If you're looking to find new books for the middle grade reader in your life, check out this guide for quick suggestions, or stop by the store for some expert guidance. These books are perfect for kids ages 8-12 or generally between 3rd and 6th grades. With each book description, I'll list the ideal age for each book or series.
Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer
This series launched back in 2013 and recently came to an end last year, so you won't have to wait to read all the books. In each book, twins, Alex and Conner Bailey, disappear into the Land of Stories where all the characters of your favorite classic fairytales exist in the same world. Though it seems like a dream, the twins quickly realize the deep unrest in the fairytale world and have to figure out both how to save it and make it back home.
This series is great for the entire family and for a broad span of ages. It has great humor and dialogue that older kids and adult will appreciate while also being fascinating for younger readers. You don't even have to be a huge fan of fairytales to fall for Colfer's reimagining of the classic cast. Don't be intimidated by the high page count either, the fast pace and easy style of the books will make the pages melt away.
There's also a new prequel series, A Tale of Magic, that recently started in October to carry on the magic.
The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
This book has become somewhat of a middle grade classic and for good reason. Follow Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip on the greatest competition adventure you'll ever experience as they fight for the win in a national candy making contest. Told from all of their prospectives, you get to experience the nervous energy combined with the mystery of competition sabotage mixed with the sweet coating of a candy factory. It recently got a long awaited sequel called The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase to continue the story.
This would be the perfect fit for an older middle grade reader from 10 years old on or for a younger reader when read with a parent.
Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski
This is the perfect series for those crossing the bridge from early readers and basic chapter books into middle grade. This series also reimagines fairytales but for a younger audience than The Land of Stories. When Abby goes through her magic mirror and ends up in an alternate world, she starts to accidentally derail all of our favorite stories. These have been hugely popular with girls in older elementary school classrooms.
Mr. Lemoncello's Library Series by Chris Grabenstein
This is the perfect companion book to go with The Candymakers because it is another exciting competition story with a mystery. You'll want to solve the clues along with the contestants as they try to crack the code of Mr. Lemoncello's eccentric library. If you like solving puzzles and would love to get trapped in a library, this is the book series for you. This book has wide appeal age wise and can capture the interest of all middle grade readers.
The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart
This sophisticated middle grade series is perfect for older readers looking for higher level books who aren't ready for the content in YA. These lengthy books chronicle the children who are a part of the Benedict Society shrouded in mystery. Each of these kids took a series of tests to make it into the group led by the rich recluse Mr. Benedict. None of them see themselves as particularly special, but all of their talents are recognized and become powerful when combined. Full of puzzles, mysteries, clues, and questions, this book is fun for the whole family. I personally used these books in a book club with sixth graders who all captivated by the story and couldn't put their copies down.
Stuart Gibb's Books
Stuart Gibbs is one of my favorite authors to recommend for those looking to entice their kids into becoming readers or who aren't sure what to get for their child. His books have exciting premises, witty dialogue, appeal to both boys and girls and across age boundaries. Also, these series have tons of books and continue to grow each year, so your voracious readers will be entertained for months on end.
Ben Ripley got into the CIA's Academy of Espionage to train to become a spy. He's super smart, but he realizes very quickly that wit won't get him far in the cutthroat world of spy school. Luckily, Erica Hale, daughter of renowned spy, comes along to give Ben a helping hand. Together, they have to confront evil spy organizations and double agents to protect the world and themselves.
This was my personal favorite of all of the series when I was in middle school. This series focuses on Teddy Fitzroy who lives in the amusement park-zoo that his parents work at. When a hippo is found dead in its enclosure, Teddy senses that something is amiss. With the help of Summer McCracken, the billionaire owner's daughter, the two infiltrate the corrupt happenings of the zoo to discover what happened to the prized animal. This lighthearted series has mystery but is also more lighthearted than spy school.
Moon Base Alpha
Dash Gibson lives on the moon. His parents are employees at Moon Base Alpha, one of the first colonization experiments on the moon. He hates living on the moon because it's so boring... until one of the lead scientists get murdered. Dash is the only one who believes that foul play was involved, so he's on the hunt to get to the bottom of it. These books are the perfect way to get into mysteries without scary elements from thrillers or darker mysteries.
Finally, for those who want to find a book that will help crossover their reader from middle grade to YA, check out author Ally Carter. Her books are similar to Stuart Gibbs but feature more romance and female protagonists. Heist Society and Gallagher Girls series are both captivating, quick reads and appropriate for the middle grade and early high school readers.