School assignments, curiosity, parents, friends, and more could urge children to pick up a book in a different genre than they would normally read. Sometimes this makes recommending a book difficult, because they do not know which book or books they might like and could be willing to dismiss any given title without much thought. Since realistic fiction is not my genre of choice (I prefer fantasy and other types of escapism in my reading), I scoured Goodreads lists, school library lists, and more to find the most recommended books in the realistic fiction genre that are best suited for middle grade readers. Here are some of the most mentioned books on these lists.
1. Firegirl by Tony Abbott
A middle school boy’s life is changed when Jessica, a girl disfigured by burns, starts attending his Catholic school while receiving treatment at a local hospital.
2. Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Her grandfather’s dying words lead 13-year-old Theodora Tenpenny to a valuable, hidden painting she fears may be stolen, but it is her search for answers in her Greenwich Village neighborhood that brings a real treasure.
3. Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis
A quirky and utterly logical seventh-grade girl named Emma-Jean Lazarus discovers some interesting results when she gets involved in the messy everyday problems of her peers.
4. Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
One by one, a number of people of varying ages and backgrounds transform a trash-filled inner-city lot into a productive and beautiful garden, and in doing so, the gardeners are themselves transformed
5. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Weighed down by guilt, Joel searches for the courage to tell the truth about the disappearance–and apparent drowning–of his best friend Tony while the boys are playing near the treacherous, and forbidden, Vermillion River
6. Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord
Lucy, with her mother and her photographer father, has just moved to a small rural community in New Hampshire, and with her new friend Nate she plans to spend the summer taking photos for a contest, but pictures sometimes reveal more than people are willing to see.
7. The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
Just when 12-year-old Summer thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong in a year filled with bad luck, an emergency takes her parents to Japan, leaving Summer to care for her little brother while helping her grandmother cook and do laundry for the harvest workers.
8. The View from Saturday by E.L. KonigsburgFour students, with their own individual stories, develop a special bond and attract the attention of their teacher, a paraplegic, who chooses them to represent their sixth-grade class in the Academic Bowl competition.
Here are a few more books to chose from, including some very popular books that you might have already heard great things about; Dog Lost by Ingrid Lee, Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord, Paperboy by Vince Vawter, Paint the Wind by Pam Muñoz Ryan, See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin, The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street by Sharon G. Flake, Warp Speed by Lisa Yee, Frindle by Andrew Clements, Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt,Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead, Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy, Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, or The Not-Just-Anybody Family by Betsy Byars.