2020 Staff Picks: Grades 6-8

By Skokie Staff Youth Services

Our favorite books published in 2020 for kids in middle school.

  • The Inheritance Games

    2020 by Barnes, Jennifer

    Puzzles, elaborate games, mysteries, and a rags-to-riches story. What's not to like? This is a page turner that can make you forget your troubles! Recommended by Cathy.

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  • Women's Art Work: More Than 30 Female Artists Who Changed the World

    2020 by Bennett, Sophia

    I enjoy reading about art and artists. This book tackles many often overlooked women artists and their contributions to the art world. This is a great art history book for all budding artists. Recommended by Sue.

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  • The Blackbird Girls

    2020 by Blankman, Anne

    This is a gripping story of two young girls who don't like each other but are forced to depend on each other while escaping from the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. I like that the chapters go back and forth between the girls and one of their grandmothers, who escaped the Nazis in 1941. This book deals beautifully with some very heavy subjects. Recommended by Sue

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  • The Light in Hidden Places: A Novel Based on the True Story of Stefania Pódgorska

    2020 by Cameron, Sharon

    Amazing and gripping! Based on a true story of a teenage girl raising her little sister and hiding 13 Jews in her attic in war-torn Poland. The difficulties were enormous. Very powerful read. Recommended by Cathy.

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  • Santiago's Road Home

    2020 by Diaz, Alexandra

    This book made me see more clearly the struggles people, particularly children, are having crossing the U.S. border from Mexico. It was definitely an eye-opener for me. Recommended by Karen.

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  • Dress Coded

    2020 by Firestone, Carrie

    This book shows the power of one girl using social media. Molly made a difference! The school administrators used their power to hurt, and Molly stopped it. Recommended by Karen

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  • The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh

    2020 by Fleming, Candace

    What an eye-opening book! A meticulously researched and thrilling read about a person we might have a totally wrong idea about. Recommended by Gudrun

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  • Rick

    2020 by Gino, Alex

    I liked the introduction to, and discussions about, the LGBTQIAP+ community and middle schoolers with questions. Recommended by Meleesa.

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  • When Stars Are Scattered

    2020 by Jamieson, Victoria

    I really liked this absolute gut-punch of a book. Omar's story had me on pins and needles, and the combination of storytelling and art takes you right to the heart of his journey. It's heartbreaking and hopeful and so lovely. Recommended by Caitlin.

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  • Snapdragon

    2020 by Leyh, Kat

    I loved that this was a story about friendships and caring for each other above all else, with an added element of magic. Great characters, plus the story itself is an absorbing page turner. Recommended by Louise.

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  • Show Me a Sign

    2020 by LeZotte, Ann Clare

    I fell in love with Mary, the main character, from the very first page. She shows amazing resilience and confidence as she confronts prejudice and racism. Recommended by Gudrun.

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  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington

    2020 by Marks, Janae

    I love this book because Zoe is such a passionate and smart character. This book left me feeling hopeful. Zoe has to navigate a boy/girl friendship, a mom that lets her down for the first time, and a big secret. She's got spunk and heart and she gives out some interesting recipes! Recommended by Katie.

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  • What Lane?

    2020 by Maldonado, Torrey

    As a mom of a mixed-race boy, I knew I had to read this one...and it's a great story! It really captures the inner struggles of middle-school kids trying to find their place in this world. I like how it asks some tough questions but also provides some answers and actions for kids who want to make the world a better place for everyone. Recommended by Gudrun.

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  • Tristan Strong Destroys the World

    2020 by Mbalia, Kwame

    Tristan is back in his second tale and returns to the magical world of Alke to save his grandmother, who was kidnapped by the Shamble Man. I loved Tristan’s first adventure and this one--his second--was just as good! A powerful tale about stories and the power our stories hold. I loved this book from start to finish. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • Chirp

    2020 by Messner, Kate

    I love how Mia maneuvers friendships, family relationships, and her own courage to speak up. And there's a grandma who starts a cricket farm! As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think how I may have been affected by this brave friendship story when I most needed it. Recommended by Mandy.

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  • A Game of Fox & Squirrels

    2020 by Reese, Jenn

    This beautifully written story pulls you right into the characters' lives. It's a middle-grade novel that uses magical realism to tell a story about a girl overcoming abuse. Recommended by Louise

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  • How We Got to the Moon

    2020 by Rocco, John

    Getting people to the moon was a truly amazing feat, and this book shows just how many smart people were really involved. The illustrations are wonderful and the complicated science and engineering principles are clearly explained. Definitely not just for middle schoolers. Recommended by Gudrun

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  • Some Places More Than Others

    2019 by Watson, Renée

    I love this quiet story about a teen who finds her family's roots in the Harlem of her parents' youth. Recommended by Mary M.

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  • Before the Ever After

    2020 by Woodson, Jacqueline

    I like sports and I like novels in verse. This is a winning yet complex story that shows both winning and losing. Recommended by Karen.

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