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35 Biographies that will Inspire your Middle School Student

Your tweens and teens can learn a ton by reading middle school biographies . Don’t let your middle schooler skip over this genre! There are just too many great books to choose from.

Reading about inspiring lives from the past and present allows kids to learn about the world beyond their own experiences. In addition, reading biographies teaches kids about history, science, sports, and so many other topics that may interest them.

Of course finding books that are challenging enough for a middle school reader without being overly challenging in reading level and content can be tough. This list was gathered specificially for the readers who are “stuck in the middle.”

These middle school biographies are perfect to inspire your teen or tween.

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Middle School Biographies

These middle school biographies will supplement many homeschool curriculums and make easy additions to any reading list for teens and tweens.

As with any booklist, you make the best choices when it comes to appropriate literature for your child to read. I have read many, though not all, of the books on this list. I highly recommend Common Sense Media when you want to know what sort of content might be included in any book.

A Simple Biography Report

Help your student thoughtfully remember facts from these middle school biographies with this free one-page biography report .

This simple report is perfect for your tween or teen to use to record what they learn as they read. It’s an easy (and fun!) way to report their reading. Ask them to share their findings over dinner if they are willing!

download a FREE Biography Report for kids

35 Biographies for Teens and Tweens

Middle School Biography: I am Malala

I am Malala

Malala Yousafai

Two of my kids dove into this one in middle school and couldn’t stop talking about it for quite some time. It opened their eyes to horrible situations in other countries and the courage it takes for one person to stand up to injustice.

Publisher’s Description: “Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren’t allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn’t go to school.

Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school.

No one expected her to survive.”

Amelia Lost is a great middle school biography.

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

Candace Fleming

Publisher’s Description: “On May 21, 1937, the most famous female pilot of all time, Amelia Earhart, set out to do the impossible: circumnavigate the globe at its widest point–27,000 miles in all. Just six weeks later, she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.

Eighty years have passed since that fateful flight; and still, Amelia’s plane has never been found. Discover the thrilling life and tragic end of America’s most famous trailblazing flier with this impeccably researched and masterfully crafted book from acclaimed author Candace Fleming.”

Becoming Emily about the life of Emily Dickinson is a middle grade biography.

Becoming Emily: The Life of Emily Dickinson

Krystyna Poray Goddu

Publisher’s Description: “In Becoming Emily, young readers will learn how as a child, an adolescent, and well into adulthood, Dickinson was a lively social being with a warm family life. Highly educated for a girl of her era, she actively engaged in both the academic and social aspects of the schools she attended until she was nearly eighteen.

Her family and friends were important to her, and she was a prolific, thoughtful, and witty correspondent who shared many poems with her closest friends and relatives.

This indispensable resource includes photos, full-length poems, letter excerpts, a time line, source notes, and a bibliography to present a vivid portrait of this singular American poet.”

A great middle school biography is Promise of Change.

Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality

Jo Ann Allen Boyce

From Amazon: “In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen-year-old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee.

At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school.

Jo Ann–clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students—found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen?”

Read the first in a biography series for middle school: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America

Teri Kanefield

Publisher’s Description: “The America that Alexander Hamilton knew was largely agricultural and built on slave labor. He envisioned something else: a multi-racial, urbanized, capitalistic America with a strong central government. He believed that such an America would be a land of opportunity for the poor and the newcomers.

But Hamilton’s vision put him at odds with his archrivals who envisioned a pastoral America of small towns, where governments were local, states would control their own destiny, and the federal government would remain small and weak.

The disputes that arose during America’s first decades continued through American history to our present day. Over time, because of the systems Hamilton set up and the ideas he left, his vision won out.

Here is the story that epitomizes the American dream—a poor immigrant who made good in America. In the end, Hamilton rose from poverty through his intelligence and ability, and did more to shape our country than any of his contemporaries.”

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind young Readers Version

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Young Readers Edition)

William Kamkwamba

From Amazon: “When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba’s tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season’s crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family’s life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William’s windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.”

March Book 1 Graphic Novel Biography

March: Book One

John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

Who can resist a graphic novel biography ? This has been a popular one in our house with all four kids and myself!

From Amazon: “ March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.”

Thurgood Marshall Biography for Middle School Students

Thurgood Marshall: The Making of America

From the Publisher: “ Thurgood Marshall , the great-grandson of a slave, was born at a time when African Americans were denied equal rights in America. Segregation was legal. Lynching was common. In some places, African Americans were entirely excluded from public life; they were forbidden to enter public parks and museums or use public swimming pools and restrooms. After being denied admission to the University of Maryland Law School because of his race, Marshall enrolled at Howard University. He graduated first in his class and set out as a young lawyer determined to achieve equality for all Americans. Here is the story of how he did it—how he devised his legal strategy for expanding “we the people” to include all people.”

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March

by Lynda Blackmon Lowery

From the Publisher: “As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed eleven times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African-Americans.

In this memoir, she shows today’s young readers what it means to fight nonviolently (even when the police are using violence, as in the Bloody Sunday protest) and how it felt to be part of changing American history.”

The Plot to Kill Hitler

The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero

by Patricia McCormick

From Amazon: “It was April 5, 1943, and the Gestapo would arrive any minute. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had been expecting this day for a long time. He had put his papers in order—and left a few notes specifically for Hitler’s men to see. Two SS agents climbed the stairs and told the boyish-looking Bonhoeffer to come with them. He calmly said good-bye to his parents, put his Bible under his arm, and left. Upstairs there was proof, in his own handwriting, that this quiet young minister was part of a conspiracy to kill Adolf Hitler.

This compelling, brilliantly researched account includes the remarkable discovery that Bonhoeffer was one of the first people to provide evidence to the Allies that Jews were being deported to death camps. It takes readers from his privileged early childhood to the studies and travel that would introduce him to peace activists around the world—eventually putting this gentle, scholarly pacifist on a deadly course to assassinate one of the most ruthless dictators in history.”

Gifted Hands Biography of Ben Carson

Gifted Hands, Revised Kids Edition: The Ben Carson Story

by Gregg Lewis

My son read this book as part of his summer reading in middle school and then we watched the movie . He enjoyed both versions of Ben Caron’s story.

Without a doubt, Ben Carson and all of the amazing medical breakthroughs he is able to achieve are very inspiring.

From the Publisher: “When Ben Carson was in school, his classmates called him the class dummy. Many—including Ben himself—doubted that he would ever amount to anything. But his mother never let him quit. She encouraged Ben to do better and reach higher for his dreams, and eventually, he discovered a deep love of learning.

Today this young boy from the inner-city is one of the world’s greatest pediatric neurosurgeons. Through determination and lot of hard work, Ben overcame his many obstacles and is now dedicated to saving the lives of critically ill children around the world.”

>>> Grab Our FREE Book to Movie Discussion Guide <<<

Abrham Lincoln Biography for Middle School students

Abraham Lincoln: Making of America

From the Publisher: “Even though he grew up on the frontier without a formal education, Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) worked his way up in the government. He was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, then to the US House of Representatives, and then he became the 16th president of the United States.

During his presidency, he led the United States through the Civil War, brought about the emancipation of the enslaved, and strengthened the federal government.”

Child of the Dream

Child of the Dream (Memoir of 1963)

by Sharon Robinson

From the Publisher: “ In January 1963, Sharon Robinson turns 13 the night before George Wallace declares on national television “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” in his inauguration speech as governor of Alabama. It is the beginning of a year that will change the course of American history.

As the daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, Sharon has opportunities that most people would never dream of experiencing. Her family hosts multiple fundraisers at their home in Connecticut for the work that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is doing. Sharon sees her first concert after going backstage at the Apollo Theater. And her whole family attends the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

But things don’t always feel easy for Sharon. She is one of the only Black children in her wealthy Connecticut neighborhood. Her older brother, Jackie Robinson Jr., is having a hard time trying to live up to his father’s famous name, causing some rifts in the family. And Sharon feels isolated — struggling to find her role in the civil rights movement that is taking place across the country.

This is the story of how one girl finds her voice in the fight for justice and equality.”

A Long Way Home Middle school biography book

A Long Way from Home

Saroo Brierley

From Amazon: “ At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.

Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.”

This one is also a major motion picture, so you can follow up with movie after you read the book!

Life in Motion is the Biography of Misty Copeland for middle school readers.

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina (Young Reader)

by Misty Copeland

From Amazon: “Determination meets dance in this New York Times bestselling memoir by the history-making ballerina Misty Copeland, recounting the story of her journey to become the first African-American principal ballerina at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre.

When she first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, underprivileged, and anxious thirteen-year-old to become one of America’s most groundbreaking dancers .

A true prodigy, she was attempting in months roles that take most dancers years to master. But when Misty became caught between the control and comfort she found in the world of ballet and the harsh realities of her own life, she had to choose to embrace both her identity and her dreams, and find the courage to be one of a kind.”

Andrew Jackson biography for middle school readers.

Andrew Jackson: The Making of America

From the Publisher: “Born in the Carolina backwoods, Jackson joined the American Revolutionary War at the age of thirteen. After a reckless youth of gunfights, gambling, and general mischief, he rose to national fame as the general who defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans.

Jackson ran for president as a political outsider, championing the interest of common farmers and frontiersmen. Determined to take down the wealthy, well-educated East Coast “elites,” he pledged to destroy the national bank—which he believed was an engine of corruption serving the interest of bankers and industrialists.

A stanch nationalist, he sought to secure and expand the nation’s borders. Believing that “we the people” included white men only, he protected the practice of slavery and opened new lands for white settlers by pushing the Native people westward.

Jackson, a polarizing figure in his era, ignited a populist movement that remains a powerful force in our national politics.”

Elon Musk biography for middle school

Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

by Ashlee Vance

This book remains a favorite biography for middle schoolers in my house. My husband read it out loud to my boys and they absolutely loved it.

From Amazon: “The version for adults has been praised as “riveting” (The Financial Times), “spirited” (The Wall Street Journal), and “masterful” (Vice). Now younger readers can read about this innovative leader who is revolutionizing three industries at once: space, automotive, and energy.”

The Lady is a Spy middle school biography title

The Lady is a Spy: Virginia Hall, World War II Hero of the French Resistance

Don Mitchell

From Amazon: “When Hitler invaded Poland, Virginia Hall traveled in Europe. Which was dangerous enough, but as fighting erupted, instead of returning home, she headed to France. In a country divided by freedom and fascism, Virginia was determined to do her part for the Allies.

An ordinary woman from Baltimore, Maryland, she dove into the action, first joining a French ambulance unit and later becoming an undercover agent for both the British Office of Strategic Services and the US Office of Strategic Services. Working as a spy in the intelligence network, she made her way to Vichy, coordinating Resistance movements, assisting in Nazi sabotage, and rescuing downed Allies. She passed in plain sight of the enemy and soon found herself being hunted by the Gestapo.

But Virginia cleverly evaded discovery and death, often through bold feats and escapes. Her covert operations, efforts with the Resistance, and risky work as a wireless telegraph operator greatly contributed to the Allies’ eventual win.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Making of America

From the Publisher: “ When Franklin D. Roosevelt was first elected president in 1933, America was in the throes of the Great Depression—the worst economic crisis in U.S. history—and the world was experiencing a menacing rise in Nazism and other dangerous extremists.

Throughout his four presidential terms, Roosevelt was a steady and inspiring leader. He implemented progressive social reform through his New Deal agenda and helped lift America from economic crisis. He guided America to victory in World War II.

Born into wealth and privilege, Roosevelt entered politics at a young age. His career and world views were shaped by his marriage to Eleanor Roosevelt and his long struggle with polio.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our thirty-second president, forever left his mark on our nation and the world. By the time of his death, America had grown to a global economic and military superpower. His New Deal legislation changed the relationship of American citizens to their government. His policies came close to fully realizing Alexander Hamilton’s vision of a government that touches and improves the lives of all citizens.

Facing Frederick is a biography for middle school readers about Frederick Douglas.

Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man

Tonya Bolden

From Amazon: “Teacher. Self-emancipator. Orator. Author. Man. Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) is one of the most important African-American figures in US history, best known, perhaps, for his own emancipation.

But there is much more to Douglass’s story than his time spent in slavery and his famous autobiography. Delving into his family life and travel abroad, this book captures the whole complicated, and at times perplexing, person that he was.

As a statesman, suffragist, writer, newspaperman, and lover of the arts, Douglass the man, rather than the historical icon, is the focus in Facing Frederick.”

Behind Rebel Lines

Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy

Seymour Reit

From Amazon: “In 1861, when war erupted between the States, President Lincoln made an impassioned plea for volunteers. Determined not to remain on the sidelines, Emma Edmonds cropped her hair, donned men’s clothing, and enlisted in the Union Army.

Posing in turn as a slave, peddler, washerwoman, and fop, Emma became a cunning master of disguise, risking discovery and death at every turn behind Confederate lines.”

