September 08


Ten Middle Grade Book Beginnings Begging to be Read by Kris Barr Paquette

It’s the beginning of the school year, and you have all your favorite summer reads stacked up in your mind to book talk.  I know.  It’s exciting.  The kids are going to love each and every suggestion you give them!  Let’s fast forward a few weeks, suddenly you are buried beneath a stack of personal narratives to grade and you’re starting to tread water.  Don’t despair my fine reader friends, here are 10 awesome MG books with beginnings sure to entice your readers. So open them up, read the first line, and give a quick book talk.



“Before we get started, I just want to make one thing clear about the guys I hang out.  I did not, do not, and will not ever endorse our “name” or “motto”.  EngiNerds.”

Enginerds by Jarrett Learner


Students who are fans of the maker movement or STEM will simply adore these friends who love a good challenge building things.  One day mischief breaks loose when their new robot can’t stop eating, everything.



“Sometimes I stare into the dark corner of my room and see the ghost of my sister Amelia.  She’s ten years old- the age she would be now, if she hadn’t died- but she doesn’t talk like a ten year old. She has the eyes of a grandmother

and the voice of a saint.”

Land of the Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly


Erin Entrada Kelly again tugs on our heartstrings with this story of sisters persevering from tragedy, loss, and an unkind stepmother through storytelling and imagination.



You need something? 

I can get it for you. 

You have a problem? 

I can solve it. 

That’s why they come to me.

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

Take The Godfather, toss in some humor and mayhem, and set it in a school…and you’ll find The Fourth Stall.  Students will love Mac and his friends, and you will hear them chuckling during silent reading time, and wanting to share lines aloud with their friends.  Did I mention that Mac’s office is located in the fourth stall of the bathroom?



“What I couldn’t get out of my skull was the thought of their rough, grimy hands all over my clean sneaks.”

– The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore


Twelve year old Lolly tries to survive life in the projects following his brother’s death in a gang related shooting.  When trouble finds him, Lolly finds himself content to lose his troubles building Legos.  Can he avoid the destiny of his brother?





Theory #1

“We come from the ocean.  My brother and me.  We were rolled out of sand, at the bottom of the water.  From the very darkest part of the earth.”

Forever or a Very Long Time by Caela Carter


Adopted siblings, Flora and Julian, do not believe that they were ever born like normal children.  Their bumpy start to childhood left them with hazy memories of several different foster homes.  They do not remember their mother and are convinced they never had one.  Person, their adopted mom, tries to reassure them that they are with her forever, but it’s hard to trust when you’ve been disappointed so many times.



“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You look ridiculous. 


Little brothers can always be counted on to reach peak levels of annoying at exactly the wrong moment.

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke

Liv’s school has a terrible dress code.  Girls are only allowed to wear skirts.  But Liv is transgender and he starts The Pants Project.  His aim is to change his life… and this terrible dress code.



“Something sharp pokes me in the ribs.

“You should totally sign up for a solo,” Soojin whispers from the seat behind me in music class.

I shake my head.  The mere thought of singing in front of a crowd makes my stomach twist into knots.”

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan


Students who are struggling to fit into middle school or notice that some of their childhood friends are leaving them behind, will connect with Amina, a Pakistani-Muslim American.  Amina struggles to stay true to her culture and blend into school amidst a time of community turmoil.




“The two boys who vanished in the pond that night were farm kids, cousins of some kind. They had the same last name, Peckham.  Terri Carr told the story to Jessie the day they met on the raft.

Quicksand Pond by Janet Taylor Lisle


Jessie is spending her summer visiting a small town, and has made a quick friend in Terri, who has a family full of trouble.  Terri tells Jessie the legend of Quicksand Pond and a tragedy that happened years ago.  The more Jessie learns, the more she begins to wonder about things.




“You can’t just drop a dead sister into the conversation.  If it accidently comes up that my sister died, everyone just freezes, their mouths hanging open and their eyes wide.”

Well That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail


Middle School can be a rough adventure when your crush starts dating your best friend.  This story is both funny and sweet.




“My hands aren’t really clean until I’ve washed them twelve times, one for each year of my life.  I soap-rinse-one soap-rinse-two soap-rinse-three soap-rinse-four soap-rinse-five soap-rinse-six open my palms to the scalding water, and repeat.  I do it quick- so no one notices. . .”

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla


Charlie’s life has been rough ever since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan.

He is uprooted following his dad across country for medical treatment.   He decides that if he can spot all the birds that he and his father were hoping to see someday along the way, then everything might just turn out okay.




Now you didn’t really think I would be able to stop at ten, did you?  Here are a couple of bonus beginnings to check out, too.



Bonus 1


“Look here, Mac.  I’m going to give it to you straight.

Grown-ups lie.  Sure, they like to say that kids make stuff up and that we don’t tell the truth, but they’re the lying liars.”

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm







Bonus 2


“You’ve never met anyone like me.  Unless of course, you’ve met someone who survived her mother trying to drown her and now lives with an alcoholic father.”

Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington





Kris Barr Paquette has been a reading teacher for 18 years at Marshall Greene Middle School in Birch Run, Michigan.  She currently is the Title I Reading Specialist servicing fifth through eighth grades.  She’s a Harry Potter fan, a true Gryffindor- if you must know, and an avid reader.  When you don’t find her at school, she’ll most likely be reading on her front porch.