The best middle grade books for girls trying to change the world

The Books I Picked & Why

Vote For Effie

By Laura Wood

Book cover of Vote For Effie

Why this book?

There is something about Effie that truly captures what it is to be a person who cares. In a world in which young people are often told that not caring is the mark of coolness, Effie stands out as an optimist hell-bent to create a better world for all. In this wonderful book, we follow Effie’s adventures as she finds herself in a new school trying to make real meaningful change for her and all of her new friends, in a wonderfully entertaining and heartwarming story that had me in tears a few times and rooting for Effie from beginning to end. 

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By Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

Book cover of Matilda

Why this book?

This book captured my imagination as a child and it just never let go! Matilda is a true whimsical classic, that is delightful and smart and that makes you feel like you can do anything. There are so many things I love about this book, and as a bookish girl myself, Matilda’s connection to books and reading made me feel seen in ways I didn’t feel seen before. It’s a book about standing up for yourself and being true to who you are no matter who’s against it.

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Margarita in the Spotlight

By Maria Frazer

Book cover of Margarita in the Spotlight

Why this book?

This is an odd one out, because it’s in audiobook form. Margarita is a part of her uber-famous country star sister and gets thrown into the limelight when the label gets into hot water for not being inclusive enough. This audible original truly shines with its amazing story and wonderful music! Personally, I liked the way the story tackles Margarita’s struggles to figure out her place within Latin culture and processing the feelings of what that means for her.

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Sofía Acosta Makes a Scene

By Emma Otheguy

Book cover of Sofía Acosta Makes a Scene

Why this book?

This book is absolutely brilliant, a wonderful commentary on really difficult current social issues that doesn’t feel like a school lesson, it follows the story of Sofia Acosta, daughter of ballet-obsessed Cuban immigrants who have great hopes for her daughter, as she begins to question her place in ballet, her community and the world at large, and all the really complicated choices people make as they grow up.

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The Night Diary

By Veera Hiranandani

Book cover of The Night Diary

Why this book?

Another book that had me in tears more than once, The Night Diary is a beautifully crafted story told in the background of India’s partition. It’s a book about the hard choices people make in hopes of a better future, through the eyes of twelve-year-old Nisha, as she reflects on the loss of her old life, her country, and the search for meaning. Nisha is a heroine worth reading and learning from. I sure learn a lot from this book, and I hope you do too!

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