A Book (List) for Every Occasion

Over the weekend, America officially kicked off the 2016 holiday buying season with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and a whole lot of sales. If you’ve got children ages 8-12 on your shopping list–or just need a lot of books to keep them busy over that long winter break from school–here are some resources to help you find the perfect book:

The first place you go when you need a book recommendation is your local librarian, right? Well if not, it should be. But barring that, you can always look to the Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC) for their annual Notable Children’s Books list.

Note that their recommendation categories vary a bit from ours, with what we call middle grade being divided between Middle Readers (age 8-10) and Older Readers (age 11-14). This year’s titles include one of my favorites, The Thing About Jellyfish.

Although the finalists won’t be announced until January 1, the Cybils Awards nomination list has a lot of great titles for middle-grade readers. Books are nominated and judged by middle grade and young adult book bloggers. Don’t forget to check out the nominations for nonfiction and graphic novels.

Voting just closed on the Goodreads Choice Awards for 2016. This has grown into one of my favorite contests of the year because votes are cast by the readers themselves.


That’s not to say that I don’t browse the major contests when I’m looking for books for the kids on my list.

The Newbery Medal Honor Books are always a great place to look for the very best of the year’s children’s books and two of my favorites this year, Echo and Rollergirl, are on this list.




And the recently-announced National Book Awards are full of gorgeous titles, including the timely March trilogy by Congressman John Lewis.

I particularly liked the visual list of middle-grade titles put out by We Need Diverse Books and covering everything from nonfiction to humor to fantasy.

Still not finding what you’re looking for? Check out one of our book lists from The Mixed Up Files.

Where do you go to find book recommendations for your middle-grade readers?

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Julie Artz
JULIE ARTZ spent her childhood sneaking into wardrobes hoping to find Narnia. Now that she's older, people think that’s creepy, so she writes middle grade instead. Her stories for children feature the natural world, folklore, mythology, history, and all that is magical about those things. In addition to contributing to The Mixed Up Files, she works as a developmental editor for Author Accelerator, writes about local Washington history for Gatherings, contributes regularly to The Winged Pen, and is co-RA of SCBWI Western Washington. She is represented by Jennie Dunham of Dunham Lit.
  1. Oh, that’s a great addition, Jacqueline! Thank you! And I also should have mentioned SCBWI’s awards, The Golden Kite (http://www.scbwi.org/2016-golden-kite-winners/), and The Crystal Kite (http://www.scbwi.org/2016-crystal-kite-awards-announced/).

  2. This is a great resource, Julie. Thanks for putting it together. The CCBC also has book lists on many different subjects. https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/bibBio.asp