A 7th Grade Reading List for Teachers & Homeschoolers

Finding 7th grade books can feel overwhelming. That’s because seventh grade is a pivotal year for students. They are no longer kids, but they are not quite teenagers yet. They’re trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be. They are also working hard in school and starting to think about their future. While we all know there are many benefits to reading literature, this period is time is especially critical for helping students problem solve and develop a sense of self. This is why it is important to give them a reading list that will challenge and engage them in critical thinking. To help, I’ve put together a 7th grade reading list with 20 of the best books for this age group so you can quickly and easily plan novel studies or grab some new reads for the school year.

7th grade books for readers - a seventh grade book list
A 7th Grade Reading List for Teachers & Homeschoolers 26

Whether you’re a middle school teacher or homeschooling your seventh grader, I’m sure you’ll find a good book on this list that will capture your reader’s attention. These 7th grade books cover so many important themes and genres there’s something for everyone!

The Best Books for Your 7th Grade Readers

If you’re creating book lists for your readers this year, you’ll likely want to include a mix of classic books, historical fiction novels, Newbery honor books, and more. Here are some of my top picks for the best books for seventh-grade readers:

1. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me is a complex puzzle that plays with time and space. The story centers around Miranda, a 12-year-old living in New York City in the late 1970s. Her mother is trying to get on the $20,000 Pyramid, her best friend has been beaten up by a bully, and some weird things are happening to Miranda—anonymous notes are coming in from the future telling her not to trust someone. It’s hard to give you much more than that without giving away spoilers—but it’s one of those books that you won’t be able to put down until you’ve finished it.

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Details about When You Reach Me:

2. Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart

When it comes to 7th grade books, this one will make kids laugh out loud. This comedy is about a boy who is not gifted and talented at school, but has somehow ended up in middle school for the “gifted and talented.” In fact, he’s so bad at school that his mom takes him to a psychiatrist because she thinks something must be wrong with him. In order to get out of school, he starts a rumor that there are poisonous black widow spiders living in the toilet paper dispensers. Needless to say, this doesn’t go over well with any of the teachers or parents. With hilarious consequences, the plot revolves around how the main character deals with this problem…and eventually gets out of it. (Spoiler alert: it ends happily.)

For students who loved books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants in their younger years, Death by Toilet Paper will not disappoint!

Details about Death by Toilet Paper:

3. Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

A powerful and harrowing story, Diary of Anne Frank is a must-read for all students as it gives a firsthand account of the fear and hardship faced by the Jewish people in Nazi Germany. The diary entries span from June 12, 1942 to August 1944. In them, Anne (aged 13 at the time) documents her life while in hiding from the Nazi regime during World War II.

Through her writing, Anne shares her hopes and dreams, as well as her fears and frustrations.

The diary ends abruptly when the family is discovered and Anne is sent to a concentration camp. However, students will be moved by her story and inspired by her strength in the face of adversity.

4. Posted by John David Anderson

After cell phones are banned from Branton Middle School, the students start using notes to communicate. Eighth-grader, Parker, starts passing sticky notes to a girl he likes. eighth-grader Margot begins receiving threatening notes from someone who knows all her secrets. Seventh-grader Simon gets drafted into being the middleman for the entire school.

Both heartwarming and lesson-packed, this book is an easier read that offers many great opportunities to discuss the impact of our words on others.

5. Ungifted by Gordon Korman

The main character in Ungifted is a middle schooler named Donovan Curtis. He’s not exactly a bad kid, but he’s not the best student either—which is why he ends up in the gifted and talented program at his school. The only problem is that Donovan isn’t gifted or talented… he just ended up in the wrong class. This book is great because it shows how being “ungifted” can actually be an asset sometimes. You can count on Donovan to find a way to get things done that no one else would even think of!

Boys who are reluctant readers will especially enjoy this book, which has short chapters in large print, and will have your son reading nonstop to find out what happens next! For boys who are starting to like reading chapter books for fun, Ungifted by Gordon Korman is a good choice for 7th grade. It’s about 300 pages long and funny enough that kids will want to read it from start to finish!

Details about Ungifted:

6. Touching Spirit Bear by Bear Mikaelsen

Ideal for middle schools, Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen is a powerful and thought-provoking story about a troubled teenager named Cole Matthews. The novel demonstrates how people can make terrible choices, but that everyone deserves a second chance.

Cole Matthews has been in trouble for most of his life because of his anger issues. He made one mistake that changed the course of his life and it led him to an Alaskan wilderness camp as part of the Circle Justice program. The program allowed him to face himself and heal from the past so he could move forward in a positive direction. His journey is told through flashbacks that reveal more about Cole’s past mistakes and how they shaped who he was in the present time.

It’s not until Cole has to face himself, and almost lose his own life, that he’s able to find peace with what happened in the past so he can move forward with his future. A favorite of 6th grade and 7th grade readers, you’ll definitely want to give this title a look.

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7. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

The protagonist, a young Eskimo girl named Miyax, is living with her father and grandfather in the harsh, cold climate of the Arctic tundra. She is independent and has learned to survive in this environment, but she does not feel any real connection to her family. When her father leaves for San Francisco and her grandfather dies, Miyax runs away from home to find him. After a harrowing journey through Alaska’s wilderness, she adopts a pack of wolves as her new family and they help keep each other alive until she can return home in safety.

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Like Touching Spirit Bear, Julie of the Wolves focuses on the harmony between humanity and nature. Miyax quickly learned that if she wanted to survive alone in Alaska’s vast expanse of wilderness, she would have to live by its own set of rules. This meant everyone was treated as an equal—no matter what species or gender they were—and no one made decisions based on greed or vanity like humans so often do.

Despite being full of suspenseful moments that make you feel your heart racing inside your chest as you read them, these characters will make you wish you really could join their den for a while. This is one of my favorite winter novels, but it is a great read any time of year.

Details about Julie of the Wolves:

8. The Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

The Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a beautifully written and eye-opening story about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath through the eyes of a young girl named Lanesha. A great historical fiction book for 7th graders, it is the story of Lanesha’s life in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward with her Mama Ya-Ya, who has raised her since she was orphaned as a baby. When Hurricane Katrina hits, Mama Ya-Ya does everything she can to protect Lanesha but the storm is too powerful and they are forced to evacuate.

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After the hurricane, Lanesha is sent to live with her estranged father in Houston. She struggles to adjust to this new environment and finds it hard to trust anyone after what she’s been through. But with the help of her new friend, Kaya, Lanesha starts to heal and eventually finds the courage to return to New Orleans and face her fears.

When considering 7th grade books, you should find a mix of relatable texts and those that can foster discussion and thought. The Ninth Ward is perfect for this because it is an important story that highlights the strength and resilience of the human spirit. It’s also a reminder that natural disasters can happen anywhere at any time, and we must be prepared for them.

9. Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine

Hana’s Suitcase is a true story about the Holocaust told through the lens of two children living half a world apart. In Tokyo, Japan, a young boy named Fumiko Ishioka is working on a school project about WWII and the Holocaust. She becomes interested in the story of a Jewish girl named Hana Brady who was sent to a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.

Fumiko begins writing letters to Hana’s surviving brother, George, who now lives in Toronto, Canada. Through their correspondence, Fumiko and George piece together the story of Hana’s life and how she perished in the Holocaust.

Hana’s Suitcase is an important book for children to read because it shows the power of human connection and the importance of remembering the past. It is a reminder that we must never forget what happened during the Holocaust, and that we must stand up against hatred and bigotry in all forms.

Details about Hana’s Suitcase:

10. Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry

This Newbery Medal-winning book is the perfect choice for young readers who are looking for an adventure story with a strong message of courage and perseverance.

The novel follows the story of Mafatu, a young boy from an island tribe in Polynesia. Mafatu is different from the other boys in his tribe because he’s afraid of the sea. He’s constantly ridiculed and made to feel like an outcast because of his fear, but he decides that he’s going to prove everyone wrong.

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Mafatu sets out on a journey by himself in a small canoe, determined to catch fish and prove that he is just as brave as the other boys in his tribe. But when a big storm hits and his canoe is overturned, Mafatu has to face his biggest fear head-on. He’s forced to swim for his life in the middle of the raging sea.

This story is an inspiring tale of courage and determination, and it shows that anyone can overcome their fears if they set their mind to it.

Details about Call It Courage:

11. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

No 7th grade book list would be complete without at least a few of the classics. Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is a coming-of-age tale set during the American Civil War. The novel follows the lives of four sisters, Jo March, Beth March, Meg March and Amy March as they grow up in Concord, Massachusetts. If you enjoy reading about history or historical fiction this is a great book for you to read.

The family struggles to maintain their lifestyle because their father is off fighting in the war. The girls have to learn how to manage the home on their own and come up with ways of making money when times are tough. This book will teach you about women’s roles during this time period as well as give you an insight into what life was like during wartime. It also tackles issues such as discrimination, feminism, and classism during this era of American history.

12. Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Graphic novels can be great additions when you’re considering 7th grade books. This coming-of-age graphic novel is perfect for middle schoolers who are looking for a relatable story about growing up.

The book follows the story of a girl in middle school who is trying to find her place in the world. She’s dealing with all the usual things that come with being a teenager, like boys, bullies, and braces. But when she gets hit in the face with a baseball and has to get surgery, things start to get really complicated.

She has to learn how to deal with her new appearance, which includes metal wires holding her teeth together. She also has to deal with mean girls at school who make fun of her. But through it all, she learns that being yourself is the best thing you can do.

I love Raina Telegemeier’s books, and you’ll find more of them on my list of Halloween books.

13. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

The 1961 novel follows the adventures of a young boy named Billy Coleman and his two Redbone Coonhound hunting dogs in the Ozark Mountains. Set during the Great Depression, Billy spends every cent he can to purchase and train his hounds. After several years of training, they become renowned hunters and win many ribbons at competitions.

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This story is mostly appreciated by readers ages 11-14 but it is well-known by people of all ages. Though it’s an easy read, “Where The Red Fern Grows” will make anyone cry at some point during their reading adventure.

Details about Where the Red Fern Grows:

14. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water is based on the true story of Salva Dut, a Sudanese boy who was forced to flee his home during the Second Sudanese Civil War. When he was just 11 years old, Salva was separated from his family and sent on a dangerous journey to Ethiopia. He spent several months walking through the desert, and when he finally arrived in Ethiopia, he was placed in a refugee camp.

The story then jumps to present day, where Salva is now an adult living in America. He works for an organization that builds wells in Sudan, and he is able to return to his home country to help others who are facing the same struggles that he once faced.

This is a powerful story that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

Details about A Long Walk to Water:

15. The Giver by Lois Lowry

In a future society where pain, disease, war, and poverty have been eradicated, 12-year-old Jonas is selected to become the Receiver of Memory. This means that he will be responsible for carrying all of the memories of the world, both the good and the bad.

As Jonas begins to learn about the history of his society, he starts to question the rules that have been put in place. He wonders why people are not allowed to express their emotions, why they are not allowed to see colors, and why everyone must take a drug that makes them forget their memories.

The Giver Novel Study
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Eventually, Jonas decides that the rules of his society are wrong and he starts to rebel against them. This leads to a series of events that will change his life forever.

Details about The Giver:

16. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a story told through pictures and words. It’s the story of a young orphan living in London who survives by stealing food and living in the walls of a train station.

Hugo’s life changes when he meets a young girl named Isabelle, who helps him try to solve the mystery of his late father’s clockwork machine. Along the way, they learn about film history and the invention of the motion picture camera.

This is a beautiful and unique story that will appeal to readers of all ages, but it is one of my favorite 7th grade books.

18. Restart by Gordon Korman

Chase does not remember what happened the day he fell off the roof and hit his head. He only knows that he somehow ended up in the hospital with a concussion. But as Chase starts to piece together what happened, he realizes something about the person he was before his accident.

Restart - 7th grade book by Gordon Korman

Chase was a bully. He would pick on other kids, make fun of them, and even steal from them. But after his accident, Chase is determined to change. He wants to be a better person and he does not want to go back to the way he was before.

But it is not going to be easy. Change is never easy. And as Chase starts to realize that, he also realizes that he might not be able to do it on his own.

Details about Restart:

19. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

In 1793, Philadelphia is gripped by a deadly fever. When Mattie Cook’s mother and grandfather fall ill, she has to take over the family business. But as the disease starts to spread, Mattie must find a way to save her family and herself.

This is a historical fiction novel that is based on the real-life events of the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia.

Fever 1793
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Details about Fever 1793:

20. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders is a classic novel about two rival gangs, the Socs and the Greasers. The story is told from the perspective of Ponyboy, a member of the Greasers. Great for advanced seventh or eighth graders, the story is a must-read for all students.

Ponyboy’s world is turned upside down when his best friend, Johnny, kills a Soc in self-defense. The boys are forced to go on the run, and they must learn to trust each other if they want to survive.

Details about The Outsiders:

21. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Josh and Jordan are twin brothers who love basketball. They are also dealing with the loss of their father, who died suddenly from a heart attack.

As they try to cope with their grief, they turn to basketball as a way to connect with their dad. They start to play street ball and soon they are known as the “twin towers” of the court.

But when Josh’s game starts to suffer, he wonders if he will ever be able to play the game the way his father did.

Details about The Crossover:

  • Genre: Realistic Fiction
  • Buy the Unit Study Guide: The Crossover

22. The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L Holm

In this funny and heartwarming book, Ellie’s scientist grandfather has discovered the secret to eternal youth. Now a teenager, he must figure out how to connect with his granddaughter, who is going through her own awkward phase. At the same time, he needs her help to get the formula for his discovery out to the world.

The Fourteenth Goldfish is a great book for kids who are interested in science, as it offers a look at some real-world scientific concepts. It’s also perfect for kids who are dealing with their own changes and growing up.

Details about The Fourteenth Goldfish:

23. How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor

Georgina’s family has fallen on hard times. They have lost their house and they are living in their car.

Desperate to help her family, Georgina comes up with a plan to steal a dog. She knows that if she can find the right dog, she can surely find a rich owner who will pay big money to get it back.

But as Georgina starts to execute her plan, she realized that stealing a dog is not as easy as it seems. And she also begins to realize that the real value of a dog is not in the money, but in the love and companionship they provide.

Details about How to Steal a Dog:

24. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Every year, the people of the Protectorate offer a baby as a sacrifice to the witch who lives in the forest. But one year, they accidentally offer up Luna, a foundling who has been raised by a loving couple.

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The witch, who is not really a witch at all, takes Luna in and decides to raise her as her own. But when Luna’s magical powers start to grow, the witch realizes that she may not be able to protect her from the dangers of the world.

This is a great book to introduce in October, as it has some spooky elements that make it a great Halloween read for older students. However, your students will enjoy it anytime!

25. Brian’s Winter by Gary Paulsen

By seventh grade, many students have read Paulsen’s popular book Hatchet. However, many don’t realize the book has a number of great sequels that are just as fantastic and still offer great learning opportunities for 7th-grade readers.

In this companion novel to Hatchet, Brian is stranded in the wilderness once again. But this time, it is winter and he is not prepared. Brian must find a way to survive the cold and the dangers of the forest if he wants to make it through the winter.

Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen

Details about Brian’s Winter:

26. The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Watsons are a black family living in Flint, Michigan, in the 1960s. When their youngest son, Kenny, gets into trouble at school, they decide to send him down to Birmingham, Alabama, to live with his grandparents. But when they get there, they realize that Birmingham is not the safe haven they thought it would be.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 is a powerful story about family, friendship, and the fight for civil rights.

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Details about The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963:

27. The Cay by Theodore Taylor

A classic I discovered in sixth grade, The Cay by Theodore Taylor is a constant on the best seventh grade reading list. Set during World War II, the novel follows Phillip, a young boy who gets shipwrecked and stranded with an elderly Black man named Timothy. Forced to help each other survive against a harsh landscape and terrifying predators, Phillip learns about courage and friendship as he helps his newly blind companion navigate the wilderness.

Despite being written for younger audiences, this coming-of-age tale will capture the hearts of readers of all ages as they see how far one person can go to protect another. Themes like trust and acceptance are also included in this beautifully written story that aims to inspire young people with its page-turning plot.

28. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time is a classic science fiction novel that has been captivating young readers for generations. The story follows Meg, who must travel through time and space to save her father from the evil forces that have captured him.

With its complex plot and themes of good vs. evil, A Wrinkle in Time is a great choice for seventh-grade readers. It is also a great choice for discussions about family, loyalty, and friendship.

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Details about A Wrinkle in Time:

29. Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Seventh graders are in the midst of a period where they’re exploring their beliefs and how they align with those of the people around them. Amal Unbound is a powerful story about a young girl’s fight for freedom. Amal lives in Pakistan, where she is forced to work as a servant in her own home after her father incurs a debt to the wealthy landlord.

Determined to get an education so she can one day become a lawyer and help others like her, Amal risks everything to go to school. But when the landlord’s son takes an interest in her, Amal must decide how far she is willing to go to get the education she needs.

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30. Blood on the River: James Town, 1607 by Elisa Carbone

This historical fiction novel is based on the true story of the founding of James Town, Virginia. The story follows Samuel Collier, a young boy who is indentured to English captain John Smith and must go to America to work off his debt.

Once in America, Samuel finds himself in the middle of a conflict between the English and the Native Americans. When the English start to starve, Samuel must make a decision: should he help the Native Americans who have been so kind to him, or should he help his own people?

Blood on the River is a great choice for seventh-grade readers who are interested in history and want to learn more about the early days of America.

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Details about Blood on the River:

31. Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy & Ali Fadhil

This is a true story about the author’s brother, Ali Fadhil, who was living in Baghdad during the Gulf War. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Ali’s family was forced to flee to America.

While they are in America, the Gulf War starts and Ali is glued to the television, watching as his home country is bombed. He is also playing a lot of video games, including Atari, which he is very good at.

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein

One day, Saddam Hussein appears on television playing the same game that Ali has been playing. This leads Ali to believe that if he can beat Saddam at the game, maybe he can stop the war.

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein is a great choice for seventh-grade readers who are interested in history, the Middle East, or video games.

32. PICKLE: The Formerly Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker

This hilarious novel is perfect for seventh-grade readers who are looking for a laugh. The story follows Ben, Frank, Oliver, and Bean, a group of middle school students who start a prank club. But when their pranks start to get out of hand, the boys must figure out how to stop before they get into serious trouble.

Pickle Novel for 7th Grade Readers

PICKLE is one of those 7th grade books that will make students laugh and is a great choice for readers who are looking for a funny and light-hearted read. It is also a great choice for discussions about bullying, peer pressure, and making good choices.

Details about PICKLE:

33. Front Desk by Kelly Yang

This is a heartwarming story about Mia Tang, who moves to America from China with her parents. Mia’s family runs a motel, and Mia does everything she can to help, even though she is only nine years old.

Mia struggles to adjust to life in America, but she quickly makes new friends with the other kids who live at the motel. Together, they start a secret business to help the guests at the motel and to stand up to the mean manager.

Front Desk is a great choice for seventh-grade readers who are looking for a feel-good story about friendship, determination, and standing up for what’s right.

Details about Front Desk:

34. Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

This is the story of a young boy named Misha who lives on the streets of Warsaw during World War II. Misha is a member of the resistance movement, and he helps smuggle Jewish children out of the ghetto.

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But when Misha is caught by the Nazis, he must use all his strength and courage to survive. Milkweed is a great choice for seventh-grade readers who are interested in history or in stories about the Holocaust.

Details about Milkweed:

35. Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley

This coming-of-age story centers on a 16-year-old girl named Apple. Despite being half Native American and half white, a formative experience on the playground as a child left Apple unsure just where she belongs.

When her father drops her offer with her Native American relatives one summer on the Turtle Mountain Indian reservation in North Dakota, Apple experiences a new way of life and learns about her heritage. Ultimately, what felt foreign at first begins to feel like home, as Apple discovers her place in the world.

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Apple in the Middle is a great choice for seventh-grade readers who are looking for a story about identity, family, and belonging.

Details about Apple in the Middle:

Ready to Plan your 7th Grade Novel Study?

These are just a few of the great books that seventh-grade readers will enjoy. For more book recommendations, be sure to check out our other blog posts or contact your local librarian.

While you’re here, grab my free novel study planning roadmap to get step-by-step support to plan a high-quality literature unit for your seventh-grade students whether you’re in the classroom or homeschooling. Whether you’re planning your first novel study or just looking for new ideas, you’ll love this great tool.

Looking for more great books to add to your home or classroom library?

It’s so important for kids to love to read. After all, reading is the key that unlocks the door to understanding everything else in school. Reading is also crucial for making and keeping friends, and being a good friend helps kids manage stress and anxiety.

If you’ve got a broad range of reading levels or are trying to diversify your classroom library without spending a ton of money, here are some of my favorite books for other reading levels.

If you’ve already filled your book list for 7th grade, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered. Click a grade level below to access more great novels.

2nd grade math
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3rd grade resources
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4th grade resources
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5th grade resources
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6th grade resources
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