For real? Realistic fiction for middle grades

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by Michal Hope Brandon

Click here for Storify Chat Archive from January 27, 2014 #bookbootcamp

Genre Definition

Short version: Real kids with real problems solved in real world time.
Realistic fiction is writing that depicts characters and situations from today's world and society. The story could indeed happen now, at this moment. Every realistic fiction story could conceivably happen to real people living in today’s natural physical world. It focuses on real world issues and confronts the personal and social problems of growing up. Realistic fiction helps children/tweens/teens move toward a fuller understanding of themselves and others.

Read 3 titles from the following list (loosely categorized by subject*):

*Realistic titles often overlap with other genres (ex. humor, romance, mystery,) so you might see some duplication from previous months' reading lists.

School and Family
  • 101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies by Lee Wardlaw
  • Access Denied (and other error messages) by Denise Vega
  • Almost Home by Joan Bauer
  • Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel by Diana Lopez
  • Bessica Lefter Fights Back by Kristen Tracy
  • Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
  • Blogtastic series by Rose Cooper
  • Bluefish by Pat Schmatz
  • The Bully (Bluford series) by Paul Langan
  • The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale
  • Bystander by James Preller
  • Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon
  • Center of Everything by Linda Urban
  • Charlie Joe Jackson (any title in series) by Tommy Greenwald
  • Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
  • Destiny Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
  • Fourmile by Watt Key
  • Girl Stolen by April Henry
  • Griff Carver, Hallway Patrol by Jim Krieg
  • Hound Dog True by Linda Urban (upper elem/middle)
  • The Humming Room by Ellen Potter
  • Kepler's Dream by Juliet Bell
  • Laugh with the Moon by Shana Burg
  • Losing It by Erin Fry
  • Monica (any title in series) by Diana Gallagher
  • Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
  • My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula Freedman
  • One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Popularity Papers (any title in series) by Amy Ignatow
  • Runaway Twin or Stolen Children by Peg Kehret
  • See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
  • Silhouetted by the Blue by Traci Jones
  • Skinny by Donna Cooner
  • Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker
  • Too Cool For This School by Kristen Tracy
  • The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
  • This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy Cavanaugh
  • Tracing Stars by Erin Moulton
  • Unchained by L.B. Tillit
  • Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Hunting & Fishing
  • Wild Life by Cynthia DeFelice

Middle East Conflict(s)
  • Dear Blue Sky by Mary Sullivan
  • Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon McKay
  • Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai

Music & Arts
  • Audition & Subtraction by Amy Fellner Dominy
  • Guitar Notes by Mary Amato
  • How to Rock Braces & Glasses by Meg Haston
  • Notes From an Accidental Band Geek by Erin Dionne

  • Code Orange by Caroline Cooney
  • Heaven is Paved with Oreos by Catherine Murdock
  • The Boy Project by Kami Kinard
  • Brendan Buckley's Sixth Grade Experiment by Sundee Frazier

  • The Contender by Robert Lipsyte
  • Curveball The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick
  • Game Changers #1 or Game Changes: Play Makers by Lupica
  • Hoops by Walter Dean Myers
  • Pinned by Sharon Flake
  • QB 1 by Lupica
  • The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
  • True Legend by Mike Lupica

Spy Stories, Survival, and Thrillers
  • Code of Silence or Back Before Dark by Tim Shoemaker
  • Nine Days by Fred Hiatt
  • The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
  • Spy School (2012) or Spy Camp (2013) by Stuart Gibbs
  • Stranded by Jeff Probst

Written in Verse
  • Hidden by Helen Frost
  • Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes

Official Book Lists:

SLJ Best Books 2013 Fiction
SLJ Best Books 2013 Adult Books 4 Teens
YALSA's Teens Top Ten Page (YA and middle level books here) (not so official but a good list)

Amity Middle School blog
Books in the Middle: Reading for Middle School
Librarian in the Middle
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday picks
Mrs. Readerpants blog
Ms. Yingling Reads blog
Pinterest book displays
Realistic Fiction: Bringing Words to Life
Realistic Fiction for Middle Grades (older titles but has good content)
Realistic Fiction in Children's Literature (dated 2010 but good content)
StorySnoops: Children's Book Reviews and Suggested Reading Lists

Book & Movie Trailers:

Almost Home by Joan Bauer
Game Changers by Mike Lupica
Guitar Notes by Mary Amato
How to Rock Braces & Glasses by Meg Haston
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
Wild Life by Cynthia DeFelice

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