Middle Grade Booklist 4-Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Disclaimer for those new to the blog:
This is one of a series of posts that sparked this blog, but it will be soon be updated and replaced by more specific categories that correspond to time period and/or theme. I have read many more books since this original post and I look forward to sharing them with you. I hope you’ll come back and visit!
The booklist continues with some of my all-time favorite books in one of my favorite categories (it's a category especially dear to my heart since The Hopper-Hill Family is in this same genre).
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Ten-year-old Opal Buloni and her minister father are new to the small town of Naomi, Florida, and her first friend is Winn-Dixie, a dog she meets in the local grocery store. Because of her new dog, she meets a host of other unlikely friends and comes to terms with some of the emptiness in her own life. I have read this book several times and I cry and laugh out loud every single time. I adore this story and DiCamillo’s writing is beautiful (be sure to also check out Tiger Rising and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane).
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Because Auggie Pullman was born with a facial difference that has shaped the way others see him, he dreams of being ordinary. Yet through the trials and joys of his first year of middle school, he discovers some extraordinary things about himself and those around him. Told through the perspective of different family members and friends, I love this beautiful story about the power of kindness and the universal desire to be understood. I read this book with a few teenage ESL students and they loved it as well. (I cry and laugh every time with this one, too.)
These sweet stories highlight the joys of friendship, sisterhood, small adventures, and life lessons. Every book in this series is wonderful and, though they are set in present day Massachusetts, they have echoes of Little Women and other classics running through them.
Even though Ramona is a kindergartner when the series begins, this is still a great series for middle grade readers (and adults). Cleary is truly funny, deeply insightful, and her writing has a simple beauty. I recommend skipping Beezus and Ramona (I think it’s the weakest book in the series and it feels disconnected), starting with Ramona the Pest, and reading through the rest of the series in sequence. By the end, it’s hard not to long to live on Klickitat Street with the Quimby family, Henry Huggins, Howie Kemp, and the rest of their community.