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Literature for Middle School Readers

Posted on December 05, 2016

Update 12/12/16: Aisha's Facebook page has changed to Reading Books From Every Country

We are always thrilled to hear from readers and educators interested in international literature. So, you can imagine how we felt when we heard about Aisha Ebhani's project, Reading the Globe. Aisha is a twelve-year-old girl in Pakistan who has embarked on a quest to read a book from every country in the world, and is tracking her progress on her Facebook page, Reading the Globe

Words Without Borders Campus includes many pieces of literature suitable for middle school readers. We’re including a list of suggestions below, but, alternatively, and as the site grows, you can find middle school-level literature by going to the Find Literature page and, depending on what works best for you, typing the following keywords (in quotation marks) in the search box:

  • “middle school level”
  • “middle school”
  • “middle grades”
  • “sixth grade level”
  • “upper elementary school”
  • “early middle school”

Graphic Literature

  1.  A Drifting Life (Japan) shows manga master Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s early years, and depicts encounters with bullies and his personal hero—the “god of manga” Osamu Tezuka. 
  2. Sharing (China) portrays a character who moves to a new city and struggles with loneliness and a need for belonging.
  3. Two Million People in the Square (Egypt) is a few pages of a pamphlet created by graphic artists and distributed during the Arab Spring of 2011.  


  1. It's a Chick, Not a Dog (Egypt) tells the story of a child who learns about “the way life works” through a friendship with a dog, and her mother’s friendship with a chick.
  2. A Failed Journey (Mexico)  features a young girl in Mexico dreading a trip to the US.
  3. The Trapped Boy (Japan) is a story about an encounter with bullies, with an unusual structure.
  4. Appendix (China) is the story of two boys and how their admiration for their father leads to disaster.
  5. Spirit Summoning, Part I (Japan) features a young girl who is a “fake medium,” but surprises herself when she seems to have actually called on a real spirit.
  6. The Kiso Wayfarer (Japan) tells a story of a young boy who senses a ghost tagging alongside a mysterious traveler.


  1. Poem to the Tune 'Pure Peace' (China), a love poem from the Tang Dynasty.
  2. Poems for Parting (China), another love poem from the Tang Dynasty.
  3. Marías Mazihuas (Indigenous language, Mexico), a poem about mothers migrating to cities for work.
  4. Purépecha Mother (Indigenous language, Mexico), another poem about mothers.
  5. Nothing Remains Empty (Indigenous language, Mexico), a poem about what it’s like to write poetry.

If you’re a middle school-aged reader, tell us what you’ve read and what you like; if you’re a middle school educator, let us know what has worked for your classes. Enjoy!