New Middle Grade Books You’ll Want to Read Soon

I’ve been absorbed in reading kid lit lately, especially new middle grade books. I learn about the titles by following publishers, following The Nerdy Book Club blog, being a part of Kid Lit Exchange and following many, many kid lit lovers on Instagram. If you’re looking for recommendations for picture books, middle grade books or YA, you’ll learn so much from these sources! I hope you’ll like these new middle grade books as much as I did!

middle grade booksThe Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

By Karina Yan Glaser @karinaisreadingandwriting

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Many thanks to the author for sharing a copy of this book with @KidLitExchange for review! All opinions are my own.

I just finished this book and I immediately fell in love with the Vanderbeeker family on the first page! I want to slip right into their cozy Harlem brownstone and join one of their rousing neighborhood get-togethers. I loved every member of this caring family from Laney, the 4 ¾ year old who goes through life handing out huge hugs, to 6 year old creative animal lover Hyacinth, to 9 year old book loving Oliver, to 12 year old twins, Isa and Jessie, and of course mom and dad. 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. It’s also a great read aloud for any elementary classroom. You’ll find yourself yearning for a large caring family, lots of caring neighbors and wishing you could move to 141st Street in Harlem! And happily, you’ll get to visit them with again next year when another story about the Vanderbeekers is published. I can’t wait!

Read Aloud for all ages; Families; Kindness; Communities; Diversity; City Living, 

Karma Khullar’s Mustachemiddle grade books

By Kristi Wientge

Thanks to the author for sharing a copy of this book with @Kid Lit Exchange for review! All opinions are my own.

I have read several middle grade books this summer which describe the growing pains that kids go through as they begin middle school. Although it was a very long time ago, I certainly remember how hard it was for me. The school boundaries required that my lifelong friend attend another junior high along with most of our friends, while I had to start fresh. I thought my world was ending, just as Karma feels in this story. However, Karma is dealing with more than going to a new school. 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 and is now the stay-at-home parent struggling with learning to cook and do laundry, her teenage brother is constantly fighting with her parents and 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.

This 5 Star story seamlessly shows that the struggles in Karma’s household are just the same as those in so many American families. It truly provides a mirror to kids, as well as a window to others.  This is a good choice for grade 4 and up and is a “must buy” addition for all libraries!

MIddle School; Diversity; Grief; Friendship; Family

middle grade booksReal Friends

By Shannon Hale and Leuyen Pham

Truthfully, I’m normally not fond of graphic novels, but I loved this middle grade story! The artwork is truly amazing, and the fact that there were just  4 – 6 panels on each page with a small amount of text in each one, will help even a reluctant reader fly through the book.

This heartfelt memoir of Shannon Hale’s grade school years will have you laughing, but will also tug at your heart. For any of you who spent those years searching for that one special friend who would always be there for you, this will bring back so many memories. It helps the reader understand that real friends don’t treat you badly. Happily, it will also show young readers that it’s possible to survive the trials of elementary school friendships, and in the process perhaps find the courage to stand up for yourself and be kind to others.

It would be a great read aloud in a grade school classroom or a shared read with your child. It would help to open up so many conversations about friendship. This is definitely a 5 star book!

Friendship; Kindness; Graphic Novel

Greetings from Witness Protectionmiddle grade books

By Jake Burt

Many thanks to @kidlitexchange network for sharing this book for review. All opinions are my own.

Nikki (Charlotte) has never known her mother, her dad’s in prison and her grammy has died so she’s in “the system”. So far she has bounced from foster home to foster home with five stops along the way. She also has another problem. When she is nervous she picks the pocket of anyone within arm’s length. She just can’t help herself! But suddenly she is given an unexpected choice – remain at the children’s home waiting for her next foster placement or become the daughter of a family entering witness protection. After she is given ten minutes to decide, she says yes! Nikki immediately leaves “Nikki of New York City” behind and becomes “Charlotte Trevor who is moving from Ohio to Durham, North Carolina”. For the first time in her life, she has a mother, a father, a brother AND her own turret shaped room in a historical house on a tree lined street. She is actually part of a family and her only job is to do her part to keep them safe; a job she takes very seriously.

This book is full of adventure, middle school issues, and lots of love. I really admired Charlotte’s strength as she did her very best to follow all of the rules issued by the U.S. Marshalls and there were a LOT of rules. 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. Her calm demeanor, her sense of humor and her vigilance helps her entire family face their very frightening situation.  

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. We can only hope that there will be another book about Charlotte coming soon!

Courage; Adventure; Middle School; Family; Foster Children

middle grade booksVilonia Beebe Takes Charge

By Kristin L. Gray

Vilonia is a star of her “under 10” softball team, an animal rescuer, a school library helper, a good friend, a sister, a daughter and a granddaughter. At least she was a granddaughter until 43 days earlier when her beloved grandma dropped dead. And since that time Vilonia’s mother has been hiding in her room with the blinds drawn and spending much of her day in her pajamas. So since that day Vilonia has added cooking, laundry and obituary writing (her mom’s job) to her list of chores. She is doing her very best to help her mom, so that maybe she will learn to smile again.

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. Vilonia is such a sweet caring girl who is trying her best to understand her mom’s illness. 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. It doesn’t go into depth, but reading this story with your kids, or as a read aloud, will definitely provide an opportunity to begin some conversations. It will certainly help those kids who find themselves in a similar position. I highly recommend it to parents, teachers and elementary librarians. It’s a must for the shelves of every elementary library!

Families; Courage; Kindness; Clinical Depression; Grief

Kat Greene Comes Cleanmiddle grade books

By Melissa Roske

Illustrated by Nathan Durfee

Where do I begin to tell you about this wonderful book? 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 is also a girl I so admired. Kat shows strength, compassion, bravery and flexibility throughout the story. I admired her relationship with her divorced parents, as well as her stepmother and her respect for her school counselor, Olympia. I admired her courage when she confided in her best friend, Halle, concerning her worries about her mother’s cleaning OCD, when she finally approached Olympia with her problems and when she tried to discuss the OCD issue with her mom. I admired her courage when she told her dad about her mom’s problem, although she was sure that it would mean moving in with her dad, far away from her friends. I admired Kat’s loyalty to her mom, even when her mom humiliated her in front of her classmates with her cleaning and germ obsessions. I admired her strength when she apologized to her best friend and tried to solve their friendship problems. And finally, I admired her flexibility when she moved into a bedroom with her three year old brother at her dad’s apartment, while her mom attended counseling. Each of these situations is so challenging, and is especially so to a sixth grader, but Kat kept going.

And finally don’t miss the amazing cover by Nathan Durfee! I loved searching for all of the surprises hidden away in every detail.

This is a book that needs to be in every elementary and middle school library and should be on every school psychologist’s bookshelf.  I highly recommend it to grades 4 – 8.

Courage; Families; Divorce; OCD; Friendship; Middle School


What are some new Middle Grade books you have discovered this fall? Please let us all know in the comments below!