Books for Middle School Children
Middle childhood is a phase when the kids start becoming more aware of their individuality, notice the changes in their body and are at the cusp of adolescence. This is the age when they start losing their primary teeth, get exposed to formal education for the first time and with that come across new people in their life. They also enter a new stage of cognitive development and tend to improve their logical skills, as well as short-term and long-term memory.
This is the time when they are at the epitome of exploring more and knowing more. Questioning often and being an active seekers of all sorts of questions that might appear out of experiences and observations in that time period. What could be better than cultivating the habit of reading to fulfill their curious minds?
Reading is a way to enrich these novice minds at their foundational stage and moreover to build imaginative skills, communication skills, emotional intelligence and promote a healthy brain development. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, graphic novels; the list is endless when it comes to what one can explore to begin with. However, middle age children can start with some interesting genres that are suitable and apt for their mindspace.
Literary genres for Middle School Children
Reading and reciting poetry is enriching for children and helps them in developing voice, pitch, volume, and inflection. It enhances the speech patterns and promotes creative expression in children from a young age. This type of expression can help them explore different ways of conveying their thoughts unabided by facts or logic of the concept. It gives the freedom to be subjective enough.
Here’s few books to start with a good poetic experience for middle aged children :
- Tan to Tamarind By Malathi Iyengar – This book is a collection of poems that cherishes all shades and tints of brown in Indian culture. It covers the beautiful illustrations and descriptions of henna on hands and feet at an Indian wedding, a sipping on a cup of cafe con leche and much more that entails little big events of our daily life.
- Poetry for Young People By Emily Dickinson – This book is the curation of some of Dickinson’s celebrated poems for children and with each poem comes a short glossary of words, that will help children in understanding poetry much better.
- Gul in Space by Richa Jha – This ones for the aspiring astronauts, aerospace engineers or just fellow space enthusiasts who like to wonder about the skies at night, the humongous stars they see and a supposed world beyond it. The poems are expression of lead character Gul, whose birthday is around the corner and she seeks to explore the universe, see the sun, the moon and the stars all together.
- Mirror by Mirror by Marilyn Singer – This entire book can be read in two ways, upside down both. Its a bunch of reverso poems that will add some fun while reading and increase the engagement of children who could get bored with linearity otherwise.
- Sit still by Karishma Mahbubani – This is a rhythmic journey of a little girl named Viji, who cannot stay at one place and her restlessness seems to have no solution at all!
Fantasy & Science fiction
This is the most exciting genre to be in since it puts forward stories of an imaginative world with unrealistic characters that would never exist on this planet ever! Its a roller coaster of emotions however with great write up that manages to humanise these extravagant spaces and characters and create a strong connection with their readers.
Most of the times, authors tend to fuse scientific concepts in a fantasy world. A fictionalized story wherein the setting and plot are centered around technology, time travel, outer space, or scientific principles, with or without the presence of aliens.
The list below is somewhat predictable with some of the usual names but also caters to the thought of great storytelling in fantasy and science fiction genre :
- Harry Potter Series – A famous instant classic and a must read for everyone who love to wander in imaginative worlds through books. Reading Harry Potter is a treat for many adults as well and you must ask them why. It has to do everything around world building, making us believe in that space throughout the eight sequences and keeping us intact with all the character progression that happens throughout the episodes. So much so that we tag ourselves as our likable characters and imagine ourselves being them for a while.
- Force of Fire by Sayantani Das Gupta – Rakkhosh, the leading protagonist, is trying to control her fire breathing powers while she must protect the Moon Maiden and save the demon realm from snake oppressors. Its an incredible adventure with witty and hilarious dialogues, having the commentary about colonialism and the effects it has on a land and its people.
- Amira and Hamza (The War to Save Worlds by Samira Ahmed) – Its a tale of siblings, Amira and Hamza, who when challenged to save the world from wrath of terrifying jinn, devs, and ghuls, use science and logic to do so.
- Cog by Greg Van Eekhout : In this fun science fiction novel, Wall-E meets The Wild Robot! In this five robots go on a mission to rescue their inventor from the corporation that controls them all.
- The diary of the space traveller and other stories by Satyajit Ray – This renowned auteur filmmaker donned many hats in his creative journey, which included writing children books as well. This creation of his has Professor trilokeshwar Shonku, whose diary entries are at the forefront having details about his fascinating inventions such as, Miracurall- a wonder drug that can cure anything; Annihilin, a pistol that can annihilate anything; and Remembrane, a device that helps people remember. Using his inventions, he goes on wild adventures such as a journey to Mars, battling a killer dinosaur, and time-traveling to meet man’s ancestors.
This genre of literature is highly influential for kids and adults alike because people often sought to look after real life examples for aspirations. Reading actual life journeys of highly noted people is inspiring and will help the children to get in some motivation to achieve what they dream of. Here’s few books that middle schoolers should attempt once if they are starting to think of exploring biographies –
- Six dots (A story of Young Lious Brialle) by Jen Bryant – A great book to start with to know what it is to be a blind boy who eventually ends up inventing a new language that will be of help to folks who have lost the sight or never had one since birth. Author Jen Bryant tells Braille’s inspiring story with a lively and accessible text, filled with sounds, smells, and the touch of Louis’s world. This goes hand in hand with Boris Kulikov’s inspired paintings that help readers to understand what Louis lost, and what he was determined to gain back through books.
- Portrait of an Artist : Frida Kahlo by Lucy Brownridge – This book covers the life story of Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican painter, who now has become a global fashion and feminist icon post her demise. It is displayed through her artworks and shows how she came to create some of the most famous paintings in the world.
- Little people, big dreams by David Attenbourgh – If you have seen ‘The planet’ and its wonderful series on television or netflix, you might be well aware of David Attenbourgh as he is very common among environment conservationists and this planet series has a separate fanbase amongst children. Little people, big dreams however is his life story and how he came up to become the well-known broadcaster and conservationist himself.
- Boy : Tales of childhood by Roald Dahl – This is the autobiography written by Roald Dahl himself about his own school time, living conditions in Britain around 1920s and 1930s and how his childhood experiences has led him to become children’s book author for lifetime ahead. However, this covers only partial journey of Roald Dahl. His another book named ‘Going Solo’ is in continuation to this book.
- Odd boy out : Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown – This book explores the not so glamorous and unknown parts of the great scientist Albert Einstein, wherein we get to know more about his childhood, his relation with school system, friends and his oddness that always made him different than people around him.
You cannot force children to read. It has to be exciting and adventurous. Something that pops up the enthusiasm and curiosity to know more, explore more through reading. Not everyone is an avid reader. However, graphic novels have the ability to attract attention of kids, even adults because of its visual profoundness and bare minimum text. Go through the following recommendations of some interesting graphic novels which will keep the middle schoolers hooked throughout the book.
- Where the wild things are By Maurice Sendak – A quite famous novel, this book has series of wonderful illustrations of the lead Max, who is a wild, naughty boy, and his explorations in his imaginary forest where the Wild things make him their king instead of killing him. This novel has been adapted in short animated film, opera, as well as feature length movie.
- Ordinary people can change the world by Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulos – This is the graphical version of short biographies of people who were revolutionaries and contributed in making the world a better place in their individual ways. It covers stories of people like Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Lucille Ball, Albert Einstien etc.
- Naturalist Ruddy by Rohan Chakravarty – This is the venture of Naturalist Ruddy, who unearths some of nature’s most fascinating mysteries in the forests of central India. You will get to know a lot about lesser-known animals, insects and organisms of India, and how they interact with their environment.
- Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani – This book explores the relationship of Priyanka Das, the protagonist of the story and her Indian-American mother who refrains to come back to India and does not clarifies the reason behind that. Eventually, when Priyanka finds a Pashmina shawl hidden in a suitcase, she imagines what her homeland might look like without really asking her mother about the same.
Sita’s Ramayana by Samhita Arni – This novel will provide a different perspective of Ramayana and will lead the child to see from Sita’s point of view. Narrated by the heroine Sita, it is a powerful meditation on the destiny of women, as they become pawns in the wars between men and kingdoms.
The list of books and genres keeps on increasing as one gets older. The purpose of this write up has been to introduce some new and some old interesting literary works that are suitable for middle age children to begin with! Especially, the genres that would fit for that age where their curiosity are fed well with right resources.