Favorite books for 7th graders
The Count of Monte Cristo
by: Alexandre Dumas translated by Roger Celestin - (Signet, 2005) 570 pages.
At just 19 years old, sailor Edmond Dantes is sentenced to life imprisonment in a horrible French dungeon for a crime he didn’t commit. After ten miserable years, he thrillingly escapes and acquires a hidden treasure on the island of Monte Cristo. Meticulously, he devotes himself to getting revenge on the three jealous enemies who framed him. This is a page-turner filled with suspense, vivid characterizations, intricate conspiracies, fight scenes, passionate romance, shrewd social satire, satisfying vengeance, and a happily-ever-after ending.
Perfect for: All young readers who enjoy immersing themselves in a thriller.
Find The Count of Monte Cristo at your local library.
A Wizard of Earthsea: The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1
by: Ursula Le Guin - (Parnassus Press, 1968) 183 pages.
This is high fantasy, written by a master, one of the great works of young adult literature of the 20th century. So what keeps the pages turning? For turn they do — this thoughtful and thought-provoking novel hasn’t stayed in print for 40 years for nothing. It’s all in the details, the gradual unfolding and perfecting of another world, with its own rules and geography and magic.
Perfect for: Kids who like science fiction and fantasy.
Find A Wizard of Earthsea: The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1 at your local library.
by: Gary Paulsen - (Delacorte Press, 1996) 144 pages.
In the Newbery Honor book, Hatchet, 13-year-old Brian Robeson learned to survive alone in the Canadian wilderness, armed only with his hatchet. As millions of readers know, he was finally rescued at the end of the summer. In this sequel to Hachet, Paulsen imagines our hero as if he hadn’t been rescued, revisiting Brian at the onset of a punishing Canadian winter and portraying him surviving a winter in the wilderness. This book easily stands alone; one need not read Hatchet first, although it does make for an interesting discussion. Full of cliffhangers and tension, this is the perfect winter read for the adventurous child in your life.
Perfect for: Kids who like adventure stories.
Find Brian’s Winter at your local library.
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance
by: Jennifer Armstrong, illustrated by: Frank Hurley - (Random House, 1998) 128 pages.
This is a survival saga of the man who attempted to cross the Antarctic in 1914. Better than fictional survival stories, beautifully written, illustrated with photos that survived from the voyage, this is history as exciting adventure.
Perfect for: Kids who like history.
Find Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance at your local library.
The Princess Bride
by: William Goldman - (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973) 512 pages.
After her true love Westley’s boat is sunk by pirates, the beautiful Buttercup agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck, even though she doesn’t love him. But before the wedding can take place, Buttercup is kidnapped by three outlaws: cunning Vizzini, revenge-obsessed Inigo, and Fezzik the giant. When a mysterious masked man rescues her from their clutches, Buttercup discovers that her beloved Westley is very much alive and ready to do whatever it takes to win her back. The fanciful story and funny, tongue-in-cheek writing will charm tween readers.
Want to see the movie? The 1987 film version, also written by Goldman, closely follows the book but simplifies some plot points.
Perfect for: Tweens and teens who appreciate the fantastic and the absurd.
Find The Princess Bride at your local library.
The Snow Goose
by: Paul Gallico - (Knopf, 1941) 64 pages.
In Paul Gallico’s classic tale, the appearance of an injured snow goose fosters an unexpected friendship between a girl and her neighbor — a hunchbacked artist who has retreated from society. Their friendship develops over the years into love, but their romance is cut short when he is killed during wartime. Though the language and story are a bit dated (it was written in 1941), The Snow Goose is a wonderful start for the next generation’s fans of classic, star-crossed romances.
Perfect for: Kids who likes classic stories.
Find The Snow Goose at your local library.
Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica
by: James A. Owen - (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006) 336 pages.
The hook: When an Oxford professor is murdered in 1917 London, three young men find themselves in possession of an ancient atlas of all imaginary lands from myth and legend. They journey by ship to displace an evil king, protecting the atlas with their lives. The books in this series are full of allusions to the full literary canon of fantasy and mythology, and the end of the first story reveals the secret literary identities of the three friends.
Perfect for: Fans of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Winter Room
by: Gary Paulsen - (Laurel Leaf, 1989) 112 pages.
