Middle-Grade Reads for Adults

Maybe you just want a short read for the weekend.  Maybe you’re looking for a read-aloud for your family, something to read alongside a child, or a book for your students that might hold your interest too.  Here are five fiction and five nonfiction middle grade books that can hold the interest of an older reader – whether a teen who needs a less challenging read, adult who wants to finish a book quickly, or a family wanting to read together. 


A Single Shard

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park.

While Park’s A Long Walk to Water has gotten more traction in adult reading circles, A Single Shard has an equally wide appeal.  This historical novel with suspense, drama, and pottery manages to feel real and relevant despite its 12th century setting.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.

This lengthy fantasy novel focuses on a young girl setting out on a difficult quest, but it also includes the perspectives of her parents left at home.  If you enjoy this one, there’s two more in the series.

A Time to Dance

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman.

This novel-in-verse about a dancer who is in an accident is beautifully written.  If this one appeals to you, Venkatraman has two other standalone novels as well.

The Birchbark House Cover

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich.

Although the main character of this historical novel about an Ojibwe girl is 7, the story will appeal to a variety of ages.  Erdrich brings the 1800s to vivid life.  If you enjoy this book, check out the rest of the series that follows an Ojibwe family through the generations.

UnLunDun resized

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville.

Due to the 578 page length, this MG novel has been frequently marketed to YA and adult readers instead.  While it might seem daunting, fantasy fans may wish this delightful twist on urban fantasy never ended.

Bonus Fiction: Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac.



El Deafo by Cece Bell, color by David Lasky.

This non-fiction graphic novel memoir re-imagines Cece Bell’s life as a rabbit who can’t hear.  She uses the graphic format brilliantly to explain hearing difficulties in a way that even adults can understand.  Plus, as a middle grade graphic novel, this is a fast read.

The Kidnapped Prince resized

The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano, adapted by Ann Cameron.

This adaptation of Olaudah Equiano’s memoir covers his life from his childhood through many troubles and adventures to his eventual return to England as a free man.  While this non-fictional story is adjusted for middle grade readers, it’s fascinating enough to also appeal to teens or adults.

Two Tickets to Freedom

Two Tickets to Freedom: The True Story of William and Ellen Craft, Fugitive Slaves by Florence B. Freedman, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats.

Don’t get turned off by the publication date or the Scholastic label on this book.  It’s certainly interesting enough to hold an adult’s attention, and this is the sort of history book that doesn’t easily become dated.  With fresh illustrations it could stand today.

A Special Fate Chiune Sugihara resized

A Special Fate: Chiune Sugihara: Hero of the Holocaust by Alison Leslie Gold.

Even if you’ve read about WWII before, this well-written true story of a Japanese diplomat who issued passports to Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust is probably new to you.  It’s also refreshing to read an account that isn’t centered on America or Europe.

Claudette Colvin Twice Toward Justice

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose.

The true story of the civil rights movement doesn’t begin and end with Martin Luther King, Jr.  Claudette Colvin was an instrumental figure both in the act of refusing to give up her seat and in the court case that fought Jim Crow – all while she was still a teenager.

Bonus Nonfiction: Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks, with Jim Haskins.


Author: colorfulbookreviews

I work in a library by day and parent the rest of the time. I am passionate about good books representing the full spectrum of human diversity for every age group and reading level. This blog is my attempt to help parents, educators, and librarians find the best children's books authored by or featuring characters of color.

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