Middle SchoolKnucklehead by John Scieszka
Jon Sciezka’s memoir about growing up in the 50’s as one of six boys. Humorous stories about family jokes, the ways his brothers treated each other and about all the fun they had. Great book for reluctant readers because it is funny and has short chapters and lots of pictures. Recommended especially for boys, but really people of all ages. (For an example of the humor, check out page 24)
*Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
When twelve-year-old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931, meets a mysterious toyseller and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized. This book is told in pictures and words and was inspired by the silent films of George Melies.
*London Eye Mystery by Siobahn Dowd
When Ted and Kat's cousin Salim disappears from the London Eye ferris wheel, the two siblings must work together--Ted with his brain that is "wired differently" and impatient Kat--to try to solve the mystery of what happened to Salim. Ted has Asperger’s Syndrome and becomes obsessed with trying to figure out what happened to his cousin. This book is a great mystery and billed as “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night” for younger readers. (this was on our summer reading list)
*Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan
When fifteen-year-old Will is rejected by battleschool, he becomes the reluctant apprentice to the mysterious Ranger Halt, and winds up protecting the kingdom from danger. Series – currently there are four books.
*Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney
For years, Old Gregory has been the Spook for the county, ridding the local villages of evil. Now his time is coming to an end. But who will take over for him? Twenty-nine apprentices have tried�some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive. Only Thomas Ward is left. He's the last hope; the last apprentice. Can Thomas succeed? Will he learn the difference between a benign witch and a malevolent one? Does the Spook's warning against girls with pointy shoes include Alice? And what will happen if Thomas accidentally frees Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the county... Series – currently there are six books.
Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The orphan Bod, short for Nobody, is taken in by the inhabitants of a graveyard as a child of eighteen months and raised lovingly and carefully to the age of eighteen years by the community of ghosts and otherworldly creatures. (I’ve been told this is like the Jungle Book, but in the graveyard..)
*Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
After passing a series of mind-bending tests, four gifted children who have very different kinds of gifts are selected for a secret mission that requires them to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. They are on a mission for the peculiar Mr. Benedict who has discovered that the people of the world are being brainwashed through signals on the televisions that are being sent from the school.
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. La Fevers
Eleven-year-old Theodosia has the ability to detect black magic and ancient curses that are attached to objects in the Museum of Legends and Antiquities, of which her father is the curator, and discovers that a new artifact from Egypt is cursed and she must return it to the tomb it was excavated from before it destroys the British Empire. Unfortunately, right after she makes the discovery, the artifact disappears and Theodosia makes it her mission to track it down.
*Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle
In current day, a high school student interviews now elderly Ruben Hart who tells the story of how, in 1929 Newport, Rhode Island, his family and his best friend's family were caught up in the violent competition among groups trying to control the local rum-smuggling trade. (On the summer reading list)
*Alabama Moon by Watt Key
In Alabama, Moon Blake has been being raised by his isolationist father who when dying from an infection, tells his son to find other people like them in Montana or Alaska. After his death, the ten year old Moon is taken to an orphanage when where, for the first time, he has contact with the outside world and learns about friendship, love, and humanity. He leads the boys in the orphanage to the woods and teaches them how to survive in the wilderness.
Mature 8th grade +
The Year We Disappeared by Cylin Busby
Father and daughter, Cylin and John Busby, share their memories of the challenges they faced after their family was forced to go into hiding in order to protect themselves from a killer who had already shot John, a police officer, once and was determined to finish the job.
Mature 8th grade +
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Katniss finds herself as a participant in this year’s Hunger Games, she is thrown into a world of people and politics and needs to rethink the way she sees the world to try to come out on top.
Although the story sounds like it’s about a harsh topic, it is written in a way that makes it appropriate for almost any student 7th grade +.
Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Native American is the school mascot. This is a poignant representation of life on a Reservation, there is a lot of alcohol/alcoholism, poverty and racism. Junior is met with a lot of resistance from people on his Reservation. The story is humorous, but very honest and harsh as well.
Very mature 8th grade +
*I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusack
After capturing a bank robber, nineteen-year-old cab driver Ed Kennedy begins receiving mysterious messages that direct him to addresses where people need help, and he begins getting over his lifelong feeling of worthlessness.
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
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.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace of killing and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king.
8th Grade +
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
A collection of monster stories from Kelly Link, in which traditional horror, science fiction, and fantasy motifs are upended creating original, quirky, and distinctly beautiful literary landscapes. Clever resolutions, tricky plots and unexpected endings force readers to double back and reconsider each story from the beginning. This compilation of intricate, transfixing selections succeeds in making the weird wonderful and the grotesque absolutely gorgeous
Pool Boy by Michael Simmons (Wellesy High School Alum)
Brett Gerson, raised in a world of privilege, learns some valuable life lessons when he is forced by his father's arrest for insider trading to take a job as an assistant to a seventy-something pool cleaner in his former wealthy California neighborhood.
Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Helen died 130 years ago as a young woman. Unable to enter heaven because of a sense of guilt she carried at death, she has been silent and invisible but conscious and sociable across the generations. Her spirit has been sustained by its attachment to one living human host after another, including a poet and, most recently, a high-school English teacher. While she sits through his class one day, she becomes aware of James and he is aware of her as well. Together they unlock the mysteries of their pasts. There is one sex scene.
