Whether you’re looking for middle grade books for your kids or for yourself, this list of Excellent Middle Grade Books has you covered!
What is Middle Grade March?
Middle Grade March is a reading challenge that started over on Instagram. The bookstagram community there dedicates the month of March to reading Middle Grade Books.
Participating doesn’t mean you need to exclusively read middle grade books in March. It also doesn’t mean you need to be on Instagram at all. It’s just a little nudge to get more people to pick up some middle grade books, especially if it’s not a genre you read often.
What are Middle Grade Books?
Middle Grade Books are books written for a core audience of 8 to 12 year olds. I say “core audience” because many middle grade books have a wide appeal and can be enjoyed by both older readers and even younger readers as read alouds. Middle grade authors, however, write with an 8 to 12 year old audience in mind.
How do I Participate in Middle Grade March?
It’s simple! Just read some Middle Grade Books during the month of March. That’s it.
You can read them aloud to your kids. You can read them on your own. You can post pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #middlegrademarch. The only real objective though is to read at least one middle grade book during the month of March.
Middle Grade March Challenges
If you want a little more structure, Krista from Books and Jams, came up with 5 Book Challenges for Middle Grade March:
1. A nonfiction book or book based on true events
2. Book with a nonhuman main character
3. A fantasy
4. Book written in verse
5. A diverse read
Why Should Grownups Read Middle Grade Books?
I love middle grade books! After reading a lot of adult fiction, it can be a breath of fresh air to pick up a middle grade book and see the world through a child’s eyes again. Often middle grade books are tackling similar issues to their adult counterparts, but with a more hopeful perspective.
As a parent, I also find it helpful to read the books my kids are reading. I don’t read everything they read (I couldn’t keep up if I tried!). However, reading some of the same books gives us a shared experience that I treasure, especially as they are all getting older and spending more time on their own. Books are always a great conversation starter and one of the best ways to draw closer to your kids and their world.
What Should I Read?
Well, I do have a list here of 15 excellent middle grade books that I highly recommend. However, if you haven’t read middle grade in a while, it’s also fun to start with some of the middle grade books you remember loving from your own childhood.
Rereading old favorites is such a fun experience! It’s also fascinating to reread books you remember from childhood with a whole new adult perspective.
When I reread Beverly Cleary’s books as an adult I was so surprised to see how insightful they were and how well they portrayed real family life. All I remembered from childhood were the funny parts like Ramona squeezing out a tube of toothpaste. They were completely different books all grown up.
15 Excellent Middle Grade Books for Middle Grade March
And now, for the book list! There are a lot of brand new books on this list that I’ve read in the past few months and thoroughly enjoyed. There are also some old favorites here too! All of these middle grade books are excellent choices for Grown Up Readers.
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
It’s 1947 and Nisha and her twin brother Amil live with their father and beloved cook in India. The country is about to become independent from British rule and the tension between Hindus and Muslims is growing.
Nisha tells the story of their life in India and how the become refugees through letters she writes to her deceased mother in her journal. The story is compelling and beautifully told.
Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
This is a fantastic novel in verse about a young girl with Tourette syndrome. Calliope June and her mother have moved once again and she has to start all over at a new school where she’s sure to stick out like a sore thumb.
This is a beautiful book about friendship and acceptance. My daughter and I had a lot to talk about after we read this one. Watch out though, it might make you cry.
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor
Mason Buttle, may be the largest kid in the seventh grade, and he may have a sweat gland problem and a lot of trouble reading, but you will fall in love with him.
When the story opens, Mason Buttle’s is struggling with his learning disabilities and grieving the recent death of his best friend. What Mason really can’t understand though, is why the cops keep coming to talk to him about the death. It was just an accident, wasn’t it?
This book was so moving to me! I’ve been thinking about this one since I put it down.
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Kids will read this one because it’s creepy. Grown ups will appreciate all the wisdom and insight weaved into this eerie Victorian ghost story. I read this aloud with my kids and we all loved it!
