50 Must-Read Books for Seventh Graders

11 min


Welcome to Amy’s Bookshelf! Here, teachers will find carefully curated book lists for each grade level from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Moving forward, new lists filled with book recommendations will be published weekly. Sometimes, these lists will be organized around a specific theme, like a holiday or seasonal event. Other times, they will feature rockstar books – books practically guaranteed to get your students reading. 

Before jumping into reading recommendations, a few words about how books are selected.

First, it is so important that teachers prioritize reading interest over reading level. Students will often choose to read well above or below their reading level if they are particularly interested in a book or topic. Teachers only hurt students by limiting them to a specific selection of titles grouped according to an arbitrary number or level. Think of the books on these lists as starting places for you and your students, but if a student wants to read up (or down), that is a-ok.

Also, please note that these lists lean heavily toward modern selections as opposed to the classics many teachers are familiar with. A true renaissance is happening in children’s literature today, and the books coming out are truly exciting. One of the factors that makes this such an exciting time for kid lit is how diverse the selections are in terms of genre, characters and subject matter. These lists will feature fiction and nonfiction selection as well as graphic novels, novels written in verse, and more.

Any book list or classroom library worth its salt includes books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters, racially diverse characters, characters with disabilities, characters in the foster care system, characters from a wide variety of socioeconomic and religious backgrounds, and so on. Importantly, the diversity of the characters doesn’t always need to be the focus of the literature – in other words, a book featuring a black character or gay character doesn’t need to be about those individuals exploring their blackness or their gayness; those characters can have kid problems that apply to all children regardless of their race or sexual orientation. Similarly, students should be encouraged to read stories featuring people of diversity all year long – not just during a month set aside to celebrate a specific heritage.

One final note: today’s children’s literature does not shy away from frank discussions of gender, race, sex, sexuality, abuse, mental illness, and more – nor should it. I will not censor books from these lists based on these controversial areas. What books you recommend will depend on the specific district you work in and your clientele. I encourage you and your students to read widely without fear.

Seventh Grade

Seventh grade is a time of growing pains for many students, a time of growing up and sometimes growing apart from friends. It’s a time of forging one’s own path and finding your own way in the world. Middle grade fiction, especially novels, tends to reflect this transition time in children’s lives. 

1. Sisters

by Raina Telgemeier

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Get it HERE.

In this graphic novel sequel to Smile, Raina can’t wait to be a big sister, until her little sister is actually born and she realizes that babies aren’t a lot of fun. Over the years, they learn to stick together and stand up for each other.  

2. I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

Get it HERE.

Another picture book biography, this time about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This particular biography tells Gindburg’s story through her many famous dissents. 

3. The Giver by Lois Lowry 

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Get it HERE.

On the day Life Assignments are given out, 12-year-old Jonas is selected as his community’s next Receiver of Memory in this famous dystopian story. This is a must read. Author Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver. 

4. The Fourteenth Goldfish

by Jennifer L. Holm 

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

Get it HERE.

Ellie likes her life and hates change. One day, a new kid shows up in school, and he reminds Ellie an awful lot of her grandfather…her grandfather who has always been obsessed with immortality. 

5. A Snicker of Magic

by Natalie Lloyd 

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

Get it HERE.

Felicity and her family move to the town of Midnight Gulch for her mother’s new job, but Felicity doesn’t trust that it will last long. Her mother is cursed with a wandering heart, after all.  But Felicity soon learns that Midnight Gulch was once a magical place until a curse drove away all the magic. She starts to think that, if she can get the magic to return, maybe her mother will finally settle down, too. 

6. The Invention of Hugo Cabret

by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Get it HERE.

Don’t let students be intimidated by the 500+ pages in this book, Hugo Cabret is a wonder. It’s part graphic novel, part text, and a whole lot of wonder. Hugo survives as an orphan on the streets of London by helping wind an old clock and through thieving. All of this changes and Hugo’s secrets threaten to come spilling out when he crosses paths with an old toy shop owner. 

7. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park 

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Get it HERE.

The Sudanese water crisis is told through two perspectives – that of Nya, a Sudanese girl in 2008 who walks two hours to retrieve water, and Salva, in 1985, who becomes one of the lost boys of Sudan. This is based on a true story and is extremely powerful. 

8. Inside Out and Back Again

by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Get it HERE.

Hà loves her home in Vietnam, but when the Vietnam War reaches Saigon, her family boards a ship headed for the United States. Hà tells her story in verse, and it is based on the author’s childhood. 

