Top Ten / Books That Got Me Searching for More Middle Grade

Top Ten / Books That Got Me Searching for More Middle Grade

I participate in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week the theme is Top Ten “Gateway” Books/Authors into My Reading Journey. I picked ten books that got me searching online and in bookshops for more middle grade novels.

If you look at my sidebar, you’ll see that I’ve written around 21 reviews of children’s fiction and 117 reviews of young adult fiction. Isn’t that a little odd for someone who’d quite happily say that they loved children’s books? I delved more into the world of children’s books over the past year and I don’t think I’m ever turning back. It was one of my New Year’s Bookish Resolutions to read more middle grade and I’d love for other bloggers, if they normally stick to YA, to see what they’re missing.

Here are five (okay, ten) books that I loved and made me realise how wonderful middle grade – where parents are not absent and romance does not dominate – could be, particularly contemporary/realistic, mystery and stories with accompanying illustrations, and five fantastic-sounding middle grade novels that are currently at the top of my ‘to read pile’.

Top Ten / Books That Got Me Searching for More Middle Grade


Liar & Spy and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead for two wonderful middle grade mysteries by one of my (newly) favourite middle grade authors.

Sleuth on Skates (Sesame Seade #1) by Clémentine Beauvais, illustrated by Sarah Horne, is a fantastic contemporary mystery with a smart and witty young protagonist. I own the next two in the series and because I loved the first so much, I’m saving them for a cosy weekend when I can devour them in one go. (I couldn’t take a photo of the first book as my colleague is borrowing it!).

Matilda, Esio Trot, The Twits and The BFG by Roald Dahl have been, for me, an exciting journey into some of the most famous stories in children’s literature. I am currently working my way through my Roald Dahl box set and have enjoyed all four stories that I’ve read so far, with my favourite being Matilda, followed by The BFG.

Eight Keys and Love Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur are two heartbreaking stories about family and grief that truly understand the experiences that some children go through.

Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne is a wonderful novel that shares a very important part of our history (WWI), tough to read at times but incredibly rewarding.

Top Ten / Books That Got Me Searching for More Middle Grade

Reading Soon

Dead Man’s Cove (Laura Marlin Mysteries #1) by Lauren St. John is a beautiful (really, the cover is among my favourites) middle grade mystery and adventure that I’ll be reading this month for #aryaclub with my friends.

Murder Most Unladylike (Wells & Wong #1) by Robin Stevens is a middle grade mystery + boarding school + 1930s story, about Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, that I’m struggling to think of anything more perfect than…

Smart by Kim Slater is about detective Kieran Woods, who is master of observation and knows all the tricks of the trade, and his attempt to solve the murder of a homeless man.

A Room Full of Chocolate by Jane Elson is an emotional story about Grace’s experience of grief and bullying, until she is no longer alone when she meets the wild Megan and her pig, Claude.

The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters is lovely children’s story about young Hannah, who finds an old hen house and decides to turn it into a secret theatre, and when her farm is threatened, she plans to save it.

I could’ve added so many more to this list, such as Liesl & Po, Bird, Dandelion Clocks, The Forbidden Library, Wonder, Girl with a White Dog, Goth Girl, Rooftoppers, Fire Spell, Anthem For Jackson Dawes… If you read more young adult than middle grade fiction, why not give one of these a shot?

Which middle grade novels have you enjoyed?

Top Ten / Books That Got Me Searching for More Middle Grade

22 thoughts on “Top Ten / Books That Got Me Searching for More Middle Grade

  1. I actually requested and received a netgalley copy of SMART, last week. The synopsis reminds me a lot of The Curious Incident, which I really enjoyed so I’m looking forward to it.
    I think Middle Grade and children’s fiction, even if I don’t read a lot of it, is important, because it may be responsible for teaching children lessons their parents feel are too awkward to talk to them about. It allows them to explore and understand that it’s okay to be curious about different things and may be responsible also for their general understanding of other people’s behaviour

  2. Ooo I love this post!

    Secret Hen House Theatre is once of my favourites, I still recommend it!

    My favourite find (so far) this year has to be Waffle Hearts from Maria Parr, just beautiful. Oh, Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy is a good one too, and ….!

  3. Yay for Middle Grade books! That’s all, folks…

  4. Roald Dahl is indispensable to kids lit! ‘The Witches’ is another one of my favorites, also – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle and The Giver by Lois Lowry are fantastic middle grade reads that hold up to adult tastes.

  5. Brilliant post. I’m trying to read more middle grade.

  6. Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary

    I pretty much need to read all of these. I’ve read most of Roald Dahl’s because I think most people do in primary school, and they’re really good.

    I particularly want to read A Room Full of Chocolate and the Sesame Seade books.

    Fab post, Stacey!

  7. Yay so glad to see Sesame Seade on this list and ARFOC!! I really, really need to read Liar & Spy! Gonna have to get ahold of it. Really looking forward to reading Dead Man’s Cove


  8. I love MATILDA too 🙂

  9. I’m with Julia Lee- yay for MG! My ‘Brilliant MG Suggestions’ would be ARFOC, Rooftoppers, Alex the Dog and the Unopenable Door, The Executioner’s Daughter… I could go on and on!

  10. I have only read Matilda off this list but I loved it so so much! I must read more of Dahl, we never had many translations when I was a kid.

    My INT giveaway
    My UK giveaway

  11. I’m really glad you included Suzanne LaFleur on your list. I’ve loved both Love, Aubrey and Eight Keys. I do have her latest on my shelf to get to at some point. I just downloaded Murder Most Unlikely onto my Kindle, I have high hopes.

    Some of my favourite MG titles: the Kat Stephenson books by Stephanie Burgis. books in the series about the Casson family by Hilary McKay (possibly?) and definitely The Mistress of the Storm (and the sequel!) by ML Welsh. Love that series.

    • I hope you enjoy Murder Most Unladylike – it does seem like your sort of book too! I’d like to promote Suzanne LaFleur more as I think she’s a wonderful MG author.

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