Middle School Classics for 7th & 8th Grade
Adams, Richard. Watership Down
Chronicles the adventures of a group of rabbits searching for a safe place to establish a new warren where they can live in peace.
Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women
Little Women is the heartwarming story of the March family that has thrilled generations of readers. It is the story of four sisters--Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth--and of the courage, humor and ingenuity they display to survive poverty and the absence of their father during the Civil War.
Alexie, Sherman. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
Contains a collection of twenty-four short stories by the National Book Award-winning author that chronicle the daily life on a Native American Indian Reservation in Spokane, Washington.
Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
In this first of five volumes of autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence. Marvelously told, with Angelou's "gift for language and observation," this "remarkable autobiography by an equally remarkable black woman from Arkansas captures, indelibly, a world of which most Americans are shamefully ignorant."
Babbit, Natalie. Tuck Everlasting
The Tuck family is confronted with an agonizing situation when they discover that a ten-year-old girl and a malicious stranger now share their secret about a spring whose water prevents one from ever growing any older.
Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker
In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.
Blume, Judy. Tiger Eyes
Resettled in the "Bomb City" with her mother and brother, Davey Wexler recovers from the shock of her father's death during a holdup of his 7-Eleven store in Atlantic City.
Bradbury, Ray. The Illustrated Man
This is one of the classics from the golden age of sci-fi--sixteen tales of horror and terror in the tattoos on an "illustrated" man's body. Even though most were written in the 1940s and 1950s, these 18 classic stories will be just as chillingly effective 50 years from now.
Bradbury, Ray. The Martian Chronicles
In this science fiction classic, the first Earth people to attempt the colonization of Mars try to build their new world in the image of the civilization they left behind.
Bray, Libba. Going Bovine
Cameron Smith, a disaffected sixteen-year-old diagnosed with mad cow disease, sets off on a road trip with a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf he meets in the hospital in an attempt to find a cure.
Boyne, John. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to a place called "Out-With" in 1942, Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence.
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre
A headstrong heroine, a dashing gentleman, a dark and brooding house with a terrible secret in the attic. A classic novel written in the very best Gothic tradition.
Burnett, Frances H. The Secret Garden
Ten-year-old Mary comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors and discovers an invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden in this classic story of loss, friendship and redemption.
Cameron, Peter. Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You
James Sveck tells the reader about his life, including the reasons he became the "Missing Misfit" and is seeing a psychiatrist.
Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Game
Young Ender Wiggin may prove to be the military genius Earth needs to fight a desperate battle against a deadly alien race that will determine the future of the human race.
Carroll, Jim. The Basketball Diaries
A diary of the author's early teen years in the mid-1960s, telling how he progressed from sniffing glue to shooting heroin while playing basketball for Trinity High School in Manhattan.
Carroll, Lewis. Alice in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll's classic story about a little girl who falls down a rabbit hole and discovers a world of nonsensical and amusing characters.
Christie, Agatha. Murder on the Orient Express
Detective Hercule Poirot has a wealth of suspects to choose from when a wealthy American is stabbed to death en route to Paris on the Orient Express.
Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street
A young girl living in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago ponders the advantages and disadvantages of her environment and evaluates her relationships with family and friends.
Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War
Does Jerry Renault dare to disturb the universe? You wouldn't think that his refusal to sell chocolates during his school's fundraiser would create such a stir, but it does; it's as if the whole school comes apart at the seams. To some, Jerry is a hero, but to others, he becomes a scapegoat--a target for their pent-up hatred. And Jerry? He's just trying to stand up for what he believes, but perhaps there is no way for him to escape becoming a pawn in this game of control...
Dahl, Roald. Skin and Other Stories
“These bizarre, fascinating, and sophisticated short stories, selected from Dahl's body of adult writings, are…full of irony and unexpected twists, they smack of the master's touch--every word carefully chosen, characters fully fleshed out in only a few pages, the sense of place immediate.”--Booklist
Danziger, Paula. The Cat Ate My Gymsuit
High school junior, Marcy Lewis, campaigns to get Ms. Finney, an English teacher and Marcy's mentor, reinstated after she is suspended.
Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother
Interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, California, seventeen-year-old Marcus is released into what is now a police state, and decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.
Doerr, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See.
A blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Donnelly, Jennifer. A Northern Light.
Sixteen-year-old Mattie, determined to attend college and be a writer against the wishes of her father and boyfriend, takes a job at a hotel in 1906 where the death of a guest renews her determination to live her own life.
