At my library, the teen department serves both middle school and high school kids, so my teen librarian wanted a list just for the middle schoolers. These are stories not just with main characters in grades 6-8, but where a significant part of the story takes place at school (whether or not that school is magical.)
Thanks to Charlotte of Charlotte’s Library for consulting on this, and to my library intern Nick Rapson for putting together the blurbs and the graphic.
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor “Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria – her features are African, but she’s albino. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?”
Black Panther: the Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith “Black Panther. Ruler of Wakanda. Avenger. This is his destiny. But right now, he’s simply T’Challa the young prince, so as conflict brews near Wakanda, T’Challa’s father makes a startling announcement: he’s sending T’Challa and M’Baku to school in America. ”
The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson “In an effort to help make ends meet, Colm uses his natural gift for pickpocketing to pilfer a pile of gold from the richer residents of town, but his actions place him at the mercy of Finn Argos, a gilded-toothed, smooth-tongued rogue who gives Colm a choice: he can be punished for his thievery or he can become a member of Thwodin’s Legions, a guild of dungeoneers who take what they want and live as they will.”
The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown “On a cold winter night, Iris and her best friend, Daniel, sneak into a clearing in the woods to play in the freshly fallen snow. There, Iris carefully makes a perfect snow angel — only to find the crumbling gravestone of a young girl, Avery Moore, right beneath her.”
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes “Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.”
Homerooms and Hallpasses by Tom O’Donnell “In the mystical realm of Bríandalör, every day the brave and the bold delve into hidden temples or forgotten dungeons, battling vile monsters and evil wizards to loot their treasure hoards. But in their free time, our heroes—Thromdurr the mighty barbarian, Devis the shifty thief, Vela the noble paladin, Sorrowshade the Gloom Elf assassin, and Albiorix the (good!) wizard—need to relax and unwind.”
Love Sugar Magic: A Mixture of Mischief by Anna Meriano “It’s spring break in Rose Hill, Texas, but Leo Logroño has a lot of work to do if she’s going to become a full-fledged bruja like the rest of her family. She still hasn’t discovered the true nature of her magical abilities, her family’s baking heirlooms have begun to go missing, and a new bakery called Honeybees has opened across town, threatening to run Amor y Azúcar right out of business.”
Magesterium: the Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare “Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.”
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez “Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk”
Seventh Grade vs. the Galaxy by Joshua Levy “PSS 118 is just your typical school—except that it’s a rickety old spaceship orbiting Jupiter. When the school is mysteriously attacked, thirteen-year-old Jack receives a cryptic message from his father, the school’s recently-fired-for-tinkering-with-the-ship science teacher.”
The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta “Meet Kiranmala: Interdimensional demon slayer (Only she doesn’t know it yet.) On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey . . . until her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive.”
The Thief Knot by Kate Milford “Marzana and her best friend are bored. Even though they live in a notorious city where normal rules do not apply, nothing interesting ever happens to them. Nothing, that is, until Marzana’s parents are recruited to help solve an odd crime, and she realizes that this could be the excitement she’s been waiting for.”
Have you read any of these? Would you recommend any stories of magic or science fiction at school for this age range? Let me know in the comments!