All Things Middle Grade

Spiral

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For zany conspiracy, you'd be hard-pressed IMHO to do better than The Secret Series by Pseudononymous Bosch. Gets some flack for being a Lemony clone, tho it has it's own totally unique sense of humor and kitsch and a surprising amount of effective, relatable tween angst. Also, I'm getting some (light) Artemis Fowl vibes, Colfer's sense of humor and adventure might be in your wheelhouse. Finally Cold Cereal by Adam Rex follows a ridiculously zany world-wide conspiracy involving cereal manufactures, hyper-intelligent magic children, King Arthur, and Ringo Starr. It gets more fantasy-related as the series continues, but is my gold star for readable MG featuring a truly bonkers secret conspiracy.


Oooh. Thank you for reminding me of this series. I remember reading it years ago. now i want to read it again!
 

CanadianHunter79

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Middle school teacher here trying to revive this thread.

One of my favourite authors for the grades I teach (7 and 8) is Gary Soto. I thoroughly enjoy his short story Seventh Grade, and his poem "Oranges" to name a few.

We still read The Outsiders in eighth grade and the students still seem to love it and find connections. They love the movie at the end of the unit as well.

What are some short stories you would recommend I read with my middle school students?
 

CMBright

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Middle school teacher here trying to revive this thread.

One of my favourite authors for the grades I teach (7 and 8) is Gary Soto. I thoroughly enjoy his short story Seventh Grade, and his poem "Oranges" to name a few.

We still read The Outsiders in eighth grade and the students still seem to love it and find connections. They love the movie at the end of the unit as well.

What are some short stories you would recommend I read with my middle school students?

Well, I'm a bit of an outlier. By 2nd grade I was reading everything I could get my hands on from the back of cereal boxes to Greco-Roman mythology in the school library to flipping through Mom's nursing textbook to read the captions under illustrations. I loved the clear middle panels with the various systems on different clear cell pages.

Have you read Bridge to Terabetha? Memorable book, does contain a LOT of swearing, dangerous/reckless behavior and one of the characters does die toward the climax.

Zindell, The Pigman and The Pigman's Legacy come to mind, but he wrote a lot more than that. Judy Bloom was good back in the day, might be more of a recommended list than everyone list, not sure. Or might blow a few boys minds if they have to read a "girlie" book.

Folklore, mythology. Anybook with horses, like The Black Stallion, Black Beauty or Misty from... can't remember how to spell the island. Laura Ingles Wilder's books, there are several in the series plus the one about her future spouse's childhood. Chronicals of Narnia. Might have mangled the spelling on that last one.

Wish I could remember the titles or author, but there was a series of historical fiction novels where there was an "extra" character as the protagonist in historical events like the voyage of Columbus from the POV of the cabin boy.
 

owlion

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Middle school teacher here trying to revive this thread.

One of my favourite authors for the grades I teach (7 and 8) is Gary Soto. I thoroughly enjoy his short story Seventh Grade, and his poem "Oranges" to name a few.

We still read The Outsiders in eighth grade and the students still seem to love it and find connections. They love the movie at the end of the unit as well.

What are some short stories you would recommend I read with my middle school students?
I think The Outsiders is often considered young adult fiction (13-18), but middle grade fiction that might be good are books like Show Us Who You Are by Elle McNicoll (grounded scifi with an autistic protagonist), Like a Charm by Elle McNicoll (contemporary fantasy with a dyspraxic protagonist) Tyger by S.F. Said (alternate universe dystopian fantasy), The Monsters of Rookhaven by Pádraig Kenny (historical fantasy), or (a more classic one) Holes by Louis Sachar (which also has a film).
 

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Well, there's so many threads dedicated to YA here on AW that I thought I would start one dedicated to MG ... although everyone's welcome. :)

Just testing the waters to see if there's any interest in MG bonding!
Hey! Yes, definitely interested in getting to know some other MG writers. Like one of the other responders I noticed, I am an action/ adventure enthusiast. I wrote, "The Silent Sphinx", and am currently working on the sequel (I hope it's okay that I mentioned my book?), anyway it's a genre that I always was drawn to as a child and still definitely have an interest in.

The area of self-publishing I'm most interested in is marketing; something that is likely a difficult task for most self-published authors. I'm finally reconnecting with my writing and am getting excited about it again after a long absence.

