Starting middle school is hard, end of story. You have to find your way to new classes, with new teachers, in a new building, all while trying to not trip over your suddenly huge feet in front of someone really cute. Besides homework, hormones, bullies, and parents, middle schoolers also have to deal with the CIA, lightsabers, and a fake pickle club. (Or at least the heroes of these middle school novels do.) Let’s all try to put a more lighthearted, adventurous spin on what can be, really, a tough time in a kid’s life.
The Star Wars: Jedi Academy trilogy, by Jeffrey Brown
The Jedi Academy is just like middle school, just in a galaxy far, far away. This box set of Star Wars graphic novels takes all of your normal pre-teen troubles and adds lightsabers and the Force. So no big deal, right? For Star Wars-loving families, or kids who are into comics, these books are a must read.
Schooled, by Gordon Korman
Capricorn Anderson, a home-schooled hippie, is a different hero than most; his first day of middle school is his first day of school. Ever. If you want to encourage perseverance despite being the obvious odd man out, sticking to your own morals, and being yourself, then introduce your middle school reader to Capricorn.
Tangerine, by Edward Bloor
Paul Fisher is an unlikely hero in this fish-out-of-water book from Edward Bloor. Paul is blind, loves soccer, has a really talented older brother, and is now the new kid at school. Their family just moved to the town of Tangerine, and Paul and his brother have to deal with not just school, but a series of extremely unexpected and dangerous events. As Paul learns to come into his own, so too will readers.
The Take Back of Lincoln Junior High, by Roseanne Cheng
In a time when it is normal to hear about tight school budgets and vital programs on the chopping block, the students of Lincoln decide to take matters into their own hands. For kids who are looking forward to student government, or the budding family activist, The Take Back of Lincoln Junior High reads like an introductory crime thriller. With unexpected twists and a back room conspiracy, young readers will have a hard time putting this one down.
The Middle School series by James Patterson, Chris Tebbetts, Laura Park, and Lisa Papademetriou
You can either see Rafe as a troublemaker who is finding his way, or the average teenager pushing all the boundaries; either way he is energetic, intelligent, and ready to be involved. With his take-life-by-the-horns attitude and his determination to succeed, Rafe is ready for middle school. But is school ready for Rafe? And what about when his younger sister Georgia shows up? This series, with tons of art and humor, shows that anyone can rule the school if they are willing to try.
From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot
Meg Cabot, of Princess Diaries fame, has introduced a new character to the Genovian circle. After a few tough days, we all like to pretend that someone fabulous will swoop in and fix things. For Olivia, your run of the mill orphan, that dream becomes a reality. Written in diary form with drawings and personal details, this is a fun, lovable escape, just like a hug that you didn’t even know you needed. Plus, it’s just great to see Mia and Grandmere again! And parents, if you missed Mia as much as I did, check out Meg Cabot’s first in a series for adults, Royal Wedding.
Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker and Tim Probert
For pranksters and families with a great sense of humor, let the Pickle Making Begin! In the pursuit of fun and a laugh, this group of friends finds some very inventive ways to make their mark on middle school. This is also a rare treat in that boys and girls platonically get to have fun, instead of being in awkward awe of the opposite sex for a hundred pages.
Spy School (Spy School Series #1) by Stuart Gibbs
Welcome to the CIA’s version of Hogwarts or Camp Halfblood. Gifted students like Ben are invited to a Math and Science focused magnet school, only to discover they are junior recruits for the CIA. Like other books in this style Ben and his friends spy, go on unexpected adventures, and slowly start to become less awkward, shy teenagers. For kids who enjoy a good boarding school adventure, this is a great addition to your collection.
What books is your middle schooler reading during their last days of summer vacation?