The winter room is where Eldon, his brother Wayne, old Uncle David and the rest of the family gather on icy-cold Minnesota nights, sitting in front of the stove. There the boys listen eagerly to all of Uncle David’s tall tales of bygone loggers. When the boys begin to doubt their uncle’s stories, he stops telling them altogether, until they discover something special about him. Modern day mythology filled with incredible descriptive scenes.
Perfect for: Kids who like science fiction and fantasy.
Find The Winter Room at your local library.
by: Louisa May Alcott - (Roberts Brothers, 1868) 816 pages.
The hook: It’s the Civil War and the four March sisters are struggling to grow up to be well-bred young ladies after their family has fallen on hard times. Pretty Meg, the oldest, finds it the hardest to be poor. Tomboy Jo has big dreams of becoming a writer. Kind Beth just wants a quiet life at home with her sisters. And impish Amy struggles with being impulsive and a bit vain. Holding them all together is Marmie, their wise and independent mother, who lovingly guides them as they change from girls to women while their father is away at war. This family story is a great read-aloud book for younger kids and a good challenge for tweens who want to tackle a longer read.
Want to see the movie? There are several versions to choose from, including the classic 1949 adaptation starring Elizabeth Taylor.
Perfect for: Tweens and teens who like stories about family dynamics.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by: Maya Angelou - (Ballantine Books, 2009) 304 pages.
This is the memoir, set during the Great Depression, of an African-American girl who was raped by her mother’s boyfriend when she was 8 and who endured racist humiliation from her white neighbors. She evolves from a nearly mute, victimized child with an inferiority complex into an independent, confident, expressive young woman — and she credits the power of literature for her transformation. Her story unfolds through witty and poetically beautiful prose, with a thematic structure that delivers a sequence of lessons on how to resist oppression.
Perfect for: Young readers interested in poignant coming-of-age stories.
Find I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at your local library.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias: The Making of a Champion
by: Russell Freedman - (Clarion Books, 1999) 192 pages.
This is an uplifting sports bio for tweens and up. Parents need to know that Babe struggles with prejudice against women. Written with verve that matches Babe’s personality, this true story will encourage young readers, especially those interested in sports. Families who read this book could discuss how Babe’s discipline helped her win at a time when women were not accepted in sports. Why were woment treated this way? How have things changed? Do they need to change more?
Perfect for: Kids who like to read about real people.
Find Babe Didrikson Zaharias: The Making of a Champion at your local library.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café
by: Fannie Flagg - (Random House, 1987) 448 pages.
Evelyn is wrapped up in her own midlife troubles and just trying to kill time when she meets the elderly Mrs. Threadgoode at a senior citizen’s home. But when Mrs. Threadgoode starts spinning a tale about tomboy Idgie and her soft-spoken friend Ruth, who ran the Whistle Stop Café in 1930s Alabama, Evelyn is mesmerized. Many details later, including talk of barbecue, southern hospitality, and a mysterious murder, Evelyn finds that her life has changed — for the better — forever. Parents should note that the book explores mature themes and has references to spousal abuse, racism, and murder.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 1991 adaptation starring Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, and Mary-Louise Parker.
Perfect for: Tweens who appreciate the life-changing power of a good story.
Find Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café at your local library.
The Call of the Wild
by: Jack London - (Dover Publication, 1990) 64 pages.
Buck — a huge, powerful dog — is stolen from his California ranch in the 1890s. He’s taken north, beaten, starved, and eventually sold as a sled dog in the Klondike region of Canada. To survive in his violent new environment, Buck transforms into a dominant, murderous animal with primordial instincts. His feral descent is realized in the conclusion, when he kills a great bull moose and multiple Indians, abandons human civilization, and joins a pack of howling timber wolves.
Perfect for: Young readers who love dogs, nature, and the lure of the wild.
Find The Call of the Wild at your local library.
by: Judy Blume - (Bradbury Press, 1981) 256 pages.
After 15-year-old Davey’s father is killed in an armed robbery, her mother moves the family to New Mexico. Overwhelmed with grief over her father’s violent death, Davey feels lonely and disconnected until she meets an older boy, Wolf, while hiking in a canyon. With his help, she finally begins to rebuild her life, even as her family falls apart around her. This hauntingly beautiful book has resonated with tween and teen readers since it was first published in 1981. Parents should note that there are scenes of violence and teens drinking.
Want to see the movie? The 2013 adaptation, which was directed by Blume’s son, stays very true to the book.
Perfect for: Tweens who like realistic dramas.
Find Tiger Eyes at your local library.