11 Great Works of Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

Sci-fi and fantasy stories can be a great source of escapism, but sometimes it's nice for kids to be able to read about situations that are more relatable to them. The eleven middle grade books listed here are great for young readers who want to connect with characters their own age as they overcome hardship, achieve their dreams, and discover their true identities. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

11 Great Works of Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

Title Author Illustrator
1. The House That Lou Built Mae Respicio N/A
2. Counting Thyme Melanie Conklin N/A
3. Miss Popularity and the Best Friend Disaster Francesco Sedita N/A
4. Roller Boy Marcia Strykowski N/A
5. Piper Green and the Fairy Tree Ellen Potter Qin Leng
6. Ethan Marcus Stands Up Michele Weber Hurwitz N/A
7. Isabella for Real Margie Palatini LeUyen Pham
8. Soar Tracy Edward Wymer N/A
9. The Kindness Club Courtney Sheinmel N/A
10. The Carnival of Wishes and Dreams Jenny Lundquist N/A
11. Things That Surprise You Jennifer Maschari N/A

How to Encourage Kids to Read

A great way to start is to get a bookshelf for your child's room. If they have access to their own collection of books, it'll be easy for them to read at their own pace. And if they're looking at the shelf everyday, reading will always be on their mind. It's also important to give your kids a comfortable place to sit. This can be anything from a rocking chair to a couch to a dedicated reading nook. If they have a space that's just for them, it makes reading time all the more special. As they grow, your young ones will start to read more challenging books with words they don't know. Encourage them to look up unfamiliar terms in the dictionary so they can expand their vocabulary. Finally, if you're having trouble getting your kid interested in books in the first place, try bridging the gap between visual media and literature with graphic novels.

10 Films Based on Middle Grade Books

  1. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
  2. Anne of Green Gables (2016)
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
  4. Sounder (1972)
  5. The Tale of Despereaux (2008)
  6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)
  7. Holes (2003)
  8. The BFG (2016)
  9. The Princess Bride (1987)
  10. Percy Jackson & the Olympians (2010)

Literary Charities

If you want to spread your love of literature with those in need, then you should consider looking into these non-profit organizations that help kids and teens get access to books and high-quality education.

  1. First Book
  2. Books for Kids
  3. Room to Read
  4. LitWorld
  5. 826 National
  6. KIPP

Capturing the Imagination of Middle Grade Readers

In Depth

For kids who are voracious readers, it can feel like there are never enough stories to dive into. Finding challenging, engaging reads that are based in the real world can be even more difficult. Luckily, there are plenty of amazing authors out there working to craft realistic, moving works aimed at kids who are developing their passion for reading, one thrilling story at a time. In no particular order, here are some of the best books for middle grade readers that take place in the here and now.

At #1, we find Mae Respicio's "The House That Lou Built." Lou Bulosan-Nelson lives with her large Filipino family in San Francisco. While her mother works overtime to keep a roof over their heads, Lou dreams of something more. With her natural talent for building and the spare plot of land that her dad left her before his early death, Lou decides to create something all her own. However, she'll soon discover that making your dreams come true is a lot easier with friends and family by your side.

For #2 we get "Counting Thyme" by Melanie Conklin. Eleven-year-old Thyme has a lot on her plate. Her little brother just started a new drug trial to treat his cancer, prompting her whole family to move to New York City. Thyme hates being uprooted at first. But as she grows to see the city's beauty and its many eccentricities, a new hope grows for her brother's future, and her own, in the city that never sleeps. For any kid who's struggling with a new adjustment, this heart-warming story is a perfect companion.

Eleven-year-old Thyme has a lot on her plate.

At #3 is Francesco Sedita's "Miss Popularity and the Best Friend Disaster." Preteen Cassie has settled into her new life in Maine. She's made plenty of friends and fallen in love with the Northeast. But when her old pals from Texas come to visit, they don't hit it off with her New England companions. Will Miss Popularity be able to make new friends and keep the old?

At #4 we find "Roller Boy" by Marcia Strykowski. Mateo just wants to be good at something. When he doesn't make the baseball team at school, he starts to think that he'll never find his calling. Then, he discovers his talent for roller-skating. While he's ashamed to tell his friends about his love of the "girly" sport and his parents think he should be studying instead, Mateo breaks convention and shows that true passion is worth fighting for.

Coming in at #5 is Ellen Potter's "Piper Green and the Fairy Tree." If you discovered a magical tree in front of your house, what would your first wish be? For Piper, it's an easy choice. As a quirky, outspoken kid dealing with lots of changes, a bit of magic is just what she needs to adjust to life's hard knocks. With fantastic illustrations by Qin Leng, this playful story is perfect for imaginative young readers.

For Piper, it's an easy choice.

#6, we get "Ethan Marcus Stands Up" by Michelle Weber Hurwitz. Staying seated in class is boring. At least, that's what Ethan thinks. He's sick and tired of sitting around listening to teachers drone on and on. So he decides to take a stand. But when Ethan decides to stand up, he causes a school-wide panic. Told through multiple perspectives, Hurwitz's book is a thoughtful story about the power of protest.

At #7 is Margie Palatini's "Isabella For Real." Isabella just became a YouTube sensation overnight. But fame isn't as easy as she thought it might be. With a larger-than-life Italian family to deal with and the pressures of viral fame growing by the second, how will Isabella ever be able to live a normal life again?

#8 is "Soar" by Tracy Edward Wymer. Seventh grade is off to a rough start for Eddie. He's got a crush on the new girl and is putting all he has into a project that's going to win him the blue ribbon at the science fair. But there's something else that's bothering Eddie: his Dad died last year, and their shared passion for birding and nature is all Eddie has left to remember him by. For anyone who's struggling with loss, this touching story of dreams made real is the perfect salve.

Seventh grade is off to a rough start for Eddie.

At #9, is Courtney Sheinmel's "The Kindness Club." After her parents' divorce, Chloe is determined to be optimistic. Together with her friends, she forms the Kindness Club, committing to spreading cheer around school. But when Chloe is poached by one of the popular girls to join their "It" crew, will Chloe leave her old friends, and her commitment to kindness, behind?

For #10 we have "The Carnival of Wishes and Dreams" by Jenny Lundquist. Harlow, Grace, and Audrey live in a struggling town that's seen its fair share of tragedy. Even with the upcoming carnival to look forward to, the three friends are still feeling the strain of their own personal losses. But when they all receive mysterious notes from a stranger telling them to meet them by the Ferris wheel, can they come together once more to re-discover the magic of life? Packed with drama and intrigue, this is a powerful story about friendship.

Finally, at #11, is Jennifer Maschari's "Things That Surprise You." Best friends Emily and Hazel are excited to start middle school. At home, however, things aren't so great. Emily's parents are getting divorced and her sister is in treatment for an eating disorder. Hazel, meanwhile, has started to wear makeup and go around with the popular crew. With so much change surrounding them, will their friendship be able to stay strong? This deftly-written tale takes on heavy themes with a light, sweetly empathetic touch.