Middle Grade Football Stories

Football

With the outstanding writing going on in sports fiction, you don’t have to be a guy or play  sports to love some of these books. Trust me. Some of these have edge of your seat action. Any Mike Lupica, Tim Green or John Feinstein book is a crowd pleaser. For younger fans, check out the humorous books in the list.

Serious Football

Million Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica

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Nate Brodie is such a great quarterback that his friends call him “Brady,” after Patriot’s QB Tom Brady. Lately the stress is affecting his game. His family is struggling financially and his best friend is going blind. Top that with the chance he has to win a million dollars at the Patriot’s Thanksgiving Day game, and his fear of interception is understandable.

Game Changers by Mike Lupica (series)

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Ben is an all-around athlete. He’s a jack of all trades in football, but he wants to be the quarterback. The problem is that the coach’s son is the QB and he’s struggling. Ben, being the great guy he is, tries to help Shawn improve his game, but in the end, Ben is going to make the winning play.

Football Genius by Tim Green (series)

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Troy has a secret talent. He can predict plays. With his favorite team, the Atlanta Falcons, in a losing streak, he knows he can help them. Instead of being thrilled, the defensive coach has him banned from the field. Fortunately, defensive linebacker, Seth Galloway, believes in his ability and devises a plan to get the call past the coach.

The Walk On by John Feinstein

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Everyone knows new kid Alex Myers is the best QB on the team. Starting QB Matt Gordon knows it. Head Coach Matthew Gordon knows it. But Coach Gordon is in it for himself, not the team. He will rule with an iron fist and lie if needed to keep his son in the starting position.

Payback Time by Carl Deuker

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Mitch is a school reporter looking for something interesting. He finds it when he shows up at football practice and notices a new kid with a killer arm. Both the new kid and the coach downplay his abilities, but he’s always brought in at the end of the game to bring the team back for a win. When the city newspaper edits any mention of the new kid’s stellar plays, Mitch knows something big is going on.

Pop by Gordon Korman

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While practicing throws at the local park, Marcus is tackled out of nowhere by a large middle-aged guy. They begin meeting every day for coaching sessions. Then Marcus finds out that Charlie is a former NFL player and the father of the quarterback at his new school. As Charlie’s behavior gets more and more bizarre, Marcus finds out he has Alzheimer’s, possibly from years of head injuries.

Humorous Football

The Rookie Bookie by L. Jon Wertheim

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Mitch loves numbers. Mitch loves watching football games. If you put them together you have a get rich quick scheme. Realizing Indiana kids are big football fans, he sets up a betting operation where he can’t lose money. He has good intentions, but he soon learns that gambling is a no-no.

King of the Bench: Control Freak by Steve Moore (series)

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Steve is king of the bench in every sport. After benching it in baseball, he’s made it onto the football team as the ball holder for the kicker, an easy position. Steve is convinced that he can control the plays with an old video game controller. When he is forced onto the field, he is desperate for his friend to get his hands on the controller.

Historical Football

Yard War by Taylor Kitchings

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Trip Westbrook just wants to play football. It doesn’t matter to him if you’re black or white, if you’re good. Dee is good, but he’s black. It’s 1964 Mississippi and the racism in his neighborhood becomes apparent when he asks Dee to play a game with his friends. His parents initially want to keep the peace, but realize they have to take a stand for what’s right.

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Laugh Out Loud Middle Grade Series

Humor

Needing a good laugh? These books are beyond hilarious and guaranteed to hook the most reluctant reader. Did you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid? These are as good or even better. As Steve, King of the Bench, would say, “No brag. It’s just a fact.”

The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry (series)

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The 8thgraders are going to Washington, DC. Wyatt and Matt have been warned to stay out of trouble or they will be going home. Before the plane lands, Matt has them in trouble. He steals something important from two guys on the plane and now they are being stalked. Matt is convinced there’s a plot to blow up the White House. Now Wyatt is stuck on the worst class trip ever.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson (series)

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Rafe hates school. To spice things up a little he decides to break every rule in the student handbook. It doesn’t stop him from being bullied by Miller the Killer, but at least he gets noticed by Jeanne Galletta, the prettiest girl in school. He’s not exactly helping himself pass 6thgrade, but he can draw like nobody’s business.

