Summer reading and the living is easy… My kids will attest to the fact that there is nothing like a Middle School Summer Reading Book List.
I plan months in advance what our summer reading is going to be, figuring out which ones my middle school should consider reading on his own and which ones I’m going to read out loud to my two boys, ages 9 and 11. Sounds a little crazy? Maybe. But that’s just how I roll.
So let’s gear up for another fun summer of reading! You can find the books on this middle school summer reading book list at your local library or purchase through the affiliate links provided for your convenience. And a special thanks to the Association for Library Service for the wonderful summer reading inspiration.
Don’t miss out on other age-appropriate summer reading lists for all the kiddos – from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade!
Middle School Summer Reading Book List
Fish in a Tree: The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in.
Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon: Winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal. The New York Times Bestseller. 2017 Booklist Youth Editors’ Choice. And more!
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, who is kind, rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge–with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch.
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog: A 2017 Newbery Honor Book. A New York Times Notable Children’s Book. A Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book. A School Library Journal Best Book. And More!
1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.
Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.
As Brave As You: Kirkus Award Finalist. Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book. And More!
When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally. Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck, Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he hides it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans).
How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house—as in NEVER. Ultimately, Genie is left to wonder—is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?
Piecing Me Together: 2018 Newbery Honor. Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner. NPR’s Best Books of 2017. A 2017 New York Public Library Best Teen Book of the Year. Chicago Public Library’s Best Books of 2017. A School Library Journal Best Book of 2017. Kirkus Reviews‘ Best Teen Books of 2017. And More!
Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And Jade has: every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities. But some opportunities she doesn’t really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn’t mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She’s tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference.
Beyond the Bright Sea: 2018 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. An NPR Best Book of the Year. A Parents’ Magazine Best Book of the Year. A Kirkus Best Book of the Year. A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year. And More!
Vivid and heart-wrenching, Lauren Wolk’s Beyond the Bright Sea is a gorgeously crafted and tensely paced tale that explores questions of identity, belonging, and the true meaning of family.
Twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the starkly beautiful Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Abandoned and set adrift in a small boat when she was just hours old, Crow’s only companions are Osh, the man who rescued and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbor across the sandbar. Crow has always been curious about the world around her, but it isn’t until the night a mysterious fire appears across the water that the unspoken question of her own history forms in her heart. Soon, an unstoppable chain of events is triggered, leading Crow down a path of discovery and danger.
Listen, Slowly: New York Times Book Review Notable Book. Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year.
Perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia and Linda Sue Park, Listen, Slowly is an irresistibly charming and emotionally poignant tale about a girl who discovers that home and culture, family and friends, can all mean different things.
A California girl born and raised, Mai can’t wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai’s parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. Vietnam is hot, smelly, and the last place she wants to be. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn’t know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.
Amina’s Voice: A Washington Post Best Children’s Book of 2017
Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.
Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora: Funny and poignant, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is the vibrant story of a family, a striking portrait of a town, and one boy’s quest to save both, perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia. Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL? A 2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book.
For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí.
Booked (The Crossover Series): National Book Award Long List. New York Times Bestseller.
This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match! Soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.
Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki: Long-recognized master of Norse mythology Kevin Crossley-Holland pairs with award-winning artist Jeffrey Alan Love for an exceptional look at the Viking gods. With its well-researched, lyrical prose and its dramatic and powerful artwork, this wonderful gift edition makes the perfect book for both the staunchest fans of mythology and newcomers with no knowledge of Viking folklore.
delve into Norse mythology and pore over the enthralling exploits of all-powerful Odin; mighty Thor and his hammer, Mjolnir; and Loki, the infamous trickster. From the creation of the nine worlds to the final battle of Ragnarok, Carnegie Medal winner Kevin Crossley-Holland details the Viking gods as never before, while Jeffrey Alan Love’s lavish illustrations bring the mythic figures to life on the page. Readers will be caught up in the seesawing struggle for power between gods, dwarfs, and giants, punctuated by surprising love matches, thrilling journeys, and dazzling magic.
The First Rule of Punk: The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching. Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie. A 2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book.
There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.
The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!
The War That Saved My Life: 2016 Newbery Honor book. Winner of the 2016 Schneider Family Book Award. #1 New York Times bestseller.
