I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

50 Must Read Books for Middle School

50 Must Read Books for Middle School- a selection of quality books from multiple genres, themes, and eras.

She's a reader. There's no denying that.
She's also quite driven. At only 11, she has already chosen her desired college, major, and minor.

And while I recognize that at eleven her opinions and plans might ebb and flow in the coming years, I also know HER and know that when she gets her sights set on a goal, there's no stopping her determination.

That being said, the plan she has penciled in for herself after much prayer and self-evaluation requires a strong literary background. With that in mind, I have spent many months putting together a middle school reading list that will set her on that path.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

The Selection Process

Since I'm not a huge fan of most modern reading lists and award-winning books, I have consulted only quality lists from sources that I trust which include THESE lovely gems, The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens, and The Home Scholar. I have pored over countless titles and have devised a list of 50 that I think represent a worthwhile sampling of different genres, themes, and eras. There is an intentional absence of non-fiction books since she reads so many of these already for our living literature style science and history.

In my opinion, middle school is a time to start developing personal opinions and convictions on many topics while under the protective umbrella of home. That being said, several of these books contain gentle messages that will challenge her current belief system. While I don't introduce them to sway her from her Christian worldview. On the contrary, I hope to use these weightier-themed books to slowly help her grow stronger in her ability to filter EVERYTHING through a Biblical lens. 

My home is a greenhouse...a place where small buds can grow strong and form deep roots in Truth. Up until this point, so much of my daughter's growing has come from exposure to nothing-but-Truth. But now that she is in middle school and currently doing some high school level course work, she needs to learn how to weather the tough storms that the world will hurl at her by being gently released to find the Truth amidst the lies. 

With that in mind, I plan on reading several of these heavier titles with her. We will each read our own copy separately and dialogue about them as we are able, dissecting the Truth from the lie.

The Plan

I have placed all of these books on a "shelf" called Middle School MUST READS in my Goodreads account so that she can see the list at a glance. There really is no structured order to it all. She is free to pick any title at any time. I don't necessarily expect her to read all of these books by the time she starts high school. (Then again, she's an avid reader and just might surprise me. She's actually read a handful of them already!) I mostly just want to set a wide variety of books in front of her that will each add an element of excellence to her literary journey without the worldly indoctrination that so many popular books offer.
As always, when she finishes a book, she will document it for her annual portfolio and mark it as "read" in my Goodreads account.

The Books


An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry
Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My Antonia by Willa Cather*
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

General Fiction

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff
Blue Willow by Doris Gates
Johnny Tremain by Esther Hoskins Forbes
Letters from Rifka byKaren Hesse* 
Lyddie by Katherine Paterson*
Men of Iron by Howard Pyle*
Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen*
Rascal by Sterling North
Redwall by Brian Jacques
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor*
Sounder by William H. Armstrong
Steal Away by Jennifer Armstrong*
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert DeJong*
The Miracle Worker by Willian Gibson
The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood*
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Tree Castle Island by Jean Craighead George*
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell*
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles Lamb


America's Paul Revere by Esther Hoskins Forbes
Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
Joni: An Unforgettable Story by Joni Eareckson Tada
Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

*Books that I am not as familiar with and will be reading alongside her.

For more great book suggestions, be sure to head to iHomeschool Network and check out the Massive Guide to Homeschool Reading Lists!


  1. I love your list. We have many of the same titles on our list of 100 books and I will be adding a few from your list that I missed.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. What do the asterisks mean?

    1. Sorry about that. I meant to make a note at the bottom, but I clearly forgot. Got it fixed now. Thanks for making me aware.

  3. An interesting list with many books that I have enjoyed and some that are unfamiliar. This looks a long list but from my experience with an avid reader of this sort of age, you might be looking for more before the year is over.
    In terms of different view points, have you thought about "Children of the New Forest"? This is free on the internet and is an older book about the time of the English Civil War depicting a family who were ardent royalists. It might present a useful discussion about different points of view and is a good read.

  4. I just created a goodreads account. I read your post about goodreads and how you use it for your family and homeschool. Back in May you stated that you had a private account but you might look to making it public. I was just wondering if it is public so that I can follow what you have in your shelves. Thank you for the great book list from one book list addict to another...lol!

    1. Oh, Tiffany, I keep meaning to do this, but just haven't gotten around to it. I will try and get to that really soon.

    2. I am just happy you share so much here on your blog! I appreciate your willingness to share as I understand how much time it takes!

    3. I'm a bit behind the times...how can I find your Goodreads account?

    4. You can find it here, Jenny.

  5. Great list. Do you have a similar one for upper elementary? and for 1-2nd grade?

    1. I have a general elementary list. It's not broken down into grade categories as every child reads at different levels. You can find it here.

  6. Your list looks nice. My Antonia will be quite a challenge for the average 11-year-old.

  7. Jamie, can you update us regarding this list and Sweetie Pie? Something along the lines of her thoughts about the books, did she finish/nearly finish the list, etc? I love your suggestions, and have filled our library basket with many of them through the years. :D

  8. Did you use study guides with any of this reading (specifically, The Diary of a Young Girl)? I'd like to use that as curriculum but haven't found a decent study guide to reinforce it. My 9th grader likes Progeny Press's e-guides and we're doing The Hiding Place next.

  9. jamie, i read your list and see that this an older post, did you get to read Island of Blue Dolphins? i enjoyed it. i wonder if you know that the entire story is made up? the woman was left on her own and she was rescued but was unable to communicate with anyone, her language was lost. Scott did research about her people, but all the happenings were complete assumptions.

    1. Yes, I knew it was a work of fiction. But, like all really well-written fiction, it's quite believable, isn't it?

  10. The Dairy of Anne Frank, was it the original your daughter read? My daughter is 11 and is wanting to read it. But was wondering your input.

    1. I would hold off a few more years. I don't think it's appropriate for a reader that young.

  11. Do you read ALL these books in one year?

    1. No. They are a list that my daughter was asked to choose from during all three of her middle school years. I didn't expect her to get through the entire list in a year or even three. She got as far as she could get, choosing books based on which ones sounded interesting to her.

  12. Lindsey - a fellow homeschool mamaNovember 24, 2020 at 9:07 AM

    Are these just books for their own personal quiet reading time or do you weave them into book studies/curriculum?

    1. These are for their personal reading time. Each of my kids have to read quietly to themselves for 45 minutes each day. 15 minutes of that block has to be a book of my choosing and 30 minutes may be whatever they'd like to read. So, I put together this list to allow my middle schooler to have some say in which "book of mom's choosing" they read.

  13. I love the book My Antonia. I think everyone should read it, but to be honest I would say it’s best suited for ages 16+. I personally feel it wouldn’t be fully appreciated until then.