King of the Bench: No Fear by Steve Moore (series)

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Steve has no athletic ability, but he decides to try out for his school’s baseball team to please his dad. He does well enough to make the team, but during tryouts another kid is beaned in the nose and rushed to the hospital. Now Steve has a fear of the ball. Coach benches him for the whole season, but during the championship game a series of events puts Steve at bat at a critical moment.

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald (series)

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This book is a conversation between Charlie Joe and you, the reader. His goal is to pass on to you all the strategies he has learned to get out of ever having to read. But now that he’s in middle school it’s getting harder and his friend Timmy is refusing to read the books for him anymore. The end of the year project is coming up and he needs help fast.

Liar, liar by Gary Paulsen (series)

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Kevin is an expert at lying. Teachers love him because he lies so well. It’s ok to lie because lying either makes people happy or it helps them learn a lesson. Now he’s in 8th grade and a girl he’s never thought twice about suddenly has his attention. He will do whatever it takes, including lying, to make her see that he would be the perfect boyfriend.

The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell (series)

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Max is being bullied by “Thug” Thurston after he accidentally vomited on him in PE class. After school, at the start of a 3-day weekend, Thug locks Max in his locker. Everyone’s gone. No one knows he’s there. Amazingly Max gets out, but there are burglars in the school. They have found his dad’s rare comic book. Now his misadventure includes getting it back.

The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain by Tom Angleberger (series)

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Lyle’s parents manage the Qwikpick gas station and always work on Christmas Day. Marilla is a Jehovah’s Witness. Dave is Jewish. Christmas Day is boring. The first task of the newly formed Qwikpick Adventure Society is to plan an adventure for Christmas Day. Lyle never dreamed they would be breaking into the sewage plant to get a look at the famous poop fountain.

Marty Pants: Do Not Open! By Mark Parisi (series)

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Marty Pants makes it clear that he’s an artist, like it or not. When his cat brings him a partially chewed note that says, “an alien is observing you,” his over-analyzing brain suspects Mr. McPhee when he sees the word “annihilate” on his computer. It’s up to Marty to expose his teacher and save Earth.

Geeked Out by Obert Skye (series)

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Sarcasm in the extreme. Earth is in ruin after a movie sequel from a popular book series is so bad that fans take to the streets in a zombie-like protest. Supplies are in short demand, leading to a supply war at school. The geeks decide to play a prank on the jocks, who always win, but it backfires. While in hiding, the geeks are bitten by spiders that give them superpowers. Suddenly, everyone wants to be a geek.

Middle Grade Criminal Justice Stories

Criminal Justice

Juvenile delinquents make some of the best characters. There’s nothing like a good redemption story to help you see the good in the world. From classics like Holes, to newcomers like Scar Island, there’s a book on this list that’s calling you.

Holes by Louis Sachar

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Stanley Yelnats has bad luck. When he gets caught with a pair of shoes belonging to a famous basketball player, he gets sent to a juvenile detention center in the middle of the desert. The warden is meaner than a snake and makes the boys dig holes all day in the hot sun. A great cast of characters, superb writing, and a most unusual story make this a book everyone will enjoy.

Scar Island by Dan Geimenhart

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When Jonathan arrives at the Alcatraz-like reformatory facility for boys, he quickly realizes that he may as well be in Hell. The Admiral rules with an iron fist. When all the adults die in a freak lightning storm, the boys decide to hunker down and deceive the delivery boat driver into believing everything is normal. What follows is a Lord of the Flies type scenario where the boy who takes charge is just as mean as the admiral.

House Arrest by K. A. Holt

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As 12-year-old Timothy sees it, he didn’t have a choice when he stole money to pay for his infant brother’s medication. His mom couldn’t afford it and his brother needed it. His probation officer and therapist require Timothy to keep a journal. Through the journal entries, we see the thoughts of a boy who is trying to square his sense of right and wrong with society’s. Written in verse.

 Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

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Cole Matthews has anger issues and is on his way to becoming a juvenile delinquent. After seriously injuring a classmate in a fight, he is given the choice of jail time or spending a year alone on an isolated Alaskan Island in a Native American reform process called Circle Justice. After he botches things on the first day, he is given a second chance on the island.

