The Kids Are All Right

Marvelous Middle Grade Books for Gift Giving

Hi Kid Lit Friends,

The final newsletter of 2020 features my favorite middle grade books from this year! I’ve already shared many favorite books published this year, and I’m so grateful to have been able to read so many children’s books. Here are my favorite middle grade books, perfect for readers ages eight to twelve.

  • As American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar: Indian American Lekha Divekar is excited to welcome a new neighbor until she realizes that Avantika is new to the country, not like Lekha at all.
  • Wink by Rob Harrell: Ross Maloy receives a recent diagnosis of a rare eye cancer.
  • All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat: The incredible story of the cave rescue of a Thai boys soccer team.
  • Any Day With You by Mae Respicio: Kaia learns that her beloved grandfather Tatang is moving back to the Philippines.
  • Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson: ZJ’s father suffers from head injuries after years as a professional football player.
  • City Spies by James Ponti: Sara Martinez joins a group of young spies to save the world.
  • Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley: Ten-year-old Della and her sister Suki enter the foster care system and confront past abuse.
  • Go With The Flow by Karen Schneemann and Lily Williams: Four high school sophomores petition their school administration to support female health in this graphic novel.
  • Land of Cranes by Aida Salazar: Nine-year-old Betita holds onto hope while living at a detention center for migrants and refugees.
  • On the Horizon by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Kenard Pak: Interwoven stories told in verse based on Lowry’s childhood living in Hawaii and Japan during World War II.
  • Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park: Hanna, a young half-Asian girl, grows up in America’s heartland in 1880 and confronts her community’s prejudice against Asians.
  • The Radium Girls: Young Readers Edition by Kate Moore: The true story of young women who took jobs painting watch dials with glow-in-the-dark radium paint.
  • Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz: New friends Shirley and Jamila start a detective agency.
  • When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed: A National Book Award Finalist based on Omar Mohamed’s life growing up in a refugee camp in Kenya.
  • A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner: Sixth grader Silas Wade does a presentation on former Major Leaguer Glenn Burke, a gay baseball player in the 1970s, the first step in revealing a big part of who Silas is.
  • Class Act by Jerry Craft: The companion book to the Newbery Award winning book New Kid.
  • Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes: A powerful book about two brothers, one who presents as white and the other who presents as Black, as they prepare for a fencing competition.
  • The Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling: Nora and her father look for peace in a canyon deep in the Arizona desert when a flash flood carries Nora’s dad and all their supplies away.
  • Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk: The Great Depression forces Ellie and her family to move to Echo Mountain where her father suffers a head injury that leaves him in a coma.
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks: Twelve-year-old Zoe is determined to uncover the truth to her father’s conviction.
  • King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender: When Kingston James’s brother passes away, Kingston is convinced that his brother is now a dragonfly. A National Book Award winner!
  • The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead: Bea keeps a list of things that will not change, which gives her hope during a time of lots of change.
  • Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron: Twelve-year-old Maya ventures out to search for her lost father in this contemporary fantasy.
  • The Prettiest by Brigit Young: A ranked list appears online of the fifty prettiest girls in the eighth grade, and three girls join forces to stand up for each other.
  • Twins by Varian Johnson: Twins Maureen and Francine begin to drift apart in sixth grade in this graphic novel.
  • Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim: Yumi Chung leads a double life by secretly enrolling in a comedy class when her mom thinks she’s in test-prep tutoring.
  • When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller: A young girl embarks on a quest to save her grandmother in this novel based on Korean folklore.
  • Spy School Revolution by Stuart Gibbs: Ben Ripley faces a new evil organization.
  • The Last Kids on Earth and the Skeleton Road by Max Brallier: Jack, June, Quint, and Dirk embark on an epic road trip to stop evil in the sixth book in The Last Kids on Earth series.
  • Cleo Porter and the Body Electric by Jake Burt: A girl lives in isolation with her parents following a catastrophic pandemic (sound familiar???).
  • Chirp by Kate Messner: Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, recovering from a gymnastics injury and finding refuge and healing near her Gram.
  • Which Lane? by Torrey Maldonado: A coming-of-age story set in New York City with Black Lives Matter themes.

Wishing all of you a very happy holiday season and a bright start to 2021! Find me on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser, on Instagram at @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting, or email me at

Until 2021!

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