Booklist: Middle School Favorites

Can’t decide what book to choose from the Middle School Summer Reading list? So many authors and genres to choose from! Here are our favorites from each listed genre, including Nutmeg and Newbery nominees and winners:


Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Disasters have transformed the world into a brutal society. Nailer works as a ship breaker in horrible conditions, until he finds a wrecked sailing boat. But other people are looking for the boat – and the girl who is found on it.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

After a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the wilderness, learning to survive initially with only the aid of a hatchet given him by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents’ divorce.

Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs

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.

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

After his anger erupts into violence, Cole, in order to avoid going to prison, agrees to participate in a sentencing alternative: he is sent to a remote Alaskan Island where an encounter with a huge Spirit Bear changes his life.

Code Orange by Carolyn Cooney

While conducting research for a school paper on smallpox, Mitty finds an envelope containing 100-year-old smallpox scabs and fears that he has infected himself and all of New York City.


Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick

San moves to a new school and tries to impress a girl…by pretending to be a Zen master. Even though he is faking it he manages to inspire his classmates…but how long can he pretend to be something he is not?

The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck

In rural Indiana in 1904, fifteen-year-old Russell’s dreams of quitting school are disrupted when his older sister takes over the teaching at his one-room schoolhouse after mean old Myrt Arbuckle “hauls off and dies.”

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison

Self-conscious about her knobby knees but confident in her acting ability, fourteen-year-old Tallulah spends the summer at a Yorkshire performing arts camp that, she is surprised to learn, is for girls only.

Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman

Seventeen-year-old Vince’s life is constantly complicated by the fact that he is the son of a powerful Mafia boss, a relationship that threatens to destroy his romance with the daughter of a FBI agent.

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil…by Josh Lieb

 Oliver Watson has everyone convinced that he is extremely stupid and lazy, but he is actually a very wealthy, evil genius, and when he decides to run for seventh-grade class president, nothing will stand in his way.

Vampire High by Douglas Rees

When Cody enters Vlad Dracul Magnet School, many things seem strange, from the dark-haired, pale-skinned, supernaturally strong students to Charon, the wolf who guides him around campus on the first day.


Unwind by Neal Shusterman*

Set in a future where kids can be unwound – separated into transplantable parts – three teens go on the run to avoid a grisly fate. Not for everyone, but a great choice for fans of intense, thought-provoking stories.

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry*

In a world where zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother’s footsteps and become a bounty hunter.

Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan

Soon after the arrival of cousin Julia, insidious occurrences begin that convince Rachel that Julia is a witch and must be stopped before her total monstrous plan can be effected.

Cirque de Freak by Darren Shan

Darren Shan is just an ordinary boy. Then one day he stumbles across an invitation to visit a mysterious freak show called Cirque Du Freak. What follows is Darren’s horrifying descent into the dark and bloody world of vampires.

Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman

In order to save his daredevil brother Quinn (and himself), sensible, steady Blake must survive seven carnival rides before dawn. The catch is this is a carnival of the mind, and each ride preys upon one of Blake’s greatest fears.

The Boxes by William Sleator

Annie’s Uncle Marco goes on one of his mysterious trips, leaving her in charge of two sealed boxes on one condition: she must not open either one while he is away. But she is tempted…and soon she has unleashed the unspeakable.

Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

For years, the spook Old Gregory has ridding local villages of evil. But who will take over for him? Apprentices have tried – some failed, some fled, some failed to stay alive. Only Thomas is left. He’s the last hope: the last apprentice.

Science Fiction

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card*

Ender, a child genius, is removed from his family to begin his training in a harsh military school, where he is taught on exciting computer-simulated war games to lead the earth’s armies in space against alien forces

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer*

In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patrón, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from an ugly into a pretty. But Tally’s friend Shay runs away. Tally must  find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Due to a freak asteroid collision, the moon is knocked a little off its axis and chaos on Earth erupts with unending natural disasters and radical weather shifts. Can a girl living in rural Pennsylvania and her family survive

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Set in an alternate version of WWI Europe, this book traces the adventures of two intrepid teens: A royal hiding from enemies and a girl hiding as a boy in order to serve her country. Oh, and flying whale-ships. Whale-ships!

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver.  Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Mister Monday by Garth Nix

 Seven days. Seven keys. Seven virtues. Seven sins. One mysterious house is the doorway to a very mysterious world – where one boy is about to venture and unlock a number of fantastical secrets. A great read for series fans who’ve read practically ‘everything’ already.