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

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Arthur isn’t coping well with his father’s death, so when he sees James the junk man wearing his father’s old hat, he doesn’t think before he throws the brick. In court, James asks the judge to let Arthur serve his punishment by doing community service hours helping James. James gives Arthur a list of 7 junk things he needs to find around the neighborhood. At first Arthur is angry, but James’ advice and coaching end up being just what Arthur needs.

Peak by Roland Smith

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Peak loves to climb. When he gets caught climbing a skyscraper in New York, the judge agrees to let him off if he leaves the states with his dad, a famous extreme mountain climber. He takes Peak to Mt. Everest where he is leading an expedition to the summit. Within feet of the summit, Peak must decide if he deserves to be the youngest person to summit Mt. Everest.

Pilfer Academy by Lauren Magaziner

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Pilfer Academy is a boarding school that trains kids to be thieves. Everything in the school is stolen. The food is stolen. The mansion is stolen. Even the kids are stolen. George ends up here after being kidnapped by a couple of idiots in an ice cream truck. Must appreciate incompetent adults and satirical humor.

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

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Alcatraz. Some kids would think it’s cool to live several hundred yards from the most famous criminals in the world. But not Moose Flanagan. When his father takes a job as prison guard and electrician, Moose’s world takes a turn for the worst. All he wants to do is play baseball, but instead he has to put up with the egotistical, scheming daughter of the warden.

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

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11-year-old Perry has lived in prison his entire life while his mother serves time. When the district attorney, who happens to be his best friend’s stepdad, finds out, he removes Perry from the prison. He thinks he’s helping Perry catch up on a life he missed out on, but Perry loves his mom and the other inmates and just wants to go back to the life he loved.

 

 

Middle Grade Basketball Stories

Basketball

Kids who like sports books need look no further than Mike Lupica. He writes stories about basketball, football and baseball. He has several series that cover all three sports. They are Game Changers, Comeback Kids, and Home Team. This list covers a variety of different writing styles for different ages and are sure to satisfy young sports fans.

Athlete vs. Mathlete by W. C. Mack (series)

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Owen and Russell are fraternal twins. They are great friends, but have little in common. Owen is a basketball star. Russel is a brainiac. When the new coach sees how tall Russell is and demands that he try out for the team, Owen is willing to give him some pointers. But when Russell realizes he has some skill in blocking, Owen’s jealousy gets the best of him.

The Million Dollar Shot by Dan Gutman (series)

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Eddie has met his match in Annie. She can sink any shot. When both their parents lose their jobs, he and Annie decide to enter a poetry contest to win a chance to make a million dollar shot at the NBA finals. Someone is trying to sabotage his chances, but he is determined to nail it.

A Whole New Ball Game by Phil Bildner (series)

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Rip and Red are looking forward to 5th grade and basketball tryouts. Rip has dreadlocks and Red has autism. Despite their differences, they are great friends. On the first day of school they don’t what to think of the new teacher. He has long hair, tattoos, and unconventional teaching methods. When the same teacher shows up to coach basketball, they know they are in for big surprises.

Crossover by Kwame Alexander (series)

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Josh and Jordan are twin basketball stars. They are best friends who do everything together. When Josh is distracted by a new girlfriend, Jordan gets jealous and vents his frustration on the court. When he’s suspended from the team, his chance to be in the playoff may not happen. Written in verse.

Travel Team by Mike Lupica

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Danny Walker is short, but he knows how to play basketball. When he is cut from the travel team over kids who aren’t as good, Danny’s dad, Rich, is sure it is an excuse to get back at him. The travel team coach and Rich were rivals back in high school. Rich steps up to coach a rival travel team with Danny as the star player.

Play Makers by Mike Lupica (series)

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Ben and his team have just come off an amazing championship game in football. Now they are hoping to do the same in basketball. The problem is rival, Chase Braggs. His ego and nonsportsmanlike behavior is getting in Ben’s head and their team is losing. Ben must get his head back in the game or his team is going to lose.

Last Shot by John Feinstein (series)

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Stevie and Susan Carol win a contest that allows them press access to the Final Four championship game. While backstage, they overhear a player being blackmailed to throw the game. When they report back to the lead newsmen, they don’t offer any help to the young reporters, so they decide to investigate and uncover the truth on their own.

