Middle School to Young Adult Books

Theme: Great Escapes

47 - (ISBN: 978-0316016353)

by Walter Mosley

This slave narrative includes the imprisoned man’s encounter with a mythical figure, Tall John, who not only helps him escape but introduces him to worlds beyond his own. If you enjoy adventure, science fiction, time travel, and shape shifting, try this slightly different take on escaping to freedom. What is the significance of the title?

Airman - (ISBN: 978-1423107514)

by Eoin Colfer

Despite his exciting beginning of being born in a hot-air balloon, Conor ends up in prison after the murder of his tutor. His dreams of escape involve his plans to build a flying machine. Can he escape the brutal life he has mining diamond as a prisoner, dependent on his own invention and wits? What do you think was his best invention?

Before We Were Free - (ISBN: 978-0440237846)

by Julia Alvarez

Prize-winning author Julia Alvarez paints a convincing picture of young Anita’s family in the Dominican Republic during the brutal Trujillo regime. After her cousins’ family escapes to the U.S., her parents try to protect her from the horrors of life on the island, although her father is a member of the resistance. Eventually, she and her mother must live underground while her father and uncle suffer in prison. What turn of fate helps her family escape from its uncertain life?

Incarceron - (ISBN: 978-0142418529)

by Catherine Fisher

Although Finn remembers only the years he has been imprisoned in Incarceron, his determination to escape is not hampered by the fact that only one person has ever gotten away before! Finn finds a friend and fellow traveler in Claudia, the warden’s daughter. With the help of a magic key, they begin to communicate and plan how to gain freedom, she from her dictatorial father. How do both their desires for a life on the outside merge at the end?

Steal Away Home - (ISBN: 978-0689824357)

by Lois Ruby

Dana is excited to find a diary in her parents’ new old house in Kansas. From reading it, she discovers the house was formerly a way station as part of the Underground Railroad. The book alternates between the continuing revelations of Dana’s discovery and stories of the families who escaped through the house with the help of a brave black woman. What was interesting about the language in the book?

A Dream of Freedom - (ISBN: 9780553562194)

by Cheryl Zach

Just Ella - (ISBN: 9780689821868)

by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Max the Mighty - (ISBN: 978-0590579643)

by W.R. Philbrick

Number the Stars - (ISBN: 978-0440227533)

by Lois Lowry

The Hunger Games Trilogy - (ISBN: 978-0545265355 )

by Suzanne Collins

The Maze - (ISBN: 9780688150921)

by Will Hobbs

Activities for this Theme

Learn more about history’s Great Escapes


Make an escape plan for your family to safely exit your house in case of a fire.


If you live near historical sites used by the Underground Railroad, visit them and imagine the excitement and intrigue that took place inside the walls.


Visit Alcatraz or other historical prisons near your home. Write a play based on escaping prisoners.


Read about the 12 craziest prison escapes of all time


Check out this website with information about notorious escapes throughout history.