5 Reasons To Read Middle Grade Books As An Adult

I love to read kid’s books. Recently I was assigned the job of proofreader at the school library. In the last few months, I’ve read quite a few books for middle graders and was delighted to rediscover my enjoyment of them. These books are written by adults, so it seems likely adults would enjoy reading them. Here are five reasons why I like middle grade books.

  1. Sometimes we forget who we are and by returning to something you loved as a kid, you can reconnect with the real you.
  2. They’re short. Especially if you are in a reading rut, or don’t have a lot of time, a children’s story doesn’t have so large a commitment.
  3. They’re illustrated. A picture is worth a thousand words, even for older and wiser eyes. The illustrations ignite our imagination.
  4. Children’s books often address hard topics but usually have happy endings. If you are not up to a book about the ‘real’ world, take a child’s view. How many books feature orphans, or death, or bullies or unthinking adults. But never fear, in a middle grade book the characters will take action and a happy and fair ending results.
  5. These books remind us that bravery, generosity, love and hope still matter and when we act with these virtues, good things happen.

No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty.

C. S. Lewis

The Little House books were read to me and by me several times. But I noticed so many different things when I read them to my children. How ma chided pa by saying, “Now Charles.” What a lonely life they had. And quite a few sad times. But as a child, it seemed the ideal life. Maybe the ideal life has happy and sad times.

And there was the Narnia books. The many mystery series. The horse books. Old Yeller. A Little Princess. The Anne books. All of them shaped my perceptions of life and what it means to be brave, to love and to do the right thing. I am so thankful for these influences on my character.

And there are still good middle grade books being written. Here are some I’ve read recently that I have liked. Not all of them passed the school library requirements, but they were still good stories. Maybe you will enjoy reading them with your middle grader this summer.

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus. During wartime in London, three recently orphaned children are evacuated to the country and go on a search for a place to belong. Visits to the library and the books they borrow there keep their hopes up that things will work out.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford. Twelve-year-old Milo expects a quiet Christmas holiday at his parent’s inn. But the first wintry evening of vacation the guest bell rings, and then again and again. Soon the house is filled with a strange lineup of guests, each with his own story connected to the old house. Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must sort out the truth about Greenglass House.

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. In 1841 a young Japanese boy is shipwrecked and rescued by a whaling ship. He is adopted by the American captain and eventually makes his way to America. In the process, he learns the American idea that one person can make a difference and he decided to risk going home to Japan to show them they need not fear the foreigners. Based on many true facts of a real Japanese boy and his extraordinary life.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk. Twelve-year-old Crow doesn’t know who her parents are. Osh found her as a baby adrift in a boat near their home on the Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Her curiosity about her past starts a chain of events that lead to discovery of the true meaning of family.

A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga. The main character is a Rover Robot who is sent to Mars to explore and bring back data for scientist. Very different from any book I’ve read; informative and enjoyable.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling. A girl born without arms moves to a new school. A lot of angst is dealt with gently. The girl has some sass, but I suppose that would be necessary for going through life without arms. Excellent character development.

Tell us your favorites from middle grades, whether long ago or recently.

14 responses to “5 Reasons To Read Middle Grade Books As An Adult”

  1. Yes, narnia, although I actually didn’t discover them till I was 16. I am David by Ann Holm. The Big Wave by Pearl Buck. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’dell. Arrow Fly Home by Katharine Gibson; a rare book I’m on the lookout for. King of the Wind and Brighty of the Grand Canyon and One-o’clock Fox by Marguerite Henry. The Village that Slept by Monique Peyrouton de Ladebat-terribly rare. A Little Princess, The Secret Garden——wow the list is endless. Glad there’s still good new books coming out. I’m gonna look for the ones you mentioned for my girls.

    • It’s so fun to introduce favorite books to children! I see a few on your list I would like to find and read. Thanks!

  2. The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
    I first read this book as a youth girl when I was teaching in the mission but I would recommend it for middle grade readers. Still a favorite today.

  3. My all time favorite book from school story hour is probably Big Mutt, likely because I am an animal lover. The book was out of print for many years. I am so glad the have brought it back as it should be read by every middle schooler!

  4. Thank you for these recommendations! I’m always on the look out for good clean middle school reads. Some of my favorites are Elizabeth Enright’s Melendy series. Strawberry Girl by Lois Lensky, Ida Early Comes Over the Mountain, Christmas with Ida Early and Queeny Peevey by Robert Burch.

  5. I am excited to try these as I love reading children’s books. Some of my favorites are:
    The Wednesday Wars by Gary D Schmidt
    From Anna by Jean Little
    The House of Sixty Fathers and The Wheel on the School by Meindert Dejong
    The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
    All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

  6. I love the borrower books, and the illustrator. Love any book with pictures by that illustrator. Including gone away lake
    The penderwicks

    • Now, I’m wondering… If my children had to find a new mother, would they look until they found one who thought they hung the moon?
      And another curiosity…which ones did you pass for school library? 😉

      • I passed all except Greenglass House and Insignificant Events. But I haven’t discussed them with anyone, so maybe you have thoughts that could change my mind.😉

      • I trust your judgment. Now I know which books to order for my bored-with-summer-vacation boy who loves to read 📚

        A recent middle school book that made me laugh & cry is Restart by Gordon Korman in which Chase falls off of a roof & loses his memory. The former bully struggles to discover who he was & who he actually wants to be.

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