A couple of months ago, we published a blog post entitled “Board Book Rainbow,” a list of our favorite board books spanning all the colors of the rainbow. We saw such a great response from that post that we’re trying something similar this week, with two important changes: 1) Instead of board books, we’re talking about middle grade books. 2) Instead of colors, we’re going by numbers.
You may think this is an odd time to be posting about middle readers, since school is out and the last thing they’re thinking about is reading. Not so. It is important now more than ever to make sure kids are keeping up with reading over the summer, to avoid the summer slide—or, slipping back a few reading levels due to the break from regular school instruction. But if you have a not-so-eager reader who’s likely to put up a fight, picking books he/she will actually want to read can be a challenge.
Never fear. Below you’ll find a list of fabulous middle grade reads from one to ten, classics as well as new releases, filled with humor, heart, mystery, or action (and sometimes all four), depending on your interests. Kick off summer reading on the right foot with one of these amazing novels, and be sure to also check out our recent post about graphic novels for some additional recommendations. (Click the covers below for more information.)
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
In this Newbery Honor book and Coretta Scott King winner, New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them seven years prior. Little do they know what wild adventures await them!
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Winner of the 1995 Newbery Medal. Meet Salamanca Tree Hiddle, a girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother. As she sets off on a road trip with her grandparents, she tells them the story of her quirky friend Phoebe, not knowing that her own story is about to unfold. It’s a good one.
The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett
From the great Blue Balliett comes an art mystery featuring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie house. Join Calder, Petra, and new kid Tommy as they try to unravel this odd house’s secrets. Is is haunted by ghosts? Did Wright leave behind secret messages? Or will they find themselves caught up in a conspiracy bigger than any of them could have imagined?
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
A favorite of many for more than 40 years, the story of Peter Hatcher and his wacky little brother Fudge has not lost any of its appeal over time! If you have a younger sibling, you can certainly empathize with Peter as he tries to keep his life together amid Fudge’s antics—until Fudge does something that can’t be undone, despite his best intentions.
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
A Newbery Honor book, this is the story of Jethro Creighton, who comes of age during the turmoil of the Civil War. The book was partially inspired by the stories Hunt’s grandfather used to tell her about his youth, and is perfect for any young reader with an interest in historical fiction.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Okay, okay, so we kind of cheated on number 6. But it’s such a good book that we think bending the rules is warranted. Told with humor and spirit without sacrificing its sincerity, this Newbery Honor book introduces us to the “Weird Watsons of Birmingham.” Buckle up for a ride you’ll never forget!
The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall
If you’re an avid reader of the blog, then you know we’ve recommended this title in the past, but it is just that good. Inspired by real life artist James Hampton and his work, this is a story of redemption for one young boy after a reckless decision that changes his life in ways he doesn’t expect.
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
Another classic, another Newbery Honor, another stellar pick for your middle reader! The antics and adventures of Ramona Quimby have entertained young readers for years, and she’s causing no less trouble in this book. For Ramona, being eight is never easy, but it’s never dull either!
39 Clues series (various authors)
We cheated a little on this one too. But this series is awesome: fast-paced, intriguing, and written by a collaboration of super well-known authors, including Rick Riordan, Gordon Korman, and Linda Sue Park. The books all center on siblings Amy and Dan Cahill, but the many different “series within a series” will provide you with reading material all summer long!
Ten by Lauren Myracle
A prequel to Eleven, this is the story of Winnie Perry, who knows that turning ten is a BIG DEAL. It means she can handle anything—especially with her best friend by her side! If you know readers who are preparing for the big double-digit birthday, make sure you introduce them to Winnie and the wonderful world of Lauren Myracle.
Do you have any books to add to our list? Tell us in the comments below!
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett & Jory John
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Newbery Honor)
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder (honestly, you should just read the entire series)
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan