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Alison Gowans
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July 1, 2024 – Looking for a great summer read? Cedar Rapids Community School District teacher librarians Roby Davis, Stephan Frischkorn, Jessica Zimmerman, Andrea Schoenbeck, Frank Scherman, and Michelle Kruse shared some of the books their students love. 

This list features middle grade fiction for 8-12 year-olds. Find a list of picture books, elementary school nonfiction, and early readers for children ready to start reading on their own here, and check back later this summer for a list of YA books for teens.

Browse the books below, and click the covers to put them on hold in the library's catalog. Book descriptions are excerpted from the catalog, which pulls from publisher information, and from the teacher descriptions.


“Small Spaces” series by Katherine Arden

After eleven-year-old Ollie's school bus mysteriously breaks down on a field trip, she has to take a trip through scary woods, and must use all of her wits to survive. She must stick to small spaces. Scary books are popular and the school library can't keep them on the shelf. This book won the Iowa Children's Choice Award last year.

"Alone" by Megan E. Freeman

When twelve-year-old Maddie hatches a scheme for a secret sleepover with her two best friends, she ends up waking up to a nightmare. She's alone – left behind in a town that has been mysteriously evacuated and abandoned. With no one to rely on, no power, and no working phone lines or internet access, Maddie slowly learns to survive on her own. Her only companions are a Rottweiler named George and all the books she can read. After a rough start, Maddie learns to trust her own ingenuity and invents clever ways to survive in a place that has been deserted and forgotten. As months pass, she escapes natural disasters, looters, and wild animals. But Maddie's most formidable enemy is the crushing loneliness she faces every day. Can Maddie's stubborn will to survive carry her through the most frightening experience of her life? One of the school library's most borrowed books this year.

"Amari and the Night Brothers" by B.B. Alston

Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good. So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she's certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton – if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real. Now she must compete for a spot against kids who've known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can't seem to escape their intense scrutiny and doubt – especially once her own supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed 'illegal.' With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her classmates thinking she's an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn't stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton. Full of magic, action, adventure, and mystery, this is a great book to recommend to fans of "Harry Potter" or "Percy Jackson."

"Lei and the Fire Goddess" by Malia Maunakea

Twelve-year-old Anna must dig deep into her Hawaiian roots in order to save her best friend and her island from an angry fire goddess. Another great recommendation for "Percy Jackson" fans.

"Millionaires for the Month" by Stacy McAnulty

After seventh graders Benji and Felix "borrow" $20 from a lost wallet, the billionaire owner challenges them to spend over $5 million dollars in thirty days in order to learn life lessons about money. This is a very funny read with lots of suspense and silly humor.

"Girls Survive" series

This was a new series to the school at the beginning of the year, and it has exploded. Being similar to Lauren Tarshis' "I Survived series", but always featuring female main characters, this series is jumping off the shelves for girls who want to see themselves in history and for boys who can't get enough of the historic fiction and adventure vibe.

"What Lives in the Woods" by Lindsay Currie

Ginny is unhappy when her family moves from Chicago to upstate Michigan for the summer; her father has a job restoring a 1930s mansion, but there are rumors about Woodmoor and the forest next to it: rumors about strange mutant creatures. Ginny, an aspiring mystery writer, is soon half convinced the rumors are true, because something or someone is haunting the house – and she plans to investigate, with the help of Will, the older boy who lives nearby. This suspenseful book won the vote for Iowa Children's Choice Award at Maple Grove, and even though the school bought eight copies, at one point there were 75 holds waiting to check it out.