The winter holidays are almost here, and that means we’re getting lots of questions here at FBK about the best books to give as gifts. Middle grade books can be particularly challenging for gift-givers, because it takes more than a quick glance to see what they’re all about.
Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
If you are looking to give the gift of literacy this holiday season, put these new, diverse middle-grade books on your list! Whether your child likes fantasy, horror, graphic novels, or realistic fiction, we’ve got you covered! These books are perfect for kids in grades 3 through 6.
You may also enjoy these Chapter Books that Center Latinx Girls!
11 Diverse Middle Grade Books
The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy
Three starred reviews makes this new middle-grade book a must read! Rahul Kapoor, an Indian American boy, just entered seventh grade where hormones are awakening all around him! His friends are suddenly getting crushes, and he is, too. However, his crushes are a bit different than his peers- he is crushing on boys. Kirkus Reviews says Rahul has a “devastatingly honest voice,” and that the book doesn’t shy away from social issues.
I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day
Christine Day has released a debut novel that helps to fill a major gap in diverse children’s literature – books featuring Native American children and families. Edie Green uncovers some family history- and secrets- when she finds a box of old things in her attic. Through the lens of this seventh grade girl, Day tells an intricate story of injustices against Native Americans, Pacific Northwest tribes, and the Child Welfare Act of 1978.
Revenge of the Red Club by Kim Harrington
Revenge of the Red Club is the book to read for any young feminist! Young journalist Riley leads a movement against her school administration after they enact strict dress code rules and shut down The Red Club, a period support group. Booklist says this book is “an instruction manual on standing up for one’s beliefs.”
Roll With It by Jamie Sumner
Yet another October release that aims to fill a needed gap, Roll With It is a story of Ellie, a wheelchair-bound girl with cerebral palsy and her mother, who move to Oklahoma to care for Ellie’s grandfather who has Alzheimer’s. The story follows her as she navigates her new school, attempts to make new friends, and has strains put on her relationship with her mother. The book has a voice and style that will very much appeal to the intended audience!
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
Mbalia’s debut middle grade is another gem from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is a “middle grade American Gods,” that weaves together African American folklore with West African myth. Don’t miss it!
Under the Broken Sky by Mariko Nagai
This novel in verse follows Natsu, a young Japanese girl living during WWII, as she tries to find her little sister after being left orphaned by her father’s recruitment to the Japanese army. Nagai’s novel is a powerful, important adventure story that will enlighten its readers of a lesser known aspect of WWII.
The Boy With the Butterfly Mind by Victoria Williamson
When representing disabled people in children’s literature, neurodiversity and mental health are sometimes neglected topics. Williamson brings an important perspective to the table with her story of Jamie Lee and his family, which is in disarray after a dramatic divorce. Not only does Williamson captures the feelings of children going through family heartbreak, she also captures the mind and perspective of Jamie, a person with severe ADHD, how the divorce affects his mind, and how his new blended family reacts to it.
Charlie Hernandez and the Castle of Bones by Ryan Calejo
The next in a wave of great middle grade books based on multicultural folklore, Charlie Hernandez and the Castle of Bones is a book packed with Latinx heritage. This fast-paced action/fantasy will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter and is likely to have to a sequel or two!
The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown
India Hill Brown’s debut novel is a cross between horror and historical fiction. The story follows Iris and Daniel as they conduct a social studies project on a haunted segregated cemetery. The story doesn’t shy away from racism, both historical and present-day, and is sure to be a great read for fans of spooky stories!
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile
A graphic novel adaption of the Newbery winning novel, this book is a must-read! Kwame Alexander’s poetry pops on the pages, and the black, white, and orange illustrations bring the story to life. I personally loved this adaptation so much, I had to go back and read the original. What a work of art!
Stargazing by Jen Wang
This partially autobiographical graphic novel is about Moon, a Chinese-American girl who is navigating friendship and family, and often finds herself torn between tradition and her American identity. This book is a great addition to any library, not only for its diverse perspective, but for its authenticity. Hand it to fans of Shannon Hale’s Real Friends.