Finding good middle grade books for kids who are reluctant readers is like looking for a needle in a haystack. With so many new releases coming to the physical and online shelves every month, scoring the perfect reads to engage and entertain tweens is no easy task. Whether they have competing hobbies, no patience for reading, or they don’t think reading is ‘cool’ anymore – we got you! Read on to find out what our all-time favourite middle grade books are.

Middle grade books are the perfect way for young readers to build a consistent habit and a genuine love for reading. Geared towards children ages 8-12, there are A LOT of great middle grade books – the trick is finding the perfect ones. We are here to help!

Here are our favourite middle grade books for reluctant readers

Geronimo Stilton series by Elisabetta Maria Dami

Does your child have a nose for adventure? Geronimo Stilton chapter books are the perfect lower middle grade companions, for kids aged 7-10. Translated from the original Italian, the world of Geronimo Stilton is set in a fictional universe populated by anthropomorphic mice, one of which is the titular character – an editor and publisher who works for the newspaper The Rodent's Gazette, and is continuously pulled into adventures against his will by his eccentric family.

What makes these books so appealing to middle grade readers is their use of illustrations and fun typefaces throughout the pages, as well as the moral lessons learnt in each book.

With special editions, graphic novels, and many different spin-offs, you can choose from almost 300 books set in the Geronimo Stilton universe – so you are sure to find one for any type of reader.

To start with, we recommend the very first in the series of course: Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye.

Buy Geronimo Stilton books here!

READING TIP: If your child gets bored of walls of text, look for books that are – while age-appropriate in content – make the reading of the text fun too: with colours, illustrations, or different typefaces.

Kensy and Max series by Jacqueline Harvey

An action-packed spy-adventure featuring twins Kensy and Max takes readers from Australia to London, from Rome to New York in mysterious, secret-ridden whirls. Where are the twins’ parents and what’s happened to them? And what are all these coded messages supposed to mean?

Kensy and Max books are filled to the brim with exciting adventures, made even more engaging by a range of spy tools readers are equipped with: maps, comprehensive character lists, glossaries of foreign terms and more. These inclusions give middle-grade readers aged 9+ the tools to follow the story while feeling like they’re spies too.

Buy Kensy and Max books here!

READING TIP: Entice your children to read certain books by taking them to meet the author! Hearing parts of a book read out or getting the chance to have a book signed will make it an even more exclusive experience. Jacqueline Harvey is an Australian children’s book author and a long-time supporter of Storyfest. Read our interview with her here!

Wonder by RJ Palacio

The protagonist of Wonder is Auggie, a 10-year-old boy with a genetic condition that makes him instantly different from the rest of his peers. The book chronicles his first year at a private school, but the trials and tribulations of any year 5 student is magnified by Auggie’s facial deformity – from bullying, sibling jealousy, and budding friendships, this book deals with a lot of emotions and experiences that young readers would be going through. Not to mention helping them see what life is like in someone else’s shoes!

While it takes maturity to emphasise with its protagonist and it’s therefore suggested for children 9 years old and over, Wonder has been a New York Times bestseller for over 5 years in a row, and for good reason!

Whether your child has a new classmate or friend with a disability, or know someone who is being bullied (or perhaps are being bullied themselves), this will be their favourite book in no time!

Buy Wonder by RJ Palacio here!

READING TIP: You might think that reading a book from the outsider’s perspective would alienate your child, but this is simply not true! By reading stories about a diversity of experiences, children become more empathetic. Read more on why you should encourage your children to read diverse books here. 

A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Daniel Handler

Written for an age group of 10 and up, A Series of Unfortunate Events follows the misadventures of three orphaned siblings in the care of a murderous relative, Count Olaf, as he plots to steal their inheritance and gets up to no good in as many ways as possible.

This is the perfect series for those little ones who are perhaps starting to feel not so little – it’s filled to the brim with dark humour and written in a sarcastic tone, exploring some great questions of morality. 

To borrow the words of the author himself, in response to the question ‘how old does a child need to be to appreciate Lemony Snicket?’: “It’s not how old, it’s the arrival of irony.”

Buy A Series of Unfortunate Events books here!

READING TIP: Tween and teen years are characterised by rebellious behaviour to some extent. Books that turn certain tropes upside down or go against the grain will be crowd favourites for precisely this reason. Find the books that provide something new all the while being age-appropriate, and you’ll have kids reading in no time at all!

Find more great middle grade books, and support Storyfest by purchasing books through the mentioned links!