While Anne Frank’s diary often shows up on most middle school book lists, there aren’t always many other books written by female authors. And since studies show that girls read for pleasure at least 10 minutes more every day than boys, it’s crucial to provide a balanced reading list of inspirational books for students.

When kids can relate personally with a story and its characters, they are much more likely to become lifelong readers. Reading can also teach kids about the problems they face in their own lives, and even point to solutions they might not otherwise consider. Plus, reading for pleasure not only leads to self-improvement, but better grades in the classroom.

That’s why it’s crucial to find inspirational books for students, who have more digital distractions than any generation before them. Here are four classic books for middle school students written by women; you’ll even find them on many required reading lists for schools.

1. Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse
Karen Hesse’s historical novel won the Newbery Medal the year after its release in 1997. The book follows the life of young Billie Jo as she struggles to come of age during the Dust Bowl years on her family’s farm in Oklahoma.

The novel helps introduce young readers to alternative writing styles; the plot is structured as a series of first-person free verse poems. This book can also be a perfect intro to teaching students about poetry specifically. Poetry writing exercises are a perfect complement to the novel.

2. Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
Also known popularly as The Diary of Anne Frank, this intimate portrait of a young woman became a modern classic around the world when it was released in the 1950s. The journal describes two years in the life of the author as she and her Dutch Jewish family hide in a cramped attic from invading Nazis.

You won’t find many books on required reading lists for schools that were actually written by a young teen, and many kids find they relate to Anne’s beautifully written coming of age story. Not only does the diary chronicle an important period of recent history from a young person’s point of view, but experts also say that Frank was a budding literary prodigy.

Her eloquent prose is one of the best books for middle school students written in the 20th century. If you’re looking for inspirational books for students, then this diary is an absolutely essential item for every book list.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird offers students a unique insight into American history, told through the perspective of a young girl. This American classic might be intimidating for those just starting middle school, but it’s one of the best books for 7th grade students ready for a more involved reading experience.

4. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
This 1976 book also deals with the American South during a turbulent period in our nation’s history. It’s also the 1977 Newbery Gold Medal Winner. The book follows a black Mississippi family through the eyes of young narrator Cassie, who learns ‘the way things are’ in her town.

Do you have a favorite middle school-appropriate book written by a female author? Let us know in the comments.

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