2017 Staff Picks: Books for Middle Grade Readers

Our favorite books for 4th-6th graders.

  • All's Faire In Middle School

    2017 by Victoria Jamieson

    Roller Girl creator Victoria Jamieson authentically portrays the angst and struggle of trying to fit in while remaining true to yourself in this middle school graphic novel. Bittersweet, funny, and so true to life, readers won't have a hard time making friends with the quirky Imogene.

    Recommended by Mandy O’Brien.

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  • Orphan Island

    2017 by Laurel Snyder

    I loved this beautifully written story. Every year a new child arrives on the island, and the oldest child has to leave. We really feel the turmoil Jenny goes through when it’s her turn to leave.

    Recommended by Susan Teller.

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  • Beyond the Bright Sea

    2017 by Lauren Wolk

    Set in the 1920s in the Elizabeth Islands off Cape Cod, this compelling novel explores themes of identity and family. Through evocative prose that paints characters who feel immediately familiar, Wolk gives us a gem of a story that will linger with readers long after the final sentence.

    Recommended by Laura Partington.

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  • Real Friends

    2017 by Shannon Hale

    A totally honest and real story about making friends, losing friends, and figuring out what it means to find yourself and truly fit in. Hale’s autobiographical graphic novel about growing up in Salt Lake City feels so familiar. Like childhood, it’s messy and painful and mean; but also hilarious, and so beautiful. As good a read for adults as it is for kids!

    Recommended by Caitlin Savage.

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  • Forever, or a Long, Long Time

    2017 by Caela Carter

    Two siblings, once foster children, try to find their way as their world is once again turned upside down. This is a thoughtful, sensitive book with beautiful writing.

    Recommended by Caitlin Savage.

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  • Hello, Universe

    2017 by Erin Entrada Kelly

    A unique, well-written story about four misfits, a bully, and a guinea pig. It is about loneliness and friendship, trust and fear, feeling lost, and being found.

    Recommended by Caitlin Savage.

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  • Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

    2017 by Rita Garcia

    When his beloved blues-guitarist grandfather dies, Clayton Byrd seeks out his grandfather's bandmates to play one last set in his memory. We follow him into New York's underground where, instead of musicians, he finds troubles that force him to examine who he is and who he wants to be. Rita Williams-Garcia's tale of grief, family, and music has all the warmth, pain, and feeling of the best blues songs.

    Recommended by Jarrett.

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  • Flying Lessons & Other Stories


    Great stories by great authors. The diversity of the characters helps us view the world through new eyes.

    Recommended by Karen Trier.

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  • Me and Marvin Gardens

    2017 by A. S. King

    A likable 6th grader who is concerned with the environment discovers a strange animal who only eats plastic. Could this be the solution to pollution?

    Recommended by Karen Trier.

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  • The Shadow Cipher

    2017 by Laura Ruby

    Great mix of adventure, steampunk, and mystery with wonderfully diverse and well-executed characters. For fans of Book Scavenger or Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

    Recommended by Shelley Sutherland.

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