Susan B Anthony biography

Susan B. Anthony: The Making of America

From the Publisher: “Susan B. Anthony was born into a world in which men ruled women. A man could beat his wife, take her earrings, have her committed to an asylum based on his word alone, and take her children away from her. While the young nation was ablaze with the radical notion that people could govern themselves, “people” were understood to be white and male. Women were expected to stay out of public life and debates. As Anthony saw the situation, “Women’s subsistence is in the hands of men, and most arbitrarily and unjustly does he exercise his consequent power.” She imagined a different world—one where women and people of color were treated with the same respect that white men were given. Susan B. Anthony explores her life, from childhood to her public career as a radical abolitionist to her rise to become an international leader in the women’s suffrage movement.”

Becoming Kareem

Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld

From the Publisher: “At one time, Lew Alcindor was just another kid from New York City with all the usual problems: He struggled with fitting in, with pleasing a strict father, and with overcoming shyness that made him feel socially awkward.

But with a talent for basketball, and an unmatched team of supporters, Lew Alcindor was able to transform and to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. “

Never Caught

Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge: George and Martha Washington’s Courageous Slave Who Dared to Run Away (Young Readers Edition)

Erica Armstrong Dunbar

From Amazon: “In this incredible narrative, Erica Armstrong Dunbar reveals a fascinating and heartbreaking behind-the-scenes look at the Washingtons when they were the First Family—and an in-depth look at their slave, Ona Judge, who dared to escape from one of the nation’s Founding Fathers.”

Harriet Tubman's biography for middle school readers is Freedom Train.

Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman

Dorothy Sterling

Publisher’s Description: “Born into slavery, young Harriet Tubman knew only hard work and hunger. Escape seemed impossible – certainly dangerous. Yet Harriet did escape North, by the secret route called the Underground Railroad. Harriet didn’t forget her people. Again and again she risked her life to lead them on the same secret, dangerous journey.”

My Survival: A Girl on Schindler's List

My Survival: A Girl on Schindler’s List

Joshua M. Greene

From the Publisher: “Rena Finder was only eleven when the Nazis forced her and her family — along with all the other Jewish families — into the ghetto in Krakow, Poland. Rena worked as a slave laborer with scarcely any food and watched as friends and family were sent away.

Then Rena and her mother ended up working for Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who employed Jewish prisoners in his factory and kept them fed and healthy. But Rena’s nightmares were not over. She and her mother were deported to the concentration camp Auschwitz. With great cunning, it was Schindler who set out to help them escape.”

Facing the Lion

Facing the Lion (Abridged Edition): Memoirs of a Young Girl in Nazi Europe

Simone Arnold Liebster

From the Publisher: “Simone Arnold is an ordinary French schoolgirl—spirited and stubborn. Then the Nazis march in, demanding complete conformity. Friends become enemies. Teachers spout Nazi propaganda. School officials recruit for the Hitler Youth. Simone’s family refuses to heil Hitler as Germany’s savior. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they reject Nazi racism and violence. The Nazi Lion makes them pay the price.”

Reaching for the Moon biography

Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson

From the Publisher: “As a young girl, Katherine Johnson showed an exceptional aptitude for math. In school she quickly skipped ahead several grades and was soon studying complex equations with the support of a professor who saw great promise in her.

But ability and opportunity did not always go hand in hand. As an African American and a girl growing up in an era of brutal racism and sexism, Katherine faced daily challenges.

Still, she lived her life with her father’s words in mind: “You are no better than anyone else, and nobody else is better than you.”

In the early 1950s, Katherine was thrilled to join the organization that would become NASA. She worked on many of NASA’s biggest projects including the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first men on the moon.”

Reach for the Skai biography

Reach for the Skai: How to Inspire, Empower, and Clapback

Skai Jackson

From the Publisher: “Actress and activist Skai Jackson is a star! Her rise to fame started on the popular Disney Channel shows Bunk’d and Jessie. Her cool sense of style led her to create her own fashion line. And her success has made her a major influencer, with millions of followers on Instagram, who isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in.”

The Secret Soldier biography book for tweens

The Secret Soldier: Story of Deborah Sampson: The Story of Deborah Sampson

Ann McGovern

From Amazon: “Deborah Sampson wanted to travel and have adventures, but since she had no money, the best way to do that was to join the army. This is the exciting true story of a woman who became a soldier during the American Revolutionary War, by dressing and acting like a man.”

Soul Surfer

Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board

Bethany Hamilton

This was a favorite book and story when my girls were in middle school. Bethany was a source of inspiration to them for a long time.

There is also a movie you can watch after you read the book. We did watch the movie, but we had to fast-forward through the shark attack scene because it was too intense for them when they were younger.

From the Publisher: “Soul Surfer is a moving account of Bethany’s life as a young surfer, her recovery after the attack, the adjustments she’s made to her unique surfing style, her unprecedented bid for a top showing in the World Surfing Championships, and, most fundamentally, her belief in God.

It is a story of girl power and spiritual grit that shows the body is no more essential to surfing—perhaps even less so—than the soul.”

The Endless Steppe

The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia

Esther Hautzig

From the Publisher: “In June 1941, the Rudomin family is arrested by the Russians. They are accused of being capitalists, “enemies of the people.” Forced from their home and friends in Vilna, Poland, they are herded into crowded cattle cars. Their destination: the endless steppe of Siberia.

For five years, Esther and her family lived in exile, weeding potato fields, working in the mines, and struggling to stay alive. But in the middle of hardship and oppression, the strength of their small family sustains them and gives them hope for the future.”

Chasing Space is Leland Melvin's biography for middle school students

Chasing Space (Young Readers’ Edition)

Leland Melvin

From the Publisher: “When the former Detroit Lion’s football career was cut short by an injury, Leland didn’t waste time mourning his broken dream. Instead, he found a new one—something that was completely out of this world.

He joined NASA, braved an injury that nearly left him permanently deaf, and still managed to muster the courage and resolve to travel to space on the shuttle Atlantis to help build the International Space Station. Leland’s problem-solving methods and can-do attitude turned his impossible-seeming dream into reality.”

The Notorious Benedict Arnold

The Notorious Benedict Arnold

Steve Sheinkin

From the Publisher: “Most people know that Benedict Arnold was America’s first, most notorious traitor. Few know that he was also one of its greatest Revolutionary War heroes. Steve Sheinkin’s accessible biography, The Notorious Benedict Arnold, introduces young readers to the real Arnold: reckless, heroic, and driven. Packed with first-person accounts, astonishing American Revolution battle scenes, and surprising twists, this is a gripping and true adventure tale from history.”

10 Days a Madwoman

Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of Nellie Bly

Deborah Noyes

From the Publisher: “Young Nellie Bly had ambitious goals, especially for a woman at the end of the nineteenth century, when the few female journalists were relegated to writing columns about cleaning or fashion.

But fresh off a train from Pittsburgh, Nellie knew she was destined for more and pulled a major journalistic stunt that skyrocketed her to fame: feigning insanity, being committed to the notorious asylum on Blackwell’s Island, and writing a shocking exposé of the clinic’s horrific treatment of its patients.   Nellie Bly became a household name and raised awareness of political corruption, poverty, and abuses of human rights. Leading an uncommonly full life, Nellie circled the globe in a record seventy-two days and brought home a pet monkey before marrying an aged millionaire and running his company after his death.”

More Books for Middle Schoolers:

If your student is interested in graphic novels (a very popular option) then these graphic novels for middle schoolers are great options.

Our middle school book club enjoyed these 8 titles this year . They were fantastic reads for great discussions!

While these winter themed books for middle school are great in the winter, they can easily be enjoyed at any time of year.

Don’t forget your FREE one-page biography report:

Additional Biography for Kids Books:

Biography picture books your kids will love.

The Best Middle school biographies for your tween and teen.

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Middle School Biography Books That Will Inspire Tweens

I think it’s important for middle school to read about the lives of extraordinary people through biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs.Their stories not only share information, but inspire and challenge readers as well. They are a great addition to middle school language arts lessons.

Tweens can learn a lot by reading middle school biography books . When you think about the best books for middle grade students, this genre should definitely be on every homeschooler’s reading list.

Biographies give kids the chance to learn about the lives of extraordinary people. Their stories are interesting and informative and without a doubt will inspire and challenge your tweens and teens. 

That is to say, this book style lets readers see life from another person’s perspective. It helps them appreciate different cultures, beliefs, and values.

Reading middle grade biographies will certainly broaden your child’s horizons!

Collage of 14 different middle grade biography book covers

If your kids are hesitant to read biographies, it’s important to realize that the people in these books have important stories to tell. Particularly, about their daily life, something amazing they’ve accomplished, or challenges they’ve overcome. 

Table of Contents

What is a biography?

In short, a biography is a type of book that tells the true story of an individual’s life that’s written by someone else.

It’s slightly different from an autobiography or a memoir. An autobiography is a person’s story written by themselves and a memoir is a collection of stories (or memories) told in their own words.

One of the best things about the biography genre is that it gives readers a glimpse into the lives of prominent contemporary and historical people.

It typically focuses on someone’s achievements and experiences, and in addition, often includes personal things like family relationships, health issues, and character traits.

Why Should Middle Schoolers Read Biographies?

Biographies are an important part of any reading plan, but especially so for tweens. Middle school is the stage when kids are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit into the world. That is to say, they need role models.

This genre gives tweens the chance to study the achievements of well-known people, their various attributes, and the obstacles they overcame to reach their goals.

Biography books are motivating and can be a source of inspiration for middle schoolers who are in the process of finding themselves. As they read these impactful stories, they’ll discover each person has something special within them and that it’s possible to use those qualities to affect the world around them.

What are the Benefits of Reading Biographies?

There are many benefits to kids reading biography books, including:

  • opening up different worlds to kids by sharing the lives of influential men and women
  • conveying the context within which history happened
  • encouraging young readers to think critically about current events and inspiring them to become more engaged citizens
  • teaching tweens empathy
  • increasing vocabulary and comprehension skills

Choosing a Biography

One thing I love about biographies is that there are so many to choose from. On the other hand, this can also make it difficult to pick titles for your kids to read.

It might help to sit down with your tween and make a list of individuals they would like to learn more about. In this case, having a list of specific people they want to get to know better will help you narrow down your search.

Biography Report Form

To help direct their learning, encourage your tween to use this biography report template .

It’s a wonderful tool that will help them dive deeper into the life of an extraordinary person and learn how to organize research material.

biography books for 7th graders

Middle School Biography Books

A biography is the perfect type of book for inquisitive kids. The stories are motivating, engaging, and entertaining and may even help middle schoolers discover their own unique strengths.

Also, they’re some of the best nonfiction books for homeschoolers and should be essential reading in subject areas like language arts, science, and history.

Here are some of our favorite stories that are perfect for kids in 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade. Some of them even highlight young people. Those who are stepping up to make a difference, taking action right now to improve the lives of themselves and those around them.

All of these stories are important, inspirational, and fascinating and should be read by all middle grade students.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. There are thousands of stories to choose from, so there’s no way to include them all here.

Any links in this post may be affiliate links. See my disclosure statement .

Biographies for Middle Schoolers

These middle school biography books are all stories of people who have done important things and made a difference. They're a great way to learn about what their lives were like and how they broke through barriers and persevered.

Encourage your tween to apply the lessons they learn in their own life.

biography books for 7th graders

Who Is Greta Thunberg?

Learn about this impressive Swedish teen that's challenging the world to think differently about climate change and our role in saving the environment.

biography books for 7th graders

Asian American Women in Science

Introduce your tweens to 15 Asian American women who are pioneers in science.

biography books for 7th graders

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery

Sure, we all know he was a traitor, but do you know the full story of Benedict Arnold?

biography books for 7th graders

Changing the Game: Asian Pacific American Female Athletes

Kids will love these short stories of 17 famous Asian Pacific American women who changed the game and excelled in their sport.

biography books for 7th graders

Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune

Introduce your tweens to one of the most important samurai in the history of Japan.

biography books for 7th graders

Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original "Girl" Reporter, Nellie Bly

Journalist Nellie Bly had herself institutionalized in order to expose the poor treatment of the patients housed inside the well-known asylum on Blackwell's Island. Readers will learn about her life and writing career.

biography books for 7th graders

Home of the Brave: 15 Immigrants Who Shaped U.S. History

Read about the lives of 15 extraordinary people who came to America and used their gifts, talents, and intellect to shape their world and history.

biography books for 7th graders

John Muir: Young Naturalist

If your family enjoys exploring nature, this book is a must-read.

Discover why even as a young boy John Muir was so passionate about the natural world and how his early childhood led him to fight for the preservation of acres of beautiful wilderness and create the Sierra Club.

biography books for 7th graders

Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad

This book will introduce teens to the life John Horse, a Black Seminole leader, diplomat, and heroic warrior.

He spent his life fighting for the freedom and survival of his people against the government, rival tribes, and slave hunters.

biography books for 7th graders

Who Was Frida Kahlo?

Learn about the life story of this famous painter whose artwork is instantly recognizable thanks to the artist herself.

biography books for 7th graders

Leaders and Thinkers in American History: 15 Influential People You Should Know

This book will introduce tweens to 15 influential people throughout American history.

biography books for 7th graders

Trailblazers: Jackie Robinson: Breaking Barriers in Baseball

Learn about how Jackie Robinson changed the game of baseball.

biography books for 7th graders

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Inspiring Young Changemakers

This book will introduce you to 100 stories of young women who are working hard to create a better future and world.

biography books for 7th graders

Serena Williams

Learn about the obstacles Serena Williams overcame from a young age to become the world's best tennis player.

biography books for 7th graders

Who Was Annie Oakley?

Annie Oakley was a trailblazer who pushed aside all the cultural norms of her day. As a famous sharpshooter, she traveled all over the world with the renowned Buffalo Bill show during the wild west time period.

biography books for 7th graders

Lincoln's Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America's First Private Eye

Allan Pinkerton was America's first private eye who worked with his undercover team to catch all kinds of outlaws. President Lincoln funded his network, which ushered in the Secret Service.

biography books for 7th graders

Dian Fossey: Animal Rights Activist and Protector of Mountain Gorillas

If your tweens love animals, they need to know the story of Dian Fossey. She spent years studying, protecting, and fighting for the mountain gorillas in Africa.

biography books for 7th graders

Trailblazers: Martin Luther King, Jr.: Fighting for Civil Rights

No biography reading list would be complete without the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his role fighting for social justice and the civil rights movement.

biography books for 7th graders

16th Century Superstar: Da Vinci

This book will show tweens how much Da Vinci's projects, artwork, and inventions changed the world.

biography books for 7th graders

Native Americans in History

In this book, older kids will read about 15 influential Native Americans and their important accomplishments.

biography books for 7th graders

Lin-Manuel Miranda: Revolutionary Playwright, Composer, and Actor

If your family is a fan of the musical Hamilton, you'll want to read this story about Lin-Manuel Miranda and how he has influenced the arts.

biography books for 7th graders

Who Was Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Before and after taking her seat on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for gender equality and women's rights. She was the first woman of Jewish faith to sit on the court.

biography books for 7th graders

Rising Above: How 11 Athletes Overcame Challenges in Their Youth to Become Stars

Sports-loving tweens will enjoy reading about the trials and achievements of these 11 famous athletes.

biography books for 7th graders

Isaac Newton: The Scientist Who Changed Everything

Older kids will enjoy reading about the life and work of Isaac Newton, one of the most important scientists throughout history. His theories led to big changes in various fields.

biography books for 7th graders

DK Life Stories: Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was a NASA mathematician who was instrumental in putting a man on the moon. A true trailblazer, she overcame many obstacles before being a part of the Apollo space program.

As I have shown, there are a ton of different types of middle school biographies out there, however, it’s easy to choose an excellent one to read. If your tween is struggling with one, pick a different style. They vary widely and you want to find something that grabs and keeps your child’s attention.

Don’t forget to grab your biography book report form !

Collage of 9 covers of middle grade biography books

More Books for Middle Schoolers

Looking for more book lists for your tweens and teens? Check these out.

  • Classic Books
  • Personal Growth Books
  • Newbery Award Winning Books
  • Amazing Animal Books
  • Adventure Books for Middle School

If your kids struggle with reading, consider switching over to audiobooks . They’re a lifesaver for some families, including those who love read aloud time.

Kids can listen on their devices, like a Kindle Fire . Of course, you can also play books in the car as you travel.

Which one of these middle school biography books is your tween most excited to read?

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Megan Zechman

Megan Zechman

@edupossible, latest posts by megan zechman ( see all ).

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biography books for 7th graders

20 Biography Books For Kids To Help Them Dream Big

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Brandie DeRusha

With her MA in English from Rutgers University-Camden, Brandie spends her days chasing around her toddlers and writing. She loves to pair wine with her reading; preferably a Brontë, or an Elliot, or a Woolf novel. Depending on the mood. She currently lives in Florida with her husband, two kids and furry beast.

View All posts by Brandie DeRusha

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, I forgot how to dream for my life. It was in between those “you can do anything you put your mind to” platitudes from my mother, to “you’ll never make any money if you get a degree in art” realities — also from my mother. As a good child, I believed everything people would say about my potential. If I expressed interest in writing or journalism, they would scoff at me that it was “too hard” for me; if it was acting or dancing, it was “too competitive.” Clearly it was confusing and sent me into an adolescent identity crisis. Who could I be if I couldn’t be who I was?

Now, as a grown up and a mother, I realize that in order to live our truth…we must follow our curiosity. We must embrace our curiosity. We must be allowed to explore. To get things wrong. To find out how we individually interpret the world around us. That will help us make the world a better place.

Thankfully, the way has been paved before us by millions of amazing people who refused to internalize the negative messages about their dreams. People who were so into what they were doing that nothing else mattered except that one thing. Who knew that what their heart was saying was the way without someone’s expectations of them.

Here are stories of 20 people who made their own way and changed not only their lives but ours. 20 stories of people who followed their curiously, followed their love, and led the way for us to be a better society. These 20 biography books for kids can help your kids dream big.

20 of the Best Biography Books for Kids

biography books for 7th graders

The Story of Harriet Tubman by Christine Platt

Before she became known for her fight to free people from enslavement, she was a little girl who was sad to see her family be separated. Tubman is going to be a key person in most kids’ history classes — so this book also gives a timeline of her life, with age appropriate discussion questions. And if you love this, the series also has Barack Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Benjamin Franklin biographies, and more.

biography books for 7th graders

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant and Boris Kulikov

This picture book biography tells the story of how Louis Braille lost his sight and invented an alphabet. Young Braille wanted nothing more than to be able to read after an accident causes him to lose his eyesight. His invention gave blind kids all over the world a new way to navigate a world that wasn’t made for them. This book is not only inspiring, it shows children that everyone is capable of doing good things.

biography books for 7th graders

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne and Éric Puybaret

Once there was a boy named Jacques. He loved to explore the oceans. This whimsical and poetic biography of Jacques Cousteau will inspire kids to follow their explorer natures, as well as help them realize that every person who has made history started as a kid with curiosity.

biography books for 7th graders

Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote by Tanya Lee Stone and Rebecca Gibbon

From a young age, Elizabeth understood that things weren’t equal in her life. How could only a few people have the right to vote? Voting is the foundation of our democracy. So she went to college, gathered like-minded friends, and made their statements, not stopping until women in the United States won the Right to Vote. She was a girl who saw a problem, and grew up to find the solution.

biography books for 7th graders

Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonya Sotomayor and Lulu Delacre

The first Latina on the Supreme Court, Sonya Sotomayor recollects her life and the steps that brought her there. For her, it was books. Books helped her cope with difficulties in her life, connect with her roots, and helped her see that her future was full of possibilities. In her autobiography, Sotomayor encourages kids everywhere to read, dream, and puzzle for themselves.

biography books for 7th graders

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai and Kera Ascoet

As a girl, Malala wished for a magic pencil. A tool she could use to make everyone happy. To make the world around her a little brighter. As she got older she realized that even if she didn’t have a magic pencil, she could still work hard to make the world a better place. Told in a way that’s appropriate to children, we learn about the struggles that Malala faced to follow her dreams and how even then she held onto a hope for a better future for herself and her friends.

biography books for 7th graders

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown and Julie Paschkis

Sometimes people create with paint, but for a little boy in a city in Chile, words were better. Pablo wrote poems about all the things he loved. Things he found in nature, things his friends made, and the things he found at the marketplace. He wrote about the people of Chile, their struggles and passions. It all started with a little boy who loved to paint with words.

biography books for 7th graders

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle and Rafael López

Millo Castro Zaldarriaga dreamed of drumming. However, girls weren’t allowed to drum on her little island. She dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. One day, she decided to follow her dream — what happened next when her bright music was heard was magic: people dancing and singing and deciding that boys and girls can make music. Showing that both boys and girls can be free to drum and dream, Millo’s story is an inspiration for children everywhere.

biography books for 7th graders

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles and George Ford

Ruby was just a normal 6-year-old until she was chosen to be the first Black person to be enrolled in an all white elementary school. A lot of people didn’t like that idea and said some mean and threatening things. Ruby did what she was told to do, and went to school anyway. How does a little girl change the world? By being brave in the face of racism and injustice.

biography books for 7th graders

A Voice Named Aretha by Katheryn Russel-Brown and Laura Freeman

How did a quiet and shy girl from Detroit become the Queen of Soul and the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? She stayed true to herself and her ideals by refusing to play for segregated audiences and never forgetting her roots. She stood up for what was right. Aretha Franklin proved that with passion, perseverance, and R-E-S-P-E-C-T, you can do anything.

biography books for 7th graders

Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician by Lesa Cline-Ransome and Raúl Colón

When NASA used mathematicians called “human computers,” one woman stood out among them all. Katherine Johnson was integral in getting John Glen around the world, helping men walk on the moon, and getting Apollo 13 home safely. This book is for girls who love numbers — who don’t let problems stand in the way from the work.

biography books for 7th graders

Vincent Can’t Sleep by Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpre

Vincent Can’t Sleep is the story of how one of the most beloved and creative artists found his inspiration. When Vincent Van Gogh couldn’t sleep, he’d walk during the night, giving him the inspiration for his famous painting Starry Night . With lovely poetic writing, it tells kids to follow their passion, even if they don’t see the return in their lifetime. (Maybe wait to walk outside at night alone until after they’ve grown up, though.)

biography books for 7th graders

Magic Ramen by Andrea Wang and Kana Urbanowicz

“Peace follows a full stomach,” thought Momofuko Ando while working in his lab to find a quick, easy, and tasty way of making ramen soup. He wanted to help those in the long daily lines for soup after WWII. This is the story of one man, his commitment to his cause, and the world’s most popular “easy soup.”

biography books for 7th graders

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renée Watson and Christian Robinson

Florence was a little girl who loved to sing. She also loved her parents, who were formerly enslaved. So when her beautiful singing and dancing inspired patrons and playwrights alike, she knew that she wouldn’t be happy without standing up to the injustice that she saw daily.

biography books for 7th graders

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley

“Disagreeing does not make you disagreeable” was something that young Ruth Bader Ginsberg had to learn. This book is the first picture book of Ginsberg’s life. Kids get to see how one girl who stood up for what she believed and became the most beloved Supreme Court justice.

biography books for 7th graders

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson

“The Earth and every living thing are made of star stuff.” —Carl Sagan. As a boy, Carl Sagan loved learning about the stars. His trip to the 1939 World’s Fair opened up the universe to Carl. A boy who was captured by the wonder of the cosmos became a man who would launch satellites and teach the world about the stars.

biography books for 7th graders

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls

Sometimes being told you can’t do a thing gives you all the incentive to do it more, especially if EVERYONE thinks you can’t. Emmanuel Ofosu Yepoah only had one leg — and this is the true story of how he biked across the entire country of Ghana (almost 400 miles!) and went on change the way many people in his country thought about people with disabilities.

biography books for 7th graders

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick and Don Tate

Effa Manley loved baseball. She loved to go Yankee Stadium and see Babe Ruth swing for the fences. Soon she became her own hero by becoming the manager and owner of the Newark Eagles. Effa was the first (and only) woman inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame, because of her work with the Eagles. From a girl growing up in Philly to a Hall of Famer, Manley shows us how to swing for the fences.

biography books for 7th graders

Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix by Gary Golio and Javaka Steptoe

Can someone paint pictures with sound? Jimi was a normal kid who loved to paint and listen to music. This is the story of a kid who interpreted the world in his own unique way, and over time learned how to weave music and imagery to become one of the most influential people in the world.

biography books for 7th graders

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Oge Mora

Mary Walker was born into slavery. She had her first child at the age of 20, lived through a Civil War and two World Wars, and worked many many jobs. Finally, at the young age of 116, Mary Walker learned how to read, proving that it is never too late to follow your dreams and also recognize how incredible life can be.

Want even more after reading this list? Check out historical fiction classics for kids and these picture book biographies of Black leaders and creatives.

biography books for 7th graders

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70 Best Books for 7th Graders

biography books for 7th graders

You’ll notice that the best books for seventh graders tend to veer into upper middle-grade territory. That’s the case with the books on this list. I have so many beloved upper middle-grade books and I’ll link to the full list at the bottom of this post, but this list also has several books I have never recommended on the blog before.

