"But All My Friends Are Reading It!" Dramatic Books for Middle Schoolers | Richland Library Skip to content

"But All My Friends Are Reading It!" Dramatic Books for Middle Schoolers

The parent of a twelve-year-old girl recently asked me about the age appropriateness of a certain teen series that her daughter was interested in reading. After checking Common Sense Media ratings and considering the content of the popular book and television series, the parent was concerned that her pre-teen was not quite ready for that kind of racy material.

The parent asked for guidance on other books that would satisfy her daughter's craving for drama, gossip, and middle-school-style chick lit, without introducing her to mature content too soon. The collaborative Children's Room brain helped find the books listed below to satisfy the drama-craving, growing-up-too-quickly pre-teen girl.

Even if you would not consider some of these books great works of literature, consider that children need encouragement to read for fun. I cringe at Junie B. Jones and her sassy behavior, but I also know young readers love that same sassiness. I all but refused to hand my own stepdaughter the Pretty Little Liars series, but I am happy that she is asking me for book suggestions. My advice is to use your best judgement since you are the person who knows your child best. Consult resources like Common Sense Media, read book reviews, or come visit your friendly neighborhood library, and we will help you and your child find her next favorite book.


Take the Reins by Jessica Burkhart
Amazon Says: When Sasha Silver and her horse, Charm, arrive on the campus of the elite Canterwood Crest Academy, Sasha knows that she's in trouble. She's not exactly welcomed with open arm more...
Amazon Says: When Sasha Silver and her horse, Charm, arrive on the campus of the elite Canterwood Crest Academy, Sasha knows that she's in trouble. She's not exactly welcomed with open arms. One group of girls in particular is used to being the best, the brightest, and the prettiest on the team, and when Sasha shows her skills in the arena, the girls' claws come out. Sasha is determined to prove that she belongs at Canterwood. Will she rise to the occasion and make the advanced riding team by the end of her first semester? Or will the pressure send Sasha packing? less...
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Amazon Says: Welcome to the Wonderful World of Hypnotism! Molly Moon has spent her entire life in a miserable orphanage run by the hairy, snaggletoothed Miss Adderson. But when she finds a more...
Amazon Says: Welcome to the Wonderful World of Hypnotism! Molly Moon has spent her entire life in a miserable orphanage run by the hairy, snaggletoothed Miss Adderson. But when she finds a mysterious book, Molly discovers an extraordinary talent -- she can hypnotize anyone! Accompanied by Petula the pug, Molly hypnotizes her way to New York and Broadway stardom. But hot on her trail is the sinister professor, who is determined to use Molly to stage the crime of a century . . . less...
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The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake
Amazon Says: Thirteen-year-old Maleeka, uncomfortable because her skin is extremely dark, meets a new teacher with a birthmark on her face and makes some discoveries about how to love who more...
Amazon Says: Thirteen-year-old Maleeka, uncomfortable because her skin is extremely dark, meets a new teacher with a birthmark on her face and makes some discoveries about how to love who she is and what she looks like. less...
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Shug by Jenny Han
Amazon Says: SHUG is clever and brave and true (on the inside, anyway). And she's about to become your new best friend. Annemarie Wilcox, or Shug as her family calls her, is be more...
Amazon Says: SHUG is clever and brave and true (on the inside, anyway). And she's about to become your new best friend. Annemarie Wilcox, or Shug as her family calls her, is beginning to think there's nothing worse than being twelve. She's too tall, too freckled, and way too flat-chested. Shug is sure that there's not one good or amazing thing about her. And now she has to start junior high, where the friends she counts most dear aren't acting so dear anymore -- especially Mark, the boy she's known her whole life through. Life is growing up all around her, and all Shug wants is for things to be like they used to be. How is a person supposed to prepare for what happens tomorrow when there's just no figuring out today? less...
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Amazon Says: This companion novel to THE BOY PROJECT is the perfect "next step" for fans of DORK DIARIES. Tabitha "Tabbi" Reddy believes in signs. Like fortune cookies. Magic 8-Balls. Sho more...
Amazon Says: This companion novel to THE BOY PROJECT is the perfect "next step" for fans of DORK DIARIES. Tabitha "Tabbi" Reddy believes in signs. Like fortune cookies. Magic 8-Balls. Shooting stars. And this year, she hopes, looking for the right signs will lead her to the right boy! Inspired by her BFF, Kara (star of THE BOY PROJECT), Tabbi starts her own "project" in the hopes of finding a cute crush. With the help of a math lesson on probability, Tabbi tries to predict who the right boy for her might be! Where is she most likely to meet him? What is he most likely to look like? Full of fun illustrations, hilarious equations, and lessons in cupcake-baking, life, love, and friendship, this book has a 100% probability of awesomeness. A perfect "next step" for fans of DORK DIARIES. less...
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The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Amazon Says: This timeless Newbery Honor Book from bestselling author Katherine Paterson about a wisecracking, ornary, completely unforgettable young heroine. Now a feature film starring more...
Amazon Says: This timeless Newbery Honor Book from bestselling author Katherine Paterson about a wisecracking, ornary, completely unforgettable young heroine. Now a feature film starring Kathy Bates, Glenn Close, and Octavia Spencer! Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she's hated them all. She has a reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable, and that's the way she likes it. So when she's sent to live with the Trotters—by far the strangest family yet—she knows it's only a temporary problem.Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work and get out of there fast. She's determined to no longer be a foster kid. Before long she's devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. Unfortunately, the plan doesn't work out quite as she hoped it would... less...
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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Amazon Says: A modern-day classic and New York Times bestseller that celebrates the power of individuality and personal expression from beloved Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli. Sta more...
Amazon Says: A modern-day classic and New York Times bestseller that celebrates the power of individuality and personal expression from beloved Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli. Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’ s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first. Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love. Don’t miss the sequel, Love, Stargirl, and Jerry Spinelli’s latest novel, The Warden’s Daughter, about another girl who can't help but stand out.   “Spinelli is a poet of the prepubescent. . . . No writer guides his young characters, and his readers, past these pitfalls and challenges and toward their futures with more compassion.” —The New York Times less...
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Amazon Says: Seventh grade was supposed to be fun, but Tori is having major drama with her BFF, Sienna. Sienna changed a lot over the summer―on the first day of school she's tan, confide more...
Amazon Says: Seventh grade was supposed to be fun, but Tori is having major drama with her BFF, Sienna. Sienna changed a lot over the summer―on the first day of school she's tan, confident, and full of stories about her new dreamy boyfriend. Tori knows that she's totally making this guy up. So Tori invents her own fake boyfriend, who is better than Sienna's in every way. Things are going great―unless you count the whole lying-to-your-best-friend thing―until everyone insists Tori and Sienna bring their boyfriends to the back-to-school dance. less...
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Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
Amazon Says: The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was the second grade, but not much has changed by the seventh. She says: “My Bryce. Still wa more...
Amazon Says: The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was the second grade, but not much has changed by the seventh. She says: “My Bryce. Still walking around with my first kiss.” He says: “It’s been six years of strategic avoidance and social discomfort.” But in the eighth grade everything gets turned upside down. And just as he’s thinking there’s more to her than meets the eye, she’s thinking that he’s not quite all he seemed. This is a classic romantic comedy of errors told in alternating chapters by two fresh, funny new voices. Wendelin Van Draanen is at her best here with a knockout cast of quirky characters and a hilarious series of misunderstandings and missed opportunities. But underlying the humor are two teens in transition. They are each learning to look beyond the surface of people, both figuring out who they are, who they want to be, and who they want to be with. From the Hardcover edition. less...
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