Winter break may have passed us by and that was an excellent time to catch up on your reading. But there is never a bad time to catch up on your reading, is there? Here’s a list of titles every middle-schooler must read, featuring a selection from across the ages and covering a good variety of genres as well. Dip into these – some classics, some newer titles – and find your literary sweet spot for the next break (or weekend).
Sounder, William H. Armstrong
This award-winning novel tells the story of Sounder the dog and the poor family of sharecroppers he lives with. Set in the Deep South, in a 19th century African-American community this story of a boy and his poor family sees Sounder the dog doing all he can to help the family he loves overcome their difficulties. Along the way it traverses great courage, love, and faith – traits that bring this African-American family together even in the face of extreme racism.
Wonder, RJ Palacio
Wonder is the story of August Pullman, a fifth-grader born with a severe facial difference, that brings the community’s struggles with empathy, inclusion, acceptance and compassion front and centre in a beautifully woven tale. The story, told from August’s POV, deftly weaves in nuanced characters he is surrounded by, while also touching on important aspects of our society today, as seen from the eyes of a differently-abled person. Wonder was also turned into an inspiring movie in 2017 starring Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
This story may be set in 1930s America, and has seen over 50 reprints, yet remains an evergreen classic. A must-read for every growing human being. To Kill A Mockingbird is the unforgettable story of childhood in a Southern town that faces a race-crime that rocks its very foundations and brings out the true colours of human behaviour in delicious nuance. Traversing innocence – as seen through the views of the narrator — kindness and cruelty, alike, the story invokes love, hate, humor and pathos in the circumstances of some of the worst violations.
Booked, Kwame Alexander
Although this is a follow-up to Alexander’s hugely popular Crossover, it is an equally robust novel that stands on it’s own two feet as a sport novel set in the backdrop of teenage angst. Protagonist Nick Hall, a gifted soccer player is rising to the top very quickly, and the only thing slowing him down are the difficult-to-deal-with emotions towards his parent’s divorce. The story traverses the everyday happenings in the life of a teenager, with the unique twist of no dialogue but smatterings of poetry and rap thrown in, making it a truly one of a kind book.
I Funny, James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
Jamie Grimm is a middle schooler who dreams big: to be the world’s greatest stand-up comedian. Presently though, his life is anything but funny – living with an aunt’s family, a bully for a cousin in a new town, and stuck in a wheelchair. But none of that dulls his enthusiasm to enter The Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic contest. This heart-warming, funny and inspiring tale is the first of what later became a best-selling series.