Seventh graders are on the brink of teenage life, and may relate most strongly to books about body image , crushes, and things like that. They’re also more able to tolerate tastefully done stories about sexual harassment, domestic violence, addiction, serious mental illness and other harsh, unpleasant realities of life. On this list, you’ll find books that hit all of these themes. Of course, as always mentioned, seventh graders can always read up or down. They can read and enjoy many of the books I’ve recommended for sixth graders and fifth graders .

books for 7th graders including maizy chen's last chance, maybe he just likes you and a million views

Click on the graphics to head over to the book’s Amazon page. Grab a printable of this list by signing up below.

Disclaimer: I use affiliate links for Amazon and will make a cent or two if you buy using these links. It’s a great way to support a blog(ger) you love.

Genesis Begins Again

cover of middle grade book, Genesis Begins Again - books for seventh graders

Published: August 18, 2020

There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant—even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.

What’s not so regular is that this time they all don’t have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It’s not that Genesis doesn’t like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight—Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she’d married a lighter skinned man none of this would be happening, and on and on and on. But things aren’t all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she’s made a couple friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show.

But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? Why, why, why won’t the lemon or yogurt or fancy creams lighten her skin like they’re supposed to? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?

Related : 75 Black Middle-Grade Books

Saint Ivy: Kind at All Costs

biography books for 7th graders

Published: May 18, 2021

Thirteen-year-old Ivy Campbell has always been a good kid: She supports her soccer-star brother, bakes with her nana, and puts her friends’ needs before her own. So of course, Ivy is 100 percent supportive when her mom decides to be a gestational surrogate, carrying and giving birth to her friends’ baby. But when Ivy finds out the surrogacy treatment worked and her mom is pregnant—and has been for weeks—she’s shocked that she’s jealous and worried about what others will think. And most of all, she’s ashamed that she isn’t reacting to this news in the right way. The Ivy way. Ivy is determined to prove to herself that she’s just as unselfish as she’s always believed, and she gets the chance to do that when she receives an anonymous email from someone who needs her help. But the more Ivy dives into helping this anonymous person, the further she gets from the people she loves—and from the person who she wants to be.

What Happened to Rachel Riley?

biography books for 7th graders

Published: January 10, 2023

Anna Hunt may be the new girl at East Middle School, but she can already tell there’s something off about her eighth-grade class. Rachel Riley, who just last year was one of the most popular girls in school, has become a social pariah. But no one, including Rachel herself, will tell Anna why. As a die-hard podcast enthusiast, Anna knows there’s always more to a story than meets the eye. So she decides to put her fact-seeking skills to the test and create her own podcast around the question that won’t stop running through her head: What happened to Rachel Riley? With the entire eighth grade working against her, Anna dives headfirst into the evidence. Clue after clue, the mystery widens, painting an even more complex story than Anna could have anticipated. But there’s one thing she’s certain of: If you’re going to ask a complicated question, you better be prepared for the fallout that may come with the answer.

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

books for seventh graders - the benefits of being an octopus

Published: September 4, 2018

Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they’ve got to do.

Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.

At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they’re in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them.

Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.

Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?

Life in the Balance

biography books for 7th graders

Published: February 16, 2021

Veronica Conway has been looking forward to trying out for the All-Star softball team for years. She’s practically been playing the game since she was a baby. She should have this tryout on lock.

Except right before tryouts, Veronica’s mom announces that she’s entering rehab for alcoholism, and her dad tells her that they may not be able to afford the fees needed to be on the team.

Veronica decides to enter the town talent show in an effort to make her own money, but along the way discovers a new hobby that leads her to doubt her feelings for the game she thought she loved so much.

Is her mom the only one learning balance, or can Veronica find a way to discover what she really wants to do with her life?

This Is How I Roll

This Is How I Roll

Published: January 3, 2023

Susannah Mikami dreams of becoming a famous sushi chef like her dad. And this summer, she plans to learn everything about his traditional kitchen. Only he refuses to teach her, and won’t tell her why. Is it because he doesn’t want her to embarrass him in front of the documentary crew filming at his restaurant? Or worse, because she’s a girl? Either way, Sana decides he’s not the only one who can keep secrets.

So when she meets Koji, a cute boy who wants to help her cook up some trouble in the kitchen — and film online tutorials to show the world her mad skills — Sana is all in. But sneaking around means lying to her parents, something Sana’s never done before. Can she take the heat, or will she get out of the kitchen for good?

Tornado Brain

books for seventh graders - tornado brain

Published: May 5, 2020

Things never seem to go as easily for thirteen-year-old Frankie as they do for her sister, Tess. Unlike Tess, Frankie is neurodivergent. In her case, that means she can’t stand to be touched, loud noises bother her, she’s easily distracted, she hates changes in her routine, and she has to go see a therapist while other kids get to hang out at the beach. It also means Frankie has trouble making friends. She did have one–Colette–but they’re not friends anymore. It’s complicated.

Then, just weeks before the end of seventh grade, Colette unexpectedly shows up at Frankie’s door. The next morning, Colette vanishes. Now, after losing Colette yet again, Frankie’s convinced that her former best friend left clues behind that only she can decipher, so she persuades her reluctant sister to help her unravel the mystery of Colette’s disappearance before it’s too late.

All You Knead Is Love

All You Knead Is Love

Published: March 30, 2021

Twelve-year-old Alba doesn’t want to live with her estranged grandmother in Barcelona.But her mother needs her to be far, far away from their home in New York City. Because this is the year that her mother is going to leave Alba’s abusive father. Hopefully. If she’s strong enough to finally, finally do it.Alba is surprised to find that she loves Barcelona, forming a close relationship with her grandmother, meeting a supportive father figure, and making new friends. Most of all, she discovers a passion and talent for bread baking. When her beloved bakery is threatened with closure, Alba is determined to find a way to save it–and at the same time, she may just come up with a plan to make their family whole again.

Related : Middle Grade Books About Entrepreneurship

Lotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution

biography books for 7th graders

Published: September 6, 2022

This school year, Lotus is taking her talent and spirit to the seventh grade at a new school of the arts. The one where she just might get to play under the famous maestro, a violin virtuoso and conductor of the orchestra. But Lotus’s best friend, Rebel, thinks Lotus should stay at their school. Why should this fancy new school get all the funding and pull the brightest kids out? Rebel wants Lotus to help her protest, but Lotus isn’t sure. If she’s going to be in the spotlight, she’d rather it be for her music. Then, when boys throw paper wads and airplanes into Lotus’s afro, Lotus finds  herself  in trouble for a dress code violation. Lotus must choose–should she stay quiet and risk her beloved hair, or put aside her peaceful vibe and risk everything to fight back?

We Dream of Space

Best Books for Seventh Graders - we dream of space

Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the Space Shuttle  Challenger , they each struggle with their own personal anxieties.

Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing  Major Havoc  at the arcade on Main and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And Bird, his twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander, but feels like she’s disappearing. 

The Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the  Challenger  approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project—they are separated into spacecraft crews and must create and complete a mission. When the fated day finally arrives, it changes all of their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways.

Told in three alternating points of view,  We Dream of Space  is an unforgettable and thematically rich novel for middle grade readers.

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance

biography books for 7th graders

Published: February 1, 2022

Maizy has never been to Last Chance, Minnesota. . . until now. Her Mom’s plan is just to stay for a couple weeks, until her grandfather gets better. But plans change, and as Maizy spends more time in Last Chance (where she and her family are the only Asian-Americans) and at The Golden Palace—the restaurant that’s been in her family for generations—she makes some discoveries. For instance: •    You can tell a LOT about someone by the way they order food.  •   And people can surprise you. Sometimes in good ways, sometimes in disappointing ways. •   And the Golden Palace has Secrets.

But the more Maizy discovers, the more questions she has. Like, why are her mom and her grandmother always fighting? Who are the people in the photographs on the office wall? And when she discovers that a beloved family treasure has gone missing—and someone has left a racist note—Maizy decides it’s time find the answers.

Eb & Flow

biography books for 7th graders

Published: March 14, 2023

Two kids. One fight. No one thinks they’re wrong.   Flow I don’t even hit girls . . . is what I’m thinking. I roll my eyes, turn them to my shoes.   Shoes I’ma wear every day till they fall off my feet.   Eb It was all just an accident! Nobody was trying to mess up his Stupid Ugly Shoes.   Now I’ve got my third suspension of seventh grade.   Ebony and De’Kari (aka Flow) do  not  get along. How could they when their cafeteria scuffle ended with De’Kari’s ruined shoes, Ebony on the ground, and both of them with ten days of at-home suspension? Now Eb and Flow have two weeks to think about and explain their behavior—to their families, to each other, and ultimately to themselves.

More to the Story

more to the story - books for seventh graders

Published: September 3, 2019

When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she’s one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela’s assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn’t share much, and wonders how she’ll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest.

Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article—one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela’s world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she’s cut out to be a journalist at all…

Related : 8 Books Like More to the Story by Hena Khan

biography books for 7th graders

Published: September 7, 2021

After her brother’s death from a congenital heart defect, twelve-year-old Lucy is not prepared to be the new kid at school―especially in a grade full of survivors of a shooting that happened four years ago. Without the shared past that both unites and divides her classmates, Lucy feels isolated and unable to share her family’s own loss, which is profoundly different from the trauma of her peers.

Lucy clings to her love of math, which provides the absolute answers she craves. But through budding friendships and an after-school mime class, Lucy discovers that while grief can take many shapes and sadness may feel infinite, love is just as powerful.

The Town with No Mirrors

biography books for 7th graders

Published: February 21, 2023

Zailey has never seen her own face. She’s never seen her reflection, or a photo of herself, or even a drawing. In the special community of Gladder Hill, cameras and mirrors are forbidden: it’s why everyone’s happier here. Nobody talks about anyone else’s appearance. You’re not supposed to even think about what other people look like, or what you look like.

But Zailey does.

She knows her superficial thoughts are wrong, and her sketchbook, filled with secret portraits of her classmates and neighbors, could get her in trouble. Yet she can’t help but think those thoughts, and be curious about the outside world where she once lived, years ago. Most of all, she wonders what it’s like to see herself―her own face.

When Zailey suddenly finds herself beyond the gates of her town, she has a chance to see if what she’s been taught about the outside world is true and search for the mother she barely remembers. Only then will she find out the real story about Gladder Hill. But is she prepared for the truth?

Prairie Lotus

prairie lotus - books for seventh graders

Published: March 3, 2020

Prairie Lotus  is a powerful, touching, multilayered book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a small town in America’s heartland, in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story. Narrated by Hanna, the novel has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant voice will resonate with readers.  Afterword.

Partly Cloudy

biography books for 7th graders

Lightning couldn’t strike twice, could it? After a terrible year, Madalyn needs clear skies desperately. Moving in with her great-uncle, Papa Lobo, and switching to a new school is just the first step.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though. Madalyn discovers she’s the only Black girl in her class, and while most of her classmates are friendly, assumptions lead to some serious storms.

Papa Lobo’s long-running feud with neighbor Mrs. Baylor brings wild weather of its own, and Madalyn wonders just how far things will go. But when fire threatens the community, Madalyn discovers that truly being neighborly means more than just staying on your side of the street— it means weathering tough conversations—and finding that together a family can pull through anything.

A Million Views

A Million Views

Published: October 4, 2022

Brewster Gaines loves everything about making videos. The planning, the filming, the editing, and especially the feeling of watching his YouTube views tick up and up. So what if he doesn’t have friends to film with or parents who are home every night for dinner? He’s got a phone and a tripod and a lofty goal:   A million views.   But when he enlists the acting chops of charismatic new kid Carly for a ten-second video, he gets more than he bargained for. Her intimidating friend Rosa soon steps in with funding to produce an epic fantasy trailer, and before long, their tiny team is adding cast and crew. What started as a simple shoot mutates into a full-fledged movie production, complete with method-acting cosplayers, special effects, and a monster made out of a go-kart. That’s when Brewster realizes that getting to a million views may be harder than he ever imagined . . .

Counting Thyme

Best Books for Seventh Graders - counting thyme

Published: April 12, 2016

When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.

After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.

Related : Melanie Conklin Interview

Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero

biography books for 7th graders

Yusuf Azeem has spent all his life in the small town of Frey, Texas—and nearly that long waiting for the chance to participate in the regional robotics competition, which he just  knows  he can win.

Only, this year is going to be more difficult than he thought. Because this year is the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an anniversary that has everyone in his Muslim community on edge.

With “Never Forget” banners everywhere and a hostile group of townspeople protesting the new mosque, Yusuf realizes that the country’s anger from two decades ago hasn’t gone away. Can he hold onto his joy—and his friendships—in the face of heartache and prejudice?


Published: October 18, 2022

Nothing’s been the same since Lucas’s older brother died. After the accident, Lucas’s mom disappeared without any warning, and his dad is struggling to cope. Lucas is pretty much alone—except for the other kids he meets at his middle school’s aftercare program.

