Need book suggestions for your middle-grade readers? We went right to the librarians for their list of the best books of 2021. Here’s part four of the list. Keep it handy for your next trip to the library or your local bookstore .
Books are presented in alphabetical order by author’s last name. Descriptions from Amazon. See specific grade recommendations below. View the entire list from School Library Journal here.
Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas. Grades 5-8
Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be normal again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team, even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .
Too Bright to See by Lukoff, Kyle. Grades 4-7
A National Book Award Finalist.
It’s the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug’s best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn’t particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there’s something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug’s eerie old house in rural Vermont…and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they’re trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light—Bug is transgender.
Black Boy Joy edited by Kwame Mbalia. Grades 3-7
17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood.
Black boy joy is…
Picking out a fresh first-day-of-school outfit.
Saving the universe in an epic intergalactic race.
Finding your voice—and your rhymes—during tough times.
Flying on your skateboard like nobody’s watching.
And more! From acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.
Summer of Brave by Amy Noelle Parks. Grades 5-8
Twelve-year-old Lilla Baxter-Willoughby doesn’t lie. She’s just a little bit…selective. So when Vivi dares Lilla to start telling the truth as part of their Summer of Brave, Lilla hesitates. Because if she says out loud what she really wants, her whole life might crash down around her. And she doesn’t need that. Except maybe she does.
Root Magic by Royce Eden. Grades 3 and up
Debut author Eden Royce arrives with a wondrous story of love, bravery, friendship, and family, filled to the brim with magic great and small.
It’s 1963, and things are changing for Jezebel Turner. Her beloved grandmother has just passed away. The local police deputy won’t stop harassing her family. With school integration arriving in South Carolina, Jez and her twin brother, Jay, are about to begin the school year with a bunch of new kids. But the biggest change comes when Jez and Jay turn eleven— and their uncle, Doc, tells them he’s going to train them in footwork. But Jez soon finds out that her family’s true power goes far beyond small charms and elixirs…and not a moment too soon.