As the school year comes to a close and children’s summer reading challenges begin (keep an eye out for TPB’s list), we have a new kind of challenge for you: seek out magic in your everyday life.
Most people I know fell in love with the magic of reading as a child - engrossed in worlds with endless possibilities. We imagined ourselves flying off to Neverland, sitting for the sorting hat at Hogwarts, training with extraordinary teens at Camp Half-Blood, going on an unexpected journey with a band of dwarves - reading meant endless possibility and discovery.
It’s a lot harder to find that same feeling in the pages we read as adults. When we open a book today, we bring all our grown-up anxieties, fears, and unrealized dreams with us, and we’re not always ready to confront them in the fiction we read. When I read, I want to rediscover love and hope and magic - the magic that came so easy as a child.
This last year, while we’ve been shut away in our homes, many have rededicated themselves to finding magic in the ordinary. I’ve been rereading my favorite childhood books and discovering new voices in children’s literature that are inspiring lifelong readers today and I’m slowly beginning to find magic again, and hopefully getting a little bit closer to saying and meaning- “I do believe in fairies. I do. I do.”
The books below are for anyone who needs a little magic in their lives right now, regardless of age. Middle grade books are these rare pockets of youth and imagination that allow you to see the world in a way you thought forgotten. If you too have slipped into the monotonous humdrum of “adulting” and need something to tug you out of those deep waters to see life through a different lens, these tales are for you.
Magic is still out there my friends, as long as you are willing to look.
Written by Sarah Breaux
Edited by Nicole Rader
A boy who accidentally bonds with a magical Beast must set off on an adventure in the mysterious Woods in this “wholesome, delightful” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), and cheeky middle grade fantasy debut—perfect for fans of Nevermoor and How to Train Your Dragon.
The last thing Barclay Thorne ever wanted was an adventure.
New York Times bestseller!
Artemis Fowl meets Men in Black in this exhilarating debut middle grade fantasy, the first in a trilogy filled with #blackgirlmagic. Perfect for fans of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, the Percy Jackson series, and Nevermoor.
Best-selling author Rick Riordan introduces this fantasy adventure by New York Times best-selling author, Roshani Chokshi, inspired by the great epics she grew up on.
Named one of 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time by Time magazine!
When a powerful desert spirit kidnaps her sister, Cece Rios must learn forbidden magic to get her back, in this own voices middle grade fantasy perfect for fans of The Storm Runner and Aru Shah and the End of Time.
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents an adventure based on ancient Mesopotamian mythology by Sarwat Chadda, author of the Ash Mistry series.
"An epic worthy of Gilgamesh. Chadda brings attention to the less well-recognized mythology of ancient Mesopotamia with engaging humor and wit."--Kirkus Reviews
New York Times Bestselling Series!
“A world in which humans and fairy-tale creatures live side-by-side. . . .
New York Times Bestseller * National Book Award Nominee * Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing.
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Graci Kim's thrilling debut about an adopted Korean-American girl who discovers her heritage and her magic on a perilous journey to save her witch clan family.
In this highly anticipated contemporary fantasy, twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world.
“This expertly crafted story thrums with magic, love, and tense action.” —Booklist (starred review)
Perfect for fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon, this fantastical and heartfelt first book in a new trilogy from critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson follows a girl who must defeat thirteen evil witches
A Kirkus Best Book of 2019!
An Indies Introduce Selection for 2019!
An Indie Next Pick for Summer 2019!
"A delectable treat for food and literary connoisseurs alike." Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
"What a wonderful, intriguing, and magical book. And wow, did it ever get my tastebuds going!
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Indigenous fantasy writer Rebecca Roanhorse's thrilling adventure about a Navajo girl who discovers she's a monsterslayer.
*"Fans of Hugo and Nebula winner Roanhorse will appreciate her fast-paced prose, page-turning chapter endings, and most of all, strong female protagonist."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Kwame Mbalia's epic fantasy, a middle grade American Gods set in a richly-imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods.
The first book in Chris Colfer's #1 New York Times bestselling series The Land of Stories about two siblings who fall into a fairy-tale world!
Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.
Five starred reviews! In this beautifully reimagined story by NSK Neustadt Laureate and New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek), Native American Lily and English Wendy embark on a high-flying journey of magic, adventure, and courage to a fairy-tale island known as Neverland…
American Indian Youth Literature Award Winner: Best Middle Grade Book! Brian Young’s powerful debut novel tells of a seemingly ordinary Navajo boy who must save the life of a Water Monster—and comes to realize he’s a hero at heart.
This stunning fantasy inspired by Chinese folklore is a companion novel to Starry River of the Sky and the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award finalist When the Sea Turned to Silver
“A perfect pick for kids who love Rick Riordan.” —Booklist (starred review)
“A winner for all kids, but it will be especially loved by Latinx and Hispanic families.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The Lightning Thief meets the Story Thieves series in this middle grade fantasy inspired by Hispanic folklore, leg
From New York Times bestselling author comes a world packed with action and adventure, perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Soman Chainani.MEET KIRANMALA:INTERDIMENSIONAL DEMON SLAYER(Only she doesn't know it yet.)On the morning of her 12th birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey...until her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling
A Bank Street Best Book of 2021!
A young witch must pass a coming-of-age quest or risk losing her magic forever in this enchanting fantasy -- perfect for fans of Kiki's Delivery Service and Aru Shah and the End of Time.
Sometimes all you need is a pinch of magic...
Eva Evergreen is determined to earn the rank of Novice Witch before
With over one million copies sold in Spanish, Mexican literary legend Juan Villoro's The Wild Book is a fantastical homage to libraries, in which a boy is sent to live with his kooky, book-obsessed uncle in a library where books have supernatural powers and adventure lies behind every cover.
A magical coming-of-age story from Coretta Scott King honor author Jewell Parker Rhodes, rich with Southern folklore, friendship, family, fireflies and mermaids, plus an environmental twist.
The whimsy of Nevermoor meets the mythical world-building of Neil Gaiman in this unlikely hero's quest to find his parents--and find the home he's always longed for.
From debut author Van Hoang comes Girl Giant and the Monkey King, a tale packed with magic, adventure, and middle-school woes—perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Roshani Chokshi.
Eleven-year-old Thom Ngho is keeping a secret: she’s strong. Like suuuuper strong. Freakishly strong. And it’s making it impossible for her to fit in at her new middle school.
WINNER OF THE NEWBERY MEDAL • WINNER OF THE ASIAN/PACIFIC AMERICAN AWARD FOR CHILDREN'S LITERATURE • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.
From #BookTok phenomenon and author of the highly anticipated YA fantasy novel, Lightlark, this fast-paced series starter is steeped in Colombian mythology and full of adventure. Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson, Curse of the Night Witch is filled with fantasy, action, adventure, and an unforgettable trio of friends.
Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.
Fall under the spell of this fantasy-adventure story about a Lebanese-American girl who finds the courage to save her grandmother. Perfect for fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
A breathtaking, enchanting new series by debut author Jessica Townsend, about a cursed girl who escapes death and finds herself in a magical world--but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination.
Inspired by the author's real life experiences, this rollicking, charming novel follows sixth grade Egyptian immigrant Nadia as she navigates the ups and downs of friendships, racism, and some magic, too!
Nadia loves fun facts.
“A poignant, necessary entry into the children’s literary canon, Root Magic brings to life the history and culture of Gullah people while highlighting the timeless plight of Black Americans.
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire is the first book in a spellbinding middle grade fantasy adventure series by screenwriter John August.
“A thrilling adventure full of magic and wonder. John August is a master storyteller.” —Ransom Riggs, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
A New York Times bestselling series
A USA TODAY bestselling series
A California Young Reader Medal–winning series
In this riveting series opener, a telepathic girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world before the wrong person finds the answer first.
Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life.
“[An] unflinching, heart-wrenching exploration of grief, belonging, and inner strength.” —Jessica Khoury, author of The Mystwick School of Musicraft
“Spellbinding.” —Quinn Sosna-Spear, author of The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson
The Secret Garden meets Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculia
The beginning of a thrilling new dragon saga-- now in paperback!Clay and his friends have grown up under a mountain, secretly raised by the Talons of Peace to fulfill a mysterious prophecy. The five young dragons are destined to end the war that's been raging between the tribes of Pyrrhia -- but how they'll do this, none of them knows.But not every dragonet wants a destiny.
Gutsy girls and strong women make up the diverse and appealing crew of a pirate ship that battles intrigue and deadly monsters in an action-filled fantasy adventure.
“Combine a pirate adventure of mythic proportions, a uniquely charming cast of characters, and a vivid new fantasy world, and you get Lintang and the Pirate Queen.
A New York Times bestseller from the beloved author of the action-packed Animorphs series and the award-winning The One and Only Ivan. In this first book of an epic middle grade series, Katherine Applegate takes us on an unforgettable journey.
This spellbinding fantasy about a girl from the shadows and a boy from the sea is perfect for fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon and The Book of Boy.In which a story is spun.
Clothilde has lived her whole life in the shadows with her (sometimes) thieving and (always) ailing father.
THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL is the #1 movie now streaming on Netflix—starring Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh, Sofia Wylie, Sophie Anne Caruso, Jamie Flatters, Earl Cave, Kit Young, and many others!
Five starred reviews!
“An instant classic.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Possibly the finest writer of our time.” —Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity
From award-winning author Hilary McKay comes a beautiful, enchanting story about a girl adjusting to her ne
A New York Times bestseller and USA Today bestselling book! From award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris comes the magical first book in a new series with plenty of tricks up its sleeve.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon meets Pax in this fantastical tale of a wolf who forms an unlikely alliance with Baba Yaga to save the forest from a wicked tsar.
Since she was a pup, Zima has been taught to fear humans--especially witches--but when her family is threatened, she has no choice but to seek help from the witch Baba Yaga.
The Penderwicks meets Howl’s Moving Castle in this thrilling middle grade fantasy adventure about a trio of royal siblings who unlock a long-forgotten magical language in their bid to reclaim their stolen throne—from Ember and the Ice Dragons author Heather Fawcett. Perfect for fans of Kelly Barnhill and Robert Beatty.
In a gripping stand-alone fantasy from the acclaimed Alison Croggon, a pickpocket steals the cursed Stone Heart and is propelled into a power struggle, woven with witchcraft, that will change the kingdom forever.
"Fans of books like The Lightning Thief will enjoy this fast-paced mythological fantasy, and will beg for more adventures with Abby. Sure to be a hard title to keep on the shelf." --School Library Journal
Twelve-year-old Abby Beckett is proud to come from a long line of elite Viking warriors known as the Aesir.
Fans of Shannon Hale and Kelly Barnhill will delight in this charming and richly imagined middle grade fantasy debut, featuring a wicked queen, magical animals, a henchman with a golden heart, and a small girl with a great destiny.
For fans of the Aru Shah and Serpent's Secret series, this action-packed fantasy-adventure sees a girl's drawings of Indian mythology spring to vivid life--including the evil god who seeks to enter the real world and destroy it.