There’s Cat, the star athlete; Robbie, the goofball; Anna, the popular girl; and Finn, the mysterious new kid. Between games of Sardines, a reverse hide-and-seek, the kids realize that each group member has a secret wish. If they work together, the group might be able to help make each person’s dream come true. But for that to happen, Lucas will have to find the strength to trust his new friends with his family’s secrets.

Amal Unbound

Best Books for Seventh Graders - amal unbound

Published: May 8, 2018

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal–especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

Paradise on Fire

biography books for 7th graders

Published: September 14, 2021

Addy is haunted by the tragic fire that killed her parents, leaving her to be raised by her grandmother. Now, years later, Addy’s grandmother has enrolled her in a summer wilderness program. There, Addy joins five other Black city kids—each with their own troubles—to spend a summer out west.   Deep in the forest the kids learn new (and to them) strange skills: camping, hiking, rock climbing, and how to start and safely put out campfires. Most important, they learn to depend upon each other for companionship and survival.  But then comes a devastating forest fire…   Addy is face-to-face with her destiny and haunting past. Developing her courage and resiliency against the raging fire, it’s up to Addy to lead her friends to safety. Not all are saved. But remembering her origins and grandmother’s teachings, she’s able to use street smarts, wilderness skills, and her spiritual intuition to survive.

Playing Through the Turnaround

biography books for 7th graders

Published: October 11, 2022

Fifth period is hands down the best time of day in Connor U. Eubanks Middle School, because that’s when Mr. Lewis teaches Jazz Lab. So his students are devastated when their beloved teacher quits abruptly. Once they make a connection between budget cuts and Mr. Lewis’s disappearance, they hatch a plan: stop the cuts, save their class.

Soon, they become an unlikely band of crusaders, and their quest quickly snowballs into something much bigger—a movement involving the whole middle school. But the adults in charge seem determined to ignore their every protest. How can the kids make themselves heard?

The Prettiest

the prettiest

Published: April 14, 2020

THE PRETTIEST: It’s the last thing Eve Hoffmann expected to be, the only thing Sophie Kane wants to be, and something Nessa Flores-Brady knows she’ll never be . . . until a list appears online, ranking the top fifty prettiest girls in the eighth grade.

Eve is disgusted by the way her body is suddenly being objectified by everyone around her. Sophie is sick of the bullying she’s endured after being relegated to number two. And Nessa is tired of everyone else trying to tell her who she is.

It’s time for a takedown. As the three girls band together, they begin to stand up not just for themselves, but for one another, too.

Related : 23 Best Middle-Grade Books About Body Image and Body Positivity

How to Find What You’re Not Looking For

How to Find What You're Not Looking For - books for seventh graders

Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg’s life feels like the moment after the final guest leaves the party. Her family’s Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, and her older sister has eloped with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. As change becomes Ariel’s only constant, she’s left to hone something that will be with her always–her own voice.

If You Read This

If You Read This

Published: August 16, 2022

When Brie was younger, her mama used to surprise her with treasure hunts around their island town. After she died three years ago, these became Brie’s favorite memories.

Now, on her twelfth birthday, her mama has another surprise: a series of letters leading Brie on one last treasure hunt.

The first letter guides Brie to a special place.

The next urges her to unlock a secret.

And the last letter will change life as she knows it.

Maybe He Just Likes You

maybe he just likes you

Published: October 1, 2019

For seventh-grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. A few days later, at recess, one of the boys (and fellow trumpet player) Callum tells Mila it’s his birthday, and asks her for a “birthday hug.” He’s just being friendly, isn’t he? And how can she say no? But Callum’s hug lasts a few seconds too long, and feels…weird. According to her friend, Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?

But the boys don’t leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.

It doesn’t feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself.

Last Gamer Standing

biography books for 7th graders

Published: September 21, 2021

In twelve-year-old Reyna Cheng’s world, gaming is everything. Professional esports teams are the mainstream celebrities. Kids begin training from a young age, aspiring for the big leagues.

Reyna is the up-and-coming junior amateur Dayhold gamer, competing in a VR battle royale against AI monsters and human players. But despite Reyna’s rising popularity and skills, no one knows who she is. Gaming is still a boys’ club and to protect herself against trolls and their harassment, she games the mysterious TheRuiNar.

When Reyna qualifies for the Dayhold Junior Tournament, she knows she’s got what it takes to win the championship title and the $10,000 prize. It’s a chance to make a step forward towards her professional esports dreams and to help her family with the costs of her mother’s hospital bills.

But when she’s blackmailed and threatened to be doxed by an anonymous troll, Reyna has to confront the toxic gaming community head-on.

With her dreams and the cash prize on the line, it’s game on!

Iveliz Explains It All

Iveliz Explains It All

Published: September 13, 2022

Listen up: The end of elementary school? Worst time of my life. And the start of middle school? I just wasn’t quite right. But this year? YO VOY A MI. Seventh grade is going to be Iveliz’s year. She’s going to make a new friend, help her abuela Mimi get settled after moving from Puerto Rico, and she is  not  going to get into any more trouble at school. . . . Except is that what happens? Of course not. Because no matter how hard Iveliz tries, sometimes people say things that just make her so  mad . And worse, Mimi keeps saying Iveliz’s medicine is unnecessary—even though it helps Iveliz feel less sad. But how do you explain your feelings to others when you’re not even sure what’s going on yourself? Powerful and compassionate, Andrea Beatriz Arango’s debut navigates mental health, finding your voice, and discovering that those who really love you will stay by your side.

That’s What Friends Do

that's what friends do cathleen barnhart

Published: January 28, 2020

Samantha Goldstein and David Fisher have been friends ever since they met on their town’s Little League baseball team. But when a new kid named Luke starts hanging out with them, what was a comfortable pair becomes an awkward trio.

Luke’s comments make Sammie feel uncomfortable—but all David sees is how easily Luke flirts with Sammie, and so David decides to finally make a move on the friend he’s always had a crush on.

Soon things go all wrong and too far, and Sammie and David are both left feeling hurt, confused, and unsure of themselves, without anyone to talk to about what happened.

As rumors start flying around the school, David must try to make things right (if he can) and Sammie must learn to speak up about what’s been done to her.

Violets Are Blue

biography books for 7th graders

Published: October 12, 2021

Twelve-year-old Wren loves makeup—special effect makeup, to be exact. When she is experimenting with new looks, Wren can create a different version of herself. A girl who isn’t in a sort-of-best friendship with someone who seems like she hates her. A girl whose parents aren’t divorced and doesn’t have to learn to like her new stepmom.

So, when Wren and her mom move to a new town for a fresh start, she is cautiously optimistic. And things seem to fall into place when Wren meets potential friends and gets selected as the makeup artist for her school’s upcoming production of  Wicked .

Only, Wren’s mom isn’t doing so well. She’s taking a lot of naps, starts snapping at Wren for no reason, and always seems to be sick. And what’s worse, Wren keeps getting hints that things aren’t going well at her new job at the hospital, where her mom is a nurse. And after an opening night disaster leads to a heartbreaking discovery, Wren realizes that her mother has a serious problem—a problem that can’t be wiped away or covered up.

After all the progress she’s made, can Wren start over again with her devastating new normal? And will she ever be able to heal the broken trust with her mom?

12 to 22

Turning 12 1/2 shouldn’t be the most exciting birthday in the world. It’s a half birthday after all. But Harper is thrilled because she is getting the biggest gift of all: her parent’s approval to finally get social media accounts.    Except when she goes to post her first photo, there is a filter she has never heard of before. One that shows you what you will look like when you are older. Curious, Harper clicks on it…but ends up flash forwarding in time to when she is 22.    She will quickly find that being in her twenties means the freedom she always wanted, money for the glow up she didn’t know she needed and working for her idol! But Harper soon discovers a lot more has changed than she expected—including the person she wants to be. Will Harper be able to use the filter to get the life of her dreams? Or will there be more glitches?

The Great Greene Heist

the great greene heist - books for seventh graders

Published: May 27, 2014

Jackson Greene swears he’s given up scheming. Then school bully Keith Sinclair announces he’s running for Student Council president, against Jackson’s former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it — but he knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby’s respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school’s greatest con ever — one worthy of the name THE GREAT GREENE HEIST.

Related : More Middle-Grade Mysteries

How to Train Your Dad

biography books for 7th graders

Published: October 5, 2021

Twelve-year-old Carl is fed up with his father’s single-minded pursuit of an off-the-grid existence. His dad may be brilliant, but dumpster-diving for food, scouring through trash for salvageable junk, and wearing clothes fully sourced from garage sales is getting old. Increasingly worried about what schoolmates and a certain girl at his new school might think of his circumstances―and encouraged by his off-kilter best friend―Carl adopts the principles set forth in a randomly discovered puppy-training pamphlet to “retrain” his dad’s mindset . . . a crackpot experiment that produces some very unintentional results.

The Midnight Brigade

The Midnight Brigade

Carl Chesterfield wishes he could speak up—whether that means being honest with his father about the family’s new (and failing) food truck, reaching out to a potential friend, or alerting others to the fact that  monsters  might be secretly overrunning his hometown of Pittsburgh. There’s plenty to fret over. And plenty to question.  When a flyer about a mysterious monster-seeking group called the Midnight Brigade catches his eye, Carl sees an opportunity to find answers. Little does he know, his curiosity will lead him to find an incredible discovery under one of his city’s magnificent bridges and to be bolder than he ever imagined. Chock-full of humor and heart, this is the quirky tale of three unexpected friends and the crankiest troll with a heart of gold.

The Night Diary

Best Books for Seventh Graders - the night diary

Published: April 23, 2019

It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.

Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together.

Told through Nisha’s letters to her mother,  The Night Diary  is a heartfelt story of one girl’s search for home, for her own identity…and for a hopeful future.

Related : 8 Books Like… The Night Diary

Across the Desert

Across the Desert

Twelve-year-old Jolene spends every day she can at the library watching her favorite livestream:  The Desert Aviator , where twelve-year-old “Addie Earhart” shares her adventures flying an ultralight plane over the desert. While watching this daring girl fly through the sky, Jolene can dream of what it would be like to fly with her, far away from her own troubled home life where her mother struggles with a narcotic addiction. And Addie, who is grieving the loss of her father, finds solace in her online conversations with Jolene, her biggest—and only—fan.

Then, one day, it all goes wrong: Addie’s engine abruptly stops, and Jolene watches in helpless horror as the ultralight plummets to the ground and the video goes dark. Jolene knows that Addie won’t survive long in the extreme summer desert heat. With no one to turn to for help and armed with only a hand-drawn map and a stolen cell phone, it’s up to Jolene to find a way to save the Desert Aviator. Packed with adventure and heart,  Across the Desert  speaks to the resilience, hope, and strength within each of us.

A Perfect Mistake

A Perfect Mistake

Published: July 12, 2022

Max wishes he could go back in time to before he was diagnosed with ADHD, before he grew to be the tallest kid in his class, and before he and his best friends went into the woods in the middle of the night. Max doesn’t remember what happened after he left his friends Will and Joey and the older kids who took them there. He’s not sure if he wants to remember. Knowing isn’t going to make Joey talk to him again, or bring Will out of his coma.   When the local authorities run out of leads, Max realizes that without his help, they may never know what really happened to Will. Charged by the idea that he may be the key to uncovering the truth, Max pairs up with classmate and aspiring journalist Sam to investigate what really happened that night. But not everyone in the community wants that night to be remembered.

The Story That Cannot Be Told

The Story That Cannot Be Told - books for seventh graders

Published: October 8, 2019

Ileana has always collected stories. Some are about the past, before the leader of her country tore down her home to make room for his golden palace; back when families had enough food, and the hot water worked on more than just Saturday nights. Others are folktales like the one she was named for, which her father used to tell her at bedtime. But some stories can get you in trouble, like the dangerous one criticizing Romania’s Communist government that Uncle Andrei published—right before he went missing.

Fearing for her safety, Ileana’s parents send her to live with the grandparents she’s never met, far from the prying eyes and ears of the secret police and their spies, who could be any of the neighbors. But danger is never far away. Now, to save her family and the village she’s come to love, Ileana will have to tell the most important story of her life.

Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins!

biography books for 7th graders

Published: April 19, 2022

Twelve-year-old Tahlia Wilkins is ready to kick off the perfect summer at the popular kid’s pool party. But when the Red Goddess of Panties, aka her first period, arrives 24 hours before the pool party, it messes up all her plans. To make matters worse, her mom is out of town, and there’s no way she’s going to ask her  dad  for help! Tahlia always feared that growing up would be tough, but this is just not fair.

In order to save herself from total embarrassment, it will take all of Tahlia and her best friend Lily’s scheming to keep her reputation—and her favorite jeans—from being ruined. Sneak off to the grocery store only to have the clerk price check your “goods” over the loudspeaker? Check. Trick your mature teenage neighbor into letting you use her bathroom to ‘rehome’ some tampons? Check. Take a dip into a fountain to ‘borrow’ some quarters for a bathroom period product dispenser? Check, check, check! 


Published: July 5, 2022

Marianne Blume knows she’s one of the stupid kids. After years of trying and trying and feeling like she’s always failing, she has mastered the art of turning off her brain whenever questions or lectures arise. She gets by in school on a combination of luck, deflection, and charisma―that is, until she lands in the classroom of Mr. Garcia.

To avoid flunking Mr. Garcia’s class, Marianne joins her school’s Quiz Quest team, hoping the move will ingratiate her to him, the team’s coach. Can Marianne learn to be smart if she puts her mind to it? And what does it really mean to be ‘bright,’ anyway?

Planet Earth Is Blue

planet earth is blue - books for seventh graders

Published: May 14, 2019

Twelve-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle  Challenger –it’s the first time a teacher is going into space, and kids across America will watch the event on live TV in their classrooms. Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home.

While foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understands how intelligent and special Nova is, and all that she can’t express. As the liftoff draws closer, Nova’s new foster family and teachers begin to see her potential, and for the first time, she is making friends without Bridget. But every day, she’s counting down to the launch, and to the moment when she’ll see Bridget again. Because Bridget said, “No matter what, I’ll be there. I promise.”

Wishing Upon the Same Stars

biography books for 7th graders

Twelve-year-old Yasmeen Khoury is unhappy that her family has moved from Detroit to San Antonio, Texas, leaving her friends and Arab Christian community behind; from the very first day at school Yasmeen feels completely isolated and out of place, but she slowly makes friends with a Mexican boy, Carlos, and her Jewish neighbor, Ayelet Cohen, although she feels like she has to hide these friendships, especially from her Palestinian father, a native of Jerusalem–more than anything Yasmeen just wants to be American but it seems like she can not escape the ethnic tensions that swirl around her.

Coming Up Short

Coming Up Short

Published: June 21, 2022

Bea’s parents think she can accomplish absolutely anything—and she’s determined to prove them right. But at the end of seventh grade, on the same day she makes a gutsy play to send her softball team to the league championships and Xander, the boy she likes, makes it clear that he likes her too, a scandal shakes up her world. Bea’s dad made a big mistake, taking money that belonged to a client. He’s now suspended from practicing law, and another lawyer spread the news online. To make matters worse, that other lawyer is Xander’s dad.

Bea doesn’t want to be angry with her dad, especially since he feels terrible and is trying to make things right. But she can’t face the looks of pity from all her friends, and then she starts missing throws in softball because she’s stuck in her own head. The thing she was best at seems to be slipping out of her fingers along with her formerly happy family. She’s not sure what’s going to be harder—learning to throw again, or forgiving her dad. How can she be the best version of herself when everything she loves is falling apart?

The Bridge Home

books for seventh graders - the bridge home

Published: February 5, 2019

Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman’s stirring middle-grade debut.

Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

The Road to Wherever

biography books for 7th graders

Published: May 11, 2021

After eleven-year-old June Ball’s dad disappears without so much as a goodbye note, June’s mother sends him on the road with his adult cousins, mechanics Thomas and Cornell Ball. The Balls are “Ford Men”; their calling in life is to restore old Ford cars―and only Ford cars―that no longer run. And so begins a summer traveling the highways and byways of America, encountering busted-up Fairlanes, Thunderbirds, and Rancheros. They also encounter the cars’ owners, who sometimes need fixing up, too.

June doesn’t understand his cousins’ passion for all things Ford. But at every turn, June realizes that this journey is about more than giving neglected classic cars some much-needed TLC―there’s room to care for the broken parts of humans, too.

Nowhere Better Than Here  

Nowhere Better Than Here

Published: September 20, 2022

For thirteen-year-old Jillian Robichaux, three things are sacred: bayou sunsets, her grandmother Nonnie’s stories, and the coastal Louisiana town of Boutin that she calls home.

When the worst flood in a century hits, Jillian and the rest of her community band together as they always do―but this time the damage may simply be too great. After the local school is padlocked and the bridges into town condemned, Jillian has no choice but to face the reality that she may be losing the only home she’s ever had.

But even when all hope seems lost, Jillian is determined to find a way to keep Boutin and its indomitable spirit alive. With the help of friends new and old, a loveable golden retriever, and Nonnie’s storytelling wisdom, Jillian does just that in this timely and heartfelt story of family, survival, and hope.

The Crossover

the crossover - books for seventh graders

Published: March 18, 2014

“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . . The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. ’Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” raps twelve-year-old Josh Bell. Thanks to their dad, he and his twin brother, Jordan, are kings on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood—he’s got mad beats, too, which help him find his rhythm when it’s all on the line. As their winning season unfolds, things begin to change. When Jordan meets a girl, the twins’ bond unravels.Told in dynamic verse, this fast and furious middle grade novel that started it all absolutely bounces with rhythm and bursts with heart. 

Golden Girl

Golden Girl

Published: February 22, 2022

Seventh grader Aafiyah Qamar loves playing tennis, reading weird-but-true facts, and hanging out with her best friend, Zaina. However, Aafiyah has a bad habit that troubles her—she’s drawn to pretty things and can’t help but occasionally “borrow” them.

But when her father is falsely accused of a crime he hasn’t committed and gets taken in by authorities, Aafiyah knows she knows she needs to do something to help. When she brainstorms a way to bring her father back, she turns to her weird-but-true facts and devises the perfect plan.

But what if her plan means giving in to her bad habit, the one she’s been trying to stop? Aafiyah wants to reunite her family, but finds that maybe her plan isn’t so perfect after all. . . .

Best Friends, Bikinis, and Other Summer Catastrophes

Best Friends, Bikinis, and Other Summer Catastrophes

Published: May 17, 2022

Alex has always known her best friend and next-door neighbor, Will, will be there for her. That’s just how it’s always been. Until a girl from the pool named Rebekah comes over to them and says hi. Suddenly, Will is changing his clothes, restyling his hair, and breaking all of their summer plans and Alex is  not  happy about it. Every summer, she and Will come up with a new challenge. This year, it’s a treehouse. Now Alex is wrangling up summer jobs and keeping tabs on the new girl, hoping that in completing their treehouse, she can keep from losing her best friend and her summer from falling apart.

Each of Us a Universe

Each of Us a Universe

Ever since  the day when everything changed , Cal Scott’s answer has been to run―run from her mother who’s fighting cancer, run from her father whom she can’t forgive, and run from classmates who’ve never seemed to “get” her anyway. The only thing Cal runs toward is nearby Mt. Meteorite, named for the magical meteorite some say crashed there fifty years ago. Cal spends her afternoons plotting to summit the mountain, so she can find the magic she believes will make the impossible possible and heal her mother. But no one has successfully reached its peak―no one who’s lived to tell about it, anyway.

Then Cal meets Rosine Kanambe, a girl who’s faced more impossibles than anyone should have to. Rosine has her own secret plan for the mountain and its magic, and convinces Cal they can summit its peak if they work together. As the girls climb high and dig deep to face the mountain’s challenges, Cal learns from Rosine what real courage looks like, and begins to wonder if the magic she’s been looking for is really the kind she needs.

The Science of Breakable Things

The Science of Breakable Things - books for seventh graders

Published: March 6, 2018

Eggs are breakable. Hope is not.

When Natalie’s science teacher suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie thinks that this might be the perfect solution to all of her problems. There’s prize money, and if she and her friends wins, then she can fly her botanist mother to see the miraculous Cobalt Blue Orchids–flowers that survive against impossible odds. Natalie’s mother has been suffering from depression, and Natalie is sure that the flowers’ magic will inspire her mom to love life again. Which means it’s time for Natalie’s friends to step up and show her that talking about a problem is like taking a plant out of a dark cupboard and giving it light. With their help, Natalie begins an uplifting journey to discover the science of hope, love, and miracles.

Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone

Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone

Published: April 26, 2022

Sometimes middle school can make you feel like you’re totally alone in the universe…but what if we aren’t alone at all?   Thanks to her best friend, Reagan, Mallory Moss knows the rules of middle school. The most important one? You have to fit in to survive. But then Jennifer Chan moves in across the street, and that rule doesn’t seem to apply. Jennifer doesn’t care about the laws of middle school, or the laws of the universe. She believes in aliens—and she thinks she can find them.   Then Jennifer goes missing. Using clues from Jennifer’s journals, Mallory goes searching. But the closer she gets, the more Mallory has to confront why Jennifer might have run . . . and face the truth within herself.

Falling Short

Falling Short

Published: March 15, 2022

Best friends Isaac and Marco already know sixth grade is going to change their lives. But it won’t change things at home—not without each other’s help.

This year, athletically gifted Isaac plans on finally keeping up with his schoolwork. Better grades will surely stop Isaac’s parents from arguing all the time. Meanwhile, academically gifted Marco plans on finally winning his father’s approval by earning a spot on the school’s basketball team.

But will their friendship and support for each other be enough to keep the two boys from falling short?

The Queen Bee and Me

The Queen Bee and Me - books for seventh graders

Published: March 2, 2021

Meg has always found comfort in her best friend Beatrix’s shadow. Self-assured Beatrix is the one who makes decisions, and the girls have been a pair since kindergarten. But middle school has brought some changes in Beatrix, especially when Meg tries to step outside her role as sidekick.

A special science elective is Meg’s first step away, but when she’s paired with quirky new girl Hazel, Beatrix steps in to stake her claim on Meg. Meg is taken aback at how mean Beatrix can be–and how difficult it is to stand up to her friend. But as Meg gets to know Hazel while working on their backyard beehive project, she starts to wonder: Is being Beatrix’s friend worth turning down the possibility of finding her own voice?

This pitch-perfect exploration of middle-school friendship dynamics brims with heart and hope, and will resonate with readers of all ages.

Everywhere Blue

biography books for 7th graders

Published: June 1, 2021

When twelve-year-old Maddie’s older brother vanishes from his college campus, her carefully ordered world falls apart. Nothing will fill the void of her beloved oldest sibling. Meanwhile Maddie’s older sister reacts by staying out late, and her parents are always distracted by the search for Strum. Drowning in grief and confusion, the family’s musical household falls silent.

Though Maddie is the youngest, she knows Strum better than anyone. He used to confide in her, sharing his fears about the climate crisis and their planet’s future. So, Maddie starts looking for clues: Was Strum unhappy? Were the arguments with their dad getting worse? Or could his disappearance have something to do with those endangered butterflies he loved . . .

Scared and on her own, Maddie picks up the pieces of her family’s fractured lives. Maybe her parents aren’t who she thought they were. Maybe her nervous thoughts and compulsive counting mean she needs help. And maybe finding Strum won’t solve everything–but she knows he’s out there, and she has to try.

Related : Joanne Rossmassler Fritz Interview + Giveaway!

ahimsa - books for seventh graders

Published: October 2, 2017

In 1942, after Mahatma Gandhi asks Indians to give one family member to the freedom movement, ten-year-old Anjali is devastated to think of her father risking his life for the freedom struggle. But it turns out he isn’t the one joining. Anjali’s mother is. And with this change comes many more adjustments designed to improve their country and use “ahimsa”—non-violent resistance—to stand up to the British government.

First the family must trade in their fine foreign-made clothes for homespun cotton, so Anjali has to give up her prettiest belongings. Then her mother decides to reach out to the Dalit community, the “untouchables” of society. Anjali is forced to get over her past prejudices as her family becomes increasingly involved in the movement. When Anjali’s mother is jailed, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother’s work, ensuring that her little part of the independence movement is completed.

The First Rule of Punk

books for seventh graders - the first rule of punk

Published: August 22, 2017

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.   The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

The Kate in Between

biography books for 7th graders

Kate McAllister is desperate for a change. Something to hit refresh and erase the pain of her mother leaving town without her. So when a group of popular girls folds Kate into their clique, it feels like the answer to all her problems—even if it means ditching Haddie, her childhood bestie.

But when Kate’s new friends decide that Haddie is their next target, Kate becomes a passive participant in a cruel incident that could have killed Haddie…had Kate not stepped in, at the last minute, and saved her. The next day, a cell phone video of the rescue goes viral, and Kate is hailed a hero. But Kate knows the truth—she was part of the problem—and it’s only a matter of time until the full version of the video is released and everyone knows it too.

With so much at stake, Kate must decide who she wants to be: a liar, a follower, or someone greater.

Related : Claire Swinarski on The Kate in Between

The Places We Sleep

books for seventh graders - the places we sleep

Published: August 25, 2020

It’s early September 2001, and twelve-year-old Abbey is the new kid at school. Again.

I worry about people speaking to me / and worry just the same / when they don’t.

Tennessee is her family’s latest stop in a series of moves due to her dad’s work in the Army, but this one might be different. Her school is far from Base, and for the first time, Abbey has found a real friend: loyal, courageous, athletic Camille.

And then it’s September 11. The country is under attack, and Abbey’s “home” looks like it might fall apart. America has changed overnight.

How are we supposed / to keep this up / with the world / crumbling / around us?

Abbey’s body changes, too, while her classmates argue and her family falters. Like everyone around her, she tries to make sense of her own experience as a part of the country’s collective pain. With her mother grieving and her father prepping for active duty, Abbey must learn to cope on her own.

Those Kids from Fawn Creek

Those Kids from Fawn Creek

Published: March 8, 2022

There are twelve kids in the seventh grade at Fawn Creek Middle School. They’ve been together all their lives. And in this small factory town where everyone knows everything about everyone, that’s not necessarily a great thing.

There are thirteen desks in the seventh-grade classroom. That’s because Renni Dean’s father got a promotion, and the family moved to Grand Saintlodge, the nearest big town. Renni’s desk is empty, but Renni still knows their secrets; is still pulling their strings.

When Orchid Mason arrives and slips gracefully into Renni’s chair, the other seventh graders don’t know what to think. Orchid—who was born in New York City but just moved to Fawn Creek from Paris—seems to float. Her dress skims the floor. She’s wearing a flower behind her ear.  

Fawn Creek Middle might be small, but it has its tightly knit groups—the self-proclaimed “God Squad,” the jocks, the outsiders—just like anyplace else. Who will claim Orchid Mason? Who will save Orchid Mason? Or will Orchid Mason save them?

The Space Between Lost and Found

books for seventh graders - the space between lost and found

Published: April 28, 2020

Cassie’s always looked up to her mom, a vibrant woman bursting with grand ideas. Together they planned to check off every dream on their think-big bucket list, no matter how far the adventures took them. The future seemed unlimited.

But then came the diagnosis, and Mom started to lose her memories. Even the ones Cassie thought she’d never forget. Even Cassie’s name.

Cassie tries her hardest to keep Mom happy . . . to focus on math lessons and come up with art ideas that used to burst off her pen. But as Mom’s memories dimmed, so did Cassie’s inspiration. She’s even pushed away Bailey, the one friend who could help make things okay.

So, Cassie decides to take action. It’s time for one last adventure… even if it means taking a big risk to get there.

Starfish - books for seventh graders

Published: March 9, 2021

Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules—like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” And she’s found her safe space—her swimming pool—where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

Related : Lisa Fipps on Starfish, Fatphobia, and Being Better Allies to Fat People

Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda #1)

Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda #1)

Published: March 1, 2010

In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, Tommy assembles this first case file in the blockbuster bestselling Origami Yoda series, written by Tom Angleberger, author of  Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side , and hailed by  School Library Journal  as “honest, funny, and immensely entertaining.”

No Fixed Address

No Fixed Address - books for seventh graders

Published: September 11, 2018

Twelve-and-three-quarter-year-old Felix Knutsson has a knack for trivia. His favorite game show is  Who What Where When;  he even named his gerbil after the host. Felix’s mom, Astrid, is loving but can’t seem to hold on to a job. So when they get evicted from their latest shabby apartment, they have to move into a van. Astrid swears him to secrecy; he can’t tell anyone about their living arrangement, not even Dylan and Winnie, his best friends at his new school. If he does, she warns him, he’ll be taken away from her and put in foster care.

As their circumstances go from bad to worse, Felix gets a chance to audition for a junior edition of  Who What Where When,  and he’s determined to earn a spot on the show. Winning the cash prize could make everything okay again. But things don’t turn out the way he expects. . . .

Susin Nielsen deftly combines humor, heartbreak, and hope in this moving story about people who slip through the cracks in society, and about the power of friendship and community to make all the difference.

Violet and the Pie of Life

biography books for 7th graders

welve-year-old Violet has two great loves in her life: math and pie. And she loves her parents, even though her mom never stops nagging and her dad can be unreliable. Mom plus Dad doesn’t equal perfection. Still, Violet knows her parents could solve their problems if they just applied simple math.

#1: Adjust the ratio of Mom’s nagging to her compliments. #2: Multiply Dad’s funny stories by a factor of three. #3: Add in romantic stuff wherever possible.

But when her dad walks out, Violet realizes that the odds do not look good. Why can’t her parents get along like popular, perfect Ally’s parents? Would it be better to have no dad at all, like her best friend, McKenzie? Violet is considering the data when she and Ally get cast in the school play, and McKenzie doesn’t–a probability that Violet never calculated. Maybe friendship and family have more variables than she thought.

A Song Called Home

A Song Called Home

Published: March 15, 2022

Lou and her family don’t have much, but for Lou it’s enough. Mom. Her sister, Casey. Their apartment in the city. Her best friend, Beth. It would be better if Dad could stop drinking and be there for her and Casey, and if they didn’t have to worry about money all the time. But Lou doesn’t need better—she only needs enough.

What’s enough for Lou, however, is not enough for Mom. Steve, Mom’s boyfriend, isn’t a bad guy, he’s just…not what Lou is used to. And now, he and Mom are getting married, and that means moving. Packing up life as they’ve known it and storing it in Steve’s garage. Lou will be separated from everything in her small but predictable life, farther from Dad than ever.

Their last night in the city, Lou receives a mysterious birthday gift: A guitar, left for her by their front door. There’s nothing saying who left it, but it must be from Dad. And as she leaves the only place she’s ever known, she starts to believe that if she can learn how to play it, maybe she can bring a piece of him, and of her old life, home.

Serena Says

Serena Says

Published: November 3, 2020

JC shines like a 4th of July sparkler. She has the best ideas, the biggest, funniest laugh, and the party starts when she arrives. Serena St. John is proud to be known as her best friend.

Everything changes when JC returns from the hospital with a new kidney—and a new best friend. Out of the spotlight of JC’s friendship, suddenly things aren’t quite so sparkly in Serena’s world.

Top 10 Biography And Autobiography Middle Grade Books

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

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A great way to teach about history and content-area topics, biographies highlight famous figures, inventors, scientists, civil rights leaders, sports legends, and heros. Many of these mini-books, plays, and passages feature question/response activities, biography worksheets, teaching guides, lesson ideas, and graphic organizers.




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Christian Biographies for Young Readers: Our Favorite Recommendations

Christian Biographies for Young Readers: Our Favorite Recommendations

At Sonlight, we believe that reading should not be just educational, but transformational. With this goal in mind, we include our favorite Christian biographies for young readers at most levels of our curriculum . We believe that these carefully selected books will serve to both inform and inspire both you and your children in unexpected ways. Keep reading to learn why we think Christian biographies are among the best reading choices for your children.

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Why Should Children Read Christian Biographies?

A great life story can be life-changing and inspiring. While history and reading are central to all Sonlight curriculum levels, we include different kinds of literature and reading, including biographies for children, missionary stories , and novels. Christian biographies for young readers are a central piece of Sonlight specifically because they so artfully combine history and personal stories of the people who lived that history. 

We know that stories are always more memorable than mere date/time/place history learned from a textbook. Children will always be more engaged in the story of history, which is the primary reason we include a biography or two in nearly every Sonlight level. Children will tend to have a well-rounded view of a biographical character and their place in history after reading their story.

What Are the Best Children's Christian Biographies?

As a Christian curriculum provider, we lean toward choosing characters in history who have expressed faith and who also have relevant stories for our children to read. We believe that reading and discussing the strengths and weaknesses of these true-life people can be instructional and encouraging for young people. Many of our favorite Christian biographies for children may be a starting place for future study later.

Many adult-sized biographies would be overwhelming for younger children, in particular, so we have carefully chosen Christian biographies for young readers to suit different ages and reading maturity levels.

We have many selections from the series Christian Heroes: Then and Now, for instance, that are fast-paced, engaging, and just the right length to hold the kids' attention.

Why Read Biographies Aloud to Your Kids?

Reading aloud is far more than sharing a story with your children. The Read-Aloud Handbook , a million-copy bestseller, shared groundbreaking research on the benefits of reading aloud to children for their academic development. Author Jim Trelease subsequently lectured in all 50 states and overseas, advocating the benefits of reading aloud to children. For more on this topic see Jim’s free parent handouts . Since reading aloud is so good for you and your children, why not include favorite Christian biographies for young readers?

What Other Christian Biographies Should Kids Read?

While many of the Christian biographies for young readers sets in our curriculum are selected for their connection to the specific Bible / History / Literature level, we also believe that the right biography may spark an interest in other areas of study as in the arts or science. We have several curated lists for some of these categories:

  • Books for Black History Month
  • Books for Kids Who Love History
  • Presidents Day Books
  • Books About Artists
  • Heroes in History

How Do I Write a Christian Biography About Myself? 

Reading the life stories of fascinating people in history can be a great impetus for your children to write their own stories as a language arts assignment. These do not necessarily have to be difficult and may be a work in progress as your children mature. Learning to think chronologically and to consider cause and effect in their life events are useful skills.

A few good places to start for your children is to ask them to respond to the following prompts:

  • Tell about a time you overcame obstacles.
  • Tell your faith story.
  • Give an account of a life-changing experience in your life.
  • Tell about people, books, and experiences that had an influence on you.

For younger writers, encourage them to think through the simpler points of their life stories:

  • Where and when were you born?
  • Tell about your immediate family.
  • What is unique about you? What do you enjoy doing?
  • Include some specific memorable experiences in your life.
  • Tell about your home and the town you live in.

What Are the Types of Biographies?

Biographies can be generally grouped into a few categories—share these with your children so they can identify what type of biography they are reading.

  • Autobiographies —first-person accounts of a person’s life.
  • Biographies —accounts of a person’s life written by another person, usually using historical accounts, documents, letters, speeches, etc. of the person.
  • Memoirs —also written in first-person but usually just covering a narrow part of a person’s life story, such as their experiences during World War II.
  • Novelized Biographies , sometimes called creative non-fiction—where the majority of the story is true and based on known facts as a biography above, but the dialogue and some aspects of the story may be imagined, simplified or combined for a smoother reading experience. Many, but not all of our selections for children fall into this category.

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Where Can I Get Great Biographies for Young Children?

Sonlight is an excellent source of favorite Christian biographies. As we discover new Christian biographies at Sonlight, we occasionally add or adjust our titles in our homeschool curriculum packages. You can view some of our favorites listed below from younger grade levels to higher ones. Some of these, like Little House in the Big Woods and Little Britches , are part of a larger Christian biography series.

1. Little House in the Big Woods   

From sonlight's history / bible / literature k.

The first in the Little House on the Prairie stories finds Laura living with Pa and Ma and her sisters Mary and baby Carrie in a log cabin in the Wisconsin woods. The late 1870's setting provides a glimpse into long-ago times. These stories have long been loved by young and old. Reads like fiction but these are true accounts. 

2. Out of Darkness   

From sonlight's history / bible / literature a.

Louis Braille suffered the loss of his eyesight as a young boy, but overcame his difficulties and went on to pioneer the alphabet used by the blind worldwide. This account follows his life from a young age through his time at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. 

3. Johnny Appleseed: The Story of a Legend  

Johnny Appleseed has long been a man of myth and legend, but John Chapman was a real person born in 1774 in Massachusetts! Children will enjoy this story of the man who planted apple trees across an emerging nation and became a folk hero. 

4. Mary on Horseback   

Mary Breckinridge is a little-known hero who established the Frontier Nursing Service in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1920s. Mary brought medical care to the remote towns and people via horseback! 

5. The Lewis & Clark Expedition   

From sonlight's history / bible / literature d.

Many accounts of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s overland expedition exist, but this is an accessible book perfect for young readers. Follow along as these Americans and their team explore “the interior parts of North America,” to the Pacific Ocean. Follow along on a map! 

6. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch  

This is an account no one should miss. See how young Nathaniel Bowditch overcame poverty, dashed educational dreams, and more to travel the world and become the father of modern maritime navigation. Children will be inspired by how this largely self-taught young man never gave up. 

7. Justin Morgan Had a Horse  

The world-famous Morgan horse has a fascinating history in early America. This true story of a boy and a beloved horse is written by Marguerite Henry whose horse stories have delighted generations. 

8. Robert Fulton, Boy Craftsman   

Your aspiring engineers and inventors will enjoy this true account of Robert Fulton who is credited as the inventor of the world’s first commercially successful steamboat. Follow him from his early days of discovery to this world-changing invention and beyond. 

9. One Voice: The Story of William Wilberforce  

From sonlight's history / bible / literature e.

One of the most powerful stories your children can read about how one person committed to a cause can truly change history and make an enormous difference in the world. William Wilberforce fought for decades to end the Slave Trade in Great Britain. He lived to see the success of his work. Inspiring and humbling. 