9. The Girl Who Drank the Moon

by Kelly Barnhill 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Get it HERE.

The witch in the forest, Xan, is kind, but the people of the Protectorate don’t know this. They leave her an offering each year – an offering of a child. Xan takes the children and places them with adoptive families in a neighboring town. One year, Xan decides to keep a child and raise her as her own. This child is Luna, and as Luna turns 13, her magic starts to unfold while a man from the Protectorate is on a mission to kill the witch and free his people. 

10. Echo

by Pam Munoz Ryan 

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Get it HERE.

Echo is very impressive middle grade magical realism. This is the story of three children who are connected by a magic harmonica in the World War II era. It’s hard to put down. 

11. Amal Unbound

by Aisha Saeed 

Amal Unbound

Get it HERE.

A young Pakastani girl, Amal, is forced into indentured servitude by her village’s corrupt landlord. Amal is determined to make sure her dreams aren’t dashed in the process. 

12. Playing Atari With Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil 

Playing Atari With Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil

Get it HERE.

Ali Fadhil is 11 years old in 1991 when Saddam Hussein goes to war with the United States. Ali’s father is a medic and is sent to war. The family spends the duration of the war trying to survive.

13. 14 Hollow Road

by Jenn Bishop 

14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop

Get it HERE.

Maddie’s sixth grade dance is abruptly ended  when a tornado races through her town, destroying her family’s home and the home of her crush, Avery. A neighbor opens their home to both Maddie and Avery’s families, and suddenly, Maddie is spending the summer living with the boy she likes. 

14. All’s Faire in Middle School

by Victoria Jamieson 

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

Get it HERE.

Imogene, or Impy, has been homeschooled by her two parents who work at a renaissance fair. She is convinced she has what it takes to be brave like a knight, and her noble quest is enrolling in public school, just in time to try to survive middle school. 

15. Death on the River of Doubt: Teddy Roosevelt’s Amazon Adventure by Samantha Seiple

Death on the River of Doubt: Teddy Roosevelt's Amazon Adventure by Samantha Seiple

Get it HERE.

Theodore Roosevelt and his two sons were given the opportunity to map an uncharted river in the Amazon jungle in 1913. They faced many dangers, and this is a really engaging account of that journey. 

16. A Dog in the Cave: The Wolves Who Made Us Human by Kay Frydenborg

A Dog in the Cave: The Wolves Who Made Us Human by Kay Frydenborg

Get it HERE.

This is a really unique nonfiction book for the middle school set. Most middle grade nonfiction is encyclopedic in nature, whereas this is a novel-length science text telling the story of man’s domestication of wolves, and the ways that those early canines influenced our evolution, too. 

17. American Pharoah: Triple Crown Champion by Shelley Fraser Mickle

American Pharoah: Triple Crown Champion by Shelley Fraser Mickle

Get it HERE.

This is the life story of American Pharoah, the horse that won the Triple Crown in 2015. The story goes into great detail about the horse himself as well as the trainers, breeders, and jockey who were a part of his team. 

18. Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail 

Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail

Get it HERE.

Gracie likes A.J., but A.J. likes her best friend Sienna. So Gracie plays Horatio for Sienna, writing texts to A.J. for her, all the while assuring herself that she’s just fine with the arrangement. 

19. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

by Wendy Mass

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

Get it HERE.

Right before Jeremy’s thirteenth birthday, a mysterious box arrives in the mail. A letter proclaims that this box holds the meaning of life for Jeremy but the key is missing. Jeremy sets off with his best friend to find the key and open the box. 

20. Hello Universe

by Erin Entrada Kelly 

Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Get it HERE.

Chet Bullins pulls a prank gone wrong and shy Virgil Salinas ends up at the bottom of a well with his pet guinea pig. When three other kids, Valencia, Gen, and Kaori, realize Virgil is missing, they set out to find him. 

21. Dead End in Norvelt

by Jack Gantos

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Get it HERE.

Jack Gantos is grounded for life. His mom assigns him to a local neighbor to help type obituaries for the iconic people in his town. A mystery begins to unfold as Jack notices some unusual details in the obituaries that start painting a bigger picture of intrigue.   

22. The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

by Janet Fox 

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

Get it HERE.

Kat and her brother are sent to a Scottish moor to escape the bombing of London. They wind up at Rookskill Castle and are quite convinced the castle is haunted – or worse. 

23. Under the Mesquite

by Guadalupe Garcia McCall 

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Get it HERE.

Lupita’s Mami is diagnosed with cancer, and Lupita abandons her adolescent worries to do everything she can to save Mami’s life. This includes babysitting her seven younger siblings. This is a gorgeous coming-of-age story written in verse. 

24. All the Broken Pieces

by Ann E. Burg

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg

Get it HERE.

Matt Pin was airlifted from his war-torn home in Vietnam and adopted by a family in the United States. This novel in verse is a story of healing as Matt faces fears, uncertainty, and prejudice in his new home. 

25. Inkheart

by Cornelia Funke

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Get it HERE.

Meggie’s father reads her a bedtime story and accidentally releases a villian into the real world. Meggie must stop him. This is the first in a trilogy. 

26. Trudy’s Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World

by Storm written by Sue Macy and illustrated by Matt Collins

Trudy’s Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm written by Sue Macy and illustrated by Matt Collins

Get it HERE.

Yet another incredible picture book biography, this one about Gertrude Ederle who became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Really excellent back matter gives more biographical information than the story itself. 

27. Wolf Hollow

by Lauren Wolk

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Get it HERE.

Annabelle recognizes a bully as soon as Betty Glengarry moves to town. Betty’s bullying soon makes reclusive neighbor Toby, a friend of Annabelle’s, a target. She determines she will put a stop to Betty. 

28. The Golden Compass

by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Get it HERE.

Orphan Lyra Belacqua lives a happy life among the scholars of Jordan College until one day her uncle, Lord Asriel visits the college along with Mrs. Coulter. Both adults seem to hold the key to the epidemic of children who have been disappearing lately. This is the first in a bestselling trilogy that warns about the corrupting power of religion (and is thus controversial and often challenged). 

29. Among the Hidden

by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Get it HERE.

This dystopian novel imagines a world where parents are only allowed two children. Luke is a third, a shadow child, and he lives his life in hiding. This is the first book in the Shadow Children series. 

30. She Loves You: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah by Ann Hood

She Loves You: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah by Ann Hood

Get it HERE.

Trudy Mixer is 12 years old and life is pretty rough. Her beloved Beatles fan club is down to three of the least popular kids in the school. Trudy sets out to see The Beatles when they come to Boston, quite the feat for a middle schooler living in Rhode Island. 

31. The Length of a String

by Elissa Brent Weissman

The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman

Get it HERE.

Imani, who is adopted, decides she is finally ready to find her birth parents. Her search turns inward when her great-grandmother passes away and Imani finds her diary, which details her fleeing from the Nazi regime. 

32. Marabel and the Book of Fate

by Tracy Barrett

Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett

Get it HERE.

Princess Marabel has lived in the shadow of her twin brother, Marco, her whole life. But on their thirteenth birthday, Marco is kidnapped and Marabel has a chance to save the day. 

33. Squirrel Power: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1

by North Henderson 

Squirrel Power: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1 by North Henderson

Get it HERE.

Doreen Green is a friend of Tony Stark, and like most of Stark’s friends, she has a superhero alter ego as Squirrel Girl. She is a college student by day and crime-fighting superhero at night. This is the first of five volumes. 

34. The Inventors at No. 8 by A.M. Morgen

The Inventors at No. 8 by A.M. Morgen

Get it HERE.

George is an orphan, and when he finds out that his family heirloom, a map to the Star of Victory, has been stolen, it’s the last straw. He sets out, along with Ada Lovelace, to get the map back. 

35. Rising Above: Inspiring Women in Sports

by Gregory Zuckerman with Gabriel and Elijah Zuckerman

Rising Above: Inspiring Women in Sports by Gregory Zuckerman with Gabriel and Elijah Zuckerman

Get it HERE.

The women profiled in this nonfiction book are household names – Simone Biles, Venus and Serena Williams, and so many more. This is a collection of biographies of women athletes who overcame tremendous obstacles to rise to the top in their sports. 

36. The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden 

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

Get it HERE.

This book tackles difficult issues like the gun debate and domestic violence through the eyes of Zoey. Zoey, her siblings, and her mom live with Lenny in the most comfortable home they’ve ever known. When Zoey is asked to join the debate team, she starts noticing things through different eyes and finds a voice to speak up. 

37. Wish

by Barbara O’Connor

Wish by Barbara O'Connor

Get it HERE.

