Best Book Gifts for Middle Grade Readers

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Life gets busy for our young people with homework and after school activities and around the tween years and reading for pleasure often declines, even in children who have previously loved reading. The pressure is on to help them find a balance between reading, social media, socialising, studying and extra-curricular pursuits. 

It is also a challenging age in terms of book choices as they begin to transition from younger reader books to books for more mature readers. This is where ‘middle-grade’ comes into play. Middle grade novels are most suitable for readers from 12-15 and are a great way to ‘hold the hands’ of young readers as they walk/read their way from younger fiction…to the world of YA fiction; a more gentle transition than if we went from say, junior fiction fairy books to hard core young adult novels with *all* the mature themes!  Middle-grade often feature themes of friendships, family, social issues and community or wider world issues, with relateable central characters. It is common for children to want to read novels with characters who are the same age or slightly older, using the experiences, mistakes and successes of characters to question how they might face similar realities in their own lives. Through the vicarious experience offered by reading novels, they have the opportunity to step into other people’s shoes, developing empathy and understandings.

Some of my favourite middle-grade novels for gift giving are below. Not every single title will be in print, but your local library will/should have copies.

Click on titles to purchase or read more. 

Middle Grade Novels

*Caregivers should always consider suitability of a title for their individual child

‘The Secrets We Keep’ & ‘The Secrets We Share’ by Nova Weetman | Family, grief, friendships, sport

‘Sick Bay’ by Nova Weetman | homelife, diabetes, chronic illness, family, school, friendships

‘The Mulberry Tree’ and ‘The Turnkey’ by Allison Rushby | Mystery, suspense

‘How to Bee’ by Bren MacDibble | dystopian, environment, bees, family

‘The Dog Runner’ by Bren MacDibble | dystopian, environment, dogsledding, dogs, siblings, survival

‘The Fall’ by Tristan Bancks | Mystery, suspense, crime

‘Ateban Cipher’ (series) by A.L. Tait | mystery, fantasty, historical

‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry | dystopian, community, isolation

‘Counting by 7’s’ by Holly Goldberg Sloan | Grief, family, giftedness, community, kindness

‘Indigo Blue’ by Jessica Watson | Adventure

‘Amal Unbound’ by Aisha Saeed | Pakistan, Family, Servitude, Cultural Diversity

‘A Song Only I Can Hear’ by Barry Jonsberg | Family, Identity, Romance, Growing Up

‘Sweet Adversity’ by Sheryl Gwyther | Historical, Adventure, Family, Orphans

‘Missing’ by Sue Whiting | Grief & Loss, Mystery, Family, Identity

‘Smile’, ‘Sisters’, ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Drama’ by Reina Telegemeier | Graphic Novel format, Family, Friendship

‘When You Reach Me’ by Rebecca Stead | Mystery, Family, Identity

‘A Single Stone’ by Meg McKinlay | Dystopia, Survival, Family

‘Catch a Falling Star’ by Meg McKinlay | realistic fiction, grief, friendship, family

‘Raymie Nightingale‘ by Kate DiCamillo | Friendships, Family (‘Louisiana’s Way Home’ coming October)

‘The Flyaway Girls‘ by Julia Lawrinson | Sport, Identity, Growing Up, Friendship

‘The Girl Who Drank The Moon’ by Kelly Barnhill | Magic, fantasy, witches (younger)

‘The River Charm’ (series) by Belinda Murrell | charm bracelet, historical Australian fiction, Time slip

‘Homecoming’ (series) by Cynthia Voigt | self-reliance, children, single parents, survival

‘Don’t Call Me Ishmael’ (series) by Michael Gerard Bauer| Humour, debating, schools, friends, Bullying, Family

‘One Perfect Pirouette’ by Sherryl Clark | family, ballet, realistic fiction, sport

‘A Rose for the ANZAC Boys’ by Jackie French | war, historical fiction, women in war, Survival, Family

‘Surface Tension’ by Meg McKinlay |mystery, suspense, friendship, family

‘Once’, ‘Then’, ‘Now’, ‘After’, ‘Maybe’ and  ‘Soon’ by Morris Gleitzman | war, history, family, bravery

‘Forget Me Not’ by S Lawson| Titanic, adventure, voyage, family

‘Wonder’ by RJ Palacio | friendship, difference, special needs, identity

‘A Very Unusual Pursuit’ by Catherine Jinks |monsters, London, danger, adventure

‘Ship Kings’ (series) by Andrew McGahan |alternate worlds, heroism, destiny, seafaring

‘Detention’ by Tristan Bancks | contemporary fiction, detention centres, refugees


Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

My book recommendations (for babies to young adults) is here and you can peruse ALL of my reviews (searchable by age, genre and theme) here.

Check out my mini ebook, 'What to Read Next' or sign up for my FREE webinar, '3 Tips to Start the Best Book Club Ever'.

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