In this exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War II, ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.
So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?
Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune: A samurai fights for honor and survival in a real-life Game of Thrones. Stirring narrative nonfiction recounts the rise of Minamoto Yoshitsune from seemingly doomed infant to immortal warrior-hero (and one of the most famous samurai in Japanese history). Acclaimed author Pamela S. Turner delivers all the drama, romance, and tragedy of the original story–with delightfully dry wit and a healthy dose of modern perspective. Gorgeous ink paintings by celebrated graphic-novelist Gareth Hinds complete this irresistible package.
All’s Faire in Middle School: The Newbery Honor-winning author of Roller Girl is back with a heartwarming graphic novel about starting middle school, surviving your embarrassing family, and the Renaissance Faire. As she did in Roller Girl, Victoria Jamieson perfectly—and authentically—captures the bittersweetness of middle school life with humor, warmth, and understanding.
Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire, and she’s eager to begin her own training as a squire. First, though, she’ll need to prove her bravery. Luckily Impy has just the quest in mind—she’ll go to public school after a life of being homeschooled! But it’s not easy to act like a noble knight-in-training in middle school. Impy falls in with a group of girls who seem really nice (until they don’t) and starts to be embarrassed of her thrift shop apparel, her family’s unusual lifestyle, and their small, messy apartment. Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.
Greetings from Witness Protection!: Jake Burt’s debut middle-grade novel Greetings from Witness Protection! is as funny as it is poignant. Nicki Demere is an orphan and a pickpocket. She also happens to be the U.S. Marshals’ best bet to keep a family alive…
The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.
Nicki swears she can keep the Trevor family safe, but to do so she’ll have to dodge hitmen, cyberbullies, and the specter of standardized testing, all while maintaining her marshal-mandated B-minus average. As she barely balances the responsibilities of her new identity, Nicki learns that the biggest threats to her family’s security might not lurk on the road from New York to North Carolina, but rather in her own past.
It All Comes Down to This: Leavened with gentle humor, this story is perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia. t’s 1965, Los Angeles. All twelve-year-old Sophie wants to do is write her book, star in the community play, and hang out with her friend Jennifer. But she’s the new black kid in a nearly all-white neighborhood; her beloved sister, Lily, is going away to college soon; and her parents’ marriage is rocky. There’s also her family’s new, disapproving housekeeper to deal with. When riots erupt in nearby Watts and a friend is unfairly arrested, Sophie learns that life—and her own place in it—is even more complicated than she’d once thought.
Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound: From award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney comes the story of the music that defined a generation and a movement that changed the world.
Berry Gordy began Motown in 1959 with an $800 loan from his family. He converted the garage of a residential house into a studio and recruited teenagers from the neighborhood-like Smokey Robinson, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Diana Ross-to sing for his new label. Meanwhile, the country was on the brink of a cultural revolution, and one of the most powerful agents of change in the following decade would be this group of young black performers from urban Detroit. From Berry Gordy and his remarkable vision to the Civil Rights movement, from the behind-the-scenes musicians, choreographers, and song writers to the most famous recording artists of the century, Andrea Davis Pinkney takes readers on a Rhythm Ride through the story of Motown.
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse: American Indian Youth Literature Award. Jimmy McClean is a Lakota boy—though you wouldn’t guess it by his name: his father is part white and part Lakota, and his mother is Lakota. When he embarks on a journey with his grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, he learns more and more about his Lakota heritage—in particular, the story of Crazy Horse, one of the most important figures in Lakota and American history.
Drawing references and inspiration from the oral stories of the Lakota tradition, celebrated author Joseph Marshall III juxtaposes the contemporary story of Jimmy with an insider’s perspective on the life of Tasunke Witko, better known as Crazy Horse (c. 1840–1877). The book follows the heroic deeds of the Lakota leader who took up arms against the US federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including leading a war party to victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Along with Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse was the last of the Lakota to surrender his people to the US army. Through his grandfather’s tales about the famous warrior, Jimmy learns more about his Lakota heritage and, ultimately, himself.
