Realistic Fiction (Middle Grade)

You won't find dragons, superheroes, or dystopian futures in the texts gathered in this study guide collection. What you will find are stories that reflect life authentically, in all its (varied, marvelous, and sometimes messed up) forms. The texts in this collection are ideal for middle-grade readers.

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Relationships: SiblingsTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Action / Adventure

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Self Discovery, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Disability, Animals

Publication year 1990Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Class, Relationships, Parenting, Love / Sexuality, American Literature

Publication year 2002Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Identity: DisabilityTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Historical Fiction, Grief / Death, Depression / Suicide, Health / Medicine, Mental Illness, American Literature

Hattie Owen’s life changes the summer she turns 12 and meets the young uncle she never knew existed in Ann M. Martin’s middle-grade novel, A Corner of the Universe (2002). Uncle Adam has been kept a secret because of his mental problems. Adults have trouble handling his emotional extremes, but shy Hattie finds a true friend in her exuberant uncle. Adam teaches Hattie to explore life beyond the safety of her front porch. As Hattie... Read A Corner of the Universe Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Graphic Novel/Book, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Animals, Health / Medicine, Education

Publication year 2003Genre Novel, FictionTags Realistic Fiction, Health / Medicine, Disability

A Mango-Shaped Space is a 2003 middle-grade novel by American author Wendy Mass. It tells the story of Mia Winchell, a 13-year-old girl living in Illinois in the early 2000s. Mia has a secret. She associates all letters and numbers with distinct colors, and when she hears sounds, she sees bursts of color across her field of vision. It turns out that Mia has synesthesia, an uncommon but harmless neurological condition where an individual’s senses... Read A Mango-Shaped Space Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Music, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Realistic Fiction, History: Middle Eastern, Bullying, Children's Literature

Eleven-year-old Pakistani-American Amina Khokar lives in Milwaukee with her mother, father, and brother, Mustafa. At school, a Korean girl named Soojin Kim is her best friend. Amina is distressed when Soojin befriends Emily, a girl who has historically joined in on racially-motivated taunts against Soojin and Amina. The situation is complicated when Amina, Emily, and Soojin—along with the class oddball, Bradley—are assigned to the same group for an Oregon Trail project in their social studies... Read Amina's Voice Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

An ILA-CBC Children’s Choices Reading List Selection, A Night Divided, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, dramatizes the experiences of the division of Germany after WWII and tells a tale of family separation from a child’s perspective. The novel explores the effects of repressive government on intimate relationships as the main character, Gerta, watches friendships and partnerships dissolve as a result of the Cold War. It is a story of individual heroism and family devotion.At the start... Read A Night Divided Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Disability, Children's Literature

Nora Raleigh Baskin won the Schneider Family Book Award for the young adult novel Anything But Typical, published in 2009. Anything But Typical tells the first-person fictional story of a 12-year-old boy diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Jason Blake struggles with adolescence in the same ways most 12-year-old boys do, but his disorder makes it more difficult for him to verbally express his experience. Instead, he turns to writing to share his inner world... Read Anything But Typical Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Masculinity, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Relationships: Siblings, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Race / Racism, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Addiction / Substance Abuse, Animals, Anthropology

As Brave as You is a middle grade novel written by American author Jason Reynolds and published in 2016. It won several awards, including the Kirkus Award, the NCAAP Image award for children’s literature, and the Schneider Family Book Award, which recognizes superior depictions of disability in children’s literature. It was also chosen as a Coretta Scott King Honor book, awarded to African-American writers and illustrators for excellence in conveying the African-American experience in children’s... Read As Brave As You Summary


Publication year 2001Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Emotions/Behavior: FearTags Historical Fiction, Children's Literature, Asian Literature, Realistic Fiction, Arts / Culture, History: Asian, Poverty, American Literature

A Single Shard (2001) is an award-winning, middle-grade historical novel by Korean American author Linda Sue Park. Park has written multiple children’s books, picture books, and volumes of poetry. Some of her better-known titles include A Long Walk to Water (2010), The Thirty-Nine Clues series in nine volumes (2010), and Prairie Lotus (2020). Much of her historical fiction is based on Korean history. A Single Shard is intended for readers in grades 5 to 7... Read A Single Shard Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Grandparents, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Mothers, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: Community, Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Education

Publication year 2014Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Publication year 2015Genre Graphic Novel/Book, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Relationships: Teams, Society: Education, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Emotions/Behavior: RegretTags Realistic Fiction, Science / Nature, Education, Children's Literature, Bullying, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Relationships: Friendship, Society: Community, Relationships: Siblings, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Family, Society: Education, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Society: Politics & Government, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Society: WarTags Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Military / War, Latin American Literature

Publication year 2000Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: GriefTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Because of Winn-Dixie is a middle-grade novel by Kate DiCamillo published in 2000 by Candlewick Books. It follows main character Opal as she learns to love her new home in Naomi, Florida with the help of a stray dog named Winn-Dixie. Steeped in the traditions of Southern literature, the book won a Newbery Honor and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award, among other awards. Note on Edition: This guide uses the 2000 edition published by Candlewick Books... Read Because of Winn-Dixie Summary


Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: Siblings, Society: Community, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Identity: Language, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction

Publication year 2020Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Relationships: Fathers, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Sports, Relationships, American Literature

Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Self DiscoveryTags Realistic Fiction, Humor, LGBTQ, Music

Content Warning: Better Nate Than Ever contains sensitive material, such as bullying and LGBTQ-related slurs.Better Nate Than Ever (2013) is the first book in a trilogy about Broadway hopeful Nate Foster; the next two titles in the series are Five, Six, Seven, Nate! (2014) and Nate Expectations (2018). The novel is intended for middle grade and young adult readers but may also appeal to adult fans of theater-related fiction. Author Tim Federle and the fictional... Read Better Nate Than Ever Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction

Kwame Alexander’s Booked is a young adult novel in verse about the life of Nick Hall, an eighth-grader and soccer aficionado who struggles to meet his parents’ expectations and honor his own self-identity in the wake of his parents’ separation. The book is both a sports novel and a reflection on Nick’s experiences struggling with an injury and major changes in his home life. The book is geared toward 10- to 12-year-old readers and includes... Read Booked Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Society: Nation, Society: Class, Society: Politics & Government, Society: Community, Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Realistic Fiction, Social Justice, Poverty, Indian Literature, Class, Politics / Government, Incarceration

Publication year 1999Genre Novel, FictionThemes Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Animals, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Science / Nature, Action / Adventure

Brian's Return (1999) is a young adult fiction novel and the fourth book in author Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet series. Paulsen draws on his personal experiences from the wilderness to create Brian’s outdoor adventure and survival narrative throughout the series, stating in the author note, “Virtually all that happens to Brian in these books has happened to me at some point in my life” (112). Paulsen was awarded the Newberry Honor in 1988 for Hatchet, the first... Read Brian's Return Summary


Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Beauty, Natural World: Environment, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Realistic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Animals, Children's Literature

Brian’s Winter (1996), a young adult novel by Gary Paulsen, is the third book in the Hatchet series of survival stories. Brian’s Winter chronologically follows Hatchet, acting as an alternate ending to Hatchet in which Brian is not rescued, and must continue to survive in the woods through the winter. Paulsen uses his own firsthand knowledge of winter survival skills to create a vivid and realistic portrayal of winter in the Canadian woods.This guide refers... Read Brian's Winter Summary


Publication year 1999Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Society: ColonialismTags Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Race / Racism, Poverty, African American Literature

Bud, Not Buddy is a 1999 children’s realistic historical novel by American author Christopher Paul Curtis. Ten-year-old protagonist Bud Caldwell is an orphan living in Flint, Michigan in 1936. Four years after the death of his mother and after a series of abusive and neglectful foster homes, Bud sets out to find his father, whom he believes is the locally famous jazz musician Herman E. Calloway of Grand Rapids. Bud encounters a host of characters... Read Bud, Not Buddy Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Relationships: Fathers, Emotions/Behavior: LonelinessTags Bullying, Realistic Fiction

Bystander (2011) is a teen/young adult novel by James Preller that explores middle school bullying and the factors that enable it. Griffin Connelly, a two-faced bully, uses his charisma and good looks to keep members of his school clique in line as he perpetrates acts of cruelty against weaker classmates. No one stands up to Griffin until Eric Hayes, a newcomer, disrupts the status quo—questioning Griffin’s bullying and the silent complicity of the other students.The... Read Bystander Summary


Publication year 2020Genre Graphic Novel/Book, FictionThemes Society: Education, Identity: Race, Self Discovery, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Equality, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Arts / Culture, Class, Diversity, Education, Race / Racism, African American Literature

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Identity: Race, Life/Time: Aging, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Relationships: Grandparents, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: The Past, Relationships: Fathers, Values/Ideas: Equality, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Safety & DangerTags African American Literature, Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Civil Rights / Jim Crow, History: U.S., Black Lives Matter, Grief / Death

Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Humor, Children's Literature

Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine is a short chapter book for elementary-aged readers. Marla Frazee’s black and white illustrations bring the text to life. Clementine and the subsequent books in the series have won numerous awards; notably, Clementine is a New York Times bestseller and the winner of the 2007 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award. Little, Brown and Company published Clementine in 2006. This study guide refers to the 2008 first trade paperback edition of the book.Plot SummaryClementine... Read Clementine Summary


Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Identity: DisabilityTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Disability

Counting by 7s is Holly Goldberg Sloan's first middle-grade novel, published in 2013. A New York Times bestseller, this contemporary story draws upon themes relevant to Sloan's own life. The novel is set in present-day Bakersfield, California, which Sloan says is “emblematic of the characters,” in the sense that it is “often overlooked.”Plot SummaryThe novel's protagonist is 12-year-old Willow Chance, a “highly gifted” girl fascinated by the number seven, plants, and medicine. She knows she... Read Counting by 7s Summary


Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Teams, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Equality, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Relationships: Fathers, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Relationships: Grandparents, Self DiscoveryTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Sports, Bullying

Publication year 1983Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: FamilyTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction

Published in 1983 and winner of the 1984 Newberry Award, Beverly Cleary’s Dear Mr. Henshaw marks a departure for the novelist known for her books that celebrate the whimsy and adventurousness of childhood. Dear Mr. Henshaw is an epistolary novel, in which protagonist and aspiring author Leigh Botts narrates his story through letters and diary entries addressed to his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw. Leigh begins writing yearly letters to Mr. Henshaw in second grade but... Read Dear Mr. Henshaw Summary


