12 Middle Grade Books and Their Older Siblings

I’m so grateful to Krista and Katie for starting Middle Grade March and bringing together all these people who I consider “my people”.  There’s just something about middle grade readers.

Last year, to get in on the fun a little bit more, I did a Middle Grade March Madness competition.  I loved how you all agonized over the choices between your beloved books, which makes me sound sadistic, which, I mean, yes, but also THE PASSION.  The winner was pretty expected, although I did amuse myself writing about the game between the final two, which were Little Women and Anne of Green Gables.

This year, I’ve thinking about what it is I love about middle grade and why I find it hard to find the same qualities in books written for adults.

That got me thinking about pairings for middle grade books I’ve read and enjoyed, which got me onto this idea of these middle grade book having “older siblings”, if you will. They’re not the same, and they’re not quite parents, either, but there are definitely those shared genes that will make you see the familial links.

I’d love for you to join in, picking a favorite middle grade or the one you’re currently reading and finding their “older sibling”- some threads that tie the books together.  If you do, I have a story template coming, or tag your pictures:


I also want to highlight two new releases that were sent to me by the publishers that are in this stack.  Cathleen Barnhart’s That’s What Friends Do (thank you so much, Candlewick!) is told in alternating perspectives.  The writing is fantastic in that well-crafted but seemingly effortless way,  plus there are a lot of food mentions already, which is always a plus to me.  Much more seriously, though, I can feel the weight and pressure of toxic masculinity and the difficulties of boundaries building and I know this is going to be one I want to talk about with someone.  It seems like a book that would be very meaningful to middle schoolers and that could really make some important, much needed change through wise conversation.

Deanna Raybourn’s A Murderous Relation (thank you Berkley!) is the 5th in the Veronica Speedwell series.  This one features Jack the Ripper and royalty, so I know many of you are already sold.  If you’re looking for an atmospheric read with a ruthless, strong, intelligent female lead, consider starting at the beginning of this series with A Curious Beginning.  If you’re already a reader of the series, so far, this one already has me fully caught up in her world and wanting to know what will happen next.  Is a TV show in the works? It should be.

  • Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s The Gallery and Amor Towle’s Rules of Civility
    • Why?:  New York in the Roaring Twenties and the mysteries that lie under the surface of the very wealthy waiting to be uncovered by spunky female protagonists.
  • L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Angie Cruz’s Dominicana
    • Why?: Outsiders whose lives are full of struggles, yet continue to seek out the beauty around them and grow with resilience, depth, and grace. Thank you to Flatiron Books for my copy of Dominicana last year.
  • Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy and Katy Regan’s Little Big Love
    • Why?: Layers of family secrets and quirky details that make the characters and their stories thoroughly satisfying. Thank you to Berkley for my copy of Little Big Love two years ago.
  • Claire Legrand’s Some Kind of Happiness and Leif Enger’s Peace Like A River
    • Why?: There’s something about how both these books have magic/spirituality right around all the edges, not to mention the way that dark topics are lightened by fantastic female leads.
  • Cathleen Barnhart’s That’s What Friends Do and Chanel Miller’s Know My Name: A Memoir
    • Why?: From kids navigating boundaries, toxic masculinity, and consent to the horror of actual sexual assault in Chanel Miller’s life. Read and talk about it in safe environments when kids are younger, so that we can be better.

See any on here that you’d like to add in some more siblings for? I’m so excited to see all the ones you all come up with, too!

If you would like to join in on the fun, please go to the submissions page!

Leave a Reply