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Timeless Middle-Grade Books

It's time for bed. You slip your feet under the covers. Your mother turns the light out. You say goodnight as she shuts the door. You listen. Her footsteps echo as she trods down the hall. You wait. One. Two. Three seconds. A minute. Five.

All clear.

You pull out your flashlight, flip the duvet over your head. And read.

What was it you were reading up well past your bedtime? Do you still have those books piled onto your shelves? Do you still read them, love them, care for them like they are your children?

I do. I don't read many middle-grade books anymore. I like to spend most of my time reading books I've never read before. There are just so many good books out there. But there are plenty of books that I will always be happy to return to over and over again. There are those that I am so lucky to have on my shelf. Many of which I spent all my "good grade" books and Barnes and Noble gift cards on as a kid. If you are looking for a middle-grade novel to spend your valuable time reading, you've come to the right place. Here's a good collection of them.

NOTE: not all of the books listed in the "books like it" are middle-grade books. Check books out before you read them or give them to children to read.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Release Date: The Lightning Theif: 2005/The Sea of Monsters: 2006/The Titan's Curse: 2007/The Battle of the Labyrinth: 2008/The Last Olympian: 2009

Pg. Count: The Lightning Theif: 377/The Sea of Monsters: 279/The Titan's Curse: 320/The Battle of the Labyrinth: 361/The Last Olympian: 381

Summary: The Greek gods of old are real. And so are all the stories. Including the ones where they impregnate every woman they see. This leads to demigods. Lots of them. Enough to fill a summer camp where those demigods can come and learn lessons that will help them to defend themselves. Because the monsters of old are real as well. And so are the titans. When Zeus's lightning bolt is stolen in the first book, it begins a prophecy relating to a monster of old that no one wants to see again. But Percy must defeat him and restore order if he wants to get any trace of his old life back.

Why I Like It: I loved a lot about these books. I loved the way that Riordan twisted information (the mythology of the Greeks) into a book. It was my first introduction to historical fiction (which this series is NOT) and fairytale twist (which is kind of close to what this series is). I fell for the idea of taking old stories and twisting them into new ones and loved how there were stories within the story of Percy Jackson. This series was why I took Latin in high school. A fan fiction I wrote on this series was the first novel I ever completed. And this series is probably why I now write fairytale twists. Ask me and I will tell you the funny story of where I got my current copies of the books of this series. It may or may not include a felonious Latin teacher.

Books Like It: Heroes of Olympus; The Land of Stories; The Kane Chronicles; Harry Potter;

Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Release Date: The Lost Hero: 2010/The Son of Neptune: 2011/The Mark of Athena: 2012/The Son of Hades: 2013/The Blood of Olympus: 2014

Pg. Count: The Lost Hero: 553/The Son of Neptune: 521/The Mark of Athena: 586/The Son of Hades: 597/The Blood of Olympus: 528

Summary: The Heroes of Olympus continues the story where Percy Jackson left off. It introduces the Roman versions of the Greek gods and the resulting Roman demigods. The Romans, of course, have a very different camp with an incredibly different lifestyle so when some Roman demigods show up at the Greek camp and Percy Jackson goes missing, all hell breaks loose. Not to mention the chaos when Gaia (that's right, mother earth) is trying to wake up and bring her giants to life. Can the demigods defeat their enemies? They're going to try but they might just need a little help.

Why I Like It: There was a lot more team energy in these books than in the first series. In the first series, Percy Jackson is very much the hero. He's a white male and while I loved the series and created to his girlfriend, Annabelle Chase I didn't have a protagonist to root for. In this series, there were so many options. You have females running into the fight with as much vigor as the males. You see their POV too. The characters work as a group to defeat the enemy and the reader can learn valuable lessons about the importance of working as a team.

Books Like It: Percy Jackson and the Olympians; The Land of Stories; The Kane Chronicles; Harry Potter;

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

Release Date: The Wishing Spell: 2012/The Enchantress Returns: 2013/A Grimm Warning: 2014/Beyond the Kingdoms: 2015/An Author's Odessey: 2016/Worlds Collide: 2017

Pg. Count: The Wishing Spell: 438/The Enchantress Returns: 517/A Grimm Warning: 448/Beyond the Kingdoms: 433/An Author's Odessey: 448/Worlds Collide: 480

Summary: Twins Alex and Connor have a favorite book just like the rest of us. Only, unlike the rest of us, their favorite book drops them into a fairytale world of stories where Cinderella and Snow White exist. Magic and happy ever afters are normal in the land of stories. But evil exists as well and the twins must stop it before it gets too far. That means defeating the enchantress, stopping invaders in their tracks, and more. Al the while, they must find their own happy ever afters whatever that might mean for each of them.

Why I Like It: When I started reading this series, it was only two books long. I loved it so much I wrote a book report (in the form of a newspaper) on The Enchantress Returns for my eighth grade English course. The Land of Stories was one of the first fairytale twist books I ever read and it is one of the reasons I still love fairytale twists today and write them myself. Colfer's Goldilock's character was an inspiration for my own. I loved the world he created where fairytales were true and anything could happen. He inspired me and his book lead me to others that inspired me more.

Books Like It: The Lunar Chronicles; Disney's Twisted Tales; Ella Enchanted; Fairest; The Fairy's Return;

The Fairy's Return by Gail Carson Levine

Release Date: September 19th, 2006

Pg. Count: 400 pg.

Summary: The Fairy's Return is not a single story but a collection of Gail Carson Levine's great fairytale-like stories. Levine spins tales with oiled glass pyramids and ladies with bugs flying out their mouths. The stories are funny and sweet with morals just like any fairytale would have. They are a great length for a longer bedtime story or for if you wanted to read a couple of chapters of a book before bed. Levine makes you smile and laugh and be inspired.

Why I Like It: Levine is one of my favorite authors. I discovered her a long time ago probably even before I started to read books like The Land of Stories and The Lunar Chronicles. I wouldn't quite call her stories "twists" on fairytales as you can't generally recognize the fairytale that she was drawing from. Her stories are more like their own tale. It is as though she is taking inspiration from every tale out there and wrapping it up with random things drawn from a hat (a pyramid!). I love her style, her humor, he morals, and the ease with which you can read her books.

Books Like It: The Land of Stories; Disney's Twisted Tales; Ella Enchanted; Fairest; Wicked

The American Chiller Series by Johnathan Rand

Release Date: The Oregon Oceanauts: 2010/Wicked Velicerapors of West Virginia: 2006/Vicious Vacuums of Virginia: 2010

Pg. Count: The Oregon Oceanauts: 208/Wicked Velicerapors of West Virginia: 201/Vicious Vacuums of Virginia: 208

Summary: The American Chillers series is a huge series. Most of the books have a letter theme (ex. Oregon Ocenauts, Vicious Vacuums of Virginia). The stories range from teens deep-sea diving to werewolves to clowns to all sorts of other things. My favorite was the Oregon Oceanauts and I have a copy of the book still but I enjoyed other books as well. To my memory, the books had good plot twists and descriptions that kept me on the edge of my seat. I was thoroughly "chilled."

Why I Like It: I read these books off and on as a kid. I wasn't into horror but I loved some of these books, particularly the ones that were more scientific. I could imagine myself going on the adventures the kids in the books went on and liked that I could go on them from a distance (and not come face to face with a great white in reality). There's such a good selection that there really is something for everyone.

Books Like It: Nancy Drew; Hardy Boys; 39 Clues

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