Awesome Books for Middle Schoolers 2017

Teen Specialists Staff Image

Each year, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) celebrates Teen Read Week. This popular, annual initiative, established by the Young Adult Library Services Association and the American Library Association, encourages middle school students to read for the fun of it!

The 2016 Teen Read Week booklist includes diverse books in a variety of formats and genres selected by CLP Teen Specialists. These books are great for middle schoolers.


When cell phones are banned at their school, the students start communicating through sticky notes. The notes, left all over the school, trigger a wave of bullying in the wake of a new girl’s arrival.

Crack in the Sea

Pip, a young boy who can speak to fish, and his sister Kinchen, set off on a great adventure. Twins with magical powers, refugees fleeing post-war Vietnam, and some helpful sea monsters, join them.

Volcanoes: Fire and Life

In a not-so-distant future, our world is as cold as a frozen burrito. Can humanity save itself by harnessing a power that dwells inside the Earth? Explode into the world of geology in Volcanoes: Fire and Life!

The Pants Project

Technically, Olivia is not a girl, even though he was born as a girl. He is transgender. Liv knows he is meant to be a boy. However, at Bankridge Middle School, the dress code forbids pants, allowing only skirts. So Operation: Pants Project begins! To Liv, this isn’t just a mission to change the policy. It’s a mission to change his life.

It Ain't So Awful, Falafel

Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. She is determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name–Cindy. It is the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even mood rings and puka shell necklaces cannot distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep too close to home.

Lost in the Sun

As Trent Zimmerman struggles to move past a traumatic event that took place several months earlier, he befriends class outcast Fallon Little, who helps him understand that he can move on.

Mighty Jack

Jack dreads summer because his single mother has to work and leaves him at home with his boring little sister, who is autistic. She does not talk at all. Ever. But one day while they are at a flea market, she does talk. She tells Jack to trade their mother’s car for a box of mysterious seeds. It is the best mistake Jack has ever made!

The Nameless City

Every time it is invaded the City gets a new name, but to the natives it is the Nameless City, and they survive by not letting themselves get involved. Now the fate of the City rests in the hands of Rat, a native, and Kaidu, one of the Dao, the latest occupiers. The two must work together if the City is to survive.

Sword Art Online: Aincrad, vol. 1

Players are excited to try out the new VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) that completely immerses the player into its fantasy world.  On problem: the game is released without a logout button.  Once you enter the game there is no escape unless you beat it, and death in the game means death in real life.

Flying Lessons & Other Stories

From basketball dreams and family fiascoes to first crushes and new neighborhoods, this anthology celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us. Read stories from award winning authors such as Walter Dean Myers, Meg Medina, Grace Lin, Soman Chainani, Kwame Alexander and Jacqueline Woodson.


In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (‘gleaned’) by professional reapers (‘scythes’). Two teens must compete with each other to become a scythe–a position neither of them wants. The one who becomes a scythe must kill the one who doesn’t.

Guts & Glory: The Vikings

From battle-axe-wielding tribes plundering the greatest cities of Europe to powerful kings and queens ruling their dominions with iron fists, the Vikings were some of the most feared and fearless figures in European history. Find the bravest heroes, the most menacing villains, and unbelievably awesome facts and myths inside this action-packed overview.

How I Became a Ghost : a Choctaw Trail of Tears Story

A Choctaw boy tells the story of his tribe’s removal from the only land its people had ever known, and how their journey to Oklahoma led him to become a ghost–one with the ability to help those he left behind.

Piecing Me Together

Tired of being singled out at her mostly-white private school as someone who needs support, high school junior Jade would rather participate in the school’s amazing Study Abroad program than join Women to Women, a mentorship program for at-risk girls.