Transitioning to the Middle Grades

While our older daughter still loves many early reader chapter books, she’s starting to venture into middle grade territory. So far we’ve found the books to be longer, have fewer pictures, and contain more emotional complexity. As she is still on the younger end of the typical middle grade age span, we are looking for books that are heavy on adventure and light on emotional drama.



Disney’s Descendants School of Secrets books by Jessica Brody

Since some Disney early reader chapter books were flops with our daughters (see post from August 30, 2017), I was a little hesitant to introduce this series. We started with CJ’s Treasure Chase and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a big hit! The Descendants are the sons and daughters of famous Disney characters. In the case of CJ’s Treasure Chase, the main character CJ is the daughter of Captain Hook. She aspires to show her father that she is a successful pirate in her own right. With the help of Freddie, the daughter of Dr. Facilier from the Princess and the Frog, CJ unlocks the secrets of her father’s treasure map in the quest for enough riches to purchase a ship of her own and establish herself as a pirate. The book is full of suspense, with many cliffhangers along the way. The characters are more fleshed out than I found them to be in some of the Disney early reader chapter books. The book explores issues of a team vs. the individual, problem solving, and a person’s ability to change. However, note that as the daughter of a Disney villain, CJ is known as a VK, or Villian Kid, and displays some of the behaviors of a villain, such as name calling and putting others down. We have not seen the Descendants movies. Based on what little I’ve read about them, I don’t think they are appropriate for our daughters just yet. The books, on the other hand, were intriguing and engaging enough that we’d like to read others in the series.

Do you know of any middle grade books that would be well suited for kids who love to read about adventures? Please feel free to leave recommendations!

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