books · shanti

Middle grade book recommendations

There are those days that happen to the best of us. The days when you don’t want to read an existential, angsty YA novel. You want to read something cute, and interesting and short and fun. Those are the days when you read middle grade novel, which means it’s geared towards 9-13 year olds. But it can be hard to know what MG to read when you haven’t been following trends for a while. These are some of my favourite MG books and why I like them.

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From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. This book has a lot of things going for it. Firstly, it’s set in a museum. (You may not know this, but I ADORE museums. Museums are amazing) It also features a fabulous sibling relationship. It’s set in 1960’s New York and the author does such a great job of bringing the setting to life. Claudia and Jamie’s amateur sleuthing and associated adventures will probably delight you. Read this if you want a story of siblings running away to an awesome place and having adventures there.

The True Meaning of Smekday. This book is honestly one of my favourite books of all time. It is hilarious, it has some awesome discussions of the role of race, there are aliens and Cats and Fake- Disney world and alien technology. It also uses a variety of formats—as well as your traditional prose, you have ‘photos’, pictures and comics which is fun. And did I mention it was hilarious? Read this if you want a fabulous story of a girl and her cat and her alien having to defeat the other aliens and find her mother.

Artemis Fowl: The Artemis Fowl series is almost a YA crossover, but when it’s starts it’s all middle grade. Artemis is a genius whose father has gone missing and his mother is seriously depressed. So he launches on the obvious course of action—along with his bodyguard, catch a fairy and ransom it for gold to use on a rescue mission. Artemis Fowl (the book) has one of the most perfect blends of science/technology and magic that I’ve ever seen, and it’s hilarious and it’s set in Ireland. Read it for a story of adventure, the definition of evil and flautulent dwarves.

Percy Jackson: You probably saw this one coming. It has sarcasm and myths and adventure and travel enough to satisfy anyone. The whole series is really fun, but start off with the first book to be introduced to Percy’s world. Read for a story of gods and evil and flying running shoes. ( I swear it makes sense)

Anne of Green Gables. Classic books for the win! Anne of Green Gables is a very character oriented story about a red-headed orphan who is taken into a home who thought she was a boy (it was the fault of bureaucracy) She is passionate and more than a little melodramatic, which gets her into all sorts of scrapes, but ultimately Anne is a story of finding friends and family where you thought you had none. It’s also hilarious, has lots of classic book references, and has an enchanting setting in Prince Edward Island. I read Anne many times through my childhood, and I’m thinking I might need to reread (out of curiosity, would anyone be interested in buddy reading with me? Or else I could convince Shar to do it…) Read Anne of Green Gables for a story about friendship, forgiveness and melodrama that is hilarious an amazing.

George: This is definitely the most recently published book on this list, and I only read it two days ago. George is perfect for when you’re feeling sad and need a quick read to cheer you up—it was only 90 pages in my ebook version. George uses some of the stereotypes of a middle grade novel—the school bully, the older and wiser brother, the single mum, the kind yet stern principal—to defy the biggest stereotype and tell the story of Melissa, a young woman who knows that know matter what the world and her body tells her, she’s really a girl. Melissa/George really wants to play Charlotte (from Charlotte’s Web­) in the play and with the help of the people around her (as well as some people who don’t help) she attempts to reach her dreams of performing. Even if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of transgender people, George is a well written and ultimately uplifting addition to the middle grade genre. I really enjoyed it. Read George for a beautiful tale of overcoming struggles and stereotypes, friendship, and finding belonging.

The Mysterious Benedict Society. For a middle grade book, it was on the longer side, but it’s really fun. It tells the story of four resourceful kids, all with different skills, who have to go to a mysterious school on an island at the bequest of an old man, to defeat the terrible things happening on an island. This book has lots of puzzle to it, and Kate is my favourite, but each character (Sticky, Constance, Kate and Reynie) has an interesting backstory and adds something to the team. I loved their adventures. Maybe as an older reader, you’ll spot some of the plot twists, but that doesn’t prevent The Mysterious… from being a bundle of fun. Read this if you like adventure and mystery and friendship all working together to defeat evil.

So what are some of your favourite books from when you were younger? Have you read any of these? Tell me in the comments!

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11 thoughts on “Middle grade book recommendations

  1. YOU PICKED SUCH GOOD BOOKS THOUGH???? I LOVE GEORGE AND PERCY JACKSON (sorta) AND THE BASIL E FRANKWATER WHATEVER AND ARTEMIS FOWL OF COURRRRRSSSEEEE but I need to be reading The True Meaning of Smekday real quick. That’d be good.

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  2. So I don’t read much MG but MG always has the best titles EVER. I kind of want Mysterious Benedict Society JUST for the title. And Anne of Green Gables was so oddly satisfying?!? Like it was totally out of my normal reading zone but it captivated me for quite a few years.

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  3. Eeeep, I do love a lot of MG books. ❤ Like not all? I'm getting pickier and hard to please if a book isn't wild and dark like most YA these days. 😄 BUT! I do so love Percy Jackson and I need to try Artemis Fowl. And infinite love for The Mixed Up Files. That book was my CHILDHOOD OMG.
    I also love anything by Lemony Snicket. I’ll never grow out of his greatness. :’)

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    1. I guess I read Lemony Snicket when I was a bit older, but his stories are fabulous too. They do sometimes rely on fallacies, and some suspension of disbelief is required, but MG is so relaxing. No government takedowns. Minimal death. I love Artemis Fowl deeply, I hope you get to it sometime. YES Museums+ New York+ Siblings is so good. I LOVE MUSEUMS.

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  4. I love The Mysterious Benedict Society and Percy Jackson! They may be classified as MG, but they really do have something to offer for every age group. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous recommendations! ❤

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  5. I love The Mysterious Benedict Society! It is so darn cute. Constance is my soul. Middle grade for the win. (Also the Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is MG, and it is wonderful.)

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    1. YES IT WAS SO GOOD. I love mysteries and children that’s why I became a kidnapper they’re fun to read about. I need to read that! Shar tells me that despite the unwieldy title, it’s very good.

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