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Book Recommendation Lists by Genre and Categories for Middle School and High School Students and Teachers



Hi friends! 

I have FINALLY made a resource that has been about 5-6 years in the making. For years I have wanted a comprehensive resource with book recommendations for middle school and high school students. 

Often times, when I want books within certain genres or categories, I can find very small lists with 5-10 book recommendations. It's still helpful, but I wanted to have tons of options for each of the categories I am always looking for. I almost always get asked about book recommendations, and always wished I had more comprehensive lists to send people to. 

Well, it's finally done. 

This would also work well in 6th and 7th grade, because the resource is 100% editable. You are able to delete any book titles you don't want included and/or add in your own recommendations. 

Scroll through the post below to check out the lists, categories, editing capabilities, and so much more for your middle and high school students. 

If you'd like a free (AND EDITABLE) sample sent straight to your inbox, then sign up for my email list right here. No spam, just freebies sent to your inbox. Pinky promise. 









Here is a sneak peek at two of the categories that are included in the file. There are 25 total categories (but if I get multiple requests for the same genres, I will add over time!) with unlimited editable options, along with editable capabilities on the already completed pages.






My Favorite Books to Read With Middle Schoolers in 7th and 8th Grade


I am by no means the absolute expert on the best books for certain age groups, but now that I have spent a solid amount of time in each 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade as a reading and writing teacher, I definitely have my favorites for each group.




Even more so, this is probably one of the most asked questions I get on instagram, email, and TPT questions. Teachers always want to know the best books for their age group. 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I will not even once kind of even sort of mention reading levels. I don't subscribe to that kind of thinking, and since most of these are read aloud anyway, levels don't matter. That is a blog post for another day (and would honestly take pages of work for me to get through, because I have pretty strong feelings about that). 

When I say who these books are for, I am simply going on what grade levels I have read them with and we've enjoyed reading them together. 

These are my favorite books to read with seventh and eighth graders. Since being in middle school, when I have loved a book that would engage a lot of my students, I would usually make an accompanying reading unit. I will link my affiliate links on Amazon for each book, and if I have a unit, I will link to that on TPT. 

Since going form 5th and 6th to middle school ELA, I am always looking to teach all the genres, books that have movies to go with them, and just all around good books. I also only have 55-65 minute class periods, so the books also have to be something we can get through in roughly 3-4 weeks because I read almost everything aloud in class.

These are our all time favorite to read together in middle school.

THE CROSSOVER
 Book on Amazon (Affiliate Link) Socratic Seminar Reading Unit on TPT 
(This is currently just my 6th grade reading unit. It's what I used last year with 8th grade, but hope/plan to make a middle school standards aligned one this year. 

I have about five authors that I could seriously start and run the ultimate fan clubs for. Kwame Alexander is one of them. If you are not reading or suggesting his books to middle schoolers, you all are totally missing out. His books are written in verse, he has diverse and complex characters that SO MANY kids can relate to, and the story lines are so good. Basketball was my life growing up, so The Crossover might be my favorite, but every time he releases a book, I devour it. Seriously, if you get nothing else out of this post, just go get one of this books, like yesterday. I read The Crossover as a read aloud with my 8th graders during our poetry unit. 

 FREAK THE MIGHTY

Here is another book that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that it's on my list of favorites. It is THE ONLY book that I have taught in all the grades I've taught (5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th). I think it's perfect for 6th or 7th, BUT if I was only a 5th grade teacher I would still teach it. It is probably my favorite book ever.
THE CALL OF THE WILD

I'll be 100% honest and say I HATED this book the first year I was required to teach it. At the time I had gone from a school with complete autonomy to having a required curriculum. That being said, I'm not told HOW to teach and because of that I have made The Call of the Wild my own and have grown to love teaching it with my 7th graders. I like that it's short but also requires to make my middle schoolers think deeply and critically about things like survival of the fittest, evolution, resiliency, and the relationships humans and animals can have. Even more so, over the years, wolves have become my favorite animals, and now I bring that passion to my teaching of the novel. Lastly, the vocabulary in it is intense and I am always needing to up that with my middle schoolers.

 BOOKED
 Book on Amazon (Affiliate Link) Socratic Seminar Reading Unit on TPT 
(UNIT COMING SOON)

I already told you I am part of the Kwame Alexander fan club. I read Booked aloud with my 7th graders during our poetry unit because it is written in verse. Again, I love the relatable characters (there is THE COOLEST teacher in this book too), the relatable topics, and just how quickly and seamlessly we get through the books. The ending leaves the kids hanging and the love/hate it!

 THE OUTSIDERS

My first year of teaching 7th and 8th grade, I read Freak the Mighty aloud to both classes. I used it as a mentor text to teach narrative writing. My second year, I needed another narrative mentor text to teach my old 7th graders who were now 8th graders. I had always heard about teaching The Outsiders in 8th grade, and when I realized that it was a narrative, and I just so happened to have a class set, I was sold! The students and I both love how there is a climax right away, and I love the lessons they learn about life from this novel. 
 THE OUTSIDERS

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl is such a different kind of favorite book for me. It is one my required texts with my 7th graders, but it's one I'm so grateful I have to teach. Our 7th graders do an intensive Holocaust unit and project in Social Studies at the same time, and even though there are parts that are tedious to get though, I'm always amazed how much all my 7th graders get into it. We read the play version at the same time, but I think Anne's diary is one of the most important texts our students can read. 
 OUT OF THE DUST
 Book on Amazon (Affiliate Link) Socratic Seminar Reading Unit on TPT 
(TPT UNIT COMING SOON)

Anne Frank's diary actually inspired me to read Out of the Dust with my 7th graders this year. The connections they have to Anne Frank in social studies, had me looking for other texts that would do the same for my students. Our 7th graders do a Great Depression unit and Dust Bowl unit almost exactly at the same time as I am teaching poetry. This made Out of the Dust perfect because it is written in verse and covers the same topics. I'm working on our accompanying unit as we speak. 
 THE FINEST HOURS

Non-Fiction books are not my favorite (the exception is teacher professional development books) but each grade I teach I REALLY try hard to find at least one good non-fiction novel for us to read together. Even more so, I love when there's a movie :). The Finest Hours really is a great non-fiction book to read with middle school students. The story lines are a little hard to follow at first, because there were multiple boat rescues needed all at the same time, but the kids get so into it after a while. They want to know who gets saved and how. Even more so, it's great to read about what happened after the boat rescues took place, and how it impacted the lives of those involved. 
 A LONG WALK TO WATER

I honestly can't remember what drew me into this book, but I ended up reading it right before I became a sixth grade teacher and fell in love. I loved how it was based on multiple true events, stories, and people. Even more so, Ioved how it could teach students about being thankful for what they have, and giving back when they can. When I taught 6th grade, it was just a really hard year, but my kids were so enthralled by this story that many even went on line to read about Salva's water initiatives, and some even wanted to donate. It was probably one of the most impactful stories I've ever read with a class. Since then, I have read it with my 7th graders and the impact gets more and more profound each and every year.  

My Favorite Books for 6th Graders

I am by no means the absolute expert on the best books for certain age groups, but now that I have spent a solid amount of time in each 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade as a reading and writing teacher, I definitely have my favorites for each group.

If you want to read my favorite books for 5th grade, click here. 

Even more so, this is probably one of the most asked questions I get on instagram, email, and TPT questions. Teachers always want to know the best books for their age group. 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I will not even once kind of even sort of mention reading levels. I don't subscribe to that kind of thinking, and since most of these are read aloud anyway, levels don't matter. That is a blog post for another day (and would honestly take pages of work for me to get through, because I have pretty strong feelings about that). 

When I say who these books are for, I am simply going on what grade levels I have read them with and we've enjoyed reading them together. 

These are my favorite books to read with sixth graders. Back then, when I loved a book, I would usually make an accompanying reading unit. I will link my affiliate links on Amazon for each book, and if I have a unit, I will link to that on TPT. 

When I taught fifth and sixth, I was always looking to teach all the genres, books that had movies to go with them, and just all around good books. When I went from fifth to sixth, I was also doing my best to try and make my 6th graders feel more grown up (because of how they wanted to feel) but also remembering they're still just kids.

A LONG WALK TO WATER

I honestly can't remember what drew me into this book, but I ended up reading it right before I became a sixth grade teacher and fell in love. I loved how it was based on multiple true events, stories, and people. Even more so, Ioved how it could teach students about being thankful for what they have, and giving back when they can. When I taught 6th grade, it was just a really hard year, but my kids were so enthralled by this story that many even went on line to read about Salva's water initiatives, and some even wanted to donate. It was probably one of the most impactful stories I've ever read with a class. 
 THE MAZE RUNNER

I am going to be SUPER honest about The Maze Runner. I have a super love-hate relationship with it. I personally love The Maze Runner series. I think it's a great middle grade/middle school series. Every year, when I have let my 6th grades pick a book from the class set options I have, every single year they pick The Maze Runner. I think 6th graders are drawn to it because it's more mature, but not so young adult that it's inappropriate. 

The struggle is that it's a long books and takes a long time to build. And every year I question why I let them choose it because about halfway through they just want to be done. BUT then every year, the last 1/4 of the book, they are completely hooked and beg for more and LOVE watching the movie. Even more so, many end up reading more of the books in the series. 

So every year, I swear off of it, and every year I come back to it. It truly never disappoints, and it honestly teaches me and the kids the importance of sticking with some books. 
 THE FINEST HOURS

Non-Fiction books are not my favorite (the exception is teacher professional development books) but each grade I teach I REALLY try hard to find at least one good non-fiction novel for us to read together. Even more so, I love when there's a movie :). The Finest Hours really is a great non-fiction book to read with middle school students. The story lines are a little hard to follow at first, because there were multiple boat rescues needed all at the same time, but the kids get so into it after a while. They want to know who gets saved and how. Even more so, it's great to read about what happened after the boat rescues took place, and how it impacted the lives of those involved. 

My Favorite Books for 5th Graders



I am by no means the absolute expert on the best books for certain age groups, but now that I have spent a solid amount of time in each 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade as a reading and writing teacher, I definitely have my favorites for each group.

Even more so, this is probably one of the most asked questions I get on instagram, email, and TPT questions. Teachers always want to know the best books for their age group. 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I will not even once kind of even sort of mention reading levels. I don't subscribe to that kind of thinking, and since most of these are read aloud anyway, levels don't matter. That is a blog post for another day (and would honestly take pages of work for me to get through, because I have pretty strong feelings about that). 

When I say who these books are for, I am simply going on what grade levels I have read them with and we've enjoyed reading them together. 

These are my favorite books to read with fifth graders. Back then, when I loved a book, I would usually make an accompanying reading unit. I will link my affiliate links on Amazon for each book, and if I have a unit, I will link to that on TPT. 

When I taught fifth, I was always looking to teach all the genres, books that had movies to go with them, and just all around good books. 

AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS 

This book is VERY surprising. A lot of people think it is simply about Al Capone, but really it has a historical fiction component about Alcatraz prison. More importantly the main character, Moose has an autistic older sister in a time where autism wasn't supported, and instead was hidden. 
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE

It shouldn't be surprising that this is one of my favorite books to teach with 5th graders. So many people are hesitant to teach it. I promise you totally will be shocked how many kids have no idea about the books or the movies. Here's a blog post all about it. 
FREAK THE MIGHTY

Here is another book that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that it's on my list of favorites. It is THE ONLY book that I have taught in all the grades I've taught (5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th). I think it's perfect for 6th or 7th, BUT if I was only a 5th grade teacher I would still teach it. It is probably my favorite book ever. 
UNGIFTED

This book honestly kind of fell in my lap. It went on sale on Scholastic so I bought a class set. I had recently read Swindle by Gordan Korman and loved his writing. My fifth graders LOVED it. It's funny, relatable, and has great themes, including recognizing that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. 
TITANIC: VOICES FROM THE DISASTER

When I set out to teach all the standards through novels, I knew I needed a really good non-fiction novel. I think the Titanic is so fascinating, and so did my fifth graders. Hopkinson does such a good job with this book, and this is coming from someone who reads almost exclusively fiction. 
PRISONER B-3087

This is one of my top five most recommended books of all time. Any kid who has ever attempted to read this book devours it. It is a gut-wrenching story (based on a real story) of a young boy who survives ten concentration camps. I read it in hours the first time, and my fifth graders and I finished it in days, because they begged for more. 

 HOLES

I love SO MANY books, but Holes *might* be my number one favorite books for 5th grade. It's also my favorite book we read in my 6th grade books and movies class. The multiple story and plot lines are just so mind blowing to me every single time, and the kids love it too. 
THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM

I love this sweet story that teaches kids so much about our past, present, and future. I'll be honest and say I wasn't really paying attention when the climax hit, and I had to reread the book to get it's full effects the second time. I'm so glad I did. The Watsons set out on a trip like no other. They're heading south. They're going to Birmingam, Alabama, toward one of the darkest moments in American history.  


THE GIVER

I know that not everybody reads this book with 5th graders, but one year I did do it with an advanced group of kids that we were really trying to enrich their reading experiences. I think this book works great in 6th and 7th graders too, but I love how there are so many deep and philosophical discussions we can have about the book, especially with fifth graders who can and should be thinking on a deeper level.


