I HAVE A CONFESSION:
I have a love-hate relationship with reading roundup posts. I love sharing about my reading journey, but I hate that I could probably read an entire book (or two) in the time it takes me to write this blog post.
That, my friends, is precisely how I read so much! I am always measuring daily activities, tasks, and chores by how much reading I could be doing instead (or during). An hour-long staff meeting? I could probably get a solid 5 chapters into my new book. A Netflix movie that’s probably going to let me down? I could whiz through a novel in verse, easy. This sink full of dishes? I can chip away at my current nonfiction audiobook. That long road-trip I have coming up? That’s a whole book…I better figure out what I want to listen to! A blog post about everything I read in 2022? I’d rather be planning out my 2023 books and getting a head start on my new reading goal.
It’s a blessing and a curse, you see. But it does help me prioritize my reading in a way I never did before.
Just a few years ago, I was logging about a book a month (ish), claiming I was “too busy” to read, and rather detached from the literary world (despite being an English teacher). I had lost sight of what once was a joyful habit and fun escape from life.
HOW I GREW IN 2022
Then 2020 hit, and we all needed habits, fast. After all, there’s only so much banana bread you can bake until you turn into a loaf yourself. I started going on walks and curling up with books. Then I started doing both at the same time: walking + listening to audiobooks. The rest was history. I logged 40 books that year, more than double my previous year’s count. Then, to my astonishment, I more than quadrupled that figure in 2021. And here I am, actually embarrassed and reluctant to tell you my 2022 total. Because 2019 me would have probably rolled her eyes at 2023 me.
So I get it. Your skepticism is valid. Even I am still questioning how I managed to read so much last year. But I did, and you know what? I’m proud of myself! Not because of the number, but because of the journey it represents. So before I tell you the total, let me tell you about all the good stuff you just can’t quantify…
- I discovered new authors and genres that I love. I found out that I’m actually a sucker for a well-done romance? Thank you, Emily Henry! I even discovered some downright adorable YA romance, too. Love you, Lynn Painter!
- I read more adult fiction than in years past. I remembered how important it is to have an outlet like this! I’ve been so hyper-focused on immersing myself in middle grade and young adult literature that I’ve neglected adult fiction, but I gradually got back into it in 2022. I forgot how much I loved it, and how refreshing it is to read something meant for me, not students! We are only a few weeks in 2023, but I’ve already continued my trend of reading more adult lit.
- I worked on my teaching craft by reading more PD books. After gaining my footing in teaching 7th grade reading, I finally had more time to dive into PD books and reflect on my practice. I learned and grew a lot this year, and I’m excited to keep this momentum in 2023.
- I started reviewing and reflecting on what I read (instead of just zooming through books without taking a breath in between). Okay, so I actually ended up slacking a little on this one, but I started 2022 strong with book reviews and a story highlight on Instagram. While it got sloppier as the year went on, the point is that I started to make this a habit. A win is a win! I am continuing to experiment with this habit by book journaling in 2023.
- I connected more with fellow readers and spread my love for reading farther and wider: I connected with more readers on Instagram, I partnered with my local librarian, I shared more books with my family and friends, and I even got my 16-year-old sister who “hates to read” reading (a little, LOL). Whereas in 2020 and 2021 I felt like I was growing into a reader again, in 2022, I felt like I was a reader growing into her potential and community. This makes me even more excited to see how I will grow in 2023.
EVERYTHING I READ IN 2022
Okay, now that we have celebrated qualitative achievements, I guess I can share my number. I read a total of 185 books last year! (BTW, if you are still curious or skeptical about HOW I did this, I think you’ll love this post with all of my reading hacks, tips, and tricks.)
Without further ado, here is a round-up of every single book I read, along with ratings and one-sentence reviews. I don’t have time for anything else…because I have books to read! For your convenience, I’ve divided this round up into different categories, so you can skip to whatever type of book recs you need!
