Your favorite Middle Grade books?

Please, help me!

I’m writing a Middle Grade book, publishing industry-speak for a chapter book for 8 – 12 year olds (though I’m thinking age 6 – infinity). I’m a voracious reader, but mostly I spend my precious few moments of reading time with contemporary adult novels or books about politics and culture. Obviously, I read chapter books with the kids, but they read ahead on their own and when it’s my turn again, I can’t follow a thing. So I’m not counting those books as real reading time.

I’m reading The Lighting Thief on my own now and love it. I’ve always been a fan of Greek mythology, and it’s cool to read about it in a contemporary setting. It’s male dominated of course (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades “the big three” divide up the world as in the original; Percy, our hero, has adventures; females come in and out to aid his quest) but I’m not focusing on female characters right now (or trying not to, ha!) I’m mainly looking for great writing. My favorite kids’ author ever may be Roald Dahl.

I’m writing a fantasy book so that’s probably the genre I should stick to. I’m looking for good contemporary series and classics.

Thanks for your suggestions!


13 thoughts on “Your favorite Middle Grade books?

  1. I’m not sure where the MG/YA cutoff is, but a few more suggestions:

    -Robin McKinley – I particularly enjoyed The Blue Sword as pre-teen
    -Tamora Pierce – lots of strong female characters
    -Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series
    -Suzanne Collins, the author of the Hunger Games trilogy, also has a series about Gregor the Underlander, which may skew a bit younger (the hero is certainly younger)

  2. Rosemary Sutcliff for historical fiction; “The Armourer’s House” is my beloved childhood favourite, but “Eagle of the Ninth” is the most gripping adventure.

    Gillian Cross for something more modern: the Dark Ground Trilogy.

  3. The ‘Fablehaven’ series is really great and fun. Plus it has a strong female lead.

    I agree with the previous post, that the ‘Earthsea Trilogy’ is wonderful and has a great female author.

      • Diana Wynne Jones is a fabulous writer. She wrote the Chrestomanci series starting with ‘Charmed Life’ in 1977 with ‘The Pinhoe Egg’ the last one in 2006. ‘Charmed Life’ is readable (and very good) on its own and is more Middle Grade than YA. A couple of the later ones feel more YA to me. As does her Howl’s Moving Castle series (1986-2008). Of her other books ‘Wild Robert’ (1989) is fun and definitely not YA. But all her books are good.

        The Ranger’s Apprentice series (2004-2011 so far)are a bit boy-centric but good fantasy. Two other good recent books are ‘The Devil Walks’ by Anne Fine and ‘Troubletwisters’ by Garth Nix and Sean Williams.

  4. I’m a middle grade author, so I have a ton of suggestions! Without knowing more about your specific interests, I’d recommend:

    KAT, INCORRIGIBLE by Stephanie Burgis
    THE MAGIC THIEF series by Sarah Prineas
    THE GOLDEN COMPASS by Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials series)
    SAVVY by Ingrid Law
    THE FLOATING ISLANDS by Rachel Neumeier
    KID vs. SQUID by Greg van Eekhout

    These are all recent except for the Pullman — just the last few years — and I could probably list dozens more if you want something in particular.

    Good luck with your book!!

    • Jenn,

      Thanks so much for these suggestions. I have only heard of The Golden Compass which I read in fragments b/c this was one of the books where my daughter kept skipping ahead. What are your books?


      • Hi Margot, my MG book is ABOVE WORLD, coming out on Feb 14th, 2012 from Candlewick Press. It’s a science fantasy adventure — I wanted to do science fiction with an epic fantasy feel. I haven’t been able to show off the cover yet, but it’s listed on Amazon, B&N, etc. already. Thanks so much for asking!


  5. L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time”, TH Whites “Mrs. Masham’s Repose”, Robert O’Brien’s “Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh” “The Once and Future King”, Ursula LeGuin’s “Earthsea Trilogy”, Cornelia Funke’s “Inkheart” series, Phillip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass” and the rest of the series .. off the top of my head. Can’t wait to read your book! – Heather

    • Heather,

      I LOVE Wrinkle in Time, thanks so much for the reminder, I will re-read. Mrs. Frisby I also remember reading as a kid but not well, I’ll check it out again. Golden Compass is on my list and the other are now too.


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