Realistic Fiction for Middle Grade Readers

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 realfiregirlmost 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 Fitzgeraldrealemmajean
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 realseedfolksresults 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 realchanceTony 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 newsaturdaywrong 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.

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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.

The “I Survived” Series and Related Book Suggestions

Is historical fiction or survival fiction something that intrigues you or your child? Then you have probably heard of the I Survived series of children’s chapter books by Lauren Tarshis:

This series consists of historical fiction that is plot driven and faced paced. It grabs the attention of most willing readers with stories about courage and survival. According to Scholastic the books are best suited to those reading and a second grade reading level and up, with Lexile ratings around 600 and higher. For more information on the I Survived series check out the Scholastic’s webpage dedicated to the series. The series includes:

1. The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912
2. The Shark Attacks of 1916
3. Hurricane Katrina, 2005
4. The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941
5. The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906
6. The Attacks of September 11, 2001
7. The Battle of Gettysburg, 1863
8. The Japanese Tsunami, 2011
9. I Survived the Nazi Invasion,1944 will be released in late February but you can place a hold on it now!

If you have read all of the books currently available in this series or are looking for more books about courage, hope, and survival for children then I would recommend also checking out: Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko and its two sequels, Pirate Hannah Pritchard: Pirate of the Revolution! by Bonnie Pryor and its sequels, Will at the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863 by Laurie Calkhoven and the entire Boys of War series, Survival in the Storm: the Dust Bowl Diary of Grace Edwards by Katelan Janke (part of the Dear America series), The Winter of Red Snow: the Revolutionary War Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart by Kristiana Gregory (part of the Dear America series), Rex Zero by Tim Wynne-Jones and its sequels, The Journal of Jesse Smoke: a Cherokee Boy by Joseph Bruchac (part of the My Name is America series), Sophia’s War: a Tale of the Revolution by Avi, and Waiting for Anya by Michael Morpurgo.

I know that I have barely touched the surface of historical fiction that deals with children facing times of war, environmental catastrophe, and other situations with include a struggle to survive. Do you have a favorite, series or stand alone, that you would recommend?