Book List, Genre Feature, Staff Post

Middle Grade Family Love

Hey everyone! After a prolonged absence, this is Marielle back again with some more middle grade books to look out for! 

For some reason, there are those out there who think tough topics aren’t, or shouldn’t, be discussed in books for the middle grade age group. Personally, I find this view ridiculous and kind of offensive to children’s intelligence. So today I’m here to talk about books that deal with family, both the struggles and the love, of all different types of families. 

Family is a theme that permeates a lot of middle grade fiction across genres from contemporary to fantasy and beyond. Some of them are funny and joyful with just a little bit of struggle, others are downright heartbreaking but with a little bit of hope thrown in there too. But no matter what the strength and bonds of family always see the characters through.

Here are just a few of my top pick middle grade family love stories! Click on the cover of each book to be directed to our website to purchase!

For those who want contemporary modern day stories…

The Next Great Jane by K. L. Going

I love books about books, books about writing, and books that have anything to do with Jane Austen. So THE NEXT GREAT JANE pretty much ticked all my boxes before I even started reading it. And it did not disappoint when I did! Jane is a quirky, relatable, and absolutely awesome heroine, and the relationships between her, her parents, Devon, and all the characters really make the story so much fun to read. Plus with all the little nuggets of Jane Austen novels sprinkled throughout, this book is perfect for kids and parents alike to enjoy.

From award-winning author K. L. Going comes a happily-ever-after story of a girl who discovers the true secret to all good writing–through an unlikely friendship, some well-intentioned matchmaking, and little bit of science.

Jane Brannen wants nothing more than to become a famous author like Jane Austen–she just needs to figure out the key to literary success! Her chance to uncover the secret arrives when bestselling author J. E. Fairfax visits her tiny town of Whickett Harbor. Unfortunately, a hurricane rolls in and Jane gets stuck with the author’s snobbish son, Devon, instead. But when the skies clear, Jane realizes the wind has blown in something worse than annoying boys: Her mother, Susan, and Susan’s new fiancé, Erik, have flown all the way from Hollywood to file for custody and bring Jane back to California. Now she needs to find a mate for her marine biologist father and figure out what’s truly important about Whickett Harbor, so she can prove to her mother that this is where she’s meant to stay.

One Time by Sharon Creech

This is a truly beautiful story. The writing is like colors painting pictures of Gina’s life in my mind and I love it. ONE TIME is a story about imagination, childhood, friendship, growing up, and still being a child inside. The characters are wonderful and the story is heartwarming and relatable to anyone who has ever felt like the odd one out. Everyone should read this book.

From Sharon Creech, Newbery Medal winner and New York Times bestselling author, comes a powerful coming-of-age story of a girl who discovers the endless possibilities her future may hold, with help from a brilliant teacher and a boy with a generous smile.

Perfect for fans of Love That Dog, this tale is about the transformative power of imagination and the journey to becoming who you are meant to be. This middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, at home or at school. It’s a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.

Gina Filomena has been told she has an overactive imagination. With her bright clothing and artistic spirit, she’s always felt different from the other kids in her class. That is, until she meets her new neighbor, a mysterious boy named Antonio with a wide, welcoming smile.

Add in a creative new teacher, Miss Lightstone, and a world of possibilities opens up for Gina, Antonio, and their classmates. With the help of Antonio and Miss Lightstone, will Gina find the answers to the questions Who am I? and Who do I want to be?

Across the Pond

This is a wonderful story that makes you feel like the world is brimming with possibilities even when everything seems to be going wrong. A lovely coming-of-age story about family, friendship, and birding with a little history thrown in, ACROSS THE POND will make you smile so wide your face will hurt and warm your heart so much you’ll never want to stop.

From the author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost comes a heartwarming story about new beginnings, burgeoning friendships, and finding your flock.

Callie can’t wait for her new life to start. After a major friendship breakup in San Diego, moving overseas to Scotland gives her the perfect chance to reinvent herself. On top of that, she’s going to live in a real-life castle!

But as romantic as life in a castle sounds, the reality is a little less comfortable: it’s run-down, freezing, and crawling with critters. Plus, starting off on the wrong foot with the gardener’s granddaughter doesn’t help her nerves about making new friends. So she comes up with the perfect solution: she’ll be homeschooled. Her parents agree, on one condition: she has to participate in a social activity.

Inspired by a journal that she finds hidden in her bedroom, Callie decides to join a birding club. Sure, it sounds unusual, but at least it’s not sports or performing. But when she clashes with the club leader, she risks losing a set of friends all over again. Will she ever be able to find her flock and make this strange new place feel like home?

The Sea in Winter

This is a beautiful story. Maisie’s struggles are so real, so emotional, and so easily relatable to anyone, kid or adult, who has ever felt lost and like the world just doesn’t understand how they feel. This makes her triumphs all the more uplifting and wondrous. A well-written story, with words that feel like watercolors painting the scenes in your mind, THE SEA IN WINTER is simply lovely.

In this evocative and heartwarming novel for readers who loved The Thing About Jellyfish, the author of I Can Make This Promise tells the story of a Native American girl struggling to find her joy again.

It’s been a hard year for Maisie Cannon, ever since she hurt her leg and could not keep up with her ballet training and auditions.

Her blended family is loving and supportive, but Maisie knows that they just can’t understand how hopeless she feels. With everything she’s dealing with, Maisie is not excited for their family midwinter road trip along the coast, near the Makah community where her mother grew up.

But soon, Maisie’s anxieties and dark moods start to hurt as much as the pain in her knee. How can she keep pretending to be strong when on the inside she feels as roiling and cold as the ocean?

For those who want a little dash of magic in their realism…

The Secret Life of Sam

THE SECRET LIFE OF SAM pulls at your heartstrings and makes you feel warm and safe at the same time. A beautiful story full of family, love, and a dash of magical realism where the hollow of a tree transports you to a place where you can see those you’ve lost, even if it is only to say goodbye. Sam’s story is wonderful and heartbreaking, and will have you laughing and cheering through your tears. Such a warm, good read.

The timelessness of Bridge to Terabithia meets the wonder of Big Fish in this bittersweet, magical story, perfect for fans of Barbara O’Connor, Lisa Graff, and Dan Gemeinhart.

When Sam’s dad dies in a car accident, Sam is shuttled off to the dusty town of Holler, Oklahoma, to live with a long-lost aunt. There he encounters a mysterious mangy cat who leads him to an unassuming tree that turns out to be a portal—a passage through which Sam can revisit his old life for a few minutes at a time.

Sam’s visits to the bayou become stranger and stranger. Pa’s old stories unfold around him in beautiful but sinister detail, and Pa is not quite himself. Still, Sam is desperate to find a way for them to stay together—no matter what it takes.

Almost There and Almost Not

This story made me cry in the best possible ways. A beautiful, loving, and heartwarming story about family, both those that are here and those that aren’t. California is a miraculous girl, one anyone would be lucky to meet and I so enjoyed meeting her within these pages. A sometimes heartbreaking always joyful coming-of-age-story with a touch of magic and a dash of ghosts, ALMOST THERE AND ALMOST NOT makes you believe there is always a place you belong.

From acclaimed author Linda Urban comes the funny, bittersweet story of a girl and her ghosts—and the welcoming home they find where they least expect it.

California Poppy has been dropped off, yet again, with an unsuspecting relative. This time it’s her eccentric Great-Aunt Monica, a woman she’s never even met. Aunt Monica has no idea what to do with an eleven-year-old, so she puts California to work researching their ancestor, the once-famous etiquette expert Eleanor Fontaine.

California soon discovers that Great-Great-Great Aunt Eleanor is…not exactly alive and well, but a ghost—and a super sensitive one at that. The grand dame bursts into clouds of dust whenever she loses her composure, which happens quite often. Still, an unexpected four-legged friend and some old-fashioned letter writing make this decidedly strange situation one that California can handle.

