We all want our students to love reading, right? Like anything else, our passion for authors and books has a way of spreading to the students. And let’s face it, nothing feels quite as awesome as leading a student to just the right book!
So whether you already have an extensive classroom library or are a teacher new to young adult literature, I hope you will find some inspiration from my infographic! Also, below you’ll find 40 titles from these authors that are some of the most popular books my middle school students choose to read.
Gary Paulsen –
The Car – An awesome coming-of-age story! Fourteen-year-old Terry takes an unexpected road trip with an older hitchhiker and his biker friend.
Woods Runner – For kids who like history, thirteen-year-old Samuel’s parents are taken prisoner during an attack on their home (Revolutionary War era info included) and he must go into survival mode to find and rescue them.
Theodore Taylor –
Sniper – A suspenseful tale of Ben, who must deal with a killer on a wildlife preserve while his parents are away. Don’t let this novel go overlooked!
Ben Mikaelsen –
Touching Spirit Bear – The book’s opener draws in reluctant readers. A young teen’s life is changed after he is sent to a remote Alaskan island in exchange for a prison sentence.
Erin Hunter –
Warriors, Seekers, Survivors – These are the names of three novel series kids love written by Erin Hunter, who is actually six different writers! They write together to put out these AMAZING animal fantasies in prolific fashion. Cat lovers will obsess following the stories of four clans of wild cats in the Warriors novels, which begin with Into the Wild and then Fire and Ice.
Mike Lupica –
Bat Boy, Summer Ball, True Legend, Travel Team – Any book from Lupica hits the mark with sports lovers, but these four are class faves. The first two are baseball stories and the second two are basketball-related. Struggling readers do great with Lupica’s Comeback Kids and Game Changers Series, with lots of titles to grab them, such as Two Minute Drill.
Tim Green –
Football Genius – This debut novel from a former NFL player made quite a splash when it first landed in our class library in 2008! Since then, Green has authored a steady flow of top-notch titles that keep sports-loving kids glued to their books! Football Hero and Football Champ follow this book, but check out his latest Force Out, First Team, and Kid Owner.
Sarah Dessen –
Keeping the Moon, Just Listen – Dessen’s writing captures so much about our students’ emotional concerns—dealing with friendships, rumors, negative body image, dysfunctional family situations, ETC., but she also can inject lightheartedness as needed. Girls easily get hooked on this author.
Sharon Draper –
Tears of a Tiger – A very intense, riveting novel that draws in reluctant readers. Draper uses journals entries, letters and conversations to tell the story of Andy Jackson, whose drinking and driving resulted in the death of his close friend. The novel’s climax, Andy’s suicide, is a sad and thought-provoking ending.
Paul Langan –
Blueford High Series – There are tons of short novels in this series, set in an urban high school, that are high in drama and action, yet easy to read. The Bully is a great one to recommend as a starting point. Langan’s novels have mostly male protagonists, so the boys like these titles. Anne Schraft is another Blueford High author, who writes title with mostly female protagonists. Lost and Found is a great first choice.
Ann M. Martin –
A Dog’s Life – Your sensitive dog-lover types will fall for this story about a stray puppy going through the ups and downs of life.
Everything for a Dog – This book picks up the story of one character from A Dog’s Life, adds two human characters with their own storylines, and brings it all together magnificently. An awesome read for animal lovers!
Caroline B. Cooney –
The Face on the Milk Carton, Wanted, Fatality – These mystery/suspense titles are some of the most popular books in our class library! For middle school readers, I can’t recommend them highly enough! Cooney weaves teen angst, kidnappings, theft, romance, family issues, (you name it!) all into irresistible page-turning stunners.
Joan Lowery Nixon –
The Séance, A Deadly Game of Magic, Spirit Seeker – Nixon writes suspense that draws in young readers. The chapters end in cliff hangers. More popular with the girls, probably due to her mostly female protagonists.
Lois Duncan –
Killing Mr. Griffin – Kids are intrigued by this thriller in which high school students kidnap their English teacher because they don’t like him. Though they only meant to hurt him, he ends up dying, and they become involved in a gruesome cover-up.
April Henry –
Girl, Stolen – This amazing author provides a page-turning read in this thriller, in demand by students! A kidnapping plot with a blind protagonist (victim) and a high school dropout abductor. Your more sophisticated readers will enjoy The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die, The Body in the Woods, and The Night She Disappeared.
James Patterson –
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Series, I Funny Series – These are the books my “rebellious readers” will gravitate toward (mostly boys), and that’s okay! Patterson’s characters come in the form of middle school “misfits” and bullies, pictures keep readers interested, and some emotionally-charged plot twists help students feel connected as they read.
Veronica Roth –
Divergent – This big-time dystopian novel tells of the protagonist Beatrice, who doesn’t fit into any “factions” determined by the government. Though a lengthy read, it’s a favorite (along with its sequel, Insurgent) among stronger readers.
Suzanne Collins –
The Hunger Games Series – Regardless of having seen the movies, students still bring these titles to class to read! Even reluctant readers are willing to read the first book, and are pleased with themselves for completing it!
So there you have it, a sampling of our most highly acclaimed titles. If you want to connect students with books they’ll love, check out a few for your own reading. Once you get started, you’ll be hooked, and on your way to becoming an expert in guiding student choices. I’d love to know which books your middle-schoolers are raving about, so feel free to share! Thanks for reading!
You may be interested in these resources for student response to choice reading: