Realistic fiction is always the most popular genre in my classroom. Middle schoolers love to read about other middle schoolers! Some of the most popular choices in my classroom would invariably make great gifts!
- Stanford Wong Flunks Big-time , Millicent Min, Girl Genius, and So Totally Emily Ebers by Lisa Yee- This series by Lisa Yee is always popular. Everyone can identify with one of the main characters, whether it’s Millicent, Emily, or Stanford. And kids love that the same story is told, but from the perspective of each character. It makes each book just different enough from the last one while still retaining that familiarity that is so important for a lot of my readers. Plus, Lisa Yee is hysterical!
- Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis- A personal favorite, Emma Jean represents that kid everyone remembers from middle school- lacking certain social skills, reveling in being different, and getting into everyone’s business. And her classmate, Colleen, is the girl who just wants to be popular, even if some of the “popular” ways go against her sweet and compassionate personality. A gentle read, this novel is perfect for fans of realistic fiction about middle school.
- The Graduation of Jake Moon by Barbara Park- A word of warning- this is a sad book! However, it’s always a popular choice for boys and girls alike. This short novel deals with Jake’s relationship with his grandfather as his Alzheimer’s slowly worsens. You meet Jake when he is in third grade and follow him through eighth grade. He starts out looking after his grandfather an hour a day, a job that becomes more and more burdensom. He is embarrassed by his grandfather’s increasingly erratic (and sometimes crazy) behavior. Looking after his grandfather slowly alienates him from his friends, as he is embarrassed to have them see his grandfather. This is an issue a lot of kids deal with these days, and this slim novel is heavy-hitting.
- Rules by Cynthia Lord- This is a powerful story about a young girl whose brother is autistic. Twelve-year old Catherine tries her best to help David get along in the world, developing lists of rules for him to follow. However, while she loves her brother, she is trying to live her own life, too. When a new girl moves in next door, Catherine isn’t sure she wants her to know about David. A great novel to introduce autism and special needs to tweens, this isn’t a preachy story and my students love it!
- The Landry News by Andrew Clements- Andrew Clements is probably the most popular author in my 6th grade classroom. While all of his novels are a hit, this one is particularly popular this year. Mr. Larson has taught for 20 years and he’s burned out. So he decides to let his fifth graders do a project on their own while he sits back and relaxes. So when a student, Cara Landry, writes a newspaper with an editorial about the lack of teaching going on in room 145, the former “Teacher of the Year” gets very upset. Realizing that the girl is stating the truth, he starts a unit on journalism and the class enthusiastically begins a newspaper. The newspaper is a huge success. However, when she allows a very personal story about divorce to be printed, the principal sees it as an opportunity to get rid of Mr. Larson. A great story about the First Amendment, kids can’t put this down!
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