Fade Away by Maura Ellen Stokes

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Sam and Reagan are best friends both on and off the court. When Reagan suddenly dies, Sam is grief-stricken. She is having a hard time moving on with her life without her friend. School is tanking, basketball isn’t the same and Sam is feeling Reagan’s presence a little too strongly. Sam must learn to move on with her life despite the loss of her best friend.

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

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Andi is a short girl, but she loves basketball. Since her school doesn’t have a girls’ basketball team, the best she can get is practice time with the boys’ team. She is excited when she learns that her Pilipino half-brother has finally received clearance from the British government to move to London. She knows he is tall, but 8ft. tall is more than she bargained for.

Middle Grade Books With Bullies

Bullying

Bullying has become a common theme in middle school books today. Every school has bullies, so it makes sense to include them in realistic fiction books. From this list, boys will especially like Scar Island and Revenge of the Star Survivors. Girls will especially like The Thing About Jellyfish.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

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Betty Glengarry is the worst bully you can imagine. She targets Annabelle and her brothers everyday while walking to school through Wolf Hollow. Her bullying and lying get out of hand when she throws a rock intended to hit a German man, but instead hits a classmate. Betty blames it on a poor WWI veteran, Toby. When Betty goes missing Toby is blamed, but Annabelle knows the truth.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

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Auggie is a boy with a severe facial deformity. His parents have sheltered him, but decide to send him to school for 5thgrade. Told in alternating perspectives, we learn how different people react to Auggie’s deformity, and ultimately hope that we will be the one who looks beyond what we see to what’s on the inside.

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

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Suzy learns that her former best friend, Franny, has drowned on vacation. As she tries to come to terms with her death, we learn through flashbacks how the friendship fell apart in middle school. When Franny began to see that Suzy was a little odd, she became one of her bullies. Beautiful, poetic writing.

 Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

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10-year-old Ha has lived in South Vietnam her whole life. Her world is shattered when the Communist north wins the Vietnam War. Rather than live under Communist rule, her family flees to the United States. Speaking no English, in the highly racial south, she and her brother are subjected to ridicule from classmates. Written in verse.

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart

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A group of juvenile delinquents are sent to a reformatory on a desolate rock island. When a freak accident leaves all the adults dead, the boys decide to hole up in the prison rather than tell authorities. With a hurricane brewing and supplies running out, the boys start to get desperate, and the bully kid takes over. Modern take on Lord of the Flies.

Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

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Virgil is a shy boy who secretly likes Valencia who is deaf. Chet gets no praise from his dad and he takes out his frustration by being a bully. When Virgil and Chet run into each other in the woods, Chet throws Virgil’s guinea pig into a well. Virgil goes after it and gets stuck. Luckily he has two friends who put two and two together and help rescue him.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

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Ally is always misunderstood. She can’t seem to do anything right and she’s always in trouble. Anyone different, including the science geek, are relentlessly bullied. When the teacher goes on maternity leave, the substitute teacher figures out that Ally’s behavior is a result of dyslexia. Once she is diagnosed, she begins to feel better about herself.

Revenge of the Star Survivors by Michael Merschal

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Clark Sherman is obsessed with his favorite show Star Survivors. He likes to pretend that real life is like the show. When he moves to a new town and new school, the bullies waste no time. Even the administrators are against him. Luckily, he finds a kid who has managed to fly under the bully’s radar and he reluctantly agrees to help Sherman.

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova

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This one is a graphic novel similar to those by Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Jamieson. Peppi is a new student with a set of rules for school survival. On the first day, it all goes wrong and she finds herself in an awkward position. She bumps into a boy and the kids start teasing her. To save her reputation, she is rude to the boy, but deep down inside she knows it’s wrong.

Middle Grade Survival Fiction

Survival Fiction

Surprisingly, there aren’t as many great survival books as I thought. Boys especially like a good adventure packed with thrills, suspense, and survival curveballs. These books are the best I’ve read and are guaranteed to appeal to all adventure enthusiasts, both boys and girls.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (series)

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Brian is a teenager flying in a 4-person prop plane when the pilot has a heart attack. Brian successfully ditches the plane in the Canadian wilderness and for the remainder of the story fights to stay alive. He must defend against predators and find/catch food for two months. All this he does with the help of his only tool—a hatchet.

Peak by Roland Smith (series)

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Peak loves to climb. When he gets caught climbing a skyscraper in New York, the judge agrees to let him off if he leaves the states with his dad, a famous extreme mountain climber. He takes Peak to Mt. Everest where he is leading an expedition to the summit. The book successfully describes the preparation, treachery and time it takes to acclimate in order to arrive at Everest’s summit.

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen (series)

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Cole is a juvenile delinquent who is the worst kid you can imagine. Instead of going to a juvenile jail, he is accepted into the Indian Circle Justice program. Cole thinks it’s a joke and goes along with it. The program exchanges a year of living alone on a remote Alaskan island for jail time. Though he sabotages his first attempt, he goes back a second time and finds the good he has within himself.

Wilder Boys by Brandon Wallace (series)

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Jake and Taylor decide to search for their dad in the Wyoming wilderness after their mother is beaten to the point of unconsciousness by her abusive boyfriend. They travel across country in a train car, with a motherly truck driver, and in the luggage compartment of a bus. Once in the wilderness, they successfully employ all kinds of survival skills and find their dad using the mysterious clues he wrote to his mother over the years.

Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key

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Cort lives with his dad on a houseboat just down the hill from his best friend Liza. When a deadly hurricane hits Alabama, the adults get stuck on the other side of a flooded bridge. As bad luck would have it, Liza and Cort have to go on a rescue mission to save Liza’s younger sister. When they trudge through the flood to get to higher ground, they end up sharing a tree with deadly snakes and trapped by a raging boar below.

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart

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When Jonathan arrives at the Alcatraz-like reformatory facility for boys, he quickly realizes that he may as well be in Hell. The Admiral rules with an iron fist. When all the adults get electrocuted in a freak lightning storm, the boys decide to hunker down and deceive the delivery boat driver into believing everything is normal. What follows is a Lord of the Flies type scenario where the boy who takes charge isn’t much better than the admiral.

The Trail by Meika Hashimoto

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12-year-old Toby is on his own hiking the Appalachian Trail to complete the last item on his summer list. Everything that can go wrong does, but one good thing is his new companion, a scraggly dog he names Moose. He overnights at shelters, encounters large animals, runs low on food, nearly gets kidnapped, loses his dog, and meets many interesting people along the way.

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

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Jack wakes up in a Maine campground to find that his mother has abandoned him. He sets out with his sleeping bag and a little money to make the long trip back to Boston. At every turn he must make decisions about where he will get food and where he’ll eat. But his priority is making sure no one realizes he’s on his own, so he won’t be taken from his mother who suffers from a mental illness.

Middle Grade Stories About Disabilities

Stories about Disabilities

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

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Imagine a world where you can’t talk, walk, or feed yourself. Imagine a world where you want desperately to be understood, but fail miserably. Imagine a world where you are the smartest kid in the class and everyone thinks you are the dumbest. This is the world of 11 year-old Melody Brooks. Trapped in a body that can barely function, Melody must find a way to convince people that there is more to her than they can see.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

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10-year-old Auggie has been homeschooled his whole life, and now his parents have decided that it’s time for him to attend school. There’s one problem. Auggie has a severe facial deformity that many surgeries have not been able to correct. Little kids are scared of him and big kids bully him. Through it all, Auggie is one brave boy with parents who have his back at every turn.

Rules by Cynthia Lord

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Catherine has a problem. Her autistic brother, David, has a hard time following rules. Don’t put toys in the fish tank. Late doesn’t mean not coming. Catherine struggles with the social ramifications of having an autistic brother. When a girl her age moves in next door, she becomes more determined than ever to teach David the rules. If only her brother could be normal.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

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England is on the brink of a German invasion. Ada, born with a clubfoot, is forbidden from going outside by her abusive mother. As children take shelter in the countryside away from the bomb threat in London, Ada and her younger brother use it as an opportunity to escape. They are reluctantly taken in by a woman who ends up transforming their lives. Ada finds the person she was capable of being all along if only she had had a mother who loved her.

