Under the Stars: 10 Awesome New Books Recommended by REAL Middle & Elementary Schoolers


It can feel daunting to choose books for kids during those years between about second grade and seventh grade. Everyone’s figuring out this reading thing at their own pace; some are taking to it like a fish to water, and others are still just getting their toes wet. Plus, just because a rockstar reader can understand the words on a page doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready for a book’s content (whether it’s a too-scary ghost story, a bunch of gross-out jokes, or something just a little too grown-up). Then there are kids who claim they don’t like to read at all! We know, we know . . . and we’re here to help.

To come up with this list of great books, our books for young readers manager, Stephanie Appell, enlisted two bonafide, certified, real-live kids: our intern, 7th grade Cameron, and his little sister, 4th grade Gennie. Here’s what they recommend. (Click any title to read the official summary from the publisher or to toss it into your shopping cart!)

Cameron recommends:

The Dungeoneers

By John David Anderson
This book is about a farm boy who is good at stealing. His gift attracts the attention of a strange man who takes him to a school for warriors, wizards, and thieves. I loved the mystery and action in this book — it was amazing. I’d give it 10 out of 5 stars.

Circus Mirandus

When Micah begins to investigate the stories his grandpa has always told him about a magical circus he visited as a child, everything starts to change. This book hooks you in quickly and is really hard to put down.

Evil Spy School

When Ben Ripley gets kicked out of spy school, the evil spy school offers him a chance to join them for the biggest crime EVER. This book is a real page-turner, combining action, mystery, and comedy. I loved it.


Ratscaliber is about a kid who gets transformed into a rat. When he goes to Rat City, he takes the spork from the scone (like the sword in the stone!), and the adventure begins. I loved the humor in this story inspired by the legends of King Arthur.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia 

This book depicts the life of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, his wife, Alexandra, and their children: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei. This biography is unusual because it’s one of the only biographies I’ve read that tells more than one person’s story. I like history and action, so I love narrative nonfiction.

Gennie recommends:

Anyone But Ivy Pocket 

By Caleb Krisp, Barbara Cantini (Illustrator)
This book is about a girl whose name is Ivy Pocket, who is a very helpful, sarcastic, pretty girl. Just because of something that happens with some soup, she has the biggest adventure EVER! I can’t even list all the things I like about this book. It’s funny, thrilling, and awesome. Once you start the book, you need to read more, and when you’re finished, you’ll wish for a sequel.

Ms. Rapscott’s Girls

By Elise Primavera
This book is about four girls who have very busy parents, so they go to Ms. Rapscott’s School. I loved it. It is a really good book if you like adventure and funny-ness.

The Enchanted Files: Diary of a Mad Brownie

By Bruce Coville

Angus is a “brownie,” a little creature who helps kids do chores. He gets to go to a new house to clean a messy room for a girl named Alex. Then they find out they are both cursed! This book is funny and a page turner.

The War That Saved My Life 

My friend AJ recommended this to me. It’s about a girl named Ada who has a broken foot and a really mean mom. The setting is London during World War II. Ada leaves London with her brother to escape their mom and the war. While they are gone, they stay with a woman named Susan, and Ada finally gets to have fun. I couldn’t put it down.

Stephanie recommends one, too:

The Land of Stories: Beyond the Kingdoms 

By Chris Colfer

Not that there’s anything wrong with rocks, but you’d have to be living under one to not seen the huge waves Colfer and his rollicking fantasy series have made in the post-Harry Potter era. (This book is #4 in the series.) Colfer breathes new life into familiar folk and fairy tales, and young readers just can’t get enough! PS: For a limited time, we’ll have signed copies of all four books in the series.

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Looking for more ideas? Stop by anytime and let us help your young readers pick out some books they’ll truly love. Meanwhile, make sure you’re subscribed to MUSING, where our next “Under the Stars” list will feature fabulous new YA reads for young adults (and not-so-young adults who just love YA).