Rediscovering Middle Grade

I read MG.I often joke that my life is YA lit — I read it, I write it, and I follow what’s happening with it in publishing. I don’t follow MG with the same devotion, but I do keep track of what’s new and popular in that category. I have a mental list of MG books I’d like to read, but sadly, those books often get pushed farther down my TBR list as new YA titles catch my attention.

But now that I’m preparing to do book talks at local middle schools this fall, I’m finally tackling that MG TBR list. And it is So. Much. Fun! Most of the YA I gravitate toward is dark and heavy, and while MG can certainly explore those tough topics, it does so in a way that’s accessible to younger audiences. MG books may have sad or scary moments, but they overwhelmingly end on a happy/hopeful note, a sense that even if everything isn’t perfect for the characters right now, things are going to work out.

And as I grapple with the uncertainties in my own life, that’s exactly the kind of story I need to read.

Recent favorites (which I plan to book talk) include Varian Johnson’s The Great Greene Heist, Dee Romito’s The BFF Bucket List, and Brooks Benjamin’s My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights. I think Holly Goldberg Sloan handles grief deftly in Counting by 7s, and The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a great historical MG. Up next on my MG TBR list are The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Anne Haydu, and The Night Parade by Katherine Tanquary.

If you read MG, what books would you recommend? Please share your favorites — new titles or older books I may have missed — in the comments!

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