The Best Novels for Middle School Students

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Are you in the hunt for the best novels for middle school students? Are you looking to find contemporary novels that are high-interest and add to your reading list? I have a list of novels recommended by my students!

First, finding novels that interest your students is tricky. Secondly, our goals as teachers is for our students to LIKE what they are reading. In order to accomplish this goal, I have my students choose their own independent reading novels; giving the students choice in their reading helps with their enjoyment and their willingness to read.

What are Middle School Students Reading?

Teens want to read current, relevant books. This is exactly what they will choose, too. My 8th grade students choose a book a month to read independently. After reading, they complete a Book Spine Activity to reflect on the novel. It includes a summary, recommendation, and rating. Check out the picture below!

Novels recommended by middle school students on a book spine.

I compiled a list of the five most engaging novels for middle school students, recommended by my middle school teens. These novels were read multiple times or by a few of my students.

Recommended Novels

Contemporary Novels

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene:

Hazel Grace Lancaster, is a 16-year-old cancer patient. She meets and falls in love with Gus Waters, a similarly afflicted teen from her cancer support group. Hazel feels that Gus really understands her. They both share the same wit and a love of books, especially Grace’s touchstone, “An Imperial Affliction” by Peter Van Houten. When Gus scores an invitation to meet the reclusive author, he and Hazel embark on the adventure of their brief lives.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus:

This is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect. Everyone has something to hide. This novel follows four different characters as their lives unfolds around the suspected murder of their classmate.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher:

It is the story of a young high school student as she descends into despair brought on by betrayal and bullying. This ends with her suicide. She details the thirteen reasons why she was driven to end her life in an audio diary which is mailed to a friend two weeks after her death.

Mystery & Suspense Novels

Recommended middle school novel

The Girl in the Locked Room by Mary Downing Hahn:

A family moves into an old, abandoned house. Jule’s parents love the house. Jules is frightened and feels a sense of foreboding. When she seeings a pale face in an upstairs window, she can’t stop wondering about the eerie presence on the top floor–in a room with a locked door. Could it be someone who lived in the house a century earlier? Her fear replaced by fascination. Jules is determined to make contact with the mysterious figure and help unlock the door. Past and present intersect as she and her ghostly friend discover—and change—the fate of the family who lived in the house all those many years ago.

Dystopian Novels

Recommended middle school novel

Divergent by Veronica Roth-

The novel Divergent features a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago and follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior as she explores her identity. This society defines its citizens by their social and personality-related affiliation with five factions. This removes the threat of anyone exercising independent will and re-threatening the population’s safety.

Other Recommended Novels

Here are other titles my students recommend:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

Heat by Mike Lupica

Reading Activities to Use with Books

Annotating Text

Literacy Centers for English Language Arts

I hope you enjoy these recommendations, and if you have any questions, please always feel free to reach out-englishohmy@gmail.com.

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English, Oh My, English Language Arts
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