To participate in #middlegrademarch 2023, I’ve compiled a list of ten diverse 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 diversity. Reading builds understanding and compassion. This is updated from a previously published post on March 2, 2021.
10+ Awesome and Diverse Reads For #MiddleGradeMarch 2023
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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 mature content and/or profanity of YA.
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 myself sliding into a reading “slump,” 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 Middle-Grade. I strongly believe that great Middle-Grade literature can be enjoyed by adults! Here’s an entire post devoted to why I love MG.
In addition to 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.
I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #ThrowBackThursday.
(in no particular order, the first 10 in this list are suitable for most middle grade readers with minimal or no content warnings)
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
A poignant childhood memoir. My review of Brown Girl Dreaming here.
Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
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 by Kelly Yang
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 by Aisha Saeed
Amal is a determined and brave girl, and in this story we learn about her experience of forced indentured servitude. My review of Amal Unbound here.
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Similar themes to The Hate You Give By Angie Thomas.
Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
(content warnings may apply to both)
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)
Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist and the sequel, Isaiah Dunn Saves the Day
Love the themes in these poignant reads. My review of Isaiah Dunn here and Isaiah Dunn Saves the Day here.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai
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.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Thanks Afoma at Reading Middle Grade for great middle-grade recs! Ghost (reviewed here) is the first in a sports (track) series.
Refugee by Alan Gratz
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. My review of Refugee here. 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!
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
(Mature MG/YA With Content Warnings)
Bonus Picks (because who can stop at 10?)
Other Favorite Middle-Grade Books:
(some are diverse and some are not)
A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
More to the Story by Hena Khan
Wishtree and Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Louisana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Lemons by Melissa Savage
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
The Next Great Jane by K.L. Going
#MiddleGradeMarch 2023 QOTD:
Have you read any of these titles?
If you were to pick one book off this list to read, which would you choose?
May I enthusiastically encourage you to read a book from this list in March?
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.
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***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.
Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.
NIce list. I love that there are so many MG books with diversity
I love that as well! 🙌