HomeFeaturesBook ListsKid-Approved Middle Grade Reads to Bust Summer Boredom

Kid-Approved Middle Grade Reads to Bust Summer Boredom

When the thrills of the first days of summer holidays and bbq’s and fireworks, movie nights and sleep-ins wear off and you enter the muggy, slouchy, sloth-like days of midsummer … getting your kids to be excited or energetic by anything reaches an all time low and it can be hard to encourage them to keep up with their daily reading.  

To help guide you at your library or bookstore, here are some of my eleven-year-old’s favourite, compulsively readable middle grade book (& comic!) picks … the ones she’ll actually stay off screen time to finish! 

StarfellStarfell: Willow Moss & the Lost Day

Written by Dominique Valente

Published by HarperCollins

If young witches, spells, and magical cat companions are literary buzzwords in your kids vernacular, you’ll want to pick up Willow Moss’ story. The youngest and least powerful witch in her family, her simple ability of finding lost things isn’t very exciting. Until the most powerful witch needs her help … apparently last Tuesday has been lost with catastrophic results!

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Wizards of OnceThe Wizards of Once

Written by Cressida Cowell

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Even though these novels appear chunky, they are completely illustrated in Cressida’s unique, bold way … ie, watch out for black fingers! The laughs are frequent, the characters loveable and quirky, the action constant – my daughter has simply eaten up this entire series over the last few years. A great series to start as the last book just released! A story of an accident prone young, magic-less wizard – Xar, and a warrior girl – Wish, who venture somewhat accidentally into the dark forests to try and steal Magic from a Witch. Of course chaos and many twists arise on this wacky fantasy adventure.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Last Fallen Star

Written by Graci Kim

Published by Rick Riordan Presents

Another super mythology adventure in the Rick Riordan/Disney Hyperion lineup, my eleven year old gobbled up this one up. A sweet story of sisters, magic, magical beasts, adoption, sacrifice, found family, and of course Korean Mythology. Riley Oh desperately wants to possess magic like her adopted, magical family but despite memorizing spells she still lacks magic. When her sister Hattie suggests casting a risky spell that would allow her to share her magic, things go terribly wrong and Hattie’s life hangs in the balance. To save her, Riley must journey to find the last fallen star.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Malamander book coverMalamander

Written by Thomas Taylor

Published by Walker Books US

Probably the most addictively readable book on this list (at least it was for me), both my daughter and I adored this quirky series centring around Herbert Lemon, the Lost-and-founder at the Nautilus Hotel in the small town of Eerie-on-Sea. His job is to return lost objects to their rightful owners, but his most recent lost item is his biggest job yet – a girl named Violet Parma, whose parents disappeared twelve years ago while staying at the Nautilus Hotel. And their disappearance might have something to do with the legend of the local sea-monster, the Malamander …

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Magic MisfitsThe Magic Misfits

Written by Neil Patrick Harris

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

This illustrated, hilarious, quick read centring around a group of misfit magicians is just an all around feel-good, found-family, fast read (how’s that for alliteration?). The author regularly breaks the fourth wall and directly talks to the reader, which adds such a fun layer to these reads. Magic tricks and other fun extras are included with each book.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Wilderlore The Accidental ApprenticeWilderlore: The Accidental Apprentice

Written by Amanda Foody

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books

A recent read, that I can see being a big hit for the fantasy loving middle grade crowd looking for a sweet combo of magical schools, enchanted forests, friends, and, most importantly, magical anthropomorphic animal sidekicks. Action aplenty awaits in this story following rule-follower, mushroom farmer Barclay when he accidentally bonds with a magical beast, breaking his small village’s main rule: don’t enter the magical forests or interact with magical beasts. Now bonded, he ventures to a mysterious village in the woods to participate in an apprenticeship exam in the hopes of breaking the bond … but maybe this life of adventure is more rewarding than he was taught to believe.

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Pages & Co.Pages & Co.

Written by Anna James

Published by Puffin Books

Who doesn’t dream of falling into books and interacting with the characters found within the pages? Tilly has lived with her grandparents above their bookstore since her mother disappeared soon after she was born. One day Tilly discovers characters from children’s literature are wandering around the bookstore, crossing from the pages into real life. Determined these characters might hold the answers to her mother’s disappearance, Tilly invokes the help of Anne of Green Gables and Alice in Wonderland to find some answers!

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Wings of Fire Graphic NovelWings of Fire: The Graphic Novel Series

Written by Tui T. Sutherland

Art by Mike Holmes

Published by Graphix

This is highly popular so it likely doesn’t need my rambling, but I’ll say – if you have a dragon fan in your household this is a necessary addition to your bookshelves.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Katie the CatsitterKatie the Catsitter

Written by Colleen Af Venable

Art by Stephanie Yu

Published by Random House Books for Young Readers

A perfectly timed comic story to read over the summer as we follow Katie and her seemingly straight forward summer job cat sitting, as she tries to save money to go to summer camp. Unfortunately nothing is easy, or straight forward, as these cats are anything but normal as they possess special, and sometimes evil, talents like martial arts and computer hacking. Partly magical realism, partly superhero this a funny read-it-again comic for the adventure & animal lover.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Aster and the Accidental MagicAster and the Accidental Magic

Written by Thom Pico

Art by Karensac

Published by Random House Graphic

Fans of the Hilda series will want to grab this adventure fantasy comic series that follows Aster, the feisty young girl who is unhappy with her family’s recent move to a mountain town. But then a mysterious old woman gives Aster a surprise dog – Buzz. One day, on an adventure, the duo meets a talking frog who grants three wishes … unfortunately these turn out to be “trickster” wishes and chaos ensues from there …

You can find it here: Bookshop.org


Written by Ian Boothby

Art by Nina Matsumoto

Published by Graphix

This might be on the younger leaning side of middle grade (ages 7-10) but we had to include it because my daughter reads and re-reads this comic series to death. A wild, hilarious ride of misfit cat friends pretending to be a dog in a self-made dog suit, this is a wacky, super fun, highly entertaining comic adventure.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

If you’re looking for new & upcoming summer releases, here are some Middle Grade releases we are anticipating for summer 2021: (Goodreads synopsis and release dates are given) 

Strangeworlds Travel AgencyThe Strangeworlds Travel Agency

Written by L.P. Lapinski

Published by Aladdin

Release Date: May 25, 2021

At the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, each suitcase transports you to a different world. All you have to do is step inside . . .

When 12-year-old Flick Hudson accidentally ends up in the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, she uncovers a fantastic secret: there are hundreds of other worlds just steps away from ours. All you have to do to visit them is jump into the right suitcase. Then Flick gets the invitation of a lifetime: join Strangeworlds’ magical travel society and explore other worlds.

But, unknown to Flick, the world at the very centre of it all, a city called Five Lights, is in danger. Buildings and even streets are mysteriously disappearing. Once Flick realizes what’s happening she must race against time, travelling through unchartered worlds, seeking a way to fix Five Lights before it collapses into nothingness — and takes our world with it.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

One Kid's TrashOne Kid’s Trash

Written by Jamie Sumner

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Release Date: August 31, 2021

Hugo is not happy about being dragged halfway across the state of Colorado just because his dad had a midlife crisis and decided to become a ski instructor. It’d be different if Hugo weren’t so tiny, if girls didn’t think he was adorable like a puppy in a purse and guys didn’t call him “leprechaun” and rub his head for luck. But here he is, the tiny new kid on his first day of middle school.

When his fellow students discover his remarkable talent for garbology, the science of studying trash to tell you anything you could ever want to know about a person, Hugo becomes the cool kid for the first time in his life. But what happens when it all goes to his head?

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Plentiful DarknessThe Plentiful Darkness

Written by Heather Kassner

Published by Henry Holt & Co.

Release Date: August 3, 2021

In order to survive on her own, twelve-year-old Rooney de Barra collects precious moonlight, which she draws from the evening sky with her (very rare and most magical) lunar mirror. All the while she tries to avoid the rival roughhouse boys, and yet another, more terrifying danger: the dreaded magician who’s been disappearing children in the night.

When Trick Aidan, the worst of the roughhouse boys, steals her lunar mirror, Rooney will do whatever it takes to get it back. Even if it means leaping into a pool of darkness after it swallows Trick and her mirror. Or braving the Plentiful Darkness, a bewitching world devoid of sky and stars. Or begrudgingly teaming up with Trick to confront the magician and unravel the magic that has trapped Warybone’s children.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Sisters of the Neversea

Written by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Published by Heartdrum

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Stepsisters Lily and Wendy embark on a high-flying journey of magic, adventure, and courage—to a fairy-tale island known as Neverland.

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. But with their feuding parents planning to spend the summer apart, what will become of their family—and their friendship?

Little do they know that a mysterious boy has been watching them from the oak tree outside their window. A boy who intends to take them away from home for good, to an island of wild animals, Merfolk, Fairies, and kidnapped children.

A boy who calls himself Peter Pan.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Kiki Kallira Breaks a KingdomKiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom

Written by Sangus Mandanna

Published by Viking Books for Young Readers

Release Date: July 6, 2021

Kiki Kallira has always been a worrier. Did she lock the front door? Is there a terrible reason her mom is late? Recently her anxiety has been getting out of control, but one thing that has always soothed her is drawing. Kiki’s sketchbook is full of fanciful doodles of the rich Indian myths and legends her mother has told her over the years.

One day, her sketchbook’s calming effect is broken when her mythological characters begin springing to life right out of its pages. Kiki ends up falling into the mystical world she drew, which includes a lot of wonderful discoveries like the band of rebel kids who protect the kingdom, as well as not-so-great ones like the ancient deity bent on total destruction. As the one responsible for creating the evil god, Kiki must overcome her fear and anxiety to save both worlds–the real and the imagined–from his wrath. But how can a girl armed with only a pencil defeat something so powerful?

You can find it here: Bookshop.org


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