Stephen Blue for TIME for Kids
February 5, 2020

What should kids read this winter? The editors of TIME for Kids selected 10 recently released books for middle-grade readers. From graphic novels and memoirs to works of historical fiction—there are options for bookworms, reluctant readers and every kid in between.

Our team of TIME for Kids Kid Reporters read and reviewed our picks. Here’s what they had to say about this season’s 10 notable reads.

Pavi Sharma’s Guide to Going Home, Bridget Farr

Reviewed by Alexis Bumah

Book: Stephen Blue for TIME for Kids

Pavi Sharma is a 12-year-old who lives in a happy foster home. Pavi runs a “business” which prepares kids to meet their foster families. When Pavi finds out that a young girl is going to be sent to the worst foster home Pavi ever stayed in, she enlists the help of schoolmates to save her new friend from a bad home. This captivating book would be enjoyable for anyone with an adventurous spirit or who loves plot twists. Buy Now: Pavi Sharma’s Guide to Going Home

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, by Ibi Zoboi

Reviewed by Henry Carroll

Book: Stephen Blue for TIME for Kids

Ebony-Grace is from Alabama, but she’s spending the summer before seventh grade in Harlem with her father. She struggles to make friends there, so she retreats into her favorite pastime: pretending to be a space explorer in an imaginary world she has created with her grandfather, a former NASA engineer. While I would not have chosen this book had I seen it in a bookstore, I’m glad I read it. Ibi Zoboi has crafted a well-paced and engaging story, with the occasional comic strip that gives us a glimpse into Ebony-Grace’s imagination. Buy Now: My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich

Roll with It, by Jamie Sumner

Reviewed by Tyler Mitroff

Book: Stephen Blue for TIME for Kids

Roll with It is about a 12-year-old girl named Ellie. She has cerebral palsy, a disability that makes it hard for her to walk, so she gets around with the help of a wheelchair. When Ellie and her mom move to another state to take care of Ellie’s grandpa, she must learn to navigate a new school and new friendships. This page-turner is a must-read for everyone. It’s a heartwarming story that shows the value of family and how being different is special. Buy Now: Roll with It

The Big Book of Monsters: The Creepiest Creatures from Classic Literature, by Hal Johnson, illustrated by Tim Sievert

Reviewed by Raunak Singh

Book: Stephen Blue for TIME for Kids

Featuring monsters from cultures around the world—old and new, unknown and well-known—The Big Book of Monsters is guaranteed to make your bones rattle. Author Hal Johnson and illustrator Tim Sievert profile monsters that are creepier than anything you could ever imagine. The book explains each monster’s powers, tells about its dastardly deeds and rates how scary it is. My favorite literary monster is Apep, who battles the Egyptian sun god every day at sunrise and can escape the strongest chains. This book will leave you jumping at the sound of a cricket or the tapping of a tree branch. Read The Big Book of Monsters if you dare! Buy Now: The Big Book of Monsters

More to the Story, by Hena Khan

Reviewed by Mira McInnes

Book: Stephen Blue for TIME for Kids

More to the Story is a retelling of the classic novel Little Women. This version, set in the present, is about four Pakistani-American sisters living in Atlanta. One of the sisters, Jameela Mirza, is a seventh-grader who dreams of becoming a journalist. After Jameela’s younger sister becomes severely ill, Jameela realizes her family is more important than reporting—and she comes up with a big idea. More to the Story depicts characters who are funny, supportive and kind. The book is very moving and made me think about how families come together during rough times. Buy Now: More to the Story

Free Lunch, by Rex Ogle

Reviewed by Priscilla L. Ho

Book: Stephen Blue for TIME for Kids

In the memoir Free Lunch, author Rex Ogle tells the true story of his turbulent sixth-grade year. His mother and her boyfriend can’t find jobs and are often not home. At school, Rex is in the free-lunch program, but he doesn’t want the rich kids to know. This book takes a very honest look at poverty and what happens when kids have to fend for themselves. For readers who have experienced poverty, Free Lunch will let them know they are not alone. Those who haven’t will feel compassion for Rex. I also think every politician should read this book. Buy Now: Free Lunch

AstroNuts Mission One: The Plant Planet, by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Steven Weinberg

Reviewed by Eshaan Mani

Book: Stephen Blue for TIME for Kids

The narrator of AstroNuts is the Earth, which has been trashed by humans for millennia. Four animals set out from Mount Rushmore, the headquarters of NNASA (Not-NASA), in their rocket. Their mission is to find a new planet fit for human life. Eventually, they discover one: Plant Planet. Will Plant Planet turn out to be too dangerous for humans? The plot of AstroNuts is interesting and educational, and the story’s theme is simple: Don’t harm the planet. Readers who love fantasy and sci-fi books will enjoy reading AstroNuts. Buy Now: AstroNuts Mission One: The Plant Planet

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation, by Stuart Gibbs

Reviewed by Zara Wierzbowski

Book: Stephen Blue for TIME for Kids

In Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation, the CIA is on a quest to find an equation called Pandora, which could destroy the world if the wrong people get hold of it. For help, they turn to Charlie, a 12-year-old girl who’s as smart as Albert Einstein. Charlie doesn’t have a lot of time to solve the world’s problems—but she’s the only one who can do it. People who like action-packed mysteries with an element of adventure will enjoy reading this suspenseful book. Much of the setting is genuine, and the characters are based on real-life people, like Albert Einstein and CIA agents. Buy Now: Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation

Allies, by Alan Gratz

Reviewed by Jack Doane

Book: Stephen Blue for TIME for Kids

Allies is a work of historical fiction that takes place during World War II. Author Alan Gratz pieces together the perspectives of several characters—a young soldier, a paratrooper, a spy and others—to tell the story of the D-Day invasion. The characters come from different parts of the world, but they all play an important role in the invasion and must try their best to succeed. The characters are extremely realistic, and readers can see themselves reflected in them. Allies is an emotional roller coaster that kids will enjoy. Buy Now: Allies

Stargazing, by Jen Wang

Reviewed by Nora Wilson-Hartgrove

Book: Stephen Blue for TIME for Kids

The graphic novel Stargazing is based on author Jen Wang’s experiences as a child. Christine hears rumors that Moon, who’s new in town, is the kind of kid who beats people up for fun. But Moon and her mom come to live with Christine’s family, and the two kids become best friends. Moon even shares a big secret with Christine. This story about the power of friendship might appeal to people who like a surprising twist and the message that people can change. Buy Now: Stargazing

Write to TIME for Kids at tfkeditors@time.com.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Read More From TIME

EDIT POST