The best middle grade books about sensitive topics

Hilda Eunice Burgos Author Of Miosotis Flores Never Forgets
By Hilda Eunice Burgos

Who am I?

I have always loved realistic fiction that shows characters navigating tricky real-world situations and reaching inside themselves to be their best – as friends, children, siblings, etc. As a writer of stories for children, I write the kinds of books I love to read, the ones that make readers ask themselves, what would I do if I were in that situation?  I think it’s important to show all our stories, past and present, from different places and viewpoints, so that we can learn from one another and become our best selves.

I wrote...

Miosotis Flores Never Forgets

By Hilda Eunice Burgos,

Book cover of Miosotis Flores Never Forgets

What is my book about?

Miosotis Flores is excited about three things; fostering rescue dogs, goofy horror movies, and her sister Amarilis' upcoming wedding. But her papi wants her to care about school more than anything else, so they strike a deal – if Miosotis improves her grades in two classes, she can adopt a dog of her own in the summer.

Miosotis dives into her schoolwork, and into nurturing a fearful little pup called Freckles. At the same time, she notices Amarilis behaving strangely – wearing thick clothes in springtime, dropping her friends in favor of her fiancé, even avoiding Miosotis and the rest of their family. When Miosotis finally discovers her sister's secret, she faces some difficult choices. What ultimately matters most--what Miosotis wants, or what's right for the ones she loves?

The books I picked & why

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Before We Were Free

By Julia Alvarez,

Book cover of Before We Were Free

Why this book?

I was fascinated by this gripping story about a twelve-year-old girl living in the Dominican Republic in 1960 because, while it is fiction, it is based on a very real and scary time in the history of the DR. My parents grew up in the DR under the dictatorship that was still in place in 1960, and Julia Alvarez does a beautiful job showing readers how young people and their families were impacted by that regime, as well as the bravery and hopefulness of those who fought for their country’s freedom.

The Moon Within

By Aida Salazar,

Book cover of The Moon Within

Why this book?

I love how this book presents a girl’s first period as a beautiful and positive experience, while realistically showing her fear and nervousness as she anticipates this event. The main character is so relatable: she’s unsure about her first crush, she has a snarky rival, and she struggles to be supportive when her best friend needs her the most. This book in verse is musical, magical, and hard to put down.

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

By Alda P. Dobbs,

Book cover of Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

Why this book?

I was enthralled by this book about a twelve-year-old girl escaping war-torn Mexico in 1913. I love how Petra is tough and fiercely protective of her grandmother and her younger siblings, and how she will stop at nothing to keep them safe. She is driven by the desire to go to school and learn to read, and she always confidently holds her head up high, no matter what obstacles are thrown her way. 

One Crazy Summer

By Rita Williams-Garcia,

Book cover of One Crazy Summer

Why this book?

I fell in love with eleven-year-old Delphine right away. It’s 1968 and she and her two younger sisters fly from NYC to California to meet the mother that abandoned them years ago. Like always, Delphine must look out for her sisters because they can’t count on their mom for that. The characters in this book come to life in such a believable way, from the kids at the community center run by the local Black Panthers to the grandmother back in New York whose scoldings and values are forever running through Delphine’s mind. From start to finish, this book is an absolute gem.

Gaby, Lost and Found

By Angela Cervantes,

Book cover of Gaby, Lost and Found

Why this book?

I was moved by this book about an eleven-year-old girl whose mother has been deported. Gaby is kind and genuine, and her friends are great too. She wants nothing more than to get her mother back and to save an abandoned cat from the shelter where she volunteers. I love how real her feelings and her actions are, and how she grows in the story. And, of course, reading about all the cute dogs and cats at the shelter made me feel warm and fuzzy!

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