Our Top 9 Realistic Fiction books

Reading realistic fiction is a great way for young readers to learn to relate to characters and really delve into the world that books create. Check out these 9 realistic fiction books that are packed with life lessons and emotional connections for middle grade readers.

counting by 7s book cover

Counting by 7s: This beautiful story is of Willow Chance, an unordinary twelve-year-old who doesn’t quite fit in. When her beloved adoptive parents die in a car crash, her whole world is shifted and she has to learn how to navigate this dramatically changed life. Willow’s tale is one of loss and pain, but more importantly, one of triumph, love, self-discovery, and individuality.

freak the mighty book cover

Freak the Mighty: These two boys are not who you would expect to have a powerful friendship. Alas, the giant outcast Maxwell, and Kevin, who suffers with Morquio syndrome, defy the odds. While fighting bullies and navigating the challenges of middle school, the dynamic duo finds themselves on a variety of adventures. The lessons, tales, and themes throughout the book are both incredibly important and incredibly emotional.

Jelly Belly:Poor Ned is just eleven years old, and gets made fun of by the other kids at school for being overweight. Taunted with the nickname “Jelly Belly,” Ned doesn’t want to let down his grandma, who shows her love for him by feeding him delicious treats. Concerned, Ned’s parents send him to Camp Lean-Too, a “diet camp,” where he has to make friends and conquer his fears around food. A sweet story of personal growth featuring some hilarious episodes, it has refreshingly “true to life” dialogue and a great protagonist any kid can relate to!

the crossover book cover

The Crossover: This popular Newberry Medal and Coretta Scott King Award winner is sure to be a hit for any young reader. The poetic pages send you into the world of two twin brothers navigating their love for basketball, the perils of junior high, and the problems within their relationship with each other. The Crossover’s overwhelmingly positive views attest to its relatable yet powerful themes, words, and plotline.

rules book cover

Rules: Full of themes surrounding family, mental disability, adolescence, bullying, and love, Rules has lessons that everyone needs to learn. It follows a young girl through her interactions with her little brother, who struggles with autism, and the impacts his disability has on her life. She struggles to find herself as well as accept her family members as who they are, and the readers get to watch her grow in character in this beautiful, coming-of-age story.

Wonder book cover

Wonder: Auggie has been homeschooled his whole life because of the amount of surgeries he has gone through for his facial deformities. Now, starting middle school at a private school for the first time, Auggie encounters his own self-consciousness and the fear and hatred from other kids because of how he looks. He navigates self-love within the difficult environments he finds himself in, as well as teaching those around him the life lessons they didn’t know they needed to learn.

Stargirl cover

Stargirl: Stargirl is a puzzling teenager with a quirky wardrobe and a quirkier personality who captures the attention of the narrator Leo and his entire high school. After years of homeschooling, Stargirl is faced with the changing whims of high school popularity and bullying, and she struggles with wanting to make other people happy while still being herself. Winner of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, this well-loved story about nonconformity and spreading kindness will provide avenues for great discussion with your children.

out of my mind cover

Out of My Mind: In this novel, we get to hear the thoughts inside Melody’s mind, a girl who has cerebral palsy and can’t communicate anything to those around her. Some judge her, some think she’s stupid, and some think she has no ability to think on her own. She struggles with other’s opinions of her, including her parents, who were afraid Melody’s younger sister would be born with disabilities too. Through this unique perspective, we get to learn about those who we often judge without thinking, and perhaps get an opportunity to change our hurtful opinions.

Amina's Voice cover

Amina's Voice: This novel captures diversity, friendship, family, and growing up all in one. Amina is a Pakistani-American, and it is clear to her all the differences between her and those around her. She wrestles with decisions as to whether she should change herself in order to fit in in middle school, or cling to her family’s culture. When Amina’s mosque is vandalized, these anxieties are heightened, and this lovable protagonist works to discover who she is and who she needs to be.