The Cybils Awards are a great way to find high quality books for your kids and teens. Check out this year’s middle grade finalists and more!
With so many book choices out there, book awards are a great way to narrow down the options and help you find great books. Of course, a book award doesn’t guarantee that you personally will enjoy the book, but in my experience, it improves the odds.
I love to follow all the book awards every year and I try to read a lot of award winners. This year, however, I get to experience another side of the book awards. I am a judge for the 2019 Cybils Awards. I could not be more excited! I am also so excited to share the finalists in my category with you – they’re such great books!
First, let me tell you a little about the awards.
The Cybils Awards
The Cybils Awards mission statement says they aim to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal, and they’ve been doing it every year since 2007. This year there are 12 categories of books:
- Early Chapter Books
- Easy Readers
- Fiction Picture Books & Board Books
- Graphic Novels
- Young Adult
- Middle-Grade Fiction
- Elementary/Middle Grade
- Junior High/Senior High
- Speculative Fiction
- Young Adult
- Young Adult Fiction
The Judging Process
Last fall they accepted book nominations and then panelists in each category read the books and narrowed them down to a few select finalists.
I am in the second group of judges for Middle-Grade Fiction and we’re tasked with reading the finalists and selecting a winning book. The winners in each category will be announced on Valentine’s Day.
Middle Grade Fiction: The Seven Finalists
We’re still in the middle of the judging process, and I’ve only read 5 of the 7 books, so I can’t share too much about these books yet. What I can say is that the five middle grade finalists I have read from this list are all excellent books and I have every reason to believe the remaining two will be just as good.
So, if you’re looking for some great Middle Grade Fiction from 2019, this list is a good place to start.
Note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.
Operation Frog Effect by Sarah Scheerger | When a wounded frog finds its way into Ms. Graham’s fifth grade science classroom, the students vote and decide to keep the frog. They learn a lot about frogs, but the most important lesson they learn is how to take responsibility for their actions and unite for a cause they all believe in.
Right as Rain by Lindsay Stoddard | Rain’s brother died a year ago, but Rain has been keeping a secret ever since. She believes that his death was her fault, but she can’t talk about it. Her parents have been struggling ever since the death too and Rain feels like it’s up to her to keep her family together. When Rain meets Ms. Dacie, she finds a cause she can support and a new way to connect with the people around her.
Roll With It by Jamie Sumner | Ellie has cerebral palsy, but she’s determined not to be limited by her wheelchair. In fact, she has really big dreams: she’s going to be a professional baker. But when her family moves to help care for her ailing Grandfather, Ellie has to start all over at a new school in a new town.
Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly | Twelve-year-old Iris is the only deaf person her school. Her grandfather, who was also deaf, was her best friend but after his death, Iris feels more alone than ever. When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who sings at the wrong frequency and is unable to speak to other whales, she feels an immediate connection. Iris is determined to help this whale, even if it means traveling to Alaska to find him.
Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee | Middle school can be tough, but for seventh-grader Mila, it’s not just a rough year, school actually feels unsafe. It begins with an unwanted hug from a boy and then escalates into more unwanted attention from boys. Are they just being friendly? Is Mila just overreacting? There’s a lot to learn about sexual harassment and bullying in middle school. Luckily, Mila finds a trusted adult to help her navigate.
The Bridge Home by Padma Ventrakaman | Fleeing an abusive home situation, eleven-year-old Viji and her younger sister Rukku end up homeless on the streets in Chennai, India. Fortunately, the girls find shelter and friendship under an old abandoned bridge. But when illness strikes, they have to decide between their freedom or help from strangers, which comes with big risks. Based on the author’s own experience helping homeless children in India.
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart | For five years Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, have been traveling around the country in an old school bus. They never settle down and they never talk about the past because it’s too painful. But when Coyote learns that the park in her old neighborhood is being demolished, she’s determined to get back home to save a treasured memory box she buried there. The tricky part is going to be getting her dad to take her there without telling him where they’re going.
More Great Books for Kids and Teens
You can see the finalists in all the other categories here. The Cybils Awards are a fantastic way to narrow down all the book choices for children and teens to help you pick really great books.
You can also follow along on Instagram @cybilsawards to see all the books and more!
Be sure to check back in February to see all the big winners too!