The most recommended junior high books

Who picked these books? Meet our 2,074 experts.

2,074 authors created a book list with books for students in junior high, and here are their favorite books.

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Book cover of Of Cages and Crowns

H.J. Nelson Author Of The Last She

From my list on reads according to your favorite Taylor Swift song.

Who am I?

I’m a Sci-Fi and Fantasy author who loves all things young adult! I always listen to Taylor Swift when I write, because I love how her songs are full of nostalgia, romance, humanity, and a lust for adventure—just like my books. If you couldn’t make it to the Era’s tour, no fear, check out some of these books below! 

H.J.'s book list on reads according to your favorite Taylor Swift song

H.J. Nelson Why did H.J. love this book?

If your favorite song is “Look What We Made You Do” try Of Cages and Crowns by Brianna Crump.

Think Hunger Games but with more romance, and very much the vibe of “I got my but you’ll all get yours.” There’s revenge, survival, romance, and revenge and a rebellion brewing in the background, but I was surprised at how much this book surprised me.

Every time I thought I knew what was coming next, some new secret or shocking twist surprised me.

By Brianna Joy Crump,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Of Cages and Crowns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

For goddess-touched girls, there is only one destiny: the Culling

From the moment Monroe Benson is born with a mark on her hand and the ability to summon fire from her fingertips, her life will never be her own. She’s goddess-touched, which means she’s destined to participate in the Culling, an age-old competition to determine the next queen of Erydia. For most of her seventeen years, her family has managed to keep Monroe―and her powers―hidden. But now, as Queen Viera calls for the Culling to start, and war looms on the horizon, Monroe can no longer hide. She must face…


Book cover of Small as an Elephant

Dana VanderLugt Author Of Enemies in the Orchard: A World War 2 Novel in Verse

From my list on middle grade written that tackle grief.

Who am I?

When I worked as a middle school teacher, I surveyed more than 200 students how they felt about books that included sadness and grief. The overwhelming answer from the students was that while adults too often minimize their feelings and dismiss the validity of their heartache, books do not. Many young readers want books that are honest and raw enough not to shield them from the world, but to pay enough attention to its pain to light a path, knowing that they can keep moving forward in the dark when they feel less alone and less afraid.

Dana's book list on middle grade written that tackle grief

Dana VanderLugt Why did Dana love this book?

Small as an Elephant is a book that I read aloud to my sons, but I needed as much as they did.

This story of 11-year-old Jack who is abandoned by his bipolar single mother and left to fend for himself in Acadia National Park is totally accessible and captivates young readers because of its emphasis on survival, but also delves into hard issues like mental illness and abandonment. I first learned about the book during a middle school English teachers’ discussion of “favorite books ever.”

By Jennifer Richard Jacobson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Small as an Elephant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

"A deeply perceptive look at the universal fear of abandonment." — Booklist (starred review)

Ever since Jack can remember, his mom has been unpredictable, sometimes loving and fun, other times caught in a whirlwind of energy and “spinning” wildly until it’s over. But now she is gone, leaving him all alone on a campsite in Maine. Can he find his way back to Boston before the authorities realize what happened? With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack begins a journey that will test his wits and his loyalties — and his trust that he may…


Book cover of If You Find Me

Beth Fehlbaum Author Of Big Fat Disaster

From my list on YA about broken people.

Who am I?

I always used food to cope with painful feelings, and I developed Binge Eating Disorder as a child. As an adult, I was in therapy to deal with traumatic stuff, and I lost 100 pounds. I finished therapy with a whole new set of tools with which to navigate the world, but I still regained the weight and started hating myself again. I said, “Whoa. Time-out. I am worthy of love. That has not changed, so why do I hate myself again?” That is what I explore in Big Fat Disaster: what is our worth, and why should that worth depend on what we look like? 

Beth's book list on YA about broken people

Beth Fehlbaum Why did Beth love this book?

I connected strongly to this book because the protagonist has experienced abandonment and must rebuild her life from the ashes, learning to trust adults to care for her and allow her a childhood rather than expecting her to be a miniature adult. Equally striking is the power of a secret, and how its revelation changes everything. In addition, through reading If You Find Me, I learned a way of using punctuation that creates tension and immediacy.

