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60+ short middle-grade novels kids will love

60+ short middle-grade novels kids will love

I’ve been busy.

Noticing a trend in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook (YKNR) community of members looking for ‘short middle-grade novels’, I set out to write an article for the YKNR newsletter’s paid subscribers about what might be driving the interest, some bookseller recommendations and some insights from writers about the joys and challenges of writing ‘short’.

You can read it here (we have a free trial available so you can have a look at what we’re doing over there!).

But, of course, I also asked the wonderful YKNR community for its recommendations – specifically for middle-grade novels that are 240 pages or under – and, of course, our members delivered!

I’ve compiled a list below of those recommendations, indicating page numbers where available. Click the title to see more about the book or to purchase.*

Hope you find a great new book for your young reader here! Let me know if you do!

 

60+ Short Middle-Grade Novels (240 pages or under)

 

Middle-grade novels up to 150 pages

Miss Penny Dreadful (series) by Allison Rushby (144 pages)

Frindle by Andrew Clements (128 pages)

Kingdom of Silk (series) by Glenda Millard (96 pages) “Such beautiful books that treat difficult subjects so gently. The vocabulary, the descriptions make me stop reading to just appreciate them.” – Amanda

Annabel Again by Meg McKinlay (144 pages)

How to be the New Person by Anna Branford (128 pages)

Sea Glass by Rebecca Fraser (112 pages) “For 7-12 year olds. We loved it! (Was shortlisted in Readings Children’s Prize last year.” – Danielle

Uncle Xbox by Jared Thomas (64 pages)

Birrung The Secret Friend by Jackie French (144 pages)

Losing The Plot by Annaleise Byrd (144 pages)

Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid (144 pages)

Barney and the Secret of the Whales by Jackie French (144 pages)

Rowan of Rin (series) by Emily Rodda (138 pages) “Emily Rodda is the master of a whole story in a small novel.” – Gillian

 

Middle-grade novels 151-180 pages

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (162 pages)

Answers in the Pages by David Levithan (176 pages)

The Elephant by Peter Carnavas (180 pages)

Songbird by Ingrid Laguna (176 pages)

Blueback by Tim Winton (168 pages)

Rocket by Dave Lowe (180 pages)

The Dragon Defenders (series) by James Russell (180 pages)

 

Middle-grade novels 181-200 pages

Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo (192 pages)

The Barrumbi Kids (series) by Leonie Norrington (196 pp) “Actually my kids didn’t read this, but I did and loved it.” – Suzy

Aster’s Good Right Things by Kate Gordon (196 pages)

Ella At Eden (series) by Laura Sieveking (192 pages)

Michaela Mason’s Big List Of Worries (series) by Alexa Moses (192 pages)

Music for Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman (192 pages)

The Lorikeet Tree by Paul Jennings (192 pages)

The Reindeer and the Submarine by Beverley McWilliams (200 pages)

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (192 pages)

The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett (192 pages)

The Unstoppable Flying Flanagan by Felice Arena (192 pages)

 

Middle-grade novels 201-239 pages

My Brother Ben by Peter Carnavas (208 pages)

The Unlikely Heroes Club by Kate Foster (208 pages)

The First Summer of Callie McGee by A. L. Tait (208 pages)

Who Am I? by Anita Heiss (208 pages)

Huda and Me by H Hayek (208 pages)

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll, illustrated by Kay Wilson (208 pages)

When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park (208 pages)

Exit Through The Gift Shop by Maryam Masters (216 pages)

The Lost Library by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead (224 pages)

The Callers by Kiah Thomas (224 pages)

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (224 pages)

Surface Tension by Meg McKinlay (224 pages)

Tiger Daughter by Rebecca Lim (224 pages)

Berani by Michelle Kadarusman (224 pages)

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble (224 pages)

Cog by Greg van Eekhout, illustrated by Beatrice Blue (224 pages) “Has been popular in my school library with y7/8s.” – Amy

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson (224 pages)

The Mud Puddlers by Pamela Rushby (224 pages)

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo (224 pages)

 

Middle-grade novels 240 pages

Ferris by Kate DiCamillo (240 pages)

Ban this Book by Alan Gratz (240 pages),

Haywire: The Dunera Boys by Claire Saxby (240 pages)

Queenie In Seven Moves by Zanni Louise (240 pages)

Pippa’s Island (series) by Belinda Murrell (240 pages)

Liars (series) by Jack Heath (240 pages)

The Bravest Word by Kate Foster (240 pages)

Hamlet Is Not OK by R. A. Spratt (240 pages)

The Letterbox Tree by Rebecca Lim and Kate Gordon (240 pages)

Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender (240 pages)

My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva (240 pages)

Crookhaven (series) by J. J. Arcanjo (240 pages)

 


 

a l tait profileAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. My latest novel THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE is out now. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast and sign up for the Your Kid’s Next Read newsletter

*This post contains affiliate links. See contacts page for details

New A. L. Tait novel in 2025

New A. L. Tait novel in 2025

I’m excited to announce that I’ve signed a contract with Scholastic Australia for a new A. L. Tait novel, to be published in 2025.

