Best Books: Young Adult, Middle Grades, and Children

Yes, I absolutely had to combine the three into one post. It was just too hard to find lists that accurately distinguished between children’s, middle grades, and young adult reads. In fact, there may be no accurately distinguishing between them. See post HERE to get an idea of what I mean. And on top of whatever I said in that post about having lots of gray area, people just read differently, and no less so when they are developing. So there will always be arguments about which category a book falls in to–YA, MG or Children’s–but the truth is, many authors don’t write for the category (or even predate the categories), so the book is what it is. Also, there is great variation in human development and maturity in any of these categories because, well, think of the difference between a first grader and fifth grader, or a thirteen-year-old and an eighteen-year-old.

I did, however, attempt to split them into the three categories, myself, anyways. I am sure there are some utter fails. And there are most definitely repeats between the lists, for (I think) obvious reasons. I did my best. Also, this seems to be the Best Books area where there are more arguments about what makes all these root lists. Ah well! I embraced all the major lists I found, so there are sure to be a dozen or so stinkers mixed in with the real gems.

This list, as well as all my Best Books lists, is a mish-mash of several best books lists from around and about. They are in no particular order. Please excuse spelling, style, and repeating mistakes. It takes a lot of time to pull these things together, and the object is to create just a starting point for our own adventures in reading (and reviewing). Middle Grades is the shortest list because most of the time readers here can go up or down based on their abilities and maturity (despite subject and tone differences. Oi). I also stuck to chapter books, only, meant for at least upper elementary; no picture books here.

We can all enjoy a great book, right? Even if it’s meant for a fourth grader or a sixteen-year-old.

NOTE: I am NOT recommending any of these books for your child of whatever particular age! I have read only a small fraction of them and I can not speak to their content unless I have already reviewed them HERE. *Please educate yourself on the books that your child will be reading (just like TV shows or movies), or read with them.* Books make great parent-child discussion starters.

For reviews of all books already read and reviewed for this blog, see HERE. For reading recommendations, including Children’s/MG/YA and many books that are not on the following list, see HERE.

CHILDREN’S:

  • The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth GrahamePHANTOM TOLLBOOTH
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
  • The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin
  • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Zen Shorts, Jon J. Muth
  • Matilda, Roald Dahl
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia Maclachlan
  • Maze of Bones (39 Clues series), Rick Riordan
  • Ivy + Bean (series), Annie Barrows
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume
  • The Adventures of Captain Underpants (series), Dav PilkeyIVY AND BEAN
  • All-of-a-Kind Family, Sydney Taylor
  • The Arrival, Shaun Tan
  • Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate DiCamillo
  • The Birchbark House, Louise Erdrich
  • The Book of Three, Lloyd Alexander
  • The Borrowers, Mary Norton
  • Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
  • Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson
  • D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, the D’AulairesFROM THE MIXED UP FILES
  • Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends, Arnold Lobel
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
  • Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh
  • Locomotion, Jacqueline Woodson
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O’Brien
  • One Crazy Summer, Rita Williams-Garcia
  • The People Could Fly, Virginia Hamilton
  • Pierre, Maurice Sendak
  • Pippi Longstocking, Astrid LindgrenPIPPI LONGSTOCKING 2
  • Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary
  • Starry River of the Sky, Grace Lin
  • The Stories Julian Tells, Ann Cameron
  • Tales of Uncle Remus, Julius Lester
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963, Christopher Paul Curtis
  • When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
  • A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne
  • Amelia Bedelia, Peggy ParrishWINNIE THE POOH
  • Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  • Shiloh, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Boxcar Children, Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’DellROLL OF THUNDER
  • Maniac Magee, Jerry Spinelli
  • The BFG, Roald Dahl
  • James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
  • Stone Fox, John Reynolds Gardiner
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Beverly Cleary
  • The Trumpet of the Swan, E. B. Whitematilda
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (series), C. S. Lewis
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson
  • Little House (series), Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Louis Sachar
  • Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh
  • A Light in the Attic, Shel Silverstein
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
  • My Father’s Dragon, Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • Stuart Little, E. B. White
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963,  Christopher Paul CurtisWHEEL ON THE SCHOOL
  • Beezus and Ramona, Beverly Cleary
  • The Wheel on the School, Meindert DeJong
  • Caddie Woodlawn, Carol Ryrie Brink