Looking forward to getting in touch with you all!
 

frimble3

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Well, I'm a bit of an outlier. By 2nd grade I was reading everything I could get my hands on from the back of cereal boxes to Greco-Roman mythology in the school library to flipping through Mom's nursing textbook to read the captions under illustrations. I loved the clear middle panels with the various systems on different clear cell pages.

Have you read Bridge to Terabetha? Memorable book, does contain a LOT of swearing, dangerous/reckless behavior and one of the characters does die toward the climax.

Zindell, The Pigman and The Pigman's Legacy come to mind, but he wrote a lot more than that. Judy Bloom was good back in the day, might be more of a recommended list than everyone list, not sure. Or might blow a few boys minds if they have to read a "girlie" book.

Folklore, mythology. Anybook with horses, like The Black Stallion, Black Beauty or Misty from... can't remember how to spell the island. Laura Ingles Wilder's books, there are several in the series plus the one about her future spouse's childhood. Chronicals of Narnia. Might have mangled the spelling on that last one.
For kids who like horse stories, the world is their oyster! The title is 'Misty of Chincoteague', and it's written by Marguerite Henry, who wrote a lot of books about horses, whether 'real life', 'fictionalized'
or 'historical'.
If you've got any boy readers, these ones aren't the girly 'Peggy gets a Pony' stories (not that there's anything wrong with those, it's just a different emphasis). Ms. Henry's books are about the horses. And beautifully illustrated by Wesley Dennis, in most cases.
*Do not encourage children to read 'The Red Pony' by John Steinbeck - it is a miserable read full of dead horses and
heartbreak.
 
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CMBright

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For kids who like horse stories, the world is their oyster! The title is 'Misty of Chincoteague', and it's written by Marguerite Henry, who wrote a lot of books about horses, whether 'real life', 'fictionalized'
or 'historical'.
If you've got any boy readers, these ones aren't the girly 'Peggy gets a Pony' stories (not that there's anything wrong with those, it's just a different emphasis). Ms. Henry's books are about the horses. And beautifully illustrated by Wesley Dennis, in most cases.
I remembered the title, I just couldn't remember the island name spelling and didn't google it before I posted. :)
 

frimble3

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I remembered the title, I just couldn't remember the island name spelling and didn't google it before I posted. :)
I figured that - I knew exactly what book you meant, and just figured for kids into books about horses, it was a good time to boost Ms. Henry's books. ;)
Like yourself, I would read anything with words on it, which leads to problems suggesting books, because I have to remember grade-levels, and who is likely to want to read what.
 

CMBright

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I figured that - I knew exactly what book you meant, and just figured for kids into books about horses, it was a good time to boost Ms. Henry's books. ;)
Like yourself, I would read anything with words on it, which leads to problems suggesting books, because I have to remember grade-levels, and who is likely to want to read what.

One potential complication are students who read above or below a given grade level. I'm reading MG as Middle Grade, as Middle School from 5th or 6th grade up until 7th or 8th grade. Which might be wrong from a genre convention.
 

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*Do not encourage children to read 'The Red Pony' by John Steinbeck - it is a miserable read full of dead horses and
heartbreak.
My horse nut sister literally threw that book across the room after the first horse died. Did not go back.
 

frimble3

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My horse nut sister literally threw that book across the room after the first horse died. Did not go back.
Just as well, it didn't get any better. I didn't throw mine, because it was a school copy, but I resolved never to knowingly read anything by Steinbeck ever again.
 
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CanadianHunter79

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Just as well, it didn't get any better. I didn't throw mine, because it was a school copy, but I resolved never to knowingly read anything by Steinbeck ever again
I didn't read Steinbeck until late high school. I loved Grapes of Wrath. I wanted to love East of Eden but I'll admit I didn't get it.
 

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I don't read and write middle grade as much anymore but I remembered just how rewarding it was when writing for that 9-12 age range.
 

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Middle school teacher here trying to revive this thread.

One of my favourite authors for the grades I teach (7 and 8) is Gary Soto. I thoroughly enjoy his short story Seventh Grade, and his poem "Oranges" to name a few.

We still read The Outsiders in eighth grade and the students still seem to love it and find connections. They love the movie at the end of the unit as well.

What are some short stories you would recommend I read with my middle school students?
I loved the Outsiders. It was one of my favorites at that grade level.
 

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What are some folks' favorite MG books from the past year or two? Why'd you love it/them?
 

owlion

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What are some folks' favorite MG books from the past year or two? Why'd you love it/them?
Off the top of my head, I really enjoyed these ones:

-The Raconteur's Commonplace Book (2021) - a group of people telling each other stories while floodwaters rise outside. I love that setup, where there are multiple stories that all come back to one point, plus is has really fun worldbuilding.

