In Alpaca My Bags, Amelia is relieved when her parents decide to pause their life on the road for a short while so they can work and earn more money to continue their adventures. She’s trying hard to think about her family’s next daredevil adventure plans which involve skiing a black diamond slope. Amelia has been homeschooled most of her life and has major anxiety, so adjusting back to public school is not as easy as she expects. She’s also struggling with being the most scared person in her family of adventurers and feeling like she’s holding them back. But when she finds a farm with a herd of alpacas (animals known for their anxious, fearful tendency), Amelia discovers that being brave goes beyond physically challenging adventures.
In How to Win a Slime War, young Alex Manalo and his father have moved from Silicon Valley to Sacramento where his dad is taking over his Lolo and Lola’s grocery store. His grandparents have retired and his dad is tired of Silicon Valley living and wants to revamp the family’s Filipino Market. Alex is struggling to adjust a new place and also feeling burdened by his father’s expectations of him — that he cut his hair short, play more sports, and make less slime.
Golden Macaroni is having a tough year. First, he really wants to get bigger and become the captain of his middle school soccer team. As a dedicated Messi fan, he’s working on putting in ten thousand hours of soccer practice so that he can become as good as Messi. His former-soccer-star father has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). His best friend, Lucy Littlehouse is also moving away from her home next door to Golden’s. Despite his dad’s obvious deterioration, Golden stubbornly believes that his dad will get better. How will he cope with everything on his plate — and the heartbreaking challenges ahead of his family?
10 Truths and a Dare is the companion to the cute 10 Blind Dates which I read and liked a couple of years ago. In this book, Sophie’s cousin Olivia is set to graduate in a week (after all the pre-graduation parties, of course) — as class salutatorian no less. That is until she discovers that flaking on her off-campus P.E (golf) means she doesn’t have enough credits to graduate. Desperate to fix things without letting her entire large close-knit family know, Olivia comes up with a plan to redo the class. But she has a few problems.
The Peach family is embarking on The Great Peach Experiment, their first one: making and selling pies out of a food truck! Oh, and they’ll be road tripping the whole summer too. Lucy, Freddie, and Herb have spent more time with each other than with their father since their mom died. But now one of their mom’s inventions has sold for a lot of money and their dad has bought a food truck and wants them to spend the summer traveling through the country as a family.
Amina’s Song is the sequel to Hena Khan’s Amina’s Voice. The book opens with Amina in Pakistan visiting family over the summer. She bonds with her cousin Zohra and her Thaya Jaan who had visited them in the States in Amina’s Voice. Amina falls in love with Pakistan, the culture, and of course, her people — and is sad when they have to return to the States. She promises her uncle that she’ll tell other people how wonderful Pakistan is.
Maggie loves animals and has been waiting patiently to get a dog, only to discover that she’s allergic. She’s also dealing with a changing family in which she feels less and less like she belongs. Her two little brothers are seemingly obsessed with each other and couldn’t care less about her. Her mother is heavily pregnant and excited for the new baby.
Rigel has 365 days to Alaska. After her parents split up, her mom moves Rigel and her two sisters from their Alaskan bush living to Connecticut where their grandmother lives. At first, Rigel hates it in the Connecticut suburbs, even though her sisters seem to be having a better time. They’re excited about the comforts of running water, a television, and malls, among other things. But Rigel yearns for the quiet of bush life, wants to return to the simplicity of hunting animals for food, and being with her dad. So her father promises her that in a year, when he’s earned a bit of money from working, Rigel can return to live with him in Alaska.
The best middle-grade books about families warm our hearts. But then again, isn’t nearly every book a little bit about families? I thought so too, so for this list of middle-grade books about families, I chose books with family as one of the central themes. This means that whether the families in this story are small (parent and child) or large (parents and multiple children), a major plot point is how the family unit deals with a given challenge. You’ll find happy families, worried families, dysfunctional families, and supportive families in various shapes and sizes.