#MGGetsReal

Hey, all! I honestly couldn’t be more excited to share with you a wonderful campaign effort, #MGGetsReal, in which five amazing authors have worked tirelessly to spotlight middle-grade books with tough topics, in hopes that kids who face real issues such as these will be able to see themselves within the pages of a book.

As a personal example, I’ll tell you, I was diagnosed with a hearing loss as a teen. I tried desperately to hide from it and pretend it wasn’t true. I felt ashamed and insecure. I wish more than anything that I could have met another kid like me, or even read about one. It might have kept me from losing so much of my confidence. And yet, I didn’t discover a book with a character like me until CeCe Bell wrote El Deafo. By then, I was an adult with my own family and had burned a lot of bridges along the way because people simply confused my lack of being able to hear them with me being a snob. I should have admitted my problem. I should have been honest. I shouldn’t have been ashamed. But I was.

It’s no surprise then, that this initiative is near and dear to me. I hope you’ll use the extensive list below to discover a book in which you too can see yourself or a child can see themselves. Please feel free to use the comment section below to recommend books for this ongoing list. And/or use the comments to tell us the happiness you may have witnessed when a kid was able to really connect with a book.

Huge shout out to the founding #MGGetsReal girls: Shannon Wiersbitzky (What Flowers Remember, Namelos, 2014; The Summer of Hammers and Angels, Namelos, 2011), Shannon Hitchcock (Ruby Lee and Me, Scholastic, 2016; The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, Namelos, 2013), Joyce Moyer Hostetter (Blue, Boyds Mills Press, 2006; Comfort, Boyds Mills Press, 2009; Aim, Boyds Mills Press, 2016), and Kathleen Burkinshaw (The Last Cherry Blossom, SkyPony Press, 2016) and myself, (Just a Drop of Water, SkyPony Press, 2014).

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**Note: Most of the titles below could fit into multiple categories on this list.

Abandonment:

survival strategies of higher power of lucky

empty places

hugging the rockbilly creekmore

Love, Aubrey

 

 

 

 

 

Snakes and Stones

gerties-leap-to-greatness

 

 

 

 

 

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave, by Jen White

The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron

Empty Places, by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

Hugging the Rock, by Susan Taylor Brown

Billy Creekmore, by Tracey Porter

Love, Aubrey, by Suzanne LaFleur

Snakes and Stones, by Lisa Fowler

Gertie’s Leap to Greatness, by Kate Beasley

The Crystal Ribbon, by Celeste Lim

 

Abuse (Verbal and physical):

call me hope

war that saved my lifeWe Want You to Knowtrue, sort ofthe-missing-pieces-of-me

 

 

 

 

 

       

Call Me Hope, by Gretchen Olsen

The War that Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (disability)

We Want You to Know (Nonfiction), by Deborah Ellis

True (…Sort Of), by Katherine Hannigan

The Missing Pieces of Me, by Jean Van Leeuwen

Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt

Jasper and the Riddle of Ripley’s Mine, by Caroline Starr Rose

What Jamie Saw, by Carolyn Coman

 

ADD/ADHD:

this is not the abby show

Joey Pizga Swallowed the Key

Eliza Bing is not a

cory stories

The Someday Birds

Bounders

 

 

 

 

 

This is Not the Abby Show, by Debbie Reed Fischer

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, by Jack Gantos

Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big Fat Quitter, by Carmella Van Vleet

Cory Stories, by Jeanne Kraus

The Someday Birds, by Sally J. Pla

Bounders (Series), by Monica Tesler (Autism)

 

Adoption/Foster Care:

one for the murphys

Everything on a waffle

greenglass house

half a world away

dara palmers major drama

pictures of hollis woods

 

 

 

 

 

hold fast

a tangle of knots

When Friendship Followed Me Home The PinballsThe Eighth Daypeas-and-carrots

 

 

 

 

Waiting to Forget

 

 

 

 

 

One for the Murphys, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (abuse)

Everything on a Waffle, by Polly Horvath

Greenglass House, by Kate Millford

Half a World Away, by Cynthia Kadohata

Dara Palmer’s Major Drama, by Emma Shevah

Pictures of Hollis Woods, by Patricia Reilly Giff

Hold Fast, by Blue Balliett

A Tangle of Knots, by Lisa Graff

When Friendship Followed Me Home, by Paul Griffin (bullying, abuse, cancer, death)

The Pinballs, by Betsy Byars

The Eighth Day, by Dianne K. Salerni

Peas and Carrots, by Tanita S. Davis

Waiting to Forget, by Sheila Kelly Welch

 

Alcohol and Drugs:

seventh wish

Rules for stealing stars

Sunny Side Up

Sparrow Road

Moon Pie

 

 

 

 

 

The Seventh Wish, by Kate Messner

Rules for Stealing Stars, by Corey Ann Haydu

Sunny Side Up, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Sparrow Road, by Sheila O’Connor

Moon Pie, by Simon Mason

 

Alzheimer’s/Dementia:

What Flowers Remember

Hour of the Bees

Trudy

Half a Chance

 

 

 

 

 

What Flowers Remember, by Shannon Wiersbitzky

Hour of the Bees, by Lindsay Eagar

Trudy, by Jessica Lee Anderson

Half a Chance, by Cynthia Lord

 

Anxiety:

The Nest

The World From Up Here

The Liberation of Gabriel King

The It Girl

 

 

 

 

 

The Nest, by Kenneth Oppel

The World From Up Here, by Cecilia Galante

The Liberation of Gabriel King, by KL Going

The It Girl, by Katy Birchall

 

Autism/Asperger’s:

Reinvention of Edison Thomas

Rogue

mockingbird

Rules

Anything But Typical

Marcello in the Real World

 

 

 

 

 

Rain Reign

 

 

 

 

The Reinvention of Edison Thomas, by Jacqueline Houtman

Rogue, by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine

Rules, by Cynthia Lord

Anything but Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork

Rain Reign, by Ann M. Martin

A Boy Called Bat, by Elana K. Arnold 

 

Blended Families:

Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

The Family Under the Bridge

Kinda Like Brothers

My So-Called Family

 

 

 

 

 

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, by Dana Alison Levy

The Family Under the Bridge, by Natalie Savage Carlson

Kinda Like Brothers, by Coe Booth

My So Called Family, by Courtney Sheinmel

 

Body Image:

The Second Life of Abigail Walker

NERDS

Fat Camp Commandos

Slob

still-a-work-in-progress

 

 

 

 

 

The Second Life of Abigail Walker, by Frances O’Roark Dowell

N.E.R.D.S. series, by Michael Buckley

Fat Camp Commandos, by Daniel Pinkwater

Slob, by Ellen Potter

Still a Work in Progress, by Jo Knowles (sibling eating disorder)

 

Bullying:

The Girl in the Well is Me

Wolf Hollow

Larger-Than-Life Lara

The Hundred DressesuntitledDinosaur Boy

 

 

 

 

 

Fetching

How my Private Journal became a Bestseller

 

 

 

 

 

The Girl in the Well is Me, by Karen Rivers

Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk

Larger-Than-Life Lara, by Dandi Daley Mackall

The Hundred Dresses, Eleanor Estes

Poison Ivy, by Amy Goldman Koss

Dinosaur Boy, by Cory Putman Oakes

Fetching, by Kiera Stewart (abandonment, mental illness)

How my Private Journal became a Bestseller, by Julia DeVillers (self-acceptance)

 

Civil Rights/Integration:

Ruby Lee and Me

Glory Be

Lions of Little Rock

Jericho Walls

The Watsons Go to Birmingham

Yankee Girl

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry

yard-war

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Lee & Me, by Shannon Hitchock

Glory Be, by Augusta Scattergood

The Lions of Little Rock, by Kristin Levine

Jericho Walls, by Kristi Collier

The Watsons Go to Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis

Yankee Girl, by Mary Ann Rodman

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, by Laura Shovan

Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry, by Susan Vaught (Alzheimer’s, death)

Yard War, by Taylor Kitchings

 

Deaf/hearing loss:

Waiting for a SignEl Deafo

Hurt Go Happy

Deaf Child Crossing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting for a Sign, by Esty Schachter

El Deafo, by CeCe Bell

Hurt Go Happy, by Ginny Rorby

Deaf Child Crossing, by Marlee Matlin

 

Death of a parent:

Eight KeysCounting by 7s

Secret Hum of a Daisy

What I Came To Tell You

Haunted House Project

Wild Things

 

 

 

 

 

Aim

be-light-like-a-bird

 

 

 

 

 

Eight Keys, by Suzanne LaFleur

Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

The Secret Hum of a Daisy, by Tracy Holczer

What I Came to Tell You, by Tommy Hays

The Haunted House Project, by Tricia Clasen

Wild Things, by Clay Carmichael

Aim, by Joyce Moyer Hostetter

Be Light Like a Bird, by Monika Schroder (bullying)

What Happened on Fox Street, by Tricia Springstubb

Dear Poppy, by Ronni Arno

 

Death of a sibling:

The Only Game

After Eli

See You At Harry's

Kira-Kira

A Summer To Die

The Distance to Home

 

 

 

 

 

Fig Pudding

 

 

 

 

 

The Only Game, by Mike Lupica

After Eli, by Rebecca Rupp

See You at Harry’s, by Jo Knowles

Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata

A Summer to Die, by Lois Lowry

The Distance to Home, by Jen Bishop

Fig Pudding, by Ralph Fletcher

 

Death of a Grandparent:

Genuine Sweet

The First Last Day

Sun and Spoon

Vilonia Beebe Take Charge

 

 

 

 

 

Genuine Sweet, by Faith Harkey

The First Last Day, by Dorian Cirrone

Sun and Spoon, by Kevin Henkes

Vilonia BeeBe Takes Charge, by Kristin L. Gray 

 

Death of a pet:

Seven Day to Goodbye

Maxi's Secrets

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Days to Goodbye, by Sheri S. Levy

Maxi’s Secret, by Lynn Plourde (bullying, finding your place in the world, blindness)

 

Depression and Mental Illness:

Small As An Elephant

Courage for Beginners

Some Kind of Happiness

Watch the Sky

Footer Davis Probably is Crazy

Chasing the Milky Way

 

 

 

 

 

Small as an Elephant, by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Courage for Beginners, by Karen Harrington

Some Kind of Happiness, by Claire Legrand

Watch the Sky, by Kristen Hubbard

Footer Davis Probably is Crazy, by Susan Vaught

Chasing the Milky Way, by Erin E. Moulton

 

Discrimination & prejudices (religious, ethnic, etc.):

Just a Drop of Water cover small version

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a Drop of Water, by Kerry O’Malley Cerra (bullying, social justice)

My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer, by Jennifer Gennari

The Sound of Life and Everything, by Krista VanDolzer

The Other Half of My Heart, by Sundee T. Frazier

Something About America, by Maria Testa

Unidentified Suburban Object, by Mike Jung

It Ain’t so Awful, Falafel, by Firoozeh Dumas

Every Single Second, by Tricia Springstubb

Blue Birds, by Caroline Starr Rose

Paper Wishes, by Lois Sepahban

 

Divorce:

Bigger Than a Breadbox

So Totally Emily Ebers

Dear Mr. Henshaw

Hatchet

Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom

 

 

 

 

 

Bigger Than a Bread Box, by Laurel Snyder

So Totally Emily Ebers, by Lisa Yee

Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen

Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom, by Susin Nielsen

 

Dyslexia/other learning diabilites:

Fish In A Tree

May B

Hank Zipper

Lightening Theif

Waiting for Normal

The Wild Book

 

 

 

 

Absolute Value of Mike

 

 

 

 

 

Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

May B, by Caroline Starr Rose

The Hank Zipper series, by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

Percy Jackson series, by Rick Riordan

Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor

The Wild Book, by Margarita Engle

The Absolute Value of Mike, by Kathryn Erskine

 