MIDDLE GRADES:

  • A Wrinkle In Time, Madeleine L’Engle
  • Harry Potter (series; first half), J.K. Rowling
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
  • Anne of Green Gables, L.M. MontgomeryANNE OF GREEN GABLES 2
  • Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
  • Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume
  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney
  • Chronicles of Narnia (series), C.S. Lewis
  • Hatchet, Gary Paulsen
  • The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
  • Through My Eyes, Ruby BridgesCHRONICLES OF NARNIA
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (series), Lemony Snickett
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
  • Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
  • Holes, Louis Sachar
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Robert O’Brien
  • Rules, Cynthia Lord
  • A Single Shard, Linda Sue Park
  • A Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, Paul Fleischman
  • Charlotte’s Web, E.B. WhiteHARRIET THE SPY
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Kate De Camillo
  • Harriet the Spy, Lewis Fitzhugh
  • The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  • Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers
  • Percy Jackson (series), Rick Riordan
  • Frindle, Andrew Clements
  • Secret (series), Psuedonymous Bosch
  • The Yearling, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry
  • The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
  • Hatchet, Gary PaulsenTHE LITTLE PRINCE
  • The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkein
  • The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
  • The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
  • Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
  • Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
  • Anastasia Krupnik, Lois Lowry
  • Danny the Champion of the World, Roald Dahl
  • The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate

YOUNG ADULT:I AM THE MESSENGER

  • I Am the Messenger, Markus Zusak
  • Miracle’s Boys, Jacqueline Woodson
  • Uglies, Scott Westerfield
  • Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
  • (You) Set Me On Fire, Mariko Tamaki
  • The Raven Boys, Maggie Steifvater
  • Grasshopper Jungle, Drew Smith
  • The Catcher In the Rye, J. D. Salinger
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire SaenzCATCHER IN THE RYE
  • How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
  • Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
  • The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein
  • Summer of the Monkeys, Wilson Rawls
  • The Cat, Theodore Taylor
  • The Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare
  • Harry Potter (series), J. K. Rowling
  • The Hunger Games (trilogy), Suzanne Collins
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper LeeTO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD 2
  • The Fault In Our Stars, John Green
  • The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
  • The Lord of the Rings (trilogy), J.R.R. Tolkein
  • Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  • Looking for Alaska, John Green
  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  • The Giver (series), Lois Lowry
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series), Douglas Adams
  • The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton
  • Anne of Green Gables, L. M. MontgomeryLORD OF THE FLIES
  • His Dark Materials (series), Philip Pullman
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
  • The Princess Bride, William Goldman
  • Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  • Divergent (series), Veronica Roth
  • Paper Towns, John Green
  • The Mortal Instruments (series), Cassandra Clare
  • An Abundance of Katherines, John Green
  • Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes
  • Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay AsherCURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
  • Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Twilight (series), Stephanie Meyer
  • Infernal Devices (series), Cassandra Clare
  • Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ann Brashares
  • The Call of the Wild, Jack London
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John GreenHOWL'S MOVING CASTLE
  • Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
  • Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli
  • A Separate Peace, John Knowles
  • Vampire Academy (series), Richelle Mead
  • Abhorsen (trilogy), Garth Nix
  • Dune, Frank Herbert
  • Discworld/Tiffany Aching (series), Terry Pratchett
  • My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
  • The Dark is Rising (sequence), Susan CooperEARTHSEA
  • Graceling (series), Kristin Cashore
  • Forever…, Judy Bloom
  • Earthsea (series), Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Inheritance (cycle), Christopher Paolini
  • The Princess Diaries (series), Meg Cabot
  • Song of the Lioness (series), Tamora Pierce
  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Delirium (series), Lauren Oliver
  • Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins
  • Hush, Hush (saga), Becca Fitzpatrick
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Maureen JohnsonMISS PEREGRINE
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Ned Vizzini
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
  • The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
  • The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier
  • Just Listen, Sarah Dessen
  • A Ring of Endless Light, Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Truth About Forever, Sarah Dessen
  • Bartimaeus (trilogy), Jonathan StroudSOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES
  • Bloodlines (series), Richelle Mead
  • Fallen (series), Lauren Kate
  • House of Night (series), P.C. Cast
  • Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
  • Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn
  • Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver
  • Unwind, Neal Shusterman
  • The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
  • The Maze Runner (series), James Dashner
  • If I Stay, Gayle FormanTHE MAZE RUNNER
  • The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley
  • Crank, Ellen Hopkins
  • Matched (series), Ally Condie
  • Gallagher Girls (series), Ally Carter
  • The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale
  • Daughter of the Lioness/Tricksters (series), Tamora Pierce
  • I Am the Messenger, Markus Zusak
  • The Immortals (series), Tamora Pierce
  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Patricia C. Wrede
  • Chaos Walking (series), Patrick NessFEED
  • Circle of Magic (series), Tamora Pierce
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor
  • Feed, M.T. Anderson
  • Weetzie Bat (series), Francesca Lia Block
  • Along for the Ride, Sarah Dessen
  • Confessions of Georgia Nicholson (series), Louise Rennison
  • Leviathan (series), Scott Westerfield
  • The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer
  • The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Diana Wynne Jones
  • This Lullaby, Sarah Dessen
  • Gone (series), Michael GrantHARRY POTTER CHAMBER OF SECRETS
  • Shiver (trilogy), Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley
  • Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Betsy-Tacy (books), Maud Hart Lovelace
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred E. Taylor
  • Chronicles of Narnia (series), C.S. Lewis
  • Monster, Walter Dean Myers
  • The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne FrankWONDER
  • Looking for Alaska, John Green
  • Wonder, R.J. Palacio
  • The Sword in the Stone, T.H. White
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  • The Wonderful World of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  • The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier
  • Jacob Have I Loved, Katherine Paterson
  • Hatchet, Gary Paulsen
  • The Alchemyst, Michael ScottWONDERFUL WORLD OF OZ
  • Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar R. Burroughs
  • Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes
  • A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly
  • For Freedom, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • The Wall, Peter Cis
  • A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
  • The Illustrated Man, Ray Bradbury
  • A Wreath for Emmett Till, Marilyn Nelson
  • Every Day, David LevithanALICE IN WONDERLAND
  • Where Things Come Back, John Corey Whaley
  • Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
  • Blankets, Craig Thompson
  • Private Peaceful, Michael Morpurgo
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
  • Boxers and Saints, Gene Luan Yang
  • City of the Beasts, Isabel Allende
  • American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang
  • The Lost Conspiracy, Frances HardingeHIGH WIND IN JAMAICA
  • The Pigman, Paul Zindel
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
  • Boyproof, Cecil Castellucci
  • Fallen Angels, Walter Dean Myers
  • A High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes
  • The Tiger Rising, Kate DiCamillo
  • The Grey King, Susan Cooper
  • The Thief Lord, Cornelia Funke
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee StewartTHE CHOSEN
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
  • Sabriel, Garth Nix
  • Tiger Lilly, Jodi Lynn Anderson
  • Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Edgar Allen Poe
  • Whale Talk, Chris Crutcher
  • The Chosen, Chaim Potok
  • Ender’s Game, Orson Scott
  • Ender’s Shadow, Orson Scott Card
  • Shade’s Children, Gareth Nix
  • The Song of the Lioness, Tamora Pierce
  • So Yesterday, Scott Westerfield
  • Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
  • Dogsbody, Dianna Wynne Jones
  • Alabama Moon, Watt Key
  • Saffy’s Angel, Hilary McKay
  • The Chronicles of Prydain (series), Lloyd Alexander
  • Under the Never Sky, Veronica Rossi
  • Shatter Me, Tehereh Mafi
  • Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han
  • The Immortal Rules, Julie Kagawa
  • I’ll Give You The Sun, Jandy Nelson
  • Eleanor & Park, Randy Rowell
  • Legend, Marie Lu
  • Red Rising, Pierce Brown
  • The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
  • All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
  • Angelfall, Susan Ee
  • Since You’ve Been Gone, Morgan Matson
  • The Demon King, Cinda Williams Chima
  • The False Prince, Jennifer A. Nielson
  • Obsidian, Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Alanna, Tamora Pierce
  • An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir
  • Impulse, Ellen Hopkins
  • The Darkest Minds, Alexandra Bracken
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • Clockwork Angel, Cassandra Clare
  • Hopeless, Colleen Hoover

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