100 of the Best Picture Books for Middle School

Picture books for middle school? Shouldn’t older students have moved on from picture books years ago?

Not necessarily. Many of the best living picture books include amazing stories with rich language that big kids are finally able to read and enjoy on their own.

Additionally, some of the picture books we have on our shelves do a beautiful job of introducing kids to serious topics – like war or racism. And I purposely tend to hold these back until my kids are old enough to handle the emotional content.

Even with books that don’t cover heavy topics, there are many picture books with nuances that are best understood by older children.

This book contains affiliate links.

I’ve included more than 100 picture books for middle school students below. This is by no means an exhaustive list because there are so, so many picture books that could be appropriate for middle school students to read.

You may see some books on the list that you’ve read with younger children before. It’s okay! Some of them are entirely appropriate for younger children, too, but I’ve included them on the list because of the nuances that can be read with an entirely new perspective now that your children are older.

In our homeschool this year, Friday is picture book day for free reading for my 6th grader. I keep a rotating pile of the books listed below for my son to choose from.

The books that cover more sensitive topics, about war for instance, I like to either read with my son or take some time for pretty deep discussions after he’s read them on his own. Nettie’s Trip South is an example of such a book. It’s about a young girl who witnesses a slave auction and includes some pretty raw emotions. For this reason, you may want to do a quick pre-read of the books listed in the history section before handing them over freely.

History

The 5,000 Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt by Claudia Logan

Angelo by David Macauley

The Babe and I by David A. Adler

The Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki

The Bobbin Girl by Emily Arnold McCully

Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights by Jim Haskins

Electrical Wizard: How Nicola Tesla Lit Up the World by Elizabeth Rusch

The Faithful Friend by Robert D. San Souci

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship: A Russian Tale by Arthur Ransome

Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack

Good Queen Bess: The Story of Elizabeth I of England by Diane Stanley

Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares

Jubilee! One Man’s Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace by Alicia Potter

Lady Liberty by Doreen Rappaport

The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt
Angelo
The Babe & I
Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare
Baseball Saved Us
The Bobbin Girl
Delivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights
Electrical Wizard: Candlewick Biographies: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World
The Faithful Friend
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship: A Russian Tale
Goin' Someplace Special
Good Queen Bess : The Story of Elizabeth I of England
Growing Up Pedro: Candlewick Biographies: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues
Jubilee!: One Man's Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace
Lady Liberty: Candlewick Biographies: A Biography

Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

Nettie’s Trip South by Ann Turner

Peppe the Lamplighter by Elise Bartone

Seaman’s Journal by Patricia Reeder Eubank

The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy

Smoky Nights by Eve Bunting

Star of Fear, Star of Hope by Jo Hoestlandt

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles

Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell

Vassilisa the Wise by Josepha Sherman

A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet by Kathryn Lasky

The Wall by Eve Bunting

Who Owns the Sun? by Stacy Chbosky

Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman (Picture Puffin)
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (Caldecott Honor Book)
Nettie's Trip South (Aladdin Picture Books)
Peppe the Lamplighter
Seaman's Journal
The Seven Chinese Brothers (Blue Ribbon Book)
Smoky Night
Star of Fear, Star of Hope
The Story Of Ruby Bridges: Special Anniversary Edition
Train to Somewhere
Uncle Jed's Barbershop
Vassilisa the Wise: A Tale of Medieval Russia
A Voice of Her Own: Candlewick Biographies: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet
The Wall (Reading Rainbow Books)
Who Owns the Sun?

History Series

Holling C. Holling Series (actually great for science, too)

Tree in the Trail
Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling (1941-09-09)
Minn of the Mississippi
Seabird
Pagoo

Patricia Polacco Books

Pink and Say
The Butterfly
Fiona's Lace
January's Sparrow
Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln
Tucky Jo and Little Heart

Science

Alejandro’s Gift by Richard Albert

The Amazing Impossible Erie Canal by Cheryl Harness

Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies

Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardow

How We Crossed West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark by Rosalyn Schanzer

It’s a Frog’s Life by Steve Parker

The Raft by Jim LaMarche

Salamander Rain by Kristin Joy Pratt-Serifini

The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass

Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei by Peter Sis

The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden

The Web at Dragonfly Pond by Brian Ellis

Alejandro's Gift (Rise and Shine)
Amazing Impossible Erie Canal (Aladdin Picture Books)
Bartholomew and the Oobleck: (Caldecott Honor Book) (Classic Seuss)
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon (Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12)
Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas
How We Crossed The West: The Adventures Of Lewis And Clark
It's a Frog's Life
The Raft
Salamander Rain: A Lake and Pond Journal (Sharing Nature With Children Book)
The Secret World of Walter Anderson (Candlewick Biographies)
Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei
The Wartville Wizard
The Web at Dragonfly Pond

Science Series

Max Axiom Super Scientist Series

A Crash Course in Forces and Motion with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
Investigating the Scientific Method with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
A Journey into Adaptation with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
Exploring Ecosystems with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The World of Food Chains with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Decoding Genes with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Basics of Cell Life with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Shocking World of Electricity with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Attractive Story of Magnetism with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Dynamic World of Chemical Reactions with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Explosive World of Volcanoes with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Solid Truth about States of Matter with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
Understanding Viruses with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Illuminating World of Light with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
Understanding Photosynthesis with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Surprising World of Bacteria with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
Adventures in Sound with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Incredible Work of Engineers with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science and Engineering in Action)
A Journey through the Digestive System with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Whirlwind World of Hurricanes with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Earth-Shaking Facts about Earthquakes with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Powerful World of Energy with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)

Math

While I definitely read these books with upper elementary children, they each have concepts that can be explored in much more depth with middle school students.

The King’s Chessboard by David Burch

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka

One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi

The King's Chessboard (Picture Puffin Books)
One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale
Math Curse

Math Series

Sir Cumference Series

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (A Math Adventure)
Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (A Math Adventure)
Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland (A Math Adventure)
Sir Cumference and the Fracton Faire (Charlesbridge Math Adventures)
Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter (Math Adventures)
Sir Cumference and the Roundabout Battle
Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone
Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert
Sir Cumference and the Viking's Map

Bible/Character

These books are perfect to help your children see God’s goodness in big ways.

Coming Home by Max Lucado

With You All the Way by Max Lucado

Coming Home
With You All the Way

This biography is very helpful to explain the Protestant Reformation.

Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World by Paul L. Maier

Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World

While these books are easy to read with young children, too, they make great discussion starters about character qualities for middle schoolers.

The Merchant and the Thief by Ravi Zacharias

The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau

Sanji’s Seed by B.J. Reinhard

The Merchant and the Thief: A Folktale from India
The Quiltmaker's Gift
Sanji's Seed

Christmas

Each of these Christmas books also has a nice dose of history. I know several of them are written by Patricia Polacco and I’ve already mentioned her books above, but I wanted to be sure you don’t miss these!

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojceichowski

Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco

Gifts of the Heart by Patricia Polacco

An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco

The Scallop Christmas by Jane Freeburg

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
Christmas Tapestry
Gifts of the Heart
An Orange for Frankie
The Scallop Christmas

Do you have suggestions for other picture books for middle school? 

That’s a wrap for this giant list, but I’d love to hear your favorites! Let’s keep the list growing in the comments.

Other Book Lists

I’ve written post after post after post about living books. You can find links to all of those posts here.

More Awesome Book Lists:

   

 

This post has been linked to:

4 Comments

  1. Wow, what a great list! Can’t wait to check these out – especially the Christmas ones!

  2. The Christmas books are soooo good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *