Read Me in the Middle: Best Books for 7th and 8th Graders

We've heard over and over from librarians and educators about how difficult it can be to navigate middle grade and teen books to find the ones with the most appeal for 7th and 8th grade students. Maybe you have an advanced reader who has torn through every middle grade book in your library. Or maybe you have a struggling reader who needs something high interest, but at an appropriate reading level.

We've put our heads together and assembled an amazing list of books that you can feel confident handing your 7th and 8th grade readers! This list includes recent favorites and reliable classics from a variety of genres so there's something for everyone.

Recent Favorites

An Impossible Thing to Say

By Arya Shahi

“In this creative, lyrical novel in verse, Omid balances his first true crush and a new enthusiasm for rap music with the larger social struggles of being an Iranian American teen in the weeks before and after 9/11. . .Shahi gives readers embarking on a path toward agency an insightful, eloquent companion in Omid.”

Grades 8-10

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)


The Supernatural Investigations Series

By B. B. Alston

“Fast-paced adventure and cutthroat pre-adolescent contempt make for a delightfully challenging journey here, particularly considering the ways that Alston frames Amari’s racial and economic experiences as a Black girl as the root of her strong-willed nature and spirit of integrity. It’s a good thing this book is the first of a series, because readers will be sorely disappointed when it ends.”

Grades 3-7

Booklist (starred review)


A For Effort

By Jarad Greene

“Apart from his older sister, Jay doesn’t know anyone at his new high school. To make matters worse, he gets stuck with theater as his elective instead of art. . . On top of Jay’s academic woes, he’s also grappling with friendships and with finding the confidence to express himself.

A vulnerable and encouraging school drama.”

Ages 11-14

Kirkus Reviews


The Civil War of Amos Abernathy

By Michael Leali

"The book will . . . resonate with readers who will enjoy the story’s intrinsic drama and empathic characters. It’s a valuable addition to the still-slender body of middle-school literature with queer content."
 
Grades 5-8
 
Booklist

Crumbs

By Danie Stirling

"This delectable graphic novel is guaranteed to leave readers smiling as they are transported to a magical town with delightful characters. . . This adorable web comic turned full-length graphic novel would be a fantastic addition to middle and high school collections. It has the perfect combo of fantasy, realism, and romance."

Grades 7-Up
 
School Library Journal

Flowerheart

By Catherine Bakewell

"Sixteen-year-old Clara Lucas’s innate magic has always been out of control, resulting in overgrown flora and damaged property, but it has never harmed anyone until she accidentally curses her father, whose chest suddenly blooms with poisonous flowers. . . It’s an uplifting and meaningful tale bursting with floral imagery and cottagecore aesthetics."

Ages 13-Up

Publisher's Weekly (starred review)


Ghost Roast

By Shawnelle Gibbs and Shawnee Gibs
Illustrated by Emily Cannon

"As penance for a poor decision, a 15-year-old New Orleanian must help her father run his ghost-hunting business in the Gibbs sisters’ and illustrator Cannon’s cheeky graphic novel debut. . .In the vein of Octavia Butler’s Kindred and boasting the fun of Ghostbusters, the Gibbs sisters invoke New Orleans mysticism to shed light on the city’s history surrounding enslaved peoples. Cannon’s vibrant, beaming color palette keep spirits—and suspense—high amid the dark themes."

Ages 13-Up

Publisher's Weekly (starred review)


New Kid

By Jerry Craft

“Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity. . . An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America.”

Ages 10-14

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Playing Through the Turnaround

By Mylisa Larsen

"In this poignant novel, a middle school jazz band uses artistic activism to fight for a say in their school’s education budget spending decisions. Connor U. Eubanks Middle School eighth graders Jake, Cassie, Lily, Mac, and Nick, each wrestling with myriad interpersonal challenges, “make the mad go away” in Jazz Lab, an audition-only music elective."

Ages 8-12

Publisher's Weekly (starred review)


The Probability of Everything

By Sarah Everett

"Nigerian American Kemi Carter, 11, considers herself a scientist, in particular a scientist of probability. When a giant asteroid, AMPLUS-68 has an 84.7 percent chance of hitting Earth in four days, Kemi decides to create a time capsule to make sure future earthlings know how incredible her family was. . . Thought-provoking and utterly unique, this is an impactful book that deserves a place in all middle grade classrooms and libraries."

Grades 3-7

School Library Journal (starred review)


Rain Rising

By Courtne Comrie

"In this gut-wrenching verse novel by debut author Comrie, 13-year-old City Middle School student Rain Washington grapples with the aftermath of a violent racist attack. . . Through Rain’s meditative and intimate-feeling voice, Comrie sensitively tackles myriad topics, including colorism, fiscal scarcity, and structural racism, as well as their effects on mental health, in this impressive volume."

Ages 8-12

Publisher's Weekly (starred review)


Shot Clock

By Caron Butler and Justin A. Reynolds

"Milwaukee middle schooler Tony Washington idolizes Dante, his friend and a high school basketball star who is the country’s number-two-ranked player. When Dante is murdered by a white police officer, the event causes Tony to grapple with disheartening truths about life in his underprivileged community. . . this bustling narrative is brimming with exciting, detailed basketball scenes and moving life lessons about the things one takes for granted, the importance of community, and the will to succeed despite stacked odds."

Ages 8-12

Publisher's Weekly


Slugfest

By Gordon Korman

"Thanks to a new state rule that eighth graders can’t graduate to high school without a PE credit, summer school sees a motley assortment of students assembled in the gym. . .By the time the annual all-city flag football tournament rolls around, they’ve become a quarrelsome, disorganized, laughably inept…team. Even elderly Mrs. Finnerty demonstrates hidden depths, plus an apparently limitless supply of baked goods that will keep readers salivating alongside this lively, large-hearted, sharply seen cast of middle schoolers."

Ages 9-13

Kirkus (starred review)


The Song of Us

By Kate Fussner

"Olivia has everything she needs in her poetry club, until the day Eden walks in, and it is love at first sight. . . Eden’s 'fall into the underworld’ as she searches for relational connection will resonate with readers of all ages, but is especially prescient for those in middle school. . . This is a sad story, a hard story, an edgy story, but also a hopeful and important one that deserves a spot on the shelves of middle grade readers."

Grades 6-Up

School Library Journal


The Stars Did Wander Darkling

By Colin Meloy

"With a brush of nostalgia, Meloy takes readers to 1980s Oregon, where a picturesque town is about to unearth something sinister. . . Written for his young self, whose only horror option was Stephen King, Meloy delivers a solid middle-grade horror story with authentic chills and splashes of gore. The friendship between the four main characters drives it all, much like in Stranger Things and Stand by Me, ensuring readers’ hearts are engaged as much as their adrenaline."

Grades 5-8

Booklist (starred review)


Squire

By Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh

"Reconciling noble goals with the unethical choices required to achieve them is a perennial struggle, in both fiction and reality, and Aiza’s journey will leave readers with much to contemplate long after they close the book."

Grades 5-8

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)


XOXO

By Axie Oh

"A vivid, comical scene of everyday life in Koreatown introduces narrator Jenny Jooyoung Go, a high school junior and classical cellist aiming for a top conservatory. . . K-pop helps a cellist develop musically and emotionally in this novel filled with humor and theatrics.

Ages 13-17

Kirkus Reviews


Even More Titles!

Click the image below to download a printable list of new and classic titles perfect for middle school readers in grades 7 and 8. Keep this at the children's or teen reference desk for easy access, or print out copies to hand out to readers.