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Middle School: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about middle school?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to middle school. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about middle school.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about middle school, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Just My Luck to popular sellers like Wonder to some of our favorite hidden gems like Notorious.

We hope this list of kids books about middle school can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Top 10 Books About Middle School

Notorious book
#1
Notorious
Written by Gordon Korman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A funny, suspenseful mystery and unlikely friendship story from New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman—perfect for fans of Swindle and Ungifted.

Keenan has lived all over the world but nowhere quite as strange as Centerlight Island, which is split between the United States and Canada. The only thing weirder than Centerlight itself is his neighbor Zarabeth, aka ZeeBee.

ZeeBee is obsessed with the island’s history as a Prohibition-era smuggling route. She’s also convinced that her beloved dog, Barney, was murdered—something Keenan finds pretty hard to believe.

Just about everyone on Centerlight is a suspect, because everyone hated Barney, a huge dog—part mastiff, part rottweiler—notorious for terrorizing the community. Accompanied by a mild-mannered new dog who is practically Barney’s opposite, ZeeBee enlists Keenan’s help to solve the mystery.

As Keenan and ZeeBee start to unravel the clues, they uncover a shocking conspiracy that dates back to Centerlight’s gangster past. The good news is that Keenan may have found the best friend he’s ever had. The bad news is that the stakes are sky-high.

And now someone is after them. . . .

Wonder book
#2
Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.

My So-Called Superpowers: All the Feels book
#3
My So-Called Superpowers: All the Feels
Written by Heather Nuhfer
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The third book in a heartwarming middle-grade series about a girl whose emotions turn into uncontrollable superpowers. Veronica’s powers have taught her a lot—about her family, her friends, and how to be herself. They’ve also literally rained on her parade, turned her green with jealousy, and set her school on fire. You win some, you lose some. Now Veronica’s finally figuring out how to control her superpowers. But then she discovers there might be a way to get rid of them forever—and to live a “normal” life.

Featuring ten black-and-white illustrations, All the Feels raises the stakes for this middle-school girl who has to decide if being “normal” is as fun as going on a roller-coaster ride of superpowered emotion.

The Places We Sleep book
#4
The Places We Sleep
Written & illustrated by Caroline DuBois
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A family divided, a country going to war, and a girl desperate to feel at home converge in this stunning novel in verse.

It’s early September 2001, and twelve-year-old Abbey is the new kid at school. Again.

I worry about people speaking to me / and worry just the same / when they don’t.

Tennessee is her family’s latest stop in a series of moves due to her dad’s work in the Army, but this one might be different. Her school is far from Base, and for the first time, Abbey has found a real friend: loyal, courageous, athletic Camille.

And then it’s September 11. The country is under attack, and Abbey’s “home” looks like it might fall apart. America has changed overnight.

How are we supposed / to keep this up / with the world / crumbling / around us?

Abbey’s body changes, too, while her classmates argue and her family falters. Like everyone around her, she tries to make sense of her own experience as a part of the country’s collective pain. With her mother grieving and her father prepping for active duty, Abbey must learn to cope on her own.

Written in gorgeous narrative verse, Abbey’s coming-of-age story accessibly portrays the military family experience during a tumultuous period in our history. At once personal and universal, it’s a perfect read for fans of sensitive, tender-hearted books like The Thing About Jellyfish.

The Queen Bee and Me book
#5
The Queen Bee and Me
Written by Gillian McDunn
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From the author of Caterpillar Summer comes the story of a young girl navigating her friendship with the middle school Queen Bee.

Meg has been best friends with Beatrix forever. Everyone at school wants to be like confident, decisive Beatrix, and Meg has always felt the same. But this year, Meg wants to take a science course instead of dance class. She’d rather do what makes her happy—not what Beatrix wants.

When a quirky girl named Hazel moves to town, Meg is partnered with her on a science project about bees. Meg learns a lot about being Queen Bee—in a hive and in middle school. As Beatrix is less than welcoming to Hazel, Meg feels her loyalty fraying. Choosing Hazel could mean ending her oldest friendship; a choice more difficult than Meg ever expected.

By turns heartbreaking and empowering, The Queen Bee and Me explores the challenging dynamics of middle-school friendship in a way readers of any age will appreciate.

Martin McLean, Middle School Queen book
#6
Martin McLean, Middle School Queen
Written by Alyssa Zaczek
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Seventh-grader Martin McLean has trouble expressing himself except at Mathletes competitions and now, as a female impersonator but his first-ever drag show falls on the same night as an important Mathletes tournament.

Beginners Welcome book
#7
Beginners Welcome
Written & illustrated by Cindy Baldwin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The acclaimed author of Where the Watermelons Grow is back with a story perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Ali Benjamin, about finding friendship after a tragic loss.

It’s been eighty-three days since Annie Lee’s daddy died, but she still sees reminders of him everywhere. His record player mysteriously plays his favorite songs, there’s shaving cream in the sink every morning, and the TV keeps flipping to the Duke basketball games he loved.

She knows Mama notices it too, but Mama’s been working around the clock to make ends meet. To make matters worse, Annie Lee’s friends ditched her over the summer. She feels completely alone—until she meets Mitch.

Though Mitch is tough and confident on the outside, she may need a friend just as badly as Annie Lee. But after losing so much, Annie Lee is afraid to let anyone get too close.

And Mitch isn’t the only friend trying to break through Annie Lee’s defenses. Ray, an elderly pianist who plays at a local mall, has been giving her piano lessons. His music is pure magic, and Annie Lee hopes it might be the key to healing her broken heart. But when Ray goes missing, searching for him means breaking a promise to Mitch.

Faced with once again losing those who mean the most to her, Annie Lee must make a choice: retreat back into her shell, or risk admitting how much she needs Mitch and Ray—even if it means getting hurt all over again.

Just like in her debut, Where the Watermelons Grow, Cindy Baldwin brings her signature twist of magic to this authentically heartfelt story.

No Place Like Home book
#8
No Place Like Home
Written by Dee Romito
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Having to move a lot because of her father’s job, Kenzie is happy when an extended assignment allows her to enroll in a Las Vegas middle school, where she takes risks by revealing her crush, auditioning for a play, and running for student council.

What's a Little Noogie Between Friends? book
#9
What's a Little Noogie Between Friends?
Written by Lincoln Peirce
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-12

Big Nate is in a class by himself. This feisty 11-year-old holds the school record for detentions, but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming big! It’s not easy being Nate Wright. No one recognizes his innate genius superiority and, in fact, he is foiled at every turn by the onerous Mrs. Godfrey. And if that weren’t bad enough, his star soccer team loses to a team that had lost sixty games in a row. Adding insult to injury is when he gets up the courage to go to the movies alone while his friends all have dates, and the only seat left is next to the dreaded Gina! Can it get any worse? Oh, no, his long-time crush Jenny is moving to Seattle!

Big Nate Goes Bananas! book
#10
Big Nate Goes Bananas!
Written & illustrated by Lincoln Peirce
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-12

Join Big Nate and his pals for another round of pranks, jokes, and wedgies! NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR! The school year is winding down, and Nate can’t wait for summer vacation: baseball, beach trips, and…overripe bananas? Yuck! Turns out Nate has a problem with fruit that’s past its prime. And that’s not all that’s bugging him. Kim Cressly is making Chester jealous at Nate’s expense, Artur is challenging him in the Hunny Bursts mascot contest, and his replacement social studies teacher is none other than Coach John. In banana terms, it’s all left Nate feeling a little bruised. Can he make it to summer without slipping up? Join Nate and the gang for more shenanigans in this newest collection of Big Nate comics!

Table of Contents
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Books About Middle School and Friendship

Notorious
Written by Gordon Korman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A funny, suspenseful mystery and unlikely friendship story from New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman—perfect for fans of Swindle and Ungifted.

Keenan has lived all over the world but nowhere quite as strange as Centerlight Island, which is split between the United States and Canada. The only thing weirder than Centerlight itself is his neighbor Zarabeth, aka ZeeBee.

ZeeBee is obsessed with the island’s history as a Prohibition-era smuggling route. She’s also convinced that her beloved dog, Barney, was murdered—something Keenan finds pretty hard to believe.

Just about everyone on Centerlight is a suspect, because everyone hated Barney, a huge dog—part mastiff, part rottweiler—notorious for terrorizing the community. Accompanied by a mild-mannered new dog who is practically Barney’s opposite, ZeeBee enlists Keenan’s help to solve the mystery.

