13 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.
Grace Needs Space!
This graphic novel puts an outer space twist on the classic summer road trip. Grace can’t wait for her excursion across the galaxy with her mom. But a series of roadblocks threaten to ruin what was supposed to be a fun and exciting vacation, and Grace must figure out how to salvage the trip.
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.
Plotting the Stars: Moongarden
An elite private school on the moon, a non-magical misfit, and a hidden garden filled with toxic plants make this sci-fi novel an excellent choice for fans of The Secret Garden. When Myra stumbles across a hidden lab with a garden at her school, she sets events in motion that change herself and her world forever. STEAM themes and an out-of-this-world setting will keep young readers glued to the page.
Show Us Who You Are
When a terrible accident puts Cora’s best friend in a coma, she is devastated — until a tech company lets her reconnect with her friend through a hologram. As she uses the technology, Cora suspects something isn’t right and digs for more information about the company. Dark secrets and dangerous agendas help Cora realize she must expose the company’s lies, no matter the cost.
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.
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12 to 22
Social media turns into a time-traveling device in this lighthearted novel from the bestselling author of the Fairy Tale Reform School series. When 12.5-year-old Harper posts to TikTok for the first time, she uses a photo filter that transports her ten years into the future! As a brand-new adult, Harper must navigate a different world filled with freedom, responsibilities, and unexpected surprises. Pick up a copy of The Retake by the same author for another upbeat sci-fi adventure.
Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone
Middle school takes an otherworldly turn in this thought-provoking mystery novel from the Newbery Award-winning author of When You Trap a Tiger. When her alien-hunting neighbor vanishes without a trace, Mallory sets out to find her. Using clues left behind in a journal, Mallory learns more about her neighbor and the truth behind her disappearance.
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?
Alien Summer #1
Send your young sci-fi lover to Area 51 with this action-packed series starter! Just when Viv resigns herself to a tedious summer in the desert, everything goes bonkers. A group of aliens escapes an underground bunker, pushing Viv and her new friends to become impromptu protectors of the base. The adventure continues in the sequel, Zoned Out #2.
Maya and the Robot
Maya is having a difficult time adjusting to fifth grade. But when she finds a discarded robot and fixes him up, she unknowingly builds the best friend she could ask for. Before long, the robot becomes part of her family. This adorable, STEM-themed novel is perfect for young readers who enjoy hopeful science fiction.
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?
Kids who loved Pax by Sara Pennypacker will also enjoy this sci-fi story about a girl traveling through a war-torn country with her robotic pet. Set on a farm in the futuristic United States, this story of hope and resilience during turbulent times will resonate with readers of all ages.
I Speak Boy
Jane Austen’s Emma heads to middle school with this retelling of the classic rom-com! Emmy tries to find a boyfriend for her best friend, Harper, but she never expects things to turn out so badly. So, when she finds an app that reads boys’ minds, she thinks her matchmaking missteps are over. But the app creates more problems than it fixes, and Emmy soon learns that technology and meddling in her friends’ love lives is a recipe for heartbreak.
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 2023.