Robots are becoming fodder for conversation in more homes than ever before. But what does it take to build a robot? And what kinds of robots are there? These middle grade books about robots teach us plenty about this marvels of technology, without too much boring technicality. If your kids are into coding, STEM or can’t stop yapping about AI, they’ll love these surprisingly warm and funny middle grade books about robots.
The Wild Robot
Published: April 5, 2016
Can a robot survive in the wilderness?
When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is all alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is–but she knows she needs to survive. After battling a violent storm and escaping a vicious bear attack, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings and learn from the island’s unwelcoming animal inhabitants.
As Roz slowly befriends the animals, the island starts to feel like home–until, one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her.
Maya and the Robot
Published: July 13, 2021
Maya’s nervous about fifth grade. She tries to keep calm by reminding herself she knows what to expect. But then she learns that this year won’t be anything like the last. For the first time since kindergarten, her best friends Jada and MJ are placed in a different class without her, and introverted Maya has trouble making new friends.
She tries to put on a brave face since they are in fifth grade now, but Maya is nervous! Just when too much seems to be changing, she finds a robot named Ralph in the back of Mr. Mac’s convenience store closet. Once she uses her science skills to get him up and running, a whole new world of connection opens up as Ralph becomes a member of her family and Maya begins to step into her power. In this touching novel, Eve L. Ewing melds together a story about community, adapting to change, and the magic of ingenuity that reminds young readers that they can always turn to their own curiosity when feeling lost.
House of Robots (House of Robots, 1)
Published: November 24, 2014
It was never easy for Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez to fit in, so he’s dreading the day when his genius mom insists he bring her newest invention to school: a walking, talking robot he calls E-for “Error”. Sammy’s no stranger to robots; his house is full of a colorful cast of them. But this one not only thinks it’s Sammy’s brother . . . it’s actually even nerdier than Sammy. Will E be Sammy’s one-way ticket to Loserville? Or will he prove to the world that it’s cool to be square? It’s a roller-coaster ride for Sammy to discover the amazing secret E holds that could change family forever . . . if all goes well on the trial run!
Published: November 24, 2014
Cog looks like a normal twelve-year-old boy. But his name is short for “cognitive development,” and he was built to learn.
But after an accident leaves him damaged, Cog wakes up in an unknown lab—and Gina, the scientist who created and cared for him, is nowhere to be found. Surrounded by scientists who want to study him and remove his brain, Cog recruits four robot accomplices for a mission to find her.
Cog, ADA, Proto, Trashbot, and Car’s journey will likely involve much cognitive development in the form of mistakes, but Cog is willing to risk everything to find his way back to Gina.
A Rover’s Story
Published: October 4, 2022
Meet Resilience, a Mars rover determined to live up to his name.
Res was built to explore Mars. He was not built to have human emotions. But as he learns new things from the NASA scientists who assemble him, he begins to develop humanlike feelings. Maybe there’s a problem with his programming….
Human emotions or not, launch day comes, and Res blasts off to Mars, accompanied by a friendly drone helicopter named Fly. But Res quickly discovers that Mars is a dangerous place filled with dust storms and giant cliffs. As he navigates Mars’s difficult landscape, Res is tested in ways that go beyond space exploration.
As millions of people back on Earth follow his progress, will Res have the determination, courage, and resilience to succeed… and survive?
Cats Vs. Robots #1: This Is War
Published: September 4, 2018
The Robot Federation and the Feline Empire have been at war for eons. And now that fight is coming to a tiny primitive planetoid…Earth. The mission for both cats and robots: retrieve the Singularity Chip. With it, cats can live past their nine lives, and robots are granted eternal battery life.
Meanwhile, twin siblings Max and Min Wengrod are as different as can be. Min always gets good grades, and she loves to read and build robots. Max hates school, and prefers to play games and spend time online with friends.
When Max rescues two kittens and is determined to keep them, Min is horrified that these furballs could ruin her chances at the Battle of the Bots competition. But with hidden forces at play in their own house, and the larger war between cats and robots fast approaching, will the twins be able to put aside their differences before they get caught in the crossfire?
The Superteacher Project
Published: January 10, 2023
Oliver Zahn, spitball champion and self-declared rule-wrecker of Brightling Middle School, is not a fan of his new homeroom teacher, Mr. Aidact. The guy is sort of stiff, never cracks a smile, and refers to them as “pupils.” The worst part is he catches Oliver before he can pull any of his signature pranks! It’s time for Oliver and his best friend, Nathan, to show the new teacher who’s boss.
But as the weeks go by, they start to realize that Mr. Aidact is not what they expected. He has an uncanny ability to remember song lyrics or trivia. When the girls’ field hockey team needs a new coach, he suddenly turns out to be an expert. He never complains when other teachers unload work on him—even when it’s lunchroom duty and overseeing detention. Against all odds, Mr. Aidact starts to become the most popular teacher at Brightling.
Still, Oliver and Nathan know that something is fishy. They’re determined to get to the bottom of the mystery: What’s the deal with Mr. Aidact?
Published: September 12, 2017
Ken is an EngiNerd: one of a super-smart group of friends—all nerds—who have been close since kindergarten.
They may be brainiacs, but they’re just like everyone else: they fight with one another, watch too much TV, eat Chinese food, and hate walking their dogs. Well, maybe not just like everyone because Ken’s best friend Dan has been building robots. He then secretly sent one to each of the EngiNerds, never letting them know he’s the mastermind.
At first Ken is awed and delighted: what kid hasn’t dreamed of having a robot all their own? Someone who can be their friend, clean their room, walk the dog, answer homework questions…how amazing is that?
