Here be Dragons: Middle Grade Edition

You’ve seen the list of YA titles featuring dragons, but there are so many more stories to explore! So, check out these middle grade novels (and one graphic novel) featuring dragons.

*All book descriptions are from the publisher.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook and physical book.

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (previously mentioned in the YA Books in Space book list)

Rick Riordan presents Yoon Ha Lee’s space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds. When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name. Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook, hoopla ebook, and physical book.

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon caretaking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives – and eventually her own.

Accessible as a hoopla ebook and physical book.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (See also other Middle Grade Adventure Stories and other books by Grace Lin!)

In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook and physical book.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans, tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan by catching and training a dragon. Can Hiccup do it without being torn limb from limb?

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook and physical book.

Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman

Everyone in Vallen knows that ice wolves and scorch dragons are sworn enemies who live deeply separate lives.

So when twelve-year-old orphan Anders takes one elemental form and his twin sister, Rayna, takes another, he wonders whether they are even related. Family or not, Rayna is Anders’s only true friend. She’s nothing like the brutal, cruel dragons who claimed her as one of their own and stole her away.

To rescue her, Anders must enlist at the foreboding Ulfar Academy, a school for young wolves that values loyalty to the pack above all else. But for Anders, loyalty is more complicated than obedience, and friendship is the most powerful shapeshifting force of all.

Accessible as a hoopla ebook/audiobook.

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott

When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she’s not his grandmother—but she is a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don’t let them out of the bag, and don’t feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends Vikram and Kavita have broken both rules! Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever?

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook.

Middle Grade Historical Fiction

From the Revolutionary War in America, to 1841 Japan, to Nazi Germany, these historical fiction stories are a great way to be introduced to different time periods and explore what life was like way back when.

*All book descriptions are from the publisher.

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Josef is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world… Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America… Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe… All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers — from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook and hoopla audiobook

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate, become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook.

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

In 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.

Manjiro, a 14-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives there for some time and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the emperor to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook and hoopla ebook.

Mermaid Tales

It’s officially summer! And with summertime comes a longing for beaches and the great blue sea. Sometimes you just want to dive down deep and explore what’s under those crashing waves. Maybe you’ll even come across a mermaid. Or, maybe not. But, you can always explore under the sea and look for mermaid tails through these YA books!.

*All book descriptions are from the publisher.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below, but instead undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid. A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: the mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce possesses an extraordinary singing talent, which makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen. However her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder?

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook and hoopla ebook/audiobook

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

For as long as she can remember, twelve-year-old Emily Windsnap has lived on a boat. And, oddly enough, for just as long, her mother has seemed anxious to keep Emily away from the water. But when Mom finally agrees to let her take swimming lessons, Emily makes a startling discovery — about her own identity, the mysterious father she’s never met, and the thrilling possibilities and perils shimmering deep below the water’s surface. With a sure sense of suspense and richly imaginative details, first-time author Liz Kessler lures us into a glorious undersea world where mermaids study shipwrecks at school and Neptune rules with an iron trident — an enchanting fantasy about family secrets, loyal friendship, and the convention-defying power of love.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stowaway she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook

The Siren by Kiera Cass

Kahlen is a Siren—bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to their watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who’s everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger… but will Kahlen risk everything to follow her heart?

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook and hoopla ebook/audiobook

For more ocean-faring stories, check out these pirates books!

Middle Grade Adventure Stories

Let’s go on an adventure! From magical medieval Europe to a monstrous post-apocalypse town, these stories will take you on a journey and escape from the restrictions of quarantine for a bit. Even if it’s only in your imagination.

*All book descriptions are from the publishers.

The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz

1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte… recently brought back from the dead. 

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook

The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier and illustrated by Douglas Holgate

Ever since the monster apocalypse hit town, average thirteen-year-old Jack Sullivan has been living in his tree house, which he’s armed to the teeth with catapults and a moat, not to mention video games and an endless supply of Oreos and Mountain Dew scavenged from abandoned stores. But Jack alone is no match for the hordes of Zombies and Winged Wretches and Vine Thingies, and especially not for the eerily intelligent monster known only as Blarg. So Jack builds a team: his dorky best friend, Quint; the reformed middle school bully, Dirk; Jack’s loyal pet monster, Rover; and Jack’s crush, June. With their help, Jack is going to slay Blarg, achieve the ultimate Feat of Apocalyptic Success, and be average no longer! Can he do it?

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

Twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the starkly beautiful Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Abandoned and set adrift in a small boat when she was just hours old, Crow’s only companions are Osh, the man who rescued and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbor across the sandbar.

Crow has always been curious about the world around her, but it isn’t until the night a mysterious fire appears across the water that the unspoken question of her own history forms in her heart. Soon, an unstoppable chain of events is triggered, leading Crow down a path of discovery and danger.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook.

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

When Reuben discovers an extraordinary antique watch with a secret power, his life takes an intriguing turn. As one secret leads to another, Reuben finds himself torn between his honest nature and the lure to be a hero.

Now he is on a dangerous adventure—full of curious characters, treacherous traps, and hairsbreadth escapes—as he races to solve the mystery before it is too late. With fearless Penny, mighty Jack, and the wise Mrs. Genevieve on his side, can Reuben outwit a sly villain called The Smoke and save the city from a terrible fate?

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook.

Explore Newbery Award-Winning Author Grace Lin’s Books!

While sheltering in place with kids, try exploring different authors each week. This week, borrow ebook, e-audio, and video copies of Newbery award-winning author Grace Lin’s books on hoopla and Overdrive/Libby. Extend the experience with a YouTube video of her showing how to draw a Chinese dragon. Then listen to another video of her reading aloud from her book Mulan: Before the Sword, her story prequel to the live-action Disney movie, Mulan. Below are three books at different reading levels: middle grade, picture book, and early reader.

Mulan: Before the Sword, written and illustrated by Grace Lin. This is a middle grade fantasy for ages 8-12. 

A mixture of traditional tales and previous adventures of the legendary Mulan character. Young Mulan, accompanied by an immortal healer in the shape of a rabbit, journeys to the garden of the Queen Mother of Immortals to obtain a plant that will heal her sister of poisoning. In the process, Mulan grows in courage and faith in her own abilities.

A Big Mooncake for Little Star, geared towards ages 3-8.

Watch the short video of this picture book. It has a read aloud function to follow along and practice early reading. The illustrations are lovely of the story of Little Star and her Mama making a Mooncake in the night sky. Hint: the mooncake is more than a cake in this story.

This title is also accessible as an ebook in Overdrive/Libby and as a movie on hoopla.

Ling & Ting: Twice as Silly (#3 the Ling & Ting series), an early reader book for ages 5-8.

Listen to this charming collection of stories about Chinese-American twin sisters and their silly  and sweet adventures. Lighthearted stories reveal their sibling jokes and humor in their play. The girls plant cupcakes, paint their toys red, swing “to outer space,” and, in the last story, create a story to recount their escapades.

This title is also accessible as an ebook in Overdrive.