Middle Grade

Middle grade fiction book list from the American Library Association

All in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World. By Lori Alexander. Illus. by Vivien Mildenberger. HMH.
With accessible language and illustrations, this biography introduces readers to the everyday man who invented a powerful microscope that could magnify the living world to an astonishing scale. (Sibert Honor Book)

The Beast Player. By Nahoko Uehashi. Illus. by Yuta Onoda. Tr. by Cathy Hirano. Holt/Godwin.
In this complex fantasy, a young girl is caught (pitted?) between the welfare of animals with whom she can communicate and a warring kingdom that only she can save. (Batchelder Honor Book)

Because of the Rabbit. By Cynthia Lord. Scholastic.
Emma helps her father rescue a pet rabbit that supports her socialization as she transitions into public school.

The Bridge Home. By Padma Venkatraman. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen.
Determined to escape their abusive father, Viji and her sister run away and make a new home on a bridge in Chennai, India.

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree. By Paola Peretti. Illus. by Carolina Rabei. Tr. by Denise Muir. Atheneum.
Fifth-grader Mafalda discovers what is important in life as she loses her sight to a degenerative disease in this thoughtful, coming-of-age novel. (Batchelder Honor Book)

Each Tiny Spark. By Pablo Cartaya. Penguin/Kokila.
Emilia faces family challenges when her dad returns from overseas military service.

For Black Girls Like Me. By Mariama J. Lockington. Farrar.
Makeda, adopted into a white family, struggles to fit in and find herself at home and in school.

The Forgotten Girl. By India Hill Brown. Scholastic.
Two classmates discover an abandoned grave, launching a ghost story that brings the history of segregation to life.

Hector: A Boy, a Protest, and the Photograph That Changed Apartheid. By Adrienne Wright. Illus. by the author. Page Street.
The true story of the dramatic photograph of a young boy’s tragic death that became a symbol of the injustice of Apartheid.

Indian No More. By Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorrell. Lee & Low/Tu.
In 1954, Regina and her family move from their reservation to Los Angeles after their tribe is terminated by the U.S. government.

It Rained Warm Bread: Moishe Moskowitz’s Story of Hope. By Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet and Hope Anita Smith. Illus. by Lea Lyon. Holt/Christy Ottaviano.
Spare poetry documents Moishe’s struggle for survival during the Holocaust.

Lalani of the Distant Sea. By Erin Entrada Kelly. Illus. by Lian Cho. Greenwillow.
A young girl sets out to save her island of Sanlagita, which is struggling with drought and sickness.

Let ‘er Buck!: George Fletcher, the People’s Champion. By Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illus. by Gordon C. James. Carolrhoda/Lerner.
George Fletcher’s rise to fame as a rodeo champion is recounted with colorful language, à la old Westerns, and expressive oil paintings.

Lety Out Loud. By Angela Cervantes. Scholastic.
While spending the summer volunteering in an animal shelter, English language learner Lety Muñoz learns to use her voice to stand up for others. (Belpré Author Honor Book)

Pie in the Sky. By Remy Lai. Illus. by the author. Holt.
Told with heart and humor, Jingwen adjusts to a new culture and language after his family immigrates to Australia.

Scary Stories for Young Foxes. Christian McKay Heidicker. Illus. by Junyi Wu. Holt.
Two fox kits encounter a variety of terrifying episodes in this chilling and skillfully crafted horror book for children. (Newbery Honor Book)

Some Places More than Others. By Renée Watson. Bloomsbury.
Amara copes with family tensions during a trip from her home in Oregon to visit her father’s family in Harlem.

Stargazing. By Jen Wang. Illus. by the author. First Second.
Despite opposite personalities, Moon and Christine develop an unlikely friendship in this lively graphic novel.

Older middle 

Accused! The Trials of the Scottsboro Boys: Lies, Prejudice, and the Fourteenth Amendment. By Larry Dane Brimner. illus. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek.
The impeccably researched story of nine African American young men falsely accused of raping two white girls in 1931 Scottsboro, Alabama.

All the Greys on Greene Street. By Laura Tucker. Illus. by Kelly Murphy. Viking.
Olympia must navigate both the disappearance of her father and her mother’s growing struggle with depression.

Beverly, Right Here. By Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick.
After the loss of her beloved dog, Beverly runs away from home and starts a new life.

Born to Fly: The First Women’s Air Race across America. By Steve Sheinkin. Illus. by Bijou Karman. Roaring Brook.
The well-researched, compellingly written account of 20 aviators competing in the first all-female, cross-country air derby.

Games of Deception: The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany. By Andrew Maraniss. illus. Philomel.
This brief history of how basketball became an Olympic sport looks at the ethical issues surrounding the U.S. team’s decision to participate in the 1936 Olympics.

