Middle Grade Fiction: Classic Stories That Endure

Phil Davis
Old books on wooden shelf. Tiled Bookshelf background.  Concept on the theme of history, nostalgia, old age. Retro style.

Did you have a favorite book growing up? Most of us do, that one story you couldn’t put down, that gripped hold of you and wouldn’t let go. For me it was Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. It was a series actually, a set of “who dun its” that had me at the edge of my seat with every book I could get my hands on. At one point I actually jumped when reading a paragraph. I guess that speaks to an overactive imagination.

But if had to choose one book in particular, it would be The Twenty-One Balloons by William Penne du Bois. I must have been in fifth grade, Mrs. Brinkman’s class, when I discovered it. That’s when my love of stories took over. And this one really delivered. It was the tale of a balloonist attempting to circumnavigate the globe when he crashes on a remote island, one filled with an assortment of quirky millionaires that left the world behind to live in a private paradise of their own making. The only problem is their island had a HUGE volcano. And so the story takes a very number of very decided twists and turns. I was mesmerized, I could picture myself on that island, meeting those strange characters, and exploring what they had built. The book had won a Newberry Award which sent me on a mission to find more.

Another was the classic From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Again it was a story of adventure and misadventure. An older sister and little brother that run away from home and find refuge in, of all place, a museum.

And then, or course, there are all the Roald Dahl books. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach top my list of favorites. The only thing better than finding that oh-so-perfect book is finding a comfy spot to read it. For me it was the upstairs guest room above the garage at grandma’s. No one around, a snack on the table, and a few hours to simply delve in.

What are your favorite middle grade books? Some of that depends on when you grew up. I asked around and I heard a few mentioned as I prepared to release Nemesis and the Lost Vault of Time. Some of the fan favorites are listed below (in no particular order…)

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Holes by Louis Sacher

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Any and all of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys detective series

The Phantom Tollboth by Norton Juster

If you have a favorite middle grade book, leave a comment and I’ll add to the list. Happy reading!