- Adult Fiction
- Adult Nonfiction
- Education Nonfiction
- Young Adult Fiction
- Young Adult Nonfiction
- Middle Grade Fiction
- Middle Grade Nonfiction
- Verity by Colleen Hoover: A easy-to-read, twisty thriller with mass appeal but simplistic language. Ultimately overhyped, in my opinion! 4 stars.
- People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry: An adventurous, adorable romance to savor and read on your next vacation. 4 stars.
- Book Lovers by Emily Henry: A cozy romance set in the most quaint of towns, perfect for bibliophiles and hopeless romantics! 4 stars.
- Beach Read by Emily Henry: My favorite of all three Emily Henry books, this book is absolutely delightful and its title delivers. Read it at the beach or lake house! 5 stars.
- The Maidens by Alex Michaelides: Mystery-thriller with an intriguing premise but one that ultimately didn’t work for me. 3.5 stars.
- All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers: As a true crime fan, I had high hopes for this one, but it was just decent; I expect more from a mystery! 4 stars.
- An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena: If you’re a mood reader like me, file this one away as a murder mystery to read during a snowstorm, but don’t expect too much from it. 3.5 stars.
- No Exit by Taylor Adams: Another attempt at a stranded-in-the-snow thriller that didn’t end up as thrilling as I was expecting. 3.5 stars.
- Every Summer After by Carley Fortune: Perfect for fans of Emily Henry, this second-chance summer romance story will tug at your heartstrings! One of my favorites of the entire year. 5 stars.
- Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney: A twisty, domestic thriller set in the snowy Scottish highlands (much better than the snowy reads I mentioned above). 4 stars.
- Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng: An interesting dystopia that takes place in a not-so-far-off America ruled by censorship, nationalism, and racism. 4 stars.
- Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren: A super cute childhood friends-to-lovers romance that I picked up on a mission to find romance that could compare to Every Summer After. (Some reviewers have expressed that Every Summer After feels way to similar Love and Other Words, which was published first.) 4 stars.
- The Push by Ashley Audrain: An absolutely wild and brilliantly written blend of psychological thriller + family drama + dark mystery. My favorite book of the entire year. 5 stars.
- Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren: A quick and fun friends-to-lovers romance featuring dual narration and cute characters you can’t help but root for! 4 stars.
- These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant: Perfect for fans of survival stories and books with big emotions, this little gem of a book will give you more than you bargain for. 4.5 stars.
- Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison: Sweet Hallmark-esque holiday romance that takes place on a Christmas tree farm. 4 stars.
- Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan: Adorable and unique romance between a seemingly normal single mom and a literal movie star. So much fun! 5 stars.
- In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park & Maryanne Vollers: Simultaneously horrifying and inspiring, this memoir about a young girl’s escape from North Korea would be great for high school readers and anyone who appreciated Every Falling Star. 5 stars.
- At Your Best: How to Get Time, Energy, and Priorities Working in Your Favor by Carrie Nieuwhof: A helpful guide for optimizing your productivity by being more mindful of your different energy zones. 4 stars.
- I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy: Full of pain, humor, and everything in between, this vulnerable memoir is a wild ride for readers, even those unfamiliar with McCurdy. 5 stars.
- Happier Hour: How to Beat Distraction, Expand Your Time, and Focus on What Matters Most by Cassie Holmes: A practical approach for investing your time into what matters most and measuring your life by your happiness, rather than productivity. 4 stars.
- Talking Texts: A Teachers’ Guide to Book Clubs across the Curriculum by Lesley Roessing: A great guide for teachers looking to incorporate literature circles or book clubs into their instruction. 4 stars.
- Breathing New Life Into Book Clubs: A Practical Guide for Teachers by Sonja Cherry-Paul: A well-written, helpful introduction to book club/literature circles, but better for beginners, not necessarily veterans looking to breathe new life into their instruction. 4 stars.
