Something to Read: Books for Middle Schoolers

A trendy and probably Pinterest-inspired idea is to buy fewer holiday gifts for your children—often using the catchy phrase, “something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.”

That “something to read” is often tricky. It can be even more difficult if you’re looking for a book for your dearest 10- to 13-year-old loved one. The reading landscape has changed since most of us were visiting our middle school library. 

As a middle school English teacher, I love the books specifically written for these ‘tweens!  They typically contain little to no graphic violence, sexuality, or profanity and are focused on friends and family. Most middle grade novels are around 200 pages in length (with fantasy stories being longer to allow for the creation of new, magical worlds). I have compiled a fun list of some of my favorite ‘tween titles to help you pick some winners this holiday season. 

Beyond this list, you can encourage a love of reading without buying a book and wrapping it with a bow. Make a gift of the entire reading experience. Create a certificate for an afternoon exploring a library or local bookstore.  

My children are now adults, but some of their favorite reading memories are our trips to the Indianapolis Marion County Central Library.  A trip to the neighborhood branch was fine, but a trip downtown was an adventure! There were fun reading nooks to try out, and escalators to ride to the top floor to take in the sweeping view of downtown.  The books were fun, but the memories are priceless!  As Newberry Award-winning children’s author Kate DiCamillo says, “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or a duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.”

Here’s wishing you a season filled with chapters of fun and adventure!

Book Recommendation List for Tweens and Early Teens

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