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Magical Middle-Grade Books (For Adults Too!)

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.

Happy adventuring!

Written by Sarah Breaux
Edited by Nicole Rader

Staff Pick Badge
The Accidental Apprentice (Wilderlore #1) Cover Image

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.

Thankfully,


Staff Pick Badge
Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) Cover Image

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.


Aru Shah and the End of Time (A Pandava Novel Book 1) (Pandava Series #1) Cover Image

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!


Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls Cover Image

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


City of the Plague God Cover Image

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD, an adventure based on ancient Mesopotamian mythology written 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


The Fairy-Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm #1): 10th Anniversary Edition (Sisters Grimm, The) Cover Image

Enter a world of fractured fairy tales and magical mysteries in this first installment of the beloved New York Times bestselling Sisters Grimm series
 
Orphaned sisters Sabrina and Daphne are sent to live with their newly discovered grandmother, Relda Grimm, in the strange town of Ferryport Landing.


The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal) Cover Image

Winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal
The New York Times Bestseller

An Entertainment Weekly Best Middle Grade Book of 2016
A New York Public Library Best Book of 2016
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2016
An Amazon Top 20 Best Book of 2016
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016
A School Library Journal Best Book of


Staff Pick Badge
Greenglass House Cover Image

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.


Ikenga Cover Image

Nnedi Okorafor's acclaimed first novel for middle grade readers introduces a boy who can access super powers with the help of the magical Ikenga.


The Last Fallen Star (A Gifted Clans Novel) Cover Image

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.


Maya and the Rising Dark Cover Image

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.


The Memory Thief (Thirteen Witches #1) Cover Image

“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


Midsummer's Mayhem Cover Image

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!


Race to the Sun Cover Image

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Indigenous fantasy writer Rebecca Roanhorse's thrilling adventure about a Navajo girl who discovers she's a monsterslayer.


The Storm Runner Cover Image

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents J.C. Cervantes' take on Maya mythology featuring a boy who has to stop the god of death.


Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (A Tristan Strong Novel, Book 1) Cover Image

Winner of a Coretta Scott King Author Honor
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 Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell Cover Image

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.


Sisters of the Neversea Cover Image

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&


Healer of the Water Monster Cover Image

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.


The Firebird Song Cover Image

Debut author Arnée Flores spins an exciting and original tale about hope in even the darkest of places, perfect for fans of Shannon Hale.


Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Cover Image

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


Charlie Hernández & the League of Shadows Cover Image

“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


Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers Cover Image

A USA Today Bestselling book!
A Barnes & Noble Book of the Month!
A 2019 Kids' Indie Next List Pick!
A National Bestseller!


The Serpent's Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1) Cover Image

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


Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch Cover Image

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


The Wild Book Cover Image

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.


The Dragon Warrior Cover Image

"An exhilarating tale. . . Readers will be enthralled." --J.C. Cervantes, New York Times bestselling author of The Storm Runner


Bayou Magic Cover Image

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.


Voyage of the Frostheart Cover Image

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.


Dragon Mountain, 1 Cover Image

From the authors behind the critically acclaimed Sam Wu books, a thrilling new fantasy series about friendship, courage, adventure, and dragon magic.


Girl Giant and the Monkey King Cover Image

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.


The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez Cover Image

2021 Pura Belpré Honor Book
NYPL Best Book of 2020

2020 Evanston Public Library Great Books for Kids


When You Trap a Tiger: (Winner of the 2021 Newbery Medal) Cover Image

WINNER OF THE NEWBERY MEDAL NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE ASIAN/PACIFIC AMERICAN AWARD FOR CHILDREN'S LITERATURE

 
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.


Curse of the Night Witch Cover Image

A fast-paced series starter steeped in Colombian mythology and full of adventure, perfect for fans of Percy Jackson. Filled with fantasy, action, adventure, and an unforgettable trio of friends.

A Seventeen.com Most Anticipated Book of Summer
A Zibby Owens Summer Reading Pick on Good Morning America


The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga, Book One Cover Image

Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.


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Silverworld Cover Image

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.


Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow Cover Image

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.


The Magical Reality of Nadia (The Magical Reality of Nadia #1) Cover Image

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.


Root Magic Cover Image

“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 Cover Image

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


Keeper of the Lost Cities Cover Image

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.


The Girl and the Witch's Garden Cover Image

“[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 Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire #1) Cover Image

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.


Lintang and the Pirate Queen Cover Image

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.


Endling #1: The Last Cover Image

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. 


Spindlefish and Stars Cover Image

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.
And unspun.

Clothilde has lived her whole life in the shadows with her (sometimes) thieving and (always) ailing father.


The School for Good and Evil Cover Image

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL will soon be a major motion picture from 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 more! 


The Time of Green Magic Cover Image

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


The Magic Misfits Cover Image

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.


A Wolf for a Spell Cover Image

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 Language of Ghosts Cover Image

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.


The Threads of Magic Cover Image

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.


The Last Shadow Warrior Cover Image

Percy Jackson meets Thor in a laugh-out-loud, action-packed adventure inspired by Norse mythology.

Twelve-year-old Abby Beckett is proud to come from a long line of elite Viking warriors known as the Aesir. She's spent her entire life training to hunt the horrific creatures known as Grendels-the ancient foe of the Aesir-just like her mother did before she died.


The Last Windwitch Cover Image

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.


The Hidden Knife Cover Image

“Unique and gripping.”—Tamora Pierce
 


Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom Cover Image

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.