By Sarah Hauge, Publisher, Macaroni KID, Englewood, Greenwood Village, Centennial, CO January 29, 2024

Though middle-grade fiction is written for the pre-teen (ages 8-12) crowd, these niche pieces of literature have quickly climbed to the top of my favorites list. Even as an adult, I can proudly say that middle-grade fiction is my #1 go-to book genre... and there's no shame in that! Adults stand to learn a lot from middle-grade fiction, and these books can bridge the gap between kids and their caregivers.

One of the reasons I turn to middle-grade fiction first is that the content offers a quick escape from the stresses of everyday life. With simple language and page counts typically under 300, these books tend to have imaginative storylines that transport readers to far-off places and inspire them to think like a kid again. Where else do you get the opportunity to hold conversations with animals, picture a world built in the clouds, or dream up a lifestyle based on magical powers?

In addition to thrilling adventures, middle-grade fiction can be a valuable tool for personal growth. I've found that these books often deal with complex themes such as identity, friendship, and coming of age. Reading about these experiences has encouraged me to reflect on my own life and gain new insights as I raise my children through their tween years.

Not sure which books to start with? Below you'll find a whole slew of fantastic middle-grade fiction to explore. Whether you choose to start with a series, read through the rainbow, or pick up a book at random, these tried and true titles are ones you don't want to miss!

Recommended middle-grade books... in a series:

  • The Explorers by Adrienne Kress
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
  • Arlo Finch by John August

Recommended middle-grade books... with red covers:

  • The Bookwanderers by Anna James
  • Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet
  • Becoming Muhammad Ali by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander
  • Ahmed Aziz's Epic Year by Nina Hamza
  • Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

middle-grade books... with orange covers:

  • Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D Williams
  • The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
  • Fire on Headless Mountain by Iain Lawrence
  • Restart by Gordon Korman
  • The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

Recommended middle-grade books... with yellow covers:

  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  • The Unteachables by Gordon Korman
  • What We Found in the Corn Maze and How It Saved a Dragon by Henry Clark
  • Saving Fable by Scott Reintgen
  • Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

middle-grade books... with green covers:

  • The Girl from Earth's End by Tara Dairman
  • Beginners Welcome by Cindy Baldwin
  • If We Were Giants by Dave Matthews and Clete Barrett Smith
  • The Simple Art of Flying by Cory Leonardo
  • Genevieve's War by Patricia Reilly Giff

Recommended middle-grade books... with blue covers:

  • The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
  • Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Regan Barnhill
  • Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
  • The Tragical Tale of Birdie Bloom by Temre Beltz

Recommended middle-grade books... with purple covers:

  • Sweep by Jonathan Auxier
  • Wish by Barbara O'Connor
  • All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey
  • The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu
  • The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

Other recommended 
middle-grade books:

  • Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk
  • Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
  • The Elephant's Girl by Celesta Rimington
  • A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
  • City Spies by James Ponti
  • The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • The Christmas Pig by J.K. Rowling
  • Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas
  • New From Here by Kelly Yang
  • Letters from Cuba by Ruth Behar
  • Willodeen by Katherine Applegate
  • Inside Out & Back Again by Thanha Lai
  • A Game of Fox & Squirrels by Jenn Reese
  • My Life in the Fish Tank by Barbara Dee

Here's my challenge to you this week: Take some time for a literary escape or work on some personal growth. Whatever your preference, there are so many wonderful middle-grade fiction books to explore. Happy reading!