5 Middle Grade Books on My Summer Reading List / by Madeleine Riley

I've read only 15 middle grade books this year, which feels less than normal for me (though I don't actually have any data to back that up). I think it's partially due to the fact that I'm teaching a younger age group (whereas in previous years, I've taught fourth and fifth grade), so my focus has shifted from middle grade to beginning readers and early chapter books. It's also due to the fact that many of the books I've picked up just haven't kept my interest, so I've abandoned a lot this year. I'm hoping that this summer will give me an opportunity to dive back into the middle grade world and reignite my love for it. 

I have a whole stack of great-looking middle grade novels to read this summer and though I can't speak to any of them yet, I thought I'd share the list with you all, in case you're looking for some new middle grade reads to add to your own stack!


5 Middle Grade Books on My Summer Reading List

Breakout by Kate Messner

Thank you to Bloomsbury Children's Books for my free copy!

I'm reading this for the #DBCsummer -- Lorraine is hosting an Instagram discussion on July 9th, which gives me a deadline for picking it up! (Though you can jump in on that discussion at any point in the summer.)

From the Publisher:

Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek--two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town's maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.

Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics--a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project--Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who's really welcome in the places we call home.

Fadeaway by Maura Ellen Stokes

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for my free copy!

From the Publisher:

When Sam's best friend Reagan dies after her heart suddenly gives out, Sam must learn to deal with her grief and ultimately discover who she is without her best friend by her side.

Fourteen-year-old Sam thinks she has all summer to hang out with her best friend, Reagan. But then her life changes forever. Sam's world, once filled with school, basketball, and Reagan, has now abruptly changed and she must learn to navigate high school on and off the court without her best friend.

But when Reagan suddenly "reappears," Sam clings to her friend's presence, even as it hurts rather than helps her grief. Can Sam learn to accept herself without her other half? This authentic, powerful story of friendship, grief, and discovering yourself is a can't-miss debut novel from Maura Ellen Stokes.

51cVlsFu-7L._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Evangeline of the Bayou by Jan Eldredge

Thank you to Keely Platte PR for my free copy!

From the Publisher:

Twelve-year-old haunt huntress apprentice Evangeline Clement spends her days and nights studying the ways of folk magic, honing her monster-hunting skills while pursuing local bayou banshees and Johnny revenants.

With her animal familiar sure to make itself known any day now, the only thing left to do is prove to the council she has heart. Then she will finally be declared a true haunt huntress, worthy of following in the footsteps of her long line of female ancestors.

But when Evangeline and her grandmother are called to New Orleans to resolve an unusual case, she uncovers a secret that will shake her to the soles of her silver-tipped alligator-skin boots.

Set in the evocative Louisiana bayou and the vibrant streets of New Orleans, Evangeline’s is a tale of loyalty and determination, the powerful bonds of friendship and family, and the courage to trust your gut no matter how terrifying that might be.

51eJHMUXk0L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

The Bonaventure Adventures by Rachelle Delaney

Thank you to Tundra Books for my free copy!

From the Publisher:

Sebastian Konstantinov comes from a long line of talented circus performers. Somehow, however, he has not inherited any of their acrobatic skill: he has no balance, he's afraid of heights, he can't even turn a somersault. But there's one thing he does know: his father's circus, which travels through Eastern Europe, is out of date and is fast running out of money. 

Seb has a solution, though: if he can somehow get into the Bonaventure Circus School in Montreal, Canada, he might be able to learn something valuable to help his father. Seb secretly writes to the Directrice (an old friend of his father's) and is accepted into the school. All he has to do is convince his father to send him away -- oh, and keep his lack of talent a secret from all his teachers and classmates. Fortunately for him, he befriends two other students, who also don't seem to quite fit in. 

Seb is not the only one with secrets, it turns out. The school is literally crumbling beneath the feet of its students, and the directrice may be counting on Seb's "talent" to save the day. Can he and his new friends figure out what's really going on in the school that bills itself as the World's Best Circus School?

The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet

Thank you to Candlewick Press for my free copy!

From the Publisher:

It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.


I'd love to hear your recommendations for grade middle grade books! You can find some of my favorites from past years here.