High Interest Books for Middle Grade Readers

I have talked before about reluctant readers and transitional readers, particularly about finding books that can interest and engage them as they work to become more confident readers. (Check out the list here if this would apply to the books you are looking for). However, my kids are a little older now, so I have spent more time looking for the elusive perfect middle grade book to interest my high energy readers. They both love to read but only if the subject matter and action level meet their specific standards. I know this is a common issue since I have helped many a frustrated parent and child find something to read while working in the children’s room.

Why do I bring this up? Well, this week as I was unpacking a new order of children’s books I was thrilled to see a large number of books that fill this sweet spot of reads that would interest many middle grade readers. Right away I started mentally listing some of the best and realized how many zany, energy packed reads are available.middlegrade1

Here are some high interest, high humor, and high action reads for those who have trouble getting into a book, or who have convinced themselves that reading is boring. These are not readers who have trouble reading, only who are tired of being told what to read or have not found highly entertaining books and might have lost interest in books because of it.

Most of these suggestions are series starters or are by authors who consistently write this style of book, middlegrade2so if you find one that makes your reader happy they will have more to follow it up with.

The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier & Douglas Holgate

Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson

Home Sweet Motel by Chris Grabenstein

Marvin and the Moths by Matthew Holm and Jonathamiddlegrade3n Follet

Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty

The Hero Revealed by William Boniface

The Adventures of Nanny Piggins by R.A. Spratt

Wonkenstein by Obert Skyemiddlegrade5

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

My Rotten Life by David Lubar

As usual, I found more books I wanted to include than can fit in a simple list, so more suggestions are: The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, SPHDZ by Jon Scieszka, The Robe of Skulls by Vivian FrenchHerbert’s Wormhole by Peter Nelson and Rohitash Rao, Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka, The Lunch Witch by Deb Lucke, Dodger and Me by Jordan middlegrade6Sonnenblick, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis, My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O’Hara, The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry, The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, and The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson.

Did I miss a book that was a hit with you or a reader you know? Share the title here so we can give it a look too!

My Most Frequently Recommended Children’s Authors

One of my favorite things about working in the library is getting the chance to do favsalanna-the-first-adventurereader’s advisory. This is librarian jargon for answering questions about what book a patron (or their child) might enjoy reading next. On our part it involves discovering what the reader is most interested in, and what kind of books they usually enjoy most. While I might occasionally get stumped in the adult fiction category, when it comes to books for children (or teens) I could go on for hours. We all have our favorites, particularly if given free reign to mention any genre of book we enjoyed, or when we find a patron that has enjoyed some of the same books that we loved as well.

faviconThere are several authors that most parents, librarians, and parents think of first and fondly, such as E.B. White, Beverly Cleary, C.S. Lewis, Judy Blume, Lemony Snicket, Roald Dahl, Kate DiCamilloand more. Once the typical go to books have been read, or dismissed by the young reader since the parents suggested them, I have several of my own go to authors that I usually favssisters-grimmrecommend. Here is my “short” list.

Tamora Pierce has several series, all connected by the fantasy world they are set in and some overlapping events and characters. You do not have to read all of the series to enjoy the others. The first series is Song of the Lioness, about a young girl who defies all the odds to become a knight. She has books in both the children’s and young adult sections of the library. Other series include Beka Copper, the Daughter of the Lioness or Trickster series, Circle of Magic, and  Protector of the Small.

favsnerdsMichael Buckley has one stand alone novel (Undertow) for young adults and two wonderful series for children. The Sisters Grimm is a mystery series about orphaned sisters Sabrina and Daphne Grimm who are sent to live with an eccentric grandmother, who just happens to live in a town with a variety of fairy-tale characters. NERDS is a series that combines all the excitement of international espionage and all the awkwardness of elementary school. The series features a group of unpopular students who run a spy network from inside their school. With the help of cutting-edge science, their nerdy qualities are enhanced and transformed into incredible abilities!

