Keeping your students engaged in reading in the midst of a busy school year is no easy feat. Enter: Our reading list of the best new books for students in the middle grades. What’s more, we’ve provided free resources and discussion guides to further engage students in what they’re reading. 

The Best Middle Grade Books and Discussion Guides

Use these free discussion guides to facilitate meaningful conversation, inspire curiosity, and spark engagement with your middle grade readers — each one is centered on a middle grade book and provides opportunities for young readers to reflect on the story. These discussion guides will also help deepen  your students’ understanding of the plot and build upon their reading comprehension skills

For instance, the Show Me a Sign Trilogy by Ann Clare LeZotte shares three unique stories that center the Deaf experience. These gripping and touching titles will enrich students' understanding of the history and culture of Deaf and Hard of Hearing, disabled, and marginalized youth. 

Spark further conversation in your classroom with this Ann Clare LeZotte discussion guide, which includes discussion questions and extension activities for each of the three books in the trilogy: Show Me a Sign, Set Me Free, and Sail Me Away Home

Sample question for Show Me a SignWhen we first meet Mary, she is using her “birch stick to poke at curious things on the ground, like the tunnels made by moles.” (p. 5) What does this immediately tell us about her personality? How do Mary's actions throughout the story tell us about her character?

Additionally, Wildoak is a compelling story about an unlikely friendship between a young girl and a snow leopard. This middle grade novel explores intricate connections between humans and the natural world, and raises themes of friendship, self confidence, and resilience. Follow along as these two become best friends. This title is a Kids’ Indie Next List pick and  Kirkus Reviews’ most anticipated book. 

Download the Wildoak teaching guide for discussion questions, research topics and prompts, and other activities to support your students’ understanding of the book.

Sample question for Wildoak: What year does Wildoak take place, and where? What do you know about that place and that time period? What can you learn about that time and place from trusted sources? What about that time and place do you think is significant to the story? 

Meanwhile, Attack of the Black Rectangles is about a sixth grade student’s fight against censorship at school. This must-read book tackles complex topics — from navigating family and friend dynamics to speaking up for what’s right — and delves into the growing awareness of Banned Books Week and the intellectual freedom of readers everywhere. 

Use this Attack of the Black Rectangles teaching guide to engage your students. It includes discussion questions and other activities and resources to spark discussion about the important themes raised in the novel. 

Sample question for Attack of the Black RectanglesWhat is censorship? Should some books be restricted? How can young people learn to make responsible book choices for themselves? How do the characters in Attack of the Black Rectangles make book choices for themselves?

Lastly, readers from the third grade to seventh grade year will be captivated by The Secret Battle of Evan Pao, which has received multiple star reviews from the New York TimesPublishers Weekly, and more. This touching story follows the journey of Evan Pao as he learns to navigate a new school, a new life, and new friends after his father left the family. Being the only Chinese American in his class, Evan struggles to fit in and find a sense of belonging. 

Take a look at the discussion guide for The Secret Battle of Evan Pao for resources to teach your students about bullyingcommunity, conflict resolution, and other issues that affect them as they grow into young adulthood. 

Check out more popular middle grade books below! Find your graphic novel, science fiction read, and more books and activities at The Teacher Store.