Read alouds have a remarkable ability to engage all students, create a sense of unity through a shared experience, and spark a love for literature and storytelling. While you might think middle schoolers are too old for a read-aloud, I’m here to tell you they aren’t. In fact, middle schoolers love being read aloud too almost as much as first graders. Whether you want to start the year with a read aloud, implement one mid-year, start one in homeroom, or for any other reason, I’ve compiled a list of 13 of the most engaging books I recommend for middle school read alouds. These books are ones students tend to settle right into, ones they don’t want you to stop reading, and ones they love year after year. See what made the list!
Touching Spirit Bear
Touching Spirit Bear is a young adult novel by Canadian author Ben Mikaelsen. The book tells the story of Cole Matthews, a teenage boy who is sent to a remote Alaskan island as part of a Native American healing ritual. While on the island, Cole is attacked by a giant spirit bear. The experience changes his life forever, and he must learn to grapple with his anger and grief in order to find redemption. Touching Spirit Bear is an emotionally charged and beautifully written book that will stay with readers long after they finish the last page. It’s no wonder that this novel is so popular with kids and adults alike.
Out of My Mind
Out of My Mind is a heartwarming and inspiring story about a young girl named Melody, who has cerebral palsy. Even though she can’t communicate like other kids her age, she is far from disabled. She is extremely intelligent, creative, and determined. Out of My Mind will make you laugh, cry, and think about things in a different light. It’s one of those stories that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. Kids love Out of My Mind because it’s relatable, empowering, and full of hope. It teaches them that disabilities don’t have to hold you back from achieving your dreams. It also encourages empathy and understanding for others who may be different from them. Whether you’re looking for a book to read aloud to your class or one for your own personal enjoyment, Out of My Mind is a great choice.
Ghost Boys is a short novel by Jewell Parker Rhodes that tells the story of 12-year-old Jerome, a black student who is shot by a police officer. The book explores the aftermath of the shooting as Jerome’s ghost tries to understand what happened and why. As he observes the reactions of his classmates, family, and community, Jerome comes to see the racism and injustice that led to his death. Ghost Boys is an important book for kids because it helps them understand the impact of racism and violence in our society. By telling Jerome’s story, Rhodes provides a powerful example of how these issues can affect real people’s lives. Ghost Boys is ultimately a story about hope, resilience, and justice, and it offers an important message for readers of all ages.
I Will Always Write Back
I Will Always Write Back is a young adult novel that tells the story of two teens – one in America and one in Zimbabwe – who become pen pals. The book follows their developing friendship as they learn about each other’s cultures and share their hopes and dreams for the future. I Will Always Write Back is an important book for kids to read because it helps to promote empathy and understanding. Through the characters’ conversations, readers are exposed to new perspectives and learn about the challenges faced by people living in different parts of the world. In addition, the book highlights the power of communication and connection, emphasizing the importance of staying in touch with loved ones no matter where they are. I Will Always Write Back is a touching and thought-provoking novel that will stay with readers long after they finish the last page.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham
The Watsons Go to Birmingham is a historical fiction novel by Christopher Paul Curtis. The novel is set in the early 1960s and follows the story of the Watson family, an African American family from Flint, Michigan. The family decides to take a road trip to Birmingham, Alabama, in order to visit their grandmother. Along the way, they experience many challenges, including racism and bigotry. The novel provides a powerful glimpse into the history of the civil rights movement in America. It is an important book because it gives readers a glimpse into what life was like for black families during this time period. It also helps to promote understanding and tolerance for people of all cultures and backgrounds.
Ghost, by Jason Reynolds, is the first book in the Ghost track series. The series follows Ghost, a talented sprinter, as he navigates life on and off the track. Ghost is a fast runner, but he’s also dealing with a lot of personal baggage. As Ghost tries to find his place in the world, he must learn to triumph over his past and present circumstances. Although Ghost is sometimes a difficult read, it ultimately provides an inspiring and uplifting message about overcoming adversity. One that many of our students are hungry to hear.
Inside Out & Back Again
Inside Out and Back Again is a young adult novel written in verse by Thanhha Lai. The story follows a year in the life of a girl named Ha, who is ten years old when she and her family flee Vietnam as refugees. They eventually settle in Alabama, where Ha has to contend with culture shock, bullying, and poverty. Despite her challenges, Ha remains hopeful and determined to make a new life for herself. Inside Out and Back Again is an important book because it gives readers a glimpse into the refugee experience. It shows how people from different cultures can adapt and persevere to find a place in their new home.
Freak the Mighty
Freak the Mighty is a heartwarming story about an unlikely friendship between two outcasts: Freak is a small boy with a big brain, and Mighty is a large boy with learning difficulties. Despite their differences, the two boys team up to become Freak the Mighty and embark on a series of adventures together. Together, they embark on exciting adventures and learn to see the world from each other’s perspective. When Freak’s health starts to fail, he and Max make a plan to fulfill Freak’s lifelong dream. While the story ends tragically, Freak’s courage and determination continue to inspire Max long after he is gone. Freak the Mighty is an inspiring story about friendship, loyalty, and courage.
Peak is the first book in the Peak series by Roland Smith. The story follows fourteen-year-old Peak Marcello, living in New York City and desperately trying to scale the city’s infamous tall buildings. When Peak is caught by the police, he is sent to live with his estranged father in Nepal, where he must face his fears and learn to scale mountains. Peak soon discovers that he has a natural talent for climbing, and with the help of his father, he sets out to summit Mount Everest. Along the way, Peak must battle not only the elements but also his own doubts and fears. Peak is an exhilarating adventure story that will appeal to middle schoolers looking for an adrenaline-fueled read!
Stargirl is a young adult novel by Jerry Spinelli. The story follows Stargirl Caraway, a strange and unexpected girl who attends Mica Area High School. Stargirl is very different from the other students at her school. She dresses differently, acts differently, and doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks of her. She quickly becomes a source of both intrigue and ridicule for her classmates. Despite this, Stargirl persists in being herself and eventually wins over many of her classmates with her kindheartedness and talent for making others happy. In the end, Stargirl teaches the other students that being different is okay and that everyone has something special to offer. The book is ultimately about acceptance and finding the courage to be yourself. Stargirl is an inspiring and heartwarming story that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.
The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning is the first book in the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The story follows the three Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, who are sent to live with their distant relative, Count Olaf, after their parents die in a fire. The children soon realize that Olaf is only interested in their fortune and will stop at nothing to get his hands on it. They must outwit him at every turn to prevent him from stealing their inheritance. The Bad Beginning is a fast-paced, exciting read that will keep students on the edge of their seats. Although it is technically classified as a children’s book, The Bad Beginning is sure to appeal to readers of all ages.
Skeleton Creek is a mystery novel by Patrick Carman that will have students hooked from the first page. The story follows Ryan and Sarah, two friends who live in the small town of Skeleton Creek. One day, while exploring an abandoned mine, they make a shocking discovery that leads them to believe something sinister is happening in their town. In order to get to the bottom of the mystery, they start making videos of their investigation and posting them online. When Ryan has a mysterious accident, he is forced to stay housebound and communicate with Sarah via text message and video camera. As the two work together to unravel the secrets of Skeleton Creek, they find themselves in grave danger.
Skeleton Creek is a suspenseful read that uses technology in a unique way to tell a gripping story. The combination of suspense, technology, and friendship makes Skeleton Creek a must-read middle school read aloud for any student who loves a good mystery!
A Night Divided
A Night Divided is a gripping historical novel by Jennifer A. Nielsen. The story follows a family living in East Berlin during the time of the Berlin Wall. When the wall goes up, dividing their city overnight, the family finds themselves on opposite sides with no way to cross. As conditions in East Berlin deteriorate, the family must find a way to reunite before it’s too late. A Night Divided is a thrilling novel that offers a unique perspective on one of the most iconic events of the twentieth century. It’s also a powerful reminder of what can happen when people are divided by hatred and fear. The timeless message of hope and resilience will stay with readers long after they finish the last page.
For many students, middle school read alouds can be a great way to create a shared learning experience and instill a passion for reading. They also provide a much-needed break from the busyness of the school day. A good read aloud can spark rich discussions in your classroom and help students connect with the characters, themes, and each other. So if you’re looking for ways to build community and get students excited about reading, give one of these books a try. You might just be surprised by the results.