-The Aveline Jones books (2020-2022) - a horror trilogy which follows Aveline Jones as she travels to different locations and meets different supernatural entities. I enjoyed how the horror was set up in the first and while the second and third weren't spooky, they still had a really good atmosphere.

-The Monsters of Rookhaven (2021) - based around a family of supernatural, monster-like people who live in a big house together. I enjoyed how different the monster-types were and the atmosphere was great.
 

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What are some folks' favorite MG books from the past year or two? Why'd you love it/them?
Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods, by Catherynne M. Valente. Her Fairyland series is one of the top MG reads of mine in recent years, and this has a similar tone and voice, with an all-new setting and original world. Great fun.

And it may be a bit closer to children's than MG, but I'm enjoying the Up-and-Under series by "A. Deborah Baker" (Seanan McGuire), a portal fantasy in the vein of Oz that was a spinoff of her very-much-not-MG horror/fantasy Middlegame.
 

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Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods, by Catherynne M. Valente. Her Fairyland series is one of the top MG reads of mine in recent years, and this has a similar tone and voice, with an all-new setting and original world. Great fun.

And it may be a bit closer to children's than MG, but I'm enjoying the Up-and-Under series by "A. Deborah Baker" (Seanan McGuire), a portal fantasy in the vein of Oz that was a spinoff of her very-much-not-MG horror/fantasy Middlegame.
Just read the review - sounds interesting! Will pick it up and read soon. Thanks!
 

worriedshoes

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Off the top of my head, I really enjoyed these ones:

-The Raconteur's Commonplace Book (2021) - a group of people telling each other stories while floodwaters rise outside. I love that setup, where there are multiple stories that all come back to one point, plus is has really fun worldbuilding.

-The Aveline Jones books (2020-2022) - a horror trilogy which follows Aveline Jones as she travels to different locations and meets different supernatural entities. I enjoyed how the horror was set up in the first and while the second and third weren't spooky, they still had a really good atmosphere.

-The Monsters of Rookhaven (2021) - based around a family of supernatural, monster-like people who live in a big house together. I enjoyed how different the monster-types were and the atmosphere was great.
Thanks, Owlion! I like the idea of Raconteur's... reminds me of the Decameron and others, great framing for a book but never seen it done with children's. Will check it out!
 
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t0dd

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Off the top of my head, I really enjoyed these ones:

-The Raconteur's Commonplace Book (2021) - a group of people telling each other stories while floodwaters rise outside. I love that setup, where there are multiple stories that all come back to one point, plus is has really fun worldbuilding.

-The Aveline Jones books (2020-2022) - a horror trilogy which follows Aveline Jones as she travels to different locations and meets different supernatural entities. I enjoyed how the horror was set up in the first and while the second and third weren't spooky, they still had a really good atmosphere.

-The Monsters of Rookhaven (2021) - based around a family of supernatural, monster-like people who live in a big house together. I enjoyed how different the monster-types were and the atmosphere was great.
I'd already read "The Raconteur's Commonplace Book" and enjoyed it, but the other books on your list were new to me.

I couldn't find the Aveline Jones books in the library, alas - perhaps they haven't been published in the U.S. as yet - but did find "The Monsters of Rookhaven" and its sequel, "The Secrets of Rookhaven", and enjoyed both. (Piglet struck me as a particularly impressive creation - a figure who feels almost as terrifyingly alien as a Lovecraftian Great Old One, and yet has a charmingly childlike tone, especially in his curiosity.)
 
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owlion

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I'd already read "The Raconteur's Commonplace Book" and enjoyed it, but the other books on your list were new to me.

I couldn't find the Aveline Jones books in the library, alas - perhaps they haven't been published in the U.S. as yet - but did find "The Monsters of Rookhaven" and its sequel, "The Secrets of Rookhaven", and enjoyed both. (Piglet struck me as a particularly impressive creation - a figure who feels almost as terrifyingly alien as a Lovecraftian Great Old One, and yet has a charmingly childlike tone, especially in his curiosity.)
I'm glad you enjoyed them! I really liked Piglet's character too, there's a great balance struck that makes him feel realistically powerful. Aveline Jones was published in the UK so there's definitely a chance it hasn't made it over yet (ebooks might be available though?)