NUMBER THE STARS

I think Number the Stars is another 5th grade must read. When I made these unit I don't think I registered that Lois Lowry wrote both The Giver and Number the Stars, but now I love how my students got to experience a dystopian and historical fiction text by the same author. I love how this book has a totally different perspective about World War II because it's subject matter is about the Danish Resistance. I think the epilogue is my favorite part, because it explains the brilliancy and bravery of the people of Denmark in getting thousands of Jews to safety. 

SMILE

I made this resource when I really wanted my kids to be exposed to a different format. I had to read V for Vendetta in college and it was actually super difficult for me.  A lot of people think graphic novels or comics are easy to read, but they can be really difficult if kids are unfamiliar. This is a great first graphic novel to read with 5th graders, because it's an autobiography they can relate to. 

Middle School ELA Schedule (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Year-Long Pacing)



I think one of the most frequently asked questions I get is about my schedule. The questions range from my daily, weekly, monthly, and year long schedules, so I thought I would answer some of those questions here.


Teaching a Books and Movies Elective Class


Hey friends, 

If you follow me on instragram, you know that I teach an elective class called, "Books and Movies." Every time I post about it, I get a ton of questions (which is totally understandable, because I think it's a teacher's dream to teach a class like this). I finally got around to talking about it. 

I don't think I have super mind-blowing information on how I teach it (just a fair warning) but I do love to tell others about how this class works. 


Question One: How did you create this class? 
A: I didn't ha! My current school is a public charter school. We have seven class periods a day and our seventh period of the day is when all of our middle schoolers (6th, 7th, and 8th) take an elective class, while our SPED, Rti, and Gifted kids go to Academic Support and Enrichment classes.  



Question Two: Who gets to take the class?
A: Students used to be able to choose which electives they could take. That meant that 6th, 7th, and 8th graders would all be in a class together. The benefit was that kids could choose. The downside to this (even though I never experienced it) was that when you have 6th and 8th graders in a class together it annoys the crap out of 8th graders because of the maturity levels. 

There also wasn't a good mix anyway because 8th graders got first dibs, so they would all tend to be in the same elective anyway, while 6th graders were placed wherever they would fit. So now it is a strictly 6th grade elective and we choose the electives for each grade. 


Question Three: How does the schedule look for your electives?
A: Again, teachers used to see kids every day for a semester, and then would switch with another class at second semester. This was done, when kids picked one elective first semester, and another elective second semester. Since we went to our new schedule. We currently have two class in each grade level of 6th, 7th, and 8th. 

Now we have an A/B schedule where I see my A class on Monday, my B class on Tuesday, My A class on Wednesday... and so on. This goes on all year long, and the other 6th grade elective is a science/weather elective. 

Just for curiosity sake, 7th grade electives are applied math and science (or sometimes nutrition/health) and Triple A (First-Aid, CPR type stuff). While in 8th grade, they have STEM and Creative Writing. 



Question Four: How do you read the books?
A: I know that the previous teacher of the class would ask the kids how much they wanted to read, and then they would spent most of the class time reading. 

The elementary teacher in me struggled with that. I was worried that some kids would want to keep reading but would have to stop based on what the class chose, while other kids would never get done and would have homework or just wouldn't read. 

I also knew that by middle school, read aloud can become a thing of the past, so I committed to either having the audiobooks for us to listen to or I just read them aloud. 

During this time, some kids do read ahead (I kind of encourage it if they ask). When they finish the book, but we're still reading, they usually just start the next book in the series and just block out the audio or my voice. If it's not in a series, then they just read a different book. The types of kids who do this are your big readers so it's easy for them to do this and it doesn't disrupt other kids who haven't read the book yet. 


Question Five: How do you pick the books? 
A: This was a bit of a learning curve for me, especially with 6th grade. I have started the last two year with Holes, because it's one of my favorites, it's a good length, and the movie is pretty well done. After that I would let them pick, but this is what I've learned about 6th graders: They pick books based on the "cool" factor. Meaning, they want young adults type books, but don't really realize the commitment they're making. 

Every year, my kids choose The Maze Runner, and every year it about kills me. I LOVE The Maze Runner, but it doesn't lend itself to this type of class. First of all, it's LONG, and it take a long time to build up to the good parts. For 6th graders, it's just hard as a read aloud. The Hunger Games was also as challenging for the same reasons. Both are great books, but for now, I don't think they will be options. 

