Better Together: 10 of the Best Friendships in Middle Grade Lit
by Dena McMurdie
We all have those special friends from childhood. The ones that changed you, helped you grow, and were always there for you, no matter what. Middle grade books are full of beautiful friendships like these. There’s a lot we can learn from them — strength, forgiveness, courage, loyalty, love.
To be sure, the road to friendship can sometimes be riddled with potholes, but the characters in these books forge ahead, paving new and important pathways for themselves. That’s what makes these my favorite friendships from middle grade literature.
Lemonade and Tobin
Lemonade and Tobin make each other mad and hurt each other's feelings, but they need each other more than they know. It's only through their friendship and a common goal that they both learn to deal with the hand that life has dealt them.
Serafina and Braeden
Serafina doesn't relate well to people. In fact, she prefers to stay out of sight until she meets Braeden. He sees Serafina for who she is and treats her as a true friend would. Serafina is fiercely loyal to him in return. Together, these two can tackle anything.
Miss Drake and Winnie
This is probably one of the strangest friendships on this list, but it's also one of the most fun. Winnie inherits Miss Drake (a dragon) as a "pet" when her great aunt passes away, but Miss Drake thinks Winnie is her pet. Thus ensues a funny and whimsical story of a girl and a dragon, each trying to put the other in their place while they develop a strong bond that's all their own.
Mo and Dale
Mo is a fast-talking firecracker who can insert herself into any situation, including a murder investigation — while dragging her best friend Dale right along with her. These two friends are quirky and fun, sticking together through rough patches and learning from their mistakes. They'll do anything for each other, including facing down murderers and getting up early.
Jack and Early
Forlorn Jack meets a strange and brilliant boy named Early at boarding school. As these two boys head off on a Huckleberry Finn-like journey, they discover themselves, test their friendship, and learn to navigate their way back home.
Lorenzo, Paloma, and Marty
Eleven-year-old Lorenzo and his best friend, Paloma, have supported one another through thick and thin. Together they discuss their worries and hopes as they write heartfelt original songs, dreaming of forming a band and making it big. When Renzo adopts Marty, a pet pig who happens to think he's a dog, their duo becomes a trio. Then Pal heads to summer camp and, just as Renzo starts to feel a little lonely, ever-loyal Marty is there to provide lots of laughs and snuggles until she returns. Griffin's moving novel shows kids that friendship comes in many forms, and good ones are worth fighting for.
Ruby and Sarah Beth
Being best friends has always been as easy as breathing for Ruby and Sarah. But with everyone talking about school integration and their grandparents telling them to keep their friendship secret, the two girls face challenges they're not prepared for. Their friendship is about courage and forgiveness in the face of opposition and fear.
Cedar and Leo
At first, Cedar thinks Leo is just a nerd, but he quickly turns into a friend during the most memorable summer of her young life. Cedar and Leo work together, play together, and grow into different people together. Their friendship teaches them about sacrifice, kindness, and going the extra mile.
Jess and Leslie
Who doesn't love this friendship? It's one of those beautiful relationships that spring from two kids discovering that they're better together than apart. They challenge each other in imaginative and magical ways.
Ivan and Ruby
Ivan is a gorilla, but he's also much more than that. His connection with Ruby not only changes him and the way he looks at himself, but his entire future. Through their friendship, Ivan discovers that he can accomplish things he never thought possible.
What are your favorite friendships in middle grade literature? Let us know in the comments!