- Passionate Readers: The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child by Pernille Ripp: Validating, inspiring, and practical handbook for instilling a love for reading in your classroom. 5 stars.
- Game Changer!: Book Access for All Kids by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp: A much-needed manifesto for book access in our classrooms and communities. 5 stars.
- Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller: A must-read for all ELA teachers, one that really resonated with my independent reading philosophy and encouraged me to model instruction after real-life, “wild” reading. 5 stars.
- The Joy of Reading by Donalyn Miller: Another must-read about the power of reading, increased book access, and reading communities. 5 stars.
- Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers by Penny Kittle: An incredibly helpful guide for implementing independent reading and creating a community of book lovers. 5 stars.
- No More Fake Reading: Merging the Classics with Independent Reading to Create Joyful, Lifelong Readers by Berit Gordon: A no-nonsense, balanced approach to meeting standards and creating readers. 4 stars.
- Keeping the Wonder: An Educator’s Guide to Magical, Engaging, and Joyful Learning by Jenna Copper, Ashley Bible, Abby Gross, and Staci Lamb: After publishing our handbook for teachers in August 2021, I finally marked it as “read” on Goodreads, so I’m counting it here. After all, I’ve read it more times than I can count. You can head to this blog post to see why I am so proud of our book!
- The Commonsense Guide to Your Classroom Library: Building a Collection That Inspires, Engages, and Challenges Readers by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp: An empowering and practical handbook for making the most of your classroom library, a must-read for all ELA teachers and administrators. 5 stars.
YOUNG ADULT FICTION
- The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass: After getting hooked on the absolute fluff that is The Selection series, I felt compelled and obligated to continue the series. 3 stars.
- The Heir (The Selection#4) by Kiera Cass: Pure fluff and obligation. That is all. 3 stars.
- The Crown (The Selection#5) by Kiera Cass: A not-so-thrilling conclusion to the series! 3 stars.
- Flawed by Cecelia Ahern: Decent dystopia about a perfection-obsessed society that punishes and brands individuals deemed “Flawed.” Nothing spectacular, but a good fit for teenage fans of the genre. 4 stars.
- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness: Refreshingly unique dystopian sci-fi about a society full of men who can hear each other think. 5 stars.
- The Violent Season by Sara Walters: A solid mystery-thriller about a town where people seem to die every November. 4 stars.
- This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston: This gripping mystery is what you’d get if One of Us Is Lying took place in the woods: 5 boys go hunting, but only 4 come back alive. 5 stars.
- Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards: Fast-paced thriller about 5 strangers who find themselves in the same car when a snowstorm leaves them stranded at the airport on Christmas Eve. Don’t read it while you’re driving through snowy mountains! 4 stars.
- The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau: To someone who has read a lot of YA dystopia, this one will feel like the Great Value brand of The Hunger Games. 3 stars.
- The Obsession by Jesse Q. Sutanto: The YA thriller version of the show “You” with dual narration from a stalker and his victim. 3.5 stars.
- They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman: Compelling mystery-thriller set in a small town where a runner goes missing in the same area targeted by a serial killer years earlier. 4.5 stars.
- The Lost by Natasha Preston: Simplistic thriller that fell flat for me but could be “just right” for a reluctant high school reader. 3 stars.
- I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson: Fast-paced, twisty mystery for fans of One of Us Is Lying. 4.5 stars.
- Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson: Predictable thriller, but not one you’d want on your classroom library shelves…trust me on this! 3 stars.
- Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis: Raw, tense, gritty, and wild, this survival story will have you wincing and rooting for its fierce female protagonist. 5 stars.
- Love Is a Revolution by Renee Watson: A sweet, accessible story with a positive message of self-love, but the simplistic writing leaves much to be desired. 3.5 stars.
- All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban: A not-so-suspenseful thriller that follows a group of teens who find themselves locked in a room with a bomb, syringe, timer, and instructions that say to kill one person or everyone else dies. 3.5 stars.
- Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter: Quick, action-packed survival-thriller with a side of romance (that’s appropriate for both middle and high school). 4 stars.
- Heroine by Mindy McGinnis: Raw, graphic, and necessary contemporary fiction about a teen who gets addicted to OxyContin after a car crash. 5 stars.
- 14 Ways to Die by Vincent Ralph: This fast-paced, accessible thriller about a girl who goes live on a new reality show to stop her mother’s killer is sure to have massive appeal for teens. 4 stars.
- Tweet Cute by Emma Lord: An adorably cheesy rom-com that begins with an anonymous chat app and a witty Twitter war. What more could you want? 4.5 stars.
- Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott: This romance between two teens with cystic fibrosis pales in comparison to its “sick lit” predecessors, The Fault in Our Stars and Everything, Everything. 3.5 stars.
- The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: This mystery-thriller has an intriguing premise–a child abandoned in the woods–but loses its luster rather quickly. 3.5 stars.
- The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken: I hate fantasy, so I’m totally biased, but this bored me…the majority of it was just kids with superpowers on the run from rehabilitation camps and the adults who wanted to contain them. 3.5 stars.
- The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis: Such a wild, disturbing ride of a book that words can’t do it justice. If it’s by McGinnis, I’ll read it, no questions asked. 5 stars.
- That Weekend by Kara Thomas: Fast-paced memory loss and missing persons thriller with a weird twist at the end. 4 stars.
- Little Monsters by Kara Thomas: Perhaps it’s because I’ve read too many mysteries and thrillers, but this psychological thriller didn’t live up to the Kara Thomas hype I had in my head after reading The Cheerleaders and That Weekend. 3.5 stars.
- The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas: Hoping for a Kara Thomas redemption, I picked this thriller up and was mildly interested, but not captivated. *Sigh.* 3.5 stars.
- Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson: A great #girlpower book to hand to a budding feminist or any reader who wants to learn more about feminism. 4 stars.
- They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera: An interesting blend of realistic fiction, dystopia, and romance, this book is worthy of all its recent booktok hype. 4.5 stars.
- Muted by Tami Charles: A heartbreakingly real story of one young girl who is manipulated, abused, and exploited by a popular R&B artist, told in verse. 5 stars.
- The Rule of One by Ashley Saunders: Intriguing dystopia about twin sisters illegally existing in a future America where you can only have one child per family. 4 stars.
- The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe: This wild thriller offers the perfect balance of action and character development. 4.5 stars.
- None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney: This criminal investigation thriller is the YA lit equivalent of Criminal Minds! 4.5 stars.
- Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé: A unique, layered, and relevant thriller that will have you absolutely astonished that this is a DEBUT and the author wrote the book while in college. 5 stars.
- In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner: Jaw-dropping writing and characters you will root for until the very end; a must-read. 5 stars.
- The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee: Unique and engaging historical fiction set in 1890 Atlanta. 4 stars.
- Every Single Lie by Rachel Vincent: An intense, accessible mystery to hand over to students who “hate reading.” 4 stars.
- I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga: Mystery thriller that left a bad taste in my mouth. Skip it! 3 stars.
- Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards: Quick and accessible thriller for teens who enjoy scavenger hunts or escape rooms. 4 stars.
- After the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay: One of those rare gems you can recommend to a teen who “doesn’t like to read” but still enjoy as an adult who absolutely loves to read. 5 stars.
- Far from the Tree by Robin Benway: Written from the perspectives of three biological siblings who don’t learn of each others’ existence until they are teenagers in vastly different situations, this brilliant book stands out as my favorite of the whole year. 5 stars.
- Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner: A gorgeously written exploration of grief, but not quite as memorable as In the Wild Light. 4 stars.
- The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand: Perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, this offers both sides of one adoption story. 4.5 stars.
- What I Carry by Jennifer Longo: Touching story about a teen getting ready to age out of the foster care system. 4 stars.
- Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay: The perfect mix of realistic fiction and mystery that follows one Filipino-American teen as he unravels the real story of how his cousin died. 5 stars.
- Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram: A heartfelt look into one teen boy’s struggle with depression and his identity as a Persian-American. 5 stars.
- Dear Martin by Nic Stone: A quick, powerful, and accessible look at racism and injustice through the eyes of one young Black man. 5 stars.
- Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles: Downright hilarious and relevant realistic fiction that is perfect for its target audience (teen boys) and beyond. 5 stars.
- All American Boys by Jason Reynolds: With perfectly constructed dual narrators, this book explores the effects of race and privilege in a way that’s just right for teen readers. 5 stars.
- The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake: A quick but powerful story about identity, one you can recommend to students who “don’t like to read.” 5 stars.
- A List of Cages by Robin Roe: Written from dual perspectives, this story of two former friends and foster brothers is absolutely gut-wrenching. 4 stars.
- Manning Up by Bee Walsh: A hi-lo novel in verse that’s wildly appealing to reluctant readers and sports fans. An instant buy and hit in our 7th grade classroom library. 4 stars.
- Reality Boy by A.S. King: Weird but interesting, this portrait of a young reality TV star is one that could resonate with the right type of teen reader. 4 stars.
- I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: Satisfying, masterfully written contemporary fiction with a unique writing style. 4.5 stars.
- We Were Kings by Court Stevens: A murder mystery with the extra conflict of an “Accelerated Death Penalty Act” that hastens the death penalty. 4 stars.
- We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez: Harrowing and heartbreaking, this visceral story of 3 teens who flee their Guatemalan town will stay with me for a long time. Recommended for fans of Enrique’s Journey and as an #ownvoices YA alternative to American Dirt. One of my favorites of 2022. 5 stars.
- The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: Acevedo’s novels in verse do not disappoint, and this one is no exception. 5 stars.
- Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez: For those who like their female protagonists independent and fierce, this #ownvoices story of a rising soccer star in Argentina is perfection. 5 stars.
- Message Not Found by Dante Medema: An incredibly unique mystery about a girl trying to understand her best friend’s death by “talking” to said dead friend through an AI-powered chatbot. 5 stars.
- Lock the Doors by Vincent Ralph: Bland and simplistic, you’re better off skipping this thriller and reading Ralph’s 14 Ways to Die instead.
- This Golden State by Marit Weisenberg: Mystery about a girl whose family has been on the run her entire life and a DNA test that changes everything. 4 stars.
- The Gilded Ones by Namina Forma: For someone who is allergic to fantasy, this was relatively immersive and intense. 4 stars.
- Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed: With its mixed media and multiple perspectives, this book will hook you with its mystery but keep you engaged with its exploration of hate crimes, Islamaphobia, and other real-life issues. 5 stars.
- Internment by Samira Ahmed: This dystopia about Muslim-American internment camps feels a little too close to reality, but that’s exactly why it’s necessary. 4 stars.
- The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I never felt invested in this mystery or cared about its characters. 3 stars.
- All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir: Check the trigger warnings before you dive into this gorgeously written but absolutely devastating story that will leave you reeling. Probably my favorite YA read of the whole year. 5 stars.
- Nyxia by Scott Reintgen: Imaginative, thrilling sci-fi with dystopic elements. 4 stars.
- The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart: Necessary, powerful contemporary fiction that addresses mental health in a raw, authentic way. 4.5 stars.
- Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus: Yet another super solid McManus mystery perfect for its target audience. 4 stars.
- Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter: Quite possibly the sweetest YA rom-com I’ve ever read in my life! Better than the movies, indeed! 5 stars.
- Nothing More to Tell by Karen McManus: Another masterfully woven story from the queen of YA mystery! 4 stars.
- Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch: A romance that’s just as sweet as gelato! 4 stars.
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: Like The Selection, this is cotton-candy level romance. Fluff with little substance, but you’ll devour the whole thing before you even know what happened. 4 stars.
