There are so many books being adapted by big production companies into movies and TV right now. So, it only makes sense that middle grade books would be getting their own time on the screen. Between retellings of classics and books that are getting developed for the first time, there is a big push to retell middle grade stories via film and television. Part of the reason for this is that middle grade movies are a hard category to conceptualize. Some kids are a bit more mature and curious, while others aren’t ready to move on to more serious topics. Because middle grade books have been able to successfully find that “middle ground” (pardon the pun) filmmakers are taking the hint and putting these projects into production.
Below we have curated a list of movies and TV shows currently in production, with a couple that just came out in the last couple weeks. While waiting for the others to be released, now is the perfect time to read these titles with your middle grader to get excited.
A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
This is the real and perfectly true story of Father Christmas. We meet him as a young boy as his story takes him to meet elves and have run-ins with kidnappers, snow, and magic. This is a story that reminds even the oldest among us to believe in magic.
A Boy Called Christmas just arrived on Netflix in November 2021!
The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy
Rahul Kapoor is about to enter 7th grade and has a lot on his plate. Not only is he one of the only Indian boys in his small town in Indiana, but he’s also in the process of coming out. As he works to survive middle school, his Grandfather passes on some sage advice: “Find what you are really good at, and become the best at it.” With that as his mantra, in the face of bullies and crushes, Rahul endeavors to find what he’s the best at.
The Best At It is currently in production with HBO Max.
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo
One day, when young Rob is walking through the woods near his home in Florida, he encounters a real live tiger locked in a cage. Strangely, on the same day, he meets a girl named Sistine Bailey who is everything Rob wishes he could be. As the girl, the boy, and the tiger learn to trust one another, an adventure unfolds that will leave all changed forever.
The Tiger Rising will be in theaters mid-2022.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Thief tells the story of a young Percy Jackson. Percy’s life has always been a bit of a mess, but when a monster straight out of mythology attacks his school field trip, he learns that he may just be descended from a Greek god.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is currently in development to be a Disney+ show.
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Donte has been dubbed “Black brother” by his peers and teachers who wish he was more like his light-skinned brother Trey. After an incident with “King” that leads to Dantes’s arrest and suspension, Dante decides the best way to get even is to beat “King” at his own game: fencing. And, with the help of an Olympic fencer, Dante might just get his revenge if he works harder than he ever has before.
Black Brother, Black Brother is currently in production and will be released on Netflix.
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
The School for Good and Evil follows a group of children who are brought to a magical school. They are separated into groups. Some are trained to be fairytale-like heroes, while others are taught how to be truly devious villains.
The School for Good and Evil‘s expected release date is late 2022.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Diary of a Wimpy Kid tells the story of a young boy named Greg just trying to make it through middle school. Filled with preteen hijinks and relatable characters, this illustrated novel is told through Greg’s journal as he experiences the highs and lows of being a tween.
The animated retelling just hit theaters and Disney+ in December 2021.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
The Brownstone on 141st Street is basically a member of the Vanderbeekers family. But, when their landlord decides to not renew their lease, the five Vanderbeeker siblings vow do all they can to keep their home. With only 11 days until the deadline, they are ready to play dirty.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is still in development.
White Bird by R.J Palacio
White Bird follows the story of a young Jewish girl as she hides out in the home of a boy and his family in Nazi-occupied France. Written as a graphic novel, this is a story about history, perseverance, and learning to be yourself when everyone is out to get you.
White Bird will hit theaters in September 2022.
Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Sal and Gabi could not be more different. Sal is a trouble maker, and Gabi is class president. Gabi is determined to prove that Sal was the one to put a raw chicken in her friend’s locker, but along the way, she finds out that Sal is capable of a lot more, like bringing back the dead. Gabi, however, has a few tricks up her own sleeve. As the two manipulate both space and time to get back at each other, they might just accidentally rip the universe apart.
With so many great titles on the docket for adaptation, there’s plenty to choose from. As streaming creates more opportunities for great middle grade programming based on books, we hope this list is only the beginning. Happy reading, and happy watching!