When it comes to fiction for young readers, you’ll find a lot of trash on modern book shelves. And while you can certainly find some inspirational books for students hidden in bookstores, you might have better luck at your local library. Many classic novels for young readers really deserve their reputation for excellence.

There’s a certain timeless quality that great novels share. It doesn’t matter if the protagonist talks like modern kids, or uses a cell phone. What matters is that young people can connect the character’s struggles and feelings to their own. So what are the best fantasy books for 7th graders? Here are some of our top picks for classic fiction as well as the best fantasy books for 7th graders:

1. Hatchet
Although Gary Paulsen’s classic novel was released in the 1980s, Hatchet is more relevant today than ever before. When 13-year-old Brian Robeson survives a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness, he’s torn away from all the conveniences of modern day life. For kids who can’t tear themselves away from their cell phones, this coming of age tale will resonate particularly well, while also teaching self-improvement skills and leadership development training.

2. The Giver
If you’re looking for the best fantasy books for 7th graders, then there’s a good chance you’ve already picked up this must-read by Lois Lowry. Winner of the Newbery Medal, this book follows the story of 12-year-old Jonas, whose eyes are opened to the horrors of his dystopian world by the mysterious memory keeper. Full of timeless lessons about freedom and democracy, the Giver is an enduring favorite of young adults and parents alike. This book was also the subject of a recent movie adaptation as well.

3. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
This classic fantasy novel has been delighting young readers since 1950, when C.S. Lewis unveiled the fantastic world of Narnia. Unlike the vampire-obsessed, violent fantasy books on shelves today, the Narnia series is grounded in a strong sense of morality. There’s a reason this has been topping lists of the best fantasy books for middle school students for decades!

4. Maniac Magee
You might recognize author Jerry Spinelli from his other popular young adult books, including Holes. But this spellbinding story is one of his best works. Maniac Magee is a young orphan who quickly becomes an urban legend in his small town. Along the way, he discovers the racial divide that’s tearing his friends apart. This novel’s themes on race and community are a great introduction to many of the issues being discussed today.

Sadly, only 17% of 17-year-old kids read daily. If you want to ensure your child doesn’t become part of the reading gap, then help them find engaging books they won’t be able to put down. Three out of four teens say they have read a book recommended to them by a parent, teacher, or church leader. Got any more recommendations for classic clean reads? What about the best fantasy books for 7th graders? Let us know!