30 Wholesome Books for Middle Schoolers


Before I knew better I let my daughter read whatever she found in the "tween" section of the library. There were cute covers and fun illustrations that made the books look completely harmless. Then I picked up one of the books she had left lying on the table and read a few pages.

I was shocked at what I read.

I have since become very intentional about stocking our home shelves with good wholesome books that promote good character, strong family ties, and are filled with people worthy of looking up to. I've read hundreds of books over the past few years with the sole intent of weeding out what's inappropriate. I'll save you the trouble of reading so many books with this list of 30 wholesome books for middle schoolers.

As you read through the reviews you can make a reference list of those you'd like to borrow or purchase with my free printable summer reading list. Then present your kids with one of these bookmarks that helps them track the number of books they've read this summer!


30 Wholesome Books for Middle Schoolers at LifeInTheNerddom.com


This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission. This helps me keep my blog up and running without costing you a penny more! Click here to read my full disclosure policy.


A Place for Peter
by Elizabeth Yates

Elizabeth Yates is one of my favorite authors. Her skillful writing is full of beautiful descriptions that paint brilliant images in our minds. This story follows young Peter, a teenage boy who is struggling to earn his father's trust. There are many lessons about responsibility and hard work.


Black Beauty
by Anna Sewell

I could read this timeless classic over and over (and have read it several times!). Told from the perspective of the horse, this story is so beautifully written that it's easy to get lost in it's pages. I laughed and cried, as did my daughter when she read it.


Boys Without Names
by Kashmira Sheth

Gopal and his family have been forced to flee from their rural Indian village to the bustling city of Mumbai. The family is struggling to survive, so when Gopal is offered a job in a local factory he jumps at the opportunity to help. What he finds isn't a factory, but a child sweatshop where he is forced to work. This is an age-appropriate look at child labor that is laced with lessons in hope, friendship, kindness, and loyalty.


Children of the Storm
by Natasha Vins

"Natasha Vin's story is a must-read—a reminder that we are so blessed to have religious freedoms. Growing up in Soviet Russia as a Christian, Natasha and her family face severe persecution and trials. Natasha's uncompromising faith and noble character are inspiring, and her story gives deep insight into the injustices of communism. The book is wholesome, appropriate for all ages, and uses clean language. This is the kind of book that needs to fill our children's minds." ~ Jenny Phillips


Daughter of the Mountains 
by Louise Rankin

Travel with Momo as she undertakes a dangerous journey from the mountains of Tibet into India to find her stolen dog, Pempa. Along the way she learns some very valuable lessons! A fun, adventurous story that we highly recommend.


Gifts from the Sea
by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

This book deals with the subjects of loss and healing better than any I have read. The main character, Quila, is devastated by the death of her mother which leaves her alone on a small island with her father who is the keeper of a lighthouse. Life suddenly feels desolate and hopeless. Then the sea itself delivers something wonderful.


The Girl Who Drew Butterflies
by Joyce Sidman

In this beautifully illustrated nonfiction biography, we find the story of Maria Sibylla Merian—one of the first people to document the metamorphosis of a butterfly! She lived in a time when insects were considered evil creatures, but her perseverance and observations proved otherwise. A wonderful story.


The Golden Hawks of Genghis Khan
by Rita Richie

This is a beautiful tale filled with lessons in loyalty, honor, and the dangers of forming opinions of others without having all of the facts. I loved this story from beginning to end. It's packed with adventure and details about life with the Mongols.



Great Inventors and Their Inventions
by Frank P. Bachman

Don't judge this book by its cover! My kids thought that it would be terribly boring but quickly realized that it was anything but. Covering the lives and inventions of twelve of history's greatest inventors, this book provides enough information to be engaging without being overly detailed and boring to read. Highly recommend this one!


Heart of a Samurai
by Marg Preus

This is such an inspiring book based on the true story of Manjiro, a young teenager who is shipwrecked, rescued, adopted, and later returns to his homeland, Japan, only to be imprisoned! This is a wonderful story that reminds me of the life story of Joseph in the Bible. We never know what life will throw our way, or the ripple effect that will result from it.

If you have Kindle Unlimited you can read this book, or listen to an audio version, for free.


The Hiding Place
by Corrie Ten Boom

I don't know that any book affected me in the same way that The Hiding Place did when I first read it. It is a heart-wrenching look at World War II from the perspective of a survivor. Her life, and all that she endured and accomplished, is truly inspiring and worthy of emulating.


I Needed a Neighbour
by Patricia St. John

From Amazon: "The refugee camp is crowded with sick and starving people. Two new arrivals, a teenage girl, Mehrit, carrying her little brother on her back, wait their turn patiently. What will happen to them? Will they ever find their parents again? A strong story of a family in a famine-stricken African country." This was an eye-opening book with a compelling storyline. LOVED it!


Jane of Lantern Hill
by L.M. Montgomery

This powerful little book weaves an inspiring story of compassion, courage, dedication to family, and perseverance. Young Jane believes that her father is dead. She lives with her mother and overbearing grandmother in a gloomy old mansion where life is dull on the best of days. Then one day a letter arrives and Jane discovers that her father isn't dead after all. She spends the summer with him and her life is forever changed. This is a wonderful story that you'll want to read again and again.


Kisses From Katie
by Katie J. Davis

If you want your kids to read inspiring true stories about people who change the world—this is one of the best! From Amazon "Kisses from Katie invites readers on a journey of radical love down the red dirt roads of Uganda. You’ll laugh and cry with Katie as she follows Jesus into the impossible and finds joy and beauty beneath the dust. Katie and her children delight in saying yes to the people God places in front of them and challenge readers to do the same, changing the world one person at a time."


The Little Red Schoolhouse
by Eric Sloane

"Harkening back to a time when the three Rs actually stood for reading, 'riting, and religion, Eric Sloane's sketchbook explores the history and spirit of early American schools." This book is packed with educational material about the history of schools and all that goes along with it—chalkboards, paper, and more. This is a more challenging book with elevated vocabulary, but it is worth the extra effort!


Maida's Little Shop
by Inez Haynes Irwin

This delightful little story follows Maida and her grandmother as they set up shop in a small town. Maida is fascinated by the customers that enter her shop and learn many life-altering lessons from her interactions with them. This book is packed with valuable lessons in friendship, respecting others, kindness, and loyalty. It is out-of-print and difficult to find but there is a kindle version available at Amazon.


Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
by Robert C. O'Brien

This was my favorite story as a young girl and I loved sharing it with my children. If you've never read it yourself then this would make a great read-aloud. We laughed and cried and shared in every experience of the Frisby family.


The Next Fine Day
by Elizabeth Yates

I do adore Elizabeth Yates' writing and this one is no exception. While it may not seem to be a very enticing plot, this is such an endearing and heart-warming story that it will become a cherished favorite.


The Ocean of Truth
by Joyce McPherson

Joyce McPherson has given us an engaging look at one of history's most renowned scientists—Sir Isaac Newton. Not only did he develop Calculus and work out the mathematical details of the law of gravity, but he was also a man of deep Christian faith who spent a great deal of time writing and speaking about the Bible. This is a beautifully written book that is highly recommended.


Once Upon a Time: The Way America Was
by Eric Sloane

From Amazon: "The America Sloane loved was rooted in the simple virtues of our native soil: love of freedom, respect for the individual, sensible frugality, and determined self-reliance — all of which went to make up what Sloane perceived as our true American heritage." These simple virtues are so far removed from life in America today. I love that there are books like this that can instill these precious ideas back into the minds of today's youth.


The Ordinary Princess
by M.M. Kaye

Your kids will adore this delightful story about Princess Amy who would rather have adventures than be a Queen so when her royal parents try to get her to marry she's having no part of it! Lovely book that's fun to read.


Out of Darkness
by Russell Freedman

This engaging story of Louis Braille should be required reading for all middle schoolers! An inspiring look at what hard work, perseverance, determination, and beating the odds looks like.


Patterns on the Wall
by Elizabeth Yates

From Amazon: "Things are not easy for Jared Austin, but with hard work and indomitable perseverance, he turns his life into something beautiful, just like the walls that he stencils. This historical fiction novel features fascinating character development, an engaging and unpredictable plot, and wonderful insights into life in New England during the early 1800s, including the "frozen year" of 1816. Elizabeth Yates has woven in moving messages of kindness, gratitude to God, faith, appreciation of nature, hard work, love of learning, self-improvement, optimism, humility, long-suffering, and patience." This is another of my favorites!


Seven Miracles That Saved America
by Chris Stewart

Effectively weaving story vignettes with historical accounts, this book teaches about seven instances when God's protective care saved America. These examples provide compelling evidence that the hand of Providence has indeed preserved the U.S. on multiple occasions. God still cares about what happens here. This reassuring message is a bright light in a world that longs for such hope.


Sing Down the Moon
by Scott O'Dell

This book tells the story of the Long Walk of the Navajo people from the perspective of fictional character Bright Morning. While very sad in some parts it is not overly dark. By the same token, it doesn't gloss over the wrongs done to the Navajo people either. A great read!


Stories of Great Musicians
by Katherine Lois Scobey

This book is, sadly, no longer in print. I've linked to a free version at archive.org where you can download a PDF, Kindle, EPUB, or text version to read. My daughter loved this book so much that she read it several times. The lives of ten prominent classical composers are explored with skillful writing that is very engaging for children.


The Three Gold Doubloons
by Edith Thacher Hurd

Some stories stay with you—the pictures that they paint in your mind, the lessons that you learned about yourself while reading. This is one such story. Tom Cartwright is a printer's apprentice living in colonial Williamsburg who gets wrapped up in some interesting situations. You'll love the engaging plot!


The Wheel on the School
by Meindert Dejong

It's easy to overlook this little gem of a book as being too hard to read or too boring, but it is anything but. Along with the high educational value, there are many wonderful lessons about friendship, perseverance, kindness, respect for others, and following your dreams. We enjoyed this one immensely.


The Windy Hill
by Cornelia Meigs

From Amazon: "A pair of teens visiting their wealthy cousin in a sleepy seaside town stumbles upon a family mystery in this suspenseful Newbery Honor Book. Oliver and Janet sense immediately that something's wrong with Cousin Jasper, who barely acknowledges their arrival and remains strangely nervous and preoccupied. The brother and sister soon realize that the trouble is not confined to their cousin's house; conflict is brewing all over the hills and farms of Medford Valley." You'll love this intriguing story.

You can also read this book for free at archive.org and hear it at Librivox.


Zeke and the Fisher-Cat
by Virginia Frances Voight

Zeke's family moves to the wilds of Connecticut where he and his sister are captured by Pequot Indians. Readers will follow along on their adventures as they learn valuable lessons in loyalty, friendship, and respectfulness. This book also does a great job showing what true interaction between the settlers and the Indians may have looked like.



If you enjoy these books and would like a resource for more wholesome books for elementary kids you'll want to check out The Good and the Beautiful's Book List. It's a free downloadable list of more than 650 clean content books that have high literary and moral value.


Don't forget to pick up your FREE printable reading log bookmarks!



This post is part of the 10 Days of Wholesome Summer Reading series. Be sure to check out all of the posts and visit the other contributing bloggers for lots of encouragement and freebies!



This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission. This helps me keep my blog up and running without costing you a penny more! Click here to read my full disclosure policy.


30 Wholesome Books for Middle Schoolers at LifeInTheNerddom.com
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