Diverse Books for Middle-Grade Readers

Diverse Books for Middle-Grade Readers

All of the books on this list celebrate the rich diversity present in our world. Read about someone like yourself or experience life through the eyes of someone totally different! 

Dara Palmer’s Major DramaShevah, Emma
Dara Palmer dreams of being an actress, but when she does not get a part in the school play she wonders if it is because of her different looks as an adopted girl from Cambodia, so Dara becomes determined not to let prejudice stop her from being in the spotlight. 

Ghost: Reynolds, Jason 
Ghost, a naturally talented runner and troublemaker, is recruited for an elite middle school track team. He must stay on track, literally and figuratively, to reach his full potential." 

Amal UnboundSaeed, Aisha 
The compelling story of a girl's fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude. Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal's Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she's busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when—as the eldest daughter—she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn't lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens—after an accidental run-in with the son of her village's corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family's servant to pay off her own family's debt. Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal—especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal's growing awareness of the Khans' nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams. 

Stef Soto Taco QueenTorres, Jennifer 
Seventh grader Estefania "Stef" Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family's taco truck. She wants nothing more than for her dad to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be put out to pasture. It's no fun being known as the "Taco Queen" at school. But just when it looks like Stef is going to get exactly what she wants, and her family's livelihood is threatened, she will have to become the truck's unlikely champion. In this fun and multicultural middle grade novel, Stef will discover what matters the most, and ultimately embrace an identity that even includes old Tia Perla.

Summer of Styx MaloneMagoon, Kekla 
Caleb Franklin and his big brother Bobby Gene have the whole summer for adventures in the woods behind their house in Sutton, Indiana. Caleb dreams of venturing beyond their ordinary small town, but his dad likes the family to stay close to home. Then Caleb and Bobby Gene meet new neighbor Styx Malone. Styx is sixteen and oozes cool. He's been lots of different places. Styx promises Caleb and Bobby Gene that together, they can pull off the Great Escalator Trade--exchanging one small thing for something better until they achieve their wildest dream. But as the trades get bigger, the brothers soon find themselves in over their heads. It becomes clear that Styx has secrets--secrets so big they could ruin everything--and Caleb fears their whole plan might fall apart. In this madcap, heartwarming, one-thing-leads-to-another adventure, friendships are forged, loyalties are tested ... and miracles just might be possible. 

Prairie LotusPark, Linda Sue 
Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching, multilayered book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father's shop, and making at least one friend. Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a small town in America's heartland, in 1880. Hanna's adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople's almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story. Narrated by Hanna, the novel has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant voice will resonate with readers. In Dakota Territory in the 1880s, half-Chinese Hanna and her white father face racism and resistance to change as they try to make a home for themselves. Includes author's note. 

Spirit HuntersOh, Ellen 
We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh returns with Spirit Hunters, a high-stakes middle grade mystery series about Harper Raine, the new seventh grader in town who must face down the dangerous ghosts haunting her younger brother. A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn! Harper doesn't trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family's new house is haunted. Harper isn't sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can't remember why. She knows that the memories she's blocking will help make sense of her brother's behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time? 

MananalandRyan, Pam Muñoz 
Twelve-year-old Max, who loves the legend Buelo tells him about a mythical gatekeeper who can guide brave travelers on a journey into tomorrow, sets out on a dangerous quest to discover if he is true of heart and what the future holds, armed with a treasured compass, a mysterious stone rubbing, and Buelo's legend as his only guides. 

TightMaldonado, Torrey 
After his quick-tempered father gets in a fight and is sent back to jail, sixth-grader Bryan, known for being quiet and thoughtful, snaps and follows new friend Mike into trouble. 

The Pants Project: Clarke, Cat 
Eleven-year-old Liv fights to change the middle school dress code requiring girls to wear a skirt and, along the way, finds the courage to tell his moms he is meant to be a boy. 

Technically, Olivia is not a girl, even though he was born as a girl. He's transgender. Liv knows he was always meant to be a boy. But at Bankridge Middle School, the dress code means he can't wear pants. Only skirts. So Operation: Pants Project begins! To Liv, this isn't just a mission to change the policy. It's a mission to change his life. And that's a pretty big deal. 

Save Me A Seat: Weeks, Sarah 
Ravi has just moved to the United States from India and has always been at the top of his class; Joe has lived in the same town his whole life and has learning problems--but when their lives intersect in the first week of fifth grade they are brought together by a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and the need to take control of their lives. 

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