7th GRADE

This page was created for 7th Grade English at Miles River Middle School
for their year-long independent reading assignment. The 18 categories below contain suggested books. There are many more titles to choose from than can be listed here. Hint: This is a long list so instead of scrolling down use Control F to speed to your category of interest.
Please stop by the Library's Young Adult area and visit with me (Kim Claire, Young Adult Librarian) if you would like more suggestions. I LOVE books! I would like to help you find one that you will enjoy and that meets your assignment. Please note that many of the books listed are appropriate for more than one category. This page is periodically updated with new titles. Summaries are from the Library's catalog.
To reserve one of the books listed below, click on the title link. Use your library card barcode number and your PIN (usually the last 4 digits of your telephone #) to place a hold on a copy. You may choose to be notified by text, phone call, or email, when your book is ready to pick up.


            Someplace Magical            

The Namingby Alison Croggon, 2002. A manuscript from the lost civilization of Edil-Amarandah chronicles the experiences of 16-year-old Maerad, an orphan gifted in the magic and power of the Bards, as she escapes from slavery and begins to learn how to use her Gift to stave off the evil Darkness that threatens to consume her world.  The First Book in Pellinor series

The Sea of Trolls, by Nancy Farmer, 2004. After Jack becomes apprenticed to a Druid bard, he and his little sister Lucy are captured by Viking Berserkers and taken to the home of King Ivar the Boneless and his half-troll queen, leading Jack to undertake a vital quest to Jotunheim, home of the trolls. First book in the Sea of Trolls trilogy.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, by Jessica Day George, 2008. A girl travels east of the sun and west of the moon to free her beloved prince from a magic spell.

The Inquisitor's Tale, or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, by Adam Gidwitz, 2016.  A peasant girl and her holy greyhound, an oblate on a mission from his monastery, and a young Jewish boy travel across medieval France to escape persecution and save holy texts from being burned. 


Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal, 2013. After his mother left and his father became a recluse, Jeremy Johnson Johnson (whose mother and father both had the same last name) was left to support the family, but he's been aided by the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous Brothers Grimm writing duo, and when provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion.

Sabriel, by Garth Nix, 1995.  Sabriel, daughter of the necromancer Abhorsen, must journey into the mysterious and magical Old Kingdom to rescue her father from the Land of the Dead. First book in the Old Kingdom series.


Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce, 1983.  11-year-old Alanna, who aspires to be a knight even though she is a girl, disguises herself as a boy to become a royal page, and learns many hard lessons along her path to high adventure.  First book in Song of the Lioness series.  (Careful: Tamora Pierce books are wonderfully addicting. If this one hooks you there are many more set in the land of Tortall to transport you through months/years of reading. Happy adventuring!)

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman, 2017. When Malcolm finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust, he finds himself embroiled in a tale of intrigue featuring enforcement agents from the Magisterium, a woman with an evil monkey daemon, and a baby named Lyra. (This is a prequel to His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass) series.) Highly recommend!

Everlost, by Neal Shusterman, 2006.  When Nick and Allie are killed in a car crash, they end up in Everlost, or limbo for lost souls, where although Nick is satisfied, Allie will stop at nothing--even skinjacking--to break free. First book in Skinjacker trilogy.

The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud, 2004. Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice, summons up the djinni Bartimaeus and instructs him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from the powerful magician Simon Lovelace. First book in Bartimaeus trilogy. (Note: If you were wishing there were more Harry Potter books, look no further. It's better, imo -- quelle sacrilège!)


            The Ocean or Wilderness            

The Raftsmen, by Ryan Barnett, 2017. A dramatic retelling of four French adventurers and two kittens who crossed the North Atlantic on a raft in 1956, featuring archival photography, film stills taken aboard the raft, news reports, contemporary interviews and original illustrations. Nonfiction graphic format hybrid.

Stowaway, by Karen Hesse, 2000.  A fictionalized journal relates the experiences of a young stowaway from 1768 to 1771 aboard the Endeavor which sailed around the world under Captain James Cook.

The White Darkness, by Geraldine McCaughren, 2005. When her uncle takes her on a dream trip to the Antarctic wilderness, Sym's obsession with Captain Oates and the doomed expedition becomes a reality as she herself is soon in a fight for her life in some the harshest terrain on the planet.

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy, by L. A. Meyer, 2002.  Reduced to begging and thievery in the streets of London, a 13-year-old orphan disguises herself as a boy and connives her way onto a British warship set for high sea adventure in search of pirates. First book in Bloody Jack series.

Life As We Knew It, by Susan Pfeffer, 2006. Through journal entries sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family's struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. First book in Life As We Knew It series.

Nation, by Terry Pratchett, 2008. After a devastating tsunami destroys all that they have ever known, Mau, an island boy, and Daphne, an aristocratic English girl, together with a small band of refugees, set about rebuilding their community and all the things that are important in their lives.

Edge of Nowhere, by John Smelcer, 2014. Seth is a teenage deckhand on his father's boat when he and his dog are washed overboard and swept to one of Alaska's small islands where they struggle for months to survive off land and sea, while his desperate father endures his own emotional journey and never gives up hope.


The Trap, by John Smelcer, 2006. In alternating chapters, seventeen-year-old Johnny Least-Weasel, who is better known for brains than brawn, worries about his missing grandfather, and the grandfather, Albert Least-Weasel, struggles to survive, caught in his own steel trap in the Alaskan winter.

New Found Land: Lewis and Clark's Voyage of Discovery, by Alan Wolff, 2004. The letters and thoughts of Thomas Jefferson, members of the Corps of Discovery, their guide Sacagawea, and Captain Lewis's Newfoundland dog, all tell of the historic exploratory expedition to seek a water route to the Pacific Ocean.

         Someplace with Animals         

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild, by Lawrence Anthony, 2017. An account of a conservationist's efforts to save a rogue herd of elephants in spite of his limited experience describes how he gave them a home in his South African reserve and endeavored to provide what was required for their survival. Nonfiction. Memoir.



Daisy to the Rescue: True Stories of Daring Dogs, Paramedic Parrots, and other Animal Heroes, by Jeff Campbell, 2014. Collects over fifty true stories of heroic animals rescuing people, including a pot-bellied pig, parrot, dolphin, and half-breed wolf, with current scientific research about the human-animal bond. Nonfiction.
Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95, by Phillip Hoose, 2012. Documents the survival tale of an intrepid shorebird who has endured annual migrations between Argentina and the Canadian Arctic throughout the course of a long lifetime while his species continues to decline. Nonfiction.

Redwall, by Brian Jacques, 1986. When the peaceful life of ancient Redwall Abbey is shattered by the arrival of the evil rat Cluny and his villainous hordes, Matthias, a young mouse, determines to find the legendary sword of Martin the Warrior which, he is convinced, will help Redwall's inhabitants destroy the enemy. First book in Redwall series. (This is also a movie.)
Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa's Fastest Cats, by Sy Montgomery, 2014. Describes the cheetah's essential role in the ecosystem and the ways in which Namibia's Cheetah Conservation Fund is promoting cohabitation between cheetahs and farmers. (This book is one of the excellent Scientists in the Field series.) Nonfiction.

Rotten, by Michael Northrop, 2013. When troubled sixteen-year-old Jimmer "JD" Dobbs returns from a mysterious summer "upstate" he finds that his mother has adopted an abused Rottweiler that JD names Johnny Rotten, but soon his tenuous relationship with the dog is threatened.

Into That Forest, by Louis Nowra, 2012.  Two girls survive a flood in the Tasmanian bush and are rescued by two tigers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_Tiger) who raise them in the wild for four years, but when the girls return to civilization, both have trouble adapting to being fully human after their experience.



Lara's Gift, by Annemarie O'Brien, 2013. In 1914 Russia, Lara is being groomed by her father to be the next kennel steward for the Count's borzoi dogs unless her mother bears a son, but her visions, although suppressed by her father, seem to suggest she has special bond with the dogs.
Half Brother, by Kenneth Oppel, 2010. In 1973, when a renowned Canadian behavioral psychologist pursues his latest research project--an experiment to determine whether chimpanzees can acquire advanced language skills--he brings home a baby chimp named Zan and asks his thirteen-year-old son to treat Zan like a little brother.


Woodsong, by Gary Paulsen, 1990. For a rugged outdoor man and his family, life in northern Minnesota is a wild experience involving wolves, deer, and the sled dogs that make their way of life possible. Includes an account of the author's first Iditarod, a dogsled race across Alaska. Nonfiction.
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett, 2002. A talking cat, intelligent rats, and a strange boy cooperate in a Pied Piper scam until they try to con the wrong town and are confronted by a deadly evil rat king. First book in Young Adult Discworld series.




Endangered, by Eliot Schrefer, 2012. Sophie is not happy to be back in the Congo for the summer, but when she rescues an abused baby bonobo she becomes more involved in her mother's sanctuary--and when fighting breaks out and the sanctuary is attacked, it is up to Sophie to rescue the apes and somehow survive in the jungle.  Also see: Threatened, by Eliot Schrefer, 2014.


            The Ancient World           

Catherine, Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman, 1994. The 13-year-old daughter of a 12th century English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off.


The Odyssey, by Gareth Hinds, 2010. Retells, in graphic novel format, Homer's epic tale of Odysseus, the ancient Greek hero who encounters witches and other obstacles on his journey home after fighting in the Trojan War.


Gilgamesh the Hero, retold by Geraldine McCaughrean, 2003. A retelling, based on seventh-century B.C. Assyrian clay tablets, of the wanderings and adventures of the god king, Gilgamesh, who ruled in ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in about 2700 B.C., and of his faithful companion, Enkidu.


The Kite Rider, by Geraldine McCaughrean, 2001. In 13th-century China, after trying to save his widowed mother from a horrendous second marriage, 12-year-old Haoyou has life-changing adventures when he takes to the sky as a circus kite rider and ends up meeting the great Mongol ruler Kublai Khan.
Cleopatra Rules!: The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen, by Vicky Shecter, 2010.   Presents the life of the last Egyptian queen, who survived internal politics to became the powerful ruler of her country and was linked to two famous Roman leaders, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony.  Biography.

Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World, by Sally M. Walker, 2012.  Discusses the processes used by scientists to discern the identity of the Kennewick Man and what this nine thousand-year-old skeleton revealed about the arrival of humans in North America.  Nonfiction.


        Someplace with Real, Actual People or Events        

Uprising, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 2007. In 1927, at the urging of 21-year-old Harriet, Mrs. Livingston reluctantly recalls her experiences at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, including miserable working conditions that led to a strike, then the fire that took the lives of her two bestfriends, when Harriet, the boss's daughter, was only five years old. Includes historical notes.

Farewell to Manzanar: A true story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment, by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, 1973.  The American-born author describes her family's experiences when they were forced to relocate to a camp for the Japanese in Owens Valley, California, during World War II. Nonfiction, Memoir.


Proud: Living My American Dream, by Ibtihaj Muhammad, 2018. Shares the life story of the Olympic fencer, including how she overcame feeling out of place in her sport and how she became the first American woman to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab.  Nonfiction, Memoir.


Bread and Roses, Too, by Katherine Paterson, 2006. Jake and Rosa, two children, form an unlikely friendship as they try to survive and understand the 1912 Bread and Roses strike of mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Heart of a Samurai: Based on the True Story of Nakahama Manjiro, by Margi Preus, 2010.  In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, 14-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States.

The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices From the Titanic,by Allan Wolf, 2011. Recreates the 1912 sinking of the Titanic as observed by millionaire John Jacob Astor, a beautiful young Lebanese refugee finding first love, "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Captain Smith, and others including the iceberg itself.


                          The Future or Outer Space                             
Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi, 2010. 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.
The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow, 2015. To keep the peace, an AI called Talis takes the children of world leaders hostage because if any leader starts a war their child will be killed. Things get shaken up when a new hostage named Elián doesn't accept the system and shows duchess and crown princess Greta the truth about the world they live in. First book in Prisoners of Peace series.

The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau, 2013. Sixteen-year-old Malencia (Cia) Vale is chosen to participate in The Testing to attend the University; however, Cia is fearful when she figures out her friends who do not pass The Testing are disappearing. First book in The Testing triology.

Earth Girl, by Janet Edwards, 2013. Abandoned on Earth because of her inability to survive on other planets, Jarra crafts a fake background for herself to join a class of norms who are excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities. First book in Earth Girl trilogy.

Epic, by Conor Kostick, 2006.  On New Earth, a world based on a video role-playing game, 14-year-old Erik pursuades his friends to aid him in some unusual gambits in order to save Erik's father from exile and safeguard the futures of each of their families. First book in the Avatar Chronicles.


Exo, by Fonda Lee, 2017. For a century now, Earth has been a peaceful colony of an alien race, and Donovan Reyes is a loyal member of the security forces, while his father is the Prime Liaison--but when a routine search and seizure goes bad Donovan finds himself a captive of the human revolutionary group, Sapience, terrorists who seem to prefer war to alien rule, and killing Donovan just might be the incident they are looking for.

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, 2012.  As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story. First book in Lunar Chronicles series.

Unwind, by Neal Shusterman, 2007. In a future world where those between the ages of 13 and 18 can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs--and, perhaps, save their own lives. First book in the Unwind Dystology series.  Informed Teens blog post about Shusterman.


MARTians, by Blythe Woolston, 2015. In a near-future consumer dystopia, Zoèe Zindleman must choose from limited, bleak housing options, including a converted strip-mall refuge that offers safety and proximity to her new place of work, ALLMART.



                 The City (not a made-up city)                

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn, 2010.  Told in the alternating voices of Dash and Lily, two 16-year-olds carry on a wintry scavenger hunt at Christmas-time in New York City, neither knowing quite what--or who--they will find. First book in Dash & Lily series.


Last Shot: a Final Four Mystery, by John Feinstein, 2005.  After winning a basketball reporting contest, eighth graders Stevie and Susan Carol are sent to cover the Final Four tournament in New Orleans, where they discover that a talented player is being blackmailed into throwing the final game.  First book in Feinstein's sports mysteries series.
Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of the Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Glenna Lang, 2009.  A biography of Jane Jacobs, heroine of New York, which covers her views on the value of cities and the influence she had on New York and America. Biography.

I.M. Pei: Architect of Time, Place, and Purpose, by Jill Rubalcaba, 2011. A biography of the renowned architect that focuses on six of his signature buildings. Pei once explained his approach as requiring a full understanding of the three essential elements: time, place, and purpose, to arrive at an ideal balance. This book tells the conflict-ridden stories behind six of Pei's buildings, all turning points in his career. Biography.

She Is Not Invisible, by Marcus Sedgwick, 2014. A London teenager who is blind and her younger brother travel to New York City to find their missing father, using clues from his notebook. Mystery.



Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork, 2009.  Marcelo Sandoval, a 17-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 a corporate law firm in Boston.


After Tupac and D Foster, by Jacqueline Woodson, 2008.  In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur's music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live.
Blink and Caution, by Tim Wynne-Jones, 2011. Two teenagers who are living on the streets in Toronto, and barely getting by, become involved in a complicated criminal plot, and make an unexpected connection with each other. Suspense.


             Someplace Like Home           

One Whole and Perfect Day, by Judith Clarke, 2006. As her irritating family prepares to celebrate her grandfather's 80th birthday, 16-year-old Lily yearns for just one whole perfect day together.


Ten Miles Past Normal, by Frances Dowell, 2011. Because living with "modern-hippy" parents on a goat farm means 14-year-old Janie Gorman cannot have a normal high school life, she tries joining Jam Band, making friends with Monster, and spending time with elderly former civil rights workers.




When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, by Kimberly Willis Holt, 1999. During the summer of 1971 in a small Texas town, 13-year-old Toby and his best friend Cal meet the star of a sideshow act, 600-pound Zachary, the fattest boy in the world.
Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks, by Lauren Myracle, 2009. Fifteen-year-old Carly's summer volunteer experience makes her feel more real than her life of privilege in Atlanta ever did, but her younger sister starts high school pretending to be what she is not, and both find their relationships suffering.





The Things a Brother Knows, by Dana Reinhardt, 2010. Although they have never gotten along well, 17-year-old Levi follows his older brother Boaz, an ex-Marine, on a walking trip from Boston to Washington, D.C. in hopes of learning why Boaz is completely withdrawn.

Okay For Now, by Gary Schmidt, 2011. While Doug struggles to be more than the thug that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer, as they explore Audubon's art.

Counting By 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan, 2013. Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident.
Winger, Andrew Smith, 2013.  Two years younger than his classmates at a prestigious boarding school, 14-year-old Ryan grapples with living in the dorm for troublemakers, falling for his female best friend who thinks of him as just a kid, and playing wing on the Varsity rugby team with some of his frightening new dorm-mates.

The Killer's Cousin, by Nancy Werlin, 1998.  After being acquitted of murder, 17-year-old David goes to stay with relatives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he finds himself forced to face his past as he learns more about his strange young cousin Lily. Suspense.


          Another Country (not English-speaking)          

A Time of Miracles, by Anne-Laure Bondoux, 2010.  In the early 1990s, a boy with a mysterious past and the woman who cares for him endure a five-year journey across the war-torn Caucasus and Europe, weathering hardships and welcoming unforgettable encounters with other refugees searching for a better life. Historical fiction.


Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party, by Ying Chang Compestine, 2007.  In China, starting in 1972 when she is nine years old, Ling, the daughter of two doctors, struggles to make sense of the communists' Cultural Revolution, which empties stores of food, homes of appliances deemed "bourgeois," and people of laughter. Historical fiction.


Samurai Shortstop, by Alan Gratz, 2006. While obtaining a Western education at a prestigious Japanese boarding school in 1890, 16-year-old Toyo also receives traditional samurai training which has profound effects on both his baseball game and his relationship with his father. Historical fiction.



Never Fall Down: A Boy Soldier's Story of Survival, by Patricia McCormick, 2012. Cambodian child soldier Arn Chorn-Pond defied the odds and used all of his courage and wits to survive the murderous regime of the Khmer Rouge. Historical fiction.
A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story, by Linda Sue Park, 2009. When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, 11-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan.


Secret Keeper, by Mitali Perkins, 2009.  In 1974 when her father leaves India, to seek a job in New York, 16-year-old Ashi, feels thwarted in the home of her extended family in Calcutta where she, her mother, and sister must stay, and when her father dies before he can send for them, they must remain with their relatives and observe the old-fashioned traditions that Ashi hates. Historical fiction.

Now is the Time for Running, by Michael Williams, 2011. When soldiers attack a small village in Zimbabwe, Deo goes on the run with Innocent, his older, mentally disabled brother, carrying little but a leather soccer ball filled with money, and after facing prejudice, poverty, and tragedy, it is in soccer that Deo finds renewed hope.

Boxers, by Gene Luen Yang, 2013.  In 1898, China, Little Bao has had enough of foreign missionaries and soldiers robbing peasants, and he recruits an army of Boxers to fight to free China from its oppressors. Historical fiction. Graphic Novel.



Saints, by Gene Luen Yang, 2013.  Vibiana, an unwanted fourth child, finds her name and identity in Christianity, but with the Boxer Rebellion in full swing and Chinese Christians facing death, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her religion or her country. Historical fiction. Graphic Novel.


            The Historical Past (before 1970)            

Fever, 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson, 2000.  In 1793, Philadelphia, 16-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.


A Difficult Boy, by M. P. Barker, 2008, In Farmington, Massachusetts, in 1839, nine-year-old Ethan experiences hardships as an indentured servant of the wealthy Lyman family alongside Daniel, a boy scorned simply for being Irish, and the boys bond as they try to right a terrible wrong.


Salt: A story of Friendship in a Time of War, by Helen Frost, 2013.  12-year-olds Anikwa, of the Miami village of Kekionga, and James, of the trading post outside Fort Wayne, find their friendship threatened by the rising fear and tension brought by the War of 1812.



Hattie Big Sky, by Kirby Larson, 2006.  After inheriting her uncle's homesteading claim in Montana, 16-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks travels from Iowa in 1917 to make a home for herself and encounters some unexpected problems related to the war being fought in Europe.


The Wreckers, by Iain Lawrence, 1998.  Shipwrecked after a vicious storm, 14-year-old John Spencer attempts to save his father and himself while also dealing with an evil secret about the English coastal town where they are stranded.  Set in Cornwall, in 1799.  First book in High Seas trilogy.



The Devil's Paintbox, by Victoria McKernan, 2009.   In 1866, 15-year-old Aidan and his 13-year-old sister Maddy, penniless orphans, leave drought-stricken Kansas on a wagon train hoping for a better life in Seattle, but find there are still many hardships to be faced.


When My Name Was Keoko, by Linda Sue Park, 2002. With national pride and occasional fear, a brother and sister face the increasingly oppressive occupation of Korea by Japan during World War II, which threatens to suppress Korean culture entirely.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, by Gary Schmidt, 2004. In 1911, Turner Buckminster hates his new home of Phippsburg, Maine, but things improve when he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from a poor, nearby island community founded by former slaves that the town fathers--and Turner's--want to change into a tourist spot.



The Wednesday Wars, by Gary Schmidt, 2007. During the uproar of the 1960s, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, 7th-grader Holling stays in Mrs. Baker's classroom. Stern Mrs. Baker first gives him custodial duties, but after several catastrophes she switches to making him read Shakespeare.

Revolver, by Marcus Sedgwick, 2010.  Teenaged Sig Andersson, who lives in an isolated cabin in the Arctic Circle, confronts a stranger who has come to take revenge on Sig's dead father for his actions when the two men knew each other during the Alaska Gold Rush.  Set in 1899 and 1910

No Shame, No Fear, by Ann Turnbull, 2003. In England in 1662, a time of religious persecution, 15-year-old Susanna, a poor country girl and a Quaker, and 17-year-old William, a wealthy Anglican, meet and fall in love against all odds.



Red Moon at Sharpsburg, by Rosemary Wells, 2007.  Finding courage she never thought she had, a young Southern girl musters the strength and wit to survive the ravages of the Civil War and keep her family together through it all.

Black Storm Comin', by Diane L. Wilson, 2005. 12-year-old Colton, son of a black mother and a white father, takes a job with the Pony Express, in 1860, after his father abandons the family on their California-bound wagon train, and risks his life to deliver an important letter that may affect the growing conflict between the North and South.



A Book Marketed to the Opposite Gender 
-or- a Book with LGBT Characters

Opposite Gender Choices for Boys:                                                          

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares, 2001. Four best girlfriends spend the biggest summer of their lives enchanted by a magical pair of pants. First book in the series.

Catherine, Called Birdy, by Katherine Cushman, 1994. The thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off.




Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger, 2013. In an alternate England of 1851, spirited 14-year-old Sophronia is enrolled in a finishing school where, she is surprised to learn, lessons include not only the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also diversion, deceit, and espionage. First book in Finishing School series.


Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen, 2006.  Isolated from friends who believe the worst because she has not been truthful with them, 16-year-old Annabel finds an ally in classmate Owen, whose honesty and passion for music help her to face and share what really happened at the end-of-the-year party that changed her life.


The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly, 2009.   In central Texas in 1899, 11-year-old Callie Vee Tate is instructed to be a lady by her mother, learns about love from the older three of her six brothers, and studies the natural world with her grandfather, the latter of which leads to an important discovery.


Moxie, by Jennifer Mathieu, 2017. In a small Texas town where high school football reigns supreme, Viv, sixteen, starts a feminist revolution using anonymously-written zines.

Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, 2006.  After spending her summer running the family farm and training the quarterback for her school's rival football team, 16-year-old D.J. decides to go out for the sport herself, not anticipating the reactions of those around her. First book in trilogy.



Opposite Gender Choices for Girls:                                                   
Zombie Baseball Beatdown, by Paolo Bacigalupi, 2013.  While practicing for their next baseball game, 13-year-old friends Rabi, Miguel, and Joe discover that the nefarious activities of the Delbe, Iowa, meatpacking plant have caused cows to turn into zombies.
Stormbreaker, by Anthony Horowitz, 2001.  After the death of the uncle who had been his guardian, 14-year-old Alex is coerced to continue his uncle's dangerous work for Britain's intelligence agency, MI6.  First book in Alex Rider series.

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, by David Lubar, 2005.  While navigating his first year of high school and awaiting the birth of his new baby brother, Scott loses old friends and gains some unlikely new ones as he hones his skills as a writer.

Heat, by Mike Lupica, 2006.  Pitching prodigy Michael Arroyo is on the run from social services after being banned from playing Little League baseball because rival coaches doubt he is only twelve years old and he has no parents to offer them proof.




Sons of the 613, by Mike Rubens, 2012. Isaac is struggling to prepare for his Bar Mitzvah when his older brother Josh, a self-proclaimed "Super Jew" and undefeated wrestler, forces him into a quest to become a man by shooting a gun, riding a motorcycle, falling in love, and more.
Guys Write for Guys Read, edited by Jon Scieszka, 2005. Short stories, anecdotes, cartoons, and columns are compiled in this amusing collection by male authors, such as Stephen King and Gordon Korman, who share their comical, sad, and strange memories of what life was like for them when they were boys and the impact those moments had in their later lives.


Books with LGBT Characters:                                                                   

Felix Yz, by Lisa Bunker, 2017. Thirteen-year-old Felix Yz chronicles the final month before an experimental procedure meant to separate him from the fourth-dimensional creature, Zyx, with whom he was accidentally fused as a young child. Science Fiction.

As the Crow Flies, by Melanie Gillman, 2017. A queer, black teenager finds herself stranded in a dangerous and unfamiliar place: an all-white Christian youth backpacking camp. Graphic novel.


My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park, by Steve Kluger, 2008. Three teenagers in Boston narrate their experiences of a year of new friendships, first loves, and coming into their own.

Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan, 2013. A chorus of men who died of AIDS observes and yearns to help a cross-section of today's gay teens who navigate new love, long-term relationships, coming out, self-acceptance, and more in a society that has changed in many ways.



Gracefully Grayson, by Amy Polonsky, 2014. Grayson, a transgender 12-year-old, learns to accept her true identity and share it with the world.






                    Nonfiction in Graphic Format             

Laika, by Nick Abadzis, 2007.  This is the journey of Laika, the abandoned puppy destined to become Earth's first space traveler. With the blending of fact and fiction, this story intertwines three compelling lives. Along with Laika, there is Korolev, a driven engineer at the top of the Soviet space program and Yelena, the lab technician responsible for Laika's health and life.
The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo & Juliet, by Gareth Hinds, 2013.  Retells in graphic novel format Shakespeare's tragedy of two star-crossed youths who fall in love despite the tensions between their warring families. Play.




Dogs of War, by Sheila Keenan, 2013. Three fictional stories, told in graphic novel format, about soldiers in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War who were aided by combat dogs. Based on true stories.

Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert, 2012.   A gray silhouette of a child in a dark room opens this biography. Cartoonist Lambert gives a sense of how Keller's world might have felt from the inside--dim, bewildering, rageful, and, eventually, enlightened by language. Sullivan's own words convey her determination to teach Helen. Biography.


March: Book One, by John Lewis, 2013. A first-hand account of the author's lifelong struggle for civil and human rights spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the birth of the Nashville Student Movement. Autobiography.



Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas, by Jim Ottaviani, 2013.  Introduces the lives and work of three eminent primatologists, shares insights into their educations under mentor Louis Leakey, while exploring their pivotal contributions to twentieth-century natural science. Biography.  


"21": The Story of Roberto Clemente, by Wilfred Santiago, 2011. A graphic tale inspired by the life of baseball star Roberto Clemente includes coverage of a wide range of topics from the ways in which prejudice challenged his career and his personal responsibilities to his achievements with the Pittsburgh Pirates and his triumphant 3,000th hit before his tragic fatal plane crash. Biography.

Smile, by Raina Telgemeier, 2010. An autobiography in graphic novel format describes how the author lost two of her front teeth in an accident when she was twelve, and her subsequent struggles with various corrective dental techniques throughout adolescence. Biography.

Sisters, by Raina Telgemeier, 2014.  In a semi-autobiographical graphic novel, Raina's disappointing bond with a cranky, independent younger sister is further challenged by the arrival of a baby brother and an estrangement in their parents' marriage.



        African-American Perspective       


Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March, by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, 2015. Shares the story of the youngest person to complete the Selma to Montgomery March, describing her frequent imprisonments for her participation in nonviolent demonstrations and how she felt about her involvement in Civil Rights events. Biography.


How It Went Down, by Kekla Magoon, 2014. When 16-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into an uproar because Tariq was black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white, and in the aftermath everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events agree.
Darius & Twig, by Walter Dean Myers, 2013. Two best friends, a writer and a runner, deal with bullies, family issues, social pressures, and their quest for success coming out of Harlem. 
All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds, 2015. When 16-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn's alternating viewpoints.

Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes, 2010. In New Orleans' Ninth Ward, 12-year-old Lanesha, who can see spirits, and her adopted grandmother have no choice but to stay and weather the storm as Hurricane Katrina bears down upon them.




X, by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon, 2015. Follows the childhood of the civil rights leader, Malcolm X, to his imprisonment at age twenty, where he found the faith that would lead him to his path towards activism and justice.


Piecing Me Together, by Renee Watson, 2017. Tired of being singled out at her mostly-white private school as someone who needs support, high school junior Jade would rather participate in the school's amazing Study Abroad program than join Women to Women, a mentorship program for at-risk girls.





After Tupac and D Foster, by Jacqueline Woodson, 2008. In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur's music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live.
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson, In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, an award-winning author shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South. Nonfiction. Memoir.


      Immigrant Perspective     

Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States, edited by Lori Marie Carlson, 2005. A variety of Latino poets, both familiar names and new voices, illuminate the difficulty of straddling cultures, languages, and identities, while celebrating food, family, love, and triumph. Poetry.



The Tyrant's Daughter, by J. C. Carleson, 2014. Exiled to the United States after her father, a Middle Eastern dictator, is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila must cope with a completely new way of life, the truth of her father's regime, and her mother and brother's ways of adjusting.

Refugee, by Alan Gratz, 2017. Separated by decades, Josef, a Jew living in 1930s Nazi Germany; Isabel, a girl trying to escape unrest in 1994 Cuba; and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015 whose homeland is torn apart by violence, embark on journeys in search of refuge.





Enrique's Journey: The True Story of a Boy Determined to Reunite With His Mother, by Sonia Nazario, 2013. Documents the journey of a Honduran teen who braved hardship and peril to reunite with his mother after she was forced to leave him behind and seek migratory work in the United States. Nonfiction.


Crossing the Wire, by Will Hobbs, 2015. Fifteen-year-old Victor Flores journeys north in a desperate attempt to cross the Arizona border and find work in the United States to support his family in central Mexico.




Out of Nowhere, by Maria Padian, 2013. Performing community service for pulling a stupid prank against a rival high school, soccer star Tom tutors a Somali refugee with soccer dreams of his own.




Trouble, by Gary D. Schmidt, 2008. 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.


     A Book with an Opinion on a Social Issue     

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a few flat tires along the way), by Sue Macy, 2011. Through vintage photographs, advertisements, cartoons, and songs, a lively look at women's history transports readers to bygone eras to see how women used the bicycle to improve their lives. Nonfiction.


Keeping Corner, by Kashmira Sheth, 2007. In India during World War I, thirteen-year-old Leela's happy, spoiled childhood ends when her husband since age nine, whom she barely knows, dies, leaving her a widow whose only hope of happiness could come from Mahatma Ghandi's social and political reforms. Historical fiction.


Kiska, by John Smelcer, 2017. In 1942, when 881 Aleuts are evacuated to an internment camp nearly 2,000 miles away, fourteen-year-old Kiska stands up against the injustice and secretly becomes their champion.

Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, An American Town, by Warren St. John, 2009. Documents the lives of a wildly diverse group of young kids who unite as a team under the leadership of their American-educated Jordanian coach, against the backdrop of a fading American town struggling to make a haven for its new arrivals--refugees. Nonfiction.


                              A Classic/Old Book                               

Pretty much everything that is a classic (and because it is a classic it has stood the test of time) is also a movie. So it will be tough (if not impossible) to find a classic that is not also a movie. Please let me know if you discover a classic book that has not been made into a movie.

My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George, 1959. A young boy relates his adventures during the year he spends living alone in the Catskill Mountains including his struggle for survival, his dependence on nature, his animal friends, and his ultimate realization that he needs human companionship. Adventure. (Movie made in 1969.)