That being said, I try to find high interest books in the 100-250 page range. Because I see them every other day, this allows us to get through the books in a timely manner, it keeps their interest, and allows us to get through more books. 

These are the books we have read and how it went:
  • Holes: Always a winner. Usually everyone's favorite. 
  • Freak the Mighty: Another favorite. The book is quick, engaging, and relatable to them. The movie is pretty good too. It's also my favorite which ups the engagement factor for them.  The movie is called The Mighty
  • The BFG: My 6th graders didn't LOVE it. It was just a little too babyish for them, but they did like the movie. 
  • The Maze Runner: They loved it at the end and they love the movie, but it takes FOREVER.
  • The Hunger Games: Exactly the same as The Mazer Runner. I also went on maternity leave right in the middle and the long term sub was kind of disastrous, so I don't think that helpedI'd be willing to try again though. 
  • Number the Stars. Loved it. They loved learning about the true story it's based on. It's a quick and easy read. The movie isn't exactly from the book, but it's a movie about the Danish Resistance. It's called Miracle at Midnight
  • Bridge to Terabithia: In general, they liked it. It was a quick easy read and the movie is good. 
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: In any other scenario this book would have been too long for them, but it's my favorite so we do a lot of fun stuff with it. Most ended up loving it and the movie. 
  • The Lorax: This is my favorite picture to read with them. It's great for their age group. 
  • Horton Hears a Who: I had a few days to kill at the end of the year and this was another good one. They loved it too. 
  • The Polar Express: If I'm being honest, this wasn't a favorite. I think they liked that they got to read a picture book around Christmas time, and then watch the movie, but it's not as appealing to 6th graders as some other picture books. 
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: English teachers across the world may hate me, but I think the short story is super weird and confusing haha. But the movie is great so we loved this one too. 

These are some books I have class sets of that I want to read with them or at least have the option of: 
  • The Giver: I love this books and really want to add it to the mix next year. I also have a class set of them. 
  • The Outsiders: I actually don't like this for 6th grade. I think it's a perfect 8th grade book and this year I read it with my 8th graders to teach narratives. I won't be able to do that anymore because we are going to a four-day week, but I do have a class set of them. 
  • Akeela and the Bee: I've never had a desire to read this one with them (not for any particular reason haha). But the book was written after the movie so it might be a good one. 
  • Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life: I don't have a class set of this book but have you read it?! OMG it's nothing like you would expect and it's so freaking good. This is next on my list to get a class set of. 



Question Six: What does a class period look during a books and movies class?  
A: This is actually the most asked question. I seriously keep it as simple as possible. My goal of the class is to expose them to books, for them to enjoy reading, and for them to be able to hopefully see that the book is always better. 

The only time the schedule below really changes is when we watch the movie, and depending on the length we just spend two-three full class periods watching the movie. Afterwords, I don't even have to say anything. They seriously just talk about all the differences themselves, so I don't beat it to death with a worksheet or Venn diagram, because they're discussions are natural and authentic anyway.  

This is the daily schedule. 


I just use the Bell Ringers that I created for my 6th graders when I taught 6th grade ELA at my previous school. I don't worry about them getting every single bell ringer because I see them every other day. So one week, my A class will get Monday, Wednesday, Friday bell ringers, while my B class will get Tuesday and Thursday. But the next week it switches, so it all works out. Here is a blog post on how I make bell ringers work in my classes. 






Question Seven: What resources do you use?  
A: Like I said, I keep it really simple while we are reading a novel. I really don't believe in worksheets or even novel studies. When I taught 5th and 6th, I created my own reading units that essentially used books as a way to teach the standards. I was never trying to teach the book. I wanted to teach the kids. I use the same philosophy in books and movies. 

So I just use my own reading units. While we are reading, I might pause and ask one or two comprehension questions. Then when we finish I will ask them the interpretive question, we will have a discussion about it, and then they will write a reading response based on our discussion. 

Being the last hour of the day, I usually just grade it right then and there, and tell them it's their ticket out the door. I never have issues with kids not finishing, and they know if they do a crappy job, I will make them go back (no they can't just take the bad grade and leave) and make it better. 

These are the units I have done that work perfectly with books and movies. If you are trying to make this a class and need it to be more standards-based, the nice thing about all these units is that they are 100% aligned to the Common Core.  

If we have a book that I want to teach, then I work on creating a unit and questions to go with it as we go, so some are half-finished because I was trying to make them us as we went. 

You can select any unit to check them out on my TPT store







Well I hope that answers all of your questions. Feel free to ask any more you have and I can add the information to this post! 

-Martina