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Middle Grade Magic: Great Books for 7th Graders

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Ashlie Swicker


Ashlie (she/her) is an educator, librarian, and writer. She is committed to diversifying the reading lives of her students and supporting fat acceptance as it intersects with other women’s issues. She's also perpetually striving to learn more about how she can use her many privileges to support marginalized groups. Interests include learning how to roller skate with her local roller derby team, buying more books than she'll ever read, hiking with her husband and sons, and making lists to avoid real work. You can find her on Instagram (@ashlieelizabeth), Twitter (@mygirlsimple) or at her website,

With most schools and libraries closed across the country closed, parents are left scrambling in a lot of ways: distance learning, social opportunities, and summer reading come to mind. Here is one thing you can cross off the list—below is a curated list of great books for 7th graders. Whether your middle schooler is looking to get lost in a fantasy or stay on top of recent award winners, there are some recs to try! (Pro tip: most of these are also excellent read-alouds for younger kiddos, and I’m an adult librarian who enjoyed them immensely, too!)

Classic Books for 7th Graders

Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This book, which was ruthlessly ripped off in the movie The Village, opens with a young girl finding out that her colonial-era life is an elaborate charade for a tourist destination and she is actually living in the ’90s. It gets even better from there.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A classic for a reason—amazing quotes, spunky female main character, sci-fi magic. Join Meg, Calvin, and her little brother Charles Wallace as they travel across time to rescue her father. The graphic novel version is absolutely amazing, as well.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

A companion piece to A Wrinkle in Time set in the late ’70s, it offers everything from familiar adolescent growing pains to magically beautiful time travel. This book is hauntingly beautiful and very typical, a rare gem.

Graphic Novels for 7th Graders

Sheets by Brenna Thummler

A ghostly graphic novel without a single scare, this sweet and sad story is complimented by a soft blue color palate.

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neil

This awesome story destroys gender roles during a fun fantasy romp. Katie O’Neil is a favorite among my 5th grade students and the art is breathtaking.

Hey Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka

My students love graphic novels that tell family stories, and Hey Kiddo does not disappoint; this graphic memoir includes photographs and artifacts from the author’s life and has struck a chord with many.

Fantasy Books for 7th Graders

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

One of the amazing books from Rick Riordan’s imprint, the Aru Shah series is a family FAVORITE at my house. Fun, exciting, full of Hindu mythology presented with a fresh, modern spin…each new character quickly becomes beloved and most will make you laugh out loud at least once.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

As lush and gorgeous as the title, this fantasy has a classic feel: forest witches, tiny dragons, eating starlight, missions to save the village, and dangerous/exciting spikes of magic.

Books Set At School for 7th Graders

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

The best books are set against the backdrop of school plays, and Star Crossed is set in a production of Romeo and Juliet. Mattie is smitten with the lead playing Juliet, and also her longtime crush Elijah. Her romantic feelings play out as the highs and lows of a middle school Shakespearean production surge. Empowering and sweet.

The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy

Rahul, a gay Indian American boy, experiences highs and lows while navigating middle school with his grandfather’s advice ringing in his ears: find one thing you’re good at, and become the BEST at it. Praises sung over the representation of the roller coaster that is middle school.

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Ivy Aberdeen has been through a literal tornado: her family is displaced, she feels ignored, and the worst thing of all is that her secret drawings of girls holding hands with girls is missing. Soon she starts getting messages in her locker, encouraging her to open up about who she is. Is it the girl she has a crush on?

Award-Winning Books for 7th Graders

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Incredibly strong characters, unique family structures, science fiction wonder, slight-of-hand magic, parallel universes, grief and mourning…all against the backdrop of the typical middle school struggles. This was an absolute joy to read.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

This book plunges you quickly into duel tragedies—a school bus accident that tortures Tristan, and the ruined world of Alke, where something sinister is destroying the settings of treasured African American folk tales. About the power of the stories we’re living and the ones we tell ourselves.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Mia is a young girl helping her parents run a motel. As Chinese immigrants, the family sees enormous employment discrimination, both towards themselves and their community…until they start to take matters into their own hands.

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Seventh grader Jerry loves comics and longs to go to art school, but instead his family sends him to a private school outside of his neighborhood, where he is one of the only kids of color. New Kid follows Jerry as he navigates his school life, his old friends, and the confusion of being a middle schooler in general.

Books About Awesome Kids for 7th Graders

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

Set at Christmas, a winning family story about a group of kids determined to convince their grumpy landlord to renew their lease. The Vanderbeekers will work their way quickly into your heart.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Dean Hale and Shannon Hale

No one is better than Doreen Green, age 13. This was a DELIGHTFUL audio listen, with excellent characters and lots of Avengers tie ins to please everyone. Squirrels, super powers, an amazing teenaged girl, and some pretty supportive parents, which is always a bonus.

Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy

Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco is dealing with a lot: divorced parents, an ex–best friend, and the general turmoil of growing up. When her neighbor, an advice columnist, asks Sweet Pea to forward her letters while on vacation, Sweet Pea recognizes the handwriting on one of the letters, and what happens next will change Sweet Pea (and all in her circle) forever!

Nonfiction Books for 7th Graders

Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

Profiles of amazing girls who have changed the world, with stunning papercut illustrations. Perfect for dipping in and out while learning about awesome history.

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian Football Team by Steve Shenkin

Tackling (no pun intended) both American football history and the horrible, continuing history of the U.S. government’s treatment of Native Americans and their erasure of American Indian culture. A sports underdog story that will draw even reluctant readers.

Hopefully you can find some books for the 7th graders in your life in this list. The bonus is that several of these have great sequels or start a series. Looking for more magic? Check out this list of graphic novels for middle schoolers. Happy reading!