Publication year 1985Genre Novel, FictionThemes Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Environment, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Action / Adventure, Animals, Realistic Fiction

Dogsong, first published in 1985, is a young adult novel by American author Gary Paulsen, who wrote Dogsong while he was training his dog sled team for his first Iditarod run. It was awarded the Newbery Honor Award in 1986. Paulsen, who was a popular author of young adult and children’s contemporary literature, is best known for books in the coming-of-age genre, often dealing with surviving the wilderness and embracing nature. He authored more than... Read Dogsong Summary


Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Equality, Relationships: Family, Identity: Femininity, Emotions/Behavior: courageTags Realistic Fiction, Gender / Feminism, Social Justice

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie is narrated by Steven Alper, a thirteen-year-old whose life is turned upside down when his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, is diagnosed with leukemia. Before his brother’s diagnosis, Steven is a wisecracking 8th-grader attempting to navigate the trials of early adolescence. He is an enthusiastic and talented drummer and has a crush on schoolmate Renee Albert. However, Steven’s life changes forever when one morning, Jeffrey falls off a stool and hits his... Read Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Siblings, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Echo is a young-adult novel about the power of music to unite individuals across time, and even save lives: the wide-reaching novel follows an enchanted harmonica to 1933 in Germany, 1934 in Pennsylvania, and 1942 in California, before uniting the characters we meet along the way at Carnegie Hall in 1951. Covering the rise of Nazism in Germany, the tail end of the Great Depression in the United States, and the beginning of U.S. involvement... Read Echo Summary


Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Realistic Fiction, Immigration / Refugee

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Immigration, Natural World: Place, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Siblings, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Fathers, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Natural World: Animals, Life/Time: The Past, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Society: Education, Relationships: Marriage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Society: Politics & Government, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Relationships: GrandparentsTags Auto/Biographical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Immigration / Refugee, History: Middle Eastern

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Falling Over Sideways (2016) is a popular middle-grade novel by Jordan Sonnenblick. The novel tells the story of 14-year-old Claire Goldsmith and the events that unfold during her eighth-grade year after her father has a stroke one morning. Claire must face dance school, bullies, her father’s rehabilitation, and a strange new home life, all while trying not to be, look, or feel “awkward” or “unlucky” in her new grade. The narrative further addresses issues of... Read Falling Over Sideways Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Identity: Gender, Identity: DisabilityTags Realistic Fiction, Bullying, Disability, Children's Literature

Fish in a Tree is a 2015 middle-grade novel by American author Lynda Mullaly Hunt. It follows the story of a middle-school girl named Ally, who is artistically and mathematically talented but unable to read due to her dyslexia. Throughout Ally’s school career, she uses humor, misbehavior, and feigned sickness to distract from her learning difficulty, doing everything in her power to avoid writing and reading tasks. Ally’s struggles are magnified by the fact that... Read Fish in a Tree Summary


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Publication year 2005Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Teenage Noah Underwood finds himself facing the unpleasant task of visiting his dad in jail on Father’s Day. Paine Underwood has just sunk a casino boat called the Coral Queen because its owner, Dusty Muleman, has been dumping waste from the casino’s toilets into the bay and poisoning the surrounding waters. Paine is an environmental activist who sometimes gets carried away, as his long-suffering wife Donna can attest.Since Paine hasn’t been able to prove Dusty’s... Read Flush Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Identity: Mental Health, Relationships: Friendship, Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Realistic Fiction, Disability

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Action / Adventure, Humor, Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction, Animals

Publication year 2019Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: Mothers, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & AngerTags Realistic Fiction, Poverty, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Language, Society: Education, Society: Community, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Values/Ideas: Literature, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction, Humor, Modern Classic Fiction

Frindle is a 1996 middle grade novel by children’s author Andrew Clements and illustrated by Brian Selznick. The story follows a fifth-grade boy named Nick Allen who—both for fun and to exasperate his strict language arts teacher who has a special reverence for vocabulary—creates a new word for pen: “frindle.” Nick’s new word captures more attention than he expected, and soon the town and nation engage in a controversy surrounding how people ought to use... Read Frindle Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionTags Chinese Literature, Asian Literature, Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Front Desk is the debut novel of Asian-American author Kelly Yang. First published in 2018, the children’s book became a New York Times bestseller and was mentioned on multiple Best Books of the Year lists including NPR, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, the Washington Post, Amazon, School Library Journal, the New York Public Library, and the Chicago Public Library. Front Desk also made ALA’s Booklist of the Top Ten Debut Novels of 2018. It won the 2019... Read Front Desk Summary


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Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & PrideTags Realistic Fiction, LGBTQ, Children's Literature

Genderqueer writer Alex Gino wrote George in response to an unfulfilled, youthful wish for a positive representation of a transgender person. The novel tells the story of ten-year-old George, who is anatomically a boy, but knows she is a girl. George has won the Stonewall Book Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the E.B. White Honor.The novel opens with George sneaking into the bathroom to look at her secret stash of girls’ magazines, concealing them... Read George Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Teams, Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Ghost is a 2016 novel by American author Jason Reynolds. Reynolds began his writing career as a poet and published his first novel, When I Was the Greatest, in 2014. Reynolds has won several accolades, including a Kirkus Prize, an NAACP Image Award, a Schneider Family Book Award, a Newbery Medal, and a Carnegie Medal. From 2020 to 2022, he was the Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and he won the... Read Ghost Summary


