It’s time for another summer reading list! This one is all about middle grade tweens and young teens. Read on for the top 50 epic books from every genre that will keep them reading all season long!
Of all the summer reading lists that I write each year, the middle grade one has to be my favorite. Even though I personally read more off the YA book list than anything, there’s just something about middle school fiction that makes me feel all warm and happy inside.
Tween books are filled with epic adventures of self-discovery. From magical stories like Harry Potter to hilarious coming of age stories like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, they flawlessly capture what it’s like to be stuck in the middle of childhood and adulthood.
While I’m a huge advocate of letting your kids choose their own books to read, if they’re not sure what to read, below are some fantastic recommendations for their own summer reading list!
Middle Grade Summer Reading List: 50 Epic Books for Tweens
Before we get started with our summer reading list for tweens, let’s go over a couple of quick details so you know what to expect below.
- Some of these books are part of a series and they may not be the first one in it. I’ve noted the series name, though, so you can start from the beginning.
- The majority of these books either came out in the last 90 days or are coming out before the end of the summer.
- I’m breaking the list up into genre chunks of 5 so it’s not so overwhelming. It’s hard since some books cross genres, but I tried.
Head’s up, this post contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase through them, I get a tiny commission at no extra charge to you. Also, while I’m working with the publishers of some of these books in other posts, no one has paid to be included on this list.
- Aru Shah & the Song of Death (A Pandava Novel Book 2)by Roshani Chokshi
- Keeper of the Lost Cities Box Set by Shannon Messenger
- Artemis Fowl Collection by Eoin Colfer
- Warriors: The Broken Code #1: Lost Stars by Erin Hunter
- The Spinner of Dreams by K.A. Reynolds (August 27th)
Remember above I said that I was working with a few publishers of books on this list? Well, Keepers of the Lost City is one of them. I currently have all seven books ready for my own summer reading enjoyment, and I’m really looking forward to diving in! The 8th book in the Keepers of the Lost City series releases in November, so now is a great time for your tween (and you!) to get all caught up on the adventures of Sophie, a 12-year-old with telepathic abilities.
Also, Artemis Fowl is on this list even though the last book came out years ago because the series recently relaunched with new covers, and because it’s finally getting a movie version.
Middle Grade Science Fiction Stories
- Dragon Pearl (Rick Riordan Presents) by Yoon Ha Lee
- Game of Stars (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #2) by Sayantani DasGupta
- The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander
- Maximillian Fly by Angie Sage
- Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (Sal and Gabi, #1) by Carlos Hernandez
Dragon Pearl is one of those books that transcends genres. While the Korean mythology story sounds more fantasy than sci-fi, it has a significant “space” element, hence the categorization. I’m a huge fan of Rick Riordan Presents because rather than write about mythology that he doesn’t really connect with , he uses his influence (and name) to help elevate books written by people who actually live in those cultures and grew up with the stories.
Epic Adventure Books
- Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
- The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
- Wild Rescuers: Escape to the Mesa by StacyPlays
- Last Kids on Earth Survival Guide by Max Brallier
- A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry
If your tween loves epic adventures with plenty of heart, I recommend The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise. The story follows the adventures of Coyote, who lives in a school bus with her dad ever since losing her mom and sisters. When she finds out that the park where they all buried a treasure box is about to be demolished, she plots to get her dad to drive her 3,600 miles back home in 4 days…without him even realizing he’s doing it.
Tween-Appropriate Horror Stories
When I was a tween, I was reading horror novels by Dean Koontz and John Saul, so “appropriate” isn’t really the right word. “Geared towards tweens” would be more accurate for these selection.
- The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner (Aug 6th)
- City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab (book 2 comes out in September)
- Doomsday (The Doomsday Series Book 1) by R.L. Gemmill
- The Gods of Lava Cove (Bonegarden Book 2) by Karsten Knight
- Serafina and the Seven Stars Robert Beatty (July 9th)
I loved Victoria Schwab’s melodic writing in “This Savage Song,” so City of Ghosts feels like a natural choice to top my list of tween-appropriate horror reads. Cass, a girl who can peel back the Veil between the living and dead, heads to one of the most haunted places in Scotland with her TV-host parents. What could possibly go wrong?
Tween Humor (Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid)
- Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney
- Trapped in a Video Game (Book 5): The Final Boss by Dustin Brady
- Mr. Lemoncello’s All-Star Breakout Game by Chris Grabenstein
- Big Nate: Payback Time! by Lincoln Peirce
- Middle School: Born to Rock (Middle School Series Book 11) by James Patterson
Although Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid is my top choice in this category, I talked about that in detail just a couple of weeks ago. James Patterson’s Middle School: Born to Rock is a very close second. In the 11th book in the series, Rafe Khatchadorian’s little sister starts her own girl band and needs his help. Will his crazy ideas work, or will things go horrifically wrong on all levels?
Coming of Age & Heartfelt Stories
- The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake
- Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
- Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
- To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitze
- Far Away by Lisa Graff
It’s hard to choose a favorite here, but I’ll go with The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James. It’s a touching story that’s just begging to be made into a movie. Sunny St. James decides she needs a new life plan to go with her new heart, and that includes connecting with her lost mother. The plan also includes “find a new best friend” and “kiss a boy,” but what happens when that new best friend IS a boy?
Manga & Graphic Novels
- Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale
- Hilo: Then Everything Went Wrong by Judd Winick
- Zo Zo Zombie, Vol. 3 by Yasunari Nagatosh
- Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall by Aaron Safronoff
- Disney Manga: Descendants – Evie’s Wicked Runway Book 1 (Disney Descendants) by Jason Muell
I’ll be honest, I don’t really know much about this genre. My son loves anime, but as far as manga goes, he mainly reads a webtoon called Unordinary by uru-chan. He absolutely loves it and looks forward to new installments every Thursday. From this list, though, I really love the cover of Sunborn Rising. The concept sounds really intriguing, too. The illustrated fantasy novel about the collapse of a land called Cerulean even has an app for interactive reading.
Historical Fiction for Tweens
- Anna Strong and the Revolutionary War Culper Spy Ring: A Spy on History Book by Enigma Alberti and Laura Terry
- The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods
- The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
- Pirate Boy of Sydney Town by Jackie French
- Stolen Girl by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Can a war save a life? When it helps you escape your abusive mother, I suppose in a way it can. That’s exactly what happens in The War That Saved My Life. Ada, a 10-year-old girl with a twisted foot and an even more twisted mother, sneaks along with her brother, who’s been sent away to keep him safe during WWII. She finds sanctuary, solace, and a new life with caregiver Susan. Will she be able to hold onto this new life, or will she end up back with her cruel mother?
Nonfiction: Biographies, Autobiographies and Such
- The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
- We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration from Civil Rights Leaders by Harry Belafonte
- Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum by Michael McCreary
- Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer by Emily Arnold McCully
- Fly Girls Young Readers’ Edition: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O’Brien
Although it’s geared more towards the older end of middle school through the teen years, Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic is a must-read for anyone both on the spectrum and off. For those on the spectrum, McCreary uses humor and wit to give them a relatable voice. Those off the spectrum get an inside look that helps them better understand ASD.
Nonfiction: Reference, Science, Nature, and Such
- National Geographic Kids Almanac 2020 by National Geographic Kids
- Can You Crack the Code?: A Fascinating History of Ciphers and Cryptography by Ella Schwartz
- Awesome Physics Experiments for Kids: 40 Fun Science Projects and Why They Work by Erica Colón PhD
- 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 3 by National Geographic Kids
- The Young Adventurer’s Guide to (Almost) Everything by Ben Hewitt and Luke Boushee
Beat back boredom, prevent summer brain drain AND give kids a chance to learn a science usually reserved for high school students with Awesome Physic Experiments for Kids. The 40 projects use materials that are easy to find, and Colón explains the theory behind them in a way tweens can understand.
With all these epic books for tweens, I’m sure your own middle grader won’t have any problem finding a few great selections for their own summer reading list!