Middle School Library Independent Reading Lists

Studies show that as youngsters get older, they tend to read less and less for pleasure.  One way to keep them reading is to introduce them to books that other teens have identified as their favorites.

Each year, since 1986, the International Reading Association has prepared a Young Adults' list of books reflecting the votes of teen readers throughout the United States.  To be considered for the list, each book had to have at least two positive reviews from recognized sources.

6th Grade Independent Reading List 

  • Angels and Diabola (Lynne Reid Banks) When Mrs. Cuthbertone-Jones enters the hospital to have her first child, she is doubly surprised by the arrival of twins.  One is as good as gold while the other is pure trouble.

  • Tangerine (Edward Bloor) The story of a soccer player who is to move to Florida and the strange things that accompany the move.

  • Dear Mr. Henshaw (Beverly Cleary) In his letters to his favorite author, ten-year-old Leigh reveals his problems in coping with his parents' divorce, being the new boy in school, and generally finding his own place in the world.

  • The Landry News (Drew Clements) Fourth-grade journalist, Cara Landry, feels compelled to report the truth in her homegrown newspaper, "The Landry News," even if it may hurt others.

  • Bud, Not Buddy (Christopher Paul Curtis) Ten-year-old Bud, an orphan, sets off to find his dad, and gets into all sorts of trouble along the way.

  • Guests (Michael Dorris) The first Thanksgiving from the Native American viewpoint, as Moss and his family prepare for their yearly harvest feast.

  • Harriet the Spy (Louise Fitzhugh) Harriet the Spy has a secret notebook that she fills with honest observations about her parents, her classmates, and her neighbors. When her notebook is found by her school chums, there is anger and retaliation...but Harriet responds in a hilarious way.

  • Ella Enchanted (Gail Carson Levine) A refreshing take on the popular fairy tale Cinderella which preserves the spirit of the original but adds plenty of funny twists and turns and a spunky heroine.

  • In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (Bette Bao Lord) In 1947, a Chinese child comes to Brooklyn, where she starts to feel at home and make friends when she discovers baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

  • Shiloh (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor) This is the first book in a trilogy about a boy who fights to get and retain ownership of an abused dog.

  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Robert C. O'Brien) Having no one to help her with her problems, a widowed mouse visits the rats whose former imprisonment in a laboratory made them wise and long lived.

  • Holes (Louis Sacher) This book tells the story of a boy wrongly sent to a work camp to dig holes.  While he is there he discovers that the camp's not what it seems to be.

  • Crash (Jerry Spinelli) Popular among football enthusiasts, this story is about a young football player who befriends someone very different from himself.

7th Grade Independent Reading List

  • Sacajawea (Joseph Bruchac) Sacajawea, a Shoshoni Indian interpreter, peacemaker, and guide, and William Clark alternate in describing their experiences on the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Northwest.

  • My Brother Sam is Dead (James Collier) Tim Meeker wants to be part of the new American Revolutionary Army but not everyone in town wants to be part of the new America.  Tim knows that he has to make a choice: Fighting his father on one side or fighting with his brother on the other side?

  • Face on the Milk Carton (Caroline Cooney) No one pays close attention to the faces of the missing children on the milk cartons.  But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the ordinary little three-year-old girl with her hair in pigtails who had been kidnapped twelve years before from a shopping mall in New Jersey, she felt overcome with shock. The little girl was she!  How could this be true?

  • Chasing Red Bird (Sharon Creech) Thirteen-year-old Zinnia Taylor uncovers secrets and self-truths while clearing a mysterious settler trail that begins on her family's farm in Kentucky.

  • The Sledding Hill (Chris Crutcher) Billy, recently deceased, keeps his eye on his best friend, fourteen-year-old Eddie, who has added to his home and school problems by becoming mute, and helps him stand up to a conservative minister and English teacher who is orchestrating a censorship challenge.

  • Night Hoops (Carl Deuker) While trying to prove that he is good enough to be on his high school's basketball team, Nick must also deal with is parents' divorce and the erratic behavior of a troubled classmate who lives across the street.

  • Heart of a Champion (Carl Deuker) Seth and Jimmy have a special kind of friendship.  They both live and breathe baseball.  Seth struggles to be good enough for the team while Jimmy is on his way to becoming a major league star one day.  There are some bitter struggles but their passion for the game and their friendship gets them through it.

  • Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo) Ten-year-old India Buloni describes her first summer in the town of Naomi, Florida, and all the good things that happen to her because of her big, ugly dog, Winn-Dixie.

  • One-Eyed Cat (Paula Fox) Bed Wallis is forbidden to touch the rifle in the attic.  One day he just cannot resist, sneaks it out of the house, and takes a shot at a dark shadow. One day he spots a wild cat with one day missing.  Could this be the thing that Ned shot?

  • My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George) Sam Gibley is tired of living in a crowded New York City apartment so he runs away to the Catskill Mountain wilderness to forge a life of his own.  With only a penknife, a ball of cord, an axe, $40, and some flint and steel, he must rely on his ingenuity and on the resources of the land to survive.

  • Summer of my German Soldier (Bette Greene) When German prisoners of war are brought to her Arkansas town during World War II, twelve-year-old Patty, a Jewish girl, befriends one of them and must deal with the consequences of that friendship.

  • Among the Hidden (Marget Peterson Haddix) In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all of his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the government is wrong.

  • Number the Stars (Lois Lowry) The Jews of Denmark are "relocated" so Ellen, a Jewish girl, moves in with Annemarie, a Christian girl and her family, to pretend to be one of them.  When Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission, she must find the strength and courage to save her best friend's life.

  • Hoops (Walter Dean Myers) A story of hope and friendship set in Harlem with lots of on-the-basketball-court action.  The protaganist if a seventeen-year-old boy who is practicing with his team for the Basketball Tournament of Champions.

  • Scorpions (Walter Dean Myers) After reluctantly taking on the leadership of the Harlem gang of Scorpions, Jamal finds that his enemies treat him with respect when he acquires a gun until a tragedy occurs.

  • It's Like This, Cat (Emily Cheney Neville) Dave Mitchell and his father disagree on everything:  Dave's music, Dave's hair, and even what would make a better pet, a dog or a cat.  They adopt a cat whom they name "Cat". With Cat around, Dave begins to meet new people and understand his father a little better although they still do not see eye-to-eye.

  • Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson) The life of a boy in rural Virginia expands when he becomes friends with a newcomer who subsequently meets an untimely death trying to reach their hideaway, Terabithia, during a storm.

  • A Long Way From Chicago (Richard Peck) Each summer over the nine years of the Depression, Joey and his siter, Mary Alice, two city slickers from Chicago, make their annual visit to Grandma Dowdel's sleepy Illinois town.  This is a humorous story of their adventures.

  • The Cay (Theodore Taylor) All of his life, Phillip had looked down on black-skinned people.  Now, suddenly, he survived a shipwreck, and was dependent on an extraordinary West Indian Timothy.  Innocence vs. Wisdom, Black vs. White. A totally absorbing story.

  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain) Tom is a genius at getting himself and his friends into and out of sometimes dangerous adventures.

8th Grade Independent Reading List

  • Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson) Melinda becomes the school outcast after calling the cops about an outrageous party. It is not her fault, but how can she speak up when the whole school is against her?

  • Nothing but the Truth (Avi) Phillip Malloy cannot resist finding some way to irritate his English teacher for keeping him off the track team.

  • Rules of the Road (Joan Bauer) Jenna's summer is an adventure when she was hired to drive across the county to help stop a company takeover.

  • The Princess Diaries (Meg Cabot) Mia is surprised to learn her father is a king and she is heiress to the throne.

  • The Chocolate War (Robert Cormier) Mob bullying in a New England prep school.

  • Ironman (Chris Crutcher) A domineering, sadistic father works hard to make a "man" of seventeen-year-old Bo but instead turns him into a young man who resists any and all authority.  While training for a triathlon, Bo is forced to attend an anger management group at school after he is thrown off the football team for runs-ins with his English teacher and football coach.  The classes lead him to examine his relationship with his father.

  • Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (Jack Gantos) Joey has trouble paying attention and controlling his mood swings especially after his medication wears off.  He suffers from severe ADD.  His condition is not helped by the fact that he has been left to live with his abusive grandmother.  He is suspended from school and is sent ot a special education center.

  • Across Five Aprils (Irene Hunt) The unforgettable story of a young boy who comes of age during the turbulent years of the Civil War.

  • The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson) A spooky encounter with ghosts.  A real thriller!

  • Z is for Zachariah (Robert C. O'Brien) This gripping story about the survivors of a nuclear holocaust is told in diary form. 

  • The Buffalo Tree (Adam Rapp) Thirteen-year-old Sura struggles to survive the brutal pressures of life inside a juvenile detenion center.

  • Dragon's Gate (Laurence Yep) When he accidentally kills a Manchu, a Chinese boy is sent to America to join his father, an uncle, and other Chinese working to build a tunnel for the transcontinental railroad through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1867.

  • The Pigman (Paul Zindel) A story about young teenagers having a little too much fun and then getting into major trouble.

© 2009 The Churchill School and Center    301 East 29th Street New York, NY 10016    Tel 212 722 0610    Fax 212 722 1387   

© 2009 The Churchill School and Center    301 East 29th Street New York, NY 10016    Tel 212 722 0610    Fax 212 722 1387