emily’s discovery of a magical amulet. In this book, Emily loses control of her Amulet and is imprisoned in the Void, and must find a way to escape the influence of the Voice.
8. Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk
When Dany inherits her grandmother’s sketchbook, she discovers that everything she draws comes to life in this graphic novel. She’s been struggling to settle into middle school after being split from her friend group, so she decides to draw herself the perfect best friend, Madison, to help her navigate the horrors of the middle school hallways. Unsurprisingly, Madison isn’t the answer to Dany’s problems. Instead, she learns she must work on her real-life relationships if she ever hopes to overcome her loneliness.
9. Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Kroscozka
This graphic novel memoir doesn’t shy away from the heartache of growing up with an addicted parent, but still finds a way to inspire hope even in the most hopeless situations. Jarrett’s mom is a heroin addict who’s in and out of rehab, halfway houses, and even jail, but he finds support and stability with his grandparents, a few key adult mentors, friends, and art. This profound memoir touches on and helps middle schoolers better understand delicate subjects like substance abuse and neglect.
10. The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson
In this tale about finding your own place in the world, 12-year-old Marinka’s grandmother is a Yaga, someone who guides those who have recently passed away from the land of the living to that of the dead. Marinka is expected to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps, but she is desperate for a normal life with living friends. She is determined to forge her own path, but when her Yaga disappears, Marinka’s choices may change more than just her own destiny — they may change everything forever.
11. Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond: Game of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta
Inspired by Bengali folklore, this series shares the stories of New Jersey tween Kiranmala who woke up on her 12th birthday to discover she is really an Indian princess who must rescue her kidnapped parents from a demon. In Game of Stars, Kiran is forced to return to the thrilling Kingdom Beyond when she learns that it’s the only way to save her friend, Prince Neel, who’s been imprisoned by the evil Serpent King. Her biggest challenge? Figuring out who’s a friend and who’s a foe among both the humans and the demons she faces.
12. Frogkisser! by Garth Nix
This book offers an entertaining and humorous spin on the classic fairy tale genre. When second princess Anya’s evil stepstepfather turns her older sister and heir to the throne’s true love into a frog as part of his plan to overtake the kingdom, Anya must undertake a quest to collect the ingredients that will allow her to transform him into a human again. Along the way, she learns a great deal about kindness and compassion, and develops a greater sense of social justice through her travels.
Browse more great selections from the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge at the Scholastic Store Online.
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