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Middle Grade Read Alouds for ELLs

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This is part 2 of my read aloud series of posts. In part 1 I talked about high school read alouds. I picked these middle grade read alouds for ells specifically because I have used them before or I have seen someone else use them with ELLs.

Great Books to Read Aloud to Middle-Grade ELLs

The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout 730L

Intermediate to advanced

This is science fiction, but it is short and relatively unknown. I like it for kids who enjoy fantasy but can’t linguistically access it quite yet.

Alabama Moon by Watt Key** 710L

Beginner to advanced

See above note.
Dirt Road Home by Watt Key** HL540

Beginner to advanced

Heavy and darker than Moon, but more linguistically accessible
Wonder by RJ Palacios** 790

Beginner to advanced

See note in newcomers.
Auggie & Me by RJ Palacios** 680L

Beginner to intermediate

This one isn’t nearly as good as Wonder, but typically kids are so engaged with Wonder they want to know what happens next.
Pax by Sarah Pennypacker 760L

Intermediate to advanced

This one came out in 2016. The language is pretty poetic, making it a little tough for beginners, but it is such a moving story. You will cry at least once. It’s an animal story, which is universally loved by kids. A fox and his boy. Love.
Between the Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys HL490L

Intermediate to advanced

I adore reading this book aloud. It’s great for teaching about a little-known side of WWII. Very sad story about the Lithuanian genocide by the USSR. The lead character is a very relatable. Minor love story which middle school girls love.
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper 700L

Beginner to advanced

This is a great book for teaching tolerance. The premise is very interesting. The protagonist is in elementary school, but middle school students like because it deals with disability and not judging people based on their appearance.
Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper 820L


8th grade. This is a stretch for a middle school ELL, but the story is very engaging and pretty visceral. It also really gets kids thinking. Caution that there is a lot of language they might not understand— so heavily scaffold and support the vocabulary and the background information before and while reading. Pre-teaching about the slave trade is critical for success.
The Maze Runner** by James Dashner HL770


6th or 7th grade is good place for this. Great for boy heavy groups. You can watch the movie afterwards and do a compare and contrast.
Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Jacobson 790L

beginner to intermediate

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi HL690


Very dense language, but such a good book, would be worth a read to the right group of students.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park 720

beginner to advanced

See note in newcomer post.
Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Muñoz Ryan Beginner to intermediate Great for sixth grade, girls in particular. I love the multi-cultural aspect of this.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate 570L

beginner to intermediate

See note in newcomer post.
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull advanced 6th grade. This is a younger read, but has great world building á la Harry Potter.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli** Intermediate to advanced Nice 7th grade read. It is a little dated now, but still a very quality story.

**Part of a duology or series.

Don’t forget to check out part 3 where I discuss read alouds for newcomer ELLs and also give a list of read alouds for elementary ELLs. Also here’s part 1, in case you missed it!

Happy teaching!

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