Episode 2: Middle Grade Gets Real

Hi and welcome to The Power of Story, a podcast for readers, teachers, parents, and anyone who wants to get lost in middle grade and young adult stories. I’m your host, Caitlin Lore, also known as MsLReads, a junior high English teacher, complete booknerd, and lately, totally immersed in some fantastic middle grade literature.

Welcome to episode 2 where I’ll be book talking three realistic novels that get real with readers, chatting about those stories with a few of my students, and sharing about a great movement I’ve recently discovered called MG Gets Real.

How MG Gets Real

When I discovered #MGGetsReal, I was beyond the moon excited to find such a resource and movement encouraging middle grade literature to dive deep into the heart of the life. Middle grade readers need to see themselves in the pages of a book--in the lives of characters their age-- and get lost in the power of story so that they can empathize and begin to see that there are more kids out there like them. The middle years are such a tough and trying time, and I think that in a time when our society is going through so much culturally, kids need these kinds of stories to help them find their own path.

The MGGetsReal campaign is a fabulous resource encouraging writers to write more stories centered around tougher topics, but also connecting readers, teachers, parents, and librarians with the MG books out there that are ALREADY brave enough to tell these kinds of stories.

If you head to the website there’s a link to an ongoing list of published middle grade novels that tackle these tougher topics. The great thing is, it’s also an ongoing list, so if you know of an MG read that’s getting real, you can send in a comment and they’ll add it to the list.

So, have you heard of #MGGetsReal yet? What do you think? Where do you stand with a bit more mature content in middle grade novels? I’d love to know your thoughts! Email me at hello@caitlinlore.com or connect with me on Twitter or Instagram at the handle @MsLReads and don’t forget to use the hashtag #MGGetsReal

Book Talk: Three realistic middle grade novels that aren't afraid to get real


Summerlost is a a beautiful story that doesn't sugarcoat grief, and I highly recommend it to any reader who enjoys realistic fiction, but it’s also a great novel for anyone who has ever walked through grief or the death of a parent or sibling. Young readers experiencing grief will find themselves wrapped up in Cedar, perhaps hurting as she hurts, but also discovering that there is a way through.

Website | Twitter | Facebook






Some Kind of Happiness is a story that bravely gets real with readers, opening a door and offering courage for them to speak up in their own worlds. I highly recommended for anyone who has ever struggled with blue days or even knows someone who has. If you like realism, elements of fantasy, fantastic storytelling, or that tiny bit of magic that lives in the air, then this book is for you.

Website | Twitter | Facebook





Counting Thyme is a gentle story that will tug at those heart strings, make you hug your family extra tight, and stay with you long after you close it. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good cry every once in awhile, as well as to those who have ever dealt with or lost a family member to cancer. Also recommended to readers who enjoy realism, New York, and the theater.

Website | Twitter 




Reader Interview Questions

Hannah & Bella, 8th grade

  1. Ok girls, so Some Kind of Happiness. I absolutely LOVED this book for so many reasons, but what did you enjoy most about it?
  2. I remember when I briefly book talked this one, I said how it was about anxiety and depression, and you were ready to scoop it up. What about that tough topic drew you in so much?
  3. Finley so almost too young to really put an name on what’s plaguing her, and so she uses writing as a form of escape. Even though Everwood is a made up place, it was a world I wanted to fall into. How about you?
  4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Chloe & Josie, 7th grade

  1. Alright. So Counting Thyme. This is such a beautiful debut book, and I loved it so much I read in it two days. What did you enjoy most about the story?
  2. This is a story about Thyme, a girl who had to move across the country because her little brother Val is really sick. Basically, she had to give up her friends and life so he could receive cancer treatments. What did you think about that?
  3. You can tell throughout the story that Thyme has a really hard time dealing with her brother’s sickness. In fact, she doesn’t want to tell anyone because she don’t want to be the cancer boy’s sister. That’s kind of a heavy topic to read about, but what did you think
  4. So, we’ve had a bit of fun with this story, tweeting a few pictures and connecting with the author on Twitter. What’s that been like for you?
  5. Anything else you’d like to add?


Well, that wraps up our second episode!

I hope you’ll return in two weeks to listen to our next show! I’ll be sharing about seasonal reading and a few fabulous fantasy novels. And stay tuned for an extra-spooktacular mini-episode coming soon.

If you have any questions about middle grade or young adult books, or thoughts on anything we’ve discussed today, please email me at hello@caitlinlore.com or connect with me on Twitter or Instagram at the handle @MsLReads

If you like the show, I’d love it if you subscribed on iTunes and left a good rating!  Thanks for listening in! I’ll talk to you in a few weeks!