Welcome back to my Christmas Book Gifting blogs! Last week, I featured books to gift the younger readers in your life. You can check that list out HERE. This week, I’m excited to share some of my favorite middle grade novels and graphic novels perfect for gift giving to readers in grades 5-8! From the animal lover, to the Sci-Fi enthusiast, to the writers and actors in your life – there is a book on this list for everyone!
I have divided the list – the first section are books recommended for Grades 4-6, followed by recommendations for Gr. 6-8. And yes, I had trouble counting to ten – AGAIN!
RECOMMENDED FOR READERS IN GRADES 4-6
Abby In Between: Ready or Not – Megan Ebryant
Perfect for your grade 4 reader, this new middle-grade series features nine-year-old Abby as she navigates all the chaos that can come from growing up. I loved Judy Blume books when I was growing up and this one certainly had a modern Judy Blume vibe! It’s a great book to introduce the topic of puberty as I feel it offers a realistic portrayal of the emotions, experiences, and feelings of a young girl. I appreciated the understanding doctor and the un-embarrassed mother.
Odder – Katherine Applegate
How can you NOT fall in love with this adorable sea otter? You can never go wrong with a book written by beloved author Katherine Applegate. I love how she manages to weave important issues into her books with such respect and grace wrapped up in gorgeous writing and endearing characters. Told in verse, this book tells the tender tale of an injured sea otter who is rescued by humans. Inspired by the true story of a Monterey Bay Aquarium program that pairs orphaned otter pups with surrogate mothers. A PERFECT gift for the animal lover in your life!!!
Growing Pangs – Kathryn Ormsbee
Great coming of age theme in this cute graphic novel that includes topics like homeschooling, theater, friendship, summer camp, OCD, and anxiety. They say “books are mirrors” and I really like that there are so many authors books for middle graders who are trying to find their place in the world and be proud of who they are.
The Ice Cream Machine – Adam Rubin
Such a clever and original idea! This book is a collection of six short stories in a variety of genres and settings, all featuring ice cream! A great introduction to different genres and a very relatable storyline. Don’t forget to read th author’s notes at the beginning and end of the book!
The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza – Mac Barnett
Likely your kids will recognize this title from the massively popular The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza live cartoon. Now the cartoon has been turned into an action-packed and hysterical graphic novel series–perfect for fans of Dav Pilkey, Raina Telgemeier, and Jeff Kinney. Perfect for kids who like wacky, zany, LOL books! This series is targeted for 7-9 year olds.
A Rover’s Story – Jasmine Warga
For fans of Sci Fi space exploration – this is a MUST READ story about the journey of a fictional Mars rover. But don’t let the premise fool you – this book is unique and deeply moving and took me completely by surprise! (Think “The Wild Robot” meets “The One and Only Ivan”) This one will tug at the heartstrings, no question! This would be a great read for ANY age!
RECOMMENDED FOR READERS IN GRADES 6-8
Swim Team – Johnnie Christmas
This graphic novel follows Bree, a Math wiz, who moves with her dad to a new state and has to begin at a new school. She ends up having to take swimming class because all the other electives are full. Despite knowing nothing about swimming, Bree ends up competing in the state swim meet. A powerful coming of age story that explores sports, the meaning of friendship, family struggles, bullying, and stereotyping.
The Tryout – Christina Soontornvat
What could be more horrible than trying out to be a cheerleader in front of the your entire grade seven class? Not to mention, having your best friend say she doesn’t want to be your partner for the tryouts! This graphic novel, based on the author’s childhood, captures the many cringe-worthy moments of middle school life.
J.R. Silver Writes Her World – Melissa Dassori
This book will be a HUGE hit for the writer in your life! It has just about everything you could want in a book – mystery, art, history, friendship, and a pinch of magic! During a writing assignment at school, J.R. discovers she has a peculiar power – stories she writes come true! Soon J.R. is getting a cell phone, scoring game-winning goals, and triggering school cancellations. But she soon realizes that each new story she writes creates as many conflicts as it does solutions. This book is heartfelt and SO GOOD!
Operation Do-Over – Gordon Korman
The latest by Canadian great Gordon Korman weaves themes of friendship, first crushes, loyalty, promises, consequences, and regret mixed in with a little magic and time travel! WOW! The story follows seventh-grader Mason and and his best friend Ty, who in order to save their friendship, make a pact to avoid their mutual crush on classmate Ava. But when a freak storm brings Mason and Ava together, Mason breaks the pact and loses his best friend. Five years later, Mason is lonely and friendless — until he gets the magical chance to change the past with a “do-over”.
Marvellerverse #1 The Marvellers – Dhonielle Clayton
For the Fantasy fans in your life – this brand new adventure series set in a global magic school in the sky is getting a lot of “book buzz”! A little Harry Potter mixed with The Lightening Thief and you get this latest story of a trio of friends attending a magical school. Non-stop action, magical creatures, marvelous abilities – this is the first in what I believe will become a very popular series.
Looking for a spooky ghost story? You have come to the right place! Ghostlight is the latest fast-paced, spooky fantasy by the great Canadian author Kenneth Oppel. Set in Toronto, the story follows Gabe who lands a summer job giving a ghost tour of a lighthouse. While telling ghost stories to tourists, he accidentally connects with Rebecca, the ghostly daughter of the former lighthouse guardian, who asks Gabe for help to kill the evil ghost-eater Viker before he starts killing again. Oooooooo – SCARY!!!
WARNING: This book includes some frightening descriptions and themes and I would recommend for 13 years and older.
Twelfth – Janet Key
For all budding actors and theater fans! This book centers around a theater summer camp preparing to perform the play Twelfth Night. Strong protagonist and fun cast of characters (including some great LGBTQ+, anxiety, and depression representation), throw in an interesting mystery, duel timelines (2015 and 1940-50’s), and a pretty good twist and you get this great coming-of-age novel!
Two Degrees – Alan Gratz
I LOVED the book Refugee so was excited to see Alan Gratz’s new book Two Degrees. In this book, he focuses on climate change and does so in the same action-packed, page-turning adventure of his other books. It follows three separate story lines and individual characters – a wildfire in California, a Polar Bear attack in Canada, and a hurricane in Florida to illustrate the immense damage being done to the planet through global warming. Each individual story is very compelling, as the teens figure out how to survive in extremely dangerous situations. A great book for your middle grade reader!
Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone – Tae Keller
Jennifer Chan is the new quirky girl obsessed with aliens, making her the subject of ridicule. At school, she is rejected by the cool clique and even the nerds. And then she goes missing. WOW! This book takes a deep dive into the mentality of bullying, belonging, and popularity. It is so, so thought provoking, real, and powerful. A gripping magical-realism plot that flips between “Then” and “Now” chapters. Every middle schooler needs to read this book! Based on the author’s own experience with bullying – HIGHLY recommend this one!