Ethnicity:

Blackbird Fly

The Warriors

Brown Girl Dreaming

The Road to Paris

The Whole Storyof Half a Girl

The Year of the Dog

 

 

 

 

 

soldier sister, fly home

 

 

 

 

 

Blackbird Fly, by Erin Entrada Kelly

The Warriors, by Joseph Bruchac

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson

The Road to Paris, by Nikki Grimes

The Whole Story of Half a Girl, by Veera Hiranandani

The Year of the Dog, by Grace Lin

Soldier Sister, Fly Home by Nancy Bo Flood (war trauma, finding your place)

 

Eyesight/Blindness:

A Blind Guide to StinksvilleA Blind Guide to NormalGranny Torreli Makes Soup

 

 

 

 

 

A Blind Guide to Stinksville, by Beth Vrabel  (Albinism)

A Blind Guide to Normal, by Beth Vrabel

Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, by Sharon Creech

 

Feeling like you’re a bad friend:

Extraordinary

Summer of the Gypsy Moths

 

 

 

 

 

Extraordinary, by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Summer of the Gypsy Moths, by Sara Pennypacker

 

Finding your Place in the World:

Nowhere Girl

Counting Thyme

Frazzled

 

 

 

 

 

Nowhere Girl, by A. J. Paquette (incarceration, drugs)

Counting Thyme, by Melanie Conklin

Frazzled, by Booki Vivat (neurosis, self-doubt)

The Charming Life of Izzy Malone, by Jenny Lundquist

The Looney Experiment, by Luke Reynolds

 

Following your dreams despite odds:

I Am Drums

Ballad of Jessie Pearl

The Dreamer

The Red Pencil

 

 

 

 

 

I am Drums, by Mike Grosso

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, by Shannon Hitchock

The Dreamer, by Pam Munoz Ryan

The Red Pencil, by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Out of Tune, by Gail Nall

 

Gifted:

Nerd Camp

Millicent Min Girl Genius

Solving Zoe

Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab

 

 

 

 

 

Nerd Camp, by Elissa Elissa Brent Weissman

Millicent Min, Girl Genius, by Lisa Yee

Solving Zoe, by Barbara Dee

Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab, by Bob Pflugfelder

 

Homelessness:

How to Steal a Dog

Homecoming

Death by Toilet Paper

Paper Things

heck-superhero

 

 

 

 

 

How to Steal a Dog, by Barbara O’Connor

Homecoming, by Cynthia Voight

Death by Toilette Paper, by Donna Gephart

Paper Things, by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Heck Superhero, by Martine Leavitt (abandonment, mental illness, suicide)

 

Illness:

The Honest Truth

Swing Sideways

Blue

Out of my Mind

Reaching for Sun

 

 

 

 

 

The Honest Truth, by Dan Gemeinhart

Swing Sideways, by Nanci Turner Steveson

Blue, by Joyce Moyer Hostetter

Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper

Reaching for Sun, by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

 

Immigration:

Home of the Brave

The Red Umbrella

Inside Out and Back Again

A Step from Heaven

Skating with the Statue of Liberty

Kiki and jacques

 

 

 

 

Enchanted Air

 

 

 

 

 

Home of the Brave, by Katherine Applegate

The Red Umbrella, by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai

A Step from Heaven, by An Na

Skating with the Statue of Liberty, by Susan Lynn Meyer

Kiki and Jacques, by Susan Ross

Enchanted Air, by Margarita Engle

 

Incarceration:

Mountain DogHarry Sue

Ruby on the Outside

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Dog, by Margarita Engle

Harry Sue, by Sue Stauffacher

Ruby on the Outside, by Nora Raleigh Baskin

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, by Leslie Connor

 

LGBTQ:

Five, Six, Seven, Nate

Lily and Dunkin

Gracefully Grayson

George

 

 

 

 

 

