The Truman Readers Award honors a book that is selected by Missouri junior high students. To be eligible to vote, students must read at least four of the finalists. Voting will occur at participating schools early next spring. While the winner won’t be announced until April 2020, this is a great list of summer reads for students in grades sixth through eighth.
“Long Way Down” by Jason Reynolds
Fueled by sadness and anger over his brother’s death, Will gets on the elevator, gun in hand, intent on seeking revenge. At each floor, someone connected to his dead brother gets on and has something to share with Will.
“Piecing Me Together” by Renée Watson
Tired of being singled out as an at-risk kid at her mostly-white private school, Jade resists joining “Women to Women,” a mentorship program for at-risk girls, in favor of applying for the school’s amazing study abroad program.
“Click’d” by Tamara Ireland Stone
After spending the summer at coding camp, Allie Navarro is excited to share the app she built with her friends; however, it starts to cause problems between them.
“Rosemarked” by Livia Blackburne
When Zivah falls prey to the deadly plague, she’s destined to live in isolation, until a crisis arises. Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. The two desperate souls are thrust together on a high-stakes mission, and must find common ground to protect those they love.
“Greetings from Witness Protection” by Jake Burt
Nicki Demere is an orphan and a pickpocket. Her street smarts make her the perfect “daughter” to join a family entering the witness protection program. She soon learns, however, that the biggest threat to her new family’s security comes from her own past.
“Renegades” by Marissa Meyer
The Renegades are humans with extraordinary abilities and champions of justice. They are symbols of hope, except the villains they once overthrew. Nova hates the Renegades and is on a mission for vengeance. Adrian is a Renegade boy who believes in justice and in Nova. Though friends, Nova’s allegiance to a villain threatens them both.
“Lost Boys” by Darcey Rosenblatt
Reza has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort against Iraq. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, assured by the authorities that he will achieve paradise should he die for his country. Friendship, heartbreak and Reza’s survival are at stake as he finds solace through music and forges his own path.
“Refugee” by Alan Gratz
Although separated by time and place, three refugees suffer violence, destruction and the perils of long journeys in search of refuge and discover shocking connections that tie their experiences together. Meet Josef, a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany; Isabel, trying to escape the unrest plaguing Cuba in 1994; and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy fleeing his torn homeland in 2015.
“The Trail” by Meika Hashimoto
Toby sets out to fulfill the promise he made to his friend by hiking the Appalachian Trail from Velvet Rocks to Mt. Katahdin. Toby is poorly prepared and finds himself struggling for survival while trying to rescue a starving and abused dog he finds along the way.
“Forget Me Not” by Ellie Terry
Astronomy-loving Calliope June has Tourette Syndrome. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But it isn’t long before the other kids realize she’s different. As Calliope navigates school, she must also face her mother’s new relationship and the fact that they might be moving, again.
“Hideout” by Watt Key
Sam received a fishing boat from his father and uses it to disappear for hours at time. Exploring the swampy surroundings of his bayou home, Sam finds a boy alone in the wilderness. Sam tries to help the boy, but in the process he tells lies that grow bigger over time while dangers mount.
“To Catch a Killer” by Sheryl Scarborough
As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside her murdered mother. The case was never solved. Fourteen years later, Erin is again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. As the evidence starts to point to her, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) to help her crack the case before it’s too late.