Fiction dealing with relationships and life's struggles
1. The Cay by Theodore Taylor (recommended 6th grade)
1940's. About the experiences of a young boy stranded on an island with an old man. The boy becomes blind. About survival.
2. Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park (6th - 12th grades)
Narrative style. Short, easy read. About a girl who's brother dies, how her family deals with it.
3. Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher (8th grade girls)
Takes place in Persia. Arabian Nights theme. Muslim belonging, overcoming fears, courage.
4. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (7th-12th grades)
Short read, good author for adolescents. Young girl in high school, teaches about differences and finding identity.
5. Missing May by Cynthia Rylant (7th grade)
Narrated from a 7th grader, journal type, death, adventure, humor.
6. Throwing Shadows by E.L. Konigsburg (11th - 12th graders)
5 Stories about personalities, how one can see oneself through the eyes of others.
7. Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen (6th-8th grades)
Farm life, young city boy with alcoholic parents gets taken away and put on a farm. Humorous story about his life.
8. Jeremy by John Minahan (middle school)
First love, innocence, 1st person viewpoint, 15 yr. old boy, self definition, alienation from parents, N.Y. public school, withdrawn, sad ending. A real tear jerker.
9. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (8th-12th grades)
Religious prep school, secret society, morals.
10. One Last Wish by Lurlene McDaniels (7th-8th grade)
16 yr. old girl. Upper class Boston. She finds out she has leukemia. Story is about how she deals with it, her relationships, family support, chemotherapy. Heart Wrenching.
11. Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angelli (6th-8th grades)
Medieval times, plague takes the family of a 10 yr. old boy, leaving him crippled. Monk takes him in, teaches him with patience. Inner strength theme.
12. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (6th-8th grades)
Sweet short story about a young girl, forming relationships. Little House on the Prairie type book.
13. California Blue by Dave Klass (7th-8th grades)
Fictional logging town, football, father/son relationships. Fight between logging and "save the butterflies."
14. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson (7th-8th)
Mother abandons Gilly who goes to live with foster parents, anger management, racial issues, family.
15. Stuck In Neutral by Terry Truman (7th-12th)
Boy with cerebral palsy whose parents divorce. He thinks his father left because of him. He is tremendously smart and intuitive.
16. The Crossing by Gary Paulsen (7th-8th)
Orphan in Mexico trying to get into the U.S., life's struggles for food, meets an Army General, friendship, pursuing dreams.
17. Holes by Louis Sacher (6th-12th)
Young boy sent to reform camp, social issues, friendships, boys have to dig holes because the camp counselor is looking for buried treasure. A Great read for anyone.
18. The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich (7th-8th)
8 yr. old girls perspective, Native American culture and stories, metaphysics, four seasons.
19. Captain's Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (8th)
Young boy, sailing and fishing, relationships, courage, life lessons, equality.
20. The Man Without A Face by Isabel Holland (7th-8th)
14 yr. old boy who doesn't get along with his mother and sister, wants to go to a new school but fails the test, meets a man on the beach whose face was burned off in a car accident who teaches him the things he needs to know to pass the entrance exams. Relationships, struggles.
21.Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser (6th-8th)
14 yr. old girl's perspective. She begins to do strange things, hears strange voices, mental illness, relationships, OCD.
22. Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (6th)
The story of a boy who befriends a beagle pup. However the dog belongs to a backwoods cruel man who makes the boy do errands in order to earn the dog. They learn about each other. Relationships, Newberry Award winner.
23. Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen (5th-7th)
2nd in a series of three. Boy stranded after a plane crash in the midst of winter, survival, divorce.
24. A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (6th-8th)
Newberry Award Winner - Sequel to A Long Way From Chicago. Story about a girl who moves to live with her grandmother in a small town. Strong characterizations, relationships, small town life.
25. Shabanu - Daughter of the Wind by Susanne Fisher (7th-8th)
Newberry Award Winner - 12 yr. old girl in Pakistan, shows how females are property, deals with her 14 yr. old sister's marriage, issues of murder, hints of attempted rape.
26. White Fang by Jack London (7th-8th)
Story about a dog/wolf, told from the dog's point of view, rich comparisons of man, nature and animals. Very engaging story.
27. Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden (8th)
Story of 7 teenagers who go camping in the bush by themselves. When they return home, they find their country has been taken over by another country and all the people in their town are prisoners. Courage, relationships, bravery, life struggle, survival. Can't put down type of book! Sequel "In The Dead of Night" not recommended for middle school, but rather high school, as it contains some sexual situations.
28. Angus, Thong, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (8th-12)
Diary type confessions of Georgia Nickolson. Angus is her cat, "full frontal snogging" refers to kissing, adventures she has. Set in England with English terminology. Hysterically funny. Recommended by a middle school student.
29. The Boxcar Children (author to be determined) (6th-8th)
Series of 14 books about brothers and sisters who have lost their parents and live in a box car, their adventures through life.
30. The Education of Little Tree (author to be determined) (8th)
Native American boy who lives with his grandparents, living off the land, country theme, the Native American experience. The boy is taken away to be schooled and the adventures and trials he endures.
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