The best middle grade books about “chosen” families

Who am I?

I’m a teller of stories. When I was five, I charged my friends a nickel to come to my plays. I’ve been spinning yarns ever since. When a friend asked me why there wasn’t a book with a strong female character for her daughter’s age, I decided to write one and The Finding Home Series was born. I love chosen families. We have two birth children and four others we’ve collected along the way. Family doesn’t have to be blood; you can choose to love anyone. As a therapist, a school counselor, and the grandmother of adopted children I know the hardship children face and how a chosen family can make all the difference.


I wrote...

Bending Willow

By Jacci Turner,

Book cover of Bending Willow

What is my book about?

It’s about two orphaned sisters in search of a father who doesn’t know they exist. They must get from Reno to Idaho while avoiding the Amber Alert. Along the way, they mistakenly end up at Burning Man, an arts festival in the Nevada desert. They learn a lot along the way but ultimately that family is where you are loved, protected, and accepted.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Anne of Green Gables

Jacci Turner Why did I love this book?

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Anne, an orphan, mistakenly gets sent to the wrong family and ends up finding a forever home. I love Anne because she is smart and resilient, even though she has a penchant for getting into trouble. She is a rich and memorable character and the whole series will keep you hooked.

By L.M. Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Anne of Green Gables as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anne of Green Gables is the classic children's book by L M Montgomery, the inspiration for the Netflix Original series Anne with an E. Watch it now!

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are in for a big surprise. They are waiting for an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables - but a skinny, red-haired girl turns up instead. Feisty and full of spirit, Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts' affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter. It's not long before Anne finds herself in trouble, but soon it becomes impossible for the Cuthberts to…


Book cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Jacci Turner Why did I love this book?

I’ll admit it, I’m a Potterhead. The thing is when I speak in schools I’m finding more and more kids have not read the Potter Series. They are missing out! What I love about Harry is he is a kid anyone can relate to. He’s not the smartest, or most athletic, or best looking, but he is extremely loyal to his friends. Through them and an odd collection of others, he finds a family to belong to as well.

By J.K. Rowling,

Why should I read it?

36 authors picked Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Galloping gargoyles ... 2022 is the silver anniversary of J.K. Rowling's magical classic Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone!

The boy wizard Harry Potter has been casting a spell over young readers and their families ever since 1997. Now the first book in this unmissable series celebrates 25 years in print! The paperback edition of the tale that introduced us to Harry, Ron and Hermione has been updated and dressed in silver to mark the occasion. It's time to take the magical journey of a lifetime ...

Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping…


Book cover of Counting by 7s

Jacci Turner Why did I love this book?

Yep, another orphan. Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. I love this book because it deals with the issue of grief in a way that is real but not so harsh that middle school kids can’t read it. The protagonist has creative ways of caring for herself while trying to find her forever family.

By Holly Goldberg Sloan,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Counting by 7s as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of WONDER and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD this award-winning New York Times bestseller is an intensely moving, lyrically-written novel.

COUNTING BY 7S tells the story of Willow Chance, a twelve-year-old genius who is obsessed with diagnosing medical conditions and finds comfort in counting by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn't kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.

Suddenly Willow's world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a…


Book cover of Esperanza Rising

Jacci Turner Why did I love this book?

I love this book because it is historical fiction about a time and place I didn’t know anything about. Esperanza grew up in a rich family in Mexico, but disaster leads her and her mother to flee to a farm labor camp in California. Esperanza is another resilient girl, overcoming obstacles and growing from hardship. She learns to take a stand against injustice.

By Pam Muñoz Ryan,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Esperanza Rising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Esperanza Rising joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!

Esperanza thought she'd always live a privileged life on her family's ranch in Mexico. She'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home filled with servants, and Mama, Papa, and Abuelita to care for her. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard work, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When Mama gets sick and a strike…


Book cover of Orphan Train

Jacci Turner Why did I love this book?

I hesitated to put Orphan Train in this category because it is not really, in my opinion, middle-grade fiction. When I saw it listed as such in Barnes and Noble, I was quite shocked. It deals with a historical fact, that "Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?"

I learned a fact of history I was completely ignorant about. I saw in the historical and contemporary storylines (it goes between the two) the resilience of those who have had rough lives and are trying to find forever families. It is a story about harsh realities and with hope and resilience.

It is a fascinating story, but has some really harsh elements. I suggest a parent read this story to determine whether or not it is appropriate for your child or young teen.  

By Christina Baker Kline,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Orphan Train as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times Bestseller

“A lovely novel about the search for family that also happens to illuminate a fascinating and forgotten chapter of America’s history. Beautiful.”—Ann Packer

Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, and unexpected friendship.

Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they…


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Songbird

By Laci Barry Post,

Book cover of Songbird

Laci Barry Post Author Of Songbird

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Group fitness instructor Mom of two Travel consultant Hiker

Laci's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

It's 1943, and World War II has gripped the nation, including the Stilwell family in Jacksonville, Alabama. Rationing, bomb drills, patriotism, and a changing South barrage their way of life. Neighboring Fort McClellan has brought the world to their doorstep in the form of young soldiers from all over the country and German POWs from halfway around the globe.

Songbird is an inspirational, historical fiction novel, dealing with family, faith, strong women, and the American home front. It explores many historical elements of the World War II era, such as women's aid groups, the writings of Ernie Pyle, D-day, radio and music of the 1940s, and the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Songbird

By Laci Barry Post,

What is this book about?

When the perils and social changes of World War II confront a small southern town, faith, family, and love sustain the lives of one young woman and her family. Can those left behind endure?

"I'm waiting for my life to begin. Waiting for the train to come in," Ava Stilwell, a young woman eager for life, sings a popular song with the big band that reflects her heart. In the midst of a world at war, Ava finds love, a passion for her music, and new opportunities, but the war still looms over her, threatening to take it all away.…


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