Love, Ish: In Karen Rivers’s riveting new novel, Ish’s dreams for a future on Mars go heartbreakingly awry when an unexpected diagnosis threatens to rewrite her whole future. In this story perfect for fans of Fish in a Tree and The Thing About Jellyfish, Karen Rivers has once again created an unforgettable narrator who will pull listeners into her orbit and keep them riveted until the very last minute.
Things Mischa “Ish” Love will miss when she goes to Mars: lying on the living room floor watching TV, ice cream, her parrot Buzz Aldrin. Things Ish Love will not miss when she goes to Mars: mosquitoes, heat waves, missing her former best friend Tig. Ish is convinced that she’ll be one of the first settlers on Mars. She’s applied to – and been rejected from – the Mars Now project 47 times, but the mission won’t leave for 10 years, and Ish hasn’t given up hope. She also hasn’t given up hope that Tig will be her best friend again (not that she’d ever admit that to anyone, least of all herself).
When Ish collapses on the first day of seventh grade, she gets a diagnosis that threatens all her future plans. As Ish fights cancer, she dreams in vivid detail about the Martian adventures she’s always known she’d have – and makes unexpected discoveries about love, fate, and her place in the vast universe.
Ashes to Asheville: After Mama Lacy’s death, Fella was forced to move in with her grandmother, Mrs. Madison. The move brought Fella all sorts of comforts she wasn’t used to at home, but it also meant saying goodbye to her sister Zoey (a.k.a. Zany) and her other mother, Mama Shannon. Though Mama Shannon fought hard to keep Fella, it was no use. The marriage act is still a few years away and the courts thought Fella would be better off with a blood relation. Already heartbroken, Fella soon finds herself alone in Mrs. Madison’s house, grieving both the death of her mother and the loss of her entire family.
Lucky Broken Girl: Winner of the 2018 Pura Belpre Award. Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro’s Cuba to New York City. Just when she’s finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English—and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood’s hopscotch queen—a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie’s world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger and she comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.
Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA: Blood, Bullets, and Bones provides young readers with a fresh and fascinating look at the ever-evolving science of forensics. In this book, acclaimed author Bridget Heos uses real-life cases to tell the history of modern forensic science, from the first test for arsenic poisoning to fingerprinting, firearm and blood spatter analysis, DNA evidence, and all the important milestones in between. By turns captivating and shocking, Blood, Bullets, and Bones demonstrates the essential role forensic science has played in our criminal justice system.
Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism: Robert Capa and Gerda Taro were young Jewish refugees, idealistic and in love. As photographers in the 1930s, they set off to capture their generation’s most important struggle―the fight against fascism. Among the first to depict modern warfare, Capa, Taro, and their friend Chim took powerful photographs of the Spanish Civil War that went straight from the action to news magazines. They brought a human face to war with their iconic shots of a loving couple resting, a wary orphan, and, always, more and more refugees―people driven from their homes by bombs, guns, and planes.
Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel (Tyme): In all of Tyme, from the Redlands to the Grey, no one is as lucky as Rapunzel. She lives in a magic tower that obeys her every wish; she reads wonderful books starring herself as the heroine; her hair is the longest, most glorious thing in the world. And she knows this because Witch tells her so– her beloved Witch, who protects her from evil princes, the dangerous ground under the tower, even unhappy thoughts. Rapunzel can’t imagine any other life.
Then a thief named Jack climbs into her room to steal one of her enchanted roses. He’s the first person Rapunzel’s ever met who isn’t completely charmed by her (well, the first person she’s met at all, really), and he is infuriating– especially when he hints that Witch isn’t telling her the whole truth. Driven by anger at Jack and her own nameless fears, Rapunzel descends to the ground for the first time, and finds a world filled with more peril than Witch promised…and more beauty, wonder, and adventure than she could have dreamed.
Me and Miranda Mullaly: Meet Sam, the comedian; Duke, the intellectual; and Chollie, the athlete. Their fates converge at Penn Valley Middle as each falls desperately for the enigmatic Miranda Mullaly—the girl who smiles like she means it, the girl who makes Christmas truly magic when she sings, the girl who…barely realizes her admirers exist! Small misunderstandings lead to big laughs, and beneath the humor, every attempt to win Miranda’s favor becomes a compelling look at the larger world of each guy’s life.
Like this middle school summer reading book list? Don’t miss out on other age-appropriate summer reading lists for all the kiddos – from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade!