Find a Book!

Elementary, Middle, High School

Book Descriptions are from Amazon.com

By popular demand, I have scoured 2012 Summer Reading Lists for students and pulled a compilation of books for most grade levels. I’ve chosen books that I have personally taught as a middle/high school teacher (or have wanted to teach). Those of you looking for pre-school and early elementary readers, I’ll be posting a list for them shortly, so keep checking back or subscribe to our blog!

Teachers: If you have a novel or book that you dearly love and would like to see included here, please send me an email at kazsilvestri@yahoo.com or leave a comment here. Thanks for all you do to keep children reading!

Elementary School

 

Island of the Blue Dolphins Scott O’Dell

Age Level: 8 and up | Grade Level: 4 and up

Kindle Price:           $4.99

Scott O’Dell won the Newbery Medal in 1961 for his unforgettable novel Island of the Blue Dolphins, based on the true story of a Nicoleño Indian girl living in solitude between 1835 and 1853 on San Nicolas Island, only 70 miles off the coast of southern California. His quietly gripping tale of Karana’s survival, strength, and courage—and vivid descriptions of island life—have captivated readers for decades. This 50th anniversary paperback edition features an introduction by two-time Newbery Medal recipient Lois Lowry. A classic!

 

The Borrowers Mary Norton (Author), Beth Krush (Illustrator), Joe Krush (Illustrator)

Age Level: 8 and up | Grade Level: 3 and up

Kindle Price:           $1.59

The Borrowers—the Clock family: Homily, Pod, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Arrietty, to be precise—are tiny people who live underneath the kitchen floor of an old English country manor. All their minuscule home furnishings, from postage stamp paintings to champagne cork chairs, are “borrowed” from the “human beans” who tromp around loudly above them. All is well until Pod is spotted upstairs by a human boy! Can the Clocks stay nested safely in their beloved hidden home, or will they be forced to flee? The British author Mary Norton won the Carnegie Medal for The Borrowers in 1952, the year it was first published in England.

Because of Winn-Dixie Kate Dicamillo

Age Level: 9 and up | Grade Level: 4 and up

Kindle Price:           $2.99

The summer Opal and her father, the preacher, move to Naomi, Florida, Opal goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket and comes out with a dog. A big, ugly, suffering dog with a sterling sense of humor.A dog she dubs Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, the preacher tells Opal ten things about her absent mother, one for each year Opal has been alive.Winn-Dixie is better at making friends than anyone Opal has ever known, and together they meet the local librarian, Miss Franny Block, who once fought off a bear with a copy of WAR AND PEACE. They meet Gloria Dump, who is nearly blind but sees with her heart, and Otis, an ex-con who sets the animals in his pet shop loose after hours, then lulls them with his guitar.Opal spends all that sweet summer collecting stories about her new friends and thinking about her mother. But because of Winn-Dixie or perhaps because she has grown, Opal learns to let go, just a little, and that friendship and forgiveness can sneak up on you like a sudden summer storm. Recalling the fiction of Harper Lee and Carson McCullers, here is a funny, poignant, and utterly genuine first novel from a major new talent.

 

Bridge to Terabithia Katherine Paterson (Author), Donna Diamond (Illustrator)

Age Level: 9 and up | Grade Level: 4 and up

Kindle Price:           $5.99

All summer, Jess pushed himself to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade, and when the year’s first school-yard race was run, he was going to win.But his victory was stolen by a newcomer, by a girl, one who didn’t even know enough to stay on the girls’ side of the playground. Then, unexpectedly, Jess finds himself sticking up for Leslie, for the girl who breaks rules and wins races. The friendship between the two grows as Jess guides the city girl through the pitfalls of life in their small, rural town, and Leslie draws him into the world of imaginations world of magic and ceremony called Terabithia. Here, Leslie and Jess rule supreme among the oaks and evergreens, safe from the bullies and ridicule of the mundane world. Safe until an unforeseen tragedy forces Jess to reign in Terabithia alone, and both worlds are forever changed. In this poignant, beautifully rendered novel, Katherine Paterson weaves a powerful story of friendship and courage.

 

 The Great Gilly Hopkins Katherine Paterson

Age level: 10 and up | Grade Level: 5 and up

Kindle Price:           $5.99

10 and up | Grade Level: 5 and up

The reader will cheer for her as she copes with the longings and terrors of always being a foster child. Katherine Paterson, winner of the 1978 Newbery Medal for Bridge to Terabithia and of the 1977 National Book Award for The Master Puppeteer, again reaches across boundaries with her wit, compassion, and love, and here creates an immensely engaging story about a child’s desperate search for a place to call home.

A Year Down Yonder Richard Peck

Age Level: 10 and up | Grade Level: 5 and up

Kindle Price:           $6.99

Mary Alice’s childhood summers in Grandma Dowdel’s sleepy Illinois town were packed with enough drama to fill the double bill of any picture show. But now she is fifteen, and faces a whole long year with Grandma, a woman well known for shaking up her neighbors-and everyone else! All Mary Alice can know for certain is this: when trying to predict how life with Grandma might turn out . . . better not. This wry, delightful sequel to the Newbery Honor Book A Long Way from Chicago has already taken its place among the classics of children’s literature.

The City of Ember: The First Book of Ember Jeanne Duprau

Age Level: 10 and up | Grade Level: 5 and up

Kindle Price:           $6.99

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever! This stunning debut novel offers refreshingly clear writing and fascinating, original characters.

Holes Louis Sachar (Author), Vladimir Radunsky (Illustrator), Bagram Ibatoulline (Illustrator)

Age Level: 10 and up | Grade Level: 5 and up

Kindle Price:           $6.99

Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys “build character” by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

Fever 1793 Laurie Halse Anderson (Author), Lori Earley (Author)

Age Level: 10 and up | Grade Level: 5 and up

Kindle Price:           $6.99

It’s late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn’t get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family’s coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie’s concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family’s small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie’s struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight-the fight to stay alive.

 

The House of the Scorpion Nancy Farmer

Age Level: 11 and up

Kindle Price:           $8.99

MATTEO ALACRáN WAS NOT BORN; HE WAS HARVESTED. His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium — a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster — except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself. As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patrón’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacrán Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn’t even suspect.

Middle School

The Book Thief  Markus Zusak

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $9.99

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Sherman Alexie

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $9.99

Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

Speak Laurie Halse Anderson

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $9.99

(I hesitate to place this book in the Middle School section, so I want to leave a word of caution. This book deals with rape, so parents may want to read it first before offering it to preteens/teens.)

In this powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself. Speak is a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.

The Giver (Newbery Medal Book) Lois Lowry

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $4.70

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

Messenger (The Giver Trilogy) Lois Lowry

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $7.01

Strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to new strangers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the few people able to travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter to return with him before it’s too late. But Forest has become hostile to Matty as well, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.

The Call of the Wild Jack London

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $0.00

Novel by Jack London, published in 1903 and often considered to be his masterpiece. London’s version of the classic quest story using a dog as the protagonist has sometimes been erroneously categorized as a children’s novel. Buck, who is shipped to the Klondike to be trained as a sled dog, eventually reverts to his primitive, wolflike ancestry. He then undertakes an almost mythical journey, abandoning the safety of his familiar world to encounter danger, adventure, and fantasy. When he is transformed into the legendary “Ghost Dog” of the Klondike, he has become a true hero. — The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

The Hound of the Baskervilles Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $1.90

“The Hound of the Baskervilles” is considered to be one of the greatest of the Sherlock Holmes stories and one of the greatest mystery novels ever written. While most of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories take the form of shorter narratives, readers will delight in the fact that “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is a full-length novel instead. At the center of this novel is the investigation of the murder of Sir Charles Baskerville. Could the ghost of the Hound of the Baskervilles, who as legend would have it, tore out the throat of Hugo Baskerville generations ago, have murdered Sir Charles? Or is the culprit a more earthly one? Discover along with Sherlock Holmes the true identity of the murderer.

 

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood Ibtisam Barakat

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $9.99

In this groundbreaking memoir set in Ramallah during the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War, Ibtisam Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war. With candor and courage, she stitches together memories of her childhood: fear and confusion as bombs explode near her home and she is separated from her family; the harshness of life as a Palestinian refugee; her unexpected joy when she discovers Alef, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet. This is the beginning of her passionate connection to words, and as language becomes her refuge, allowing her to piece together the fragments of her world, it becomes her true home. Transcending the particulars of politics, this illuminating and timely book provides a telling glimpse into a little-known culture that has become an increasingly important part of the puzzle of world peace.

Life As We Knew It (The Last Survivors) Susan Beth Pfeffer

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $3.28

I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s still would be open.

High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, like “one marble hits another.” The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintery in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove. Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. An extraordinary series debut!

Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle) Christopher Paolini

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $10.99

Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire.

Ender’s Game Orson Scott Card

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $5.99

My personal favorite! Karen 🙂

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training. Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister. Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives. Ender’s Game is the winner of the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Gym Candy Carl Deuker

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $5.99

Mick Johnson is determined not to make the same mistakes his father, a failed football hero, made. But after being tackled just short of the end zone in a big game, Mick begins using “gym candy,” or steroids. His performances become record-breaking, but the side effects are terrible: Mick suffers ’roid rage, depression, and body acne. Gym Candy’s subject matter is just as hard-hitting as its football scenes. You’ll find yourself unable to look away as Mick goes down a road that even he knows is the wrong one to travel.

American Born Chinese Gene Luen Yang

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $9.99

A tour-de-force by rising indy comics star Gene Yang, American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny’s life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable. American Born Chinese is an amazing ride, all the way up to the astonishing climax. American Born Chinese is a 2006 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature, the winner of the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album: New, an Eisner Award nominee for Best Coloring and a 2007 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.

 

Tears of a Tiger Sharon M. Draper

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Kindle Price:           $5.99

In one horrifying night, Andy’s life changed forever…Andy Jackson was driving the car that crashed one night after a game, killing Robert Washington, his best friend and the captain of the Hazelwood High Tigers. It was late, and they’d been drinking, and now, months later, Andy can’t stop blaming himself. As he turns away from family, friends, and even his girlfriend, he finds he’s losing the most precious thing of all — his ability to face the future.

 

Hatchet Gary Paulsen

Age Level: 13 and up | Grade Level: 8 and up

Kindle Price:           $6.99

This Newbery Honor book is a dramatic, heart-stopping story of a boy who, following a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness, must learn to survive with only a hatchet and his own wits. Ages 12-up. Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Comments on this entry: 

From Bonnie, a teacher: I wonder about the reading level for Hatchet by Gary paulsen….I’m thinking 8th is a bit high. It has been a go-to lit circle book for the high and on level readers in 5th (I only do it at the end of the yr though). I know of 4th grade teachers that use it…my son read it this year in 4th.

Karen Silvestri: I do agree with you, Bonnie. I read it with my low level 6th graders and they did okay with it. All the reading lists I looked at though…all high end private schools had Hatchet listed at 8th grade :/

High School

Before We Were Free Julia Alvarez

Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up

Another personal favorite of mine! 🙂

Kindle Price:           $6.99

Anita de la Torre never questioned her freedom living in the Dominican Republic. But by her 12th birthday in 1960, most of her relatives have emigrated to the United States, her Tío Toni has disappeared without a trace, and the government’s secret police terrorize her remaining family because of their suspected opposition of el Trujillo’s dictatorship. Using the strength and courage of her family, Anita must overcome her fears and fly to freedom, leaving all that she once knew behind. From renowned author Julia Alvarez comes an unforgettable story about adolescence, perseverance, and one girl’s struggle to be free.

Jacob Have I Loved Katherine Paterson

Age Level: 13 and up | Grade Level: 8 and up

Kindle Price:           $5.99

“Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated . . .” With her grandmother’s taunt, Louise knew that she, like the biblical Esau, was the despised elder twin. Caroline, her selfish younger sister, was the one everyone loved. Growing up on a tiny Chesapeake Bay island in the early 1940s, angry Louise reveals how Caroline robbed her of everything: her hopes for schooling, her friends, her mother, even her name. While everyone pampered Caroline, Wheeze (her sister’s name for her) began to learn the ways of the watermen and the secrets of the island, especially of old Captain Wallace, who had mysteriously returned after fifty years. The war unexpectedly gave this independent girl a chance to fulfill her childish dream to work as a watermen alongside her father. But the dream did not satisfy the woman she was becoming. Alone and unsure, Louise began to fight her way to a place where Caroline could not reach. Renowned author Katherine Paterson here chooses a little-known area off the Maryland shore as her setting for a fresh telling of the ancient story of an elder twin’s lost birthright.

Monster Walter Dean Myers

Age Level: 13 and up | Grade Level: 8 and up

Kindle Price:  $7.99

Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon is on trial for murder. A Harlem drugstore owner was shot and killed in his store, and the word is that Steve served as the lookout. Guilty or innocent, Steve becomes a pawn in the hands of “the system,” cluttered with cynical authority figures and unscrupulous inmates, who will turn in anyone to shorten their own sentences. For the first time, Steve is forced to think about who he is as he faces prison, where he may spend all the tomorrows of his life. As a way of coping with the horrific events that entangle him, Steve, an amateur filmmaker, decides to transcribe his trial into a script, just like in the movies. He writes it all down, scene by scene, the story of how his whole life was turned around in an instant. But despite his efforts, reality is blurred and his vision obscured until he can no longer tell who he is or what is the truth. This compelling novel is Walter Dean Myers’s writing at its best.

 

If I Stay Gayle Forman

Age Level: 14 and up | Grade Level: 9 and up

Kindle Price:  $8.99

A critically acclaimed novel that will change the way you look at life, love, and family. In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.

Beastly Alex Flinn

Age Level: 14 and up | Grade Level: 9 and up

Kindle Price:           $8.99

A modern retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” from the point of view of the Beast, a vain Manhattan private school student who is turned into a monster and must find true love before he can return.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith

Age Level: 13 and up | Grade Level: 8 and up

Kindle Price:           $9.99

The American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century.

Half Broke Horses Jeannette Walls

Age Level: 13 and up | Grade Level: 8 and up

Kindle Price:           $12.99

Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa or Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix readers everywhere.

The Glass Castle  Jeannette Walls

Age Level: 13 and up | Grade Level: 8 and up

Kindle Price:           $9.99

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms. For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story.

Between the Lines  Jodi Picoult (Author), Samantha van Leer (Author)

Publication Date: June 26, 2012 | Age Level: 12 and up

Kindle Price:           $9.99

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult and her teenage daughter present their first-ever novel for teens, filled with romance, adventure, and humor.

What happens when happily ever after…isn’t? Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah. And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom. Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale.

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