I can’t wait to work once again with publisher Laura Sieveking and the rest of the Scholastic team – the same team who fell in love with Callie McGee and brought her so successfully into the world in 2023!

It’s my 10th contract and just as thrilling to me as the first one I signed all those years ago – though, these days everything is done digitally, meaning I have to get more creative with my photos…

I’ll share more details when I can!

In the meantime, if you haven’t read THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE, have a look!

Best middle grade books 2023

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

a l tait profileAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. My latest novel THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE is out now. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast and sign up for the Your Kid’s Next Read newsletter

Your Kid’s Favourite Read 2023: Middle Grade

Your Kid’s Favourite Read 2023: Middle Grade

It’s that time of year, when we ask the Your Kid’s Next Read community to share their young readers’ favourite reads of the previous 12 months.

This year, to make it easier to find what you’re looking for, we’ve broken our list up into categories share multiple lists of ‘favourite reads’ in different categories: picture booksearly chapter books (5-7), junior fiction (6-9), middle grade (10-13) and young adult (14+).

This post is all about middle-grade books, for readers aged 10-13 years old. There are some titles here that cross over with our junior fiction list, because kids come to reading at their own pace and stage.

Some of these books were published in 2023, some were not. One of the joys of a community like Your Kid’s Next Read is the ability for members to curate and create book lists that stretch way back through reading experiences, meaning any request or query results in a deep and thoughtful TBR pile on just about any subject.

Stand by also for Team YKNR’s favourite reads in 2023, coming soon.

These lists are great starting points when you’re looking for the next great read for your kid/s. Click the title to find out more about each book*.


 

YOUR KID’S FAVOURITE READ 2023: MIDDLE GRADE

AS NOMINATED BY THE MEMBERS OF THE YOUR KID’S NEXT READ COMMUNITY. FOR READERS AGED 10-13.

 

Best middle grade books 2023Waiting for the Storks by Katrina Nannestad

We Are Wolves by Katrina Nannestad

Runt by Craig Silvey (ill. by Sara Acton)

Keeper of the Lost Cities (series) by Shannon Messenger

 

Best middle grade books 2023Skandar (series) by A. F. Steadman

To say my bookworm devoured this is an understatement.” – Louise

Nevermoor (series) by Jessica Townsend

Desperate for the next book...” – Fiona

 


 

Best middle grade books 2023August & Jones by Pip Harry

Sunshine on Vinegar Street by Karen Comer

Selfie by Allayne L. Webster

The Lost Library by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

 

Best middle grade books 2023The Rebels of Mount Buffalo by Helen Edwards

A Murder Most Unladylike (series) by Robin Stevens

Miss Penny Dreadful (series) by Allison Rushby

Saltwater Boy by Bradley Christmas

 

Best middle grade books 2023Scar Town by Tristan Bancks

I put this on my 11-year-old’s Kindle after it was posted [in YKNR] and he hasn’t looked up since.” – Jane

Understanding Molly by Kelly-Anne Norman

A really interesting book whose main character has ADHD and ODD.” – Sara

 

Best middle grade books 2023The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

She read it for school, but it’s the book she’s still talking about.” – Corrie

Brotherband (series) by John Flanagan

Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks

 

Best middle grade books 2023A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson**

My daughter (12) really enjoyed it.”  – Michelle 

Cop & Robber by Tristan Bancks

Lion: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley

 

Best middle grade books 2023How To Be Prime Minister (And Survive Grade 5) by Carla Fitzgerald

A huge hit here.” – Anna

Rocky by Amanda O’Shea

The Last Dragonslayer (series) by Jasper Fforde

 

Best middle grade books 2023The Turnkey (series) by Allison Rushby

Chloe (graphic novels series) by Greg Tessier

Descendants (series) by Melissa De La Cruz

Twisted Fairytales (series) by Holly Hook

 

Best middle grade books 2023The Secret Library of Hummingbird House by Julieanne Negri

My 11 year old loved it.” – Clare

The Ghost Locket by Allison Rushby

Wylah The Koorie Warrior (series) by Richard Pritchard and Jordan Gould

 

Best middle grade books 2023Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin

My son loved it.” – Mayumi

Holes by Louis Sacher

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

 

Best middle grade books 2023The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell

[Our favourites are] all recommendations we received from YKNR, which we are thankful for.” – Rebecca

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

 

Best middle grade books 2023The Ranger’s Apprentice (series) by John Flanagan

We are nearly finished the series of 12 and my 10-year-old son is refusing to take a break between each book…” – Louise

Alex Rider (series) by Anthony Horowitz

Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden

 

Best middle grade books 2023The Wintrish Girl by Melanie La’Brooy

My 11 year old is eagerly awaiting the second instalment!” – Thora

Millie Mak The Maker by Alice Pung (ill. by Sher Rill Ng)

The Hotel Witch by Jessica Miller

 

Best middle grade books 2023Kay’s Anatomy by Adam Kay (ill. by Henry Paker)

(“A friend gave it to us for [my son’s] ninth birthday and it took us a while to get to it, but when we did, we both devoured it and have gifted it to others regularly since.” – Louise)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

 

 

Best middle grade books 2023The First Summer of Callie McGee by A. L. Tait

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

Twitch (series) by M. G. Leonard

I, Spy by Rhian Tracey

 

Best middle grade books 2023Astonishingly Good Stories (series) by R. A. Spratt

My son adores R. A. Spratt.” – Lana

Hamlet is Not Ok by R. A Spratt

The Lorikeet Tree by Paul Jennings

 

Best middle grade books 2023The Mud Puddlers by Pamela Rushby

Enola Holmes (series) by Nancy Springer

Epic Zero (series) by R. L. Ullman

Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell

 

Best middle grade books 2023Queenie in Seven Moves by Zanni Louise

Max Einstein (series) by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

The War I Finally Won by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

Lockwood & Co by Jonathan Stroud

 

Best middle grade books 2023Kip of the Mountain by Emma Gourlay

Percy Jackson (series) by Rick Riordan

Amari and the Night Brothers (series) by B. B. Alston

Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling

 

Best middle grade books 2023Special Forces Cadets (series) by Chris Ryan

Wonderscape by Jennifer Bell

City Spies by James Ponti

Ali Cross by James Patterson

 

Best middle grade books 2023Dogs of the Deadlands by Anthony McGowan (ill. by Keith Robinson)

E-Boy by Anh Do (ill. by Chris Wahl)

Klawde Evil Alien Warlord Cat (series) by Emily Chenoweth

Eragon (Inheritance Cycle series) by Christopher Paolini

 

Best middle grade books 2023Adventures on Trains (series) by M. G. Leonard, Sam Sedgman (ill. Elisa Paganelli)

Heroes of Olympus (series) by Rick Riordan

Friday Barnes (series) by R. A. Spratt

The Trials of Apollo (series) by Rick Riordan

 

Best middle grade books 2023Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan

Crookhaven (series) by J. J. Arcanjo

All The Wrong Questions (series) by Lemony Snicket

The Monkey Who Fell From the Future by Ross Welford

 

You might also like

Your Kid’s Favourite Read 2023: Picture Books

Your Kid’s Favourite Read 2023: Chapter Books

Your Kid’s Favourite Read 2023: Junior Fiction

 

*This post contains affiliate links. See contact page for details

**NB: publisher’s recommended reading age is 14+ 


 

Allison Tait on why children's literature mattersAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. My latest novel THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE is out now. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast and sign up for the Your Kid’s Next Read newsletter

Order signed copies of A.L. Tait books

Order signed copies of A.L. Tait books

It’s that time of year when our minds turn to books as gifts!

If you’re looking for Christmas, end-of-year, graduation, festive season or holiday gifts I’m here to help, with signed copies of any or all A.L. Tait novels awaiting your order!

That’s right. Signed copies, personally dedicated if you so wish, of the following (click the title to read more about each book):

 

The First Summer of Callie McGee

The Fire Star (Maven & Reeve Mysteries #1)

The Wolf’s Howl (Maven & Reeve Mysteries #2)

Race To The End Of The World (The Mapmaker Chronicles #1)

Prisoner Of The Black Hawk (The Mapmaker Chronicles #2)

Breath Of The Dragon (The Mapmaker Chronicles #3)

Beyond The Edge Of The Map (The Mapmaker Chronicles #4)

The Book Of Secrets (Ateban Cipher #1)

The Book Of Answers (Ateban Cipher #2)

 

CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE DETAILS AND TO ORDER SECURELY

 

Some fine print

Books are available to order only in Australia (sorry) and only until 14 December, 2023.

Each book costs $25 (including postage within Australia), and I’m happy to sign them personally to the recipient.

I’ve also got options for you to order all four books in The Mapmaker Chronicles series, both Ateban Cipher novels, and both Maven & Reeve Mysteries in different bundles.

