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Reading Recs

16 Powerful Picks for Preteens

Everything feels high stakes when you’re in middle school or getting ready to dive into your freshman year of high school– friendship drama, crushes, and all the life changes that come with growing up. If you loved heartfelt coming-of-age stories like The Babysitters’ Club and Smile growing up, you’ll cheer for the preteens in these 16 powerful stories as they take on new challenges and learn to love themselves.

Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and decides to take up all the space she wants in this award-winning debut novel-in-verse.

Azar on Fire by Olivia Abtahi

Finding her voice takes on a whole new meaning when fourteen-year-old Azar Rossi sets out to win her local Battle of the Bands contest in this contemporary YA.

The First Rule of Climate Club by Carrie Firestone

An eighth grader starts a podcast on climate activism and rallies her friends to create lasting change in their local community and beyond, in this companion to Dress Coded.

Be Real, Macy Weaver by Lakita Wilson

This heartfelt and fashion-filled contemporary novel introduces Macy Weaver, a girl struggling with how to be her true self and make a best friend.

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi

Fourteen-year-old Iranian-American Parvin Mohammadi sets out to win the ultimate date to homecoming in this heartfelt and outright hilarious debut.

Awkward Stuff by Lisi Harrison

In the third installment of bestselling author Lisi Harrison’s middle grade series, Girl Stuff, seventh grade besties decide to have their first kisses on the same night.

Different Kinds of Fruit by Kyle Lukoff

In this funny and poignant novel from the Newbery Honor-winning author of Too Bright to See, a sixth-grader’s life is turned upside down when she develops a new crush and learns both they and her dad are trans.

Tumble by Celia C. Pérez

This dazzling new novel features a young girl who collects the missing pieces of her origin story from the family of legendary luchadores she’s never met.

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow

A week-long amusement park road trip becomes a true roller coaster of emotion when Dalia realizes she has more-than-friend feelings for her new best friend in this Stonewall Honor book.

Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone

In this middle-grade girl-power friendship story, now available in paperback, an eighth grader starts a podcast to protest the unfair dress code enforcement at her middle school and sparks a rebellion.

The Devouring Wolf by Natalie C. Parker

This queer tale about big bad mistakes and terrifying creatures follows five kid werewolves who can’t shift, as they’re hunted by a creature of legend that may be all too real.

Clementine by Ann Hood

New York Times best-selling author Ann Hood pens a poignant story of grief and adolescent despair in this follow-up to Jude Banks, Superhero.

Doodles from the Boogie Down by Stephanie Rodriguez

A young Dominican girl navigates middle school, her strict mother, shifting friendships, and her dream of being an artist in this debut coming-of-age graphic novel inspired by the author’s tween years.

The Year My Life Went Down the Toilet by Jake Maia Arlow – Coming August 1, 2023

A hilariously honest book about surviving middle school while navigating a chronic illness from the Stonewall Honor-winning author of Almost Flying.

Make a Move Sunny Park! by Jessica Kim – Coming August 15, 2023

From the author of Stand Up, Yumi Chung! comes a funny and utterly charming novel about friends—how to make them, how to let go of them, and how to be your own BFF.

Barely Floating by Lilliam Rivera – Coming August 29, 2023

A dazzling story full of heart about how one twelve-year-old channels her rage into synchronized swimming dreams from The Education of Margot Sanchez author Lilliam Rivera.

Penguin Teen