The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure: The 'Good Parts' Version, by William Goldman, 1973. A classic swashbuckling romance retells the tale of a drunken swordsman and a gentle giant who come to the aid of Westley, a handsome farm boy, and Buttercup, a princess in dire need of rescue from the evil schemers surrounding her. Fantasy. (Movie made in 1987.)



A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1968.  During a spell recalling the dead, the boy Sparrowhawk, a sorcerer's apprentice, unwittingly unleashes evil on the land. He grows to manhood while attempting to subdue the evil he unleashed on the world. First book in Earthsea series. (Note: This is an animated movie, - a terrible one (imo), and a mini-series. For Earthsea movie discussion see this reddit link. If you like fantasy this book is a not-to-be-missed classic. It has not been out of print for 50 years.)

The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, 1903. The adventures of an unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch Shepherd, that was kidnapped and shipped off to Alaska to work on the Klondike Gold Rush. Buck the dog quickly learns how to survive in the wild and also learns the call of the wolf. Adventure. (Several movies made starting in 1972.)
Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey, 1968. At a time when the number of Dragonriders has fallen too low for safety and only one Weyr trains the creatures and their riders, the Red Star approaches Pern, threatening it with disaster. Science Fiction/Fantasy. (Movie in development.)



The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin, 1978. The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance. Mystery. (Movie made in 1997.)




        A Novel in Verse (free verse poem format)        


Booked, by Kwame Alexander, 2016. Nick Hall is the star player on the soccer team until a bombshell announcement shatters his world.

The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander, 2014. Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health. Awarded the Newbery Medal in 2015.





Ringside, 1925: Views From the Scopes Trial, by Jen Bryant, 2008. Visitors, spectators, and residents of Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925 describe, in a series of free-verse poems, the Scopes "monkey trial" and its effects on that small town and its citizens. Award: Oprah's Kids' Reading Lists - 12 Years and Up.


Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba, by Margarita Engle, 2009. Escaping from Nazi Germany to Cuba in 1939, a young Jewish refugee dreams of finding his parents again, befriends a local girl with painful secrets of her own, and discovers that the Nazi darkness is never far away. Award: Sydney Taylor Book Awards: Teen Readers



Orchards, by Holly Thompson, 2011. Sent to Japan for the summer after an 8th-grade classmate's suicide, half-Japanese, half-Jewish Kana Goldberg tries to fit in with relatives she barely knows and reflects on the guilt she feels over the tragedy back home.



The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices From the Titanic, by Allan Wolf, 2011. Recreates the1912 sinking of the Titanic as observed by millionaire John Jacob Astor, a beautiful young Lebanese refugee finding first love, "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Captain Smith, and others including the iceberg itself. Awards: Booklist Editors' Choice-Books for Youth-Older Readers, 2011; YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults: 2012

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials, by Stephanie Hemphill, 2010. A fictionalized account, told in verse, of the Salem witch trials, told from the perspective of three of the real young women living in Salem in 1692--Mercy Lewis, Margaret Walcott, and Ann Putnam, Jr. Award: School Library Journal Best Books: 2010.
















The Trap, by John E. Smelcer, 2006. In alternating chapters, 17-year-old Johnny Least-Weasel, who is better known for brains than brawn, worries about his missing grandfather, and the grandfather, Albert Least-Weasel, struggles to survive, caught in his own steel trap in the Alaskan winter.


            Somplace Scary            

Heap House, by Edward Carey, 2014. Young Clod, living in his family's mansion among a mass of shifting forgotten items, becomes aware of the items whispering to him and senses a growing storm ahead, needing the help of an orphan servant to unravel the mystery.

Revenge of the Witch, by Joseph Delaney, 2005. Young Tom, the seventh son of a First book in Last Apprentice series.
seventh son, starts work as an apprentice for the village spook, whose job is to protect ordinary folk from "ghouls, boggarts, and all manner of wicked beasties.".

The Wrong Train, by Jeremy De Quidt, 2017. A treasury of scary stories by the author of The Toymaker envisions the experiences of a train passenger who becomes subject to the nightmarish elements in stories told by a mysterious stranger, who demands a terrible price to make the stories end.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, 2008. After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

After Dark, by James Leck, 2015. When 15-year-old Charlie Harker moves to the sleepy town of Rolling Hills, he hears rumors of strange creatures and discovers a mysterious illness spreading across town that may not be what it seems.

Thornhill, by Pam Smy, 2017. Parallel plot lines set in different times, one told in text and one in art, inform each other as a young girl unravels the mystery of a ghost next door

The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud, 2013. When London is overrun by malevolent spirits, a talented group of young psychic detectives compete against other ghostbusting agencies in the debut of a new series that finds three intrepid colleagues investigating one of England's most haunted houses. First book in Lockwood & Co. series.

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