These books will pull at your heartstrings, make you laugh and cry. You won’t forget them anytime soon.

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech – Twelve-year-old Annie ponders the many rhythms of life the year that her mother becomes pregnant, her grandfather begins faltering, and her best friend (and running partner) becomes distant. JF CRE

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman – In 1949, thirteen-year-old Francine goes to Catholic school in Los Angeles where she becomes best friends with a girl who questions authority and is frequently punished by the nuns, causing Francine to question her own values.  JF CUS

The Secret Language of Girls by Frances O’Roark Dowell – Marylin and Kate have been friends since nursery school, but when Marylin becomes a middle school cheerleader and Kate begins to develop other interests, their relationship is put to the test. JF DOW

Shooting the Moon by Frances O’Roark Dowell – When her brother is sent to fight in Vietnam, twelve-year-old Jamie begins to reconsider the army world that she has grown up in.  JF DOW

The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes – Inconsolable at being separated from her older brother, eight-year-old Paris is apprehensive about her new foster family, but just as she learns to trust them, she faces a life-changing decision.  JF GRI

The Old Willis Place by Mary Downing HahnTired of the rules that have bound them ever since “the bad thing happened,” twelve-year-old Diana ignores her brother’s warnings and befriends the daughter of the new caretaker, setting in motion events that lead to the release of the spirit of an evil, crazy woman who once ruled the old Willis place. JF HAN, also on CD

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. HolmIn 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in far away Key West, Florida.  JF HOL, also on CD

My One Hundred Adventures by Polly HorvathTwelve-year-old Jane, who lives at the beach in a run-down old house with her mother, two brothers, and sister, has an eventful summer accompanying her pastor on bible deliveries, meeting former boyfriends of her mother’s, and being coerced into babysitting for a family of ill-mannered children. JF HOR

Grounded by Kate KliseAfter her father, brother, and sister are killed in a plane crash, twelve-year-old Daralynn’s life in tiny Digginsville, Missouri, proceeds as her mother turns angry and embittered, her grandmother becomes senile, and her flamboyant aunt continues to run the Summer Sunset Retirement Home for Distinguished Gentlemen, while being courted by the owner of the town’s new crematorium. JF KLI

Lions of Little Rock  by Kristin LevineIn 1958 Little Rock, Arkansas, painfully shy twelve-year-old Marlee sees her city and family divided over school integration, but her friendship with Liz, a new student, helps her find her voice and fight against racism.  JF LEV

Rules by Cynthia LordFrustrated at life with an autistic brother, twelve-year-old Catherine longs for a normal existence but her world is further complicated by a friendship with an young paraplegic.  JF LOR, also in YA

The Fashion Disaster that Changed My Life by Lauren MyracleSeventh grade was supposed to be Alli’s breakout year— only her big debut ends up being a big disaster. Then queen bee Rachel Delaney takes Alli under her wing, and Alli finds herself in the inner circle of seventh-grade cool. But the inner circle is nothing like Alli expected, and ugliness lurks behind the prettiest faces. Can Alli figure out where she fits in, or will she get caught up in the glamour of running with the in crowd?  JF MYR

Faith, Hope and Ivy June by Phyllis  Reynolds NaylorDuring a student exchange program, seventh-graders Ivy June and Catherine share their lives, homes, and communities, and find that although their lifestyles are total opposites they have a lot in common.  JF NAY

Wonder by R.J. PalacioTen-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student. JF PAL, also on MP3

Molly McGinty Has a Good Day by Gary PaulsenWhen supremely organized seventh-grader, Molly McGinty, loses the notebook she relies on to keep her life in order she spends the day in chaos. JF PAU

Notes from the Dog by Gary PaulsenWhen Johanna shows up at the beginning of summer to house-sit next door to Finn, he has no idea of the profound effect she will have on his life by the time summer vacation is over.  JF PAU

The View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts Rob admits having seen a murder, but no one believes him–except the murderer. JF ROB

campbell-hobokenThe Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Manus Pinkwater – Arthur goes to pick up the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner but comes back with a 260-pound chicken.  JF PIN PB

There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis SacharAn unmanageable, but lovable, eleven-year-old misfit learns to believe in himself when he gets to know the new school counselor, who is sort of misfit too. JF SAC PB

Eggs by Jerry Spinelli Mourning the loss of his mother, nine-year-old David forms an unlikely friendship with independent, quirky thirteen-year-old Primrose, as the two help each other deal with what is missing in their lives.  JF SPI

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda UrbanTen-year-old Zoe Elias, who longs to play the piano but must resign herself to learning the organ, instead, finds that her musicianship has a positive impact on her workaholic mother, her jittery father, and her school social life. JF URB, also on CD

The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane YolenHannah resents the traditions of her Jewish heritage until time travel places her in the middle of a small Jewish village in Nazi-occupied Poland.  JF YOL

Locomotion by Jacqueline WoodsonIn a series of poems, eleven-year-old Lonnie writes about his life, after the death of his parents, separated from his younger sister, living in a foster home, and finding his poetic voice at school.  J 811 WOO


Seriously Good Books