As Keenan and ZeeBee start to unravel the clues, they uncover a shocking conspiracy that dates back to Centerlight’s gangster past. The good news is that Keenan may have found the best friend he’s ever had. The bad news is that the stakes are sky-high.

And now someone is after them. . . .

Hat Trick
Written by Alex Morgan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Kicks are dedicated to soccer and to friendship—but can they balance all their goals? Find out in book four in the fun and empowering New York Times bestselling middle grade series from star soccer player, Olympic gold medalist, and World Cup champion, Alex Morgan.

Now that playoffs are over, the Kicks won’t be playing together again until the spring. But soccer-crazy Devin can’t imagine a life without soccer! She and her friends decide to try out for a travel team in a very competitive local league, but not everyone makes the cut.

Meanwhile, Devin’s little sister, Maisie, wants to try out for her elementary school’s soccer program. But due to budget cuts, the program has been eliminated! The Kicks rally together to help raise money—and volunteer to help with four different projects on the same day!

Things get hectic as the girls deal with the challenges of being on the competitive, tougher team; figuring out how to keep their friendships together as they all go in different directions; and trying to save the elementary school’s soccer program. If they can pull off all three, it will be a true hat trick!

Howard Wallace,
Written & illustrated by Casey Lyall
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Lyall s debut is a winner. “ “Publishers Weekly” What s with the get-up? Is that the company uniform or something? This? All P.I.s wear a trench coat. Dude, that s a brown bathrobe. I shrugged and straightened out my sleeves. First rule of private investigation, Ivy: work with what you ve got. “ Twelve-year-old Howard Wallace lives by his list of rules of private investigation. He knows more than anyone how to work with what he s got: a bathrobe for a trench coat, a makeshift office behind the school equipment shed, and not much else least of all, friends. So when a hot case of blackmail lands on his desk, he s ready to take it on himself . . . until the new kid, Ivy Mason, convinces him to take her on as a junior partner. As they banter through stakeouts and narrow down their list of suspects, Howard starts to wonder if having Ivy as a sidekick and a friend is such a bad thing after all.”

Honorable Mentions
  1. Hard Luck - Greg Heffley’s on a losing streak. His best friend, Rowley Jefferson, has ditched him, and finding new friends in middle school is proving to be a tough task. To change his fortunes, Greg decides to take a leap of faith and turn his decisions over to chance. Will a roll of the dice turn things around, or is Greg’s life destined to be just another hard-luck story?

  2. The Not-So-Boring Letters of Private Nobody - Twelve-year-old Oliver Prichard is obsessed with the Civil War. He knows everything about it: the battles, the generals, every movement of the Union and Confederate Armies. So when the last assignment of seventh-grade history is a project on the Civil War, Oliver is over the moon–until he’s partnered with Ella Berry, the slacker girl with the messy hair who does nothing but stare out the window. And when Oliver finds out they have to research a random soldier named Private Raymond Stone who didn’t even fight in any battles before dying of some boring disease, Oliver knows he’s doomed. But Ella turns out to be very different from what Oliver expected. As the partners film their documentary about Private Stone–with Oliver’s friend Kevin signing on as their head writing consultant–Oliver discovers that sometimes the most interesting things are hiding in uninteresting places. Even Private Stone is better than expected: There’s a mystery buried in his past, and Oliver knows he can figure it out.

  3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Boys don’t keep diaries―or do they? The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary. In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion. Author/illustrator Jeff Kinney recalls the growing pains of school life and introduces a new kind of hero who epitomizes the challenges of being a kid. As Greg says in his diary, “Just don’t expect me to be all ‘Dear Diary’ this and ‘Dear Diary’ that.” Luckily for us, what Greg Heffley says he won’t do and what he actually does are two very different things. Since its launch in May 2004 on Funbrain.com, the Web version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been viewed by 20 million unique online readers. This year, it is averaging 70,000 readers a day.

  4. TBH #3: TBH, Too Much Drama - Told entirely in text messages, the third book in this addictive series from the acclaimed author of 11 Before 12 is perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle and Rachel Renee Russell. Cece, Gabby, and Prianka can’t wait for Spirit Week, aka the last week of school before summer break! And they’re already making plans for the best summer ever—including a friends-only camping trip, plenty of pool time, and a top-secret shared notebook. But between Pajama Day and pizza parties, Gabby accidentally leaks Cece’s most embarrassing secret to the whole school in a meme that goes viral. Half the squad thinks it’s no big deal, but Cece needs a time-out from all the drama—even if that means taking a break from her best friends.

Books About Middle School and Bullying

Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.

Electric Boogerloo: I am Fartacus
Written & illustrated by Mark Maciejewski
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Chub and his group of misfit friends—including some new recruits—try to track down the school’s missing mascot in the hilarious and heartwarming sequel to I Am Fartacus.

Shadow of a Pug (Howard Wallace, P. I. , Book 2)
Written & illustrated by Casey Lyall
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Middle-school detectives Howard Wallace and Ivy Mason are itching for a juicy case—but when they’re forced to prove that uber-bully Carl Dean didn’t pugnap the school mascot, they’re not thrilled. Now Howard and Ivy have to play nice with Carl, dodge a snoopy reporter, and deal with Howard’s worst enemy, Miles Fletcher. Can Howard handle these complications and still be there for Ivy when her life is turned upside down?

Honorable Mentions
  1. Bringing Me Back - Noah is not having a good year. His mom is in prison, he’s living with his mom’s boyfriend—who he’s sure is just waiting until his mother’s six month sentence is up to kick him out—and he’s officially hated by everyone at his middle school, including his former best friend. It’s Noah’s fault that the entire football program got shut down after last year. One day, Noah notices a young bear at the edge of the woods with her head stuck in a bucket. A bucket that was almost certainly left outside as part of a school fundraiser to bring back the football team. As days go by, the bear is still stuck—she’s wasting away and clearly getting weaker, even as she runs from anyone who tries to help. And she’s always alone. Though Noah ignores the taunts at school and ignores his mother’s phone calls from jail, he can’t ignore the bear. Everyone else has written the bear off as a lost cause—just like they have with Noah. He makes it his mission to help her. But rescuing the bear means tackling his past—and present—head-on. Could saving the bear ultimately save Noah, too?

  2. Sidetracked - If middle school were a race, Joseph Friedman wouldn’t even be in last place—he’d be on the sidelines. With an overactive mind and phobias of everything from hard-boiled eggs to gargoyles, he struggles to understand his classes, let alone his fellow classmates. So, he spends most of his time avoiding school bully Charlie Kastner and hiding out in the Resource Room, a safe place for misfit kids like him. But then, on the first day of seventh grade, two important things happen. First, his Resource Room teacher encourages (i.e., practically forces) him to join the school track team, and second, he meets Heather, a crazy-fast runner who isn’t going to be pushed around by Charlie Kastner or anybody else. With a new friend and a new team, Joseph finds himself off the sidelines and in the race (quite literally) for the first time. Is he a good runner? Well, no, he’s terrible. But the funny thing about running is, once you’re in the race, anything can happen.

  3. The Misadventures of Max Crumbly 1: Locker Hero - Questioning his resolve to attend public school after being homeschooled when he is targeted by a bully, Max aspires to become like his favorite comic book heroes and finds an unexpected opportunity to be the hero his middle school needs.

  4. Ask Emma (Ask Emma Book 1) - Emma Woods knows just how to fix all her peers’ problems-or so she thinks-in this first book in the brand-new middle grade series Ask Emma, from the bestselling creators behind the Cupcake Club series! When 13-year-old Emma Woods gets that tingling feeling in her fingertips, she knows she’s on to a great idea-and starting an advice blog for her classmates at Austen Middle may be one of her most brilliant ones yet! Who better to give advice on friendship, style, school, and even crushes than someone who’s going through it too? But when Ask Emma goes live, she quickly realizes not everyone sees it that way. Suddenly, Emma is bombarded with peers asking her to help them postpone quizzes, get out of detention, and cut gym class short. This wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. . . .What’s worse, someone is posting hurtful comments, telling her to mind her own business. Despite her good intentions, Emma’s blog seems to only be getting her-and her friends—deeper and deeper into trouble. Will Ask Emma come to an end before it’s really begun? Or can Emma find her voice, write what’s in her heart, and truly stand up for what she believes in? This book will include an appendix on cyberbullying resources.

Books About Middle School and Girls And Women

The Places We Sleep
Written & illustrated by Caroline DuBois
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A family divided, a country going to war, and a girl desperate to feel at home converge in this stunning novel in verse.

It’s early September 2001, and twelve-year-old Abbey is the new kid at school. Again.

I worry about people speaking to me / and worry just the same / when they don’t.

Tennessee is her family’s latest stop in a series of moves due to her dad’s work in the Army, but this one might be different. Her school is far from Base, and for the first time, Abbey has found a real friend: loyal, courageous, athletic Camille.

And then it’s September 11. The country is under attack, and Abbey’s “home” looks like it might fall apart. America has changed overnight.

How are we supposed / to keep this up / with the world / crumbling / around us?

Abbey’s body changes, too, while her classmates argue and her family falters. Like everyone around her, she tries to make sense of her own experience as a part of the country’s collective pain. With her mother grieving and her father prepping for active duty, Abbey must learn to cope on her own.

Written in gorgeous narrative verse, Abbey’s coming-of-age story accessibly portrays the military family experience during a tumultuous period in our history. At once personal and universal, it’s a perfect read for fans of sensitive, tender-hearted books like The Thing About Jellyfish.

No Place Like Home
Written by Dee Romito
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Having to move a lot because of her father’s job, Kenzie is happy when an extended assignment allows her to enroll in a Las Vegas middle school, where she takes risks by revealing her crush, auditioning for a play, and running for student council.

The Startup Squad
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Girls mean business in a brand-new middle grade series about friendship and entrepreneurship! All the great leaders had to start somewhere. And Theresa (“Resa” for short) is starting with the lemonade stand competition her teacher assigned to the class—but making it a success is going to be a lot harder than Resa thinks. The prize: line-skipping tickets to Adventure Central. The competition: Val, Resa’s middle school nemesis. And the biggest obstacle to success: Resa’s own teammates. Harriet is the class clown, Amelia is the new girl who thinks she knows best, and Didi is Resa’s steadfast friend—who doesn’t know the first thing about making or selling lemonade. The four of them quickly realize that the recipe for success is tough to perfect—but listening to each other is the first step. And making new friends might be the most important one… The back of each book features tips from the Startup Squad and an inspirational profile of a girl entrepreneur!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Choosing Sides - From FIFA World Cup Champion, Olympic gold medalist, and bestselling author Alex Morgan comes the ninth book in an empowering and fun-filled middle grade series that inspired the Amazon original series, The Kicks! After an easy win against the Roses, Devin is reminded of how the Kicks were playing when she first joined and how far they have come since then. Devin runs into Sasha, a summer league teammate of hers, who confides that the Roses’ coach doesn’t seem to care that they’re losing and asks Devin for help. She invites the Roses to a weekend soccer clinic that the Kicks are going to. But when the eighth graders find out that Devin is helping another team in their league, they are not pleased and accuse Devin of helping the competition—especially when the Roses begin to win. Meanwhile, Zoe and Emma haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye, and their friendship seems to be in trouble, putting Devin and Jessi in the middle of their fights. When they begin to disrupt the Kicks’ practices, Devon knows she has to do something. Can Devin prove to her team and her friends that she’s not playing favorites or choosing sides?

  2. Full Court Press - From 2015 WNBA MVP, 2016 Olympic gold medalist, and global ambassador to the Special Olympics Elena Delle Donne comes the second novel in a brand-new middle-grade series with as much heart as there is game.

  3. Mango Delight - What happens when your BFF becomes your EFF . . . EX-Friend-Forever? Surviving seventh grade is tough-especially when your BFF dumps you, you lose your spot on the track team, and you cost your dad his job. That’s the mess Mango’s in. THEN her ex-bestie spitefully tricks Mango into auditioning for the school musical and the tables turn: Mango wins the lead role, becomes a YouTube sensation, and attracts the attention of the school’s queen bee. But soon Mango is forced to make tough choices about the kind of friend she wants to have . . . and the kind she wants to be.

  4. Lizzy Legend - A basketball-loving girl makes a wish to never miss a basket in this charming middle grade novel that pushes girl power to the max! Lizzy Trudeaux loves basketball. She doesn’t have much by way of money, but she has access to the community court, a worn ball named Ginger, and she practices constantly. After fighting to join the boy’s team at her school, Lizzy is finally given the opportunity to show off her hard-earned skills. When she answers what she believes is another bill collecting phone call, Lizzy receives a magical wish: the ability to sink every shot. Pure Swish. Now eviscerating the competition in the boy’s league is small potatoes—she has the skills to dominate in the NBA. With the help of her BFF Toby and some viral video action, Lizzy goes all the way to the Philadelphia Bells’ starting lineup, making history and taking names. Then, just as she’s about to go face to face with her hero, the best player on the planet, things begin to fall apart. But Lizzy isn’t a quitter and she’ll play her hardest for the love of the game.

Books About Middle School and Best Friends

The Queen Bee and Me
Written by Gillian McDunn
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From the author of Caterpillar Summer comes the story of a young girl navigating her friendship with the middle school Queen Bee.

Meg has been best friends with Beatrix forever. Everyone at school wants to be like confident, decisive Beatrix, and Meg has always felt the same. But this year, Meg wants to take a science course instead of dance class. She’d rather do what makes her happy—not what Beatrix wants.

When a quirky girl named Hazel moves to town, Meg is partnered with her on a science project about bees. Meg learns a lot about being Queen Bee—in a hive and in middle school. As Beatrix is less than welcoming to Hazel, Meg feels her loyalty fraying. Choosing Hazel could mean ending her oldest friendship; a choice more difficult than Meg ever expected.

By turns heartbreaking and empowering, The Queen Bee and Me explores the challenging dynamics of middle-school friendship in a way readers of any age will appreciate.

Martin McLean, Middle School Queen
Written by Alyssa Zaczek
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Seventh-grader Martin McLean has trouble expressing himself except at Mathletes competitions and now, as a female impersonator but his first-ever drag show falls on the same night as an important Mathletes tournament.

The Third Wheel
Written & illustrated by Jeff Kinney
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Greg Heffley is not willing to be the odd man out.

A dance at Greg’s middle school has everyone scrambling to find a partner, and Greg is determined not to be left by the wayside. So he concocts a desperate plan to find someone—anyone!—to go with on the big night.

But Greg’s schemes go hilariously awry, and his only option is to attend the dance with his best friend, Rowley Jefferson, and a female classmate as a “group of friends.” But the night is long, and anything can happen along the way. Who will arrive at the dance triumphantly, and who will end up being the third wheel?

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Right Hook of Devin Velma - Even though he suffers from social anxiety, twelve-year-old Addison agrees to help his best friend achieve social media fame while at a nationally-televised NBA game.

  2. Boy Bites Bug - To defuse a situation between his best friend and a new student, Nolan eats a live stink bug, gaining popularity and a class project idea but, perhaps, losing a friend.

  3. Just Jaime - Another spot-on story of middle school drama and friendship from Terri Libenson, national bestselling author of Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzy. Friends. Frenemies. Middle school… The last day of seventh grade has Jaime and Maya wondering who their real friends are. Jaime knows something is off with her friend group. They’ve started to exclude her and make fun of the way she dresses and the things she likes. At least she can count on her BFF, Maya, to have her back . . . right? Maya feels more and more annoyed with Jaime, who seems babyish compared to the other girls in their popular group. It’s like she has nothing in common with Jai anymore. Are their days as BFFs numbered . . . ? Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jennifer L. Holm.

  4. Karma Khullar's Mustache - In the tradition of Judy Blume, debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable—but all too relatable—subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this “sparkling and triumphant tale of a middle school misfit” (Heather Vogel Frederick). Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip. With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.

Books About Middle School and Feelings And Emotions

My So-Called Superpowers: All the Feels
Written by Heather Nuhfer
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The third book in a heartwarming middle-grade series about a girl whose emotions turn into uncontrollable superpowers. Veronica’s powers have taught her a lot—about her family, her friends, and how to be herself. They’ve also literally rained on her parade, turned her green with jealousy, and set her school on fire. You win some, you lose some. Now Veronica’s finally figuring out how to control her superpowers. But then she discovers there might be a way to get rid of them forever—and to live a “normal” life.

Featuring ten black-and-white illustrations, All the Feels raises the stakes for this middle-school girl who has to decide if being “normal” is as fun as going on a roller-coaster ride of superpowered emotion.

All the Ways Home
Written by Elsie Chapman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Sometimes, home isn’t where you expect to find it. After losing his mom in a fatal car crash, Kaede Hirano—now living with a grandfather who is more stranger than family—developed anger issues and spent his last year of middle school acting out. Best-friendless and critically in danger repeating the seventh grade, Kaede is given a summer assignment: write an essay about what home means to him, which will be even tougher now that he’s on his way to Japan to reconnect with his estranged father and older half-brother. Still, if there’s a chance Kaede can finally build a new family from an old one, he’s willing to try. But building new relationships isn’t as easy as destroying his old ones, and one last desperate act will change the way Kaede sees everyone—including himself. This is a book about what home means to us—and that there are many different correct answers.

Halfway Normal
Written & illustrated by Barbara Dee
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Twelve-year-old cancer survivor Norah struggles to fit in at middle school after two years of treatment, but she finds her voice with the help of new friend Griffin, who shares her love of mythology.

Honorable Mentions
  1. If This Were a Story - In the tradition of Crenshaw and The Thing About Jellyfish, ten-year-old Hannah copes with the bullies at school and troubles at home through the power of stories in this sweet and sincere debut. Tenacious. That means strong-willed. My mother calls me that. I wish I felt the same way. If this were a story, I would discover I was a direct descendent of a famous soldier who won countless battles and protected hundreds of people. This resilience running through my veins wouldn’t be damaged by the notes; it would fight off bullies and prevent my parents from yelling at each other. But this is not a story. This is real life. My life as ten-year-old Hannah Geller, who is the only girl in fifth grade to have little red bumps on her face, is unable to let the sad thoughts escape her mind, and leaves heads-up pennies wherever she can to spread good luck. And who also finds magic in the most unlikely of places.

  2. Cupcake Diaries 3 Books in 1! #4 - Three Cupcake Club adventures are now available as one sweet treat of a book! Join Katie, Mia, Emma, and Alexis as they form the Cupcake Club—and fast friendships. This book includes three stories in the Cupcake Diaries series: Mia’s Boiling Point; Emma, Smile and Say “Cupcake!”; and Alexis Gets Frosted.

  3. My So-Called Superpowers - The first book in a quirky and funny coming-of-age series follows a girl whose emotions physically manifest themselves for the whole world to see. Veronica’s story is sure to resonate with readers who feel desperate to fit in. Illustrations.

Books About Middle School and Mischief

What's a Little Noogie Between Friends?
Written by Lincoln Peirce
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-12

Big Nate is in a class by himself. This feisty 11-year-old holds the school record for detentions, but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming big! It’s not easy being Nate Wright. No one recognizes his innate genius superiority and, in fact, he is foiled at every turn by the onerous Mrs. Godfrey. And if that weren’t bad enough, his star soccer team loses to a team that had lost sixty games in a row. Adding insult to injury is when he gets up the courage to go to the movies alone while his friends all have dates, and the only seat left is next to the dreaded Gina! Can it get any worse? Oh, no, his long-time crush Jenny is moving to Seattle!

Big Nate Goes Bananas!
Written & illustrated by Lincoln Peirce
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-12

Join Big Nate and his pals for another round of pranks, jokes, and wedgies! NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR! The school year is winding down, and Nate can’t wait for summer vacation: baseball, beach trips, and…overripe bananas? Yuck! Turns out Nate has a problem with fruit that’s past its prime. And that’s not all that’s bugging him. Kim Cressly is making Chester jealous at Nate’s expense, Artur is challenging him in the Hunny Bursts mascot contest, and his replacement social studies teacher is none other than Coach John. In banana terms, it’s all left Nate feeling a little bruised. Can he make it to summer without slipping up? Join Nate and the gang for more shenanigans in this newest collection of Big Nate comics!

Funny Kid #3: Prank Wars
Written by Matt Stanton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Big Nate meets Timmy Failure in Funny Kid #3: Prank War, the third book in the uproarious highly illustrated middle grade series by Matt Stanton, Australia’s bestselling children’s book author. Max is the Funny Kid and, given the choice, he’d always rather laugh than fight. But when a prank war breaks out just before the big overnight class trip, Max has no choice but to pull off the funniest prank ever! Gunker dragons, duck smugglings, stolen suitcases, lethal super-beans, and the greatest prank ever played are just some of the hilarious antics in store. Paired with hilarious black-and-white illustrations from the author, Max’s mishaps will leave even the most reluctant reader laughing out loud. Matt Stanton again brings his bestselling children’s book chops to the hilarious Funny Kid series, perfect for early middle grade readers looking for side-splitting laughs and lovable, relatable characters!

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Unteachables - A hilarious new middle grade novel from beloved and bestselling author Gordan Korman about what happens when the worst class of kids in school is paired with the worst teacher—perfect for fans of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. The Unteachables are a notorious class of misfits, delinquents, and academic train wrecks. Like Aldo, with anger management issues; Parker, who can’t read; Kiana, who doesn’t even belong in the class—or any class; and Elaine (rhymes with pain). The Unteachables have been removed from the student body and isolated in room 117. Their teacher is Mr. Zachary Kermit, the most burned-out teacher in all of Greenwich. He was once a rising star, but his career was shattered by a cheating scandal that still haunts him. After years of phoning it in, he is finally one year away from early retirement. But the superintendent has his own plans to torpedo that idea—and it involves assigning Mr. Kermit to the Unteachables. The Unteachables never thought they’d find a teacher who had a worse attitude than they did. And Mr. Kermit never thought he would actually care about teaching again. Over the course of a school year, though, room 117 will experience mayhem, destruction—and maybe even a shot at redemption.

  2. Big Nate: Silent But Deadly - “These strips appeared in newspapers from October 6, 2013, through March 29, 2014.”—Copyright page.

  3. Big Nate: a Good Old-Fashioned Wedgie - Join the unstoppable Big Nate for another round of middle school adventures! From homework and hygiene to hilarious hiijnks - no one quite does sixth grade like Nate and his friends. Need a way to shut up some snooty kid when he gloats about his private school? Looking for the perfect response when your best friend joins the grammar police? Want a quick and easy way to out-snap even the snappiest comeback? Nate Wright has the answer: a good old-fashioned wedgie! The whole gang from P.S. 38 is back for more hijinks, hilarity, and underwear hoisting in this new collection of Big Nate comics. Can Chad somehow survive on a diet of kale and soy nuts? Are Jenny and Artur EVER going to break up? And how is Nate supposed to concentrate on baseball when he’s got a crush on his team’s new pitcher? See for yourself! Join Nate and the rest of the crew for another unforgettable round of middle school adventures!

Want to see books about mischief?

Books About Middle School and Sports And Recreation

Tom Gates: Genius Ideas (Mostly)
Written & illustrated by L. Pichon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Dreams of rock stardom take the edge off embarrassing family activities in Tom’s fourth “homework diary” crammed with doodles and stories. After receiving the shock of a lifetime — seeing his big sister, Delia, without her sunglasses on — Tom is trying to gear himself up for sports day at school. It does not help that his dad is training for the parents’ race on that day — and plans to wear bizarre cycling shorts! Meanwhile, Tom’s band, DogZombies, is supposed to play in the school talent show, meaning they’d better start practicing — a lot. It might all be worth it, though, if the absolutely brilliant band DUDE3 appears as special guests!

Bounce Back
Written by Hena Khan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the third book in an exciting chapter book series about a scrawny fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Zayd has a plan. He’s ready to take the reins as team captain of the Gold Team. But when an injury leaves him on the sidelines, his plans get derailed. Can Zayd learn what it means to be a leader if he’s not the one calling the shots?

The Big Game
Written by Tim Green
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

New York Times bestselling author and former NFL defensive end Tim Green encourages readers to fight for their dreams in this heartfelt story about a young football star grappling with the stress of living up to his father’s name. Perfect for fans of Mike Lupica! Danny Owens is dedicating his seventh-grade season to his Super Bowl champion father, who recently passed away. Danny promises everyone that, just like his dad, he’ll dominate the big game at the end of the season and earn a spot on the high school varsity team. Then his English teacher catches him cheating on a test. Even though Danny can retake it, he knows there’s no point. He can’t read. And if Danny can’t pass this class, he won’t be eligible to play in the championship game that could unlock his future. While his resentment rises against the only person willing to help him win off the field, the pressure to succeed begins to weigh heavily on Danny’s shoulders. Danny is being tested on every level now, and to pass, he may very well have to choose a different path from his father’s.

Honorable Mentions
  1. My Life as a Gamer - Derek Fallon gets the chance of a lifetime when he is asked to test software for new video games, but he soon discovers that his dream job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  2. The Last Straw - Let’s face it: Greg Heffley will never change his wimpy ways. Somebody just needs to explain that to Greg’s father. You see, Frank Heffley actually thinks he can get his son to toughen up, and he enlists Greg in organized sports and other “manly” endeavors. Of course, Greg is able to easily sidestep his father’s efforts to change him. But when Greg’s dad threatens to send him to military academy, Greg realizes he has to shape up . . . or get shipped out. Greg and his family and friends, who make the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books a must-read for middle school readers, are back and at their best in this hilarious new installment of the series, which is sure to please current fans while attracting new ones. This highly anticipated third book in the critically acclaimed and bestselling series takes the art of being wimpy to a whole new level.

  3. Power Forward - From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the first book in an exciting new chapter book series about a fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Fourth grader Zayd Saleem has some serious hoop dreams. He’s not just going to be a professional basketball player. He’s going to be a star. A legend. The first Pakistani-American kid to make it to the NBA. He knows this deep in his soul. It’s his destiny. There are only a few small things in his way. For starters, Zayd’s only on the D-team. (D stands for developmental, but to Zayd it’s always felt like a bad grade or something.) Not to mention, he’s a bit on the scrawny side, even for the fourth grade team. But his best friend Adam is on the Gold Team, and it’s Zayd’s dream for the two of them to play together. His mom and dad don’t get it. They want him to practice his violin way more than his jump shot. When he gets caught blowing off his violin lessons to practice, Zayd’s parents lay down the ultimate punishment: he has to hang up his high tops and isn’t allowed to play basketball anymore. As tryouts for the Gold Team approach, Zayd has to find the courage to stand up for himself and chase his dream.

  4. Just My Luck - Zack Delacruz is back—and this time he has a crush! Zack really wants to meet Abhi, the new girl at school. But things get off to a rough start when he accidentally knocks her to the ground during a game of dodgeball. And whenever he tries to make amends, she just ignores him. Nothing works—not his friends’ advice or his “lucky” cologne. In fact, he just seems more and more cursed! Then, at the Fall Fiesta-val, Zack finally learns the real reason behind Abhi’s cold shoulder . . . but not before total chaos erupts. With a runaway train, exploding confetti-filled eggs, and Abhi’s terrifying older brother, will Zack ever get a chance to talk to his crush? In the end, Zack learns what it means to to listen and to be a good friend. This dynamite sequel captures the middle-school experience—and will keep readers laughing from beginning to end.

Books About Middle School and Family

Beginners Welcome
Written & illustrated by Cindy Baldwin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The acclaimed author of Where the Watermelons Grow is back with a story perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Ali Benjamin, about finding friendship after a tragic loss.

It’s been eighty-three days since Annie Lee’s daddy died, but she still sees reminders of him everywhere. His record player mysteriously plays his favorite songs, there’s shaving cream in the sink every morning, and the TV keeps flipping to the Duke basketball games he loved.

She knows Mama notices it too, but Mama’s been working around the clock to make ends meet. To make matters worse, Annie Lee’s friends ditched her over the summer. She feels completely alone—until she meets Mitch.

Though Mitch is tough and confident on the outside, she may need a friend just as badly as Annie Lee. But after losing so much, Annie Lee is afraid to let anyone get too close.

And Mitch isn’t the only friend trying to break through Annie Lee’s defenses. Ray, an elderly pianist who plays at a local mall, has been giving her piano lessons. His music is pure magic, and Annie Lee hopes it might be the key to healing her broken heart. But when Ray goes missing, searching for him means breaking a promise to Mitch.

Faced with once again losing those who mean the most to her, Annie Lee must make a choice: retreat back into her shell, or risk admitting how much she needs Mitch and Ray—even if it means getting hurt all over again.

Just like in her debut, Where the Watermelons Grow, Cindy Baldwin brings her signature twist of magic to this authentically heartfelt story.

Merci Suárez Changes Gears
Written by Meg Medina
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina.

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.

A Galaxy of Sea Stars
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In this heartfelt middle-grade novel, Izzy’s quiet beach town life is upended when a new friendship with a Muslim girl teaches her about acceptance, respect, and being true to what is right.

Izzy is starting sixth grade, and she wants her dad to act like he did before he was deployed to Afghanistan. She wants her mom to move back to the marina where they live. Most of all, she wants Piper, Zelda, and herself—the Sea Star Posse—to stay best friends. But everything changes when Izzy’s father invites his former interpreter’s family, including twelve- year-old Sitara, to move in. Izzy doesn’t know what to make of Sitara, with her hijab and refusal to eat cafeteria food, and her presence disrupts the Sea Star Posse. But as Izzy and Sitara grow closer, Izzy must make a choice: stay in her comfort zone and risk betraying her new friend, or speak up and lose the Sea Star Posse forever. A Galaxy of Sea Stars is about family, loyalty, and the hard choices we face in the name of friendship.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Odd Gods - Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Percy Jackson in Odd Gods, the first book in a hilarious illustrated series about the most unlikely, unusual Gods ever to grace the halls of Mount Olympus Middle School. Oddonis may be the son of Zeus, but he’s a little bit…odd for a God. He’s so odd, in fact, he’s not sure if he has any powers at all. And if that isn’t enough, his twin brother Adonis is the most popular, most athletic, and most otherworldly handsome God of them all. Oddonis’s future at Mount Olympus Middle isn’t looking bright, especially when he makes the last-minute decision to run against Adonis to be class president. With the help of his friends Mathena (Goddess of math and poultry), Germes (God of all things sniffling and snotty), Puneous (the smallest God of them all), and Gaseous (enough said?), Oddonis is determined to win the race, prove that his friends are as good as any Greek God, and maybe, just maybe, find out what his true powers really are. Read the hilarious new adventures of Oddonis and his friends from debut children’s authors David Slavin and Daniel Weitzman, filled with dozens of black-and-white illustrations by award-winning artist Adam Lane.

  2. Trace - In a debut novel that’s perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Erin Entrada Kelly, award-winning author/illustrator and educator Pat Cummings tells a poignant story about grief, love, and the untold stories that echo across time. Trace Carter doesn’t know how to feel at ease in his new life in New York. Even though his artsy Auntie Lea is cool, her brownstone still isn’t his home. Haunted by flashbacks of the accident that killed his parents, the best he can do is try to distract himself from memories of the past. But the past isn’t done with him. When Trace takes a wrong turn in the New York Public Library, he finds someone else lost in the stacks with him: a crying little boy, wearing old, tattered clothes. And though at first he can’t quite believe he’s seen a ghost, Trace soon discovers that the boy he saw has ties to Trace’s own history—and that he himself may be the key to setting the dead to rest.

Books About Middle School and Performing Arts

Funny Kid #2: Stand Up
Written by Matt Stanton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Big Nate meets Timmy Failure in Funny Kid #2: Stand Up, the second book in an uproarious new middle grade series by Matt Stanton, Australia’s bestselling children’s book author.

Max may not be the strongest, or the smartest, or the handsomest kid in his class—but he may well be the funniest! Except when Max’s classroom joke lands flat, he suddenly becomes the Un-Funny Kid!

The only way to make everyone forget Max’s comedy catastrophe is for him to win the town talent quest with his very own stand-up comedy routine. Max is ready to bring comedy gold to his audition, but thanks to a heckling clown, Max can’t even remember his first joke!

With the help of his best friend Hugo and their feathered pet, Duck, Max thinks he has everything he needs to come up the greatest stand-up comedy routine of all time—but will it be enough? Max will need all the advice he can get to prove that he is the kid who can make everyone laugh!

Matt Stanton brings his veteran children’s book chops to this hilarious series, perfect for early middle grade readers looking for side-splitting laughs!

Star-Crossed
Written & illustrated by Barbara Dee
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Twelve-year-old Mattie wrestles with her crush on Gemma as they participate in their school production of Romeo and Juliet in what School Library Journal calls “a fine choice for middle school libraries in need of an accessible LGBTQ stories.” Twelve-year-old Mattie is thrilled when she learns the eighth grade play will be Romeo and Juliet. In particular, she can’t wait to share the stage with Gemma Braithwaite, who has been cast as Juliet. Gemma is brilliant, pretty—and British!—and Mattie starts to see her as more than just a friend. But Mattie has also had an on/off crush on her classmate Elijah since, well, forever. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things offstage are beginning to resemble their own Shakespearean drama: the cast is fighting, and the boy playing Romeo may not be up to the challenge of the role. And due to a last-minute emergency, Mattie is asked to step up and take over the leading role—opposite Gemma’s Juliet—just as Mattie’s secret crush starts to become not-so-secret in her group of friends. In this funny, sweet, and clever look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to become a lead player in her own life.

Jack and Louisa Act 3
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A show-stopping middle-grade series about life in and out of the spotlight from Broadway stars and Internet sensations Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead. Two weeks at Camp Curtain-Up is just what Jack and Louisa need to fuel their passion for theater: Broadway musical sing-alongs, outdoor rehearsals, and tons of new MTNs (musical theater nerds) to meet… maybe even a special someone. It almost feels like fate when the two friends return home to find local auditions for The Sound of Music. But as Louisa fantasizes about frolicking in the Alps, Jack gets tempted by a student-run drama competition that would reunite the two with their camp friends. Will Jack get Louisa to skip an audition? Can Lou handle Jack as her director? And will someone finally get a big, Broadway happy ending?

Honorable Mentions
  1. So Done - When best friends Tai and Mila are reunited after a summer apart, their friendship threatens to combust from the pressure of secrets, middle school, and the looming dance auditions for a new talented-and-gifted program. Fans of Renée Watson’s Piecing Me Together will love this memorable story about a complex friendship between two very different African American girls—and the importance of speaking up. Jamila Phillips and Tai Johnson have been inseparable since they were toddlers, having grown up across the street from each other in Pirates Cove, a low-income housing project. As summer comes to an end, Tai can’t wait for Mila to return from spending a month with her aunt in the suburbs. But both girls are grappling with secrets, and when Mila returns she’s more focused on her upcoming dance auditions than hanging out with Tai. Paula Chase explores complex issues that affect many young teens, and So Done offers a powerful message about speaking up. Full of ballet, basketball, family, and daily life in Pirates Cove, this memorable novel is for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Jason Reynolds’s Ghost.

  2. She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) - The year is 1966. The Vietnam War rages overseas, the Beatles have catapulted into stardom, and twelve-year-old Rhode Island native Trudy Mixer is not thrilled with life. Her best friend, Michelle, has decided to become a cheerleader, everyone at school is now calling her Gertrude (her hated real name), and the gem of her middle school career, the Beatles fan club, has dwindled down to only three other members–the least popular kids at school. And at home, her workaholic father has become even more distant. Determined to regain her social status and prove herself to her father, Trudy looks toward the biggest thing happening worldwide: the Beatles. She is set on seeing them in Boston during their final world tour–and meeting her beloved Paul McCartney. So on a hot August day, unknown to their families, Trudy and crew set off on their journey, each of them with soaring hopes for what lies ahead.

Books About Middle School and Action And Adventure

Marty Pants #3: How to Defeat a Wizard
Written by Mark Parisi
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Marty Pants returns to face his archenemy Simon, the so-called school artist, in his third adventure! How is Simon turning their classmates, teachers, and even the mayor against Marty—could it be magic? Is Simon literally a charmer who is charming people with magic charms? With Simon using magical powers to turn everyone against him, it will be up to Marty to stop this madness before Simon controls the whole world and maybe even the space-time continuum! The third book in the Marty Pants series from the award-winning cartoonist behind the “Off the Mark” strip, Mark Parisi, is perfect for fans of Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and laughing a lot.

Zach King: Mirror Magic
Written by Zach King
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Zach King, the award-winning social media superstar with nearly 25 MILLION fans, is back with the third and final magical installment in his hilarious, fun-filled trilogy about Zach, a seventh grader trying to control his new magical powers. Features color graphic novel sections and an augmented reality app that brings the illustrations to three-dimensional life! BIG NATE meets DANTDM in the third magical middle grade adventure by social media superstar Zach King. Since Zach finally recovered his magical powers, middle school has never been better—he’s teaming up with his best friend, Aaron, on their super-popular YouTube channel and talking to the nicest, smartest, prettiest girl in school, Rachel. But when Zach magically “passes through” a magical mirror, he lands in a world that is the exact opposite of everything he’s ever known. Instead of finding himself at Horace Greeley Middle School, he’s at Horace Greeley MAGIC School. And in this world of opposites, everyone here has magic except him. Even worse, Zach is stuck in this world AND his alter-ego, the newly magical Jack, has passed in to Zach’s world and now living his life and getting into all sorts of trouble. Fortunately, Zach can always count on his friends—even this mixed-up magical world’s versions of them! If he can just convince the guys about the truth of his world-jumping misadventure, Zach knows, they’ll work together to figure out how to put everyone back where they belong—before it’s too late. It’s another hilarious adventure from the online and Instagram sensation Zach King. The book comes complete with a free downloadable augmented reality app that animates the illustrations in the book, bringing them to full three-dimensional life.

Jaclyn Hyde
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In this heartwarming and hilarious reimagining of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a secret potion accidentally turns eager-to-please eighth grader Jaclyn into Jackie, a goblin-like monster who’ll do anything to win at everything she does—no matter how much chaos she creates along the way.

Jaclyn Hyde is almost perfect. Whether she’s baking cookies for her classmates, building a replica Mt. Vesuvius for the science fair, or practicing her lines for Fog Island: The Musical, she almost never makes mistakes. But when she discovers the last batch of perfection potion in an abandoned laboratory, Jaclyn decides that being almost perfect isn’t perfect enough anymore. But instead she finds out that trying to be perfectly perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s downright horrifying. The potion turns Jaclyn into Jackie, a goblin-like monster who’ll do anything to make sure Jaclyn comes out on top. Suddenly, she’s wreaking havoc on the school play, stealing someone else’s brownies to pass off as her own, and even destroying someone’s painting to get herself crowned “Artist of the Week.” And that’s just the beginning. Jackie will stop at nothing to make sure everyone knows just how perfect Jaclyn really is. So now, if Jaclyn wants to save her school, her friends, and herself from her perfectly horrifying alter-ego, she’s going to have to screw up her courage and risk it all—even if that means admitting that she never was as perfect as she seemed. Annabeth Bondor-Stone and Connor White, the authors of Time Tracers and the Shivers series, bring their signature wit and humor to this thrilling new take on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—just right for anyone who’s ever wished to be more perfect.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Twist - A group of gifted kids must band together to save their town and a fantasy world from horror-story monsters come to life in this imaginative middle-grade novel. Eli has a dream. He’s going to be the next Stephen King, and he’s just created his best monster yet! Neha has a secret. Her notebook is filled with drawings of a fantasy world called Forest Creeks, and it’s become inhabited by wonderful imaginary creatures. But her new friends are in danger . . . Court has a gift, both for finding trouble and for stopping it. And when she accidentally ends up with one of Neha’s drawings, she quickly realizes that the monsters raiding Forest Creeks are coming from Eli’s stories. When these three creative kids come together, they accidentally create a doorway from Forest Creeks into the real world, and now every monster that Eli ever imagined has been unleashed upon their town!

  2. How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth - Popular New Yorker cartoonist Paul Noth continues his illustrated middle grade series about a boy, his wacky family, and an out-of-this-world adventure in this laugh-out-loud sequel to How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens. Happy Conklin Jr. is still the only 10-year-old who has to shave three times a day, thanks to being tested on by his inventor father. And it’s safe to say Hap is the only 10-year-old who accidentally sold his entire family to aliens. The good news is that Hap managed to save his family—including his tyrannical Grandma—but now the Conklins face a problem that might put the whole world in danger . . . Hap wants a girl in his sixth-grade science class to be his lab partner but lacks the courage to even talk to her. Through the mysterious powers of Squeep! the lizard, he finds a way to overcome this fear but also, unfortunately, opens a black hole in his middle school that will swallow the solar system unless he’s able to stop it. In his race against time to save everything, he’s helped by his sister Kayla, greatly hindered by his sister Alice, and uncovers the truth about Grandma’s plan to take over the Galaxy.

  3. Theodore Boone - Theodore Boone is back on the case in an all-new adventure! Bestselling author John Grisham delivers a page-turning legal thriller for a new generation of readers. Theo has been worried about his good friend Woody Lambert. Woody is struggling at school and making bad choices. But when Woody is arrested—an unwitting accomplice to armed robbery—Theo knows he is innocent. Racing the clock while Woody sits in jail, Theo will do everything in his power to help his friend and save Woody from an unforgiving system where justice is not equal for all. Brimming with the intrigue and suspense that made John Grisham a #1 international bestseller and undisputed master of the modern legal thriller, Theodore Boone’s trials and triumphs will keep readers hooked until the very last page.

Books About Middle School and Social Themes

Batneezer
Written & illustrated by Obert Skye
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

For the first time, Rob Burnside knows when his closet is about to open—but he’s not prepared for what emerges. A mash-up of Ebenezer Scrooge and Lego Batman, this new visitor’s unusual antics are only one of Rob’s problems. While enduring visits by the ghosts of books past, present, and future, Rob learns some shocking news: A battle is brewing, and his school needs a hero. What he gets is so much more (Spoiler alert: All the creatures from past books come visit!) Obert Skye doesn’t let his fans down in the hilarious final installment in the Creature from My Closet series. A Christy Ottaviano Book

I Am Fartacus
Written by Mark Maciejewski
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

When Chub leads his cadre of middle school misfits in an effort to bring down the evil empire led by his nemesis Arch, he inadvertently becomes the school hero.

The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee
Written & illustrated by Tom Angleberger
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

With Dwight attending Tippett Academy this semester, the kids of McQuarrie Middle School are on their ownNno Origami Yoda to give advice. Then Sara gets a gift she says is from DwightNa paper fortune-teller in the form of Chewbacca. It’s a Fortune Wookiee, and it seems to give advice that’s just as good as Yoda’s.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Pumpkin Spice Secrets - Just as Maddie picks up her pumpkin spice frappe from the coffee shop counter, she spills it all over the cute boy behind her. Talk about mortifying! Luckily, the boy—Jacob—is also friendly and easy-going, and soon Maddie is deeply in crush. But before she can tell her best friend Jana about him at lunch the next day, Jana announces her huge new crush—on Jacob! Maddie doesn’t want to cause trouble, so she keeps her feelings hidden. Can she stay true to her friend and her heart?

  2. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda - In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, Tommy assembles this first case file in the blockbuster bestselling Origami Yoda series, written by Tom Angleberger, author of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side, and hailed by School Library Journal as “honest, funny, and immensely entertaining.”

  3. Fuzzy Mud - “Two middle-grade kids take a shortcut home from school and discover what looks like fuzzy mud but is actually a substance with the potential to wreak havoc on the entire world”—

  4. Zack Delacruz - Zack Delacruz is unnoticed at his middle school—and that’s just the way he likes it. But a school assembly, a typhoon of spit, and an uncharacteristic moment of bravery are all it takes to change everything. Suddenly Zack is in charge of the class fundraiser. Worse, his partner is the school’s biggest bully! If they don’t sell all the chocolate bars, there will be no dance for the sixth grade. Zack never wanted to be a hero, but with his classmates’ hopes on the line, can he save the day?

Books About Middle School and Coming Of Age

Rodrick Rules
Written & illustrated by Jeff Kinney
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Whatever you do, don’t ask Greg Heffley how he spent his summer vacation, because he definitely doesn’t want to talk about it.

As Greg enters the new school year, he’s eager to put the past three months behind him . . . and one event in particular. Unfortunately for Greg, his older brother, Rodrick, knows all about the incident Greg wants to keep under wraps. But secrets have a way of getting out . . . especially when a diary is involved.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules chronicles Greg’s attempts to navigate the hazards of middle school, impress the girls, steer clear of the school talent show, and most important, keep his secret safe. The highly anticipated sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling book!

The Humiliations of Pipi McGee
Written & illustrated by Beth Vrabel
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Award-winning author Beth Vrabel writes with humor and empathy about a girl who wants to shed her embarrassing moments before she leaves middle school behind her.

The first eight years of Penelope McGee’s education have been a curriculum in humiliation. Now she is on a quest for redemption, and a little bit of revenge.

From her kindergarten self-portrait as a bacon with boobs, to fourth grade when she peed her pants in the library thanks to a stuck zipper to seventh grade where…well, she doesn’t talk about seventh grade. Ever.

After hearing the guidance counselor lecturing them on how high school will be a clean slate for everyone, Pipi—fearing that her eight humiliations will follow her into the halls of Northbrook High School—decides to use her last year in middle school to right the wrongs of her early education and save other innocents from the same picked-on, laughed-at fate. Pipi McGee is seeking redemption, but she’ll take revenge, too.

The Wednesday Wars
Written & illustrated by Gary D. Schmidt
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

During the 1967 school year, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker’s classroom where they read the plays of William Shakespeare and Holling learns muchof value about the world he lives in.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Stu Truly - Stu Truly is the coming-of-age story of 12-year-old Stu as he struggles to navigate the murky waters of adolescence when he finds himself living a lie-that seems to be growing beyond his control-to impress the new girl in school. When Stuart Cornelius Truly first sets eyes on the new girl, Becca, he staples his finger to his seventh-grade history assignment. The second time he sees her, he coughs up a bite of her lunch-a vegetarian roasted pepper sandwich-all over her sweater, and promptly lies, claiming that he, too, is a vegetarian. Their third encounter goes more smoothly, but Stu’s lie turns out to be harder to keep than he expected, especially since his family owns a butcher shop. In this hilarious, heartwarming, contemporary middle grade novel, Stu suddenly begins to realize the opposite sex exists (and isn’t so bad, after all!). Can Stu learn to successfully navigate old friends, new crushes, and horror-filled school dances, or will his lie, intended to impress his crush, actually cause his world to fall apart?

  2. The Reckless Club - From award-winning author Beth Vrabel comes a new middle-grade Breakfast Club drama set in a old folks’ home. On the last day of middle school, five kids who couldn’t be more different commit separate pranks, each sure they won’t be caught and they can’t get in trouble. They’re wrong. As punishment, they each have to volunteer one beautiful summer day-the last one before school-at Northbrook Retirement and Assisted Living Home, where they’ll push creamed carrots into toothless mouths, perform the world’s most pathetic skit in front of residents who won’t remember it anyway, hold gnarled hands of peach fuzzed old ladies who relentlessly push hard candies, and somehow forge a bond with each other that has nothing to do with what they’ve done and everything to do with who they’re becoming. All the action takes place in the course of this one day, with each chapter one hour of that day, as the five kids reveal what they’ve done, why they did it, and what they’re going to do now.

  3. Blubber - What happens when teasing goes too far? This classic middle grade novel from Judy Blume addresses the timeless topic of bullying and has a fresh new look. “Blubber is a good name for her,” the note from Caroline said about Linda. Jill crumpled it up and left it on the corner of her school desk. She didn’t want to think about Linda or her dumb report on whales just then. Jill wanted to think about Halloween. But Robby grabbed the note and before Linda stopped talking it had gone halfway around the room. There was something about Linda that made a lot of kids in her fifth-grade class want to see how far they could go…but nobody, Jill least of all, expected the fun to end where it did.

  4. TBH #2: TBH, This May Be TMI - Told entirely in text messages, the second book in this addictive series from the acclaimed author of 11 Before 12 is perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle and Rachel Renee Russell. TBH, Cece has no time for her boy-crazy friends. She wants to make a bigger impact in middle school than just choosing the perfect kissy cat-face emoji. But that’s hard when Gabby and Prianka talk about their crushes 24/7. (To be honest, it’s way too much information!) Between nailing down summer plans, getting busted for iMessaging in class, and organizing the spring fair, things are getting rocky for the BFFs. But when Prianka gets an SOS text from her friend Vishal, the girls realize they need to band together—because some of their classmates have bigger challenges than dealing with sixth grade stress.

Books About Middle School and Family Life

The Size of the Truth
Written by Andrew Smith
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A boy who spent three days trapped in a well tries to overcome his PTSD and claustrophobia so he can fulfill his dream of becoming a famous chef in Andrew Smith’s first middle grade novel.

When he was four years old, Sam Abernathy was trapped at the bottom of a well for three days, where he was teased by a smart-aleck armadillo named Bartleby. Since then, his parents plan every move he makes.

But Sam doesn’t like their plans. He doesn’t want to go to MIT. And he doesn’t want to skip two grades, being stuck in the eighth grade as an eleven-year-old with James Jenkins, the boy he’s sure pushed him into the well in the first place. He wants to be a chef. And he’s going to start by entering the first annual Blue Creek Days Colonel Jenkins Macaroni and Cheese Cook-Off.

That is, if he can survive eighth grade, and figure out the size of the truth that has slipped Sam’s memory for seven years.

Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat: Enemies
Written by Emily Chenoweth and Johnny Marchiano & illustrated by Robb Mommaerts
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Klawde is not your basic cat. He’s an emperor from another planet, exiled to Earth. He’s cruel. He’s cunning. He’s brilliant… and he’s also Raj Banerjee’s best friend. Klawde and Raj are back! As summer turns to fall, our favorite warlord cat remains in his pitiful exiled existence. But Raj has an even scarier prospect than cosmic exile: starting at a new school. And if things didn’t seem complicated enough, both cat and human are confronted with two figures from their past they did not expect to pop up in Elba, Oregon… Heavily illustrated, with a hilarious, biting voice that switches between Raj’s and Klawde’s perspectives, Klawde #2 is the story of an unlikely friendship that emerges as two fish out of water continue to find their footing in strange new worlds.

Royal Wedding Disaster: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess
Written by Meg Cabot
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

You are invited to a Genovian Royal Wedding in this second book pulled From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, a Princess Diaries spin-off series, written and illustrated by New York Times-bestselling author Meg Cabot.

Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison still finds it hard to believe that she’s a real live PRINCESS OF GENOVIA. Not only does she get to live in an actual palace with her newly discovered family and two fabulous poodles (who all love her and think that she’s anything but ordinary!), but she also gets her very own PONY!

Of course, things aren’t going exactly like she imagined. Her half-sister Mia is very busy learning how to take over the country while trying to plan a wedding and her father is actually getting remarried himself—to Mia’s mother!—and spends most of his time “renovating” the summer palace, although Grandmere says he is just hiding from the wedding preparations. Olivia hardly gets to see either of them.

Fortunately, Grandmere has her own plans for Mia’s wedding, and needs Olivia’s help to pull them off. Just when Olivia starts to think that things are going to work out after all, the palace is invaded by a host of new cousins and other royals who all seem to be angry at Olivia (although Grandmere says they are just jealous). As the day of the wedding gets closer and closer, Olivia becomes more and more worried.

For such a carefully planned event, it seems like a LOT of things are going wrong. . . . Can Olivia keep this royal wedding from becoming a royal disaster?

This is fun, illustrated middle grade—and this is the first series illustrated by Meg Cabot herself! The paperback features an interview with Meg Cabot and an excerpt of the next book.

Honorable Mentions
  1. On Point - From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the second book in an exciting new chapter book series about a scrawny fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Now that Zayd has made the Gold Team, he’s hustling hard and loving every minute of the season. But when team starts to struggle, Zayd can’t help wondering if it has something to do with him. Even worse, his best friend Adam suddenly starts acting like he doesn’t care about basketball anymore, even though they are finally teammates. He stops playing basketball with Zayd at recess and starts hanging out with other kids. Then, Adam up and quits the Gold Team to play football instead. While his uncle’s wedding preparations turn life into a circus at home, Zayd is left on his own to figure things out. He has to decide how to still be friends with Adam and step up to fill the empty shoes he left on the court. Does Zayd have what it takes to be on point and lead his team back to victory?

  2. Liar & Spy - Seventh-grader Georges adjusts to moving from a house to an apartment, his father’s efforts to start a new business, his mother’s extra shifts as a nurse, being picked on at school, and Safer, a boy who wants his help spying on another resident of their building.

Books About Middle School and Peer Pressure

Let's Pretend We Never Met
Written by Melissa Walker & illustrated by Lucy Truman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Mattie Markham is sweet and winning, very real, and a sixth-grade heroine. Add this book to your treasure shelf.” (Natalie Standiford, author of The Secret Tree)

“A heartwarming and completely charming story about moving on, growing up, and being yourself.” (Sarah Mlynowski, New York Times bestselling author of the Whatever After series)

“A gentle look at the challenges of both fitting in to a new situation and having a friend with special needs.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)

“An accessible chapter book with a clear but gently delivered message.” (Booklist)

“I love how this book gets the fragile ecosystem that is middle school. There’s a purity to the voice that feels very real, very Judy Blume. Loved it!” (R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder)

All's Faire in Middle School
Written & illustrated by Victoria Jamieson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Calling all Raina Telgemeier fans! The Newbery Honor-winning author of Roller Girl is back with a heartwarming graphic novel about starting middle school, surviving your embarrassing family, and the Renaissance Faire.

Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire, and she’s eager to begin her own training as a squire. First, though, she’ll need to prove her bravery. Luckily Impy has just the quest in mind—she’ll go to public school after a life of being homeschooled! But it’s not easy to act like a noble knight-in-training in middle school. Impy falls in with a group of girls who seem really nice (until they don’t) and starts to be embarrassed of her thrift shop apparel, her family’s unusual lifestyle, and their small, messy apartment. Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.

As she did in Roller Girl, Victoria Jamieson perfectly—and authentically—captures the bittersweetness of middle school life with humor, warmth, and understanding.

Goodbye Stranger
Written by Rebecca Stead
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-10

This brilliant, New York Times bestselling novel from the author of the Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me explores multiple perspectives on the bonds and limits of friendship. Long ago, best friends Bridge, Emily, and Tab made a pact: no fighting. But it’s the start of seventh grade, and everything is changing. Emily’s new curves are attracting attention, and Tab is suddenly a member of the Human Rights Club. And then there’s Bridge. She’s started wearing cat ears and is the only one who’s still tempted to draw funny cartoons on her homework. It’s also the beginning of seventh grade for Sherm Russo. He wonders: what does it mean to fall for a girl—as a friend? By the time Valentine’s Day approaches, the girls have begun to question the bonds—and the limits—of friendship. Can they grow up without growing apart? “Sensitively explores togetherness, aloneness, betrayal and love.” —The New York Times A Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book for Fiction Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, NPR, and more!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Elle of the Ball - From 2015 WNBA MVP, 2016 Olympic gold medalist, and global ambassador to the Special Olympics Elena Delle Donne comes the first novel in a brand-new middle grade series with as much heart as there is game. Elle Deluca is a seventh grader who is tall—not just sort of tall. She’s six feet tall. And for a twelve-year-old girl, this means that her basketball team has high hopes for her changing positions and becoming their starting center. But a new position is not the only footwork she has to learn. Her class’s dance unit in gym is coming up, and that means she has to learn ballroom dance steps with a boy much shorter than her—and perform publically for a grade. In the first book in WNBA MVP and Olympic gold medalist Elena Delle Donne’s Hoops series, Elle must figure out a way to remain herself when others want her to be someone else.

  2. A Boy Named Queen - Evelyn is both aghast and fascinated when a new boy comes to grade five and tells everyone his name is Queen. Queen wears shiny gym shorts and wants to organize a chess/environment club. His father plays weird loud music and has tattoos. How will the class react? How will Evelyn? Evelyn is an only child with a strict routine and an even stricter mother. And yet in her quiet way she notices things. She takes particular notice of this boy named Queen. The way the bullies don’t seem to faze him. The way he seems to live by his own rules. When it turns out that they take the same route home from school, Evelyn and Queen become friends, almost against Evelyn’s better judgment. She even finds Queen irritating at times. Why doesn’t he just shut up and stop attracting so much attention to himself? Yet he is the most interesting person she has ever met. So when she receives a last-minute invitation to his birthday party, she knows she must somehow persuade her mother to let her go, even if it means ignoring the No Gifts request and shopping for what her mother considers to be an appropriate gift, appropriately wrapped with “boy” wrapping paper. Her visit to Queen’s house opens Evelyn’s eyes to a whole new world, including an unconventional goody bag (leftover potato latkes wrapped in waxed paper and a pair of barely used red sneakers). And when it comes time for her to take something to school for Hype and Share, Evelyn suddenly looks at her chosen offering — her mother’s antique cream jug — and sees new and marvelous possibilities.

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