Book Hooks: Middle Grade Book Series

get kids readingThere was a time, when I couldn’t wait until I could stop reading the same book over and over again. What I wouldn’t give to have that back! Then my preschooler turned into a preteen with a busy life  that – at least according to her – had no room for nor interest in reading.


Unless, we found a book that she found irresistible. Even at 12, she still wanted – and we cherished – reading to her at bedtime. Granted, it wasn’t every night, but every night she asked for a book, we were there to share a book – and some precious quiet time.

Most of the reading came from us … but not all. She didn’t have the patience for reading or listening to Harry Potter, but she loved Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant books. On those occasions that we weren’t reading “fast enough” or we finished a chapter at lights out time, Catherine would opt for her own reading time. At the point she took the book from us, she was reading – immersed in a story AND happy to be staying up “late on a school night.”

Catherine’s book hooks were mysteries and adventure stories that usually had some type of cliff-hanger at the end of a chapter. You know your child’s interests best, and it may take some experimenting to find what works.

  • Don’t dismiss highly illustrated stories or graphic novels.
  • Use Read Alike lists for books similar to what your child already loves. See our list here.

Booksellers and librarians will have some great choices!

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Book titles, book covers, and series titles listed below link to

This list builds on some great and popular series you already know about: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, Raina Telgemeiers’ graphic novels, and Rick Riordan’s various mythology series.

Adventure + Mythology Fans

The Unbelievable FIB by Adam Shaughnessy

Wanna-be detective Prudence “Pru” Potts receives a mysterious postcard under the door that seems invisible to everyone else. Except ABE, the new student in her class who is her partner for a Norse mythology project. The never-ending thunder has the two 5th graders wondering if there is a connection with their project. They might just be right! Sample selected:

fantasy investigation bureau paul durhamOver the Underworld (Book 2): There is a lot to love about the Fantasy Investigation Bureau (FIB.) and this story about Ragnarök and norse folklore. Plenty of action; great mythology and mystery; and some sly humor, too. The characters are exceptional, and readers will see themselves in Pru and ABE.  Reading Tub review here.

These books must be read in order.

This links to the 2 titles this series.

Adventure w/ Historical Feel (Steampunk)

Carmer and Grit by Sarah Jean Horwitz

Felix Carmer III, the apprentice to a magician, doesn’t believe in magic. Princes Grettifida, a fairy with one wing, prefers adventure to being the heir to the Seelie Ralm. When the two meet on the streets of Skemantis (human town), an unlikely friendship and a quest to save their respective worlds begins. Sample selected:

carmer grit sarah jean horwitzThe Wingsnatchers (Book 1) Well-paced adventure, wonderful imagery, and great characters will charm readers. The “feel” of the story transports readers to a time when electric power was just coming online. The circus camp, Orbicle, and Arboretum, as well as the Vallows, are such vivid places. There is plenty of fantasy and adventure. Reading Tub review here.

These books must be read in order.

See this 2-book series here.

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

There is a lot to love this 3-book adventure, starting with Rye. Her authentic voice is strong, yet she thinks and voices her ideas with a 12-year-old’s brain. The mystery and suspense are well-paced, and readers are taken back in time to an English or Irish fishing town, complete with castles! Sample selected:

luck uglies paul durhamFork-Tongue Charmers (Book 2). The story is exceptional and the suspense keeps you turning the page. There were a couple of times when Slinister reminded me of Voldemort of Harry Potter fame, but just a few. He is most definitely his own evil self. Reading Tub review here.

You might want to read these in order, but it isn’t crucial.

Click here to see the 3 books in this series.

Magical Fantasy

The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee

For years, orphan Lottie Fiske has been sending and receiving notes by an unknown someone. The notes are left at the base of her favorite apple tree. Then one day, a girl named Adelaide comes to see her and uses that apple tree to take her to Iris Gate. Here is where she meets Fife Dulcet, who tells her about her family history, what it meant to be a Fiske, and her destiny to save their realm. Sample selected:

water and wild ormsbeeWater and the Wild (Book 1). Lots of adventure, plenty of plot twists, and of course a little magic. This is definitely a bedtime adventure meant to be read out loud. Reading Tub review here.

These books need to be read in order.

See the 3 titles in this trilogy here.

The Keepers by Ted Sanders

When Horace F. Andrews saw his name on the side of the building, he was curious. So he visited the House of Answers, where he finds a wooden box that he is inexplicably drawn to. According to a Mr. Meister,  the box is part of the Find: a process of becoming one with his magical object. Sample selected:

keepers ted sandersThe Box and the Dragonfly (Book 1). Suspense, a bit of creepiness, and plenty of unique magic and plenty of action drive this story. Horace (science geek) and Chloe (angry skeptic) are realistic, well-matched, and engaging characters. The magic had a Mary Poppin-ish feel to it: ancient and sometimes whimsical, but also with dark edges. Reading Tub review here.

Read these books in order.

See the 4 titles in this series here.

Star Wars + Wimpy Kids Fans

Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Dwight is not popular. In fact, he is the least popular kid in 6th grade. No one is totally surprised when he makes an Origami Yoda finger puppet and tries to talk like Yoda. BUT, when the puppet starts offering classmates some pretty good advice, people start wondering: does Origami Yoda have a connection to the Force?

origami yoda tom anglebergerThe Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Book 1) Entertaining, intriguing, and humorous, with an air of mystery that incorporates the best parts of a friendship drama. The crumpled notebook design also adds to the playfulness. It is Wimpy Kid-esque. Reading Tub review here.

Recommend reading these books in order.

See the 8 titles in this series here.


Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale

Graphic novel format introduces kids to historical events – some more known than others. The stories incorporate lots of facts, unique pieces of trivia, and humor, too. The illustrations make the books more appealing to students who characterize history as “boring names and dates.” Selected sample:

nathan hale hazardous talesBig Bad Ironclad! Did you know that the Civil War had a military technology race? When the North realizes that the South has gained a powerful new war-winning weapon, the Yankees must race against time to create their own powerful ironclad ship. Reading Tub review here.

Read these books in any order.

See all the titles in this 8-book series here.

Sunny by Jennifer L Holm

Sunny is excited about going to Florida to spend the summer with her grandfather. With Disney World so close, she didn’t expect to have to create her own entertainment. She becomes friends with Buzz, the only other kid in the area, and they make their own adventure. In the midst of the adventure is real life, and as Sunny shares with us, it isn’t always pretty or easy. Sample selected:

sunny series jennifer holmSunny Side Up (Book 1) Welcome to 1976. Meet Generation Z. Through Sunny, readers are introduced to life in the 1970s in ways that are meaningful to kids today. Young readers understand her thinking and her choices, even if they didn’t live in her world. Reading Tub review here.

The stories will make more sense if they are read in order.

See all titles in this 3-book graphic novel series.

2 responses to “Book Hooks: Middle Grade Book Series

  1. Wow! Fantastic list! I might get all of these, can’t see why I shouldn’t. My daughter is busy, but an avid reader so at times it’s hard to keep up with her on all fronts. But I can always get her to slow down and read a great book. I found Eileen Conway and her book Madame X, she loves this one!! I recommend it, a great lead character and the element of Magic and fantasy which is her fav.

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