What are some good books for a middle school student? I mainly enjoy realistic and historical fiction, but other genres are also fine.

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It is always helpful to know what books you have read that you particularly liked. Often the things you loved in a piece of one genre are also present in a work of a completely different genre. I began reading The Lord of the Rings in sixth grade and have read it many times since, but nothing else in the fantasy genre has ever floated my boat. Tolkien possessed a vast knowledge of mythologies and literatures from many countries and ages (they crop up everywhere as the breadth of your reading expands), and he was a master of the writing craft--pacing, timing, dialog, suspense, comic relief, imagery, lyricism. Though many of my teachers (even in college) cringed at Tolkien's hold on the literary tastes of students, The Lord of the Rings really cranked up the reading level of a lot of us. I think Harry Potter has played a similar role--I wonder if there has been an uptick in Dickens' readership (from Beedle the Bard to Beadle Bumble). If teachers aren't working that angle, they should be!

Books that you will likely be required to read sooner or later include To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, Lord of the Flies--all gorgeous stories that it doesn't hurt to read for pleasure, plus you'll have a great advantage when you have to read them again with all the baggage of homework attached. Great, but anthologized to death, are The House on Mango Street, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and The Joy Luck Club.

Jerry Spinelli has some great books. Island of the Blue Dolphin is always good, or Julie of the Wolves. Also, A Farewell to Manzanar or The Summer of My German Soldier. You might also try a western (Hondo by L'Amour is good) or scifi (Fahrenheidt 451 by Bradbury) or mystery (And Then There Were None by Christie). If you've never read Tom Sawyer, go for it. The Pandora books, based on the mixed mythology of Pandora and the seven deadly sins, are fun.

 

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The books by J.K. Rowling are worthwhile reading. I have read them all and additionally have enjoyed the movies that go along with them.  The vocabulary, exciting plot elements, and character development which ranges from book one to seven is extraordinary. Some naysayers are disturbed by the magical aspect of the books...however, if you like, Tolkien or Lewis, there is value in the Potter series. 

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned Walter Dean Myers with his Monster, Somewhere in the Darkness, Slam, Game, Fallen Angels, The Glory Fields, and Sunrise over Fallujah.  He isn't always sweet, but gritty and realistic.  With his own rough childhood, I think he understands the age group he  writes for and does it well.

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What are some good books for a middle school student?

I mainly enjoy realistic and historical fiction, but other genres are also fine.

Try Red Badge of Courage, Number the Stars, the Graveyard Book, Ella Enchanted, Indian Captive, anything by Avi, and Little Women.

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One poster above mentioned the Hunger Games books and if you like them I would recommend Emma Clayton's new distopian series beginning with The Roar. Additionally, while more mythological than historical, I would recommend anything written by Rick Riordan.
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Louis Sachar's 'Holes' is an enjoyable read, as are 'Bridge to Terabithia' and Antony Horowitz' 'Stormbreaker' series.

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The Hunger Games was pretty good.  As a historical fiction buff myself, I did enjoy that part of it although I found the plot somewhat lacking.  Lord of the Rings (beginning with the Hobbit) is a wonderful series.  It can be a little difficult to follow, but it's great for someone who enjoy history.  Of course, the history here is entirely fake but it is very well thought out.  You might also be interested in the Three Musketeers series.  There's actually several books in this series by Alexandre Dumas.  It's true historical fiction.  The events really did take place in this manner in France but the characters and their interactions with historical figures have been fabricated. 

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Sharon Draper's books are of interest to this age group as are S.E. Hinton's. Specifically, The Tears of a Tiger and The Outsiders.  The Giver by Lois Lowry as well as Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor are certainly ones that middle school students could read. Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper is interesting, too, and a classic. Another worthy work is The Diary of Anne Frank.

 

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My favorite while teaching 9th grade was To Kill a Mockingbird. However, I also believe, in the same vein, you might enjoy The Help, which takes place in the more recent past than "Mockingbird," but with the same themes. It is an extremely worthwhile book, has an excellent message, and can also be funny at times. My students enjoyed reading the play The Miracle Worker, which is about Helen Keller. It also is very rewarding, and is based on actual events in Ms. Keller's life. 

As mentioned, The Hunger Games are very popular. And not long ago—though certainly "out there," many of my students (and I) read the Twilight series.

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Well, my suggestions definitely aren't realistic or historical, but you said other genres were fine, so . . .

The Tolkien Lord of the Rings trilogy (and The Hobbit, as an unofficial intro to the trilogy) have been fascinating readers for years. Also, the C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series. Both of these fall into the fantasy genre, but they have strong messages that often resonate with younger and older readers alike.

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I would say the Hunger Games series as well. On top of that, I would suggest the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod. The new book by James Patterson looks funny (Middle School: Get Me Out of Here!), although I have yet to read it.

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If you want something that is timely right now, the Hunger Games trilogy would seem like a good choice.  It's not exactly historical fiction, but it does have some amount of what you might call social commentary in it.  It makes you think about what life might be like in a totalitarian state.  It also sort of spoofs (in my opinion) our obsession with reality shows.  

So, not very high class, but lots of people that age and up like them.

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