If your kid’s got a bookish gift card just bursting to be used, there is some seriously stellar middle grade ready for pre-order now. But don’t just take our word for it. Here, six favorite authors share their most anticipated 2019 middle grade reads.
Just South of Home, by Karen Strong
I’m super excited for Karen Strong’s Just South of Home, a book that was pitched as Black-ish meets Goosebumps. That alone is one of those “You had me at hello” introductions, but for additional context, this book’s got deep dark secrets, a haunted church, and a creepy Southern town, so of course I’m in. Now all Karen has to do is write a YA companion that’s Grown-ish meets Tales from the Crypt and I’ll love her for life.
—Lamar Giles, author of The Last Last-Day-of-Summer
A Good Kind of Trouble, by Lisa Moore Ramee
Civil disobedience for middle grade readers? Bring it on! I’m so excited that A Good Kind of Trouble, by Lisa Moore Ramee is publishing this year. Twelve-year-old Shayla is focused on her friends, a cute boy, and running track. Shay hates even the idea of getting in trouble, but after attending a Black Lives Matter protest with her older sister, she wears a black armband to school and finds herself staring authority in the face. And it turns out, she’s not about to back down. The book ties up with a set of heartening hurrahs, which cynical readers might side-eye, but which are perfect for most middle-grade audiences. If the right books are tools for helping kids understand the world and who they want to be in it, this book is a Swiss army knife–approachable and multi-faceted. It’s an ideal title for adults and kids to read together, and will launch countless vital conversations about race, rules, and the difference between being good and doing the right thing. More that than, it can empower kids to speak up and hold ground for justice, even when adults tell them to stop.
–Alex Gino, author of George and You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!
Genesis Begins Again, by Alicia D. Williams
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams comes out in January, which means we won’t have to wait much longer. Thirteen-year-old Genesis Anderson hates herself. She faces verbal abuse because of the color of her skin. Regular evictions due to her father’s gambling addiction. And a difficult family who say things that make her feel less than. After transferring to a new school, Genesis starts to flourish and discovers a talent for singing. But her doubts linger and she must dig deep for the strength to overcome them. Genesis Begins Again is a must-read for kids and adults alike. With so much power and emotion in her writing, Alicia is an author to watch and I can’t wait to read this book and future stories to come.
–Meg Cannistra, author of The Trouble With Shooting Stars
The School for Good and Evil: A Crystal of Time, by Soman Chainani
I’m looking forward to the fifth book in Soman Chainani’s The School for Good and Evil series, A Crystal of Time, for so many reasons. No one writes like Soman, and no one understands and respects kids the way he does. His writing is full of twists and turns, humor and heart. Agatha and Sophie are two of my very favorite characters in fiction, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to them (and to Tedros and Rhian). This is one of the smartest series around, and I know we’re in for something special on March 5th.
–Ally Condie, co-author of The DarkDeep
The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, by Lamar Giles
That cover! Time freezing! Kid detectives! This is everything I adored as a young reader, and I cannot wait to read it now. I’m also excited about Karyn Parsons’ How High the Moon. I love the work that Parsons has done with Sweet Blackberry, and this sounds like the perfect mix of classic coming-of-age set against the backdrop of real, complex, American history that centers a girl of color. I can’t wait for Kelly Starling Lyons’ Jada Jones: Sleepover Scientist. I adore this young MG series. Lyons gets the emotional life of children so well, and each story is perfectly dosed with humor and heart.
—Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, author of Naomis Too and Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow
Aru Shah and The Song of Death, by Roshani Chokshi
I have a long list of middle grade books that I’m counting down the days for, but the one at the top of that list is ARU SHAH AND THE SONG OF DEATH (book 2 in the Pandava series) by Roshani Chokshi. I was lucky enough to get an early copy of the first book in this series, Aru Shah and the End of Time, and have been oh-so-impatiently waiting for another dose of Aru’s pitch-perfect humor. She’s such a relatable, lovable heroine, and I can’t wait to see where the adventure takes her—and all of the other brilliant characters. I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to wait all the way until April 30th!
—Shannon Messenger, author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series and Sky Fall trilogy