Middle-Grade Book Recommendations – Friends and Family 

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Harbor Me

Written by Jacqueline Woodson
Ages 10+

From the Publisher:

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat—by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them—everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

A relevant and timely read, Harbor Me recounts the tales from six different students, all of whom are struggling with academics. When they are able to open up to one another about the daily challenges they face, they discover the healing which comes from sharing their own stories.

Dealing with a myriad of difficult, yet very real issues, Harbour Me opens the door for reflection on diversity and respect, as well as the powerful bonds friendship can forge.

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The Science of Breakable Things

Written by Tae Keller
Ages 10+

From the Publisher:

How do you grow a miracle?

For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific method. But Natalie’s botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that’s important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has hope.

Eggs are breakable. Hope is not.

Natalie has a secret plan for the prize money. She’s going to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids–flowers that survive against impossible odds. The magical flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. Because when parents are breakable, it’s up to kids to save them, right?

A compelling story of family and the refusal to give up, The Science of Breakable Things addresses the difficult and complex topic of depression with gentle accuracy. Natalie’s mother is turning into Not-Mom. Natalie is worried and sometimes even annoyed by the changes in her mother, but she isn’t going to give up.

While deftly navigating the effects depression can have on a family, this book remains both interesting and accessible to middle-grade readers, providing an excellent opportunity for discussion and is a reminder to never give in. 

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Written by Carl Hiaasen
Ages 8+

From the Publisher:

Some facts about Billy Dickens:
 * He once saw a biker swerve across the road in order to run over a snake.
 * Later, that motorcycle somehow ended up at the bottom of a canal.
 * Billy isn’t the type to let things go.

Some facts about Billy’s family:
 * They’ve lived in six different Florida towns because Billy’s mom insists on getting a house near a bald eagle nest.
 * Billy’s dad left when he was four and is a total mystery.
 * Billy has just found his dad’s address–in Montana.

This summer, Billy will fly across the country, hike a mountain, float a river, dodge a grizzly bear, shoot down a spy drone, save a neighbor’s cat, save an endangered panther, and then try to save his own father.

Like many of Hiassen’s works, Squirm incorporates humour and respect for nature, all while addressing the oddities of living with an unusual (and somewhat dysfunctional) family. This story is an endearing tale of forgiveness and family, incorporating anti-bullying messages and the need for wild places.

A great book for younger readers, Squirm is an adventure they will not want to miss!


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