Whenever my chronic illness is giving me a particularly hard time or life feels especially stressful, I find myself reaching for middle grade novels. These little books pack a lot of joy in their pages while still dealing with very real topics. So whether you’re looking for books to give the kids in your life or just want something for the kid in yourself, here are a few of my favorite middle grade audiobooks.
Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices Edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed, Narrated by Siiri Scott and Neil Shah
In this fabulous short story collection, we meet dozens of characters who celebrate Eid in their own ways. From a boy learning what it means to be generous to a very eventful family road trip to visit relatives, each of these stories capture the spirit of Eid in their own ways. Siiri Scott and Neil Shah perform the book with such an ear for kids’ way of expressing things, making this collection a delight to listen to from start to finish.
Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega, Narrated by Almarie Guerra
Lucely Luna has always been able to see the ghosts of her family. But when her abuela’s spirit begins to fade away, she and her best friend Syd decide to cast a spell to try to bring her spirit back. Audiobook narrator Almarie Guerra perfectly captures the young voice of Lucely Luna.
The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf, Narrated by Mirai Booth-Ong
When Suraya’s grandmother gifts her a pelesit, a type of spirit, she couldn’t be more delighted. But when Pink, the pelesit, begins to show a darker side, Suraya is forced to take action so she and those she loves can survive. Performed beautifully by Mirai Booth-Ong, this middle grade novel captures your attention from the first few minutes and holds it all the way to the end.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks, Narrated by Bahni Turpin
When Zoe’s estranged biological father sends her a letter from prison declaring his innocence, she begins to wonder if it might be true and becomes determined to find out. While she searches for more information about her father’s situation, she’s also trying to convince her parents to let her audition for a show on Food Network. All-star audiobook narrator Bahni Turpin voices Zoe’s story brilliantly.
A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi, Narrated by Gail Shalan and Reena Dutt
When Mimi arrives in Pakistan to spend a summer with her grandparents, she isn’t exactly thrilled. But while there, she hopes to learn more about her father, who she barely knows, and to write to him in her journal. Sakina, the daughter of the cook at Mimi’s grandparent’s house, struggles to find a way to tell her parents that she must improve her English or lose her place at her school. These two girls might seem incredibly different, but they soon realize they have more in common than they think. Gail Shalan and Reena Dutt perform the girls’ different perspectives, giving them distinctive voices.
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park, Narrated by Emily Woo Zeller
In 1880, Hanna struggles to navigate the racism of her small town in America’s heartland. As a biracial Asian American, she never feels like she quite fits anywhere. But she has hopes and dreams she’s determined to make true. One of my favorite audiobook narrators, Emily Woo Zeller, provides the perfect narration for Hanna’s story.
American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar, Narrated by Priya Ayyar
Lekha has always kept the two halves of her life separated. At school, she’s the all-American girl who loves the exact things as everyone else, but at home, she loves Bollywood movies and eating Indian food. But when a new Indian American girl shows up at her school, Lekha’s way of life is turned upside down. While many assume that Lekha and the new girl, Avantika, would be the best of friends, Lekha isn’t so sure. Priya Ayyar performs this book in a way that captures all of Lekha’s conflict as she’s forced to confront so many feelings she’s long tried to ignore.