I discovered the #MGBooktober hashtag on instagram quite by accident… it was a running tagline for the month of October to seek out and find the best of the rest in Middle Grade Reads. Middle Grade Reads include dozens of our favourites but by the time I was ready to join in I realised that it make a fabulous blog post too. Everyone loves a list of fab books, right? So here it is… Our collection of reads for #MGBooktober Bazillions of Books and we hope you love them all.
#1 The Book You Are Reading Now
Wonderling by Mira Bartók: This book I have been dying to read, since I first saw the cover… I am 100 out of 400 pages in and it is a very satisfying read. It is fat, it is fantastical and just what I expected so far, but I have a feeling this book has hidden depths and I can’t wait to see it through to the end.
#2 The Book You Love the Most
The Dark is Rising Series by Susan Cooper: These books have been my favourites forever… I have loved them since childhood and I have read them again and again and again…
#3 Your Favourite MG Adventure
The Guild Specialists by Joshua Mowll. These books… beautifully created, packed with amazing and detailed artefacts: newspaper cuttings, old photographs, plans and diagrams… and a gripping adventure. Part historical novel, part spy, part intrigue… gripping adventure from start to finish. Everything to love.
#4 Best SciFi MG
I can’t really scifi… not my best genre. Actually, I can’t even…
#5 Which MG Character is Most Like You
The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg: I haven’t read this book… but my kids have and loved it. And, look at the author!!! When I asked them for a MG character most like me, this book was their response, and here is why: Margaret Rose Kane’s response to every activity on summer camp is “I prefer not to.” That is so me… me me me!!! So Margaret gets to spend the summer with her uncles, who are the bane of the neighbourhood… because they have spent forty five years constructing towers in their back yard from recycled finds: grocery, scrap metal and suchlike. The neighbourhood wants the “artwork” gone… and Margaret Rose is going to stand up for her uncles’ rights, no matter what. I am now going to have to read this book myself… to see who my kids think I am!!!
#6 Best Book of 2017 So Far
The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell: I totally loved it and I totally looked forward to reading it ALL year… worth the wait. Creepy. Exciting. A crazy adventure, but actually all about valiant friendship… the two lead players are such great characters, full of failings, but ultimately endearing heroes. Get it. Read it. It is Fantastic.
#7 Most Exciting New Writer
The Hour of Bees by Lindsay Eager: I loved this book, and I wish everyone everywhere would read it. It is the story of twelve year old Carol, who heads for the New Mexico desert over the summer to relocate her Grandpa. The story happens around the relationship that a gal and her grandpa have, that special closeness as she starts to emerge from childhood. She is still sweet and not cynical about the world around her and he hasn’t given up hope on the world around him. Together they are a formidable team that won’t be told what to do by anyone.
#8 A Book That Made You Cry
Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Wescott: This is on my list of best books ever… like ever. Not a lot of books are written for children about losing a parent… this book documents the time in Liv’s life around the time of her mum’s death. It is touching and sad, in a beautiful way. this huge thing is going on in her life and yet life goes on around her… there is still school and her high need brother and just life. And then there is cancer, thrown into the mix. This is a coming of age book, Liv does grow up through all of this. I think the word for this book would be heartwarming, you will laugh till you cry and you will cry alongside Liv. Just beautiful and the kind of book all kids should read so that they can better understand their friends that are going through similar life-changing events. This book is definitely an empathy builder.
#9 Favorite Food in a MG Book
The Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton: One of my childhood favourites, and my kids’ favourites packed with word images of wonderful picnics, feasts and parties. And doesn’t everyone want to eat some of Silky’s Pop Biscuits… just saying.
#10 Most Awesome MG Friendship
The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham: I have said it before and I will say it again… these books are like hot chocolate on a wintry afternoon. Perfect reads about friendship. Four girls from very different backgrounds form a club, called the Moonlight Dreamers, where they support each others dreams and encourage each other through the ups and downs of life. These books cover tons of almost every current and not so current issue that your kids might face in school… and they are a great and relaxed way to talk about relationships, from their own crushes, to their parents… one has a very traditional family, one has two dads, one has celebrity parents who consistantly live on social media, and one’s dad is a widow. So very diverse backgrounds, very diverse problems, very divers kids and friendship that unites them and stands by them through thick and thin.
#11 Favourite Animal MG Book
Sam Angus writes our favourite animal stories by miles, they are deep, packed with emotion and always explore topics that you wouldn’t normally explore with your kids. These books will describe emotions and feelings like nothing else you have read before. We read them aloud as a family and hang on every word, not pausing for anything… read on, read on. They are absolutely brilliant and we can’t love them enough… you will laugh and you will cry and cry and cry… indeed there will be lots of tears. They are war stories after all.
#12 Favourite MG Fantasy
The Unicorn Secret Series by Kathleen Duey: This series is definitely not just for girls, and if your kids are into breathtaking suspense, mystery and exciting adventures. An orphan girl, called Heart, is on a quest to discover her roots and on the way discovers unicorns. Your kids have to read these.
#13 A Book That Makes You Joyful
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrel: This is one of our family favourites… that we have read outloud over and over again. Gerry… the youngest in the family is an animal collector of note and when his very eccentric family gets to spend a year on the island of Corfu… he narrates about the animals he discovers and his older siblings’ lives as though they were one and the same. Just his observations of the world around him. Absolutely genius writing, this has to be our family favourite and just a mention of the name… Joyful!!!
#14 The Classic Everyone Should Read
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: it is short it is sweet and has to be savoured. You can’t read this book in snippets, it has to be read in chunks, else you lose the flow of the story. A remarkable book that everyone should read… a story that is breathtaking and emotional and well everything. Has to be read.
#15 Favourite MG Illustrator
Chris Riddell, Chris Riddell, Chris Riddell… is our hands down winner of favourite illustrator ever. We actively seek out Chris Riddell’s artwork and books… he is a wonder of illustration and words. Our favourite, favourite.
#16 The Book You Wish You Had Never Read and Why
The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne: I am so glad that I read this book, but oh the pain. This book is so so heart wrenching… World War II through the eyes of a curious child. His childhood hero is his father, of course and friendships count for everything. Devastating, tragic… excellent read.
#17 The MG Character You Love to Hate the Most
Matilda by Road Dahl: I don’t think you can write a post on Middle Grade Readers without mention the fantastical classical Roald Dahl. They are filled with characters that you love to hate and is there anyone worse than The Trunchbull!!! If your kids won’t read these because they have seen the movies (remember movies are not ever as good as the book) then get the audio collection and go on a road trip… really childhood is too short to miss out on the wonders of all that is Roald Dahl.
#18 A Book With Great Themes
Land of Stories by Chris Colfer: Twins Axel and Conner entire the world of fairy tales for a series of unbelievable adventures… packed with your favourite and not so favourite fairy tale characters these books are a whirl through another world. These books are Hood #6’s best books ever… I never dreamt she would read them, they are great big fat chapter books, but clearly the story is fantastic because she powered her way through all of them… again and again and again!!!
#19 The Book You Wish You Had Written
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh: This was my favourite childhood book, and this book turned me into a reader. I loved this book, I was Harriet and I could do anything… including wear blue jeans and sneakers and carry a notebook everywhere.
#20 Which MG Character Would be your BFF
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren: Pippi… the best friend ever, spontaneous fun… always surprising and always full of adventure… love her!!!
#21 Best Detective MG Story
Detectives in Togas and Mystery of the Roman Ransom by Henry Winterfeld: A Detective story and history… set in ancient Roman Times. A group of children have an strange mystery to solve, and of course not enough time to solve it in. Lots to love, these are great great reads that our kids have loved.. If your kids are ready for chapter reads then they are ready for these.
#22 Which MG World Would You Most Like to Live in
The Children of Noisy village by Astrid Lindgren and illustrated by Ilon Wikland: The Bullerby Children have to be my all time favourite families and I would love to have to grown up in this magical world that celebrated all the seasons of the year and childhood in style. Simple beautiful living, without all the drama and busyness of life in the fast lane. I loved this book and all the other books in the series. They are delightful, packed with people that you would want to be friends with. Happy memories are kept between the pages of this book.