Publication year 2003Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Relationships, Food

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Realistic Fiction, Diversity, Immigration / Refugee, Race / Racism, Bullying

Jacqueline Woodson's 2018 middle grade novel, Harbor Me, tracks the bonds of friendship that develop across six fifth-graders when they are given a unique opportunity to get to know each other. Amari, Esteban, Tiago, Ashton, Holly, and Haley Shondell McGrath (the narrator) are students with special learning needs in a Brooklyn school. Each friend has fears and frustrations that they share with each other over the year, and by opening up, they discover a collective... Read Harbor me Summary


Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FriendshipTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction, Sports

Heat is a young adult novel written by Mike Lupica and published in 2006. Focusing on the Little League baseball culture of New York City, the novel follows Michael Arroyo, a pitching phenom and Cuban immigrant, as he pursues a trip to the Little League World Series. Michael and his brother, Carlos, recently lost their Papi from a heart attack. They keep his death a secret out of fear that government officials will separate them... Read Heat Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Hello, Universe (2017) is the third novel by Filipino-American author Erin Entrada Kelly. It is intended for children aged 8 to 12. The title won the 2018 Newbury Medal, and its author has garnered other awards for previous novels, including a Golden Kite Award and an Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature. Kelly’s other books include Blackbird Fly (2015), The Land of Forgotten Girls (2016), You Go First (2018), and Lalani of the Distant Sea... Read Hello, Universe Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Realistic Fiction

Home of the Brave is a 2008 juvenile novel by Katherine Applegate that is written entirely in free verse. The story revolves around the protagonist, a young boy named Kek, who has fled from violence and upheaval in his native Sudan and traveled alone to the United States. Kek’s father and older brother were killed in an attack on their camp, and Kek was forced to leave his mother behind to save his own life... Read Home of the Brave Summary


Publication year 1981Genre Book, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: FathersTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Realistic Fiction, Sports, Race / Racism, Parenting, African American Literature, American Literature

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Publication year 2002Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Natural World: AnimalsTags Realistic Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Humor

Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen, is a humorous adventure novel for middle-grade readers in which a group of children tries to save the habitat of a colony of owls from being bulldozed. Published in 2002, the book became a New York Times bestseller, won a Newbery Medal, and has been made into a motion picture. Author Hiaasen is an award-winning journalist and columnist for the Miami Herald. He has written nearly three dozen books, including six... Read Hoot Summary


Publication year 2000Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Identity: Mental Health, Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Realistic Fiction, Race / Racism, Social Justice

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Identity: Indigenous, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Realistic Fiction, Parenting

Publication year 2017Genre Graphic Novel/Book, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Identity: Mental HealthTags Realistic Fiction, Humor

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Race, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Siblings, Society: Class, Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Historical Fiction, Grief / Death, Asian Literature, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Realistic Fiction, Civil Rights / Jim Crow, History: U.S., Parenting, Race / Racism, American Literature

Cynthia Kadohata’s first novel, Kira-Kira (2004), is a historical coming-of-age novel for middle-grade readers. The novel tells the story of the Japanese American Takeshima family, who live in the Chesterfield, Georgia, in the 1950s. The protagonist and first-person narrator is the younger daughter, Katie. The narrative spans seven years, involving the family’s move from Iowa to the South, where Katie’s parents become workers in the poultry industry. The narrative follows Katie as she awakens to... Read Kira-Kira Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Novella, FictionThemes Society: Economics, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: TeamsTags Humor, Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction, Business / Economics, Class, American Literature

Lawn Boy, a novella by Gary Paulsen published in 2007, is a middle grade chapter book about a 12-year-old boy who receives an old lawn mower as a birthday gift from his grandmother. As underwhelming as the gift appears, this moment launches a sequence of events that ends with the boy owning $480,000 and being the sole investor of a heavyweight boxer. Full of quirky humor and digestible lessons in capitalism, Paulsen’s story leads the... Read Lawn Boy Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Relationships: FriendshipTags LGBTQ, Realistic Fiction, Bullying

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart was originally published in 2016. A coming-of-age novel set in contemporary America, the book tells the stories of two unique and inspiring teenagers who find themselves and each other. Lily and Dunkin was named one of NPR’s Best Kids’ Books of 2016, one of Amazon’s Top 20 Children’s Books of 2016, and one of YALSA’s picks for Best Fiction for Young Adults in 2017. This guide is based on... Read Lily and Dunkin Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Aging, Identity: Gender, Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Class, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Merci Suárez Changes Gears (2018), a contemporary middle-grade novel by Meg Medina, centers on a young girl facing major changes to her family dynamics. The book won numerous awards, including the 2019 Newbery Medal. Medina, a founding member of the “We Need Diverse Books” movement, has written many picture books, young adult books, and middle-grade novels about strong girls who overcome adversity and step up to challenges.Plot SummaryEleven-year-old Merci Suárez is the child of Cuban... Read Merci Suárez Changes Gears Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FathersTags Realistic Fiction, Sports

