The best middle grade books where science tells the perfect story

Who am I?

As a kid, I didn’t enjoy science classes in school. During summer break, however, I took courses I thought of as fun, not realizing they were science classes, too. Geology, where I got to collect hundreds of pretty rocks. Archeology, in which I got to dig up “real” dinosaur bones. (Sadly, they weren’t real.) Science was exciting when it became personal! As an author, even though I never considered myself a STEM-focused writer, I realized that science was sneaking into my work and enriching my stories. I love books that are perfectly balanced with fascinating facts and heartrending themes, and that is what I strive to write.

I wrote...

All the Impossible Things

By Lindsay Lackey,

Book cover of All the Impossible Things

What is my book about?

Red’s inexplicable power over the wind comes from her mother. Whenever Ruby “Red” Byrd is scared or angry, the wind picks up. Being placed in foster care, moving from family to family, tends to keep her skies stormy. Red knows she has to learn to control it, but can’t figure out how.

This time, the wind blows Red into the home of the Grooves, a quirky couple who run a petting zoo. But just when Red starts to settle into her new life, a fresh storm rolls in, one she knows all too well: her mother. For so long, Red has longed to have her mom back in her life, and she’s quickly swept up in the vortex of her mother’s chaos.

The books I picked & why

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Red, White, and Whole

By Rajani LaRocca,

Book cover of Red, White, and Whole

Why this book?

This recent Newbery Honor book in verse is a stunning combination of science and story. Reha is a first-generation Indian American immigrant and is struggling to find her place in the world. Torn between her Indian and her American identities, she is unsure how to fit in. When her beloved mother is diagnosed with leukemia, Reha’s priorities drastically shift, and she must forge new connections between her heritage and her heart. The simple, powerful way the author weaves in science and medical information in this story is truly masterful.

Emmy in the Key of Code

By Aimee Lucido,

Book cover of Emmy in the Key of Code

Why this book?

Told in snappy, smart verse that’s peppered with real code, this novel explores what it’s like to find your identity in two seemingly opposite passions. Emmy loves music and longs to be a musician, but lacks the talent the rest of her family shares. When she’s forced to take a computer coding class, she realizes the possibilities of saying yes to all aspects of who she is.

The Thing About Jellyfish

By Ali Benjamin,

Book cover of The Thing About Jellyfish

Why this book?

Struggling to adapt to the changing world around her, Suzy leans into her passion for jellyfish. These mysterious animals teach her more than she could have imagined, and ultimately guide her understanding of what it means to be a friend. Smart and fascinating, this book has had a huge influence on my own work!

Song for a Whale

By Lynne Kelly,

Book cover of Song for a Whale

Why this book?

When Iris, who was born deaf, learns that there is a whale named Blue 55 who cannot sing in the same frequency as his fellow whales, and is therefore “the loneliest whale in the world,” she makes it her mission to connect with him through her own unique understanding of sound and frequency. This heartwarming story is exactly the kind of book I love most.

Planet Earth Is Blue

By Nicole Panteleakos,

Book cover of Planet Earth Is Blue

Why this book?

Nova is counting down the days until the Space Shuttle Challenger launches with teacher Christa McAuliffe on board. Nova, who is nonverbal and has autism, struggles to share her true self with the world, and desperately wants to be reunited with her sister. She believes the launch of the Challenger will bring her sister back into her life for good. But when tragedy strikes, Nova must learn to rely on her own strengths and ability to overcome life’s obstacles. This is one of my favorite stories about a kid who loves space…and one that influenced my second novel. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

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