Don’t let your middle school students fall victim to the summer brain drain. They can lose up to a fifth of the reading gains they made over the last year if they don’t read through the summer. The best way to motivate them is to find books that they love. Don’t be afraid to start with anime, magazines, manga or comic books—if it gets them reading they’re improving their vocabulary and communication skills too. Here are some great reads for middle school students. This list has something for everyone (even the reluctant readers).
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Indi comic sensation Gene Luen Yang really knocks it out of the park with this white-knuckle thriller that will have you guessing until the very end. Three apparently unrelated stories come together in an exploration of Chinese culture and the difficulties of being different. It’s a riot!
Holes by Louis Sachar
Stanley Yelnats (a fun palindrome name) blames his grandfather for his bad luck. Legend has it that Stanley’s grandfather stole a pig from a gypsy who put a curse of all the Yelnats for generations to come. Stanley is fat, kids make fun of him and now he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. A great read for kids who enjoy a good laugh.
The Hunger Games by Suzanns Collins
Even if you’ve watched the movies, these books are a gripping summer read. The empowering tale of a young girl, Katniss Everdene, who takes on the oppressive government powers in a profound portrayal of bravery. This book does have mature themes of violence and death.
Shots on Goal by Wallace Rich
If your middle school student is crazy about soccer and can’t wait for the World Cup to start, they will love this touching tale about Bones who is working to help his soccer team win while dealing with a crush on his best friend’s girlfriend.
Rules by Cynthia Lord
Twelve-year old Catherine has a lot on her plate; living with an autistic brother makes her life very complicated. Just to make things even more difficult, she strikes up a friendship with a paraplegic. This is a touching and sweet exploration of what it means to be the sibling of a special needs child.
Level E by Yoshihiro Togashi
Age-appropriate anime about an alien prince who crashes his ship on earth where he befriends a high school student. This book is short enough for students to get into and focuses on humor. Level E can be bought in a comic book series, as two animated art books or you can watch it on DVD.
Stuck in the Middle by Ariel Shrag
A marvellous comic about the trials and tribulations of middle school. This anthology features some of the industry’s best artists and story tellers. Beautifully illustrated, at times poignant, but mostly hysterical portrayal of life in middle school.