Mike Lupica’s 2009 novel, Million-Dollar Throw, is about Nate Brodie, a 13-year-old quarterback who is the star of his eighth-grade football team. The novel is geared towards middle schoolers, with simple language and a straightforward plot. Although it can be considered a sports novel due to its heavy emphasis on the play-by-play actions of Nate Brodie’s football games, it is also a novel about friendship, enduring hardship, and sacrifice. Nate Brodie’s nickname is “Brady” because... Read Million Dollar Throw Summary


Publication year 2001Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Society: Class, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Poverty, African American Literature

Money Hungry is a 2001 middle-grade novel by American author Sharon G. Flake published by Little, Brown and Company. A Coretta Scott King Honor book, Money Hungry is the first book in Flake’s Raspberry Hill series. It explores 13-year-old Raspberry Hill’s hunger for money and the lengths to which she will go to acquire it. Stemming from a period of homelessness in her childhood, Raspberry will do almost anything to earn enough money to move... Read Money Hungry Summary


Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: MothersTags Realistic Fiction, Humor, Education, Grief / Death, Parenting, Relationships

Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Place, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Identity: Race, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Marriage, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: Class, Society: Community, Society: Nation, Emotions/Behavior: RegretTags Race / Racism, Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Teams, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

No Talking (2007) is a children’s novel by Andrew Clements, and the 2010 recipient of the California Young Reader Medal. In the novel, fifth-grade boys and girls compete to see who can talk the least at school. The competition causes an uproar among teachers and staff, exploring questions of authority in the school setting and building friendships across differences. Andrew Clements was a teacher, author, editor, and book publisher, best known for his debut novel, Frindle... Read No Talking Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Natural World: Place, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Safety & DangerTags Animals, Science / Nature, Realistic Fiction, Action / Adventure

Publication year 2011Genre Novel, FictionTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction

This is an overview of the first edition of Okay for Now, a humorous Young Adult novel by award-winning author, Gary D. Schmidt. Published in 2011, this children’s novel was nominated for the National Book Award for Young People’s literature.Plot SummaryDoug Swieteck, a middle schooler, is the child of an abusive, alcoholic father with two abusive, trouble-maker brothers, Christopher and Lucas. Doug’s soul comfort is making his mother, an avid homemaker and gardener, smile. Doug... Read Okay for Now Summary


Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & AngerTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Realistic Fiction, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Parenting, Relationships

Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s middle-grade (young adult) contemporary novel One for the Murphys was published in 2012. It earned a Kirkus starred review and was a Scholastic Book Clubs Editor’s Choice.This guide references the 2012 edition from Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. The novel explores the foster care system and the way that even its most positive experiences have a nuanced and complex effect on children in foster care. The story... Read One for the Murphys Summary


Publication year 1991Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Realistic Fiction, Sports, American Literature

On the Devil’s Court is a novel aimed at teenage boys that follows 17-year-old Joe Faust through the basketball season of his senior year. Written by Carl Deuker, the book was originally published in 1988 and has remained a popular print title for more than 30 years. On the Devil’s Court was the first of three young adult sports novels by Deuker to be included among the Authors League of America Best Books for Young... Read On the Devil's Court Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Identity: RaceTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Immigration / Refugee, Diversity, Race / Racism, American Literature

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Identity: Disability, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Art, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Realistic Fiction, Disability, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Music, Identity: DisabilityTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction, Gender / Feminism, Disability

Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind, based on her own experiences parenting a disabled child, is a New York Times Bestselling novel told from the first-person perspective of 10-year-old Melody Brooks. Melody is a fifth-grade girl who, due to cerebral palsy, is unable to communicate verbally and is wheelchair-bound. The struggles and prejudice that Melody encounters provide a more intimate and personal view of the lives of people with physical disabilities. Atheneum Books for Young... Read Out of My Mind Summary


Publication year 2002Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis follows 13-year-old Parvana as she makes her way across war-torn Afghanistan in search of her mother and siblings. Published in 2002, this novel is a sequel to the international bestseller The Breadwinner, which was adapted as a 2017 animated film, and is the second in a series of four called The Breadwinner series. Although Parvana’s Journey is a work of fiction, Ellis bases the setting of the novel on the... Read Parvana's Journey Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Identity: Race, Relationships: Teams, Emotions/Behavior: GriefTags Realistic Fiction, Sports

Publication year 2002Genre Novel, FictionTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff is a novel for middle readers about a foster child, the eponymous Hollis Woods, and how she finds a family. It was originally published in 2002 and became a Newbery Honor Book in 2003. In 2007, Hallmark Hall of Fame adapted the novel into a movie. Giff is the author of many popular books for children, including series like Kids of the Polk Street School, Friends and... Read Pictures Of Hollis Woods Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson is a young adult novel published in 2017. In 2018, it won the Coretta Scott King Award from the American Library Award Association and was named a Newbery Honor Book by the Association for Library Service to Children. The novel comprises 76 chapters, each of which is given a bilingual title in English and Spanish. For example, Chapter 1 is titled “español - Spanish language,” and Chapter 2 is... Read Piecing Me Together Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Bullying, LGBTQ

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Disability, Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Animals, Disability

