12 great YA and middle-grade books to read this summer

Need a summer read for the teens and tweens in your life? These YA and middle-grade books will do just the trick. 

Need a summer read for the teens and tweens in your life? These YA and middle-grade books will do just the trick. 

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a YA book by Ben Philippe. (, HarperCollins)

In this YA novel, Norris Kaplan, a wisecracking black French Canadian teenager, knows he's in for a major culture shock when his family moves to Austin, Texas. He keeps track of his fellow high schoolers by placing them in categories: Cheerleaders, Jocks, Loners and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. When people from the categories try and befriend him, Norris learns a lesson about his snarky attitude.

Ben Philippe, who now lives in New York, has contributed to publications like Vanity Fair and the Guardian. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is his first book.

Be My Love by Kit Pearson

Be My Love is a YA novel by Kit Pearson. (HarperCollins, Katherine Farris)

Maisie has spent most of her summers frolicking on Kingfisher Island with her cousin Una. But this summer is different — Una has become "too mature" for Maisie and is obsessed with an older man named David Meyer. Be My Love is for readers aged 10 to 14. 

Kit Pearson is a beloved and prolific Canadian children's writer whose past work includes A Day of Signs and Wonders and Awake and Dreaming

The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena

The Beauty of the Moment is a YA novel by Tanaz Bhathena. (Penguin Teen, Nettie Photography)

Teenagers Susan and Malcolm are opposites in many ways. She works hard to keep up with her parents' high expectations, while he's had a reputation for mischief since his mom died. They end up falling for each other — and finding more about themselves along the way. 

The Beauty of the Moment, a YA novel, is Tanaz Bhathena's second book.

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

Love from A to Z is a YA novel by S.K. Ali. (Andrea Stenson, Simon & Schuster)

When Zayneb gets suspended for standing up to a xenophobic teacher, she's sent to her aunt's house in Doha, Qatar for an early spring break. She ends up meeting Adam, a teenager trying to hide his multiple sclerosis diagnosis from his grieving father. 

Love from A to Za YA novel, is S.K. Ali's second book, following Saints and Misfits.

The Center of the Universe by Ria Voros

The Center of the Universe is a novel by Ria Voros. (Kids Can Press, @RiaVoros/

Grace, an aspiring astrophysicist, isn't very close with her mother GG, a celebrity news anchor. When GG suddenly goes missing, Grace's family struggles to cope with her disappearance and deal with the media circus that has descended upon them.

Ria Voros is a writer from Victoria, B.C. This is her third novel for YA readers, following Nobody's Dog and The Opposite of Geek.

Those Who Dwell Below by Aviaq Johnston

Those Who Dwell Below is a fantasy YA novel by Aviaq Johnston. (Inhabit Media)

After being trapped in a spirit world, a young shaman named Pitu returns to his life in the Arctic. When Pitu gets wind of a nearby community that is starving, he realizes he must travel to the depths of the ocean to meet with the sea goddess Nuliajuk. 

Those Who Dwell Below, written for readers 12 and up, is a sequel to Those Who Run in the Skywhich was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

Escape by Linwood Barclay

Linwood Barclay is the author of Escape. (Penguin Random House Canada)

In Linwood Barlcay's sequel to his earlier middle-grade page-turner, Chase, the adventures of 12-year-old Jeff and his genetically engineered spy dog Chipper continue. And with the pair on the run from a sinister organization known only as "The Institute,"  their mysterious helper Harry seems to be acting suspiciously. Escape is for readers aged 9 to 12.

Barclay is an international bestselling author who has written 17 thrillers for adults, and two for younger readers. 

Sweep by Jonathan Auxier

Jonathan Auxier is the author of Sweep. (Puffin Canada)

Set in Victorian London, Sweep revolves around a young orphan girl named Nan who sweeps chimneys for a dangerous and hardscrabble living. Nan nearly perishes in a deadly chimney fire, but is saved when a piece of charcoal comes to life as a mysterious golem-like creature. Together, the two hatch a plan to rescue young orphan chimney sweeps from losing their lives on the job for cruel masters. 

Sweep, which is for readers ages 8 to 12, won the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

The Case of Windy Lake by Michael Hutchinson

The Case of Windy Lake is a mystery novel by Michael Hutchinson. (@Mike_Hutchins0n/, Second Story Press)

Cousins Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee are known as the Mighty Muskrats of Windy Lake First Nation. When an archaeologist goes missing, they investigate his disappearance amidst increasingly heated environmental protests. 

The Case of Windy Lake, written for readers aged 9 to 12, is the first book by Michael Hutchinson, who is a member of Misipawistik Cree Nation.

Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney

Rachelle Delaney is the author of Clara Voyant. (Penguin Random House Canada)

When Clara Voyant joins her new middle school's newspaper, she hopes to write hard-hitting news stories. But when she gets stuck writing the horoscopes instead, she's stunned when the horoscopes start to come true. Her newfound powers make her the talk of the school, and when a mystery begins to unfold, she finds herself in a position to make her mark as an investigative journalist. Clara Voyant is for readers aged 8-12.

Rachelle Delaney is the author of several middle-grade novels, including The Metro Dogs of Moscow and its sequel The Circus Dogs of Prague.

Mya's Strategy to Save the World by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Mya's Strategy to Save the World is a YA novel by Tanya Lloyd Kyi. (, Puffin Canada)

What Mya Parson, who runs her school's social justice club with her bestie Cleo, wants more than anything else is a cell phone. But when her parents put their foot down and tell her no, she starts a campaign to prove she's mature enough to have one. She starts taking more responsibility around the house, babysits more and teaches her sister how to skateboard. She's no closer to a phone, but when an accident leaves Mya in a position to take charge, she begins to realize just how much she's grown, with or without a touch-screen device.

Mya's Strategy to Save the World is for readers aged 9 to 12.

The Wizenard Series: Training Camp, created by Kobe Bryant and written by Wesley King

The Wizenard Series: Training Camp is the first book in an ongoing series by Kobe Bryant and Wesley King. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images, Manda Group)

The Wizenard Series kicks off with Training Camp, a collection of five novellas each told from the point of view of a different young basketball player. The West Bottom Badgers are at the bottom of their league and live in the poorest neighbourhood in Dren. When their new coach Professor Wizenard shows up, the players start seeing visions that change their perspective on the game and their lives. 

Award-winning Canadian author Wesley King teamed up with basketball star Kobe Bryant on this series, which is for readers aged 10 and up.


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