Posting from the south coast of NSW, so allow up to five working days for delivery. Last orders 14 December at 5pm.

Thank you!

 

ORDER YOUR SIGNED COPIES NOW

 


 

A. L. Tait The First Summer of Callie McGeeAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. My latest novel THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE is out now. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast and sign up for the Your Kid’s Next Read newsletter

The inside story of ‘The First Summer Of Callie McGee’

The inside story of ‘The First Summer Of Callie McGee’

My new book, The First Summer of Callie McGee, is out now in bookshops everywhere – and I’m at home in that strange netherworld that is post-launch day.

Pre-publication day, the anticipation builds and builds, like those epic summer thunderstorms that press the very air down on you for hours before they finally burst into a light- and sound-show followed by furious drenching rain.

Unfortunately, publication day brings less of the light and sound and fury, and more the sound of boxes of books being opened in bookshops across the country and the slight rusting of pages as the books are placed upon the shelves.

The day after is just… business as usual. Except that I’m typing with my fingers crossed, hoping that readers will love Callie as much as I do.

 

The inside story of Callie McGee

In the headline, I’ve promised you the inside story on the book, but I think the best way to get that is to listen to me talk about it.

I’m the special guest on a veritable bonanza of podcasts this week, and each of them will bring you a slightly different perspective on this story and how it came about.

 

So You Want To Be A Writer

A. L. Tait talks about writing The First Summer of Callie McGeeFor a deep dive into the process of writing the book, from that first glimmer of inspiration to working through the complexity of creating the procedure of the mystery element, don’t miss my conversation with Valerie Khoo on So You Want To Be A Writer.

It was so nice to be back chatting to Val about all things writing and publishing. I spent seven years as co-host of this podcast, so sliding back into this space is like coming home.

But it’s a home where your Mum does not hold back on asking the hard questions, and I can always count on Val to keep asking ‘why?’ until I manage to articulate some part of my writing process that seems impossible to explain.

So we talk about the writing, we talk about wading into uncertainty and the memories of being 12, and we talk about re-drafting manuscript themes downwards. But we also talk about the very real challenges of establishing and maintaining a longterm author career.

You know you can count on us to be honest and get to the very crux of this stuff, so it’s worth a listen.

Find it here, or where you get your podcasts.

 

Words and Nerds

A L Tait talks about The First Summer of Callie McGeeThe thing I love about chatting with author and podcaster Dani Vee on the Words and Nerds podcast is knowing that the conversation will ramble its way into unexpected places and interesting revelations. And so it proved yet again.

We talked about The First Summer of Callie McGee, solving the puzzle of who we are and writing books outside our comfort zones.

But we also talk about publicity for authors from a journalist’s perspective, and how to find different ways to draw attention to your book – by thinking outside the box of your book, guest posting on blogs, making connections, getting your byline in the article, understanding the importance of booksellers and hand selling and the awesomeness of librarians.

If you’re a children’s author or would like to be one day, don’t miss this one!

Find it here, or where you get your podcasts.

 

KidLit Classics

If you haven’t discovered this podcast gem, you’re in for a treat! Hosted by author Samantha-Ellen Bound, KidLit Classics podcast invites contemporary children’s authors to discuss one book from their own childhood that made them a writer today.

I had the most wonderful time chatting to Samantha-Ellen about Callie’s Castle by Ruth Park. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while or listening to my various podcasts over the years, you’ll have heard this book come up before, but here we take a long, hard look at the beginning of my turret fixation.

To discuss the book, I had to read the book again and remain in awe of Park’s ability to create broad brushstrokes of a world, emotions and characters with a few fine details.

And yes, our characters share a name, but I swear this revealed itself to me only when Samantha-Ellen asked me to choose a book for this podcast episode. Until that moment, I hadn’t thought about Callie and her castle for years – but deep down in the part of the brain where fond memory lives, there she was.

I hope she’d like Callie McGee.

Find the episode here, or where you get your podcasts.

 

And an opportunity to ask your own questions

Writer’s Bookclub Podcast

The Writer's Bookclub A. L. TaitAuthor Michelle Barraclough’s Writers’ Bookclub Podcast has its own special twist on the author interview format – you get to ask the questions!

Michelle has chosen The First Summer of Callie McGee as her first middle-grade book to explore and dissect, and you can play along by reading the book and then posting any questions you might have for me about any aspect of writing the book to the group Facebook page before 15th August. (See How It Works here)

Michelle and I have a date later this month to interview an episode for the podcast where she asks me all your questions.

All the details on how to join in here.


 

A. L. Tait The First Summer of Callie McGeeAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries, and my latest novel ‘The First Summer of Callie McGee’. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast!

 

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