Rain Reign is a work of middle-grade contemporary fiction written by American author Ann M. Martin and published in 2014. The novel was chosen for the 2014 New York Times Notable Children’s Books list. Martin is the original author of the best-selling Baby-Sitters Club series of books and has written over 100 books for young readers. She has received numerous awards over the course of her career, including the Newbery Medal in 2013 and a... Read Rain Reign Summary


Publication year 1968Genre Novel, FictionTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary is a middle-grade novel published in 1968 by HarperCollins. Ramona the Pest is the second book in a series colloquially known as the “Ramona series,” comprised of eight books that revolve around the family and friends of Ramona Quimby, a spunky young girl navigating the ups and downs of being a kid in school and with her family. Beverly Cleary is a celebrated author of many children’s, middle-grade, and... Read Ramona the Pest Summary


Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: The PastTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

The Red Kayak is a coming-of-age story set near the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Thirteen-year-old Braden Parks ("Brady") lives along the Corsica River with his mother and father and makes his living fishing for crabs and repairing boats. The town where the novel primarily takes place—Bailey's Wharf—is undergoing major changes as the story begins; historically home mostly to working-class families like the Parks, the town is now attracting wealthier residents like the Parks' new neighbors... Read Red Kayak Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Realistic Fiction, Bullying

Publication year 2008Genre Graphic Novel/Book, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Identity: Masculinity, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Society: Education, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Daughters & SonsTags Humor, Realistic Fiction

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction, Disability

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Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Identity: Disability, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Mothers, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Realistic Fiction, Disability, Diversity

Rules was the first novel published by Cynthia Lord. Rules is a book for middle-grade readers that has remained popular and in print from the time of its initial publication. The Scholastic paperback version summarized here first appeared in 2018. For a debut novel, Rules was immediately accepted by young readers and by the literary community. The book won a prestigious Newberry Honor Book award and received the Schneider Family Book Award. It was named... Read Rules Summary


Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction

Same Sun Here, co-written by Silas House and Neela Vaswani, details a year in the lives of two young people: an Indian immigrant living in New York City, and a small-town boy from Kentucky. Written as a series of letters between the two main characters, this middle grade novel is narrated by each author writing from the perspective of a separate character. Published in 2011, the book received the Nautilus Book Award, the E.B. White... Read Same Sun Here Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction, Bullying

Save Me a Seat (2016) is a young adult fiction novel written by Gita Varadarajan and Sarah Weeks. The novel centers around two main characters, Joe and Ravi, who have both started their first week in the fifth grade at Albert Einstein Elementary School. Ravi and his family have just moved to Hamilton, New Jersey from Bangalore, India, but he believes that school will not be a problem because he was the top student in his... Read Save Me a Seat Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Society: CommunityTags Children's Literature, Action / Adventure, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Realistic Fiction

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Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction

Carl Hiaasen’s Scat! is a young adult thriller with a comic tone and an environmental message. Nick Waters and his best friend, Marta Gonzalez, are students at the private Truman School in Naples, Florida. When their biology teacher, Mrs. Bunny Starch, disappears, the two students are drawn into a conflict between a ruthless oil company and an informal band of environmentalists bent on protecting the breeding grounds of an endangered Florida panther and her cub. The... Read Scat Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction

Gordon Korman’s middle-grade novel, Schooled, was published in 2007. The narrative is told from multiple perspectives, with the title of the chapter indicating the perspective from which it is told. Schooled starts out with 13-year-old Capricorn Anderson getting arrested for driving his grandmother, Rain, to the hospital after she falls out of a tree, breaking her hip. Capricorn and Rain live alone on Garland Farm, a former commune that seems perpetually trapped in 1967. Homeschooled... Read Schooled Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Chinese Literature, Asian Literature, Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

See You in the Cosmos, a 2017 middle-grade contemporary novel by Jack Cheng, features 11-year-old Alex Petroski as its main character and narrator. Inspired by scientist Carl Sagan, Alex wants to use a hand-built rocket to send audio recordings about life on Earth to extraterrestrial creatures. Though his quest to communicate with alien life fails, Alex finds himself on a much larger journey toward self-identity and truth. The novel is a Golden Kite Award Winner... Read See You in the Cosmos Summary


Publication year 2014Genre Graphic Memoir , NonfictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Natural World: Animals, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Realistic Fiction, Humor, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Mental Health, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Action / Adventure, Realistic Fiction

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionTags Realistic Fiction, Disability, Children's Literature

Published in 2004, Sarah Weeks’s middle grade novel So B. It follows 12-year-old protagonist Heidi as she sets out to discover the truth about her background and family. Heidi grows up not knowing her own birthday, her father’s name, or how she came to live in Reno, Nevada with her mentally disabled mother. When she finds an old roll of film from Mama’s past, the photos inspire her to begin a journey to uncover the... Read So B. It Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Disability, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Children's Literature, Inspirational, Disability, Relationships, Animals

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Natural World: Animals, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Action / Adventure, Realistic Fiction, Humor, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Animals

Publication year 2021Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Identity: Mental Health, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Free verse, Bullying

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Relationships: Friendship, Natural World: AnimalsTags Realistic Fiction, Animals, Health / Medicine, Grief / Death, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Children's Literature

Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Equality, Identity: RaceTags Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Diversity, Race / Racism, History: U.S., Reconstruction Era

Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

In Mike Lupica’s Summer Ball, published in 2007, 13-year-old Danny Walker heads to an elite basketball summer camp called Right Way. Here, he will match his nationally-recognized skills against some of the best young basketball players in the country. The New York Times-bestselling novelpicks up where Lupica’s previous novel, Travel Team, leaves off: Walker, cut from his local Middletown basketball travel team because he’s too short, leads his new team to the seventh-grade national championship... Read Summer Ball Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags Sports, Realistic Fiction, African American Literature

Publication year 1972Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction, Humor

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, an episodic children’s book by Judy Blume, is a first-person narrative recounted by nine-year-old protagonist Peter Hatcher. A work of realistic fiction, this book is divided into 10 chapters and directed at young readers from the third- to fifth-grade levels. Originally published by Dutton Children’s Books in 1972, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first of five books in a series. The book received a number of... Read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Teams, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & PrideTags Realistic Fiction, Poverty, Class

Publication year 2020Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Identity: Mental Health, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Self DiscoveryTags Survival Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Animals, Grief / Death, Mental Illness, Parenting, Natural Disaster, Science / Nature, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 2008Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Self Discovery, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: LonelinessTags Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is a novel for middle graders by Cuban American writer Pablo Cartaya. This study guide refers to the original 2017 Viking edition.Plot SummaryIt is the beginning of summer in Canal Grove, a Cuban enclave in modern-day Miami. For 13-year-old Arturo Zamora, the novel’s narrator, this is usually a season of lazy pastimes, but surprises are in store. When he becomes lovesick over a Spanish girl named Carmen Sánchez, and... Read The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: GenderTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

The First Rule of Punk is Celia C. Pérez’s 2017 debut YA novel. It was a 2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book, a 2018 ALSC Notable Children’s Book, and a 2018 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award Winner. Pérez, as a long-time punk zine author and Mexican Cuban woman, drew from her adoration of “outsiders” and “weirdos” to craft her first novel. Pérez then penned her second YA novel, Strange Birds: A Field Guide... Read The First Rule of Punk Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Teams, Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Realistic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 2011Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Humor, Bullying, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

The Fourth Stall is a 2011 contemporary realistic middle grade novel by Chris Rylander. With the help of his best friend and business manager Vince, sixth grader Mac runs a secret business as a “fixer” in his elementary school: He solves problems and provides services for fellow students—for a price. When Mac takes on a customer requiring protection from Staples, a legendary local criminal, he must decide the best way to deal with Staples’s harmful... Read The Fourth Stall Summary


Publication year 2014Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Teams, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Realistic Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Humor, Action / Adventure, Children's Literature

The Great Greene Heist is a middle grade novel by Varian Johnson that follows Jackson Greene, a middle school boy and nearly reformed prankster, who tries to win his crush through hijinks. The novel was named Publisher’s Best Summer Book of 2014, ALA ALSC Notable Children’s Book in 2015, and received a Kirkus Star Review. Johnson published the sequel To Catch a Cheat in 2016. Johnson is also the author of The Parker Inheritance, which... Read The Great Greene Heist Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & AngerTags Realistic Fiction, Grief / Death

The Honest Truth is a middle-grade coming-of-age novel by Dan Gemeinhart, a former elementary school teacher and librarian who won the Parents’ Choice Award Gold Medal for another one of his five novels. The book was published on January 23, 2015. The novel incorporates drama and a bit of poetry to narrate the story of twelve-year-old protagonist Mark who has spent most of his life in hospitals receiving cancer treatments. Now, Mark takes his fate... Read The Honest Truth Summary


Publication year 1944Genre Novella, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags Classic Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Bullying

The Hundred Dresses is a children’s book by Eleanor Estes that was originally published in 1944. It includes pen-and-ink illustrations by Louis Slobodkin. In 1945, it was awarded the Newbery Honor, and it continues to be a popular book in elementary schools. A 2004 survey of third-grade teachers found that the book was a popular choice for reading aloud in the classroom, and a 2007 survey by the National Education Association named it one of... Read The Hundred Dresses Summary


Publication year 2001Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Equality, Relationships: Siblings, Identity: RaceTags Realistic Fiction, Race / Racism, Diversity

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Relationships: Friendship, Identity: Language, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Realistic Fiction, Humor, Bullying

Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, published in 2006, is a novel about the life of Edward Tulane, a three-foot tall china rabbit. While the book functions like a fairy tale, having magical content and a clear moral, both young and adult audiences can relate to the themes of love and loss that Edward endures. Although the chapters are short, and the language is geared towards children, the themes serve as a larger... Read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Self Discovery, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: FameTags Realistic Fiction, Humor, Bullying

Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

The One and Only Ivan is a children’s novel by Katherine Applegate, first published in 2012. Winner of the John Newbery Medal, the highest honor for US children’s literature, the novel received starred reviews in Kirkus and the School Library Journal and was a New York Times bestseller.The One and Only Ivan is based on the true story of a gorilla named Ivan, who was captured from the Democratic Republic of Congo and spent 27... Read The One And Only Ivan Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

The Only Road (2016) is Alexandra Diaz’s second novel. Diaz is the daughter of Cuban immigrants, and this book focuses on the experience of migration. The novel, written primarily for young adults, follows cousins Jaime and Ángela, who are forced to flee their small Guatemalan village after the local gang kills Ángela’s brother. Faced with either joining the gang responsible for his death or taking the uncertain 4,000-kilometer journey north, Jaime and Ángela reluctantly leave... Read The Only Road Summary


Publication year 2005Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Relationships: Family, Self Discovery, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Music, Natural World: AnimalsTags Realistic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Children's Literature, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Animals, Relationships, Class, Music, Parenting

Publication year 2014Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Family, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Art, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Military / War, Arts / Culture, Education, Gender / Feminism, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, African Literature, History: African

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Philosophy, Children's Literature, Grief / Death

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction

Wise-cracking eighth-grader Anthony “Antsy” Bonano befriends Calvin Schwa, a nondescript boy who is virtually invisible to his classmates in Neal Shusterman’s humorous young adult novel, The Schwa Was Here (2004). As Antsy and the Schwa experiment on his invisibility, they meet the crotchety neighborhood recluse Old Man Crawley and fall for his granddaughter, Lexie, who is blind. Antsy learns about the Schwa’s challenging family life and makes discoveries about his own sense of self, his... Read The Schwa Was Here Summary


Publication year 1970Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Siblings, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Identity: DisabilityTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Disability, Post Modernism

Publication year 2005Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Society: Education, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Poverty, Diversity, Realistic Fiction

The Tequila Worm, published in 2005 by Random House, (first edition) is a middle grade novel about a young Mexican American girl, Sofia, who comes from a family of storytellers. The tales Sofia hears strengthen her ties to her family and their traditions in the Texas barrio where they live. Though poor, the family does not struggle, finding riches in the practice of making Easter cascarones, (colored eggs) celebrating Dia de los Muertos, (Day of... Read The Tequila Worm Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Relationships: Teams, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Relationships: Family, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Natural World: Animals, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Society: EducationTags Action / Adventure, Humor, Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Publication year 2001Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Realistic Fiction, Animals

The Tiger Rising is a children’s novel by two-time Newbery Award-medalist, Kate DiCamillo. Published in 2001, The Tiger Rising is DiCamillo’s second book and was a National Book Award Finalist. Following the death of his mother, 12-year-old Rob Horton packs away his grief the way he packs his clothes when he and his father move to Lister, Florida. However, Rob’s discovery of a caged tiger in the woods and the friendship of an angry girl... Read The Tiger Rising Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Society: EducationTags Humor, Realistic Fiction, Education, Diversity, Bullying, Relationships, American Literature

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Siblings, Society: Community, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Food, Natural World: PlaceTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Urban Development

Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Teams, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Relationships: Friendship, Natural World: AnimalsTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Disability

The View From Saturday by American author Elaine Lobl Konigsburg was published in 1996 and won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children’s literature in 1997—Konigsburg’s second Newbery Medal. She is one of only six writers to win the award twice (her first was awarded for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in 1968). Prior to becoming a writer of children’s and young adult fiction and publishing over 20 works from... Read The View From Saturday Summary


Publication year 1984Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: GrandparentsTags Realistic Fiction, Humor

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Society: CommunityTags Realistic Fiction, Social Justice, Race / Racism, Immigration / Refugee, Children's Literature

Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Natural World: Environment, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Identity: Indigenous, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Teams, Relationships: Mothers, Natural World: Animals, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Natural World: Flora/plants, Natural World: Place, Society: Politics & Government, Society: CommunityTags Action / Adventure, Survival Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Children's Literature, Natural Disaster

Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Ungifted is a 2012 novel for children written by Gordon Korman and is the recipient of the 2014 Red Cedar Award. Narrated from multiple perspectives, the story follows Donovan Curtis, an average student at Hardcastle Middle School who is accidentally sent to an academy for gifted kids. It chronicles the characters’ growth and change as they learn to balance intellectual achievement with experience and social engagement.Donovan is a prankster who struggles to control his impulses... Read Ungifted Summary


Publication year 1994Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: MothersTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Walk Two Moons is perhaps the most famous work of Sharon Creech, a celebrated author of young adult fiction. The novel blends elements of both a coming-of-age narrative and a road story, and is set in the same literary universe as several of Creech’s other works, including Absolutely Normal Chaos (1990) and Chasing Redbird (1997). Following its 1994 publication, Walk Two Moons won numerous awards, including the 1995 Newbery Medal and the 1995 Children’s Book... Read Walk Two Moons Summary


Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Mothers, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Natural World: Food, Values/Ideas: Equality, Relationships: Fathers, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Relationships: GrandparentsTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction, African American Literature

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Society: Community, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Identity: DisabilityTags Realistic Fiction, Animals, Bullying

Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: DisabilityTags Realistic Fiction, Bullying, Children's Literature, Disability

Wonder is a middle-grade novel written by R.J. Palacio and published in 2012 by Alfred A. Knopf. The novel is a #1 New York Times Bestseller and also a major motion picture. Though multiple narrators tell the tale, the plot centers around August “Auggie” Pullman, a 10-year-old kid who has a genetic condition called mandibulofacial dysostosis that has left his face misshapen. People stare and judge him by his looks, but Auggie tries not to... Read Wonder Summary


Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Society: CommunityTags Realistic Fiction