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.

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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 Picture Books

The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient EgyptAngeloThe Babe & IBard of Avon: The Story of William ShakespeareBaseball Saved UsThe Bobbin GirlDelivering Justice: W.W. Law and the Fight for Civil RightsElectrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the WorldThe Faithful FriendThe Fool of the World and the Flying Ship: A Russian TaleGoin' Someplace SpecialGood Queen Bess : The Story of Elizabeth I of EnglandGrowing Up Pedro: Candlewick Biographies: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major LeaguesJubilee!: One Man's Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of PeaceLady Liberty: Candlewick Biographies: A Biography

 

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

Minty: A Story of Young Harriet TubmanMoses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (Caldecott Honor Book)Nettie's Trip South (Aladdin Picture Books)Peppe the LamplighterSeaman's Journal: On the Trail With Lewis and ClarkThe Seven Chinese Brothers (Blue Ribbon Book)Smoky NightStar of Fear, Star of HopeThe Story of Ruby BridgesTrain to SomewhereUncle Jed's BarbershopVassilisa the Wise: A Tale of Medieval RussiaA Voice of Her Own: Candlewick Biographies: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave PoetThe Wall (Reading Rainbow Books)Who Owns the Sun?

 

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

History Series Picture Books

Tree In The TrailPaddle-To-The-Sea (Sandpiper Books)Minn of the MississippiSeabirdPagoo

 

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

Pink and SayThe ButterflyFiona's LaceJanuary's SparrowJust in Time, Abraham LincolnTucky Jo and Little Heart

 

Patricia Polacco Books

Science Picture Books

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 PeasHow We Crossed The West: The Adventures Of Lewis And ClarkIt's a Frog's LifeThe RaftSalamander Rain: A Lake and Pond Journal (Sharing Nature With Children Book)The Secret World of Walter Anderson (Candlewick Biographies)Starry Messenger: Galileo GalileiThe Wartville WizardThe Web at Dragonfly Pond

 

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

No Sweat Nature Study LIVE

Science Series Picture Books

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 ScientistThe 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 ScientistThe 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)

 

Max Axiom Super Scientist Series

Math Picture Books

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 (Picture Puffins)Math CurseOne Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale

 

The King’s Chessboard by David Burch

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka

One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi

Math Series Picture Books

By Cindy Neuschwander - Sir Cumference and the Knights of the First Round Table (A Math Adventure) (3.1.1999)Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi byNeuschwanderSir Cumference and the Great Knight of AnglelandSir Cumference and the Fracton FaireSir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter byNeuschwanderSir Cumference and the Roundabout BattleSir Cumference and the Sword in the ConeSir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts DessertSir Cumference and the Viking's Map

 

Sir Cumference Series

Bible & Character Picture Books

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

Coming HomeWith You All the Way

 

Coming Home by Max Lucado

With You All the Way by Max Lucado

This biography is very helpful to explain the Protestant Reformation.

Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World

 

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

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: A Folktale from IndiaThe Quiltmaker's GiftSanji's Seed

 

The Merchant and the Thief by Ravi Zacharias

The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau

Sanji’s Seed by B.J. Reinhard

Christmas Picture Books for Middle School

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 ToomeyChristmas TapestryGifts of the HeartAn Orange for FrankieThe Scallop Christmas

 

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

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:

   

 

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5 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.

  3. Thanks for this helpful list!

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