When I think about the approaching winter season, the feeling I crave most is coziness. I want to bury myself in my biggest turtleneck sweater, put on my snowman socks, pile on the giant blankets, and sit next to a window while I look at snow drifting outside and read a cozy book. The books I find the most cozy — the ones that give me the same feeling as wearing snowman socks — are often middle grade books. Middle grade books are layered in so many feel-good elements. For one, the endearing characters remind me of what I was like as a kid. At the same time, they help me see that the person I used to be still exists inside me. The middle grade years are such a formative time too; these books often dig into poignant themes, including changing friendships, family dynamics, and figuring out who you want to be. While geared towards middle grade readers, these books can be enjoyed at any age. This Rioter makes a great case for why adults should read middle grade books too.
When you combine middle grade books with modern adaptations, you have a combination as cozy as marshmallows and cocoa. Modern adaptations involve a classic story in literature, mythology, or fairytales retold and set in the modern age. Part of the fun while reading these is treasure hunting for literary allusions to the classics they’re retelling. You get the opportunity to recognize beloved characters while also seeing them living their lives in the modern world. It’s that much easier to picture them as your book friends. I’m not the only one who does this, right?
So if you’re ready to bring on the cozy this winter, kick back and sink into one or more of these delightful middle grade modern adaptations! Are any based off your favorite stories?
Much Ado About Baseball by Rajani LaRocca
When 12-year-old Trish moves to the small town of Comity, Massachusetts, she joins a summer baseball league only to discover her math competition arch rival Ben on the team too. As the season gets underway, these two frenemies will have to set aside their differences to help their terrible team win. Putting their math brains together, the unlikely pals start solving a book of math puzzles that seem to be turning their team’s luck around — or is it the salty snacks from the new snack shop doing the trick? For another fun and food-filled middle grade modern adaptation, check out Rajani Larocca’s companion novel, Midsummer’s Mayhem!
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo
This next adaptation puts a fresh spin on one of my absolute favorite classics, Little Women (I am #TeamJo&Laurie forever and will die on that hill). With gorgeous artwork created by the talented Bre Indigo, this graphic novel by Rey Terciero follows the four March sisters as a blended family living in modern day New York City. While their father serves in the military overseas, the March siblings will have to lean on one another to get through the ups and downs of health concerns, falling in love, and finding themselves.
Bernard Pepperlin by Cara Hoffman
This magical middle grade modern adaptation stars just about the sweetest little protagonist you could think of. Having been stuck at a Sunday afternoon tea-party for what seems like eternity, the Dormouse from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is ready for a new adventure. After a girl in a blue dress crashes the party one day, the drowsy Dormouse finds himself transported to modern-day New York City. In this wondrous new place, the Dormouse has new friends to meet and a new world to save!
Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne
Inspired by Caribbean mythology, this next story by Shakirah Bourne follows 11-year-old Josephine on the island of Barbados. Josephine’s favorite things include playing cricket and scaring away her dad’s new girlfriends. When she learns that girls can’t join the school cricket team, she cuts into a silk cotton tree and accidentally summons something that makes her problems go from bad to worse!
Alessia in Atlantis: The Forbidden Vial by Nathalie Laine
I have always been fascinated by the magic and mystery of the lost city of Atlantis; Nathalie Laine brings that ancient mythology to life in this epic middle grade adaptation! While losing control of her emotions at school has become the norm for 12-year-old Alessia, getting attacked by a giant frog monster has not! After her encounter with this magical creature, Alessia sinks to the underwater world of Atlantis. There, she’ll enroll in the Atlantide school and begin following clues pointing towards her long lost father.
More to the Story by Hena Khan
What’s better than reading one Little Women middle grade adaptation? Reading two, of course! Settle into the cozy embrace of the Mirza siblings, an American Muslim family living in Georgia. Jameela Mirza’s highest aspiration is to become an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. When she’s picked as the feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she feels one step closer to that dream. After her father takes a temporary job overseas and her sister grows sick, though, Jameela will have to come together with her sisters to discover what matters most.
Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo
Drawing on Hispanic folklore, legends, and myths from the Iberian Peninsula and Central and South America, this suspenseful middle grade adaptation follows the adventures of Mexican American Charlie Hernández and his crush Violet Rey. With his encyclopedic knowledge of myths and legends thanks to his grandma, Charlie begins to witness the mythical beings from his grandma’s stories coming to life. Before he knows it, he’s stuck in a battle between the Land of the Living and the Black Hand!
The Lost Frost Girl by Amy Wilson
Between a mom who named her Owl, an absent dad, and a boy from school who gives her funny looks, Owl has come to terms with the unusualness of her life. Everything changes, though, when Owl discovers her dad’s secret identity and the magical abilities she may have inherited from him. This middle grade modern day fairytale makes for a perfect wintry read this season!
I hope these middle grade modern adaptations sprinkle some extra magic into your reading life this winter! For more enchanting middle grade reads, take a look at these 20 Must-Read Middle Grade Fairytale Retellings, or these 13 Magical Middle Grade Mermaid Books! If you’re in the mood for some adult adaptations too, check out these Best Modern Shakespeare Adaptations.