My Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2017
For the past two years, during the month of December, I have shared book titles for you to add to your shopping list for the children in your lives. This year, I have decided to take a different approach. This month, I plan to share lists of my favorite picture books and my favorite middle grade books published this year. It’s going to be a difficult task, because I’ve loved so many! I do want to say, however, that there are many books from the past that would make wonderful gifts, as well. I’ve written about these titles in many additions of “Kids’ Books to Remember”. I hope you’ll check those out, as well!
We’ll begin this week with my favorite middle grade books from 2017. I’ve written a short description about each book and linked the title to my blog post or Instagram post where you will find my complete review. I’m also including the subjects of each book, as well as a link to the Good Reads summary. Many of these books offer both “windows and mirrors” to the reader. The stories offer both a window to help us understand the characters’ experiences and a mirror to many of us who might be dealing with some of the same issues. It’s always reassuring to know that you’re not alone in your feelings and experiences, as well as to develop empathy for those around you.
By Jennifer Maschari
Emily is about to begin middle school and is feeling all of the usual angst that goes along with that. However, she’s also trying to adjust to her parents’ divorce, her older sister’s absence due to the fact that she’s in residential care for her eating disorder and her best friend’s decision to try new things with lots of new friends.
Middle School adjustments, divorce, friendship, eating disorders
By Barbara Dee
Norah Levy desperately wants to be a normal middle schooler, but she’s just returning to seventh grade after missing two years for cancer treatments. Add to that, her parents have laid out a huge list of crazy rules (in her opinion) to keep her rested and germ free, some of her friends are acting like she might break and some are jealous of the special treatment she’s receiving.
Middle school adjustment, cancer, friendship, family
By Holly Goldberg Sloan
Julia is struggling with several obstacles as she begins summer vacation. To give Julia something to focus on, her mom registers her and her little brother to appear in the community production of The Wizard of Oz. Of course, much to her horror, Julia is cast as a Munchkin.
Friendship, dwarfism, mourning a pet, multigenerational
By Amy Sarig King
Obe is struggling with a lot of things in his life. The only good part of his life, is his friend, Annie, and a mysterious animal he discovered down by the creek. He’s not quite sure about Marvin, who might be part pig, is definitely not a dog and eats plastic, But he knows he’s something very special.
By Katherine Applegate
This story is full compassion and humor, and as a bonus, lots of facts about animals I didn’t know! Most importantly, it’s about kindness to people and animals, even if they are different than we are. And it’s one of the best read alouds for the ENTIRE family that I have read this year.
Kindness, animals, diversity, family read aloud
By Lindsay Currie
This is a story about ghosts, friendship, family and Chicago that I couldn’t stop reading! This is a great choice for kids who are coping with middle school friendships, acceptance of their not so normal family or quirky friends.
Bravery, friendships, middle school adjustments, moving, acceptance of differences
By Karina Yan Glasser
This is a story about community, diversity, city living and love. It’s a perfect read aloud for the entire family. I highly recommend gathering all the kids, whatever age, cuddling up under a fuzzy blanket and reading this delightful story together. Especially recommended for Penderwick lovers!
Family Read, Families, Kindness, Communities, Diversity, City Living,
By Shari Green
This free verse story is about Macy, who has been deaf since she had meningitis when she was four, and the many challenges she is facing as she finishes sixth grade. I loved this poignant book as Macy faced her challenges, and with her elderly neighbor’s help, began to understand that “Hearts are waiting, worrying, hurting – in need of a message you can send.”
By Jodi Kendall
This is a charming story about family, friendship, teamwork and of course, animals. Josie is one of five children in a loving, lively family living in a small townhouse in an Ohio city who often feels overlooked. When her brother brings home a piglet on Thanksgiving, the runt of the litter from a nearby farm, Josie falls in love and knows in her heart that she was meant to save Hamlet. This is another great family read aloud and a special one for Charlotte’s Web fans and Penderwick fans!
Families, city living, friendship, animals, family read aloud
By Kristin L. Gray
This story will have you laughing out loud, but will also leave you in tears. It’s a wonderful book about kindness, thoughtfulness, resourcefulness and family. This is the first middle grade book I’ve read that addresses depression and describes the effects that it can have on the entire family.
Humor, kindness, thoughtfulness, family, mourning a grandparent, depression
By Melissa Roske
Kat is a sixth grader who is dealing with so much in her life, but she is also very fortunate to be surrounded by lots of caring and supportive people, both children and adults. She bravely deals with the repercussions of her mom’s cleaning OCD as she faces the changing friendships of sixth grade.
Bravery, compassion, friendship, flexibility, OCD
By Kristi Wientge
Karma, who is half Sikh, half Methodist has lost her dear dadima (grandma) who lived with and cared for her family, her dad has lost his job, her mom has gone from being home and always available for Karma, to working full time in a very demanding job. Add to all of that Karma’s best friend has decided to be friends with her new “mean girl” neighbor and the fact that Karma has suddenly sprouted a 17 hair mustache, means Karma couldn’t be more nervous about middle school.
Adjustment to middle school, diversity, mourning a grandparent, friendship, family
By Jake Burt
Nikki (Charlotte) has never known her mother, her dad’s in prison and her grammy has died so she’s in “the system”. But suddenly she is given an unexpected choice – remain at the children’s home for her next foster placement or become the daughter of a family entering witness protection. She proves herself to be a loyal friend, a great problem solver and a caring daughter as she grows more accustomed to her new life.
I would highly recommend this for grades 5 – 8. There is so much adventure, as well as so much heart in this story, that it will appeal to everyone. I couldn’t put it down!
Adventure, family, friendship, adjustment to middle school
There were so many more, but I’m trying not to completely overwhelm you! If you need more suggestions, please check out my Instagram account. I’ll be back soon with my favorite picture books of 2017. Have a great week!