Music is powerful. It can bring people together, provide comfort, make you happy or sad. Now, I can’t sing or play any musical instrument to save my life. But I love to read books about music, where the characters find themselves and their strengths through music, whether by singing, playing musical instruments, taking part in musicals or joining a band. If you love to read such books too, here’s a list of middle grade books about music where kids navigate friendship, school life, and their insecurities while finding comfort in music.
The Chance To Fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz
Co-written by Ali Stroker, who is a Broadway star who uses a wheelchair, this book follows Nat, a 13-year-old wheelchair athlete trying to fit in at her new school. Nat is obsessed with musicals, so when she stumbles upon auditions, you can bet she’s up for it. She gets the part, but with a fire and the challenges that come with the way people treat her because of her disability, she has a lot to overcome before she’s able to fly on stage.
Barakah Beats by Maleeha Siddiqui (October 19, 2021)
Nimra didn’t expect middle school to be this hard. Lots of things confuse her, and her best friend is avoiding her. In a daring plan to fit in and win back her friend, she joins a boy band at her school.
But what started out as a simple plan evolves into something more as Nimra falls in love with music and the band. Her bandmates respect her faith and look out for her. But keeping it a secret from her parents might not last for long, as Nimra has to decide for herself what really matters to her.
Tune It Out by Jamie Sumner
Lou struggles with her mother’s need to have her sing everywhere because of her great voice. She’s terrified of loud noises and crowds. So when she’s separated from her mum and sent to a fancy private school, she feels even more out of place. But with the help of loving relatives and new friends, she slowly begins to cast away her insecurities, and realize that a sensory processing disorder doesn’t stop her from experiencing life.
This is a heartfelt novel about family, friendship, and stepping into your own, and it sheds more light on sensory processing disorders.
Dough Boys by Paula Chase
From the author of So Done comes another middle grade book about friendship and the challenges tweens face. Rollie and Simp work as lookout boys for a local drug ring to make ends meet and and keep playing in an elite basketball team. But being a lookout boy has its consequences, and Rollie is not prepared to stick around for that.
When he gets a shot at auditioning for a popular band, Rollie is ready to stop being a lockout boy and pursue his love for music. But that might mean abandoning his best friend.
The Way to Stay in Destiny by Augusta Scattergood
Theo goes to live with his Uncle Raymond, a Vietnam war vet. But adjusting to his new life is harder when his uncle wants nothing to do with him. He finds comfort in the piano at a local dance school.
Enter a new friend who’s super into baseball and on a quest to discover the towns connection to old baseball players Maybe his stay won’t be so bad after all, and he just might want to stay in Destiny.
Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido
Coding and music come together in the most beautiful way in this middle grade novel about Emmy, who struggles to adjust to her new school and city while discovering her love for coding.
Emmy looks at the world in music, but she feels she isn’t really good at creating music like her family. When she meets a lovely teacher, discovers coding and makes new friends, things start to look up for her. But what happens when her teacher falls sick and her new friend turns out to be keeping secrets of her own?
This book reads like a love letter to coding, music, friendship, and teachers who nurture their students and encourage them to be their best.
I Am Drums by Mike Grosso
Ever gone into a music store to buy a set of drums or a guitar? Then you know how pricy they are. Sam loves drumming but can’t afford a drum kit, and when her schools music program is scrapped because of budget cuts, she ends up in a pinch.
With a determination to keep playing drums, Sam sets out to do whatever it takes to fulfill her passion, including lie to her family. But just how far can she go for with this?
The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy
People collect different things, from toys to clothing to cookery. Maybelle likes to collect sounds. But her best collected sound is her dad’s laugh, a dad she never really knew.
When she hears his laugh on the radio, she sets off to join a singing competition in hopes of meeting him. But getting to Nashville won’t be easy, especially with the companions on her road trip.
First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez
Malú’s first day at her school didn’t go well. From violating dress codes to upsetting the school’s queen bee, it’s clear Malú has a lot to do to fit in at school. But why fit in, when she can gather up misfits like her and start a band? The first rule of punk is to be yourself, and Malú is determined to protect her newfound band and keep rocking on.
This heartwarming middle grade novel about music is sure to give you laughs and leave you rooting for its spunky heroine.
Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
A heartwarming middle grade coming of age story which follows Melly, who discovers that she loves playing the drums. When she’s invited to a music camp, she imagines it will be all fun, but then everything changes. Her parents have separated, she’s lost her best friend, and she finds herself falling in love with another girl.
With everything falling apart around her, will she be able to find her beat or will she fall apart as well?
Sarai Saves the Music by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown
Sarai is back, and this time she’s out to save her school’s band program. When funding for Sarai’s school is cut, the school’s band program is scrapped. To save it, Sarai and her friends make plans to organize a benefit concert to raise money.
But a lot goes into planning a concert. Could Sarai and her friends be out of their league, and can they save their band program? This is the third book in the Sarai Gonzalez illustrated chapter book series.
Want more middle grade book lists? Check out these posts:
- 15 Great Middle Grade Books About Friendship
- 7 of the Best Middle Grade Audiobooks
- 5 of the Best Middle Grade Books About Baseball
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