10 Awesome and Diverse Reads For #MiddleGradeMarch

March 2, 2021

10 Awesome and Diverse Reads For #MiddleGradeMarch

(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 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.

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 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 in the Middle-Grade genre. 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.

Middle-Grade Literature

(in no particular order)

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#6Degrees of Separation: From Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret to The War That Saved My Life

December 5, 2020

#6Degrees of Separation: From Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume to The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

#6Degrees of Separation (collage of book covers)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Moving in Middle Grade!

#6Degrees of Separation: from Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret to The War That Saved My Life.

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I’ve seen this meme around for a while and Davida’s posts at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog inspired me to give it a try this year! Making connections between books is challenging, creative, and fun!

Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:

  • Link the books together in any way you like.
  • Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
  • Share these rules in your post.
  • Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
  • Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
  • Share your post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
  • Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.

Play Along?

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by July Blume (cover) Image: a close up of a girls open palms holding a red heartThis month’s prompt starts with Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and it is a Middle-Grade book I read a long, long time ago. I decided to reread for this post. For me, the reread doesn’t hold up. It’s dated, and I don’t think I would recommend it for young readers today (but that’s probably a post for another time).

One theme in the story is moving to a new home, so my chain is held together with a theme of moving.

Goodreads Summary: “Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and she is anxious to fit in with her new friends. When Nancy, Gretchen, and Jamie form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong. But none of them can believe Margaret doesn’t have religion and that she isn’t going to the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don’t know is Margaret has her own very special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything–family, friends, even Moose Freed, her secret crush. Margaret is funny and real, and her thoughts and feelings are oh-so-relatable–you’ll feel like she’s talking right to you, sharing her secrets with a friend.

Inside Out & Back Again y Thannha Lai (cover) ....a girl holding onto a tree trunk with one hand on a breezy dayFirst Degree. From the summary of Are You There God?, I notice a theme of moving. This reminds me of another Middle-Grade book, Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai, in which the main character moves from Vietnam to America.

My Summary: “Told in free verse from the perspective of ten-year-old Ha and inspired by the author’s own experiences, this is a poignant and beautifully written story of a family’s escape from Vietnam before the fall of Saigon and move to America. This refugee and immigrant story can build feelings of compassion and lead to thoughtful reflection as Ha experiences grief, bullying, learning English, new foods and customs, kindness from a neighbor, finding her voice, family loyalty, and the comfort of old traditions. A perfect read for older elementary or middle-grade readers but, as with all good literature, enjoyable for adults too…a diverse read that builds understanding and empathy. ***I love this story!

Lemons by Melissa Savage (cover) Image: yellow title on a blue background; drawings of a boy (holding binoculars to his eyes) and a girl (holding two lemons up to her eyes)Second Degree: Another Middle-Grade story involving moving is Lemons by Melissa Savage. Moving in this story is due to the loss of a mother.

My Summary: “Ten-year-old Lemonade Liberty Witt believes her mom about making lemonade when life gets difficult. However, Lemon faces circumstances that test her lemonade-making abilities. After the death of her mother, she is sent to live in another town with a grandfather she’s never met. Her life gets better when she makes a new friend, Tobin Sky, who is CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. Yes, there have been suspected Bigfoot sightings in this wooded Northern California community! Lemon becomes Tobin’s assistant, but they discover something more important than Bigfoot. My review of Lemons here.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan (cover) Image: a young hispanic girl dances in the fieldsThird Degree: The next Middle-Grade book to involve moving is Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. Esperanza and her family flee Mexico and move to the Central Valley of California.

Goodreads Summary: Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression and settle in a camp for Mexican farmworkers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.’

