Hey all, Dani here.
Wow…so apparently I have not done a Middle Grade recommendations post before. My mind lied to me because I felt certain that I had done this theme a couple years ago, but I guess not. On the plus side, it means that I definitely have a lot of options to choose from.
Anyway, I should start by saying what counts as a Middle Grade book. By industry standard, a MG book is one aimed at an audience in the age range of 8-12. Obviously as someone who is almost 32, I am definitely not part of the target audience. But I still enjoy them because the characters are well done and the stories are interesting. I simply want to read good stories. Sure the only board books and books aimed for really young readers that I take in are the ones that I’m reading before I gift them to my niece, and those books are cute but those ones I definitely think are too young for me. But I don’t get that feeling with Middle Grade books.
So today I want to talk about a handful of ones that I’ve read in the past couple of years that I’ve really enjoyed. Let’s get started.
I’m going to start off by talking about a couple of graphic novels. The first is a contemporary story about a girl who has been home-schooled and her whole family is involved with the local Faire, but then they decide it’s time for her to go to a real school. So our main character has to struggle to navigate middle school while also dealing with the demands of the Faire and trying to earn a higher position in the cast. All’s Faire in Middle School was a really enjoyable read and I related to that struggle to fit in. Then I need to talk about the Lumberjanes series, which has both a graphic novel series and now a Middle Grade novel series. They both follow the same group of characters and will reference events from the other set of stories, so they are wonderfully compatible with each other. The Lumberjanes are a group of awesomely quirky and diverse girl scouts who go on fantastical adventures, encountering all sorts of creatures like were-bears, mermaids, yetis, and more, all while dealing with issues of friendship and learning and acceptance and yes, some romance as well, but I really enjoy these stories.
So, I’m only specifically talking about The Dragon Pearl and The Storm Runner, but any book that has been released by the Rick Riordan Presents imprint has been fantastic. I love the blend of contemporary story (or futuristic for The Dragon Pearl) blended with the mythology and folklore of various cultures. These tales have so many wonderful elements in them: friendship and adventure/quests, family issues and romance, and of course magic and mystery. I don’t care what age you are; these stories are fantastic.
The Endless Quest series of Dungeons & Dragons choose your own adventure books are a wonderful way to perhaps get younger people interested in the tabletop role-playing game. Actually, again, I don’t care how old you are, these books are fun. Of course I’m also notoriously bad at choose-your-own-adventure-books. It’s amazing if I can get through one after two or three failures. Though there were a couple of these ones that I managed to survive on the first try, which I thought was remarkable. Anyway, they are a good way to introduce the races, classes, monsters, and lore of the D&D world.
Actually looking at pretty much every book I’ve put on this list, it’s like they are all adventure stories that make me think of things like D&D campaigns I’ve been in. The kids in these stories face a heck of a lot of barriers and trials and road-blocks, and yet they continue to work together and persevere and find a way through everything that comes their way.
There’s probably a lot more I could say about why Middle Grade in general, or these books specifically, are awesome, and why I think we should read them more, but I think I’ll just go ahead and save that for a discussion topic in the near future. Instead I’ll just say that I’m going to log off now so I can go read some more MG books myself.
That’s all from me for today, but I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.