- P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: Because once you start eating cotton candy, you can’t stop until it’s all gone. 3 stars.
- Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han: You know when you eat so much junk that your body is just begging for a fruit or vegetable? That’s how I felt after finishing the series. Ready for the literary equivalent of a smoothie or zucchini. 3 stars.
- All the Best Liars by Amelia Kahaney: For fans of We Were Liars and One Of Us Is Lying, this slow-burn mystery will grip you from the very first page. 4 stars.
- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: Accessible historical fiction about a Lithuanian girl sent to a Siberian work camp in WWII. 4 stars.
- The Honeys by Ryan La Sala: This creative, captivating, and creepy blend of horror and mystery will leave you wondering what the heck just happened…in a weird-but-good way. 5 stars.
- Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon: A super cute scavenger hunt romance set in Seattle. 4 stars.
- You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson: Refreshing, empowering realistic fiction with just the right amount of romance. 5 stars.
- The Hollow Inside by Brooke Lauren Davis: Great for fans of Sadie and The Girls I’ve Been, this twisty small-town mystery will keep you on your toes the entire time. 5 stars.
- Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney: A coming-of-age romance for readers who enjoyed the plot of To All The Boys I’ve Loved but wanted more depth from the characters. 4 stars.
- Places We’ve Never Been by Kasie West: A bland road-trip romance that may be better suited for its target audience. 3 stars.
- Lies Like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez: An “interesting enough” thriller about a wildfire that consumes a town…and the group of teens who accidentally set it. 4 stars.
- The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson: Carrie retelling with a twist and podcast element from the queen of YA thrillers! 5 stars.
- Finding Jupiter by Kelis Rowe: With its found poetry, dual narrators, and charming characters, this is one sweet romance story! 4 stars.
- After Dark with Roxie Clark by Brook Lauren Davis: An entertaining thriller featuring a “cursed” family, ghost tours, and murder mystery! 4 stars.
- Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle: A refreshing and fun take on the “opposites” attract trope! 4 stars.
- Love Times Infinity by Lane Clarke: An adorable love story that doesn’t shy away from tough topics. 4 stars.
- The Getaway by Lamar Giles: A creative, disturbing blend of dystopia and social horror, set on the grounds of an amusement park. One of my favorites of the year! 5 stars.
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: A coming-of-age love story with two characters you will adore by the end of the book! 5 stars.
- The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis: While this Amontillado retelling fell flat for me, I’ll still read anything by McGinnis. 3.5 stars.
- The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky: A delightful little horror-thriller story perfect for fans of horror movies. 4 stars.
- The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins: After starting painfully slow, this lost-in-the-woods-with-murderers-on-the-loose story delivers a few cheap thrills. 3 stars.
- How to Survive Your Murder by Danielle Valentine: This thriller would be better suited for fans of slashers and die-hard horror movie fans, but it was a bust for me. 3 stars.
- Slay by Brittney Morris: Captivating contemporary fiction about a young game developer and what happens when someone is murdered over the very game she created. 5 stars.
- The Name She Gave Me by Betty Culley: Intriguing novel in verse about an adopted teen who wants to learn more about her birthmother and biological family. 4 stars.
- Mirror Girls by Kelly McWilliams: A blend of historical fiction and magical realism, this imaginative story follows two Black twins, one of whom has passed for white since the girls were separated at birth. 5 stars.
- This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II by Andrew Fukuda: Moving tale of two unlikely pen pals whose lives are upended by WWII. 4.5 stars.
- Ski Weekend by Rektok Ross: A decent thriller that follows a group of teens who get stranded on the side of a mountain during a storm. 3.5 stars.
- Some Mistakes Were Made by Kristen Dwyer: This tender, complicated romance will take you on a wild ride of emotions. 5 stars.
- She’s Gone by David Bell: A less than thrilling “thriller” about a girl who goes missing. 3 stars.
