Get ready to feel all the feels with these 10 new middle grade coming-of-age novels! Each one takes you on a unique and heartfelt emotional journey. From stories of confronting divorce and death, to tales of feeling different and fighting to survive, these books show kids navigating difficult life experiences with empathy and understanding. Grab some tissues, your favorite blanket, and a cup of something warm—and get ready to share life’s challenging but beautiful moments with your young reader.
Maybe a Mermaid, by Josephine Cameron
Ever feel alone, different, or lost? Come hang out with Anthoni Gills, an eleven-year-old girl desperate to find a True Blue Friend. But jumping from city to city with her mom selling Beauty & the Bee products makes it nearly impossible. Which is why, when Anthoni and her mom settle down for a summer at Thunder Lake, she’s convinced this time will be different. Until she realizes her mom lied and rumors abound about a mysterious mermaid. Will Anthoni be able to find her True Blue Friend, despite the uncertainties that surround her? Cameron writes with gentle authenticity, capturing the feelings of an eleven-year-old girl with insight.
Middle School Misadventures, by Jason Platt
Get ready for some fun with Jason Platt’s debut graphic novel! With full-color art, Middle School Misadventures follows Newell—a pancake loving, constantly tardy, bit-of-a-mess kid who, if he misses one more class, will be sent to summer school. Or, he can wipe his slate clean by participating in the school’s talent show. Only problem is? He’s got no talent. Will Newell discover a hidden skill? Or fall flat on his face? Fans of Calvin and Hobbs are sure to love this silly yet sweet illustrated tale.
The Line Tender, by Kate Allen
This poignant book takes its readers on a journey of grief. While Lucy’s mom died suddenly researching sharks five years ago, Lucy finds herself stuck in a circle of sadness. And when the sharks resurface, it’s just another reminder that her mom is gone. Then, when another tragedy hits, Lucy struggles to find purpose through another difficult time. But with the help of family, friends, and even the sharks, she’ll learn how to discover meaning in it all. Allen writes with such tenderness and realness you won’t be able to put the book—as heartbreaking as it is—down.
The Casket of Time, by Andri Snaer Magnason
Part science fiction, part fantasy, and all kinds of fun, The Casket of Time features an apocalyptic setting and an ancient curse, which hero Sigrun must break in order to fix the world she lives in. (Talk about drama!) After her TimeBox—a box meant to save people from the financial “situation” troubling the nation—malfunctions, she’s thrust into a once-thriving city that’s become overgrown by nature and separated from her parents. Will Sigrun and her new group of friends be able to save the world, even though she’s just a kid? Fans of The Maze Runner and Percy Jackson will love this mystical and eerie adventure!
Where the Heart Is, by Jo Knowles
A story about love, friendship, and facing down change. Thirteen-year-old Rachel is facing a summer of change—her best friend Micah wants more than a friendship, but Rachel isn’t sure she does. Her parents talk about moving, but that would mean leaving her beloved pony behind. Change is inevitable—but never easy. Rachel must learn to lean into these changes and discover that no matter what happens or where she ends up, she can hold onto memories in her heart forever.
Caterpillar Summer, by Gillian McDunn
Caterpillar Summer touches on several delicate topics, like a parent’s death, and restoring broken relationships. But author Gillian McDunn approaches them with heart and a tender realness that will have you reaching for the tissues. The sweet sibling relationship between sister Cat, who’s growing up too fast, and brother Chicken, who has special needs, will resonate with anyone who loves and protects family “as fiercely as a shark bite.”
Extraordinary Birds, by Sandy Stark-McGinnis
December is a young girl who believes she is destined to become a bird (the scars she has on her back are where her wings will appear), which will take her into the sky and away from her struggles in the foster care system. But when she find herself opening up to her latest foster parent, a gentle woman named Eleanor, she begins to wonder whether she may have found a permanent home on the ground. Through the help of her passion for birds and friends who stand by her, December will learn that scars may never leave, but they can indeed be healed.
The Lost Boy’s Gift, by Kimberly Willis Holt
After his parents’ divorce, nine-year-old Daniel is forced to move with his mom to a faraway town and leave everything he knows behind, including most of his favorite things. As they settle into their new home on While-a-Way Lane, Daniel is bored by his new surroundings. However, soon he meets a handful of quirky characters, including his neighbor Lemonade Girl, a hopscotching mailman, tiny creatures, and gardening enthusiast Tilda Butter. Sometimes change, though hard, can lead us on a great journey.
The Becket List, by Adele Griffin
Becket Branch is a city girl at heart—until her family unexpectedly moves her to a farm. Determined to make the most of country life, she makes a list of “How to Be a Country Kid,” hoping it’ll speed the process along. She soon begins to learn that country living is harder than she expected. The small moments, like feeding the animals, driving a tractor, and laughing with her Gran, show her what “being a country kid” is truly about.
Chasing Helicity Into the Wind, by Ginger Zee
Weather-enthusiast Helicity’s name means “to spin,” just like a tornado, which, along with a flash flood, hit her family in a devastating tragedy in Chasing Helicity. She tries to outrun the pain by visiting her best friend Mia in Texas. However, when new troubles arise—including another intense storm—Helicity must face her fears and gather her strength in order to survive.
What new middle grade books are your young reader excited about?