Just as California’s starting to feel like she’s found a place for herself, life turns upside-down yet again. Thankfully, this time she has some friends almost by her side…

For those who want a fantastical adventure

The World Between Blinks

This story is lovely and pulled at my heartstrings personally with the two main characters’ relationship with their Nana. THE WORLD BETWEEN BLINKS is an amazing fantasy adventure both funny and poignant as our heroes dive even further into this amazing world so few can see. Myth, legend, and things long forgotten come to life on these pages so vividly you’ll feel transported to this strange world along with Marisol and Jake. This book is for all the daydreamers, treasure seekers, and anyone who has ever looked for a portal to another world. For all of us whose imaginations run wild, this is our book!

Bestselling authors Amie Kaufman and Ryan Graudin invite readers into a wondrous world where lost things are found, and where two cousins must come face-to-face with the impossible…

Whenever Jake and Marisol get together, adventure follows. They have their late Nana to thank for that. Her epic trips and treasure hunts were legendary.

With the whole family reuniting for one last summer vacation at Nana’s home, the cousins are prepared for an extraordinary trip of their own. Following a map Nana left behind, Jake and Marisol sneak out to a nearby lighthouse—then accidentally slip into another world! 

The World Between Blinks is a magical place, where all sorts of lost things and people wind up. Everywhere they turn, the cousins find real mysteries from history and a few they thought were just myths, from pilot Amelia Earhart to the fabled city of Atlantis.

But the man who holds the key to Jake and Marisol’s journey home doesn’t want to be found . . . and if the cousins don’t catch him fast, they could end up lost in this world forever.

This first book in an exciting, fast-paced fantasy adventure series—featuring fun, interesting facts about history––is perfect for fans of Chris Colfer’s Land of Stories and Margaret Peterson Haddix’s The Missing series!

Twelve Nights

An absolutely enchanting story, weaving together family, imagination, magic, and the power of words TWELVE NIGHTS is a fantastical journey into the unknown. Your eyes will race across the page as one word leads you easily into the next, and with all the twists and turns this story takes you won’t want to stop until the very end. Spun like an oral story given form, this tale will leave you salivating in anticipation for the next book in the series.

A magical tale of imagination, adventure, and the power of storytelling, perfect for fans of The Golden Compass and A Wrinkle in Time.

Kay’s father has gone missing on Christmas Eve! And when Kay and her sister Ell go to his office, everyone he works with claims never to have heard of him. So later that evening, when Kay wakes up to find two mysterious strangers outside her bedroom window, talking about her father and looking for the last remnants of his existence, she demands to know what’s happened to her dad.

The two strangers, Flip and Will, are wraiths, on a mission to bring Kay and Ell’s father to their world–the world of woven stories and grand imagination that their father has spent his career studying. Only things in that world have gone very wrong, and the Bride of Bithynia, the only being who can set things right, is nowhere to be found. Can Kay and Ell find their father and join Flip and Will in a centuries-old battle to save the world?

Debut author Andrew Zurcher has created a world as captivating as Lyra’s Oxford and Alice’s Wonderland in this spellbinding quest of a novel.

No matter what type of story you like, you can find family love at the heart of them all. Hopefully this list gives you a starting point to finding your next great read.

Until next time happy reading!

8 thoughts on “Middle Grade Family Love”

  1. Such a great list you shared on Always in the Middle. I didn’t recognize any titles, but there are some great authors included in your list. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. You’ve shared some really great MG titles. I’ve already booked marked them so I can check them out. I’ve been looking for some good summer reads. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. I had to get out my notebook to write down some of these intriguing titles! Thanks for sharing your list.

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  4. Welcome back to MMGM! I haven’t read a single book on this list, and they all sound fantastic! I’m especially intrigued by One Time by Sharon Creech—I should try to cram it into my reading schedule, since I’ve enjoyed some of Creech’s other books. Thanks so much for the great post!

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