Charlie does not know what it means to have a “put together” family. She is sent to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her aunt and uncle. Here, she meets a stray dog christened Wishbone and meets Howard, who becomes her close friend. This book deals heavily with the theme of abandoned children, making it a read that is at time difficult. 

38. Posted

by John David Anderson 

Posted by John David Anderson

Get it HERE.

Cell phones are banned from Branton Middle School, so the kids must resort to leaving old-fashioned notes for each other in the form of sticky notes left around the school. This book looks at the power of words to hurt and to heal. 

39. One Shadow on the Wall

by Leah Henderson 

One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson

Get it HERE.

Mor made a promise to his father on his father’s death bed – to keep his sisters safe and keep the family together. Yet, try as he might, the pressures of these promises seem to great for an 11 year old. This novel’s back drop is modern-day Senegal. 

40. Amina’s Voice

by Hena Kahn 

Amina's Voice by Hena Kahn

Get it HERE.

Amina, a Pakistani-American girl, faces all the usual pressures of middle school. Her best friend starts talking about changing her name to something more American and Amina starts grappling with her identity. Meanwhile, a neighborhood mosque is vandalized in a hate crime. 

41. Wild Bird

by Wendelin Van Draanen

Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen

Get it HERE.

Wren is enrolled in a survivalist wilderness therapy class after her parents don’t know how to handle her anymore. She arrives at camp bitter and angry, but during her eight-week stay in the wild, she finds redemption. 

42. The Cat Ate My Gymsuit

by Paula Danziger

The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger

Get it HERE.

Marcy finds her life pretty boring. School is stupid. Her dad verbally abuses her and her mother. But when Ms. Finney becomes Marcy’s English teacher and actually treats her like a person, Marcy checks back into life. 

43. Ninth Ward

by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Get it HERE.

Ninth Ward is about a 12-yera-old girl who lives through Hurricane Katrina with her family and friends in New Orleans. It does a nice job contextualizing and explaining the natural disaster to children. 

44. See You in the Cosmos

by Jack Cheng 

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Get it HERE.

Alex’s hero is astronomer Carl Sagan. Sagan launched his Golden Record into space and Alex dreams of doing the same with an iPod containing his podcast.

45. The Friendship Experiment

by Erin Teagan 

The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan

Get it HERE.

Madeline Little wants to be a scientist, and she doesn’t have time for the fun and games of other kids her age. She doesn’t want to start middle school, she just wants to run experiments in her father’s lab. 

46. Front Desk

by Kelly Yang

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Get it HERE.

Mia’s family lives in a motel. Her parents, immigrants themselves, secretly hide away other immigrants in empty motel rooms, putting the whole family at risk. On top of that, Mia dreams of being a writer, though her first language isn’t English and her mother suggests she sticks to math. She’s in for a tough year!

47. Forever or a Long, Long Time

by Caela Carter

Forever or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter

Get it HERE.

Siblings Flora and Julian don’t trust the foster care system that has shuttled them from home to home, and they certainly don’t trust their adoptive parents. With the help of their new mom, the two siblings research their past so they can learn to trust again. 

48. Navigating Early

by Clare Vanderpool

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Get it HERE.

Jack and Early are friends at a boys’ boarding school in Maine. During a school break, they set out to hike the Appalachian Trail searching for a black bear. This story is their odyssey, as they meet new friends (and enemies) and learn about themselves in the process. 

49. York by Laura Ruby 

York by Laura Ruby

Get it HERE.

In this alternate history, the Morningstar Twins helped build New York City into the city it is today. The twins disappeared, leaving the Old York Cipher behind them, a puzzle constructed by the architects that no one has been able to solve – until, that is, three modern-day kids band together to see if they can crack the code.

50. Denis Ever After

by Tony Abbott

Denis Ever After by Tony Abbott

Get it HERE.

Denis died seven years ago and has been stuck in limbo ever since, because his twin brother Matt cannot let him go. Denis goes back to help Matt uncover the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death so that he and his family can be at peace. 

Other book lists from Amy’s bookshelf you’ll love: 

50 Must-Read Books for 7th Graders

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AuthorAmy

Veteran Member

I am an unrepentant lover of words - and lucky me, I spend all day, every day immersed in them. When I'm not teaching, I'm reading. Or writing. Or teaching eager (and sometimes not-so-eager) adolescents about the power of the written word. I live on the scenic Oregon Coast with my dog, two cats, and five-year-old son.

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