The best middle-grade books about the power of words

The Books I Picked & Why

The Poet X

By Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X

Why this book?

Xiomara Batista uses slam poetry to understand herself, her place in Harlem, and her family’s religion and culture. Of course, she would never share them. But when she is invited to perform her poetry her public, she will discover the power of her voice. Through each compelling line, readers will discover the power of their own voices as well.


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Fish in a Tree

By Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish in a Tree

Why this book?

Ally is clever, and smarter than she believes herself to be. She also embraces her reputation as a troublemaker. But there is a reason she avoids reading – especially reading in public, and why she does not like to write. Her new teacher, Mr. Daniels, seems to understand, and perhaps even knows a way to help. This timeless book gives an enchanting insight into the mind of a dyslexic reader.


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A Thousand Questions

By Sadiaa Faruqi

A Thousand Questions

Why this book?

Mimi doesn’t want to spend her summer in Pakistan with grandparents she has never met. Instead, she wishes to fill her journal with her letters to her long-absent father. Things brighten when she meets Sakina, who hopes to improve her English so she can get into school. As summer continues, they become united by their many questions. This wonderful novel provides a bridge into how people from different cultures might understand each other.


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Book Scavenger

By Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Book Scavenger

Why this book?

Emily and James must solve puzzles to discover the whereabouts of hidden books. But the stakes only become more dangerous as the game continues. This book will challenge and delight young readers as they find themselves looking for the book around the next corner.


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The Anti-Book

By Raphael Simon

The Anti-Book

Why this book?

Mickey is angry about nearly everything in his life, which makes the ad for the Anti-Book even more tempting. When it comes, it has only one line of instruction: To erase it, write it. He fills the book with everything he dislikes, and soon it begins to change. But is that really what he wants? This is a darkly funny book about life, struggle, and learning to accept change.


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