Best New Middle Grade and YA Chapter Books
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More chapter books for you! I have so much fun reading that (and I know you’ll be shocked) sometimes I procrastinate writing the book reviews. (!!) Lately, I’ve let my chapter book to-read pile get so tall, I have a fairly large round-up of good books for kids (and you) today.
Oh, and I included a few of YA books in the mix, just in time for Teen Read Week which is this week. (#TRW12 on Twitter) Smartphone users, you’ll can download YALSA’s free Teen Book Finder app for book recommendations. See what your libraries are offering this week for programming – should be some fun stuff happening.
A Mutiny in Time (Infinity Ring #1) by James Dashner
A new series by the author of Maze Runner, but for middle-grade readers, this is a hybrid historical-fantasy mystery. In a world experiencing Great Breaks, Dak’s scientist parents disappear when they use their time-travel Infinity Ring. Moments later, Dak and his best friend, Sera, are captured and recruited by a secret group who are trying to fix the breaks in time. When that group is attacked, Dak and Sera must go on their own to the first big break in Spain, 1492 and try to stop Christopher Columbus from being thrown overboard his own ship.
Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, the Gallows, and the Black General Gabriel by Gigi Amateau
Based on the true story of a plantation slave named Gabriel, this story imagines his childhood growing up with the master’s son, learning the blacksmith trade, and later planning a rebellion. It gives readers a glimpse into the grim realities of slavery and growing up in the most difficult of circumstances.
Freakling by Lana Krumwiede
What I loved about Freakling was the author did an amazing job with the ending – thank you to her for that! (Don’t you hate a book you love but the authors end on a cliff hanger OR just hurry through the conclusion and ruin it!?) Anyway, this is a dystopian novel about a group of people with the power to do things with their mind. It’s a power that can be used for good or bad, and the leaders of the city, Taemon suspects, are using it for supreme control and evil. It’s a great story, with a different angle than most dystopians. I really enjoyed it.
Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, & a Very Strange Adventure by Lissa Evans
Horten’s magician great-uncle Tony, whom he just learns about, disappeared mysteriously years ago. Horten and one of the triplet neighbors must piece together the clues left behind before his uncle’s house is destroyed by the city. He’s facing a deadline and also another scheming magician who wants to find the hidden secrets in Tony’s lost workshop.
Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders by Kevin Sylvester
Arrogant, yet endearing, 14-year old chef Neil Flambe is known for his keen powers of smell – especially by the police detectives who need Neil’s help with a series of mysterious murders of chefs in the area. The clues lead to something about a trip of Marco Polo and spices. It’s a delightful, aromatic read!
Of Giants and Ice by Shelby Bach
When Rory finds out that her new after school club, Ever After School, is a fairy tale training school for characters. In fact, her first day she fights a real dragon! We learn that all the kids will be assigned their own character in a familiar tale – and the chance to prove themselves. It’s also the beginning of acceptance for Rory – finding friends for the first time, and learning about herself. Love it. (First in a series.)
Origin by Jessica Khoury (YA)
Teen, Pia, is the only immortal in the world. She’s been raised in seclusion (captivity?) in the Amazon jungle with no knowledge of the outside world. But, all that changes when Pia finds a hole in the electrified fence and meets a village boy who helps her see that her origin might be a secret the scientists will kill to guard. Or worse. Predictable YA chapter book yet still entertaining.
Shade’s Children by Garth Nix
Yes, another dystopian chapter book novel – but if you like them, here’s another entertaining read. Nix creates a world of evil Overlords who kill children on their 14th birthday to turn them into hybrid-machine-animal killers. Shade, a holograph projection of his original adult self, guides escaped children to discover the Overlord’s secrets. Only how many children have sacrificed their lives for his missions? Is he everything he says he is?
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (YA)
I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter book novel about orphan, Alina, in a country where much of the land and people have been a darkness called the Shadow Fold. When Alina’s powers reveal themselves, surprising even her, she’s taken to the magical leader, the Darkling, to train and serve him in his fight against the Shadow Fold. Alina feels out of place without her best friend, and doesn’t fit in with the other Grisha. Plus, strange things begin to happen and she must discover the secret behind the source of the Shadow Fold’s power.
Son (The Giver, #4) by Lois Lowry
Did you know that The Giver is a chapter book series? This is the last book, and it’s excellent. You’re going to love (and be surprised) the way Lowry incorporates all the characters of the original story, too.
Claire, grows up to become a Vessel, and births a baby boy. She’s reassigned to the Fish Hatchery but Claire can’t stop thinking about the son (the Product) taken away from her. As time goes on, Claire realizes that everyone else takes pills that make them seem numb, and unquestioning. When Claire’s faced with a choice, she decides for her son and for freedom. But it all goes wrong . . . she does escape and washes up on a new land with no memories. At least for now.
The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin
A clever story about a magical Renaissance painter who created real worlds in his elaborately painted canvases. Years later, when her step-brother accidentally goes into a painting, Sunni and her classmate must follow to rescue him. Strangely, their art teacher’s brother follows, too and he doesn’t seem very nice. It’s a world is filled with pirates, labyrinths, monsters, and world within worlds but an exciting, adventurous story.
The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz
Alex’s parents raised him in their secret society of supervillains, training him all his life for a life of villainy. He surprises himself in a battle when he saves the life of his enemy, a Ranger of Justice girl named Kirbie. They secretly become friends making Alex question his entire life and the next big mission to wipe out all of the Rangers.
The Cup and the Crown by Diane Stanley
Second in a series but a stand-alone story, this is a fun adventurous tale of Molly and her friends, who must help King Alaric discover how to use the Cup. Molly finds a secret city called Harrowsgode where her grandfather grew up and is taken prisoner. How will her friend, Tobias, a rat-catcher, and an intelligent raven help Molly to escape and why is the town so secretive?
The Last Dogs: The Vanishing by Christopher Holt
I drug my heels about reading this middle-grade chapter book, I don’t usually like books with animal characters. However, from the first page, I couldn’t put it down. Holt is an amazing writing and the story is a fast-paced adventure that your kids will t thoroughly enjoy. Although, I must warn you – I didn’t realize it was a series and was sorely disappointed that I didn’t discover the secret of the missing people at the ending. However, it’s still worth reading.
Okay, the premise is that all the humans left suddenly or were rounded up and forced to leave. The dogs are left behind. Max, a yellow Lab knows that he must find and save his family. From the moment he escapes his kennel at the vet’s, he faces huge obstacles – angry, starving wolves, no food, a gang of subway rats, a house of cats, and the controlling Corporation, a “perfect” society for dogs where everyone works and no one can leave.
The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann
In this world of human and faery, mixed-race changelings, Peculiars, are outcasts. One such changling, Bartholomew and his sister, Hettie, are supposed to say hidden, away from danger. Yet, when Bartholomew is seen by the lady who kidnaps his neighbor, he’s thrust into a dangerous mystery that he must solve in order to save the other children before they are kidnapped, too.
The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee (Origami Yoda #3) by Tom Angleberger
(Now I have to go back and read the first two Origami Yoda books!)
I love this middel grade chapter book – it’s a funny but poignant story of middle-school angst and discovery. If you haven’t read the first two, you can read this independently. You’ll need to know that Dwight can make origami Star Wars characters who have powers to give advice. In this story, it’s a Wookiee. A must-read!
The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas
Trinket’s storyteller father disappeared years ago. Now that her mother has died, Trinket decides to take the map her father left behind and try to find him. Her friend, Thomas the Pig Boy, travels with her. Each place on the map gives Trinket a new story to tell and she imagines she could learn to be a storyteller like her father. Amazing adventures ensue but when Trinket learns the fate of her father in the seventh story, she must make a very hard decision.
Whatever After Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski (easy chapter book)
This, the first of the series, is a new favorite. Abby and her little brother Jonah discover an unusual mirror in their basement. A mirror that sucks them into . . . an adventure in a fairy tale land. Only they mess up the Snow White story by stopping her from eating the poison apple, and she never meets her prince. Now the kids need to fix her story and figure out how to return home!
On your mark, get set, go to the library! (or bookstore . . . ) Get reading!!
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Don’t miss these book lists:
- Books for kids who like Diary of a Wimpy Kid
- Books for kids who like Junie B. Jones
- Best chapter books series that kids will love
- Books for kids who love Harry Potter
Books for 8-year olds
Books for 9-year olds
Books for 10-year olds
Books for 11-year olds
Books for 12-year olds
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My 3rd grade son just read all 3 Origami Yoda books in one week! This is not typical for him, he is not really into mysteries/magic/sci-fi so it is hard to find chapter books for him. He usually just re-reads one of his Calvin & Hobbs before bed, so if you can recommend any more chapter books like the Origami Yoda series please let me know! (Love your website!)
My 7th grader is looking for more good books. I’ll send her here!
Double-pinned! I want to sit down with this pile of books and read them all day long, no interruptions.
Pinned! Thanks Melissa! This will come in handy when I’m book shopping for my 12 year old at Christmas!