By Emily Murdoch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If You Find Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

What happens in the woods, stays in the woods...Carey is keeping a terrible secret. If she tells, it could destroy her future. If she doesn't, will she ever be free? For almost as long as she can remember, Carey has lived in a camper van in the heart of the woods with her drug-addicted mother and six-year-old sister, Jenessa. Her mother routinely disappears for weeks at a time, leaving the girls to cope alone. Survival is Carey's only priority - until strangers arrive and everything changes ...Carey is a strong, resilient, loving and earnest character who is flawed but determined…


Worcester Glendenis, Kid Detective

By Jon Glass,

Book cover of Worcester Glendenis, Kid Detective

Jon Glass Author Of Worcester Glendenis, Kid Detective

New book alert!

Who am I?

As a child I loved reading detective stories, and I still retain strong memories of Tintin and Sherlock Holmes, after which I graduated to Agatha Christie. As an adult my tastes changed and I lost interest in mysteries (with the exception of Edgar Alan Poe). However recently my interests have reversed, partly because I became a grandfather, and partly for the reason that I teach ethics to primary school children, as a volunteer. So it’s possible that Worcester Glendenis is a re-incarnation of me, but as the 12-year-old I wish I had been (as far as my memory can be relied upon to go back 60 years): more emotionally mature and more extrovert.

Jon's book list on middle grade detective fiction

What is my book about?

Worcester Glendenis is a 12-year-old wannabe private detective. He models himself on his hero, the fictional private eye Philip Marlowe, of course without the booze, cigarettes, and violence. After all, he is only twelve.

He's a likable and smart kid with two pesky 7-year-old twin sisters, and a Mum and Dad who are not always on his side. Yet he wins out by solving difficult cases, always with the help of his super-smart friend Esther. This book has been written for the middle grade reader who enjoys mysteries, crime fiction, and puzzles.

Worcester Glendenis, Kid Detective

By Jon Glass,

What is this book about?

This book has been written for the middle grade reader who enjoys mysteries, crime fiction and puzzles.

Worcester Glendenis is a 12-year-old wannabe private detective. He models himself on his hero, the fictional private eye Philip Marlowe, of course without the booze, cigarettes and violence. After all, he is only twelve.

He's a likeable and smart kid with two pesky 7-year-old twin sisters, and a Mum and Dad who are not always on his side. Yet he wins out by solving difficult cases, always with the help of his super-smart friend Esther.


Book cover of Raymie Nightingale

Amy Makechnie Author Of Ten Thousand Tries

From my list on with three best friends.

Who am I?

I’m a grown mother now. Also an author. But once upon a time, I was in middle school. I remember the braces, bad hair, being scared to return my lunch tray because boys might look at me while I passed their lunch table. Such angst, and yet I adore middle schoolers - they’re my jam. Fun, funny, exasperating, creative, boisterous, and annoying are all words I’d use to describe the middle school kids I teach and coach. I write down their quotes, shake my head at their antics, and adore their intense friendships. I hope you’ll enjoy these true-to-life middle-grade reads as much as I have!

Amy's book list on with three best friends

Amy Makechnie Why did Amy love this book?

I’ll read anything Kate DeCamillo writes. She is just so good. No matter the heartbreak that Raymie Nightingale faces (her dad’s just recently run off with the dental hygienist), Raymie has a plan. She’s going to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire Competition, her dad will see her picture in the paper, and then surely (maybe?) he’ll come home. Raymie gets through with friends who weren’t always her friends: the “frequently fainting” Louisiana Elefante, and feisty Beverly Tapinski. Together, “the three rancheros” challenge, but ultimately save, one another. Some friendships are not “like at first sight”!

By Kate DiCamillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Raymie Nightingale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Kate DiCamillo returns to her roots with a moving yet witty story of an unforgettable summer friendship. For fans of Jacqueline Wilson, David Almond and Katherine Rundell.

In her seventh novel, international bestselling author and twice winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal Kate DiCamillo tells a masterful story that blends pathos and humour. Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father - who has run away with a dental hygienist -…


Book cover of Little Brother

Kat Wheeler Author Of There Is No Cloud

From my list on technothrillers with accurate technology representation.

Who am I?

I’m just a book-loving girl working in a corporate world who’s sick to death of the inaccurate representations of technology in fiction. FYI, tracing a phone call is instantaneous, no need to keep that pesky murderer on the line these days. Technology is so ingrained in our daily lives and most people have very limited knowledge of what it actually does, so I became fascinated with the idea of using real modern-day tech in murder mysteries. I got so obsessed with the idea I decided to write it. No Sci-Fi of future tech, it may seem farfetched, but all the electronic wizardry used in my novels is real and accurately represented.

Kat's book list on technothrillers with accurate technology representation

Kat Wheeler Why did Kat love this book?

Cory Doctorow, the champion of nerds everywhere really hit the nail on the head with his book about the state of current politics and society with Little Brother. This book was released in 2008 but seems truer to life now than ever. His protagonist Marcus, watches appalled as the government begins to strip away citizens' rights under the guise of our protection. This book has been called dystopian young adult fiction, but I disagree. It all feels very familiar to the current climate we live in. It can get a little preachy but regardless of your personal politics it’s a must-read for all.

By Cory Doctorow,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Little Brother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Marcus, a.k.a "w1n5t0n," is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school's intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they're…


Book cover of A Book about Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Good

Sam Ita Author Of Fun with Origami Animals Kit: 40 Different Animals! Includes Colorfully Patterned Folding Sheets!

From my list on creative dads.

Who am I?

When my kids were toddlers, there was a Burger King in the neighborhood with an indoor playground. It was glorious. A random guy walked up to me while we were there. “How do you do it, you know, the whole Dad thing” he asked. "Well… you don’t necessarily need to do a whole lot. Mostly just show up. Stick around." Never mentioned that by this time, I’d written and/or illustrated at least a couple dozen children’s books. I asked my nine-year-old daughter how she’d describe me as a Dad. “Most people think you’re creative, but I think you’re pretty average.” That’s good enough for me.

Sam's book list on creative dads

Sam Ita Why did Sam love this book?

This book does an amazing job of introducing kids to visual thinking and communication. Crucial skills in this day and age.

Bold lines and primary colors clearly demonstrate the basic principles of design and composition without pretense or jargon. After countless rereadings, my copy endured tape repairs and ultimately complete destruction at the hands of my daughter. You always hurt the ones you love. Highly recommended.

By Mark Gonyea,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Book about Design as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Design is all about the perception of size, shape, and color.

A fabulous and fun introduction to the concepts of design

A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Good takes a most creative approach to introducing young (and not-so-young) readers to the fundamental elements of design. Using simple shapes, lines, and a sense of humor, this book explains why complicated doesn't make it good-and why that matters. Mark Gonyea opens up the world of design and makes it accessible to young artists and non-artists alike.

A Children's Book-of-the-Month Club Selection
A JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION


Book cover of The Great Irish Politics Book

Nick Sheridan Author Of The Case of the Phantom Treasure

From my list on Irish children’s stories featuring zero Leprechauns.

Who am I?

As a kid, I loved books of all shapes and sizes, especially those written by Irish authors. They made me feel like there was a chance of my own dream coming true – that I would walk into my local bookshop and see a book with my name on the cover. In the last twenty years, we've seen an explosion of new Irish authors making their mark on the world of children’s literature. Don’t get me wrong, I adore leprechauns, and many of the classic Irish books that have been loved by previous generations. But there’s a crop of brand new Irish authors making some incredible work, and it’s time to give them some love!

Nick's book list on Irish children’s stories featuring zero Leprechauns

Nick Sheridan Why did Nick love this book?

I’m super-passionate about giving young people the window into the world that they deserve – in fact, I wrote a whole book about journalism and fake news for kids.

David McCullagh, with this book, has flung that window wide open.

David will be familiar to Irish audiences as the anchor of the main evening news programme on RTE, but he’s managed to do the almost-impossible with this book. Namely: communicating the world of politics to kids in a way that doesn’t patronise or talk down to young people.

This beautifully-illustrated book explains some quite complicated concepts clearly with real-word examples and some excellent tongue-in-cheek humour.

I’ll be forcing it on my wee nephew as soon as he’s old enough!

By David McCullagh, Graham Corcoran (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Irish Politics Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Join political buff David McCullagh and illustrator Graham Corcoran as they guide you through all the things that make our country work. Why do we have a president and a Taoiseach? What is the Seanad and why can only some citizens vote in its elections? Who makes the rules for Ireland and how are they enforced? And what do we do if we want to change them?

Learn what it means to be a citizen and the positive role you can play by helping others, protecting what works and creating change in the world you live in.

The latest book…


Book cover of Queen of Shadows

Lisa Cassidy Author Of A Tale of Stars and Shadow

From my list on fantasy with strong female protagonists.

Who am I?

