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.

The books I picked & why

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Maya and the Robot

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

Book cover of Maya and the Robot

Why 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.


Here in the Real World

By Sara Pennypacker,

Book cover of Here in the Real World

Why 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. 


Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids

By Susan Cain,

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

Why 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. 


Hello, Universe

By Erin Entrada Kelly, Isabel Roxas (illustrator),

Book cover of Hello, Universe

Why 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. 


Invisible Emmie

By Terri Libenson,

Book cover of Invisible Emmie

Why 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. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in extraversion and introversion, bullying, and Mayan history and civilization?

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