19 Must-Read Middle Grade Books of Fall 2018

by Devon A. Corneal

Background image credit: Smika/Shutterstock

This fall, as we look forward to a new school year, midterm elections, and the tantalizing glimpse of the holidays, don’t forget to nurture yourself with stories. When the world feels chaotic, retreat into the pages of books packed with sage wisdom, revitalizing friendships, adventure, fantasy, inventions, monsters (both friendly and menacing), and calls to action. Books remind us of our best selves and our highest aspirations and they give kids roadmaps for their present and future lives. We here at Brightly also encourage you to read along with your kids and talk about books together. You’ll be building bonds that will endure long after you finish the last page.

  • Tight

    by Torrey Maldonado

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    Bryan is a good kid who usually avoids drama and focuses on the things he loves, namely comics and superheroes. But Bryan soon gets pulled into his friend Mike’s world of risk-taking and trouble and has to decide if he has the strength to stay true to himself.
    (On sale: 9/4/18)

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  • We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices

    edited by Wayne Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

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    The world is a pretty divisive place these days, and finding ways to talk to kids about politics, social change, prejudice, racism, and the path to justice can be challenging. This collection of poems, letters, essays, art, and honest advice is a wonderful place to start.
    (On sale: 9/4/18)

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  • No Fixed Address

    by Susin Nielsen

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    Economic instability is a reality for many families in the United States, but stories about the lives of children living on the cusp of homelessness are far less common. With No Fixed Address, Susin Nielsen handles the shame and uncertainty of families living near poverty with genuine compassion, humor, and hope.
    (On sale: 9/11/18)

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  • The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

    by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

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    The title of this book alone is intriguing, but the story is even better. You’ll have to trust me that Brangwain Spurge is a character you’re going to want to get to know. He’s a historian, spy, and scholar and, well, there’s just no other way to say it, an elf. He’s supposed to bring the goblin lord a peace offering but may have started a war instead.
    (On sale: 9/18/18)

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  • Property of the Rebel Librarian

    by Allison Varnes

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    A list celebrating books should absolutely include a story about a girl who celebrates books, right? And June Harper is a girl who celebrates books — even books other people think she shouldn’t read. When June finds herself in the midst of a controversy over what books belong in her school library, she’ll stop at nothing to make sure she and other kids have the freedom to choose even banned books.
    (On sale: 9/18/18)

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  • The House with Chicken Legs

    by Sophie Anderson

    If your kids saw “Ant-Man and the Wasp” this summer, they may have had a few questions about who or what a Baba Yaga is. Lucky for you, Sophie Anderson’s new book has all the answers and an inventive story about a young girl named Marinka who chafes at her life in a house with chicken legs and a Yaga grandmother who spends every night helping the dead cross over to the afterlife. But when Marinka disobeys her grandmother’s strict rules, things go horribly wrong.
    (On Sale: 9/25/18)

  • A Perilous Journey of Danger and Mayhem #1: A Dastardly Plot

    by Christopher Healy

    Christopher Healy, author of the Hero’s Guide series knows how to tell a good story. He’s done it again with the adventures of a determined girl named Molly Pepper, pickle-seller by day, inventor by night. Molly is precluded from doing a lot of things in 1883 New York, but she won’t let anything stop her from joining the Inventor’s Guild in New York City and meeting the great inventors of her time like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. Before that happens though, she’ll have to discover who is behind a plan to destroy New York and stop them from ruining the city she loves.
    (On sale: 9/25/18)

  • Small Spaces

    by Katherine Arden

    Available from:

    If you like being scared, this book is perfect for darker fall nights leading up to Halloween. Things start off simple enough when 11-year-old Ollie steals a book that tells the story of a girl named Beth and a sinister man who grants wishes if you’re willing to pay his price. It’s only a book, after all. But when Ollie’s school bus breaks down and she is stranded in the woods at night, the pages of the book start to feel all too real.
    (On sale: 9/25/18)

