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Middle Grade Book Recommendations

Started by Johanna, September 26, 2023, 07:26 AM

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I am looking for a list of recommended reading for middle grade authors.  What books do you think are important for an aspiring middle grade author to read? The books can be old or new (in fact a mix would be great).  Thanks!

Debbie Vilardi

Look at Newbery and other award winners. Consider how well they are holding up over time, though. Look up current bestsellers too. Think about the genre you want to write. Read a mix, but focus on those. Happy reading.
Twitter: @dvilardi1


To add to whatever lists you read (Newbery, etc.), I'd suggest regularly checking out books from your library's new MG shelf. Different libraries buy different things, but you'll still get a good look at what is selling right now.


Definitely the award-winners. Some of my favorite MG authors: Kate di Camillo, Laura Amy Schlitz, Katherine Applegate, and our own Rose Green! I would also check out the Marvelous MG Monday blogs: Happy Reading
Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags


When I first started writing middle grade fiction, I read whatever I could get my hands on & it was a mix. I write fantasy MG, so naturally, I fell in love with the fantasy MG books.
Start with the type of MG you like to read and would write.   :flowers2
The Max Hamby series.


These are my top check-outs:
Tui T Sutherland is huge for my kids. By far the author most checked out.
Kate DiCamillo
Katherine Applegate
Kathi Appelt
Erin Hunter
Raina Telgemeier
Peter Brown
Bill Wallace (Still loved. Older copies have been replaced.)


Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
I don't even care for sci-fi books, but this one, I have to admit, was a good one.

David Wright

Ender's Game is a funny one. It came out in the adult section (like Sweetness at the Bottom of the Apple Pie). Book 2 would not appeal to children at all (it's all about politics) and book 4 (I think) has some pretty gross visuals. But yes, great story and I think the movie did it justice. Ender's Shadow is the same story again from a different perspective.


I think Gary D. Schmidt is an amazing writer and you absolutely can NOT go wrong by studying him for voice! I think my favorite one is Okay for Now, but he has a lot of others. There's a brand new one out right now, called The Labors of Hercules Beal. It's good. The man can spin a story and make you care.

Eva Ibbotson has two perfect middle grade books: The Star of Kazan and Journey to the River Sea. They are a bit older but they have super likeable characters, interesting storylines, and they sure mete out perfect middle grade justice. :) Kazan takes place in Austria and Germany, and River Sea in Brazil.

Savvy by Ingrid Law is a great middle grade with hometown family magic.

Two more perfect middle grade books (to me) are Holes by Louis Sacher, which you probably have already read, and Cosmic, by Frank Cottrell Boyce. (That one has some extremely excellent humor while also some great heartfelt moments.)

Everything Sad is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri is a powerful middle grade memoir of being a refugee from Iran.

For pure zany fun, there's Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner is great MG (although the sequels merge up into YA).

Of course Harry Potter (though that becomes YA as Harry grows up).

And I still think A Wrinkle in Time is an all-time classic.


I love all that has been mentioned. Would add Jerry Spinelli.
HANGABOUT, FAR FROM HOME, Orange Blossom Publishing, August 2023.

Barbara Etlin


A great middle grade read, in my opinion, is "Maizy Chen's Last Chance" by Lisa Yee.

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