By Guest Blogger Ellen Bryant Lloyd 

As a long-time book lover, it is often difficult to select a group of books to recommend from the seemingly endless list of great titles from which to choose. Between wonderful classic titles and excellent new releases, I could share a long list each day. This month, I am happy to share suggestions for middle grade and chapter books. I included a list of additional titles because there were so many I wanted to share.

Once children have “mastered” picture books (at least from their perspective) they are ready for chapter books and then the longer reads of older elementary and middle grade titles. It is exciting to see the interest of early readers grow and become immersed in the world of books. My feeling has always been that early, engaged usually readers grow up to become lifelong readers. Finding books that interest children from an early age is the key to them becoming long-term readers. This list will hopefully lead you to one or more titles your child(ren) will enjoy along their path to cultivating a lifetime love of reading!

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker
Sara Pennypacker, highly acclaimed author of the Clementine series, has wowed readers again with her Newberry Award nominee, Here in the Real World. This story features Ware and Jolene, a duo who meet at Rec camp. Ware’s summer plans are to hang in “is own world” where he can dream of Middle Age knights and Jolene is a mysterious girl who plants a garden in the rubble of an old church. Adventure for the two ensues when their sanctuary is threatened, possibly resulting in hero status being recognized in the end.

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
ZJ’s father, a former pro football player, is having difficulty with his memory and with his temper. They discover the challenges are due to head injuries sustained from his years of football. This title by National Book Award winner Jaqueline Woodson takes the reader on a journey of family, with a focus on grief and the power of memories.

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
This classic title is the first of five in the well-loved series. This story of imagination (or is it magic?) and friendship features Omri, a young boy who receives a plastic Indian toy from his best friend. Disappointed, Omri places the Indian in a metal cupboard that his great-grandmother once owned. He locks the door with a skeleton key. However, what Omri does not know is that when he turns the key, the plastic Indian transforms into a live man from another period in time. The two become friends and experience many adventures. Readers will want to check out all titles in the series.

The Great Escape by Kate Biberdorf
Calling all STEM-sters! This science-based adventure features Kate the Chemist who is faced with using teamwork and her science know-how to get out of an escape room. This book is part of a series — a great avenue to encourage children to cultivate an interest in science.

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk
This title, deemed “historical fiction at its finest” by The Horn Book, is a top pick by teachers. Wolk tells the story Ellie and her family who are forced by circumstances of the Great Depression to leave their home and begin life anew on Echo Mountain, a wilderness area that brings a life far different than they had previously experienced. After her father suffers a terrible accident, Ellie takes it upon herself to help him via the healing secrets of “the hag” who lives at the top of the mountain. It is there that she finds more than she expected. The New York Times Book Review says that “there has never been a better time to read about healing, of both the body and the heart.”

The Magic Tree House — the entire series by Mary Pope Osborne
Any and all titles from the Magic Tree House series is a “must have” for home libraries. Osborne has written over 100 books and through them, children have traveled all over the world and experienced amazing adventures. These timeless titles will teach and entertain readers, and most likely be read time and again. Learn more about these books at

Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

Truthfully, anything Rick Riordan writes is wonderful. His Percy Jackson and the Olympians series remains a favorite for middle schoolers, and the Heroes of Olympus series does not disappoint. These bestselling books feature Greek and Roman mythology mixed with modern-day characters — a formula well received and loved by children, and even adults.

Additional suggestions:
– Right as Rain by Lindsey Stoddard
– Sweeping Up the Heart by Kevin Henkes
– James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
– Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
– The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
– How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons
– A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline d’Engle
– Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce
– Tree of Dreams by Laura Resau
– To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
– Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
– NIkki on the Line by Barbara Carroll Roberts
– Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
– Holes by Louis Sachar
– Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
– The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor
– Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
– Up for Air by Laurie Morrison
– Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
– Wonder by R.J. Palacco
– A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee
– Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo
– The Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by JoAnn Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy
– The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
– Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater
Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

Ellen Bryant Lloyd is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue. Please visit and to learn more about Freckles. Ellen writes a blog about her perspectives on life and parenting at and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She lives in Greensboro with her husband and two children.

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