10 Short Middle Grade Books Under 250 Pages

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Most kids arent reading as much as they should be. We know this. Especially after the pandemic. But could reading less also coincide with so many long books (300+ pages) that seem ubiquitous in publishing and intimidating to our growing readers? This is why I want to highlight shorter-length middle grade books for kids who prefer books with fewer pages.

Admittedly, Im also a fan of shorter middle grade books, which I elaborated on in a recent Publishers Weekly article. My reasons werent due to a lack of time spent reading, but my preference for zippy pacing and tight prose that moves the plot forward, something that shorter books around 200 pages lend themselves to more often.

Like me, kids often like books where every word matters. Thats why I recommend sharing these exceptional short middle grade books and seeing if that makes a difference in their reading lives. Here are 10 of my favorites that feel accessible to readers and wont take months to finish.

  • by Torrey Maldonado

    Stephen, a mixed-race boy, struggles with his white friends who are treated differently than him and make risky decisions he doesnt want to make. As he confronts racism and inequality, Stephen grapples with who he wants to be without bending to the peer pressure of friends.
    (144 pages)

  • Snow & Rose

    by Emily Winfield Martin

    In this beautifully written Grimm fairy tale, Snow and Rose live with their mother in a small cottage in the woods, where they meet and befriend a gigantic bear. But a Huntsman stalks their bear friend, and a Little Man seeks to enchant the sisters. Can they find a way to save their bear and themselves?
    (244 pages)

  • Thirst

    by Varsha Bajaj

    When Minnis mother gets sick, 12-year-old Minni works her mothers maid job for a wealthy Mumbai family that has water all day, unlike Minnis community, which only has water for a few hours from a communal tap. When Minni sees the water mafia stealing water from her community, she recognizes her employer. She must decide if she should speak up or stay silent.
    (192 pages)

  • Garvey's Choice

    by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

    Garvey prefers chess and reading but clashes with his dad, who wants him to like sports. But a new friend at school helps Garvey accept his larger size and find something he likes music. Garvey realizes he loves singing but worries about telling his dad. Written in tanka verse, this is a relatable story about a boy finding himself.
    (120 pages)

  • Kiki's Delivery Service

    by Eiko Kadono, illustrated by Yuta Onoda, translated by Emily Balistrieri

    13-year-old half-witch Kiki leaves home for a year-long apprenticeship and settles above a bakery in a charming seaside town. She works as a delivery girl, using magic to endear herself to the townspeople. Readers will fall in love with this enchanting story about friendship, independence, and kindness.
    (208 pages)

  • The Friendship Code #1 (Girls Who Code)

    by Stacia Deutsch

    Sixth-grader Lucy joins a coding club to make a medication reminder app for her uncle. Then, she receives an anonymous letter in code teaching her about basic coding concepts faster than the club. Lucy relies on new and old friends to help her follow the mysterious clues and figure out who is behind the letters.
    (144 pages)

  • Dragons vs. Unicorns (Kate the Chemist)

    by Dr. Kate Biberdorf with Hillary Homzie

    Kates a busy, science-loving girl who excels in problem-solving. As the assistant director for the school musical, she must use all her skills to find out who is sabotaging the show. Science and drama and experiments oh, my!
    (144 pages)

  • Finding Langston

    by Lesa Cline-Ransome

    After his mother dies in the 1940s, Langston leaves the countryside to live with his father in Chicago. He misses home, hes bullied at school, and his father is always working. One day, Langston discovers the library and the poetry of Langston Hughes, which changes everything. Readers will love this emotional story about the power of words, healing, and redemption.
    (112 pages)

  • Three Tasks for a Dragon

    by Eoin Colfer, illustrated by P.J. Lynch

    This short novel is filled with gorgeous illustrations and an epic fantasy vibe. Kind Prince Lir is tricked by his dark sorcerer stepbrother into forfeiting his crown and embarking on a fake quest to save a kidnapped maiden from a dragon. Lir solves the dragon’s problems so he doesnt get eaten and befriends the maiden, who never was in danger. Before the evil sorcerer dies, he curses the girl and Lir to be forever separated. But forever in a fairy tale might not really be forever.
    (112 pages)

  • The Losers Club

    by Andrew Clements

    Forced to join a school club, Alec claims his bookworm/loser status and starts an after-school reading club called The Losers Club. Weirdly enough, other kids join Alecs new club, and it becomes a success. Thats when Alec notices life outside the safety of a book, including other peoples feelings and needs.
    (240 pages)

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