2023 Staff Picks : Grades 6-8

By Skokie Staff Youth Services

You'll find books about fitting in, family struggles, romance, friendship, and grief in these books perfect for middle schoolers.

  • Something Like Home

    2023 by Arango, Andrea Beatriz

    I absolutely loved this book in verse about a girl living in kinship foster care with her estranged Tia. Laura struggles to read, struggles with the big feelings she has about her parents in rehab, and works hard to train a dog she rescued to become a therapy dog. This book has so many big, beautiful feelings, it is hands down one of the best books I've read this year. Suggested by Amanda.

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  • Rosewood: A Midsummer Meet Cute

    2023 by DasGupta, Sayantani

    Blending Jane Austen and Shakespeare, with a Bridgerton-like TV series/Regency-themed acting camp thrown into the mix—what’s not to like? Give a round of applause for this creative retelling of Sense and Sensibility. Suggested by Sharon.

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  • Freestyle

    2022 by Galligan, Gale

    This graphic novel is a compelling tale of friendship that I especially liked because it made me want to learn something new—how to yo-yo! It provided so much energy with dance competitions and yo-yo tricks, I wanted to get up and move at the same time as I wanted to stay put and keep turning the pages. Suggested by Lorrie.

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  • The Order of Things

    2023 by Langley, Kaija

    I picked this book up on a whim and was blown away. It's a story of grief, love, friendship, and the power of making music. Suggested by Katie.

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  • A Work in Progress

    2023 by Lerner, Jarrett

    I loved this poignant tale presented in the form of an elementary student's journal. The narrator, Will, remembers a remark made to him in fourth grade that surprised him and hurt him so deeply that its impact stayed with him for years. Anyone who has ever been hurt by words will relate to Will's story. Suggested by Mary.

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  • Vivian Lantz's Second Chances

    2023 by Ormsbee, Kathryn

    One thing in life is certain: Vivian has terrible first days of school, but she's determined to have an amazing first day of 8th grade, and when everything goes wrong—helping her dads with flooding, getting her first period in school, not making the right friends—she gets the chance to redo the day again...and again...and again! This one is so fun and from family to Vivian's romantic leanings, it's just a fantastic time! Suggested by Amanda.

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  • Barely Floating

    2023 by Rivera, Lilliam

    I liked this book because Natalia is a proud fat Afro-Latina who is navigating working through her anger all while trying out a new sport: synchronized swimming! It shows how even close families can struggle with understanding each other and portrays the pure joy of synchronized swimming. Suggested by Amanda.

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  • A First Time for Everything

    2023 by Santat, Dan

    We loved this graphic memoir. It took us back to a time and place where similar emotions, feelings, and events were happening. It was a great reminder to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Lots of feels in this one—in the best way, of course! Suggested by Rummanah and Katie.

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  • Buzzing

    2023 by Sattin, Samuel

    I really appreciate this graphic novel about a teen struggling with OCD, social anxiety, and family and friend relationships. It gives readers a look into Isaac's intrusive thoughts as well as the more complicated yet universal aspects of teen angst and coming of age. Suggested by Mandy.

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  • Give Me a Sign

    2023 by Sortino, Anna

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book because we get to see a hard-of-hearing teenager navigate two cultures. She immerses herself more in deaf culture by attending a deaf and blind summer camp, learning from her peers about the culture and language. While we learn about what it means to rediscover our true selves, we also get to witness a budding summer romance. Suggested by Monica.

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  • The Love Match

    2023 by Taslim, Priyanka

    I love how this book balances a sweet, swoon-worthy romance with a journey of self discovery and a nuanced exploration of South Asian teens. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Corner

    2023 by Zo-O

    I would find joy in sharing this nearly wordless picture book with readers of a variety of ages. The clever use of the gutter (the middle of the book where the pages are sewn together) creates the corner that the title refers to. The main character, a bird, adds to it as the pages turn, and there continues to be something—until there isn't. Suggested by Lorrie.

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