Modern Middle Grade Reads for Fans of Judy Blume
by Janssen Bradshaw
If you grew up on Judy Blume, you know there’s never a BAD time for one of her books.
But this year is an EXTRA good time to introduce her books to your child with the release of the movie adaptation of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
And if they fall in love with her fantastic writing (and you know they will!), they’ll probably want more books like hers.
Whether you’re picking books for a new Judy Blume fan or one who has already blown through her entire backlist, here are some other terrific middle grade books that will appeal to Judy Blume fans – from suspense and mystery, to more challenging topics, there is something for everyone on this list!
I absolutely loved this story about a girl named Ellie who has always been shamed for her weight. The only place she feels safe and weightless is floating in her pool like a starfish — and luckily, she has her dad, therapist, and best friend by her side. When she recognizes the support she has, will she be able to grasp onto it, forget about her weight, and be unapologetically herself?
Raymie is heartbroken about her dad leaving town with a woman who isn’t her mom, but she plans to get him to come back. All she has to do is win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, which won’t be easy against the town’s best, Beverly Tapinski and Louisiana Elefante.
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a magician at bringing characters to life, and Fighting Words is no exception. This story is a heavy middle grade novel about a ten-year-old orphan, Della, and her older sister, Suki. Della depends on Suki for everything, especially protection from anything harmful. However, Della’s world crumbles to pieces when Suki attempts suicide. It’s an intense story about sisterhood and finding your voice.
The Stars Beneath Our Feet
Twelve-year-old Lolly hasn’t had it easy. His only brother recently died in a gang shooting, and Lolly and his mom are still recovering from the tragic event. On top of that, the pressure to join a gang is ever-increasing. Luckily, Lolly accepts an invitation to help build a Lego city for the community, which could keep him on the right path.
Seventh-grader Will Levine is much more comfortable at home, in his room, with his turtles. School and socializing are torture for him, so he dreads it when he is assigned to visit a boy named RJ at the hospital for a service project. RJ quickly shares his bucket list with Will, and as RJ’s condition worsens, Will completes the items on RJ’s behalf, no matter how uncomfortable they make him.
What About Will
Trace holds his older brother Will on a pedestal. Will taught Trace everything and is his number one confidant until Will suffers a football injury that leaves him with a facial tic and extreme depression. As Will falls into a deeper depression and more trouble, Trace grapples with what he should do with Will’s secrets.
Closer to Nowhere
When Hannah’s aunt dies, and her cousin Cal moves in, her seemingly perfect world comes crashing down. Cal is nothing but trouble in Hannah’s eyes. From Cal’s point of view, he is trying hard to fit in with his stories and humor, which nobody appreciates. Can Hannah and Cal work out their differences to make a happy home?
Obie is Man Enough
Finding your place in middle school is difficult, especially for transgender kids like Obie. Struggling with his transition, switching swim teams, and finding new friends, Obie tries his best to carve the right path for himself.
When Friendship Followed Me Home
Ben has been in and out of foster care, so building relationships with people isn’t his thing. Instead, he relies on sci-fi books until he meets Halley, a fellow book lover who convinces him to write a book with her. Halley challenges Ben to open up about his past, but will he be vulnerable enough to form a genuine friendship?
The Green Glass Sea
The year is 1943, and Dewey Kerrigan is on a train to go live with her scientist father, whom she has never lived with before. Her father’s whereabouts have always been kept a secret. When she reaches Los Alamos, New Mexico, she learns why — he’s working for the government on a top-secret mission that could completely change their lives!