Every year, I try to put together a huge summer reading list for at least one age group. This year, I’m really going to try to outdo myself and make it an ULTIMATE summer reading list! I’m going with middle graders because my own baby boy is heading to 5th grade next year, making him officially a middle-grader (even though is school goes up to 5th grade for elementary school).
I put a ton of research into these lists for you. I’m not just grabbing best sellers or copying other lists. I’m talking to my son to find out what he likes, reading recommendations and reviews, checking out the plot and illustrations of the stories. It’s not just another “here are some books, now go buy them through my affiliate links” list. That said, I am using affiliate links because, well, I need money! Let’s get started with the ultimate summer reading list for middle graders, shall we?
To keep this list from getting totally out of control or 20 pages long, I’ve broken it down into sections. Within each section you’ll find a few “featured” books, followed by “more” summer reading books in that category. All books are out now, unless otherwise noted with a release date in parenthesis.
The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Middle Graders
Humorous Summer Reading Books for Middle Graders
- Every Dav Pilkey book ever written! My son cannot get enough of Pilkey. We have every single Captain Underpants book, of course. Did you know, though, that the Ricky Ricotta series was recently re-released in full color? The most recent book, Ricky Ricotta’s Might Robot vs. The Stupid Stinkbug from Saturn is sure to have your kids cracking up!
- Stick Dog Dreams of Ice Cream: My son recently discovered the Stick Dog series and loves it. It’s written for grades 3-7, making it the perfect transition book from elementary to middle grade reading.
- The Terrible Two: Poor Miles, he’s definitely NOT thrilled about moving to a town known for little more than its cows! Now, he has to defend his prankster status against an already-established class clown! What’s a boy to do!
- Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor: Book One: If the author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid thinks it’s funny, then it must be! Join boy genius, Frank Einstein, and his two robots on a weird science journey that imparts almost as much education as it does laughs!
- Game Over: Got gamer kids? They’ll love this wacky adventure of a boy who has to enter a video game to save his dad, who happens to be a spy! Pete will have to save not just his pops, but also the entire world from mechanical cockroaches and catastrophic internet shutdown scheme. I’m not sure which scares me more!
- Diary of a Super Spy: Now this book has it all! International super spies, action, intrigue, zombies! What hilarious kid wouldn’t want to read it? At just 60 pages, it’s a great summer reading starter book for getting reluctant readers excited about logging those challenge minutes.
- Dork Diaries 9: Tales from a Not-So-Dorky Drama Queen: The girls in my son’s class absolutely love Dork Diaries. I saw them snatching them up like crazy at book fair. I admit that I don’t know a lot about this particular series, but it’s sold over 13 million copies! I think it’s kind of like the girly version of Diary of a Wimpy kid.
More funny summer reading books for middle graders
- The Fourteenth Gold Fish
- Eight Grade Bites: Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Book 1
- My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours
- 101 Ways to Bug Your Parents
- Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made
- Operation Pucker Up (releasing July 21s)
- Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School
- Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions: Book 1
Sci-Fi, Horror and Fantasy Novels Summer Reading Books
- Story Thieves: While this has humor elements to it, I thought it belonged under fantasy because of the plot. Owen’s life is boring until he sees Bethany climb out of a story book and discovers that she’s half-fictional! Owen promises to keep her secret…for a price. What’s the price? Find out in the book!
- A Snicker of Magic: As a “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere, but she’s never seen the word “home” until she arrived in Midnight Gulch, a town that used to be full of magic. Sadly, a terrible curse stole its mojo and Felicity’s mom is too broken-hearted to stay in one place too long. If Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch- and with the super cute Jonah, who makes all sorts of new and romantic words appear- she’ll need to break the curse AND repair her mom’s heart.
- Giggleswick: The Amadán Map (Book 1): Although this could also fit in humor, it’s another one that I thought was a better fantasy fit. Giggleswick is a strange little place in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. A place with a man who thinks he’s a knight and a woman who exercises in high heels on a roof top. A place that Elliot has never heard of but still feels right at home in when he and his family move there. Unfortunately, he finds that keeping it hidden from the world isn’t exactly easy!
- The Unwanteds: Island of Shipwrecks: Hailed as Hunger Games meets Harry Potter, this 5th book in the series follows the adventure of Alex and his friends from Artimé as they are stranded on a newly discovered island after barely surviving a storm that destroys their ship. Of course, it turns out they’re not alone!
- Prisoner of Reign: If your middle grader read Keeper of Reign, then add this second book to his summer reading list and catch up with the adventures of Jules Blaze. Otherwise, start with the first and add them both!
- Serafina and the Black Cloak: In this spooky mystery thriller, an unusual girl named Serafina secretly lives in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate and never disobeys her Pa’s orders to stay on the grounds. But when other kids go missing and Serafina is sure she knows who’s behind it, can she really stay out of it?
- Joshua and the Lightning Road: I can’t decide if this is fantasy or horror. The “big bad” makes me think it’s more scary than fantastical. When Joshua’s friend is whisked away by a mysterious lightning bolt, Josh has to travel to a mysterious and dark land to get him back. There, he’ll have to face unnatural beasts and the Child Collector. He’ll also discover some powers he didn’t know he had!
Monstrous: The city of Bryre is under the curse of an evil wizard. A curse that causes girls to get sick and vanish without a trace. Of course, with a curse like that, they all live in fear and no one is allowed out after dark. That’s when Kymera comes. She may be freaky with her wings, bolts and spiky tail, but her mission is to rescue the girls of her city.
More Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror
- Book of Kindly Deaths
- 6th Grade Supernatural: Abigail’s Curse
- Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
- Brainwashed (Crime Travelers Vol 1)
- The Last Ever After: The School of Good and Evil Book 3 (July 21st)
- Fuzzy Mud (August 4th)
Minecraft-Inspired Summer Reading Books
I was going to put these under fantasy and sci-fi, but there are just so many of them. Plus, they’re a whole genre of their own now.
- Invasion of the Overworld and other books in the Gameknight999 series: If you choose just one Minecraft fanfiction book to add to your middle grader’s summer reading list, make it this one. Mark Cheverton is brilliant. My son absolutely loved this book. Check out my review, then don’t miss Cheverton’s guest post on how to use Minecraft as a learning tool over the summer.
- Diary of a Wimpy Villager series: This Unofficial Minecraft series explore the inner workings and thoughts of the NPC (non-player characters, for those of you who don’t speak gamer) villagers. At an average of 66 pages, they’re short and easy summer reading books, yet there are a bunch of them, so your middle grader can feel like they’re racking up the book count.
- Diary of a Minecraft Creeper: Apparently Creepers have thoughts and feelings too! Who knew? Not me. Written by a completely different person (or maybe the same person with a different pseudonym), this series explores the inner workings of creepy Creepers, also NPCs in Minecraft.
- Quest for the Diamond Sword: Where the other Minecraft novels on this summer reading list involve new characters or NPCs, this one actually follows Steve as he quests for, you guessed it, a diamond sword. Make this book even more fun by making your own diamond sword with your kids!
More Minecraft books (both fiction and non-fiction)
- Minecraft: The Rescue
- Minecraft: Diary The Legend of Enderbrine
- Minecraft: The Complete Handbook Collection (it’s basically all those little books in one, for just $15-ish)
- Minecraft for Dummies Collection
Coming of Age/Dramatic Tales
Just a Drop of Water: This story takes place right after the events of 9/11. While that happened before our middle graders were even born, my own son has so many questions about it. Jake Green longs to be a hero and has a code of conduct that befits one. When his best friend Sam is beat up for an Arab Muslim, Jake’s code demands that the bully be brought to justice. Then Sam’s father is brought in by the FBI and everyone in his community starts turning their back on the family. Will Jake follow suit, or will he stand by his best friend and trust in his innocence?
Fish in a Tree: The title of the book comes from the proverb that says that “Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.” Ally is that fish in a tree. She spent her life hiding her learning disability by acting like a class clown, until a special teacher sees Ally’s struggles and helps her learn to stop judging herself so harshly.
The Honest Truth: Mark may look like a normal kid in every way, but he’s not. He’s very sick. The kind of sick that means long hospital stays, treatments and no time for adventure. So Mark does what any kid in his situation would do. He grabs his dog and runs away to climb Mount Rainier.
Breaking the Ice: On the lighter side of growing up, Breaking the Ice is a coming of age tale about a girl with a passion for figure skating. After having a totally uncharacteristic meltdown in front of judges at a competition, her coach drops her and the only place that will take her is a rink known for its disastrous skaters. Will Kaitlin find out why the rink has such a bad rep? Is it earned or is someone sabotaging them?
More Drama Summer Reading Books for Middle Grades
- A Night Divided (releasing August 25)
- The Snow Flower
- The Truth About Twinkie Pie
- The War that Saved My Life
- Blue Birds
- Moonpenny Island
- Waiting for Unicorns
With just a little over 50 books in an array of genres, I feel pretty confident that I did a fairly good job of creating an ultimate summer reading list for middle grade kids. If you need even more great suggestions, I highly suggest checking out Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge’s book recommendations for ages 8-10 and 11-13. Check out more of my related summer reading posts as well:
- Power Up & Read with Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
- Summer Reading Lists for Young Adults
- Create Your Own Summer Reading Program for Kids
For more fun summer entertainment ideas, visit a few of my favorite bloggers:
- Patriotic Origami Books & DIY by In Our Spare Time
- 3 Must-Watch Summer Teen Movie Marathons by My Kids Guide
- 10 Books to put on your Summer Reading List by Mom Does it All
- Road Trip Inspired Movies on Netflix by Mom on the Side
- Summer Reading List for Teens and Tweens by Better in Bulk
- A Boy and His Dog: Feel-Good Movies for Canine-Loving Kids by Dogvills
- Summer Beach Reads by Upstate Ramblings
- 10 Summer Movies for Teens to Watch in 2015 by Day by Day in Our World
- Free Summer Reading Programs 2015 by The Guavalicious Life
What books are on your summer reading list? Share in the comments!