10. Little Britches : Father and I Were Ranchers   

Ralph Moody paints a poignant memoir of his early years in Colorado after his family moves there for his father’s health. Ranch life is hard with fights over water rights, storms, poverty, and death, but the family perseveres. This early 1900s true story will leave you with a catch in your throat. You may want to read the whole autobiographical series! 

11. Freedom Train

From sonlight’s history / bible / literature e.

This is an excellent account of Harriet Tubman, a Black former slave who spent years rescuing slaves from the south via the Underground Railroad. The risks she took and her successes will encourage and inspire you and your children.

12. Helen Keller   

Tragically, Helen Keller lost both her sight and hearing in a severe illness when she was young. A strong and caring teacher persevered to open the world again for Helen who went on to college and more, overcoming her limitations.

13. George Washington Carver  

A very readable account of George Washington Carver, who began life as a slave but grew up to be a famous agricultural scientist and inventor. He pioneered alternative crops to prevent soil depletion from over-farming cotton, found hundreds of uses for peanuts and more. 

14. A Long Walk to Water   

From sonlight's history / bible / literature f.

A dual account of Nya in Sudan who walks eight hours a day for water and Salva who is a “lost boy” refugee in the same war-torn country. Salva’s story is gripping and often frightening as he overcomes numerous hardships. He eventually returns to his home country to help his people and find his family. Touching and poignant. Videos of the author sharing his story are available online. 

15. Mary Jones & Her Bible

From sonlight's history / bible / literature h.

Mary Jones was a poor girl living in Wales. She worked for years to earn enough money to buy a copy of the Bible in Welsh, walking a long distance alone to acquire one. This unforgettable story shows young people not only her determination but her devotion to the Scriptures. 

16. The Story of Science: Newton at the Center   

From sonlight's history / bible / literature j.

The stories behind the science are sometimes the most fascinating parts! Learn from scientific advances from Newton and Brahe and more. Short, compelling biographies of several scientists reveal the stories behind the discoveries, including the failures and triumphs! 

17. Freedom Walkers   

From sonlight's history / bible / literature 100.

Most people have heard of Rosa Parks and her famous refusal to give up her bus seat. That story was the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott! This account details the how and why and what of the boycotters and the courage they displayed risking their personal safety and more. How did they change the world? You’ll have to read it! 

18. The Great Little Madison  

This little volume by the beloved Jean Fritz tells the story of the "Father of the Constitution," James Madison. Fritz has a knack for including fascinating tidbits about the characters she writes about.

19. The Cross and the Switchblade  

A gripping account for older student readers (mature subjects) of how a pastor is called to New York City to minister to gangs, drug addicts, and more. This modern classic is a must-read. 

20. Farewell to Manzanar   

Too many generations in America are not aware of the detention of hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II. This first-person account is a true story of how one girl and her family faced this harrowing experience and persevered in the Manzanar Camp behind barbed wire in California. 

21. The Hiding Place

From sonlight 20th century world history.

This powerful story may change your life. A staunchly Christian Dutch family chooses to hide Jews after their country is occupied by the Nazis in World War II. Their devotion to protecting “God’s people” nearly cost them everything. Gripping, challenging, uplifting. 

22. Up From Slavery  

From sonlight's history / bible / literature 400.

In studying US history, no one should miss Booker T. Washington’s account of his life from slavery to freedom. This devout Christian man went on to become an educator, author, and adviser to several American presidents.

biography books for 7th graders

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12 Inspiring Memoirs and Biographies for Teens

Looking for biographies and memoirs for teens? We got you.

Best Memoirs and Biographies for Teens

We love handing over an excellent biography or memoir to the young adult readers we know. There’s no better way to help them connect with history and take a walk in someone else’s shoes. Here are some of our favorite recent memoirs and biographies for teens.

Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!

1. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

biography books for 7th graders

Heiligman chronicles the amazing and eccentric lives of the Van Gogh brothers, their relationship with each other, and their work.

2. Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original Girl Reporter by Deborah Noyes

biography books for 7th graders

Known for her groundbreaking work exposing the mistreatment of patients in an asylum, Nellie Bly did not let the traditional expectations of female reporters stop her from becoming a pioneering journalist.

3. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle

biography books for 7th graders

Written in verse, Engle shares the tension of living between two worlds, Cuba and Los Angeles.

4. Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery

biography books for 7th graders

Lowery shares her experience as the youngest marcher fighting for civil rights alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

5. Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, a Life in Balance  by Simone Biles

biography books for 7th graders

Gymnast Simone Biles shares her personal journey from foster care to Olympic gold medalist.

6. How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana

biography books for 7th graders

After witnessing the murders of her mother and younger sister, Sandra Uwiringiyimana escaped a refugee camp in the Congo and immigrated to America. She survived and healed through art and activism.

 7.  Becoming Kareem: Growing up on and off the Court  by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

biography books for 7th graders

Abdul-Jabbar shares how he overcame setbacks and difficulties to become a leader on and off the court.

8. The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose

biography books for 7th graders

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler chronicles the life of Knud Pedersen and his classmates whose efforts to sabotage Hitler lead to the Danish resistance.

9. Lion: A Long Way Home Young Readers’ Edition by Saroo Brierley

biography books for 7th graders

Lost on a train at age five, homeless, and then placed in an orphanage, Brierley shares the story of how he spent years wondering about his life, searching for his home, and finally finding it.

10. The Keeper: The Unguarded Story of Tim Howard Young Readers’ Edition by Tim Howard

biography books for 7th graders

Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, Tim Howard shares the encouraging story of his childhood, long soccer career, and sudden success.

11. Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi

biography books for 7th graders

Saedi recounts her childhood as an undocumented Iranian living in America.

12. The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater

biography books for 7th graders

The lives of two teens from very different neighborhoods are forever changed and bound together by a horrific crime.

What are your favorite biographies for teens? Come and share in our  WeAreTeachers Helpline group on Facebook.

Plus, some of our favorite high school reading lists .

12 Inspiring Memoirs and Biographies for Teens

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Magic Man: The Story of the Greatest Point Guard in N.B.A. History

Roland Lazenby’s big biography of Magic Johnson gives us a wealth of detail, a huge cast of characters and, in a way, the tapestry of our time.

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Thomas Beller is the author, most recently, of “Lost in the Game: A Book About Basketball” and director of the creative writing program at Tulane.

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MAGIC: The Life of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, by Roland Lazenby

I once asked a portrait photographer why no one ever smiled in her pictures, and she replied, “A smile is a mask.”

I thought of this aphorism as I read Roland Lazenby’s 800-page biography of Magic Johnson. Sports Illustrated declared his smile to be one of the two greatest smiles of the 20th century. (The other was Louis Armstrong’s.) As Missy Fox, the daughter of his high school coach, says in the book, “That is the one thing he’s always had, that smile.”

This was apparent very early on in Lansing, Mich. “The chuckles and grins for Christine Johnson’s newest baby boy came so often and brought such delight to all who witnessed them that there was no way they could just be attributed to mere gas,” Lazenby writes. Soon enough, it “became the business of nearly everybody to greet him with a funny face or a noise or toss him up and down until he squealed and giggled and cackled.”

Johnson was a lanky child, remarkably coordinated and obsessed with basketball. He was six feet at the start of seventh grade, 6-foot-5 at the start of 10th. “He would often spend his summer days lost in the game and deliriously happy about it.” Yet by junior high school something was amiss. He was behind in his reading, and “those who knew him then have described him as being decidedly inarticulate, a condition mitigated and hidden somewhat by his smile and demeanor.” His reading issues, “defined as dyslexia,” left him “profoundly embarrassed.”

But he had other skills, other passions and agendas. The Johnson children anticipated attending a nearby high school that was “the center of the community.” But the Lansing schools had come up with a plan “to advance racial integration by busing Black students.” The older Johnson siblings were sent across town to Everett High, where they joined a group of about 100 Black students in a school of 2,500 “that was 99 percent white at the time.” The first buses were greeted with rocks.

When it was time for Earvin Johnson to go to Everett, he intuitively knew how to proceed through the delicate matter of playing for a coach whom his brother (and bedmate) hated, biking all the way across Lansing to shoot baskets, unannounced, in the coach’s driveway.

A remark about Johnson’s high school career from Missy Fox, recalling the raucous scene at his games, stands out: “He was having fun at all times. Everything was just so much fun and his getting everybody involved made it more fun. The no-look pass he would like to make, they called it putting on a clinic because he loved to choreograph some wild plays.”

There is something both breathless and intimate about her insistence on fun. Like many of the subjects quoted in the book, she is looking back at this history decades later, when a dense mesh of legend and history has enveloped Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and Michael Jordan and the birth of the business and cultural phenomenon that is the N.B.A. Maybe her emphasis on fun is another way of saying that this was the last time Magic Johnson was a private citizen, a kid on a high school team that Lansing cherished, not yet the property of the world.

Perhaps this is true for all transcendent athletes who become public property. But one of the interesting facts in the book is how Jordan, just a few years younger, idolized Magic Johnson, going so far as to coin his own nickname, Magic Mike, and put it on the vanity plate of his car. Think how ferociously private Jordan is compared with Magic. Both of them superstars, among the best ever to play, unquenchable in their will to win, yet one closed off, remote, cold, and the other quite the opposite.

In 2019, when Missy Fox was speaking, who could have imagined the HBO series “Winning Time,” dramatizing Magic’s first years playing for the Lakers, or the four-part documentary about Magic on Apple TV, or the ever-heightening obsession with Jordan, such that a major motion picture, “Air,” was built around his shoe deal. (Jordan’s getting royalties on his shoes was a source of vexation for Magic and the entire league, at the time.) “The Last Dance,” about Jordan and the Bulls, appeared in 2020, at the dawn of those pandemic months without N.B.A. basketball, when even the ancient Dream Team documentary from 1992 became must viewing. The episodes Fox describes are removed by only a year or two from Johnson’s two years at Michigan State, which is when his impact, in tandem with Bird’s, began to be felt nationally.

Lazenby (the author of previous books about the Lakers) includes an anecdote about NBC’s announcers, Billy Packer and Al McGuire, preparing for the 1979 championship game pitting Bird’s Indiana State against Michigan State. Don Ohlmeyer, the executive producer, was late showing up to the production meeting, and when he asked to be caught up on the ideas for the pregame show, which focused on the teams and the coaches and the schools, he responded: “That’s the dumbest damn thing I’ve ever heard of. You guys have no damn clue what you’re talking about. The real story about this game is going to be Bird and Johnson. It’s going to be part of basketball history.”

“At the time,” Lazenby notes, “there was not a single major national highlight show in American sports television.”

The curious thing about this compendious, scrupulously researched biography, so rich in basketball and cultural lore, is that the best parts are not about basketball at all. The many pages devoted to accounts of games are the least compelling aspect of the book. What “Magic” gives us is a wealth of detail, a huge cast of characters and, in a way, the tapestry of our time as illustrated by this supremely talented and beguiling figure.

During the press blitz for that N.C.A.A. tournament, Johnson remarked on how much he loved basketball, never tired of it. “Everyone else, including the girls, has to realize that basketball comes first in my life.”

About the girls: Lazenby gives the bacchanal that ensued in Los Angeles as much attention as it deserves, which is a lot. Terms like “satyriasis” and “compulsive sexual behavior” are considered. Mae West is invoked. We learn of his code, “refusing on game days to engage until after the game, then gorging on it,” which sounds a lot like an alcoholic waiting until 5 p.m. to have a drink. We hear of women bribing hotel employees so that they may be seated naked on the bed when he arrives in his room. We hear of unprotected sex. During one training camp, a group of Lakers players and staffers discuss the possibility of Johnson’s developing AIDS. They conclude, “If he doesn’t have it, you can’t get it.”

When the diagnosis of H.I.V. came in 1991, it was widely understood to be a death sentence. Magic turned this setback into something of a positive, joining President George H.W. Bush’s commission on AIDS, becoming a spokesman for people with H.I.V. The details of his falling-out with Isiah Thomas, and Thomas’s suspected role in rumors about how Johnson may have contracted it, are melodramatic but also painful, the ending of what had been a genuine friendship.

The last part of Magic’s career is handled with relative circumspection, though there is a compelling scene illustrating Magic as budding tycoon, pitching Peter Guber, the chairman of Sony Pictures, on a community that loves movies but has no good movie theaters. Guber wants to know where this Shangri-La of untapped markets is, and Magic strings it along until the big reveal: “It’s 15 minutes from here,” he says, in South L.A. “That and 30 more places in America where the African American community is completely underserved.” Guber’s response could stand in for that of many people who have encountered Johnson: “Wow.”

In the acknowledgments, we learn that people close to Magic spoke at length on the record, but that he was not interviewed directly. Magic kept putting it off and, in the end, declined. He was, it turns out, producing a documentary about himself.

MAGIC : The Life of Earvin “Magic” Johnson | By Roland Lazenby | Celadon Books | 813 pp. | $40

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