As a bookseller and a librarian I feel like I am torn between two worlds. Kids want books that are fun to read, and parents want kids to read books that are good for them. Can the two ever be the same? I think they can. I’ve seen many parental discussions break down into tears and tantrums unnecessarily. Parents what the child to read a book from an endorsed list and kids want to read what everyone else is reading.
Who will win when what’s good for you is stacked against what’s good to read?
This is where I step in! I love to read middle grade books and am happy to help find a book that kids will enjoy and parents will be happy to have their child read. Bonus points if there is a diversity in the book. Ready? Here we go!
Dork Diaries byRachel Renée Russell. These diary books are all the rage right now because kids can totally relate to them. Kids who like Diary of a Wimpy Kid will like Dork Diaries. I’m not a fan of Wimpy Kid because I think Greg’s kind of a jerk. I like Dork Diaries because the author is a woman of color plus the girls claim to be dorks but are really just like everyone else!
The Genius Files by Dan Gutman. If you read a book in 2nd grade, you probably know that Miss Daisy is Crazy. And, you’ve probably also read the 39 other skillion books by Dan Gutman in the My Weird School series. This guy gets kids. And he writes even better books for middle grade readers. Like The Genius Files. Besides, who else would name their characters Coke and Pepsi?
Satch & Me by Dan Gutman. I’m sorry, I cheated. I snuck another Gutman in because not only does Gutman know how to write so kids will read, he also writes great historical fiction. Go back in time and discover the Negro Leagues and meet Satchel Paige. Or Babe Ruth.
The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies. Twins and warring lemonade stands. Great story and the author sneakily inserts math into the story. Next thing you know, you’re solving a math mystery. My kind of sneak for sure.
The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles) by Rick Riordan. Kids love Percy Jackson and they’ll love the Kane Chronicles too! We’ve now ventured into Egyptian mythology which will blow your mind. The best bit? The main characters are African American. Score.
I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis. I love this series so hard because I’ve yet to meet a kid who can resist. It’s historical fiction long enough to take you back in time, short enough to keep you from being bored, and action packed enough to keep you engaged. If you look real closely, you can tell that the hero is a POC.
Pendragon by DJ MacHale. I will read anything and everything DJ writes. I love this series because Bobby Pendragon isn’t born a hero. He becomes one because he has to. And that’s a trait every kid can relate to. Your middle grade reader can grow up with Pendragon; there are enough books in the series to keep them occupied for years. Plus? Diversity on the covers and inside the books. Hobey ho, let’s go…
The Last Dog series by Christopher Holt. It’s rare to find a kid who doesn’t like to read about animals. I love this series because: if I went missing, would my dog Bailey organize a search party to look for me? Every kid who I have asked that question to has responded with a resounding yes, of course! Here’s how the dogs would rally. It’s not easy because the dogs have to learn to cooperate but the adventures are fun and the dogs are funnier.
See what I did there? I gave you a list of series so your child will never be without a book again. And, you’ll never have to argue with your reader again!