Helping Girls to Stay Strong

InnerStarGirl’s Best Winter Book List for Middle School Girls


Amina’s Voice - by Hena Khan 



Amina has always preferred to stay in the background, hanging out with her friend, Soojin. But with the start of middle school, things are changing fast. Soojin is hanging out with one of the "cool" girls, and is even talking about picking an "American" name; and Amina's uncle believes that her love of music is un-Islamic. Just as Amina starts wrestling with that, her mosque is vandalized, leaving her heartbroken. She's never spoken out before, but when she finds the courage and support she needs to make her voice heard, maybe she can bring her whole community together. This book celebrates the complexity and joys to be found in multicultural communities, as well as the power of one person's voice to change those around her.


Ruby Lee and Me – by Shannon Hitchcock



There's talk in town about the new sixth-grade teacher at Shady Creek. Mrs. Smyre is like no other teacher anyone has ever seen around these parts: it's 1969, and she's the first African American teacher at the local all-white school. For 12-year-old Sarah Beth, there are so many unanswered questions. What is all this talk about Freedom Riders and school integration? Why can't she and Ruby become best friends? And who says school isn't for anybody who wants to learn — or teach? In addition to providing plenty of fodder for conversation about civil rights history and the power of a dedicated teacher, this book also sends a message about how change that initially seems scary or unsettling can actually provide unexpected opportunities.




TheCase of the Missing Moonstone - by Jordan Stratford



Imagine a world where a young Ada Lovelace (of computer programming fame) became best friends with Mary Godwin (the future Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein) and formed their own detective agency! That's what happens in this entertaining series that combines mystery with STEM subjects. When a heirloom is stolen — and someone falsely confesses to the crime — it's up to the astute but socially awkward Ada and the daring and romantic Mary to put their analytical talents to solving the mystery. For more volumes in the series, visit our Wollstonecraft Detective Agency Collection.



Finding Serendipity – by Angelica Banks


Tuesday's mother, Serendipity, is a famous author — and now she's missing. So Tuesday and her dog Baxterr set out to find her, and discover the mysterious, unpredictable place that stories come from. In order to rescue her mother — and get to The End — Tuesday will have to make new friends, learn to sail a magical boat, defeat a dangerous pirate, learn the truth about her definitely-not-ordinary dog, and get in touch with her creative side to find the power in storytelling. This magical adventure plays with narrative structure and the creative process, all while communicating a message about the power of finding your own voice. Serendipity's story continues in the sequel, A Week Without Tuesday.



Ban This Book- by Alan Gratz



Amy Anne considers herself shy, but when she learns that her favorite book in the whole world, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, has been banned from the library, she decides it's time to find her courage! So she recruits her friends to make their point: they start a secret banned books library in her locker and even make arguments why every single book in library should also be banned. It turns out that when Amy Anne finds a cause that's important to her, she's ready to take on the world! Middle grade readers will laugh and cheer as they read this stirring defense against censorship.


Annie’s Life in Lists – by Kristin Mahoney



Annie uses lists to help her overcome her shyness; A move to the small town of Clover Gap, and a brother who's convinced its her fault they moved;  A best friend forever (hopefully?)  A whole new class full of people she doesn't know; and. A difficult start finding her place in her new home. This novel, written entirely in lists, introduces a sympathetic and appealing Mighty Girl who slowly settles in and finds her voice.


The Lions of Little Rock – by Kristin Levine


It's 1958, and twelve-year-old Marlee struggles at school, friendless and shy to the point of silence outside of her own family... until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Fearless and determined, Liz knows just what to say to quiet the resident mean girl and to encourage Marlee to find her voice. Then, one day, Liz is gone — and rumor has it that she was only passing as white. But Marlee decides that she doesn't care: Liz is her best friend, and Marlee will do anything — even face the danger that comes with standing up against segregation — to have her friend back by her side. Heartfelt and touching, this book highlights just how arbitrary divisions based on race and skin color truly are.

@2015 by Charlotte McCoy. Proudly created with

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