Jillian is a shy fifth grader put to the test when her teacher suggests she join the Mind Bender quiz competition in her school. Her class is also learning about chick development and incubating a few too! As Jillian works to improve her mindset and use her voice, she also has to deal with the grief of losing her grandmother, her mom’s lupus flares, and helping out a friend dealing with his own family challenges. Will Jillian get it right?
When Winter Robeson came to visit his cousin, Eden in the summer of 1965, he had another agenda. Winter is a 13-year-old boy visiting Los Angeles from Mississippi. Unbeknownst to Eden and her family, Winter isn’t just there to see Disneyland — he’s looking for his father J.T. Robeson who came to LA 12 years ago and never returned. Eventually, he gets Eden to help him on his search. Not long after, the Watts Riot erupts.
Joy Taylor and her family have moved into an apartment complex because her dad lost his job and their mortgage is too expensive to keep on one income. Now Joy has to share a room with her little sister and hear her parents fight every day about the work her dad chooses (or chooses not to do). Her only respite is the nice kids in the building and the hideout they introduce Joy to. One of the kids befriends Joy and they even start a dog-walking business together. But when Joy finds a sad message on the hideout wall, she’s determined to find out the person in need, but her good intentions cause more harm than good.
Things are looking partly cloudy for Madalyn Thomas and her family. After being out of work for the last 7 months, her dad has found work in another state and her mom’s schedule as a social worker has become more packed from taking on overtime. Madalyn’s parents send her to live with her Great Uncle Papa Lobo during the week to allow her to attend school in a different district because of security issues at her former school. But as the only Black girl in class, Madalyn faces a new set of challenges at this new school.
Fast Pitch is a companion title to Nic Stone’s Clean Getaway, which I really enjoyed! It stars Scoob’s crush Shenice, an U12 softball team captain whose concentration is shot when she stumbles upon a decades-long family mystery. Shenice and her team are preparing to win the Fastpitch World Series, when she discovers that a crime her great-grand father was accused of — which cost him his reputation and place in the Negro leagues — may have actually been a set-up all along. And now, Shenice is the only one who can clear his name.
Black middle-grade books are a rarity. Trust me, in sourcing the books for this book list, it was hard to find recommendations. Many recommendations were also historical fiction, which is good and well, but not always my jam.
Sometimes Black people and Africans need books about mundane issues. So whether it’s books about female friendships or even about food — sign me up. In this list of Black middle-grade books, you’ll find only books by Black authors featuring Black protagonists.
Maya and the Robot is Eve L. Ewing’s debut middle grade book. It centers a young Black girl, Maya who’s entering the fifth grade. She’s disappointed when she’s placed in a different class than her two best friends, Jada and MJ. Quickly, it seems like they’re forming a new friend group and barely spending time with her, especially since they don’t even have the same lunch period. But things begin to look up when Maya finds a broken down robot in the neighborhood store where she helps out. After setting the robot up to work, Maya suddenly has a new best friend, but how long will this last? And what happens when the robot, Ralph malfunctions?
Summary: Clean Getaway William “Scoob” Lamar is hoping to make a clean getaway with his white G-ma. Especially because his dad is mad at him after an unpleasant school incident and subsequent suspension. At first he’s happy to be spending…
Summary: Before the Ever After Before the Ever After is Woodson’s latest Coretta Scott King award winner — and a well-deserved win too. ZJ’s dad is a popular pro American footballer. He has a awesome crew of male friends who…
Wes is your average sixth grader, except his style is fly. He may not win awards for being the best at math, but he will win the Best Dressed award. He also has a great crew of friends with whom he has lived in Kensington Oaks all his life. His parents believe in getting involved with social activism and are always dragging Wes to one protest after another.
Wes is forced to dive in when developers threaten to tear down his neighborhood. The attempt at gentrification begins to divide the community as some members elect to sell their properties while others flat out refuse. Up close and personal with the effects of gentrification, Wes and his friends are moved to use their voices.
Fourth grader Mya Tibbs is excited for Spirit Week! She has made plans to partner with her best friend Naomi Jackson. Mya’s life seems pretty good with her brother Nugget, his best friend affectionately known as Fish, and her other friends, identical twins Starr and Skye. The one scary part is Mean Connie Tate, who everyone knows is the biggest fourth-grade bully. So, you can imagine Mya’s terror when she’s partnered with Connie and Connie refuses to trade partners. On top of that, Naomi is mad at Mya for not trying harder to trade partners. Even the twins who agree on everything are getting torn apart because Skye wants to stay friends with Mya, while Starr is on Naomi’s side.
But as Mya works with Connie, she realizes that things aren’t as she’s thought.
Twins Maureen and Francine Carter have always done everything together, but things have changed as they’re starting sixth grade. For one, they have nearly all their classes apart from each other, and Francine is dressing differently, trying to stand out from her twin Maureen
The girls are still figuring out their new dynamic when Francine decides to run for student council, and by some stroke of fate, her shy, terrified-of-public-speaking sister is also running for president. Despite the ground rules laid by their parents, things get a bit messy as both girls try to establish their personal identities while fighting to reconcile their relationship as twins and sisters.