Chasing Vermeer by Blue Baillett

When seemingly unrelated and strange events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra and Calder combine their talents to solve an international art scandal.

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller

A quirky mystery for girls who daydream about saving the world. Annabeth meets a group of incredibly skilled (and odd) girls who she joins deep under the ground in New York City for a wild and weird adventure.

Reality Check by Peter Abrahams*

After an injury destroys Cody’s college hopes, he drops out of school and gets a job in his small Montana town. When his ex-girlfriend disappears from her Vermont boarding school, Cody travels to join the search.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly*

Mattie gets a glimpse into the story of a young woman murdered near the resort she is working in. What she learns will help her decide her future: A life helping her widowed father and family or pursuing her dreams of college – a rare option for girls in 1910s upstate New York.

Scat by Carl Hiaasen

Nick and his friend Marta decide to investigate when a mysterious fire starts near a Florida wildlife preserve and an unpopular teacher goes missing.

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

When Ted and Kat’s cousin Salim disappears from the London Eye ferris wheel, they must work together – Ted with his brain that is “wired differently” and impatient Kat- to try to solve the mystery.

From the Mixed-Up Files of… by E.L. Konigsberg

 Claudia and her younger brother run away to New York City to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art where they live in the exhibits, hide from security and try to solve the mystery of a statue they find there.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1980s game show, “The $20,000 Pyramid,” a girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from a source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.

Historical Fiction

Chains: Seeds of America by Laurie Halse Anderson

As the Revolutionary War begins, Isabel wages her own fight for freedom. .  When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion.

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Bartoletti

When 16-year-old Helmut Hubner listens to the BBC news on an illegal short-wave radio, he quickly discovers Germany is lying to the people. But when he tries to expose the truth with leaflets, he’s tried for treason.

Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

Katie’s sister Lynn makes everything ‘kira kira,’ or shiny and glittering. When they move to Georgia in the 1950s, Lynn explains that people stare because they are Japanese. Through adversity and the heartbreak of Lynn’s cancer diagnosis, Katie tries to see the world through her sister’s eyes.

Soldier Boys by Dean Hughes

Spencer Morgan and Dieter Hedrick are on opposite sides but fighting for the same thing. Dieter’s devotion gets him promoted from Hitler Youth into the army while Spencre drops out of high school to begin training as a paratrooper.

Patience Princess Catherine by Carolyn Meyer

Catherine arrives in England to marry Arthur, the eldest son of King Henry VII, but soon finds her expectations of a happy settled life radically changed when Arthur unexpectedly dies and her future becomes the subject of a bitter dispute between the kingdoms of England and Spain.

Traitors Gate by Avi

When his father is arrested as a debtor in 1849 London,  John must take on unexpected responsibilities, from asking a distant relative for help to determining why people are spying on him and his family.

Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Mattie works with her family in a coffeehouse in the nation’s capital of Philadelphia when a yellow fever epidemic decimated the city. A powerful and surprising story about a lesser-known period in American history.

A Boy at War: a novel of Pearl Harbor by Harry Mazer

In the chaos of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a boy searches for his father who was on a ship that was bombed.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt

It is 1912. Tucker hates his new home in Maine – until he meets Lizzie, a girl who lives on a nearby island. When his neighbors plan to evict her people off the island, Tucker must decide how to help his friends.

Goddess of Yesterday by Carolyn Cooney

Anaxndra calls on the protection of her goddess as she poses as two different princesses over the next six years, before ending up as a servant in the company of Helen and Paris as they make their way to Troy.

Nine Days Queen: the Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey by Ann Rinaldi

Jane would become Queen of England for only nine days before being beheaded at the age of sixteen. Here is a breathtaking story of English royalty with its pageantry, privilege, and surprising cruelty.

Realistic Fiction

Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer

A great story about good-hearted people working together to make their corner of the world a little better. A Brooklyn-raised girl in small-town mayoral race and starts to see the bigger picture.

Drums Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

When his younger brother is diagnosed with leukemia, thirteen-year-old Steven tries to deal with his complicated emotions, his school life, and his desire to support his family.

The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher

Eddie loses two people important people in his life and responds by choosing to go mute, making him the perfect sounding board for people on both sides of an argument to ban a controversial book.

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

Three friends share good and bad times in Queens. Set in the span of months before Tupac Shakur’s death, this is a story about how people can have a big impact on your life, even if they aren’t around forever.

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

Fourteen-year-old Shawn McDaniel, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy and cannot function, relates his perceptions of his life, his family, and his condition, especially as he believes his father is planning to kill him.


Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

After fifteen-year-old Liz Hall is hit by a taxi and killed, she finds herself in a place that is both like and unlike Earth, where she must adjust to her new status and figure out how to “live.”

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

A boy working on a Victorian-era dirigible ship (check out the cover!) meets and intrepid young lady who is trying to prove that the flying creatures her grandfather discovered exist. Part pirate story, this is a great introduction to steampunk adventure.

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Gregor falls into Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. Expected to take on a dangerous mission, Gregor must accept his fate in order to find his missing father.

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Jacob and Will have looked out for each other, but when Jacob discovers a mirror that transports him to a world populated by witches, giants, and ogres, he keeps it to himself until Will follows him, with dire consequences.

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

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.

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

Aerin, with the guidance of the wizard Luthe and the help of the blue sword, wins the birthright due her as the daughter of the Damarian king and a witchwoman of the mysterious, demon-haunted North.

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

Jack was eleven when the berserkers loomed out of the fog and nabbed him. The year is A.D. 793. In the next months, Jack and his little sister, Lucy, are enslaved by Olaf One-Brow and his fierce young shipmate, Thorgil. With a crow named Bold Heart for mysterious company, they are swept up into an adventure.

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom.

 Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

In the kingdom of Ayortha, who is the fairest of them all? Certainly not Aza. What she may lack in looks, though, she makes up for with a kind heart, and with something no one else has; a magical voice. Her talents captivate all who hear them, and in Ontio Castle they attract the attention of a handsome prince ndash; and a dangerous new queen.


Crackback by John Coy

In football, if a hit is legal but still injures your opponent, is it right or wrong? Miles is a talented player but sometimes being the best isn’t enough, especially if it means going against your conscience. Sometimes there really is more to life than football.

Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz

Young Toyo attends a boarding school in Japan where he gets a Western education and also receives traditional samurai training, which has a huge impact in his game and in his relationship with his dad.

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker*

Groomed by his father to be a star player, football is the only thing that has ever really mattered to Mick Johnson, who works hard for a spot on the varsity team his freshman year, then tries to hold onto his edge by using steroids, despite the consequences to his health and social life.

The Batboy by Mike Lupica

Even though his mother feels baseball ruined her marriage to his father, she allows fourteen-year-old Brian to become a bat boy for the Detroit Tigers, who have just drafted his favorite player back onto the team.

Last Shot by John Feinstein

After winning a basketball reporting contest, eighth graders Stevie and Susan Carol are sent to cover the Final Four tournament, where they discover that a talented player is being blackmailed into throwing the final game.


Phineas Gage by John Fleischman

Phineas, a railroad construction foreman, was blasting rock when a thirteen-pound iron rod was shot through his brain. Miraculously, he survived for another eleven years. Phineas seemed to completely recover, but his personality was radically changed. This book will tell you a lot about how your brain works and how you act human.

The Greatest by Walter Dean Myers

If you don’t know the story of Muhammad Ali, you must read this book.  He was brave, bold and above all, perfectly convinced of his own greatness. The thing is…he was right!

Guts by Gary Paulsen

The true stories from Paulsen’s life that inspired his famous Hatchet series – wilderness survival, moose attacks, plane crashes and time spent in the army. A great choice for guys who’d rather be outside than inside.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schiltz

A unique way to learn about life in the medieval era: A collection of short one-person monologues featuring teenaged characters, rich and poor, who describe what their lives are like surviving in or near a thirteenth-century English manor.

The Great and Only Barnum by Candice Fleming

Step right up! Meet the astounding . . . the amazing . . . P. T. Barnum! This showman, founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus and Bridgeport resident lived an incredible life. Learn about his rise to fame, his most famous performers and the impact he had on entertainment and culture.

A Wicked History biography series

These entertaining and informative short biographies ask you to consider the wickedness of many hated figures from history – some you have heard of (Henry VIII of England) and others who you might not have (Cixi, Empress of China). Learn the reasons why these people were so hated and what might have driven them to such bad deeds.

*=Books for more mature readers

Interested in selecting any of these books for your summer reading? You can find them at the Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library: Just click on any title to see if they are in the library!