I absolutely love reading representations of strong, powerful women. And while it’s always fun if they’re kick-ass warriors who can take down an army all on their own, strength doesn’t always have to be in combat. Depictions of emotional strength, resilience, and/or compassion can be wonderful elements of strength too. But don’t discount the ‘grey’ women protagonists, either, the mercenary, callous, and/or ruthless characters with only a touch of softness. All these nuances make female characters strong and I love to see any and all of them in my fantasy protagonists. It's why I write so many of them!

Lisa's book list on fantasy with strong female protagonists

Lisa Cassidy Why did Lisa love this book?

I have an absolute favourite book character and her name is Manon Blackbeak.

No, she’s not the main protagonist in this book (although Aelin Galathynius is awesome), and that’s why I’m recommending the fourth book in this series rather than the first, because it’s really where we start to Manon come into her own. She is vicious, unapologetic, fiercely loyal, and just so cool. Yet for someone so hard and tough, her bond with her wyvern, Abraxos, gives you all the feels. I loved how Manon’s plotline developed further in Queen of Shadows and her showdown fight with Aelin at the end was one of the best I’ve ever read. 

This is a fantastic series by Maas, with a trove of great characters. My experience was that book three – Heir of Fire – was where the story really began to find its footing. By halfway through…

By Sarah J. Maas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Queen of Shadows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Sarah J. Maas's New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series reaches new heights in this sweeping fourth volume. Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire-for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past... She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight. She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable…


Book cover of The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid

Ben Guterson Author Of Winterhouse

From my list on kids suddenly caught up in mysterious circumstances.

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to stories that feature mysterious locales and secret objects and strange or magical occurrences, so books with these elements—particularly when the main characters in the books are young people learning about themselves and the world around them—are often very satisfying to me. There’s something naturally engaging, I believe, in tales where someone is thrust into a disorienting situation and has to make sense of the uncertainty he or she faces. The books I’ve written for young readers all tend in this direction, and so I’m always on the hunt for stories along these same lines.

Ben's book list on kids suddenly caught up in mysterious circumstances

Ben Guterson Why did Ben love this book?

This humorous, intelligent tale—about a diplomat’s son who befriends a troupe of young pickpockets in early-‘60s Marseilles—is a brisk read by a writer who cares as much about the rhythm of his sentences as he does the arc of his story. Before our hero knows it, he’s caught up in a life of excitement that begins to make sense to him—until it doesn’t. Full of surprises, including one that walloped this reader as much as it does the main character, this novel navigates a shadowy and unexpected world where young teens talk like seasoned criminals, and friendship itself is a risky proposition.

By Colin Meloy, Carson Ellis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From the creators of the New York Times bestselling Wildwood Chronicles comes an original, humorous, and fast-paced middle grade novel about a band of child pickpockets—imagine The Invention of Hugo Cabret meets Oliver Twist.

It is an ordinary Tuesday morning in April when bored, lonely Charlie Fisher witnesses something incredible. Right before his eyes, in a busy square in Marseille, a group of pickpockets pulls off an amazing robbery. As the young bandits appear to melt into the crowd, Charlie realizes with a start that he himself was one of their marks.

Yet Charlie is less alarmed than intrigued. This…


Book cover of The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole

Sarah Marie Jette Author Of What the Wind Can Tell You

From my list on for siblings and scientists.

Who am I?

I’ve been an elementary school teacher for 14 years. In that time, I’ve read a lot of children’s books. In my classroom, science is one of my students’ favorite subjects. Though they love fantasy and magic, they are inspired by the power of science. Each of the books I’ve recommended is part of my classroom library, is used in a read-aloud or as a mentor text in writing lessons. My students connect with the characters and experience the marvels of science along with them. These books are some of their favorites.

Sarah's book list on for siblings and scientists

Sarah Marie Jette Why did Sarah love this book?

Stella is grieving the death of her father. When a black hole follows her home one day, Stella is able to hide away all the memories she hopes to forget. In this touching and funny tale, Stella and her brother come together in their sadness. Yes, it is a story of grief, but it is also a story centered on science. I learned a lot about black holes in this book and there’s enough space jokes and puns to keep all space nerds laughing for days.

By Michelle Cuevas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

"So wait," said Cosmo. "If we go in that door, we might exit on the other side of the galaxy?"'
"I don't know," I said. "But we currently live in a tub in a black hole, so what do we have to lose?"

When eleven-year-old space mad Stella Rodriguez shows up at NASA to request that her recording be included in Carl Sagan's Golden Record, something unexpected happens: A black hole follows her home, and sets out to live in her house as a pet. The black hole swallows everything he touches, which is challenging to say the least -…