Top Ten Middle Grade Reads

TTT

Top Ten Middle Grade Reads (2015-2016)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today, my spin on the topic is this: middle grade reads. As the parent of an enthusiastic middle grade reader, I’m always looking for books that will spark conversations, explore interesting ideas, or generate all those deep emotions as only a well-written book can. Here are the best of the middle grade books I’ve read in the last couple of years.

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I loved the way the author used information about jellyfish in this story, but what was ultimately most powerful was Suzy’s voice. This story packed a big emotional punch, and I love that.

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

Review to come | Amazon | Goodreads

While I haven’t made it to posting this review yet, this is another must-read, in my humble blogger opinion. I completely identified with Anna’s struggle to connect with her friends and find peace in her identity.

Grayling's Song by Karen Cushman

Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Quirky characters were the big win for me in this novel. I mean, seriously?! A shape-shifting mouse? So cute. And the team of unlikely allies reminded me of the team of odd part-dragon characters helping Seraphina in Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman.

Escape from Sudan by Amanda DiCianni

Escape from Sudan by Amanda DiCianni

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

This was another unexpected find. When the author, who’d been a missionary to this part of the world, approached me with Escape from Sudan, the subject of the story definitely interested me. Books like this one are great ways to start conversations about world events and to introduce those ideas in ways appropriate for middle readers.

It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

This is another tale with a powerful punch. In the wake of the hostage crisis in Iran, an Iranian-American girl navigates a suddenly hostile California town. She’s smart, funny and immediately goes for the heartstrings. I want this book in classrooms everywhere.

Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern

Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Too often simple kindness gets overlooked in our fast-paced modern world. In this story, Benny wrestles with being kind to others in the midst of troubling family circumstances: his father suffered an accident and may never be the same. I loved Benny from page one.

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

As part of a school history project, Deja discovers the truth about what changed the New York skyline on September 11, 2001, and the connection it has to her family. While this one got a little preachy– a side effect of the classroom setting for many of the book’s scenes– I really appreciated the honest but not graphic look at another big moment in US history.

Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

Review to Come | Amazon | Goodreads

I’m cheating a bit, since my review for this book won’t be posted until the middle of July. But seriously. Another great, really relevant book. A young girl is forced to leave her island town with her family to live in a Japanese Internment camp. The details are all gentle– it’s very middle grade level stuff– but it absolutely captures the message about how traumatic and wrong that moment in American history was.

When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket

When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I love the blend of noir and humor in this wacky mystery. This was one series that had both my daughter and me watching for release dates and rushing to the bookstore to get the copy of the latest release.

Between Shadows by Kathleen Cook Waldron

Between Shadows by Kathleen Cook Waldron

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I had the pleasure of meeting this author on vacation a few months before her book came out. My grandmother’s death was a hugely significant loss in my life, so when she described her novel about a boy and his family rediscovering one another after his grandfather’s death, I was instantly intrigued. I’m super excited that I got to read it!

What are your favorite middle grade books?

You’ve read my list. Have you read any of them? What did you think? Which books top your favorites for middle grade literature? (Thing ages 8-12.) Leave a comment with your answer!

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About Kasey Giard

Kasey is a mother, reader and aspiring author. When she's not reading or writing, you might find her out on the water fly fishing, pretending she can keep houseplants alive, or talking with the family rescue cat.

13 Responses to Top Ten Middle Grade Reads

  1. This is a great post! I used to be a middle school teacher, and would have loved this list. I’m now a high school librarian though, so don’t always pay as much attention to this level.
    Check out my Top 10

  2. Amy S. says:

    I don’t really read Middle Grade but you’ve piqued my interest with Paper Wishes! I almost always love WWII fiction and want to read more! Plus one book I read this year, Nora and Kettle, talked about internment camps a little and made me interested in learning more.

    • Kasey Giard says:

      I know what you mean. I have started reading more middle grade now that my daughter is that age, but didn’t read much up to that. I love WWII stories, too! 🙂 I definitely recommend Paper Wishes.

  3. Kim says:

    I haven’t read a middle-grade book in ages. I should really read a few sometimes though. The ones on your list sound really good, so I’ll keep those in mind. I did read some children’s books during my last read-a-thon. Maybe this time I’ll add in some middle school reading. Thanks for visiting my TTT! Happy reading!

  4. Carrie says:

    I have so many Persian/Iranian friends – I think I need to make sure “It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel” is on my must-reads list! My TTT

  5. Elen @ A World of Reviews says:

    I’m definitely going to have to check out some of these. I haven’t read many middle grade books lately, and I’m clearly missing out. Thanks for the recommendations!!

  6. Great list! I tend to overlook MG books when I shouldn’t. I’m writing of these down. 🙂

  7. Nicole says:

    I love middle grade fiction (even though I’m definitely not in that age bracket anymore :)). These look like some really good picks – I may have to check a few out. Thanks for sharing!

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