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Middle School books we Love (pt. 1)

I missed a lot of chapter kids books and middle school books when I was at the right age to read them. Why? Because I couldn't read until I was in fifth grade and, when I discovered a love for reading, I wasn't going to go backwards! I was going to read what my peers were reading. I couldn't be seen reading books everyone else read in third grade! By 7th grade, I was reading at a college level and asking my mom to provide me with adult books like Stephen King and Dean Koontz. For many years as an adult, I felt like I had to read a certain level of book. I lived in the realm of YA and adult books. It wasn't until I opened the store and realized that I had a very little knowledge and experience with middle school books and I was given ARC (Advanced Reader Copies) of middle school books that I realized what I was missing out on. Since then, I've enjoyed throwing away the age suggestions and reading anything I want, including books I didn't get to read when I was "that" age.

With all of that being said, here is a list of Middle school books (some of them bleed into YA books, too but would totally be appropriate for middle school, too), listed in no particular order. I will also be including links to help you adopt any of the books that catch your attention and support us as well easily and stress free.

Erika Lewis's Kelcie Murphy and the Academy of Unbreakable Arts is the first in the fantasy series which has some awesome Harry Potter vibes. It was an ARC read for me, but I fell in love right away. This is the story of orphan Kelcie Murphy who finds herself in magical world she didn't even know existed. After trying out to be admitted into the magical school, she begins to learn more about herself, her parents and friendship as she fights bad. I adore Kelcie and so many of the people in her world. I will always be happy to recommend Kelcie Murphy and her school of Unbreakable Arts. This is one of those that I would say, you don't have to be in middle school to love . I'm proof of that.

The school for Good and Evil Series by Soman Chainani was given to me as a gift from my husband. I was a little sceptical but, I ended up loving it and devouring the series as quickly as I could. This is the story of two unlikely best friends who are very different from each other who find themselves in a magical world (yes. I, too see the theme here) in which there is a school for good and evil that trains and educates the fairy tale characters we know and love...and some we don't know so well. Of course, things don't go quite as planned and evil raises it's ugly head to be fought by not just the good, but children from both good and evil sides of the school. These books are longer than most (or all) then the rest of the recommended books on this list but it is so worth it. And, as an adult, I couldn't help but laugh over the idea of what makes an evil student. I'm not sure I would consider it evil, per say, but it isn't exactly nice, either. Plus, I totally love how one of the themes of the series is that nothing/nobody is either all good or all evil.

I'm sure you've heard of Greg Heffley and Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. To be honest, I didn't include this because it was a book that I loved, but, rather because my son loved these books. He wasn't much of a reader at all, and still isn't, really, but he did like these. I began the series with him and wasn't in love with all the kids because, well, many of the characters are kind of jerks but I know that my son loved the books. He also saw that Greg isn't exactly the good guy in the books, but it got him reading. And I know he's not the only middle school boy who found enjoyment in reading through these books so I felt like I should mention it in this list.

Remember how I said I've found my way back to this age group? Well this series, Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly, was gifted to me from my husband, too. It's also one of those series that has suggested ages from 13-18 according to google but would be fine for audiences a little younger. Honestly, this series feels like a T.V movie rom-com and I'm kind of there for it. This series is about Cam who just happens to be the daughter of a wicked witch. And no, that's not a metaphor. She really is a wicked witch. And Cam isn't. She's just an almost normal girl trying to navigate school, life, friends, crushes and keeping the truth about her mother and home life a secret. They even have a pet dragon! I mean, really?! How can you not check this giggle worthy book out? It's got love, complicated relationships, magic, humor, everything! You're welcome.

I'll be honest, when I was thinking up this list, I was thinking the novel Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery. I fell in love with the movies in 6th grade when my English teachers showed it to us. I didn't read the books until a few years latter, but by then, I had already put Anne at the top of my favorite fictional character list (she's still pretty high up there). But, as I was collecting information, links and images to use, I saw the graphic novel and knew that's the one I should go with. A few years ago, I handed my middlest kiddo my phone, opened the reading app and told her she needed to read this graphic novel. Reading is hard for her, so she tends to lean towards graphic novels anyway. I'd tell her she needed to read so many pages or so many minutes a day and she would ask if she could keep my phone longer to read more. Of course I happily said "sure!". She fell in love with Anne, too, and to this day, I think the graphic novel is her favorite version of Anne and her story.

My first introduction to Mary and all of her mischievous ways was through the movie when I was a kid. I watched it over and over. I did, at some point, read the book, though I can't tell you when other then I was still in school at the time. I was so excited when I saw that it was on the reading list for middle child a few years ago and happily offered to read it with her. I'm going to be honest about Frances Hodgson Bennett's The Secret Garden and admit that not all of it aged well. There are some scenes and lines that make me feel a gross and they are pretty much all centered around Mary's view of the people who worked for her family in India. My daughter and I had some talks about that for sure as we read the book and talked about it. The story, however, I can't help but love.

I debated weather or not I should include The Giver by Lois Lowry on this list. I didn't debate because I don't think it deserves to be mentioned, but becuase of the content. I love the book, but I didn't really understand it when I was in middle school and didn't really fall in love with it until I had to read it in college. My concern comes with content. This is one of those books I'd suggest parents to look into before handing them to your preteen and young teens and think about weather or not their kiddos are mature enough for some of the scenes. I know, for one, my teen isn't at a point to read this book yet, so I get if you don't think yours is ready, either.

But those are just some of my favorites, what are some of yours? Did I leave any out that I really need to add to the next one or that I need to read? Let us know in the comments.

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