Middle Grade Book Pairings

This calendar year, I’ve been serving on the Kids All Iowa Reads Committee, a group of mostly librarians (I’m one of the few non-librarians) who select a single children’s book (as well as a shortlist of finalists) for statewide programming. There are also Adult and Teen All Iowa Reads selections. The 2021 Kids All Iowa Reads title is Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai, and the 2022 title was selected yesterday and will be revealed very soon!

In any case, as a result of my committee membership, I’ve read more middle grade literature than usual in 2021, and in reading so many books, I noticed some interesting connections between stories. This post presents pairings of MG books that share something in common.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks and Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca: Both feature girl bakers and a baking contest at a local bakery.

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park and Letters from Cuba by Ruth Behar: These two historical fiction titles feature girl dressmakers who face discrimination in their new homes.

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone and The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy: Both of these books are about interracial road trips in a Winnebago with an older woman at the wheel.

More to the Story by Hena Khan and A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat: These are MG retellings of classics (Little Women and Les Misérables, respectively), but you don’t have to know anything about the original stories to enjoy them.

The Year We Fell from Space by Amy Sarig King and The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead: Both of these books deal with divorce, anger management, and being haunted by a guilty secret.

The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead and Itch by Polly Farquhar: This kind of relates to the guilty secret above, but these two titles have a protagonist stewing over a moral dilemma. Plus both main characters have chronic skin conditions that require management.

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez and The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas: Each of these books stars a Cuban American boy who moves to a new town and quickly makes friends.

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