Tom Angleberger has a selection of fun and fast paced books that are great for favsmustashreluctant readers. There is Fake Mustache, the Origami Yoda series, the Qwikpick Papers series, and Horton Halfpott.  All of his books have silly humor, illustrations, and realistic characters in less believable situations.

E.D. Baker tends to writes books that take our assumptions about princesses, magic, and fairy tales and makes us look at them with new eyes. First came The Frog Princess which started a series. Soon after came The Wide-Awake Princess and its follow ups. There is also the stand alone (at least so far) A Question of Magic and the start to another series with The Fairy-Tale Matchmaker.

favsfrogOther great authors, that rarely disappoint readers willing to give them a chance include Avi, Shannon Hale, Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Stroud, Gail Carson Levine, Ben Hatke, Jennifer Holm, Vivian Velde Vande, Holly Black, Matt Christopher, Diana Wynne Jones, Lois Lowry, Louis Sachar, Jerry Spinelli, Andrew Clements, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Cornelia Funke, and so many more. Still looking for suggestions, or need a specific recommendation for you or your child? Swing by the Children’s Room and any of us will be glad to help and share our favorites!

Book Club Picks for Middle Grade Readers

Book clubs are starting to pop up in libraries and schools for readers of all ages. While book clubs are a great way to encourage reading and picking up books outside a reader’s comfort zone, they are about much more than the books being read. Book clubs are about fostering a sense of community, creating or strengthening relationships, and shared experiences.

If your middle grade reader is interested in joining, or starting a club of their own (or perhaps a parent and child book club is more your speed) they might be at a loss as to what books the group will read next. It is a common issue with adult book groups, so I am sure it happens with younger readers as well. Here are some suggested titles to add to the list of possibilities. Some are tried and true titles that you might have enjoyed at their age, and others are newer books that are simply wonderful. your selections will bcpaperboydepend quite a bit on the interests and maturity of those in your group, but this can help get the selection process started.

Paperboy by Vince Vawter
Taking over a friend’s newspaper route in 1959 Memphis, an 11-year-old baseball enthusiast struggles with a speech disability while attempting to communicate with customers, a situation that turns dangerous when he has a confrontation with a thieving local junkmabcgrimmn.

A Tale Dark & Grimm (A Tale Dark & Grimm, #1) by Adam Gidwitz
Follows Hansel and Gretel as they walk out of their own story and into eight more tales, encountering witches, devils, warlocks, kindly strangers, and other helpful folk as they take charge of their own happily ever after.

bcsmileSmile by Raina Telgemeier
Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabensteinbclibrary
Twelve-year-old Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of 12 children chosen to stay in the new town library–designed by his hero, the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello–for an overnight of fun, food and games, but in the morning, the kids find all the doors still locked and must work together to solve secret puzzles in order to discover the hidden escape route.bcmilkFortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
When a father runs out to buy milk for his children’s breakfast cereal, the last thing he expects is to be abducted by aliens, and he soon finds himself transported through time and space on an extraordinary adventure, where the fate of the universe depends on him and the milk–but will his children believe his wild story?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Still looking for more ideas, or some great middle grade novels to read? Here are even more:The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood,  Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai, Inkheart (Inkworld, #1) by Cornelia Funke, One For The Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Matilda by Roald Dahl, A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #1) by Madeleine L’Engle, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket, #1)  by Roald Dahl, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, The Giver by Lois Lowry, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall, Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1) by L.M. Montgomery, Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper, The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)  by Philip Pullman, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli, Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff, The Mysterious Benedict Society (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #1)  by Trenton Lee Stewart, Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton, My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath, Doll Bones by Holly Black, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate,Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee,The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald, The City of Ember (Book of Ember, #1) by Jeanne DuPrau, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter, #1)  by J.K. Rowling, One Crazy Summer (Gaither Sisters, #1) by Rita Williams-Garcia, and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.