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  • Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster

    by Jonathan Auxier

    Nan Sparrow is an orphan and master chimney sweep, who also happens to befriend a golem. You wouldn’t think an 11-year-old British girl would have much in common with a creature made of earth, but these two outcasts share a very special friendship that shows us just how important connection with one another is.
    (On sale: 9/25/18)

  • Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker: The Night Door

    by Frank Cammuso

    Graphic novel readers will be thrilled to jump into this story from Eisner-nominated artist and author Frank Cammuso. When Edison Beaker and his little sister, Tesla, discover that their family’s extermination company might actually deal with pests of a more fantastical nature, they unexpectedly find themselves on an out-of-this-world adventure, and wrangling monsters, no less. A quick-paced plot and plenty of wordplay and humor ensure that this series will be a hit with kids.
    (On sale: 10/2/18)

  • Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment

    by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

    Max Einstein is a girl genius — a real genius. Although she may or may not be related to her hero Albert Einstein. And even though she’s a homeless orphan who’s squatting in an unheated apartment over a horse stable in New York City, her big brain is about to take her on a global adventure as she and a group of eight other kids try to solve some of the world’s bigger problems, all while avoiding being kidnapped by a nefarious shadow organization determined to use their gifts for profit.
    (On sale: 10/8/18)

  • In Your Shoes

    by Donna Gephart

    Available from:

    The start of the school year can be scary, especially if you’re new or a little different. Miles is different — he worries about just about everything. Amy is new — and she lives over a funeral home, so making friends could prove challenging. When a bowling shoe brings them together, you know Miles and Amy’s friendship is going to be pretty amazing.
    (On sale: 10/9/18)

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  • Monstrous Devices

    by Damien Love

    A robot. An enigmatic grandfather. Magic. A dangerous trip across Europe. A possibly fatal mystery. This book has it all, and its robust sense of humor and a rapid pace are sure to keep even reluctant readers engaged. A perfect book for fall reading assignments, Monstrous Devices will keep you guessing until the very end.
    (On sale: 10/16/18)

  • Sanity and Tallulah

    by Molly Brooks

    Who says girls don’t read graphic novels? Kids will flip for this unconventional and wacky tale of two girls living on a rundown space station and the chaos that ensues when Sanity uses her impressive science skills to create a very cute but very adventurous three-headed kitten. When the kitten (named “Princess, Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds,” obviously) escapes, Sanity and her friend Tallulah have to find her before she destroys the entire station.
    (On sale: 10/23/18)

  • Two Roads

    by Joseph Bruchac

    Available from:

    Discovering things we didn’t previously know about who we are and where we come from can change our lives in an instant. That’s exactly what happens to Cal Black when he finds out that he is part Creek Indian. Set in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, this story beautifully blends real history with a fictionalized life of a young boy discovering his family’s history.
    (On sale: 10/23/18)

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  • Smithsonian: Timelines of Everything

    by DK

    Perfect for young history buffs, this highly visual book whisks readers off a series of journeys through time and space. It’s filled with over 120 timelines to show kids how we — and the world around us — got to where we are today.
    (On sale: 10/30/18)

  • Inkling

    by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Sydney Smith

    The creative spark can come in all shapes and sizes — even an inkblot with a lot of personality. When this black blob jumps off the page and into the Rylance family’s life, good things start happening. Everyone’s inspired, until Inkling goes missing. The illustrations alone are fabulous, but it’s the story of a family’s challenges and connectedness that make this story truly special.
    (On sale: 11/6/18)

  • It Wasn’t Me

    by Dana Alison Levy

    Finally, there’s a way for middle schoolers to experience the magic that was “The Breakfast Club.” Well, sort of. Six wildly different middle school students are called to school over vacation in order to discover who vandalized another student’s project. They aren’t happy. Until they learn that they may have something in common after all.
    (On sale: 11/13/18)

What are you looking forward to reading this fall? Share your thoughts in the comments!