The best middle grade books with powerful introverts

Who am I?

Every one of my books is centered around characters finding a place where they can be fully, unapologetically, joyfully themselves. If you had asked my child self where my happy place was, I would have told you it was my room, empty of other people but full of books. I am very friendly and would love to meet you, but I also delight in solitude, and my imagination sparks and cartwheels when I am quiet. It turns out there’s a word for this inborn trait of mine: introversion. I’m always looking for stories that celebrate the strengths of us quietly powerful introverts. 


I wrote...

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle

By Christina Uss,

Book cover of The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle

What is my book about?

One girl. Two wheels. Four thousand miles to go. Introverted Bicycle has lived most of her life quietly—and happily—at the Mostly Silent Monastery in Washington, D.C. When her guardian says she must attend a summer friend-making camp, Bicycle seeks a different path. She sets off on her bike for California to prove she can make her first friend her own way.

Who knew that a ghost would haunt her handlebars, or that she would have to contend with bike-hating dogs, a bike-loving horse, and bike-crushing pigs? Over the uphills and downhills of her journey, Bicycle discovers that friends are not such a bad thing to have after all, and that a dozen cookies really can solve most problems.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Maya and the Robot

Christina Uss Why did I love this book?

Maya shows us readers why so many successful creative and science-loving people tend towards introversion. Maya notices what’s going on around her, and what’s going on inside of her. She absorbs. She ponders. She interprets. Then she acts. Then she repeats the process. I love, love, love how Maya gets support from those around her who see her clearly for who she is and let her know that she’s awesome. “Always remember, Maya,” says her mom, “being yourself is a gift to others around you.” So true.

By Eve L. Ewing, Christine Almeda (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Maya and the Robot 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?

From award-winning author Eve L. Ewing comes an illustrated middle grade novel about a forgotten homemade robot who comes to life just when aspiring fifth-grade scientist Maya needs a friend -- and a science fair project.

Maya's nervous about fifth grade. She tries to keep calm by reminding herself she knows what to expect. But then she learns that this year won't be anything like the last. For the first time since kindergarten, her best friends Jada and MJ are placed in a different class without her, and introverted Maya has trouble making new friends.

She tries to put on…


Book cover of Here in the Real World

Christina Uss Why did I love this book?

I felt so much kinship with Ware, the introverted hero of this story, I kept reading out loud to my family the things he said and thought and felt. When Ware’s parents tell him he’ll need to spend the summer at forced-group-togetherness Rec camp, I moaned in horrified sympathy. When they tell him he’ll temporarily have to live in the glassed-in back porch, I wailed with Ware, “It’s not a room if it doesn’t have walls!” I was over the moon when Ware discovers a way to navigate his life so his needs are met. 

By Sara Pennypacker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Here in the Real World 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?

From the author of the highly acclaimed, New York Times bestselling novel Pax comes a gorgeous and moving middle grade novel that is an ode to introverts, dreamers, and misfits everywhere.

Ware can’t wait to spend summer “off in his own world”—dreaming of knights in the Middle Ages and generally being left alone. But then his parents sign him up for dreaded Rec camp, where he must endure Meaningful Social Interaction and whatever activities so-called “normal” kids do.

On his first day Ware meets Jolene, a tough, secretive girl planting a garden in the rubble of an abandoned church next…


Book cover of Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids

Christina Uss Why did I love this book?

I discovered this nonfiction book as an adult and can imagine the thrill of fellow introverts who get to read it as kids and see themselves celebrated within its pages. We’re not shy people who will eventually grow out of our shells; we’re born to think deeply, feel deeply, observe details others miss, and be empathetic, steadfast friends. Cain highlights stories of children who have made a mark in their schools, friendships, and family life from the quiet side of the introversion-extroversion spectrum. 

By Susan Cain,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Quiet Power 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?

"Quiet Power is a brilliant handbook for quiet children (and their parents). It is a celebration of the introvert" - Guardian

Your child's teenage years is a time wrought with insecurity and self-doubt. Their search for a place in the world can seem daunting. Focusing on the strengths and challenges of being introverted, Quiet Power is full of examples from school, family life and friendship, applying the breakthrough discoveries of Quiet to teenagers that so badly need them.

This insightful, accessible and empowering book is eye-opening to extroverts and introverts alike. Unlock your teenager's hidden superpower and give them the…


Book cover of Hello, Universe

Christina Uss Why did I love this book?

Virgil is the fish-out-of-water main character here in a boisterous family. My favorite line is when his parents are telling him to come out of his shell and he points out that if turtles had chosen to come out of their shells instead of trusting in evolution, they never would have survived. Go, Virgil!  His loving, well-meaning family thinks pushing Virgil outside his comfort zone will allow him to discover his extrovert nature, instead of validating the power of his innately thoughtful, observant, empathetic nature. 

By Erin Entrada Kelly, Isabel Roxas (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hello, Universe 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?

Winner of the Newbery Medal

"A charming, intriguingly plotted novel."-Washington Post

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly's Hello, Universe is a funny and poignant neighborhood story about unexpected friendships.

Told from four intertwining points of view-two boys and two girls-the novel celebrates bravery, being different, and finding your inner bayani (hero). "Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast of misfits."-Booklist

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and…


Book cover of Invisible Emmie

Christina Uss Why did I love this book?

This graphic novel literally illustrates many ways in which the average school day is challenging to introverts, from the bus, to school hallways, to the cafeteria, to navigating pre-class chatter. Emmie is very in tune with her feelings and able to focus on drawing no matter the noise all around, but still questions her own value: “Does anyone ever see me? Do I want them to?” When the author drew Emmie with a disappearing mouth to show how others view her as mute—ooh, I got goosebumps. I adore a book that makes me go back and read it again the moment I finish it. 

By Terri Libenson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Invisible Emmie 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?

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jennifer L. Holm, Invisible Emmie is a humorous and surprising debut graphic novel by Terri Libenson, creator of the internationally syndicated, Reuben Award-winning comic strip The Pajama Diaries.

This is the story of two totally different girls-
quiet, shy, artistic Emmie
popular, outgoing, athletic Katie
-and how their lives unexpectedly intersect one day, when an embarrassing note falls into the wrong hands. . . .

All the crushes, humiliations, boredom, and drama of middle school are compressed into one surprising day in this extraordinary novel.

Plus don't miss Terri Libenson's Positively Izzy, Just…


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Virginia Wouldn't Slow Down!: The Unstoppable Dr. Apgar and Her Life-Saving Invention

By Carrie A. Pearson, Nancy Carpenter (illustrator),

Book cover of Virginia Wouldn't Slow Down!: The Unstoppable Dr. Apgar and Her Life-Saving Invention

Carrie A. Pearson

New book alert!

What is my book about?

A delightful and distinctive picture book biography about Dr. Virginia Apgar, who invented the standard, eponymous test for evaluating newborn health used worldwide thousands of times every day.

You might know about the Apgar Score. But do you know the brilliant, pioneering woman who invented it? Born at the turn of the twentieth century, Virginia Apgar soared above what girls were expected to do―or not do. Ginny adored science, hated cooking, drove fast, made her own violins, earned a pilot’s license, and traveled the world. Here, Carrie Pearson’s jaunty storytelling and Nancy Carpenter’s playful illustrations capture the energy and independence of a woman who didn’t slow down for anything―and changed newborn care forever.

Virginia Wouldn't Slow Down!: The Unstoppable Dr. Apgar and Her Life-Saving Invention

By Carrie A. Pearson, Nancy Carpenter (illustrator),

What is this book about?

The Apgar Score is known the world over: a test given to babies to determine their health moments after they are born. Less well-known is the story of the brilliant, pioneering woman who invented it.

Born at the turn of the twentieth century, Virginia "Ginny" Apgar soared above what girls were expected to do-or not do. She wasn't quiet, she wore all sorts of outfits, she played the sports she wanted to-and she pursued the career she chose, graduating near the top of her class at Columbia University and becoming only the second board-certified female anaesthesiologist in the United States.…


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