Inclusive Reading Recommendations — Middle Grade

Back for a second round of inclusive books. Here are a few middle grade books to get started reading more representationally. As the holidays get closer, these may also make excellent gifts for people in your life!

  1. Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill
    • When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means and how they can find it with each other.
  2. The House You Pass On the Way by Jacqueline Woodson
    • Staggerlee used to be Evangeline but she took on a fiercer name. She’s always been different–set apart by the tragic deaths of her grandparents in an anti-civil rights bombing, by her parents’ interracial marriage, and by her family’s retreat from the world. This summer she has a new reason to feel set apart–her confused longing for her friend, Hazel. When cousin Trout comes to stay, she gives Staggerlee a first glimpse of her possible future selves and the world beyond childhood.
  3. Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano
    • Set in the 1950s in the Bronx, this is the story of a girl with a dream. When readers meet young Sonia, she is a child living amidst the squalor of a boisterous home that is filled with noisy relatives and nosy neighbors. But it is Sonia’s dream of becoming an actress that keeps her afloat among the turbulence of her life and times. Spiced with culture, heartache, and humor, this memoir paints a lasting portrait of a girl’s resilience as she grows up to become an inspiration to millions
  4. George by Alex Gino
    • When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all
  5. Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass by Lilah Sturges
    • When the Janes start to become separated during an orienteering outing thanks to a mysterious compass, Molly becomes more and more insecure about the effect of her relationship with Mal on the other girls. Meanwhile, a lonely woman explorer is trying to steal the compass, with the help of some weirdly polite automaton butlers.
  6. A Step from Heaven by An Na
    • A young Korean girl and her family find it difficult to learn English and adjust to life in America.
  7. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
    • Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.
  8. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
    • Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.
  9. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
    • When Paul falls hard for Noah, he thinks he has found his one true love, but when Noah walks out of his life, Paul has to find a way to get him back and make everything right once more.
  10. Being Jazz: my life as a (transgender) teen by Jazz Jennings
    • Teen activist and trailblazer Jazz Jennings–named one of “The 25 most influential teens” of the year by Time–shares her very public transgender journey, as she inspires people to accept the differences in others while they embrace their own truths.
  11. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
    • When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
  12.  Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
    • A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school. After her local mosque is vandalized, she is devastated. Her friend Soojin is talking about changing her name. Does Amina need to become more “American” and hide who she really is?
  13. Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
    • Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri’s mom avoids these questions and the topic of India is permanently closed. For Pri, her mother’s homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she finds a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film.
  14. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
    • Alternates three interrelated stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans trying to participate in the popular culture.
  15. March by John Lewis
    • March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.
  16. Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds
    • As a student at Brooklyn Visions Academy, Miles Morales knows he’s lucky. Not all kids get this opportunity, especially not kids from his neighborhood. With his quirky best friend Ganke, this school year is gonna be a blast. Right? Wrong. Miles has a secret. He’s actually Spider-Man. Well not THE Spider-Man but A Spider-Man. Pretty much the only Spider-Man in town now that Peter Parker is gone.
  17. El Deafo by Cece Bell
    • The author recounts in graphic novel format her experiences with hearing loss at a young age, including using a bulky hearing aid, learning how to lip read, and determining her “superpower.”
  18. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
    • Catrina and her family move to Bahía de la Luna, a small town on the Northern California coast, hoping that the cool, salty air will help her little sister, Maya, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. Cat is not happy about leaving her friends, and becomes even more upset about the move when a neighbor informs the sisters that the town is inhabited by ghosts, and that Dia de los Muertos– a time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones– is coming up and is celebrated by the entire town.
  19. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
    • In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.
  20. Legend by Marie Lu
    • In a dark future, when North America has split into two warring nations, fifteen-year-old Day–a famous criminal, and prodigy June–the brilliant soldier hired to capture him, discover that they have a common enemy.

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