But be careful what you wish for: Dan’s robot, Greeeg, may look innocent, but his ravenous consumption of food—comestibles—turns him into a butt-blasting bot. And once the other robots ‘come alive’ it’s up to the motley crew of EngiNerds to not only save the day, but save the planet!
How to Outsmart a Billion Robot Bees
Published: March 7, 2017
It’s Friday the 13th again, and for sixth grade genius Nate Bannister, that means doing three more not-so-smart things to keep life interesting. But he has bigger problems than his own experiments. His nemesis, the Red Death Tea Society, is threatening to unleash a swarm of angry bees on the city of Polt if Nate doesn’t join their ranks. But then a new group of people with murky intentions shows up — the League of Ostracized Fellows — and they want Nate as their own, too. To top it off, he’s convinced there’s a spy in his very own school.
Nate must once again team up with his new, resourceful, friend Delphine to save the day. They’ll need the help of Nate’s crazy gadgets, such as his talking car Betsy and super-powered pets Bosper the Scottish terrier and Sir William the gull, if they hope to see another Friday the 13th. Because they might be battling more than just sting-happy bees and villains with a penchant for tea this time around.
Weird Little Robots
Published: October 1, 2019
Eleven-year-old Penny Rose has just moved to a new town, and so far the robots she builds herself are her only company. But with just a bit of magic, everything changes: she becomes best friends with Lark, has the chance to join a secret science club, and discovers that her robots are alive. Penny Rose hardly remembers how lonely she used to feel. But then a fateful misstep forces her to choose between the best friend she’s always hoped for and the club she’s always dreamed of, and in the end it may be her beloved little robots that pay the price. Quirky and wonderful, this illustrated chapter book from Carolyn Crimi and Corinna Luyken shows that making your own space and a true friend in the world is a kind of magic all its own.
Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor
Published: August 19, 2014
Clever science experiments, funny jokes, and robot hijinks await readers in the first of six books in the New York Times bestselling Frank Einstein chapter book series from the mad scientist team of Jon Scieszka and Brian Biggs. The perfect combination to engage and entertain readers, the series features real science facts with adventure and humor, making these books ideal for STEM education. This first installment examines the science of “matter.”
Kid-genius and inventor Frank Einstein loves figuring out how the world works by creating household contraptions that are part science, part imagination, and definitely unusual. In the series opener, an uneventful experiment in his garage-lab, a lightning storm, and a flash of electricity bring Frank’s inventions—the robots Klink and Klank—to life! Not exactly the ideal lab partners, the wisecracking Klink and the overly expressive Klank nonetheless help Frank attempt to perfect his inventions.. . . until Frank’s archnemesis, T. Edison, steals Klink and Klank for his evil doomsday plan!
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot (Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot #1)
Published: April 29, 2014
Meet Ricky Ricotta, a little mouse with a big problem!Ricky Ricotta lives in Squeakyville with his mom and dad. Ricky has a hard time making friends at school, and the neighborhood bullies are always picking on him. If only Ricky could find someone to be his best buddy and keep those creepy bullies away!Meanwhile, on the other side of town, a mad scientist named Dr. Stinky McNasty has created a Mighty Robot who is as gentle as he is powerful. Dr. Stinky plans to make the Robot destroy Squeakyville, but there’s one little thing in his way: Ricky Ricotta! When Ricky rescues the Robot, an unlikely friendship begins. And Ricky discovers that a little mouse can be a BIG hero — with some help from his new best friend!
The Last Human
Published: October 8, 2019
In the future, robots have eliminated humans, and 12-year-old robot XR_935 is just fine with that. Without humans around, there is no war, no pollution, no crime. Every member of society has a purpose. Everything runs smoothly and efficiently. Until the day XR discovers something impossible: a human girl named Emma. Now, Emma must embark on a dangerous voyage with XR and two other robots in search of a mysterious point on a map. But how will they survive in a place where rules are never broken and humans aren’t supposed to exist? And what will they find at the end of their journey? Humorous, action-packed, and poignant, The Last Human tells a story about friendship, technology, and challenging the status quo no matter the consequences. It’s not just about what it means to be a robot—it’s about what it means to be a friend.
The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare
Published: September 25, 2018
Auden Dare is colorblind and lives in a world where water is scarce and families must live on a weekly, allocated supply.
When Auden’s uncle, the scientist Dr. Bloom, suddenly dies, he leaves a note to Auden and to his classmate Vivi Rookmini. Together, the notes lead them to Paragon―a robot.
As Auden, Vivi, and Paragon try to uncover Paragon’s purpose and put together the clues Dr. Bloom left behind, they find out that Dr. Bloom’s death was anything but innocent, that powerful people are searching for Paragon―and that it’s up to Auden and Vivi to stop them.
The Homework Machine
Published: March 1, 2006
The unlikely foursome made up of a geek, a class clown, a teacher’s pet, and a slacker — Brenton, Sam “Snick,”, Judy and Kelsey, respectively, — are bound together by one very big secret: the homework machine. Because the machine, code named Belch, is doing their homework for them, they start spending a lot of time together, attracting a lot of attention. And attention is exactly what you don’t want when you are keeping a secret.
Before long, members of the D Squad, as they are called at school are getting strange Instant Messages from a shady guy named Milner; their teacher, Miss Rasmussen, is calling private meetings with each of them and giving them pop tests that they are failing; and someone has leaked the possibility of a homework machine to the school newspaper. Just when the D Squad thinks things can’t get any more out of control, Belch becomes much more powerful than they ever imagined. Soon the kids are in a race against their own creation, and the loser could end up in jail…or worse!
There they are: 15 of the best middle grade books about robots! Which of these have you read and loved? What did I miss?