#23 The Book that Made You Laugh the Most
Timmy Failure by Stephan Pastis: Timmy Failure is a slightly off beat character, funny and packed with cleverness… Timmy and his sidekick Polar Bear are together the “best” detective agency in town… they make mistakes, honest blunders
#24 Favourite Book Cover
The Puffin in Bloom Collection: Beautiful Classics in beautiful covers… I absolutely love these… All of these!!!
#25 Best MG Realism
928 Miles from Home and A Seven Letter Word by Kim Slater: Gotta love Kim Slater’s writing, about real live kids with real live problems in a real live world. Love them… kids in these books need help and while they try to find it, they have to figure out their problems and solve them on their own. They are great books about brave kids in a world of bullying, they overcome and ultimately get the break they need. Good books, good problem solving skills and great reads.
#26 Favourite MG Writer
How even do you choose!!! If someone where to ask me to recommend a great MG reader for their kids… then I would immediately answer Michael Morpugo for real life and great emotional reads, Lauren Child for pure fun and enjoyment, Dick King Smith for endless animal stories and Kate Di Carmello for magical fantasy.
#27 The Book You Are Most Excited About on Your TBR Pile
The War that Saved my Life and Brown Girl Dreaming and Mr Limoncello: Can I just say I am dying to read this, don’t actually own them, and haven’t spotted them in the library yet… but I sure am looking out for them!!!
#28 Favourite Grownups in MG
Claude by Axel T. Smith: All the Claude’s… we just love. On the easy reading end of middle grade reads, Claude is a very cultured little pup who wears a red beret and has a best friend called Sir Bobblysock. He goes on wonderful little adventures and is hysterically funny throughout. His grown ups are Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes, that’s all you ever see or know about them. ’nuff said, the best!!!
#29 Which Book Do you Think will be a Future Classic
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick: This book is beautiful, in fact a work of art, with the most exquisite drawings to illustrate the journey through it… one feels as if you are reading a foreign language, simply because the words have a deep richness to them. Not to mention that it is set in a Paris station… The book is about Hugo, an orphan who is on a quest to understand the message from his deceased father, hidden in his intricate notebooks. His quest is interrupted by an old man who runs a toyshop on the station and a girl who just loves books. Everyone is interconnected, but how… this is a mystery within a mystery within a mystery. Compelling reading… this book is truly a work of art.
#30 Favourite MG Scary Story
Black Cats and Butlers: Book 1 Rose Ravensthorpe Investigates by Janine Beachman: Just read this and absolutely loved this delightfully creepy and intriguing mystery. Not often you get a murder mystery for middle schoolers, and this one is brilliant… for those that love creepy intrigue. When the cats of Yorke start to disappear, and every time a cat vanishes, so a butler dies. There are people in town that believe this is the result of a legend… but Rose knows better and is determined to figure thing out. This is a must read.
#31 Most Scary MG Character
How to Train a Dragon by Cressida Cowell: Hiccup’s Mother, hands down the scariest character ever… my kids sat in bed with eyes like saucers whenever she came on the scene. I kept saying we needn’t read this and they were: “more, more, more.” So we read on!!! They loved it… but hands down the scariest character ever!!!
And that’s us… go and look for #MGBOOKTOBER on Instagram if you are looking for more great reads.
2 Replies to “Se7en’s Collection of Marvellous Middle Grade Reads for #MGBooktober”
Amazing summary, thank you! Just checking what age Middle Grade is, for us South Africans? I have a nearly 9 and 11 year old – would these be suitable? My nearly 9 year old has read all the How to Train Your Dragon books and loved them, would he manage the rest of these books? I’m always on the lookout for good series for them!
Hay Jo, hmmm I would call middle grade what a lot of folk call tween (argh… hate that word!!!), so from 10 to 13 ish… though lots of younger kids would enjoy these books, and lots of older kids would enjoy them too. Obviously there are some books that my girls would prefer and some my boys would prefer. Otherwise, the relationship type books, like the Moonlight Dreamers might not inspire your eleven year old son to become an avid reader (!), but I loved them and so did my two older girls. So like all things, these are recommendations and your kids will quickly tell you which books on a list like this, they would or wouldn’t want to read… Both your 9 and 11 yr old would like the books in this post for emerging readers. Happy reading!!!