From a scheming but well-intentioned protagonist who is dreading the new school year, to an endearingly distractible girl who is attempting to manage her life with in-her-head lists and definitions, read on for our realistic fiction book picks. These middle grade favorites are perfect for chapter book-loving fans looking for stories featuring friendship, family, and self-discovery.

Charlie Bumpers vs Teacher of the Year

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year
by Bill Harley
illustrated by Adam Gustavson

Shortly before school starts, Charlie Bumpers learns that he will be in Mrs. Burke’s class. It doesn’t matter that she’s been named Teacher of the Year. He’s still afraid of her. Last year when he was horsing around in the hall, he accidentally hit her in the head with his sneaker (don’t ask). The exasperated teacher declared that if anything like that ever happened again, Charlie would be banned from recess forever. How will he survive a year under a teacher who is just waiting for him to make another stupid mistake? This fun series for young readers from Grammy Award-winning author Bill Harley uses humor to illuminate important values such as learning to live together as a family and making the best of a bad situation.

For more on this series, visit the Charlie Bumpers series page:

Charlie Bumpers Series


Nina Soni Former Best Friend

Nina Soni, Former Best Friend
by Kashmira Sheth
illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky

Nina tried as hard as she could, but still somehow she forgot about her school project. Fortunately, a class lesson about Alexander Fleming suggests how she might make a great discovery—and thus a great project! But with little sister Kavita’s birthday party right around the corner, and her longtime friendship with Jay on the rocks, Nina has a lot to keep track of. Readers are sure to relate to author Kashmira Sheth’s endearing Nina Soni and her slightly scatter-brained efforts to manage her life with lists, definitions, and real-life math problems.

Check out the rest of the Nina Soni series here:

Nina Soni Series Page Header