What do you think of when you hear “middle grade books”?
Middle grade books tend to fall within the age range of 8- to 12-year-old readers. Most kids by eight years old have learned the fundamentals of how to read, and so they might have come to a decision as to whether or not they enjoy reading.
When learning to read, kids often learn with predetermined books, typically emergent reader books that are levelled and meant to teach things like phonics, sentence structure, and how sounds and words go together. After learning to read, the enthusiasm might drop off, especially if kids don’t know what kind of books they enjoy reading, or if they are forced to read certain books.
This is a crucial time to really let kids find enjoyment in their reading rather than forcing them to read. It’s important to find books they like and encourage them to find ways to work reading into their day.
But why is reading so important in the middle grades?
- Reading can help students find information within books. Whether they read a fiction novel or a non-fiction book, they still have to figure out what parts are important and which ones are not. They are learning to make sense of what they are reading.
- Reading can help students learn about a variety of topics. Most fiction stories for kids deal with issues that kids are more likely to have; topics such as friendship, bullying, loss, grief, family dynamics, change, etc., are all dealt with in a thoughtful way. This will help them relate to what they are reading.
- Reading can open up discussions about heavier topics. Some books are great conversation starters or good starting points when kids have questions about what is happening in the world or their own life. If a student has questions about something, starting with a book is a great idea.
- Reading is an excellent stress reliever. When a child finds enjoyment in reading, it can be the perfect escape when they are dealing with stressors in their lives. It is just as important for kids to take care of their mental health, and reading is one way they can do that.
- Reading can be fun. Even with all of the learning kids continue to do when they read, reading can be fun. There are light and funny books for kids that can just help them relax, and when they find an author whose work they really enjoy, that only opens up a starting point into that author’s back catalogue and books similar to the ones they enjoy.
Learning to read is something that is never final. As we move through different stages of life, we are still constantly learning, and books are a great way to help with that. Here are some recommendations of middle-grade books your students are sure to enjoy. Preview the titles before recommending them to your students as the ages 8 to 12 is a huge age range. This list is mainly for Grades 6 through 8 students.
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
Genesis, a 13-year-old girl, overcomes self-loathing, internalized racism, and a verbally abusive family to learn to love herself.
The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown
Iris and her best friend must help a spooky ghost from the past find peace while amplifying the voices of the abandoned segregated cemetery she was laid to rest in.
Clean Getaway by Nic Stone
Scoob joins his G’ma on an unforgettable road trip and learns about the past – both historical and his own.
Mananaland by Pam Munoz Ryan
Maximiliano goes on a quest to find the answers of Mananaland – will he make the Santa Maria futbol team, and will he ever meet his mother again?
Blended by Sharon Draper
Isabella’s parents are getting divorced, and that’s not even the half of it – her dad is Black, and her mom is white, so she feels even more stuck in the middle than ever, juggling two different identities. How can she reconcile the two and feel whole again?
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert
Alberta and the new girl in town, Edie, find old journals in Edie’s attic and work together to figure out who they belonged to. What they find are buried secrets in the hidden past.
Child of the Dream by Sharon Robinson (memoir)
In the moving memoir, Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, recounts her life behind the scenes of the Civil Rights Movement and how she found her voice to fight for justice and equality.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Zelie’s mother is gone forever, and Orisha, her homeland, doesn’t thrum with magic anymore. But when Zelie gets the chance to bring magic back and cut down the king’s rule at the same time, she leaps at the chance. The question is, will she succeed?
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Castle Cranshaw, better known as Ghost, knows how to run. One day he challenges one of the greatest sprinters to a race and wins! The coach wants Ghost to run for him, but will Ghost’s past outrun him?
Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
Look Both Ways follows ten main characters in ten chapters, told through ten blocks as each student walks home after the dismissal bell rings. Worlds collide and weave and mesh as the students pass each other by, sometimes meeting, sometimes not.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
Amina is now in middle school, and suddenly everything starts changing. Her best friend wants to make her name more “American” and starts hanging out with the popular crowd. Does Amina need to change who she is too, or will she stay true to herself?
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Melody’s classmates don’t realize it, but Melody is the smartest girl in the room, even when adults are present. She has a photographic memory and cerebral palsy, but she doesn’t like to define herself by either. The trouble is; others do. But Melody is going to show them all who she really is.
I hope you found some reading recommendations for middle grade books in this blog post. I also hope you found some ideas on how to encourage your students to find love in books and reading.
Are you looking for reading resources?
- Fractured Fairy Tales Analysis Project (Buy on Shopify & TPT)
- Novel Study Choice Board 9 Activities For Any Novel (Buy on Shopify & TPT)
- Book Versus Movie Comparison Analysis Project (Buy on Shopify & TPT)
- Pre-Made Book Talks For Middle and High School Teachers (Buy on Shopify & TPT)
- Novel Study Activities For Any Novel Unit (Buy on Shopify & TPT)
- Digital Reading Check-Ins (Buy on Shopify & TPT)
- Book Unboxing Assignment (Buy on Shopify & TPT)