Middle Grade Books – What’s With the Hype? + My Reading List

What is the deal with middle grade books? Why are there posts all over the internet about these books and WHY are adults other than teachers reading them?? These are the questions I have been asking myself for the last little while. I haven’t thought about these types of books in a very long time and for the most part just labeled them as children’s books and just went right by without a second glance (oops). If you are like me you are probably also thinking – yes, why do adults care about these books? After all, they are for children. So, I did some reading (a lot of reading). I hunted for articles and blogs written about these books and searched for why they are some popular with seemingly all ages. This is what I found out:

The most popular middle grade books are ones we have ALL heard of and probably read! These include Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Narnia… some big name books! However, I have to admit… I didn’t think these were “middle grade” or maybe my problem is I was not understanding WHAT middle grade books really were!

This grouping of books is difficult to understand I think. First off, I found myself just assuming that “middle grade” meant “children’s” like for small children… I don’t know why?? Now I am seeing that really, while they are meant for kids (not little ones by actually 8-12 year olds) they are actually very much like YA books just written in a more simple way!

SO this is where my ultimate confusion comes in… I didn’t realize Harry Potter books were targeting 8-12 year olds? As I remember the books are massive and forgive me if I’m wrong because I did not read them…. BUT the books (based on watching the movies) seem like kind of violent, focus on some really difficult and serious topics, and seem overall kind of inappropriate for an 8 year old? Maybe I’m being crazy. Or maybe the books are not quite like the movies? But I’m sure you can see where I am coming from when I say – when I found out Harry Potter was “middle grade” it changed my whole perspective!

I have been reading so many posts about middle grade books and before I just didn’t bother with them because I thought ‘why would I, and adult, want to read a kids book?’ And now, I am so sad because I’m seeing that there are SO MANY interesting, amazing, and well written middle grade books. I feel like I have to make up for lost time to be honest. I did not really read many (if any?) middle grade books when I was younger. I think I just skipped right over that entire thing which is unfortunate!!

I am realizing something very important about middle grade books which is – they are really meant for everyone. They have some many important themes and topics. They focus on friendship, adventure, and growing up. They are very similar to YA books!!! They just take out the more inappropriate things and keep the fun, action packed, fast paced, exciting parts! They really sound like a lot of fun and based on what I’ve read and reviews I seen, they seem TOTALLY WORTH reading as an adult.

So, hear I am – listing some middle grade books that I have added to my list to read. I am hoping I can get to them sooner than later. I feel like I have just opened up a can on worms here with my forever growing TBR hahah I just entered a whole new world of possibility. Very exciting!!

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

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ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD Looking for special opportunities?
When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear listener, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful
children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules.
As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?
Welcome to the mysterious benedict society.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a perfectly normal boy. Well, he would be perfectly normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the world of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer; a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of ghouls; friendship with a witch, and so much more.

But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.

Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood

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Chantel would much rather focus on her magic than on curtsying, which is why she often finds herself in trouble at Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens. But when Miss Ellicott mysteriously disappears along with all the other sorceresses in the city, Chantel’s behavior becomes the least of her problems.

Without any magic protecting the city, it is up to Chantel and her friends to save the Kingdom. On a dangerous mission, Chantel will discover a crossbow-wielding boy, a dragon, and a new, fiery magic that burns inside her—but can she find the sorceresses and transform Lightning Pass into the city it was meant to be?

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

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After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. 

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. 

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.” 

Ghost and Bone by Andrew Prentice

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Oscar Grimstone is a normal kid–aside from his secret Curse. Whenever he touches something living, like a flower or his classroom goldfish, they always seem to die. But then Oscar discovers an even bigger secret: even though he is very much alive, he has the ability to transform into a ghost.

Just when he thinks things can’t get any stranger two ghosts show up at his home in a skeleton carriage and he winds up joining them on a journey beyond the real world to a place he never knew existed–the city of ghosts. There Oscar will discover a place where people go once they die, before they aboard a ship to the The Other Side. But will he find out who he really is?


As you can see I have a “type” for my middle grade book interests! I am leaning towards fantasy, mystery, horror type books… I think this is because they take you on a ride away from reality! These books seems really entertaining, I’m excited to read them!!

Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts on middle grade books?

4 thoughts on “Middle Grade Books – What’s With the Hype? + My Reading List

  1. Really great post! I haven’t read any of these but Small Spaces has been on my “wishlist” for a while now. It sounds so good but I am really the Ultimate Chicken™️ because even MG books can scare me LOL 🤣 But I digress. I also thought MG was more targeted towards the younger ones but it makes sense that they’re targeted to almost-middle-schoolers! I remember when Harry Potter first came out I think I was 9 and it was just by chance that I went to the bookstore and discovered it coz I hadn’t heard of it before. But I felt that as the book continues I grew older in time with the books characters and it was really fitting ❤ I would also totally recommend Wonder, Malamander and as you like fantasy/adventure Nevermoor! I read the Trials of Morrigan Crow the other day and it was so good 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is true about Harry Potter and the audience growing with the books!! It happened with the movies too! It is really fitting!

      I will totally check all of those ones out! Thanks for the recommendations 😊

      Like

  2. Great post! I loved the discussion on middle grade! I have felt the same way about many of the books. After reading the synopsis of some of the ones you listed I am actually intrigued. The Graveyard Book sounds amazing! I can believe that I passed up all these wonderful books just because of a label.

    Liked by 1 person

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