In times of turmoil, I often find myself going back to childhood favorites to read and read again. There’s just something so comforting about a book that speaks to you from a young age. And there’s nothing like the joy of finding a great new book that could be a favorite for years to come. These feel-good middle grade books are full of heart and happiness, and they’re sure to bring a smile to your face. Something I know we could all use a lot of right now!
Whether you’re looking for your next favorite book or trying to find a great read for a bookworm in your life, these middle grade novels are sure to delight. They’re full of ghost hunters, magical musicians, wild robots, bakers, and monster slayers. Basically, everything you could ever wish for! From fantasy to realistic contemporary, and everything in between.
Feel-Good Middle Grade Books
Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega
A heartwarming tale of friendship and ghosts. When a spell gone awry unleashes ancient spirits on the town of St. Augustine, Lucely Luna and her best friend Syd have to dig into the witchy history of their hometown and Las Brujas Moradas to stop all hell from breaking loose—literally. Fortunately, as a Luna, Lucely has a lot of practice with ghosts. After all, she’s lived with them her whole life. But it’ll take more than just the firefly spirits of her ancestors to save the day this time. It will take absolutely everything Lucely and Syd have got—and maybe a dash of magic they didn’t even know they had, too. Truly the book we all need right now.
Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca
A fantasy retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Mimi’s dreams of becoming a famous chef and making a name for herself in a family full of high-achievers, and a baking competition seems like just the way to do it. With the help of a foresty friend, Vik, she discovers incredible, otherworldly ingredients to make her recipes stand out. But the more Mimi cooks with the food she and Vik find, the stranger her family acts. Could it be that the ingredients aren’t as innocuous as they seem? And what can Mimi possibly do to fix it?
Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano
A magical bakery in Texas. A Dia de Los Muertos festival. A girl who learns she’s descended from brujas. What could possibly go wrong? Every year Leo asks to help her family prepare the food for the annual Dia de Los Muertos festial, and ever year she’s told she’s too young. But this year, Leo is determined. She sneaks into the bakery only to discover that her mother and sisters have been keeping a big secret: they’re magic! Which means Leo must be magic too. Now that she knows she has powers, she decides to use them to help a friend. What could possibly go wrong?
We’re Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey
Earth has been destroyed, but the good news is we’re not alone! The bad news is our alien neighbors on Planet Choom aren’t so keen to have us move in with them. It’s up to Lan and his family to prove to a planet of insectoid aliens distrustful of humans that they’re not the bad guys—and that maybe, just maybe, the government-backed prejudice against them is the real problem. A book that manages to explore serious and thoughtful subjects in a highly humorous and creative way, all while exploring outer space. Honestly, what’s not to love?
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
What’s a robot stranded on a deserted island to do? Become wild, of course. Roz doesn’t know who she is or how she came to be on an island. All she really wants is to make some friends. But the island’s wildlife don’t seem to trust her. It isn’t until she adopts an orphaned gosling that she begins to find her place amongst the wild.
A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong
Rowan is the heir to the throne, but it’s her twin brother who’s next in line for the title she really wants: Royal Monster Hunter. Instead, she’s stuck entertaining dignitaries over tea with her queen mother. But a tragic accident leaves her on the hunt for a gryphon. With the help of a baby jackalope and a giant wolf, she sets off on a journey that will determine the fate of the kingdom.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
This lovely graphic novel tells the story of a prince who wants to dress as he pleases and a dressmaker trying to make a name for herself. Together they create incredible looks and help each other find belonging. A beautiful story of individuality and acceptance.
Roll with It by Jamie Sumner
Ellie is an irrepressible girl who always tells it like it is. That might surprise some people who just see a girl in a wheel chair, but having cerebral palsy doesn’t hold Ellie back. She’s got big dreams of becoming a world-famous baker. Being the new kid in the wheel chair from the wrong side of town is a lot to come up against. But if anyone’s up for the task, it’s Ellie. In fact, moving might just be the best thing that’s ever happened to her.
Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim
Yumi Chung didn’t mean to create a double life for herself–it just kind of happened! But when a case of mistaken identity lands her a spot at a comedy camp run by her all-time favorite YouTuber, she can’t pass that up. Even if it means pretending to be some kid named Kay Nakamura. But with her mom pushing her to win a scholarship that will pay for the private school she hates and a secret identity under wraps, it’s not long before Yumi realizes something’s gotta give.
The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas
When animals start disappearing in his new town, it’s up to Nestor Lopez to get to the bottom of what’s happening. That’s because he can talk to animals. Really. The town blames his grandmother, but it’s a real vieja—a witch who can steal the animals’ power—behind it all. Now Nestor and his new animal friends have to find a witch and prove his grandmother’s innocence before the next eclipse—all while keeping his powers hidden.
Martin McLean, Middle School Queen by Alyssa Zaczek
Martin Mclean has always been the quiet one in a family unafraid to be themselves. The only time he can really find his voice is during Mathletes competitions. But then his tío introduces him to the world of drag and Martin creates his bedazzled drag alter ego, Lottie León. As Lottie, he isn’t afraid to speak up. But as Martin, he’s still too afraid to tell anyone outside his family about his new persona. His worlds collide when he realizes his first ever drag show is scheduled for the same night as a Mathletes tournament. He might still be able to make it all happen. But to pull it off, he’ll have to be willing to reveal Lottie, not just on stage, but to his friends as well.
The Girl Who Stole an Elephant by Nizrana Farook
Chaya and her friends steal the queen’s jewels and embark on a joyous adventure through the jungle on the back of an elephant. Revolution is stirring, but for no-nonsense Chaya and friends, mischief awaits.
The Mystwick School of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury
The Mystwick School of Musicraft, the most prestigious school of musical magic. Amelia has always dreamed of attending Mystwick, but when she botches her audition that seems like a thing of the past. Maybe not though! Amelia is allowed to attend on a trial basis, but that only means all the more pressure to prove herself. Not only that, but something strange is brewing and no one, not even the Mystwick maestros, are prepared for the destruction that comes with it.
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Sal’s sleight of hand magic often lands him in trouble. Like when he winds up in the principal’s office for the third time in three days facing charges of planting a dead chicken in Yasmany’s locker. And student council president Gabi is there to prove it. But the truth is Sal’s magic is more than stage tricks; it’s real. And Gabi knows it. One small problem, though: as they begin to manipulate time and space together, it may cause a few problems. Like, say, the end of the entire universe? Yeah, that could cause some issues.
The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander
Lenora is the most bored she ever way—until she discovers a secret door at the library and becomes the Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian. No biggie. Now she spends her days helping patrons from future civilizations and fielding queries about lost penguins. But there are those who want to destroy all knowledge in the universe. And now it’s up to Lenora to help stop them!
King of the Mole People by Paul Gilligan
It’s hard finding balance between school and work as King of the Mole People in the underworld. But somehow, Doug makes it work. Dealing with school crushes and his dad’s eel sandwiches is hard enough. Add in feuds with the Stone Goons and the threat of giant worms, and seventh grade seems like pretty small potatoes.
Wizardmatch by Lauren Magaziner
Prime Wizard Poppop Pomporromp has decreed: it’s time for a new Wizardmatch! Too bad Lennie isn’t even allowed to compete. All because Poppop decided siblings couldn’t fight against each other. But Lennie knows she would be the best Prime Wizard this family’s ever seen! First, she just has to convince Poppop all his preconceived notions are wrong. Easier said than done. But with scheming family members, a dangerous garden made of goulash, and only 15 seconds of invisibility to her name, it’ll take everything in her power to change Wizardmatch—and her family—for the better.
Maggie and Abby’s Neverending Pillow Fort by Will Taylor
Maggie’s been waiting all summer for her best friend Abby to come home from camp. But when Abby gets home all she wants to talk about is camp. She’s not interested in their usual games and even calls Maggie’s pillow fort a “cabin.” Still, when they discover that a pillow at the back of her fort leads right into Abby’s, they realize they have something magical on their hands. Too bad the North American Founding and Allied Forts Alliance has rules and requirements about these things. And unless Maggie and Abby can pass the outrageous entrance tests, they might lose their pillow forts forever.
Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien
Peasprout Chen is the best wu liu martial artist in all of Shin. So good, the Empress has sent her and her little brother, Cricket, as exchange students to the Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword. But being an outsider isn’t easy, especially when a series of building vandalisms are blamed on her. Peasprout is determined to become the best figure skating martial artist ever…but first she has to prove she’s not part of a nefarious plot to discover the secrets of Pearl.
Weird Little Robots by Carolyn Crimi
Penny Rose’s best friends have always been the robots she’s built. But after being admitted to a super secret science club, she learns her robots are actually alive. Her new friend Lark and her robots fill her life with friendship. But when she’s forced to choose between the club she loves and the new friend she never thought she’d have, it’s her robots that might end up paying the price.
Con Quest! by Sam Maggs (June 23, 2020 from Imprint)
This one isn’t out yet, but it’s just so cute I couldn’t resist including it. Kat and Alex are the biggest fans there ever were. And when they finally get a chance to attend the world’s most popular convention, the part they’re most excited about is Quest: a con-wide scavenger hunt with the ultimate prize—meeting their favorite celebrity. First things firsts, they’ll have to ditch big sister Fiona and set out to find cosplayers sporting all the colors of a double rainbow. One thing’s for sure—they’re in this Quest to win it!
You might also want to check out these feel-good middle grade audiobooks or this list of feel-good fantasy, feel-good sci-fi, feel-good ebooks unlikely to have long library wait lists, feel-good queer comics—look we just need all the feel-good books right now, okay?—and books that make you feel good long after you finish the last page.