Five, Six, Seven, Nate, by Tim Federle

Lily and Dunkin, by Donna Gephart

Gracefully, Grayson, by Ami Polonsky

George, by Alex Gino

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:

finding-perfect

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Perfect, by Elly Swartz

Parental/Family Separation:

Operation Pucker Up

 

 

 

 

 

Operation Pucker Up, by Rachel Alpine

Motley Education, by SA Larsen

Forest World, by Margarita Engle (immigration)

 

Physical disability/disfiguration:

Wonder

After Ever After

Freak the Mighty

Fire Girl

soar

 

 

 

 

 

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio

After Ever After, by Jordan Sonnenblick

Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick

Fire Girl, by Tony Abbott

Soar, by Joan Bauer (heart issues, abandonment, adoption, death in the community)

Moonpenny Island, by Tricia Springstubb

 

Poverty:

Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society

Summer of hammers and angels

 

 

The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society, by Janet Sumner Johnson

The Summer of Hammers and Angels, by Shannon Wiersbitzky

Boys Without Names, by Kashmira Sheth (homelessness)

 

Self-Doubt:

The Sweetest Sound

Absolutely Almost

The Paperboy

 

 

 

 

 

The Sweetest Sound, by Sherri Winston

Absolutely Almost, by Lisa Graff

The Paperboy, by Vince Vawter

 

Sibling Rivalry/Relationships:

The Lemonade War

 

 

 

 

The Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies

Rules for Ghosting, by A.J. Paquette

 

Stepfamilies:

A Smidgen of Sky

The Thing About Leftovers

Two Naomis

Lexie

 

 

 

 

 

A Smidgen of Sky, by Dianna Dorisi Winget

The Thing About Leftovers, by C.C. Payne

Two Naomi’s by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick

Lexie, by Audrey Couloumbis

 

Suicide:

My Brother's Shadow

Nest

Avenging the Owl

Wish Girl

 

 

 

 

 

My Brother’s Shadow, by Tom Avery

Nest, by Esther Ehrlich

Avenging the Owl, by Melissa Hart

Wish Girl, by Nikki Loftin

 

Survivor’s guilt:

On My Honor

The Thing About Jellyfish

Lost in the Sun

Bridge to Terabithia

the-ethan-i-was-before

 

 

 

 

 

On My Honor, by Marion Dane Bauer

The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin

Lost in the Sun, by Lisa Graff

Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson

The Ethan I was Before, by Ali Standish

 

Wanting to fit in:

The Normal Kid

Sticks and Stones

Schooled

 

 

 

 

The Normal Kid, by Elizabeth Holmes

Sticks and Stones, by Abby Cooper

Schooled, by Gordon Korman

Ruby Reinvented, by Roni Arno

 

War Trauma:

Last Cherry Blossom

All the Broken PiecesComfort

Pax

Odin's Promise

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Cherry Blossom, by Kathleen Burkinshaw

All the Broken Pieces, by Ann E. Burg

Comfort, by Joyce Moyer Hostetter (illness, PTSD)

Pax, by Sara Pennypacker

Odin’s Promise, by Sandy Brehl (Death of a pet)

 

 

4 thoughts on “#MGGetsReal

  1. Hi, Kerry. An amazing book just came out yesterday about a child with Tourettes which touches on OCD and anxiety, as well as moving, inattentive parenting, bullying and friendship. It’s called FORGET ME NOT, written by Ellie Terry and it’s beautiful. It would be a great addition to your list.

  2. Thank you for including Snakes and Stones in your list. It’s quite an honor to be “lumped in” with such a great group of middle grade books and extremely talented authors.

  3. SUMMERLOST by Allie Condie could be added to this list as it powerfully talks about the death of a parent and death of a sibling.

  4. Thank you for sharing this incredibly important resource guide. I am grateful and honored that my story, Finding Perfect, was included in the list. While my book doesn’t officially come out until Oct. 18, there were many who read the arc and shared that they wished this story or similar stories had been around when they or their kids were younger as they had OCD and felt very isolated from their peers. Any time a child can see themselves on the page, they are one step closer to feeling connected. Thank you!

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