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
For years, three factions-Townies, Cadets (city kids doing a six-week outdoor education program), and Jellicoe School students-have engaged in teen war games in the Australian countryside, defending territorial borders, negotiating for assets, and even taking hostages. Taylor Markham, a 17-year-old who was abandoned years ago by her mother, takes on leadership of the boarding school's six Houses. The story intertwines with the mystery of what happened to Hannah, a house-mother whose disappearance is related to a car accident that happened over 20 years earlier.
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson
In this Sequel to Pox Party, Octavian, a young African-American, is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years prior to and during the American Revolution. When Octavian begins to understand that he is part of an experiment, he rebels. Fearing a death sentence, Octavian and his tutor, Dr. Trefusis, escape through rising tides and pouring rain to find shelter in British-occupied Boston. Sundered from all he knows, Octavian hopes to find safe harbor. Instead, he is soon to learn of Lord Dunmore's proclamation offering freedom to slaves who join the counterrevolutionary forces. In Volume II of his unparalleled masterwork, M. T. Anderson recounts Octavian's experiences as the Revolutionary War explodes around him.
Mature 8th Grade+
Spud by John van de Ruit
In 1990, thirteen-year-old John "Spud" Milton, a prepubescent choirboy, keeps a diary of his first year at an elite, boys-only boarding school in South Africa, as he deals with bizarre housemates, wild crushes, embarrassingly dysfunctional parents, and much more.
8th Grade +
Late Middle/High School
Sarah Dessen – Books about a variety of “teen girl” issues: bullying, sexual harassment, teen pregnancy, drinking/drugs, all are handled in good ways and very readable and enjoyed by 8th grade girls+ (Titles: The Truth About Forever, Summerland, Just Listen, Lock and Key, etc.)
*Jacqueline Moriarty – books on more serious topics, take a little more effort and desire to get into. All are told through letters, journal entries, etc. (Titles: The Year of Secret Assignment, Feeling Sorry for Celia, The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie)
What I saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
In 1947, with her jovial stepfather Joe back from the war and family life returning to normal, teenage Evie, smitten by the handsome young ex-GI who seems to have a secret hold on Joe, finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies whose devastating outcome change her life and that of her family forever.
Looks by Madeline George
An unforgettable debut novel about the way we look at others, and the way we see ourselves. Meghan Ball is both the most visible and the most invisible person in school. Her massive size is impossible to ignore, yet people freely spill their secrets in front of her, perhaps because they think she isn't listening. Now her attention has turned to a new girl: Aimee Zorn, with her stick-figure body and defiant attitude. Meghan is determined to befriend Aimee, and when she ultimately succeeds, the two join forces to take down their shared enemy. This provocative story explores the ways in which girls use food and their bodies to say what they cannot: I'm lonely.
*Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante
Two fourteen year old girls have been raised in Mount Blessing, a religious commune, and react to it very differently. Agnes becomes devout and devotes herself to doing everything she can to become a saint. Honey acts out and rebels and is frequently physically punished. When Agnes’ grandmother finds out what is happening, she takes the two girls and together they try to get to Agnes’ aunt’s house in Georgia. The two girls react to “freedom” in very different ways. The book is critical of abuse of power, but does not cast judgment on religion or religious beliefs.
*Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
In 1817 in England, two young cousins, Cecilia living in the country and Kate in London, write letters to keep each other informed of their exploits, which take a sinister turn when they find themselves confronted by evil wizards. Think Jane Austen meets Harry Potter.
*Cherub Series by Robert Muchamore
Similar to the Alex Rider series, the Cherub series is about child spies in England. Cherub is a group of children who are trained as spies for MI-6. There are currently eleven books, but not all are available in the U.S.
Big Splash by Jack D. Ferraiolo
Matt Stevens, an average middle schooler with a glib tongue and a knack for solving crimes, uncovers a mystery while working with "the organization," a mafia-like syndicate run by seventh-grader Vincent "Mr. Biggs" Biggio, specializing in forged hall passes, test-copying rings, black market candy selling, and taking out hits with water guns.
Let it Snow by Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle and John Green
The Jubilee express -- A cheertastic Christmas miracle -- The patron saint of pigs. Contains three interconnected holiday stories of love, romance, and kisses in a small town, by popular teen authors John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson.
Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Seventeen-year-old Jessica, adopted and raised in Pennsylvania, learns that she is descended from a royal line of Romanian vampires and that she is betrothed to a vampire prince, who poses as a foreign exchange student while courting her. (released Feb. ‘08)
Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers
Robin Perry, from Harlem, is sent to Iraq in 2003 as a member of the Civilian Affairs Battalion, and his time there profoundly changes him.
*The Book Thief by Marcus Zusack
Death, "a companionable if sarcastic fellow," narrates this sophisticated novel set in small-town Germany during WWII. "It's a measure of how successfully Zusak has humanized these characters that even though we know they are doomed, it's no less devastating when Death finally reaches them,"
New Adult Books to Give to H.S. Students
The Little Book by Selden Edwards
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
American Savoir: A Novel of Divine Politics by Roland Merullo
The Guersney Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search from the American Dream by Adam Shepard