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. The Hound of the Baskervilles
What's the truth behind the legend of the hound of the Baskervilles? Is it really a devil-beast that's haunting the lonely moors? Enter Sherlock Holmes to find the answer, in this, the only full-length novel ever written by the creator of one of the most popular and enduring detective series ever written.
Flagg, Fannie. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café
A folksy, funny and endearing story of life in a small town in Alabama in the Depression and in the 1980s. It is the tale of a fierce friendship between two women from the 1920’s and 30’s, Idgie and Ruth, and how their story inspires a modern woman who has almost given up on life. Among revelations big and small, Fannie Flagg mixes direct and empowering confrontations with racism, sexism, and ageism with the colorful and endearing language of the depression-era South and the cafe's recipes for grits, collard greens, and, of course, fried green tomatoes.
Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl
A beloved classic since its initial publication in 1947, this vivid, insightful journal is a fitting memorial to the gifted Jewish teenager who died at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in 1945.
Garden, Nancy. Annie on My Mind
The modern classic of two girls who dared to love each other despite social taboos. Looking back on her high school experiences, the now mature Liza narrates a story of friendship, betrayal and loss between she and Annie, her first love.
Guevara, Ernesto. The Motorcycle Diaries
Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara chronicles his 1952 adventure on motorbike throughout South America with friend Alberto Granado, during which he came face-to-face with the realities of poverty throughout the continent.
Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun
A three-act play concerned with the tensions in a middle-class African American family living on Chicago's Southside in the 1950s.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea
An old fisherman battles the sea and sharks to bring home the giant marlin he caught. Deceptively short and deep as the ocean.
Hesse, Karen. Witness
This contemporary classic is made up of a series of poems that express the views of various people in a small Vermont town, including a young black girl and a young Jewish girl, during the early 1920s when the Ku Klux Klan is trying to infiltrate the town.
Hinton, S.E. Tex
The love between two teen-age brothers helps to alleviate the harshness of their usually parentless life as they struggle to grow up. Jen Hubert-Swan’s favorite of S.E. Hinton’s titles.
Homer. The Odyssey.
Homer's epic that describes the wanderings of Odysseus after the fall of Troy.
Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki. Farewell to Manzanar
Biography of Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston relating her experiences of living at the Manzanar internment camp during World War II and how it has influenced her life.
Jackson, Shirley. The Haunting of Hill House
Five strangers meet at Hill House--a notorious estate in New England to take part in a paranormal science experiment. Hill House is a foreboding structure of towers, buttresses, Gothic spires, gargoyles, strange angles, and rooms within rooms--a place "without kindness, never meant to be lived in...." Shirley Jackson's book has unnerved readers since its original publication in 1959. A tale of subtle, psychological terror, it has earned its place as one of the significant haunted house stories of our time.
Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
A rebel named Randle Patrick McMurphy is committed to a mental ward and challenges the authority of its dictatorial head nurse.
Keyes, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon
In this classic story that inspired the hit movie Charlie, Charlie Gordon, a mentally challenged adult who cleans floors and toilets, becomes a genius through an experimental operation. But when his new intelligence begins to wane, Charlie must confront the loss of all he has learned.
Kidd, Sue Monk. The Secret Life of Bees.
Set in South Carolina during 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of a fourteen year old white girl, Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three racists in town, they escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily finds refuge in their mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna.
Knowles, John. A Separate Peace
The volatile world of male adolescence provides the backdrop for John Knowles' engrossing tale of love, hate, war, and peace. Sharing a room at Devon, an exclusive New England prep school, in the summer prior to World War II, Gene and Phineas form a complex bond of friendship that draws out both the best and worst characteristics of each boy and leads ultimately to violence, a confession, and the betrayal of trust.
L'Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time
Three extraterrestrial beings take Meg and her friends to another world.
Levithan, David. Boy Meets Boy
Paul's simple high-school life is confused by his desire for another boy who seems unattainable, until Paul's friends help him find the courage to pursue him.
Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia
Enjoy any of the books in the classic series about a group of siblings who enter a magical land through the back of a wardrobe.
Link, Kelly. Pretty Monsters
Through the lens of Kelly Link's vivid imagination, nothing is what it seems, and everything deserves a second look. From the multiple award- winning "The Faery Handbag," in which a teenager's grandmother carries an entire village (or is it a man-eating dog?) in her handbag, to the near-future of "The Surfer," whose narrator (a soccer-playing skeptic) waits with a planeload of refugees for the aliens to arrive, these ten stories are funny and full of unexpected insights and skewed perspectives on the world.
Lockhart, E. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Frankie Landau-Banks attempts to take over a secret, all-male society at her exclusive prep school, and her antics with the group soon draw some unlikely attention and have unexpected consequences that could change her life forever.
