11 Girl-Centered Sci-Fi Novels for Middle Grade Readers
by Melissa Taylor
Transport yourself into worlds of space travel, aliens, robots, and not-yet-imagined scientific inventions where girls are the heroines of the stories. These exciting sci-fi adventures show girls who save the world, solve mysteries, and survive harrowing circumstances. We hope these books will be gateways into a new favorite genre.
The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole
Stella Rodriguez’s daytrip to NASA saddles her with an unconventional souvenir: a black hole that follows her home and wants to be her pet. At first, Stella doesn’t mind that the black hole sucks up everything he touches — until he sucks up Stella and her little brother. As Stella tries to figure out how to get back home, she also reckons with the black hole of grief that’s been in her life since her dad died. Original and science-obsessed, The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole is perfect for those new to the sci-fi genre.
The Starspun Web
In this thrilling story of the multiverse, Tess is adopted from Miss Ackerbee’s Orphanage by a mysterious Mr. Cleat, but not before Miss Ackerbee reveals some big news to Tess: ever since she was a baby, Tess could travel to parallel worlds. As Tess attempts to learn more about her strange ability, she also shields her secret from Mr. Cleat, of whom Tess is growing increasingly suspicious.
5 Worlds Series
This epic graphic novel saga follows three unlikely heroes — Oona Lee, An Tzu, and Jax Amboy — as they attempt to save their universe from extinction. No pressure! Each book takes place on one of five worlds, where the friends face impossible odds and unleash their unique talents in an effort to light each planet’s ancient beacon, the key to saving everything. Described as Star Wars meets The Last Airbender, it’s a wild ride with a plucky heroine at the center.
Related: Books Like Percy Jackson: 14 Super Series to Read Next
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
Another charming read that blends sci-fi elements with realism, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl follows 12-year-old Lucy Callahan, whose brain received a supercharge when she was struck by lightning four years ago. Content to spend her days among math textbooks, Lucy’s grandmother insists that she attend middle school and try to make a friend. Lucy’s not so sure she knows how to make friends anymore, or that she wants one. Is it possible that this time, her grandmother knows more than Lucy does?
The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day
Maisie is a science whiz, and she’s working on building her own nuclear reactor. But when her tenth birthday rolls around, Maisie wakes up to... nothing. An empty house surrounded by endless blackness. What’s happened? And how she can fix it? A back-of-book addendum from the author explains all the science behind this thrilling, moving story, including scientific concepts like relativity and infinity.
Nicola Berry Series
Fast-paced and funny, Nicola Berry’s space adventures keep her out of school and on missions with her “Space Brigade” friends. In the first book, she is chosen as the Earthling Ambassador who must visit Earth’s evil princess and convince her to stop destroying Earth with galactic garbage.
When You Reach Me
Miranda, a sixth grader living in New York City in the late 1970s, receives a series of anonymous future-predicting notes that tell her someone is going to die. Whoever is leaving the notes seems to know everything about Miranda, including things that haven’t happened yet. Whose life is in danger? And why does Miranda need to write letters back?
A Problematic Paradox
When Nikola’s dad is kidnapped, she’s taken to The School, an intellectual boarding school for geniuses (including alien species) that is a better fit than her old one. The science is right up her alley and Nikola makes a friend. She learns she has a special, dangerous ability — to manipulate quantum agar — which may either help or hurt The School’s defense against the Old Ones' attack. This is a funny story with nonstop action, plus inventive gadgets and imaginative world-building. (Also check out The Unspeakable Unknown, the heartwarming and hilarious companion to A Problematic Paradox.)
Lucy and the Rocket DogAvailable from:
Space-loving Lucy builds a rocket in her backyard. But her loyal dog, Laika, accidentally launches the rocket instead, leaving Lucy behind. Told from both the girl and the dog’s perspectives, this sweet, time-bending story of space and friendship centers on Lucy’s lifelong quest to be reunited with her beloved dog.Available from:
Project: Terra Series
Elara’s thrilled to be at the prestigious school for terraforming, the art of building new worlds to support human life. There, she experiences many misadventures, including a dangerous school field trip and a special project that blows up. Nevertheless, Elara builds new friendships that show her willingness to accept all species. Things really start to heat up in the second installment of the series, Bites Back, when Elara finds herself on a major school-saving mission.
The Fourteenth Goldfish
After his own scientific discovery reversed his age, Ellie’s grandfather Melvin is 13 ... again. Since he can’t get access into his laboratory (because he’s a kid), Melvin moves in with Ellie and her mom. Readers will laugh at this grumpy old man trapped in a 13-year-old’s body. Despite his cantankerous personality, he and Ellie share in their love of science. This quirky story deftly addresses family, ethics in science, and growing up.
Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2020.