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Lemons [Book Review]

November 6, 2020

Lemons by Melissa Savage

Lemons by Melissa Savage (cover) Image: yellow title on blue background; a drawing of a boy (holding binoculars up to his eyes) and a girl (holding two lemons up to her eyes

Genre/Categories: Middle-Grade Fiction, Friendship, Adventure, Grief

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”

lemons (two whole and one cut)

Ten year old Lemonade Liberty Witt believes her mom about making lemonade when life gets difficult. However, Lemon faces circumstances that test her lemonade-making abilities. After the death of her mother, she is sent to live in another town with a grandfather she’s never met. Her life gets better when she makes a new friend, Tobin Sky, who is CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. Yes, there have been suspected Bigfoot sightings in this wooded Northern California community! Lemon becomes Tobin’s assistant, but they discover something more important than Bigfoot.

My Thoughts:

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Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero [Book Review]

October 21, 2020

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist


Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly Baptist (cover) Image: the back view of a middle grade boy wearing a blue superhero cape and holding a pencil

Genre/Categories: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction, Family Issues, Poverty, Homelessness, Grief, African American

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Are you someone’s Hero?

Isaiah is the older brother and is grieving the loss of his father. Isaiah feels the burden of holding the family together. The most important people in his life include his four-year-old sister who never stops asking questions, his mother who is depressed and drinking too much, and his best friend Sneaky. Because of her grief, Mom has taken a leave of absence from her job and they lose their apartment when she has difficulty paying the rent. As the pressure mounts, Isaiah gets in trouble at school and fights with his best friend. Isaiah’s one true comfort is reading the stories in his dad’s journal that his dad wrote for him, and his safe place is the library. In his dad’s stories, Isaiah is a hero and Isaiah ponders how he can be a hero and help his family.

a cartoon drawing of several superheroes

My Thoughts:

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Books For My Younger Middle-Grade Self #toptentuesday

September 8, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Books For My Younger Middle-Grade Self

TTT: 10 Books For My Younger Self (background image: a young girl sits on a curb reading a book)

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Books For My Younger Self

Is there a book you’ve read that you know you would have enjoyed when you were younger?

As an adult, I love Middle-Grade books, and I wish that the following ten middle-grade titles had been available for my younger self! (I could list more, but these came first to mind.)

What Middle-Grade books have you read that you know your younger self would have enjoyed?

a picture of my old (antique) copy of The Bobbsey Twins at School by Laura Lee HopeOne of the book series I enjoyed when I was younger was The Bobbsey Twins. This is an old copy I acquired. While some youngsters like stories about animals, adventure, or fantasy, I remember loving stories about family. Even today, I love a wonderful multi-generational family drama like A Place For Us.

I certainly wish there was more diversity available in reading material for my younger middle-grade self!

 

*Titles are Amazon affiliate links.

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10 Reasons Why I Love Middle-Grade Books #toptentuesday #middlegrade

May 19, 2020

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Middle-Grade Books

Definition of Terms: Middle Grade Reader & Middle Grade Student

∗ A Middle-Grade Reader (ages 8-12) ≠ A Middle-Grade Student (grades 7-9)

These terms can be confusing. A Middle-Grade student (grades 7-9) is truly caught between groups and can read MG or YA. However, most YA (ages 13-18) is geared toward high school and is too mature for younger middle-grade readers who are 8-12 or middle-grade students who are in grades 7-9. There’s a vast difference between an eight-year-old reader and a twelve-year-old reader. Some middle-grade books are geared toward younger readers (e.g. Wishtree), and some authors such as Alan Gratz write for the more mature middle-grade reader (e.g Refugee).

∗ Middle-Grade Fiction is Typically Read by Readers Between Eight and Twelve Years Old.



I predict that either you read Middle-Grade Books or you don’t!

Middle Grade is a genre that you either embrace or avoid!

What say you?

Are you onboard with MG reading or are you standing on the sidelines?

I’m here to persuade you to try MG lit if you haven’t or to remind you why you love it.

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for TTT: Top Ten Reasons Why I Love _____ . My focus is Ten Reasons Why I Love Middle-Grade Books.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

1
Hope

Typically, Middle-Grade reads avoid content that includes graphic violence, sexual situations, and profanity. An unwritten expectation for middle-grade reads is that, despite dire circumstances, they are infused with hope and have hopeful endings. A few examples include Louisana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (scroll down page for review), More to the Story by Hena Khan (Goodreads Review), and Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (Goodreads Review).

2
Complex Issues

One of the main reasons I love reading middle-grade books is that they can address complicated and difficult issues in an easy-to-understand and sensitive way. It’s a great introduction to heavier content. A few examples include Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradly (slavery), Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed (indentured servitude, education for girls), The War That Saved My Life/The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradly (WW11), Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper (racism, prejudice), Refugee (12+) by Alan Gratz (refugee crisis), Wonder by R.J. Palacio (physical differences), Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (scroll down page for review) (immigrant, bullying), El Deafo by Cece Bell (hearing impairment), Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (scroll down page for review) (homelessness), Front Desk by Kelly Yang (Goodreads Review) immigrant), Merci Juarez Changes Gears (Goodreads Review) (Alzheimer diagnosis), Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (prejudice)…and so many more.

3
Read in a Day

Most middle-grade reads can be read in a day by most adults. So if it’s December 28 and you’re a few books shy of meeting your year-end-challenge goal, pick up an easy reading middle-grade title such as The Vanderbeeker’s of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glasser, El Deafo by Cece Bell, or Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (Goodreads Review).

4
Conversation Starter

Instead of commenting on a girl’s beautiful dress, stunning nail color, or unique hairstyle or asking a boy if he is on a soccer team, try asking a middle-grade reader what book s/he is reading in class right now. You might be able to make a connection with that book or recommend a similar book and you’re off to an interesting discussion!

5
Palate Cleanser or Reading Slump Buster

After reading several heavy histfic books (just me?), intense thrillers, or dense nonfiction, you might be feeling burned out. A fast and engaging middle-grade read can jump-start your reading or give you the change of pace you are needing! I often use this strategy when I’m feeling ambivalent about choosing my next read.

6
Thoughtful Gift

Do you remember a book you received from a teacher or family member? I still remember the books I received! (I was the one that spent my entire winter break reading my new book!) Choosing the perfect book for someone is a thoughtful gift and is my favorite one-stop-shopping hack! A personal inscription and special bookmark can complete the gift.

7
Catch Up On a Popular Read

A great reason to read middle-grade books is to catch up on popular books you might have missed reading when you were in school. Have you read Chronicles of Narnia, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Bud Not Buddy, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Bridge to Terabithia, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, By the Great Horn Spoon, Wonder, Where the Red Fern Grows, Brown Girl Dreaming, The Secret Garden, The One and Only Ivan, etc? What book do you wish you had read when you were 8-12?

8
Quality Time

Children spell love T I M E.

Setting up a “buddy read” with your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew is one way to spend quality time with a child. To discuss the book, you might take the child to lunch or to get ice cream or set up a Zoom meet up. A buddy read doesn’t have to be extra reading outside of school. You could simply read the same book as s/he is reading in school so that you can ask questions about it. Reading books together leads to grand discussions about the most amazing topics/issues! I love that through reading, important and relevant issues come up naturally.

9
Important Conversations

What I love (and miss) most about teaching fifth grade is that I could have the best conversations with my budding abstract thinkers! Middle-grade readers (8-12) are ready to think about the world and their place in it. Through reading, children gain experience with different cultures, perspectives, and issues. I love the diversity now offered in children’s literature. Reading builds compassion and understanding. For instance, if your child’s classroom has a student who is hearing challenged, you could read El Deafo together.

10
Make a Difference

If you work with children, have children, or know children in the 8-12-year-old range, reading middle-grade books will help you connect with them! If you are a pediatrician, nurse, dentist, hygienist, teacher, aide, Sunday school teacher, piano teacher, counselor, social worker, caregiver, nanny, or work with middle-grade readers in any way, reading what they are reading will help build connections, promote literacy, and WILL make a difference.

Inspirational story: A member of our family took her baby to the doctor for her one-year checkup and the pediatrician said, “You need to read ten books every day to your baby!” Yay, doctor!Thanks for promoting literacy at a one-year-old well-baby check!

Have I encouraged you to pick up a middle-grade read or do you already love middle-grade lit?



QOTD:

What is your favorite middle-grade title?

What is your favorite middle-grade read from your school days?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



ICYMI:

10 Inspirational Reads For Middle-Grade March

Top Ten Signs That I’m a Book Lover

 Why getting lost in a book is so good for you according to science!



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***Blogs 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/or author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

 

#throwbackthursday Wonder by R.J. Palacio [Book Review]

May 14, 2020

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of a favorite MG/YA read, Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It’s on my lifetime favorites list and I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s a “must-read.”

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (cover) Image: graphic of a mostly blank boy's head (one eye and a head of hair and ears are the only features) against a blue background

Genre/Categories: Middle grade through adult contemporary fiction,  growing up, difficult discussions, family life, friendship, compassion, character traits

My Summary:

“On the inside, ten-year-old August Pullman feels very ordinary. But as he says, ordinary kids don’t make other kids run away screaming and they don’t get stared at wherever they go. Auggie was born with a rare genetic abnormality that affected the formation of his face. Because of extensive surgeries and an attempt to protect him from cruelties of the outside world, Auggie’s parents have homeschooled him. The reader meets 5th grade Auggie as he’s being enrolled in a traditional school for the first time. Will he be accepted? Will he find friends? Will he find a hostile or friendly environment? How will adults in his life support him? The story is told from six perspectives (August, Via–his older sister, Summer–a friendly caring peer, Jack–a student leader who struggles in his role as a friend, Miranda–his sister’s best friend and a close family friend, and Justin–Miranda’s boyfriend) plus a bonus chapter from Julian’s point of view (Auggie’s nemesis).”

“Heart…Heroes…and Humor”

Continue reading my review of Wonder to see what I loved….

QOTD: Have you read Wonder or is it on your TBR?

#throwbackthursday Refugee by Alan Gratz [Book Review]

May 7, 2020

Refugee by Alan Gratz
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of a favorite MG/YA read, Refugee by Alan Gratz.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Refugee by Alan Gratz (cover) Image: a small child with back to camera in a small red rowboat on a stormy ocean

Genre/Categories: Middle Grade through Adult, Historical Fiction, Global Issues, Refugees

My Summary:

“Refugee is the relevant story of the refugee experience from three unique perspectives:

  • 12/13-year-old Josef and family are Jewish and attempt to escape Nazi Germany in 1938 aboard a ship bound for a country(Cuba) that will accept them.
  • 12-year-old Isabel and family are Cuban and flee riots and unrest in Cuba in 1994 on a homemade raft pointed toward safety in Miami, Florida.
  • 12-year-old Mahmoud and family are Syrian and seek to escape war-torn Aleppo in 2015 and relocate to Germany.

Even though these families are separated by continents and decades, their stories share certain similarities. Each journey is fraught with harrowing adventures, frustration, courage, resiliency, heartache, injustice, persecution, dangers, children assuming adult roles and responsibility, loss of childhood innocence and joy, and loss of family members. However, the families have hope that drives them forward. Amazon Rating (May): 4.8 Stars (This is a very high rating in which 85% of the stars are in the 5 star category.)”

“See us, he thought. Hear us. Help us.”

Continue reading my review of Refugee to see what I loved….

QOTD: Have you read Refugee or is it on your TBR?

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)

(more…)

Hey, Kiddo: A Review

January 17, 2020

 Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt With Family Addiction by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

  • Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt With Family Addiction

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, MG/YA Graphic Novel

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Normal is a setting on the dryer….

Jarrett Krosoczka knows from a very young age that his family is complicated. His mom is an addict and unreliable; his father is absent in every way and Jarrett doesn’t even know his father’s name. Jarret’s grandparents rescue, adopt, and raise him. As a teenager, Jarrett gains a deeper understanding of his complicated family and embraces his love of art as a lifeline.

Jarrett Krosoczka’s TED Talk

My Thoughts:

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