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?
Four girls from different backgrounds are selected to become “The Flyers” for Spread Your Wings Magazine. Elena is a shy Latina who lives in her best friend’s shadow and is uncomfortable about the pubescent changes in her body. Harlow is a Japanese-American wannabe journalist, Cailin, a young influencer, and Whitney, a Black fashionista who secretly has panic attacks. The girls spend a week in New York City together than bonds them as friends and gives them the courage to find their voices.
Can you guess why I love middle grade books with shy protagonists? Yes, because I was a shy kid. Shy, socially anxious, and introverted. So reading about other shy — not introverted necessarily — kids and watching them do wonderful things despite paralyzing shyness brings me a ridiculous amount of joy. It goes without saying that many of these books are my favorites ever. If you’ve got a shy kid in your life, feel free to hand them one of these books.
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.
Simon B Rhymin’ is the story of 11-year-old Simon Barnes (aka Notorious D.O.G.), a shy kid who loves to rap. His best friend Maria (aka Ri-Ri) is a talkative Latina who often has to stand up to Simon’s bullies. His other best friend, C.J. is mostly chill, but also supportive of Simon. Simon’s parents also support his rapping, but he still doesn’t feel confident about rapping in front of strangers.