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Dr. Susan Sage Heinzelman, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Middle School Reading List

Middle School Girls' Selected Annotated Reading List
and Resource Guide

(Part 1 PDF 1.3MB)

(Part 2 PDF 1.3MB)

(Part 3 PDF 1.3MB)

  • Acknowledgements
  • Tips for using the Guide

About the Guide

The Center for Women's Studies at UT Austin is proud to make available a new educational resource: a culturally diverse, selected, annotated reading list and resource guide for middle school teachers, librarians, and students in Texas. The annotated list features recent books about girls' and women's lives in the areas of literature, social studies (Texas history, world history, and U.S. history), the arts, sciences and math. It provides titles and descriptions of fiction and nonfiction books, web pages, 'zines, magazines, and resources specifically aimed at middle school girls.

The project centers around the importance of providing educators with materials that present girls and women as active contributors to literature, history, science, and culture and assist girls in developing confident visions for their many life roles. The list focuses on more recent texts, as these are more likely to reflect broader images and opportunities for girls. In addition, the project directors made a special effort to include materials that are culturally diverse.


 The large number of people who enthusiastically contributed to this project has been particularly rewarding. Special appreciation goes to faculty and students at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS), The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Barbara Immroth kept our readers well supplied with the most current books, Dr. Irene Owens provided us with annotations, and Drs. Barbara Immroth and Bill Lukenbill encouraged their students to participate. Special appreciation also goes to the many teachers, librarians, and educational specialists who met with us to discuss ways to improve the project and make it accessible to educators and students, to Ruthe Winegarten who welcomed Jessica into her home to use her extensive personal library, and to the RGK Foundation for awarding a grant to partially support the project.

Final preparation of the Middle School Reading List was performed by Jessica McFaddin and Lucia Albino Gilbert, with assistance from many others, including Jill Rader, Kristin Schilt, Melissa Gilbert, Pat Chow, Heather Wait, and Susan Dognaux.

Readers and Annotators: Emily Abend, Carmelina Albino, Pat Chow, Paige Dixon, Margaret Dominguez, Susan Dognaux, Theresa Faris, Lucia Gilbert, Melissa Gilbert, Catherine Gourley, Clare Heinzelman, Rachel Jones, Hope Kandel, Nohemi Lopez, Jessica McFaddin, Hsin-Tine Liu, Ann Minner, Laymoi Ng, Irene Owens, Kelly Posey, Kristin Schilt, Nita Shuffler, Joel Singer, and Heather Wait.

Organizational Experts: Melissa Gilbert, Jessica McFaddin, Jill Rader, Lucia Gilbert, Kristin Schilt, Melanie Livingston, Tavia Whitney, and Janene Lewis.

Experts in the Field: Professors Barbara Immroth, Mary Rice-Lively, W. Bernard Lukenbill, and Irene Owens, GSLIS, The University of Texas at Austin, and Ruthe Winegarten, Historian. Web Page Design by Joel Singer.

Tips for Using the Middle School Reading List

For ease of use, materials are organized by both curriculum categories and themes. Annotations of books, web pages, and resources appear in their own sections, after the sections on curriculum categories and themes. Every book, web page, and resource on the list has been assigned to at least one curriculum category or theme. Curriculum categories are based upon those designated by the Texas Education Association.

All books were selected on the basis of relevance to the middle school curriculum and positive mention in a respected educational publication. Once identified as a possibility for the list, every book, resource, and web page was read and reviewed by project readers with our particular criteria in mind. Thus books, resources, and web pages selected for the list have been critically reviewed and evaluated.

The criteria in selecting materials for the project centered around identifying those materials that countered stereotypic views of women and girls. Thus the materials included:

  • present girls and women as central to literature, history and culture;
  • describe girls and women as intellectually capable and contributing to knowledge in all fields;
  • present girls and women as visible and active, and as players in public and personal arenas; and
  • assist girls in developing confident visions for their many life roles.

Positive aspects of family relationships and friendships are represented, as are constructive ways of responding to difficult situations and negative life events. Also included are books addressing serious subject matters such as environmental concerns, violence, prejudice, and personal tragedy.

We designate with a those books more appropriate for advanced middle school readers because of their length and/or difficulty of the subject matter. Those books addressing emotionally sensitive material and/or using strong language have included in their annotations the phrase For mature readers. Finally, we sought to include books and materials not already widely used in the middle school curriculum.

General Tips

This comprehensive list of books, resources, web pages, 'zines, and magazines has been organized by themes, curriculum categories, and type of material. Additionally, books are marked as fiction (F) or nonfiction (NF). Particular thematic emphasis is on issues salient for middle school girls. Example themes would be Coming of Age and Belonging and Respect. Particular themes and categories link to annotations of each selection, including publishing information. Included alongside each annotation, there are theme and/or curriculum category assignments. Within each theme, a code for the genre and references to other relevant themes has been included. Within each curriculum category, you will find the selection, its genre, and all relevant themes. Please note that the annotations for nonfiction, fiction and resource books are alphabetized by author's last name while annotations for web pages, 'zines, and magazines are alphabetized by title.

Specific Suggestions for Educators

The recommended approach to this reading list depends on your subject area and your students' needs.

English/Core Literature/Language Arts:

  1. As you look at your core literature for the year, you may prefer to begin with a thematically organized list. For example, you may wish see some suggested materials about Families, and then read the annotations for those materials. Depending on the theme, you could find everything from a good book report book to a teen-authored magazine to a web site that accepts teens' literary submissions.
  2. As your students consider books for book reports, you might look to the curriculum categories to find selections focusing on particular subject areas, such as Arts or Science and Math, or genres, such as Autobiography and Biography or Historical Fiction.
  3. 3. For selections focused on particular cultures, see African American, Asian American, Native American, and Latina Protagonists.
  4. If you are looking for selections that address interracial, interethnic, or intercultural relations, see Acclimation and Assimilation to the United States and Cross Cultural Understanding.
  5. The Current Social Issues and Life Skills sections offer numerous ideas for Silent Sustained Reading (SSR).
  6. For role models, refer to Women Leaders and Trailblazers (20th Century), Careers, and the ethnically-focused themes: African American, Asian American, Native American, and Latina Protagonists.


  1. For specific topics, such as issues related to "growing up," there are a number of relevant themes, including Belonging and Respect, Coming of Age, Disabilities, Gangs and Violence, and Friendship. See also two curriculum categories, Current Social Issues and Life Skills.
  2. For career exploration, refer to the themes Careers and Women Trailblazers (19th and 20th Centuries).
  3. For health issues, refer to Coming of Age and Sports.

History/Social Studies:

  1. Since most schools divide history by grade level, you may want to begin with the curriculum categories because the selections are divided into Geography, Texas History, United States History, and World History.
  2. If you are looking to incorporate women's history into your curriculum, start with the Women Leaders and Trailblazers themes. These selections include women from the 19th and 20th centuries.
  3. If you are looking to incorporate diverse cultures into your curriculum, the thematically organized list is the place to go. There you will find biographies and autobiographies of African American, Asian American, Latina, and Native American protagonists.
  4. If you are looking for selections that address interracial, interethnic, or intercultural relations, see Acclimation and Assimilation to the United States and Cross Cultural Understanding.
  5. If you are looking for selections for a certain time period, the themes include World War II and Women Trailblazers (19th and 20th Centuries). There is an extensive list of selections related to Current Social Issues, offering opportunities for class discussion, debate, and reflection.


  1. If you are looking for role models of women in math and science, start with the Science and Math curriculum category. There are many autobiographical or biographical accounts appropriate for middle school students.
  2. If you are looking for appropriate web sites, the Science and Math curriculum category has a number of these as well. See the web pages, 'zines, and magazines section of the annotations for more detailed descriptions.
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