- One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite: Great for fans of Angie Thomas and Tiffany Jackson, this story follows the sister of a young black activist who is killed after a rally. 4 stars.
- Dark Room Etiquette by Robin Roe: This dark, disturbing thriller will leave you reeling. 4 stars.
- Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson: I must confess I haven’t read the original novel, but this adaptation was phenomenal. 5 stars.
- Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin: A brilliantly crafted masterpiece of a book! 5 stars.
YOUNG ADULT NONFICTION
- Shoe Dog: Young Readers Edition by Phil Knight: Accessible and interesting memoir from the creator of Nike, a book that hits the sweet spot of YA that works for both middle and high school. 4 stars.
- Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman: Excellent nonfiction for curious artists and fans of biographies. 4 stars.
- Code Name Badass: The True Story of Virginia Hall by Heather Demetrios: I’ve never read a more entertaining, bad*** biography (two adjectives I never thought I’d use to describe a biography…). 4 stars.
- Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle: Vivid, descriptive memoir in verse perfect for fans of Brown Girl Dreaming. 4 stars.
- I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib: Brilliant graphic memoir about a young girl and her Filipino/Egyptian identity. 5 stars.
- Huda F Are You? By Huda Fahmy: Hilarious and refreshing graphic memoir about a young Muslim girl trying to figure out where she fits in a new community. 5 stars.
- Punching Bag by Rex Ogle: This companion to Free Lunch is just as painful and vulnerable as you’d expect, but Rex Ogle’s story is one that needs to be heard. 5 stars.
- Abuela, Don’t Forget Me by Rex Ogle: Written in moving verse, this tribute to Ogle’s abuela is brimming with love. 5 stars.
MIDDLE GRADE FICTION
- Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga: Stunning novel in verse that follows Jude, a young girl who flees unrest in Syria and moves to Cincinnati with her mom, leaving her brother and dad behind. For more middle grade novels in verse, head to this blog post full of great recs. 5 stars.
- All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg: Unique historical fiction in verse for fans of WWII fiction, baseball, and books with lots of heart. 4 stars.
- The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga: An incredible exploration of grief, gun violence, survivor’s guilt, mental health, forgiveness, and more. 5 stars.
- Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry: Sweet, quick tale of a blossoming friendship, told in alternating points of view (half verse, half prose). 4 stars.
- Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed: Set in Pakistan, this story about one strong girl’s unexpected time as an indentured servant offers such an important and unique perspective. 5 stars.
- The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney: Simplistic, but important story of one young girl in Sudan. 3.5 stars.
- Caminar by Skila Brown: Heartbreaking novel in verse about a Guatemalen boy who flees to the forest when civil war makes its way to his village. 4 stars.
- What About Will by Ellen Hopkins: Perfect for fans of Before the Ever After, this dual POV novel in verse tells the story of two brothers after one is diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. This made my middle grade top 10 of 2022 list and it continues to be a favorite in our classroom library. 5 stars.
- Alone by Megan E. Freeman: This novel in verse is a unique blend of realistic, survival, and dystopian fiction, perfect for students who “don’t like to read.” An instant favorite! 5 stars.
- Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen: Written in both prose and verse, this tells the story of two friends and good intentions gone wrong. 4.5 stars.
- Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins: Like What About Will, this is also a hard-hitting, emotional novel in verse written from two perspectives. 5 stars.
- The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert: A fabulous middle grade mystery perfect for fans of The Parker Inheritance. 4.5 stars.
- Unsettled by Reem Faruqi: Rich in figurative language, this novel in verse about a young girl who moves from Pakistan to Georgia is a great choice for fans of Other Words for Home. 5 stars.
- How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani: Historical fiction set against the backdrop of the landmark Loving vs. Virginia case. 4.5 stars.
- When You Know What I Know by Sonja K. Solter: Important and accessible novel in verse about a girl healing from the trauma of sexual abuse. 4.5 stars.
