14 Middle Grade Debut Books You Need to Read This Year

14 Middle Grade Debut Books

Debut Authors Need Your Help

Middle grade debut books often face more challenges than subsequent books by established writers, and that’s never been more true than this year. Beginning last spring, concerns about COVID-19 meant not only school closures, but author visits, book fairs, book signings, book cons, summer library and bookstore programs– major things authors do to promote their books– were canceled.

Here’s something you can do to help. Read through this list. Add titles to your Goodreads shelf using the links below. If your budget allows, purchase a couple of the books on this list through any of the buy links. (Amazon, Book Depository and Indiebound links are affiliate links.)

At the bottom of the list, I’ve posted a quick ideas list of 4 ways you can support these authors and help promote their debut MG titles even if you can’t afford to buy their books.

14 Middle Grade Debut Books

Stand Up, Yumi Chung by Jessica Kim

Stand Up, Yumi Chung by Jessica Kim

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: Mistaken identity gives Yumi the chance she’s been dreaming of at comedy camp. A funny, feel-good story.

Published March 17, 2020

Get a Grip Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit

Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: Told through letters between a girl with autism and a dream to pitch baseball and her major league hero.

Published February 25, 2020


My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner

My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: An unwilling team mascot, a possible potato curse, and a chance at the prettiest girl in school. Super fun.

Published March 4, 2020 | My review


Mary Underwater by Shannon Doleski

Mary Underwater by Shannon Doleski

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A hopeful (and at times heartbreaking) story of a young girl who decides to build a submarine and sail it across the Chesapeake Bay.

Published April 7, 2020


Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega

Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: Goodreads describes this one as “Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters.” Spooky and sweet. Also, I heard there’s a cat!

Published April 7, 2020


Finally Something Mysterious by Doug Cornett

Finally, Something Mysterious by Doug Cornett

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: Three friends. Hundreds of rubber duckies. A town enthralled with its upcoming bratwurst competition. I laughed out loud!

Published April 14, 2020 | My review


Mostly Invisible Boy by AJ Vanderhorst

The Mostly Invisible Boy by AJ Vanderhorst

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A brother and sister take a wild adventure through the monster-infested Sylvan Wood. Quirky, funny and entertaining.

Published April 25, 2020 | My Review


Turtle Boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein

Turtle Boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A boy with a weird chin, a hospital-bound punk drummer, and a bucket list that might change everything.

Published May 5, 2020


What Happens Next by Claire Swinarski

What Happens Next by Claire Swinarski

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A solar eclipse, a search for a missing telescope, and a girl missing her older sister. Perfect for fans of THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH.

Published May 19, 2020


The Dream Weavers by Reina Luz Alegre

The Dream Weavers by Reina Luz Alegre

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: An ownvoices story about a 12 year-old girl who connects with her Cuban heritage and about discovering where you belong for the first time.

Published June 23, 2020


A Summer Taken by Jason Milgram

A Summer Taken by Jason Milgram

Amazon | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A girl facing summer camp again after losing her cousin and inspiration. Heartbreaking and hopeful.

Published July 4, 2020


The Circus of Stolen Dreams by Lorelei Savaryn

The Circus of Stolen Dreams by Lorelei Savaryn

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A sister looking for her lost brother. A magical circus where the cost of entry is a memory. For fans of CIRCUS MIRANDUS and THE NIGHT GARDENER.

Published September 1, 2020


Beetle and the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne

Beetle and the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A graphic novel following a young goblin on a search for her best friend in a haunted mall.

Published September 1, 2020


Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini by Betsy Uhrig

Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini by Betsy Uhrig

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A boy gets hired by his aunt to help her fix her children’s book about a grumpy frog and prize-winning zucchini. Sounds hilarious to me!

Published September 22, 2020

4 Ways You Can Help These Debut Authors

  • Order a copy of any of these books using the buy links listed.
  • Contact your local library and ask them to order copies of these titles.
  • Share this post so that other readers can see the list and support the authors, too!
  • Write your own blog or social media post that highlights your favorite debut authors’ books– be sure to include at least one buy link.

There are more middle grade debut books in this list on Goodreads, too. Check it out and find even more titles you might like!

What are your favorite debut middle grade titles from this year?

Have you read any of the books on this list? Which are your favorites, or which ones are you excited to read?

If you’ve got other debut titles on your reading list, let me know about them! Let’s spread the word and help support this year’s debut authors.

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About Kasey Giard

I'm a mama, reader, and writer. Passionate about peppermint (it's not just for Christmas, okay?!), fly fishing, and movie night.

2 Responses to 14 Middle Grade Debut Books You Need to Read This Year

  1. This is a great list. I read Stand Up, Yumi Chung and really enjoyed it. Cattywampus by Ash Van Otterloo was really good too. Natalie @ Literary Rambles

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