5 Excellent Middle Grade Books for Girls and Boys

Today’s post comes from a wonderful source: The Children’s Book Review, hosted by Bianca Schulze.

Here are Bianca’s recommendations for five of the best MG books for children.

The art of creating life-long readers really comes down to getting the right books into the right hands at the right time. Once kids have the power to read, letting them choose books for themselves is a really important step in the process of learning to enjoy reading for pleasure. With the amount of wonderful middle grade books available, sometimes finding somewhere to start can be a challenge. Next time your child finds herself confronted with the question of “what to read next,” encourage her to select books that revolve around her passions and personal interests, or start by showing her some of these wonderful books for both girls and boys.

Matilda                                                         9780142410370_medium_Matilda copy

By Roald Dahl

Reading level: Ages 8-12

Throughout my childhood, I read many of Dahl’s books: James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Witches, The Twits (my second favorite) and (my favorite) Revolting Rhymes. Dahl’s talent lies within his power to create poignant satire—his ability to touch the hearts of young readers through absurdity is unmarked. I was so thrilled to introduce Roald Dahl to my daughter with the book loving character Matilda who empowers young girls to be knowledgeable and brave! I know this book has played a large part in turning my daughter into a lifelong reader and, with any luck, a reader that will continue to have a wickedly good sense of humor. Thank you Roald Dahl (forever in my reading heart) for your extreme and creative writing. Read more … (http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/weblog/2013/06/falling-in-love-with-reading-roald-dahls-matilda-25-years-of-matilda.html)

The Gollywhopper Games                                                           The-Golly-Whopper-Games

By Jody Feldman

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Where do I start? How about with a big fat ‘I loved this book’ and had so much fun reading it. Roald Dahl’sCharlie and the Chocolate Factory just happens to be the inspiration behind The Gollywhopper Games. Feldman, a librarian, came up with the idea for the story after a young boy returned Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to her library and requested something similar. When there really wasn’t much literature to compare with the wonderful and magical world Dahl had created, Feldman set about writing The Gollywhopper Games. While the format of the two stories follows a very similar path, Feldman has managed to create an energetic and unique tale all of her own. Gil’s dad promises him they will be able to move away from the trouble that surrounds them if he wins the Gollywhopper Games—an amazing competition held by the ‘Golly Toy and Game Company.’ The competition involves trivia, puzzles, stunts, and the ability to work as a team— thousands of children battle for the ultimate prize. Making the best of a bad situation is certainly encouraged and the message is provided to kids that if you want something bad enough you just might be able to achieve it if you are willing to work hard and really set your mind to it. My hat goes off to Feldman for writing a book with such a creative magical essence that gets children thinking, learning and laughing. What more can you ask for? Read more … (http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/weblog/2008/07/the-gollywhopper-games-jody-feldman.html)

Inside Out & Back Again

By Thanhha Lai                                                                 InsideOutAndBackAgain

Reading level: Ages 8-12

How much do we know about those around us? This is the question that debut novelist Thanhha Lai challenged her readers with in Inside Out and Back Again. Based on Lai’s own personal experience as a Vietnamese refugee, she has crafted a poignant story divided into four parts using a series of poems that chronicle the life of 10-year-old Hà, a child–refugee from Vietnam, during the year 1975—the Fall of Saigon. Along with her mother and three brothers (her father has been missing in action for nine years), Hà travels by boat to a tent city in Guam, is moved to Florida and then finds herself living in Alabama sponsored by an “American cowboy” and his wife. In Alabama, the family are treated as outcasts and forced to integrate quickly through language, food, and religion, to be accepted as a part of the community.

Told with pure honesty, emotions run freely from verse to verse and page to page. Hà’s voice is clear, allowing readers to make a leap from sympathy to deep seeded empathy by experiencing her joy, pain, anger, frustration, loyalties, challenges, loss, and determination. The clarity of Hà’s self-awareness and development toward self-actualization is reminiscent of Susan Patron‘s character Lucky, also a 10-year-old girl, from the Newbery winner (2007) The Higher Power of Lucky (2006). Both characters suffer loss, make mistakes, struggle through emotional challenges, and, through sheer determination, intrinsically blossom.

Lai has created an emotionally powerful novel inspired by her own memories and each word is to be savored, pondered, experienced, and felt. Beautiful! Read more … (http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/weblog/2011/04/review-inside-out-back-again-by-thanhha-lai.html)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

By Brian Selznick                                                         TheInventionOfHugoCabret

Reading level: Ages 9-12

The Invention of Hugo Cabret was the winner of the Caldecott Medal in 2008. This book is a massive 500 pages, so it can look quite intimidating for its intended age, however, more than half of the pages are illustrated. The illustrations are a vital component of the story and provide important clues to the ever-evolving mystery.

The tale begins like a movie and the pictures set the scene of a dark night with a full moon that, as the pages pan out, turns into morning in Paris. The story is about a 12-year-old boy, Hugo, who is an orphan living inside the walls of a Paris train station. Before Hugo’s father (a clock maker) passed away in a fire, he had been working on fixing an adult size wind-up figure. Hugo makes it his purpose to fix the figure. He believes that, once reassembled, the figure will reveal a message left for him by his father.

Hugo begins to develop relationships with a girl named Isabelle and her godfather George (whose character is based on the famous film maker George Mieles) who owns a toyshop in the train station. Hugo first encounters George when he is caught stealing mechanical pieces from the shop to fix his wind-up man. Little does Hugo know … George and Isabelle just may be able to help him complete his task.

This book is a wonderful choice for kids who enjoy mysteries—it will even capture the attention of those that are not overly enthusiastic about reading. The illustrations really add such a ‘cool’ dimension—and based on its beauty and shiny Caldecott Medal, this book really makes a beautiful gift. Read more … (http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/weblog/2008/03/the-invention-of-hugo-cabret.html)


By Ingrid Law

Reading level: Ages 10-14

Ingrid Law’s first novel, Savvy, has a colorful array of characters who collaborate on an unexpected and heartfelt journey.  The story revolves around the Beaumont family, and in particular Mississippi (Mibs for short). Every family has its quirks, but none are quite as unique as the Beaumont’s. When a member of Mibs’ family turns 13 they receive a savvy—a supernatural gift. For some, a savvy can be a clever awareness and for others a major life change that has the potential to be a good resource once they learn to contain its unique power— such as creating hurricanes and electricity, like her brothers.

A few days before Mibs turns 13, her poppa ends up in the hospital after a car accident. The morning of her birthday Mibs awakens to believe that her savvy is just right for saving her poppa’s life, the only problem is that the hospital is miles from her house. Her solution … to sneak onto a bus belonging to a bible salesman—and this is where the real fun begins and the unforgettable adventure takes off! This is certainly a novel aimed at tweens, and manages to convey pitch-perfect messages dealing with peers, guilt and growing up. While the story is based on the family’s supernatural powers, the emotion and events are certainly the main features that carry this powerful story, and I am positive that any child who reads this will find an element to truly connect with. Read more … (http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/weblog/2008/07/savvy-ingrid-law.html)

Bio: Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids. She is an aspiring author, a mother to two daughters, and has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, her goal is to grow readers by showcasing great books for kids! Visit: http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheChildrensBookReview

Twitter: https://twitter.com/book_mommy


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