Genesis Begins Again. By Alicia D. Williams. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy.
Painfully self-conscious about her dark skin, 13-year-old Genesis faces new challenges when her family moves to suburban Detroit and she starts a new school. (Newbery Honor Book)

I Can Make This Promise. By Christine Day. Harper.
Twelve-year-old Edie discovers a box in her family’s attic that reveals her mother’s Suquamish/Duwamish heritage.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People. By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese. illus. Beacon.
This unflinching adaptation makes crucial history accessible for children and teens.

Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace. By Ashley Bryan. Illus. by the author. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy.
A moving memoir recounts the WWII experiences of an artistic young man through his contemporaneous writing and illustration on the front line.

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks. By Jason Reynolds. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy.
What happens after school? These 10 interconnected stories will tell you, block by block.

Maybe He Just Likes You. By Barbara Dee. Aladdin.
Mila, a seventh-grader, experiences sexual harassment and unwanted attention from a group of classmates.

New Kid. By Jerry Craft. Illus. by the author. Harper.
A funny, thought-provoking graphic novel that details Jordan Banks’ seventh-grade year as one of the few African American kids in an elite suburban school. (Newbery Medal Book)

Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir. By Nikki Grimes. WordSong.
This distinguished memoir in verse highlights bestselling author and poet Nikki Grimes’ formative years, detailing the people, places, and events that shaped her life. (Sibert Honor Book)

The Other Half of Happy. By Rebecca Balcárcel. Chronicle.
A biracial girl explores her Guatemalan heritage and deals with family struggles, while navigating the realities of middle school. (Belpré Author Honor Book)

Other Words for Home. By Jasmine Warga. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray.
Themes of conflict, home, identity, the arts, and prejudice are interwoven in this powerful verse novel about a Syrian girl’s new life in America. (Newbery Honor Book)

A Place to Belong. By Cynthia Kadohata. Illus. by Julia Kuo. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy.
After her Japanese American parents are released from an internment camp, twelve-year-old Hanako travels with her family to start a new life in post-war Japan.

The Poison Eaters: Fighting Danger and Fraud in our Food and Drugs. By Gail Jarrow. illus. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek.
From formaldehyde in your milk to borax in your beans comes this fun, informative exploration of the FDA and how it works to keep our food safe.

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe. By Carlos Hernandez. Disney/Hyperion.
Sci-fi adventure and Cuban culture blend as Sal Vidón and his friend Gabi travel to parallel universes and try to survive middle school. (Belpré Author Award Book)

A Story about Cancer (with a Happy Ending). By India Desjardins. Illus. by Marianne Ferrer. Quarto/Frances Lincoln.
In this illustrated book for older children, a teenage girl waits for test results and reflects on her five-year battle with leukemia.

Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers. By Celia C. Pérez. Penguin/Kokila.
Four wildly different middle-school girls join together in social activism to protest an outdated tradition.

Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children. Ed. by Kath Shackleton. Illus. by Zane Whittingham. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky.
A compelling collection of six little-known, true stories of child Holocaust survivors, told in graphic novel format.

They Called Us Enemy. By George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott. Illus. by Harmony Becker. Top Shelf.
A graphic memoir of a Japanese American family during the internment years in California.

This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality. By Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy. illus. Bloomsbury.
A first-person, verse account of the challenges faced by the first African American students to integrate into an American high school. (Sibert Honor Book)

Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship.” By Deborah Heiligman. illus. Holt.
The incredible, nonfiction tale of the German submarine attack on a ship carrying 100 child refugees during WWII.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky. By Kwame Mbalia. Disney/Hyperion.
While visiting his grandparents in Alabama, Tristan enters into a parallel universe populated by characters from African and African American traditional stories.

Wait, What? A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up. By Heather Corinna. Illus. by Isabella Rotman. Limerence.
The founder of Scarleteen.com takes a head-on approach to discussing gender, sexuality, identities, and more.

We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls around the World. By Malala Yousafzai. Little, Brown.
Yousafzai recounts her story of displacement and introduces refugee girls worldwide, putting faces and stories to the demographics of immigration.

Where the Heart Is. By Jo Knowles. Candlewick.
Rachel negotiates a summer of changing friendships, family financial disaster, a new job, and a growing awareness of her sexual identity.

Words on Fire. By Jennifer Nielsen. Scholastic.
Set during the nineteenth-century Russian occupation of Lithuania, Audra and her family smuggle books to save Lithuanian language and culture.

The Year We Fell from Space. By Amy Sarig King. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine.
As Liberty’s family struggles with divorce and mental illness, her life begins to spin out of control.