10 Inspirational Reads For Middle Grade March

March 9, 2020

10 Inspirational Reads For Middle Grade March

(top view) picture of a middle grade child reading on a recliner covered with a reddiish knitted afghan
Image Source: Canva

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

To participate in #middlegrademarch, I’ve compiled a list of ten (plus!) great Middle-Grade reads! There are many wonderful middle-grade books from which to choose and even though I haven’t read extensively in middle grade, these titles are stories that I’ve recently read and thought were exceptional because of their themes and/or diversity.

Often, children fall in love with reading in Middle Grade. Was this your experience? Children in Middle Grade have “learned to read” and they can fully immerse themselves in the world of words as they “read to learn” and “read for enjoyment.” They have more autonomy to choose their own reading material and can pursue individual interests. Many stories promote great family read-aloud experiences (or buddy reads). As a bonus, most Middle-Grade stories have heartfelt themes without the angst and/or objectionable language of YA. Reading builds understanding and compassion.

What theme do you think Middle Grade books have in common?

For adults, Middle-Grade books make the perfect palate cleanser or fit the description of books that can be read in a day. If I’m feeling in a reading “funk,” I often seek out a recommended Middle Grade read to stimulate my reading life once again. I love that Middle-Grade books almost always end on a hopeful note. This theme of hopefulness is one of the main reasons I love reading in the Middle-Grade genre. I strongly believe that great Middle-Grade literature can be enjoyed by adults!

In addition to all the above reasons to read Middle-Grade literature, I appreciate the authors who write diversely for Middle-Grade readers and write on difficult themes or topics in an easy to read and understandable manner. If we buy and read more Middle-Grade diverse literature, it will encourage publishers and writers to produce more. I think it’s important for children to see themselves in literature.

Middle-Grade Literature

(in no particular order)

Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming cover

A poignant childhood memoir. My Review.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (cover) ....girl on bike

Merci experiences being a minority on scholarship at an exclusive private school, accepts changes in her beloved grandfather’s health, and gains confidence while finding her voice. My Goodreads Review.

Front Desk

Front Desk by Kelly Yang (cover) ...young girl talking on the phone standing behind a desk

Mia helps her immigrant parents manage a motel, and the story has strong themes of family, poverty, immigration, friendship, determination, resourcefulness, problem-solving, and following your dream. My Goodreads Review

Amal Unbound

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed (cover).... two hands palms facing readers that are brightly decorated wtih drawings

Amal is a determined and brave girl, and in this story we learn about her forced indentured servitude experience. My Review

More to the Story

More to the Story by Hena Khan (cover) four girls lying on their backs forming a circle on the floor with their heads nearly touching

A charming and delightful modern retelling of Little Women featuring a Pakistani-American family living in Atlanta, Georgia. My Goodreads Review.

Jefferson’s Sons and Stella by Starlight

Jefferson’s Sons and Stella by Starlight are two excellent examples of diverse reads for Middle Grade. Jefferson’s Sons explores slavery and Stella’s story includes themes of prejudice and racism. Both provide opportunities for thoughtful discussions. (brief Goodreads review of Stella)

Wishtree and Crenshaw

Two recent titles by a beloved author, Katherine Applegate (well known for The One and Only Ivan) touched me. Wishtree explores themes of optimism, hope, friendship, loyalty, diversity, and tolerance (my Goodreads review), and Crenshaw explores poverty, homelessness, and an imaginary friend (my Goodreads review).

Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out & Back Again y Thannha Lai (cover) ....a girl holding onto a tree trunk with one hand on a breezy day

I love this poetic and poignant refugee and immigrant story of Ha and her family told in free verse. (my Goodreads review) I loved the themes of acceptance, understanding, friendship, and anti-bullying.

The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won

If you’re looking for WW11 histic for Middle-Grade readers, these are highly recommended. Both are compelling stories, and I especially appreciated the themes of hospitality and acceptance in The War I Finally Won (very brief Goodreads review).


Regugee by Alan Gratz (cover)...back view of a child rowing a boat in a story ocean

I recommend Refugee for mature Middle-Grade readers and older. This riveting story is told from three perspectives over three different time periods and features three different locations (Syria, Germany, and Cuba). This compelling story provides the opportunity for thoughtful discussion, and I’ve heard that teachers are using it in their classrooms to promote understanding and empathy. (review) It’s one of the best middle-grade books I’ve read. If it’s been a long time since you’ve experienced a middle grade read, start here!

Bonus Picks (because who can stop at 10?):

A “Must Read” Story For Everyone



Wonder falls into the category of “A Must Read For Everyone.” The themes of kindness, compassion, and acceptance are universal. (my review)

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street


The Vanderbeekers falls into the category of “Delightful Stories Featuring a Loving Family”! Light-hearted, charming, and heartfelt, this is the first in a series, so there’s more wonderful reading ahead!

Louisana’s Way Home

Louisana's Way Home.jpg

Louisana’s endearing and engaging story is one of “found family.” (my Goodreads review)


Have you read any of these titles?

If you were to pick one book off this list to read, which would you choose?

What’s your favorite or last Middle Grade read?

Do you have recommendations for me?

Imagination Soup has compiled a resource of additional titles for children of all ages.

An Old Favorite: Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock

This is not considered great literature, but any book (like Diary of a Wimpy Kid) that causes children to love reading is a good read for them (children can always be guided into better quality literature after they’ve fallen in love with reading). Nancy Drew is a series that I loved as a child and I think The Secret of the Old Clock is one of the strongest reads in the series. Did you read this series (or The Hardy Boys) as a child?

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

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  1. Writing these down for the grand-girls! I’ve read 3 of them (2 on your recommendation!) And I bought The War I Finally Won and loaned it to a friend before I could read it (Is that a mistake?). So I’ll read it someday when I get it back! So hard to know which books are good for middle school readers. Books at their level often have themes/language that I”m not ready to hand over to them! So thanks again Carol!

    • That is increasingly true about those books with mature themes or agendas! I love that issues are being brought up in MG lit but one needs to be careful! I think you’re smart to read them first! I recently put one aside that has been highly hyped. I hope you get The War I Finally Won back soon! I loved it! When I read my next great one I’ll be sure to let you know! Thanks for commenting! It always brightens my day to hear from you!

    • Thanks Jennifer! 😍👍 A great MG read is sometimes the perfect read! I’m happy to hear that you indulge occasionally!

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