- Carry Me Home by Janet Fox: This story about two sisters living in a car with their father may be short and accessible, but it sure packs a punch. One of my favorites of the year and a great option for First Chapter Friday, too. 5 stars.
- Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee: Necessary contemporary fiction that tackles sexual harassment and the toxic “boys will be boys” trope in a delicate, accessible way. 4 stars.
- Good Enough by Jan Petro-Roy: An important, middle-grade take on one girl’s struggle with an eating disorder. 5 stars.
- 96 Miles by J.L. Esplin: Fast-paced survival story that feels like a middle grade version of Shusterman’s Dry. Recommend this to kiddos who “hate reading.” 4 stars.
- Across the Desert by Dusti Bowling: Fun, adventurous survival story for fans of the genre and author. 4 stars.
- The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart: Adventurous, heartwarming tale of a young girl who lives in a school bus with her dad. 4 stars.
- Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh: Perfect for fans of Refugee, this story of a Syrian refugee is full of heart and hope. One of my most memorable reads of the year. 5 stars.
- Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald: Mixed media realistic fiction with massive appeal for sports fans and students who “hate reading.” 4 stars.
- Born Behind Bars by Padma Venkatraman: Heartwarming story about the unique plight of a boy born in jail and then suddenly released with nowhere to go in a world he doesn’t know. 4 stars.
- The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley: Immersive historical fiction about a WWII evacuee who leaves an abusive home and learns the meaning of hope, one step at a time. 5 stars.
- Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist: You can’t help but root for young Isaiah Dunn in this heartfelt story that touches on tough topics like grief, homelessness, and alcoholism. 5 stars.
- Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk: Gorgeously written, imaginative historical fiction about a young, curious girl determined to find a cure for her father after an accident leaves him in a coma. Another 5-star favorite of 2022. 5 stars.
- Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar: Told in verse, this gut-wrenching book tells the story of one young girl who is detained in a border control camp. 5 stars.
- Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs: Inspired by the author’s great-grandmother’s life, this survival story set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution is middle grade perfection. One of my favs! 5 stars.
- The Crossover by Kwame Alexander: I know I’m late to the party on this popular middle-grade novel in verse about basketball, but I’m mad nobody warned me about how heartbreaking it is! 5 stars.
- Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King: Necessary contemporary fiction about the all-too-familiar issues of book banning and censorship. 4.5 stars.
- Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk: Captivating historical fiction with strong parallels to To Kill A Mockingbird. 4.5 stars.
- Wave by Diana Farid: Emotional novel in verse set in the surf of 1980s California. 4 stars.
- Button Pusher by Tyler Page: Great graphic novel sure to resonate with neurodivergent readers, thanks to its ADHD representation. 5 stars.
MIDDLE GRADE NONFICTION
- Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery. Accessible, moving memoir about one of the youngest civil rights activists. 4 stars.
- This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce: Told in verse, this is the fascinating true story of Jo Ann Allen and the Clinton 12, some of the first students to integrate a public high school in the South. 5 stars.
- Rolling Warrior: The Incredible, Sometimes Awkward, True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels Who Helped Spark a Revolution by Judith Huemann & Kristen Joiner: A super engaging, accessible, and powerful young reader’s version of Judy Huemann’s memoir on her life and disability rights activism. 5 stars.
- Big Apple Diaries by Alyssa Bermudez: Honest graphic memoir about one girl’s middle school experience in NYC and how 9/11 changed everything. 5 stars.
- Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship” by Deborah Heiligman: This well-researched, gripping account of the sinking of the City of the Benares will have you heartbroken when you remember it’s a true story. This would pair perfectly with Lifeboat 12, historical fiction written in verse. 5 stars.
For more middle grade nonfiction recommendations, head to this blog post.
THANKS FOR READING!
I hope you’ve found this giant list of books helpful for your personal to-read lists AND your classroom libraries. For ideas on how to recommend better books to your students and cultivate a love for reading in the classroom, check out the following blog posts: