Novels to Know

The Common Core standards recommend evaluating novels based on three criteria: quantitative, qualitative, reader and task.
Quantitative can be measured with Lexile or a similar tool. Qualitative includes text complexity and is fully explained in Appendix A. Reader and Task focuses on whether the book is appropriate for the student's age and purpose of the lesson.
To look at a diagram comparing current Lexile bands by grade and the "stretch" bands for Common Core visit the Lexile site. For middle school we went from 860L-1010L to 955L-1155L.
An excellent overview of the new standards including methods for scaffolding at-risk readers can be found here.
Based on these recommendations we have selected a list of middle grade novels that fit the Common Core guidelines.
Wonder by RJ Palacio, Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt, Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, Bluefish by Pat Schmatz, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhai Lan, Divergent by Veronica Roth and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.
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The SC Junior Book Award list is an excellent place to find middle grade titles. You can access the activity guide here. Here you will find a list of the titles with companion books, websites, and book trailers.

The following are a list of resources to help you stay current on book releases and trends in young adult fiction.
Tamara Cox's Common Core Suggested Books Pinterest board.
Eliterate Librarian: Tamara Cox's blog about library programs and activities.
The Librarian in the Middle: Kristen Hearne's blog reviewing books web 2.0 tools.
Ms. Yingling Reads: Middle grade reviews with a healthy dose of boy-friendly books.
Green Bean Teen Queen: A YA blogger, but she has a weekly Tween Tuesday post.
Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) posts a Teen's Top Ten and Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers list each year. This is for teens so make sure you evaluate for content.
Guys Lit Wire: Bloggers, writers, and readers helping teen guys find the books THEY want to read.
Mrs. Hills Book Blog: Former ELA teacher and current librarian reviewing teen titles.
Mrs. Readerpantz: A middle school librarian reviews middle grade and teen books.
Nerdy Book Club: A community of readers. The blog includes book reviews, personal histories about reading and ideas for the classroom.
Next Best Book: Teen book reviews.
Teach Mentor Texts: Books that can be used as mentor text to promote literacy. Each review lists companion books, reading level, reading and writing strategies addressed, writing prompts and topics covered in the book.
Nonfiction Detectives: Two librarians review the best nonfiction titles for children.
TLT: Teen Librarian's Toolbox: For teen librarian's short on time, short on money, but not short on passion.
Guys Read: Their mission is to help boys become self-motivated, life long readers.
Knight Reader: What your local librarian is reading...Greenville County librarian and A1 graduate.
Reading Junky's Reading Roost: An 8th grade ELA teacher reviews books for middle grades and YA.
Story Snoops: Children's book reviews from a parent's perspective.
Amity Middle School book blog: Brief book reviews and news from a middle school library.