Middle grade mythology books continue to grow in number and popularity. With Rick Riordan’s new mythology imprint and more publishers selling diverse books, mythological books for middle-grade readers are beginning to represent more cultures and traditions. And it’s not just Greek mythology anymore but also Norse mythology, Latin American mythology, Indian, Chinese, and other world mythologies, too.
I love a good mythological story, and so do many kids. Reading about interesting worlds, gods, and creatures of every culture makes you feel like you’re traveling the world. These books are amazing escapist fiction choices that also enrich your knowledge and awareness of the world.
That being said, I will admit that I struggle when I lack background knowledge about the pantheon, making flow and comprehension much more difficult. In some cases, I have abandoned books because of this. Does anyone else have this problem? But it seems like some kids don’t seem to struggle as much as I did — which is a good thing. I was confused most of the way through Tristen Strong, but my young neighbor loved every second of the book…and even wrote me a report on it!
Middle Grade Books with Mythology
Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts by Erika Lewis
Fast-paced with an interesting premise… Kelcie is a foster kid living in the human world but enters the other world to attend the Academy where she discovers that she’s a Saiga, a mistrusted elemental whose legacy includes a dangerous traitor. Her new friends help her learn about her unique powers, and together they fight the monsters who attack the school, seemingly looking for Kelcie. This first book packs a punch and sets us up for book two — which I can’t wait to read. I adore the elements of Celtic mythology and how the pacing zips along with action and intrigue. Highly recommended!
The Serpent’s Secret: Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond by Sayantani Dasgupta
Kiranmala discovers on her 12th birthday that she’s a princess from another realm and her parents are trapped in a black hole-type place. But there’s a lot more she’ll learn — like who her real parents are (yikes!) and that demons can be your friends. The prince’s demon grandma, Ai-Ma, is my FAVORITE character. She says things like, “Be good, sweet beetle-dung toadstools.” But Kiranmala’s adoptive parents are super awesome, too. I think you’ll love every second of this entertaining, Indian mythology adventure.
Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo
Charlie Hernández’s house burns down, his parents go missing, and he is sent to a foster home. But it’s when he grows HORNS, the WINGS, and meets the MYTHS in real life like calacas, mukis, and El Justo Juez, he’s really freaked out. Fortunately, a persistent classmate Violet Rey (also his crush) helps Charlie follow the clues to find out what happened to his parents — and what it has to do with La Mano Peluda and the prophesied Morphling who is meant to save the world. Incredible writing makes this magical adventure dazzle with the perfect balance of action, dialogue, & description interspersed with Spanish words and phrases.
The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
After Faryn defeats a demon in Chinatown, she discovers that she’s the prophetic demon-slaying Heaven Breaker and embarks on a quest. She is joined by her resentful, angry brother Alex, her ex-friend Moli, and a cursed boy. Together they fight demons, escape capture, and save imprisoned dragons in order to attend the god’s Lunar New Year’s banquet. But instead of finding her missing father at the banquet, she learns of the gods’ plan to wipe out the humans. Faryn refuses to lead their army and is horrified when her brother, eager for vengeance, takes on the power of the Heaven Breaker so he can lead the army of killers. The story ends on a cliffhanger but don’t worry, there’s more in the series.
Barb The Last Berzerker by Dan & Jason
NORSE / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Join Barb on a funny, gross, and adventurous quest to find the northern tribe of Zerks so they can help rescue her clan from the Witch Head has captured but Barb escaped. Before she did, Barb steals a special magical sword to help her become a Berzerker. As she travels, she’s joined by her yeti friend named Porkchop. Barb’s small but she’s brave and empathetic, both of which help her with the snot goblins, a giant, and vampire goat fiends, eventually finding her way to the Northern Zerks. But will they help?
Get to Work, Hercules! (Myth-O-Mania) by Kate McMullan
This book got us hooked on the Myth-O-Mania series. It’s so hilarious! Hades, the god of the underworld, narrates the TRUE stories with panache. (Apparently, his younger brother Zeus is a big fat liar and edited all the myths to make himself look good.) In this story, Hades watches over his young, not-too-smart nephew, Hercules whom Hera has it out for — since he’s the son of Zeus from another woman. Start with this book or the first book in the series, Have a Hot Time, Hades! My teenager was just reminiscing about these books — and is even considering a reread just for fun. See all the books in the series here.
Felice is terrified of water after she almost drowned as a child in the accident that killed her mother. But when her uncle’s old friend Reynaldo asks him to return to their hometown of Tres Leches, Felice discovers that her mom is La Llorna, the ghostly spirit trapped between worlds haunting the river near Tres Leches. Felice runs away from her uncle’s to Tres Leches. There, she discovers a strange, magical town of myths and curses. She befriends two outcast kids, the Witch Owl’s daughter and the Devil’s son, who help her overcome her fears of water to find her mother. She wants to stop her mother from haunting the river and drowning children. And while the kids are at it, they also free the town from the sinister Bonita’s curses, and the resolution of events is lovely and heartwarming.
Percy Jackson and the Olympiansby Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson, a 12-year-old boy with ADHD and dyslexia and a pattern of getting kicked out of school, learns that not only are the Greek gods alive and well, and living in the United States, but his own father is Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. That makes Percy a demi-god. He spends the series of funny, action-packed adventure books escaping from monsters, training at Camp Half-Blood, and trying to save the world from the Titans. Boxed set here.
The Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
If you liked the adventure in the Greek myths, you’ll also love the Roman mythology stories with a new hero named Jason — a kid without a memory. He ends up at Camp Half-Blood but is from the Roman, not Greek, pantheon. It’s good but not quite as good as Percy Jackson.
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summerby Rick Riordan
Magnus is a smart and snarky kid who is thrust into a crazy situation — the Norse world because (surprise!) his dad is Frey. When Magnus dies at the story’s beginning, he’s taken to Valhalla, one of the Norse Mythology afterlife locations. Don’t worry–he won’t stay there long. He decides that despite the risks, he must find his dad’s missing sword somewhere in the Nine Worlds. I lost momentum in this series — the pacing seemed sluggish after book one.
Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori Lee
Pahua has always seen spirits, including her best friend who is a cat spirit she names Miv. When she accidentally releases an angry bridge spirit who steals her little brother Matt’s soul, she knows she must fix what she did or Matt will die. She travels to spirit realms to find Matt and the angry spirit along with Miv and an irritable shaman-in-training girl who helps guide them and saves her more than once. Journeying to save her brother involves a lot of almost-dying, cool Hmong mythology world-building, and the chance to grow into herself. I loved Pahua’s character–her devotion to her brother, her kindness and compassion, and her bravery. Excellent.
Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera
Cece’s town of Tierra del Sol fights against the criaturas, powerful, evil spirits that surround them in the desert, but Cece doesn’t believe the criaturas are all bad. When her sister is kidnapped, Cece decides to risk everything by becoming a forbidden bruja so she can capture a criatura and get her sister back. She’s helped by the legendary Coyote, but he’s just the first criatura who willingly helps Cece in her quest. If they work together, will she be able to rescue Juana?
Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend by Katie Zhao
Winnie is trying to navigate middle school and her parent’s high expectations when an old family cookbook unlocks her 6th sense, shaman powers, and the spirit of her LaoLao (grandmother) who enters their pet bunny. Lao Lao tells Winnie that she’s a shaman meant to fight evil spirits and send them back to the spirit world, but Winnie is not interested — she has too many demands from her parents, plus she wants to beat her nemesis in piano and Chinese school. Unfortunately, he’s the other shaman, and they’ll need to work together when demons attack…she reluctantly embraces her powers and her new partner and they save the world from demons.
Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao
The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
This book is about Apollo, the god of poetry who is now a human. He’s arrogant and bewildered– which somehow Riordan makes appealing to readers. As the misadventures ensue, Apollo begins to see himself as less than perfect. In this story, we meet new demigods such as Demeter’s daughter Meg and encounter familiar favorites like Percy Jackson.
The Kane Chronicles: Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Explore Egyptian mythology with siblings who are targets of the god Set and on a dangerous quest to figure out what is happening. My oldest daughter loved this entire series more than I did mostly because Egyptian myths creep me out.
Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt by George O’Connor
Apollo: The Brilliant One by George O’Connor
Dionysos: The New God by George O’Connor
This final graphic novel is about another (weird) Greek myth — the story of Dionysos who was born out of a thigh after a long, complicated result of another Zeus affair. He started out as a girl and then changed to a boy to hide from Hera. Eventually, through many wild adventures and finding devoted followers, Dionysos ascends to Mt. Olympus where he becomes one of the Gods. As usual, it’s excellent writing and illustration and teaches you all about this God of debauchery.
Oh My Gods! by Stephanie Cooke and Insha Fitzpatrick, illustrated by Juliana Moon
I’m not a fan of the title, but the story is enjoyable and engaging, not snarky or cliquey like the title implies. Karen moves in with her dad, Zed, on Mount Olympus. The kids at her new school are very different — she wonders if they’re into LARP but they’re not, she learns that they’re actually gods and goddesses! When her friend Apollo gets turned to stone, Karen and her new friends have to clear Karen’s name and save Apollo. They meet a lonely girl named Medusa who is responsible for the stone statues. Will they be able to fix things for both Apollo and Medusa?
Gods and Thunder: A Graphic Novel of Old Norse Myths by Carl Bowen and Eduardo Garcia
If you know Norse mythology, you know the stories are often quite violent, among other characteristics. So if that’s not your thing, this is NOT the book for you. These stories show some of the backgrounds of Odin and his sons and depict Loki as the villain, not as a trickster. This graphic novel is well done and easy to read with excellent illustrations.
Thrones and Bones: Frostborn series by Lou Anders
Get to know your Norse mythology in this series. A boy named Karn who is only good at playing a Norse board game and a girl named Thianna who is a half-human, half-giantess unexpectedly partner with each other to survive deadly soldiers, undead warriors, trolls, and a dragon. I recommend using the glossary while you read because this is packed with lots of Norse words you might not know. (That whole background knowledge thing!)
MORE MIDDLE GRADE MYTHOLOGY BOOK CHOICES
Here are other fictional middle grade mythology books that many readers love.
The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes
Tristen Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Lee
City of the Plague God (The Adventures of Sik Aziz) by Sarwat Chadda