Tuesday, November 5, 2013

So You Want to Read Middle Grade: Caroline Starr Rose

Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. As a girl she danced ballet, raced through books, composed poetry on an ancient typewriter, and put on magic shows in a homemade cape. She’s taught both social studies and English in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana. Caroline’s the author of May B. (2012), Over in the Wetlands, (2015), and Blue Birds (2015). Visit her at her blog and website.

So You Want to Read Middle Grade? Strong Girls Edition

Good for you! In my absolutely accurate and unbiased opinion, middle-grade books are where it’s at. These are the first stories kids truly pick for themselves when branching out as independent readers, the ones they glom onto when leaving behind the picture book stage. Middle-grade books are the ones that show us what the world’s like and where we fit in it.

Here are a handful of girl-centric books that I loved as a kid -- or ones I wish had been around when I was young.

Some of these girls you’ll find in these books are unfiltered, energetic, over the top. What makes them come alive on the page is their warts-and-all realness: they do and say the things we’ve thought of but never dared.

Some of them are contemplative, quiet, more reserved. Their brave moments feel all the more important because of the courage they’re able to muster in a girl-against-the-world sort of way.

All of them feel like personal friends.

The Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lindgren
The Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Historical Fiction:
Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank
With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman
Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Contemporary Fiction:
Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Healing Spell by Kimberly Griffiths Little
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur


  1. I think I've read all your titles, Caroline. Love this list and strong girls!!! (Thank you for including my book. I'm honored to be in this magnificent company!)

  2. What a great list! I love many of those classics, and just recently I posted about L. M. Montgomery on my Victorian Scribbles blog. I also read One for the Murphys recently and just loved it. So much that is good for young people to think about.

    1. You just purchased LMM's THE ALPINE PATH, correct? I'm happily flying through the new Montgomery biography written by Mary Rubio.

  3. Thanks for this great list. I've read most of them and agree! Have to go check out Child of the Mountains. I like the sound of the title!

    1. It's beautiful, TerryLynn, and so lovingly depicts Appalachia.

  4. Love this list! Like Terry-Lynn I'm intrigued by Child of the Mountains, among others.

    1. It really is beautiful. I can't help thinking Lydia would have befriended my May B.

  5. I've read and loved most of these books. Guess I need to get busy and read CHILD OF THE MOUNTAINS and WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE. I would add MAY B. to the historical list, of course, along with ALCHEMY AND MEGGY SWANN. To the contemporary list, I'd add ANASTASIA KRUPNIK and COUNTING BY 7'S.

    1. ALCHEMY is a Karen Cushman book, right? She's so amazing. The pinnacle of creating strong girls. I have to confess having never read ANASTASIA, and I've heard so many wonderful things about COUNTING BY 7's this year.

      Thank you for saying this about May. I'm proud of that girl.

    2. You're welcome. Oh, you need to read ANASTASIA KRUPNIK! And yes, ALCHEMY is another one by Karen Cushman. I agree that she's the best, both at historical fiction and at creating strong females. THE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE, which you mentioned, is one of my favorite books of all time.


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