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

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Rose is a fifth grader with autism and a father who doesn’t understand her. When he unexpectedly brings home a dog on a rainy night, she names it Rain, and the two become instant companions. When Rain goes missing during a hurricane, she will stop at nothing until she finds her dog. Excellent man’s best friend story with an autistic voice.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

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Ally is always getting in trouble. No one understands her, even her teacher. Other kids tease her and the other “different” kids relentlessly. Then Mr. Daniels arrives to sub for the regular teacher. He suspects an underlying cause for Ally’s behaviors and soon realizes that she has dyslexia. This story shows the power of a teacher to change the trajectory of a kid’s life.

So B. It by Sarah Weeks

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12-year-old Heidi knows very little about herself. All she knows is that she showed up on Bernadette’s doorstep with her mentally handicapped mother when she was only a few days old. Her mother only speaks 23 words and can’t tell her anything. When she discovers some pictures that might offer clues about her family, she decides to follow the clues across the country to a mental hospital where her mother might have been a patient.

El Deafo by Cece Bell

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This is a graphic novel about the author’s childhood dealing with hearing loss brought on by an illness. She doesn’t like being different so she refuses to learn sign language. Instead she wears a huge amplifier box that picks up the sounds from the teacher’s microphone. Since she can pick up conversations the teacher has when not in the room, this gives her a “superpower” other kids don’t have.

Middle Grade Dog Stories

 

Booklist 2-4

If you have a dog, he’s probably your best friend. You’ll do anything for him. He’ll do anything for you. Dog stories tend to be tear jerkers. When you nearly lose your dog, it’s devastating. These are some of the best books for dog lovers.

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

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Mark has cancer and he’s exhausted. Exhausted from the treatments and the hurt it causes his parents. Feeling no control over his life, he decides to head off on his own to climb Mt. Ranier with his dog and trusted companion, Beau, at his side. Slightly shorter book and an excellent choice for boys.

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

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Travis doesn’t want the mangy dog that shows up on his farm, but his mom convinces him to give the dog a try. When his father leaves Travis in charge while he goes to earn money on a cattle drive, Travis and the dog become companions. Old Yeller proves his worth many times over and when the responsibility falls on Travis to end his life, it’s a real tear jerker.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

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When 10-year-old Opal goes to the local supermarket, Winn-Dixie, to pick up a few items for her dad, she finds an ugly dog on the loose in the store. When the manager threatens to call the pound, Opal steps up and claims it. They become best friends and together traipse around the town all summer making friends everywhere they go.

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

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Rose is a fifth grader with autism and a father who doesn’t understand her. When he unexpectedly brings home a dog on a rainy night, she names it Rain, and the two become instant companions. When Rain goes missing during a hurricane, she will stop at nothing until she finds her dog. Excellent man’s best friend story with an autistic voice.

Chasing Augustus by Kimberly Newton Fusco

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Rosie’s had to deal with a lot in her short 11-year life. Her mom left when she was a baby, her dad recently had a stroke, her grandfather is annoyed about having to raise her, and her mom gave away her best friend…a dog named Augustus. Rosie is stubborn and determined. She pulls out all the stops to find her beloved dog.

Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

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When 11-year-old Marty finds a beagle on the loose, he knows something isn’t right. Upon returning the dog to its owner, Marty realizes the dog is being abused. He begs his dad to let him keep the dog, but his dad refuses. When the dog runs back to Marty again, Marty decides he is going to keep the dog secretly in order to protect him.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

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10-year-old Billy’s greatest wish in life is to have two coon hounds who can be his best hunting buddies. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t cheap and his family is too poor. Billy doesn’t let that stop him. He decides that he will do whatever it takes to raise the money on his own.

A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin

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This story is told from the perspective of a dog named Squirrel. When Squirrel’s mom doesn’t return home, Squirrel and her brother, Bone, set out on their own. What follows is a telling of her life on the street, both the good and the bad. Though life starts out rough scavenging for food, finding shelter, and dealing with cruel humans, eventually she finds a forever home.

Wish by Barbara O’Connor

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11-year-old Charlie’s father is in jail and her mother has issues. When she is sent to live with her aunt and uncle she is determined to make things difficult. If only her wish would come true everything would be perfect. Then she meets a friend and a stray dog and realizes maybe she was wishing for the wrong thing all along.

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord

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Lily’s dog is blind and he needs surgery. When he runs off, a migrant girl, working in the blueberry patches, happens to find him. The two become friends and together paint bee boxes to sell at the Blueberry festival to raise money for the surgery.

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