London, Jack. White Fang
In the desolate, frozen wilds of northwest Canada, a wolf cub soon finds himself the sole survivor of his litter. Son of Kiche--half-wolf, half-dog--and the aging wolf One Eye, he is thrust into a savage world where each day becomes a fight to stay alive. This adventure set in the wild Yukon about a wild dog who learns to live with humans is not to be missed.
McBride, James. The Color of Water
An African-American male tells of his mother, a white woman, who refused to admit her true identity. A now classic memoir.
McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes
The author chronicles his impoverished childhood in Limerick, Ireland in the 1930s and 1940s, describing his father's alcoholism and talent for storytelling; the challenges and tragedies his mother faced, including the loss of three children; and his early experiences in the Catholic church, and balances painful memories with humor.
McKissack, Patricia. The Dark Thirty
The Newbery award-winning collection of ghost stories with African-American themes, designed to be told during the Dark Thirty--the half hour before sunset.
Maclean, Norman. A River Runs Through It
Maclean writes "in my family, there is no clear line between religion and fly-fishing." Nor is there a clear line between family and fly-fishing. It is the one activity where brother can connect with brother and father with son. In Maclean's autobiographical novella, it is the river that makes them realize that life continues and all things are related.
Martel, Yann. Life of Pi
Pi Patel, having spent an idyllic childhood in Pondicherry, India, as the son of a zookeeper, sets off with his family at the age of sixteen to start anew in Canada, but his life takes a marvelous turn when their ship sinks in the Pacific, leaving him adrift on a raft with a 450-pound Bengal tiger for company.
Meminger, Neesha. Shine, Coconut Moon
Sixteen-year-old Samar—aka Sam—is an Indian American teenager whose mom has kept her away from her old-fashioned family. It’s never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a demanding boyfriend. But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam’s house—and turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. She is eager to learn, but when boys attack her uncle, shouting "Go home Osama!" Sam realizes she could be in danger—and just how dangerous ignorance is. (Amazon)
Myers, Walter Dean. Bad Boy: a memoir
Author Walter Dean Myers describes his childhood in Harlem in the 1940s and 1950s, discussing his loving stepmother, his problems in school, his reasons for leaving home, and his beginnings as a writer.
Myers, Walter Dean. Autobiography of My Dead Brother
Jesse pours his heart and soul into his sketchbook to make sense of life in his troubled Harlem neighborhood and the loss of a close friend.
Nelson, Marilyn. How I Discovered Poetry
Looking back on her childhood in the 1950s, Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson tells the story of her development as an artist and young woman through fifty eye-opening poems. Readers are given an intimate portrait of her growing self-awareness and artistic inspiration along with a larger view of the world around her: racial tensions, the Cold War era, and the first stirrings of the feminist movement.
Ness, Patrick. The Knife of Never Letting Go
Todd, one month away from an important birthday, learns all the tough lessons of adulthood when he is forced to flee after discovering a secret near the town where he lives.
Potok, Chaim. The Chosen
Recounts the story of Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders--one an orthodox Jew, the other the son of a Hasidic rabbi--and the course of their friendship as they grow up in Brooklyn.
Read, Piers Paul. Alive
Discusses the now classic ordeal of the survivors of an airplane crash in 1972 in the Andes wilderness.
Remarque, Erich. All Quiet on the Western Front
Depicts the experiences of a group of young German soldiers fighting and suffering during the last days of
World War I.
Saint-Exupery, Antoine de. The Little Prince
Translation of Le Petit Prince. An aviator whose plane is forced down in the Sahara Desert encounters a little prince from a small planet who relates his adventures in seeking the secret of what is important in life.
Schmidt, Gary. Trouble
Fourteen-year-old Henry, wishing to honor his brother Franklin's dying wish, sets out to hike Maine's Mount Katahdin with his best friend and dog. But fate adds another companion--the Cambodian refugee accused of fatally injuring Franklin--and reveals troubles that predate the accident.
Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty
A horse in nineteenth-century England recounts his experiences with both good and bad masters, an important title as the animal rights movement came to prominence.
Smith, Dodie. I Capture the Castle
A reprint of the 1948 novel recounting the story of Cassandra Mortmain, a young woman living on the edge of poverty in a crumbling castle with her somewhat eccentric family, whose prospects begin to improve when new neighbors arrive from America. Reportedly J.K. Rowling’s favorite book.
Smith, Betty. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. Betty Smith's poignant, honest novel created a big stir when it was first published over 50 years ago. Her frank writing about life's squalor was alarming to some of the more genteel society, but the book's humor and pathos ensured its place in the realm of classics.
Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men
The plot of this well-known classic centers on George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant ranch hands who dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is large and simple minded, calming him and helping to rein in his immense physical strength. When a terrible accident involving Lennie takes place, George has an equally terrible decision to make concerning his friend.
Steinbeck, John. The Pearl
Terrible events follow the discovery of a magnificent pearl by a poor Mexican fisherman in this classic tale of destiny and fate.
Stevenson, Robert Lewis. Treasure Island
Climb aboard for the swashbuckling adventure of a lifetime. Treasure Island has enthralled (and caused slight seasickness) for decades. With its dastardly plot and motley crew of rogues and villains (including the famous Long John Silver) it seems unlikely that anyone who ever reads this exciting classic will ever forget it (just ask Phil)!
Stoker, Bram. Dracula
This is the classic, hypnotic story of the undead creatures of the night--and the human lives they touch—as they relentlessly seek to satiate an accursed craving for their only sustenance: human blood. A Gothic novel of immense proportions, Dracula has only strengthened its grip on the public over the course of the last century.
Stork, Francisco X. Marcelo in the Real World
Marcelo Sandoval, a seventeen-year-old boy on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum, faces new challenges, including romance and injustice, when he goes to work for his father in the mailroom of his father’s corporate law firm.
Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
An African-American family living in Mississippi during the Depression of the 1930s is faced with prejudice and discrimination which its children do not understand. A powerful contemporary classic.
Thomas, Piri. Down These Mean Streets
As a dark-skinned Puerto Rican, born in 1928, Piri Thomas faced with painful immediacy the absurd contradictions of America's racial attitudes (among people of all colors) in a time of wrenching social change. Three decades have not dimmed the luster of his jazzy prose, rich in Hispanic rhythms and beat-generation slang.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit
Bilbo Baggins loves his cozy hobbit hole and hopes to never have to go farther than his front door. No such luck, however; soon 13 fortune-seeking dwarves arrive on his doorstep in search of a burglar, and before he can even grab his hat or an umbrella, Bilbo Baggins is swept out his door and into a dangerous adventure. Prequel to The Lord of the Rings.
Vern, Jules. A Journey to the Centre of the Earth
The intrepid Professor Lindenbrock embarks upon the strangest expedition of the nineteenth century: a journey down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth's very core. In his quest to penetrate the planet's primordial secrets, the geologist--together with his quaking nephew Axel and their devoted guide, Hans--discovers an astonishing subterranean menagerie of prehistoric proportions.
Wilson, August. The Piano Lesson
Winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for drama. Dramatizes the struggles of an African-American family as they consider selling a prized possession, an ornate upright piano, in order to buy the tract of land upon which they were once enslaved.
Wells, H.G. The Time Machine
The classic story of time travel, good, and evil that is as thrilling today as any modern science fiction novel.
Woodson, Jacqueline. If You Come Softly
After meeting at their private school in New York, fifteen-year-old Jeremiah, who is black and whose parents are separated, and Ellie, who is white and whose mother has twice abandoned her, fall in love and then try to cope with peoples' reactions.
Wolff, Tobias. This Boy’s Life
Wolff's account of his boyhood and the process of growing up includes paper routes, whiskey, scouting, fistfights, friendship, betrayal, and America in the fifties.
Wright, Richard. Black Boy
This classic of American autobiography is a subtly crafted narrative of Richard Wright's journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. An enduring story of one young man's coming off age during a particular time and place, Black Boy remains a seminal text in our history about what it means to be a man, black, and Southern in America
Yang, Gene Luen. Boxers & Saints
A two-volume graphic novel series where in 1898 during the Boxer Rebellion a boy named Little Bao recruits an army of Boxers to rid China of foreign missionaries and soldiers who bully and rob Chinese peasants, and a girl named Vibiana who is unwanted and unwelcome turns to Christianity, but she finds herself torn between her nation and her Christian friends who are being murdered by bands of young men.
Yolen, Jane. The Devil’s Arithmetic
Hannah resents the traditions of her Jewish heritage until time travel places her in the middle of a small Jewish village in Nazi-occupied Poland. A thought-provoking contemporary classic.
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind
In 1945 Spain, the young son of an antique-book dealer searches for more books by Julián Carax, an author he has recently discovered, and finds that everything Carax has ever written has been destroyed--and that his search has put his friends and family in danger.
(These annotations are an amalgamation of the Library of Congress’s Cataloging in Publication notes, and the passionate scribblings of several Middle School faculty members.)