Two abandoned Irish siblings are looking for work and are hired as servants in a spooky, decrepit old manor house outside a village in England. But something isn’t right with the house, its inhabitants, and the supernatural tree in the front yard. It’s a gripping tale!
Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I love this book! Jefferson had two families. We’ve heard a lot about the people that lived inside Monticello, but this is a wonderful book about his children that lived in the slave quarters. What was it like to be Jefferson’s son but never be allowed to call him Father?
This brilliant work of historical fiction is surprisingly accessible for middle schoolers, especially given the difficult subject matter. It’s also an excellent choice for a grown up middle grade read – something you can really sink your teeth into.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
This was a pick from my own childhood. Rereading it was just as good as I hoped it would be! It was still a complex read and once again, I definitely didn’t guess the ending.
Sixteen people who live in the same building, but have little else in common, are all gathered together for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. They leave with the chance to win the eccentric millionaire’s fortune, but not without a mystery to solve and a clever game to play first.
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
When the Berlin wall goes up overnight, Gerta’s family is divided. Her father and brother went west in search of work and now can’t ever come home. Gerta, her mother, and her brother are stuck on the Eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. The quest to be reunited turns into a thrilling read.
This fantastic historical fiction for both kids and adults.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
I adored this book! I love a book with a strong, young female heroine and Mia Tang is exactly that!
The Tang family are recent immigrants from China in the 1980’s. It feels lucky when Mia’s parents get a job running the Calavista Motel. But the job isn’t quite what they thought it was going to be and they’re starting from zero in America.
It’s engaging realistic fiction based on the author’s own immigrant experience. It was especially fascinating to read the author’s note at the end and discover how much of the book was based on her real life experiences.
May B. by Caroline Starr Rose
Really, any book by this author is an excellent pick! This book, May B., is a favorite of mine though.
This novel in verse follows May B. onto the Kansas prairie where she leaves her family to help out a neighboring homestead for a few months. But things don’t go as planned and May ends up stranded and alone for the winter. It’s reminiscent of the Little House books, but this is definitely the tougher side of prairie life.
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsberg
This author as so many titles that make excellent grown-up reads! This one, about two siblings who run away and live for a week in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is wonderful!
I enjoyed this as a kid, but I really loved it as an adult!
The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary L. Blackwood
This is such a great look at Shakespeare’s England and what it would have been like to be a stage actor in Shakespeare’s company.
The London scenery, colorful characters, and all the drama make this a fun read across the ages.
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier
I should warn you that this book really made me sob. I was reading this aloud with my kids and I had to put the book down and cry for a few minutes. It’s so beautiful!
Set in Victorian London, Nan Sparrow is an orphan working as a climber for a cruel chimney sweep. But when a climbing job goes awry, Nan escapes with a piece of coal that becomes the friend she needs most. This book is a five star read!
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
I’m a huge wimp and I don’t normally read scary books. That being said, I thought I could read this one because while it is a spooky book, it’s also written for kids. It still scared the heck out of me!
On her way from school one day, eleven year old Ollie comes across a distraught women threatening to throw a book into the river.
When Ollie takes the book from her, the crazed woman leaves her with one piece of advice: “Avoid large spaces at night. Keep to small.” It only gets creepier from there. Good luck!
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
This was such a sweet book. In elementary school, Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She survived but it gave her genius math abilities along with some obsessive compulsive neuroses. After years of being home schooled, Lucy is going back to middle school.
This was a wonderful, charming read!
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
If you’re a WWII Historical Fiction fan, this is a must read book! It’s really a fantastic book.
Ten year old Ada has never been outside of her London apartment. Born with a club foot, her mother considers her an abomination and keeps her locked indoors. When the bombing begins in London and the children are evacuated to the countryside, Ada manages to escape with her brother and discovers a world she couldn’t have imagined.
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