A List of Love

Flickr image by @sahxic < twitter

In honor of Valentine’s Day, a list of middle-grade books with L-O-V-E in them seemed appropriate.   But what kind of love is found in a middle-grade book?

All kinds, I say.

There are books about family love, some about crushes, others with love for pets and animals.  I’ve even found some funny ones, and others where the love of the written word shines bright.

I’ve separated them into categories for easy reference.  I hope you find a title you heart as much as I do.


The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall

Description from Indiebound:

THE PENDERWICK SISTERS are home on Gardam Street and ready for an adventure! But the adventure they get isn’t quite what they had in mind. Mr. Penderwick’s sister has decided it’s time for him to start dating–and the girls know that can only mean one thing: disaster. Enter the Save-Daddy Plan–a plot so brilliant, so bold, so funny, that only the Penderwick girls could have come up with it. It’s high jinks, big laughs, and loads of family warmth as the Penderwicks triumphantly return.

The Great Wall Of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Description from Indiebound:

Lucy Wu, aspiring basketball star and interior designer, is on the verge of having the best year of her life. She’s ready to rule the school as a sixth grader and take over the bedroom she has always shared with her sister. In an instant, though, her plans are shattered when she finds out that Yi Po, her beloved grandmother’s sister, is coming to visit for several months — and is staying in Lucy’s room. Lucy’s vision of a perfect year begins to crumble, and in its place come an unwelcome roommate, foiled birthday plans, and Chinese school with the awful Talent Chang.

Her plans are ruined — or are they? Like the Chinese saying goes: Events that appear to be good or bad luck often turn out to be quite the opposite, and Lucy finds that while she may not get the “perfect” year she had in mind, she can create something even better.

More titles to love:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Gentle’s Holler by Kerry Madden

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


Philip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe by Bette Greene

Description from Indiebound:

Philip Hall is the cutest, smartest boy in the sixth grade, and Beth Lambert loves him. The fact that he beats her in classwork, sports, and almost everything else doesn’t bother Beth at first. Then she realizes that Philip might be best because she’s letting him beat her. Beth knows that she deserves to be number one–and she’s going to prove it!

Shug by Jenny Han

Description from Indiebound:

Annemarie Wilcox, or Shug as her family calls her, is beginning to think there’s nothing worse than being twelve. She’s too tall, too freckled, and way too flat-chested. Shug is sure that there’s not one good or amazing thing about her. And now she has to start junior high, where the friends she counts most dear aren’t acting so dear anymore — especially Mark…

More titles to love:

Fudge-a-Mania by Judy Blume

Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love by Lauren Tarshis

And a few with love as a subplot:

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Heat by Mike Lupica

Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head by Nancy Viau


Hotel for Dogs by Lois Duncan

Description from Indiebound:

The Walkers are moving to a new town, and staying with an aunt who’s allergic to dogs. Too bad for Andi and her brother Bruce, who love dogs — and happen to meet a stray that needs help. Soon, Andi hatches a plan, turning the abandoned house down the block into a hotel for dogs. But as more and more tenants move in, the secret gets too big to keep. Can the kids save their canine castle? Or will the hotel have to close?

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Description from Indiebound:

Unfortunately, Roy’s first acquaintance in Florida is Dana Matherson, a well-known bully. Then again, if Dana hadn’t been sinking his thumbs into Roy’s temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is intriguing: he was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and–here’s the odd part–wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy’s trail. The chase introduces him to potty-trained alligators, a fake-fart champion, some burrowing owls, a renegade eco-avenger, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails.

And a few more titles to love:

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Diamond Willow by Helen Frost

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson


The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Description from Indiebound:

In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this novel.

Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Alan Silberberg

Description by Indiebound:

MILO is the funny and poignant story, told through text and cartoons, of a 13-year-old boy’s struggle to come to terms with the loss that hit the reset button on his life. Loveable geek Milo Cruikshank finds reasons for frustration at every turn, like people who carve Halloween pumpkins way too soon (the pumpkins just rot and get lopsided) or the fact that the girl of his dreams, Summer, barely acknowledges his existence while next-door neighbor Hilary won’t leave him alone. The truth is – ever since Milo’s mother died nothing has gone right. Now, instead of the kitchen being full of music, his whole house has been filled with Fog. Nothing’s the same. Not his Dad. Not his sister. And definitely not him. In love with the girl he sneezed on the first day of school and best pals with Marshall, the “One Eyed Jack” of friends, Milo copes with being the new kid (again) as he struggles to survive a school year that is filled with reminders of what his life “used to be.

More titles to love:

Gossip from the Girls’ Room by Rose Cooper

Raymond and Graham: Dancing Dudes by Mike Knudsen

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald

And last but not least, LOVE OF WORDS:

Also Known As Harper by Ann Haywood Leal

Description from Indiebound:

Harper Lee Morgan is an aspiring poet, which isn’t surprising, seeing as how she’s named after her mama’s favorite writer, Harper Lee. And life is giving her a lot to write about just now. Daddy up and walked out, leaving them broke. Then Harper’s family gets evicted.

With Mama scrambling to find work, Harper has to skip school to care for her little brother, Hemingway. Their lives have been turned upside down, which Harper could just about handle—if it wasn’t for the writing contest at school. If only she could get up on that stage and read her poems out loud . . .

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Description by Indiebound:

Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it’s just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does.

Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoneixBird-her name is Rebecca-could be his first real friend. But as desperate as Jason is to met her, he’s terrified that if they do meet, Rebecca wil only see his autism and not who Jason really is.

More titles to love:

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Scumble by Ingrid Law

Word After Word After Word by Patricia Maclachlan

Do you know more titles where love can be found inside its pages?  Please share them with me in the comments below.  Let’s spread the love!

Elissa Cruz writes books for boys, but she’s not afraid of a little romance, either.  She is represented by Josh Getzler of Russell and Volkening, Inc.  If you’d love to learn more about her and her writing life, you can find her on her blog at elissacruz.blogspot.com.

Elissa Cruz
  1. Great list! Absolutely love it!!!

  2. What a great list. I love so many books on your list and now I’m going to try to read the ones that I haven’t. Love this. Thank you!

  3. I “love” this post about love in middle-grade books. Too often we associate love with YA or adult novels, but love is a big part of a middle-grader’s life, too–whether it’s for a person or an animal. Great list.

  4. I love this list, too! It’s great how you broke it down into different types of love. The two funny love books have been on my must-read list for a while–I can’t wait to dig into them.

  5. And I…LOVE this list!