Quiz: Get Started With Middle Grade

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Sarah S. Davis

Staff Writer

Sarah S. Davis holds a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master's of Library Science from Clarion University, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sarah has also written for Electric Literature, Kirkus Reviews, Audible, Psych Central, and more. Sarah is the founder of Broke By Books blog and runs a tarot reading business, Divination Vibration. Twitter: @missbookgoddess Instagram: @Sarahbookgoddess

While plenty of us are hooked by reading as children, it might feel intimidating to get back into the world of middle grade books today as adults. Referring to books published for the 8–12 age range, middle grade books are those classic novels you devoured as a child. In a middle grade novel, anything is possible, and the age group is diverse in genres and formats. With authors experimenting with new types of literature, today’s middle grade books can even be in newer formats, like novels in verse or graphic novels. 

But where do you begin with an epic industry of books written for children when you’ve been out of the game a while? It’s overwhelming to dip your toes into middle grade given the diversity of voices and genres. If you’re looking to get back into middle grade but aren’t sure how to start, this quiz should help get you launched into contemporary children’s literature. Each result will give you a recent middle grade novel that will be a great fit for you based on a series of questions. So if you’re thinking about exploring the world of middle grade fiction as an adult reader, this quiz will help you get started by giving you one pick to start with. Begin your experiment with reading books for children that are just as entertaining and enlightening for adults with this quiz.

Let’s get started!


Find out more about the possible options you might get!

Aru Shah and the End of Time book cover

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

This fun fantasy series-starter from Roshani Chokshi stars likable, flawed heroine Aru Shah, who has a habit of making up lies. When three classmates demand she prove an ancient Indian artifact is cursed, she accidentally freezes her classmates and mother in time while awakening the God of Destruction. To save their lives, Aru embarks on an adventure to find the five reincarnations of the five Pandava brothers from the Indian epic Mahabharata and navigate the Kingdom of Death. Trust me: when you start this book, clear your schedule.

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge book cover

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin

This innovative middle grade fantasy novel is written by M.T. Anderson, who writes the prose, and Eugene Yelchin, who illustrates the perspective of one of the characters. This friendship story follows Brangwain Spurge, an elf diplomat, who ventures into rival goblin territory, where he is greeted by a polite but terrifying assistant in charge with his care. There is hijinks and action aplenty in this fun story.

The Crossover book cover

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander’s Newbery Medal–winning book The Crossover is a novel-in-verse sensation. Following the basketball dreams of 12-year-old Josh Bell, The Crossover is a story about family and ambition. As Josh and his twin brother Jordan navigate middle school, they face not only tough opponents on the court, but also challenges like romance. Alexander’s poetry soars as he brings Josh’s unique voice to life.

Inside Out and Back Again book cover

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai

This National Book Award winner from Thanhhà Lai is an autobiographical novel in verse about Lai’s childhood first in Vietnam and then after immigrating to America as refugees. Heroine Hà is an unforgettable protagonist who weaves lyrical poetry with a heartwarming story about courage, fitting in, friendship, and family. One of the most acclaimed middle grade books and a new classic in the genre, you won’t be disappointed with Inside Out and Back Again.

The Midnight Gang book cover

The Midnight Gang by David Walliams

British author David Walliams is often called a modern day Roald Dahl, and it’s for good reason: his books share with Dahl a quirky sense of dark humor, nefarious adults, and kid protagonists. Start with The Midnight Gang, a fun tale that reads faster than its 480 pages. This humorous middle grade novel follows Tom, who gets injured in gym class and taken to the hospital. Tom is sent to the children’s wing where he meets a daring cast of sick kids who get up to mischief each night.

New Kid book cover

New Kid by Jerry Craft

This Newbery Medal–winning graphic novel from Jerry Craft tells the story of Jordan Banks’s 7th grade year in a new private school on the other side of town outside his predominantly Black community. An aspiring cartoonist, Jordan tries to fit in while still devoting time and attention to his love of art. You’ll cheer Jordan on as he faces challenges like navigating two worlds at home and at school, finding friends, and succeeding at his rigorous new studies.

Saving Winslow book cover

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech

From author Sharon Creech, Saving Winslow is a sweet, tender story of a boy who tries to save a baby donkey. Charlotte’s Web fans will find much to like about this tale featuring a plucky animal and his quirky young human companion, Louie, who is sorely missing his soldier brother deployed overseas. As Louie nurtures sickly Winslow the donkey back to health, he makes a new friend and finds support from his family.

The Season of Styx Malone book cover

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon

Kekla Magoon’s The Season of Styx Malone is the quintessential summer story. When brothers Caleb and Bobby Gene meet their daring new neighbor Styx Malone, their lives are transformed by Styx with all his flash and bravado. But Styx is harboring secrets of his own, and as the summer unfolds, Caleb and Bobby Gene find their friendship with him tested. Magoon has perfectly distilled the magic of summer in this acclaimed story.

Small Spaces book cover

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

This creeptastic work of horror and fantasy by Katherine Arden stars 11-year-old Ollie, who lives with her father after her mother has recently died. Ollie uncovers a secret book that tells of her small New England town’s frightful past. Then, on a trip to a local farm, Ollie and two unlikely allies get lost in the woods as a sinister force stalks them. Imaginative with intricate world building, this book and its courageous heroine will stay with you long after you finish the last page.

Stargazing book cover

Stargazing by Jen Wang

This charming graphic novel by Jen Wang follows the unlikely friendship between two young neighbors, Moon and Christine. Fast friends, these girls bond over music videos and plan on performing at the school’s talent show together. Moon even shares her secret visions from the gods with Christine. But when Moon falls ill, Christine learns what it’s really like to be a best friend.