Fans of Judy Blume can rejoice! After you've finished the entire oeuvre of Blume's works, it is possible to find more books like Judy Blume that that you will love and adore.
Judy Blume was and is a groundbreaking author. She was one of the first authors to write books for preteens and teens that addressed tough subjects in a way that wasn't moralizing or didactic. So many authors owe her a debt of gratitude for paving the way. The following list of books is made specifically for readers who want more books like Judy Blume's!
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Books Like Judy Blume
Each recommendations includes an age suggestion, and–where available–a link to a relevant book list for further reading.
Maybe He Just Likes You
by Barbara Dee
Like many of Judy Blume's books, Dee's book address a difficult, but necessary topic. The boys in Mila's seventh grade class are harassing her, making unwanted comments and touching her in a way that makes her feel uncomfortable. Some of her peers think she is overreacting, and Mila doesn't know what to do. With the help of a karate class and a new friend, she gains the confidence she needs to address the situation head on. Few children's books address the subject of sexual harassment, but most girls have experienced in one form or another. Maybe He Just Likes You should be required reading for both girls and boys. Ages 9 and up.
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Well, I'm really starting out this book list with some serious books! In Fighting Words 10 year old Della and her older sister, Suki, have recently been placed with a foster mom. Their mother is in jail, and their mother's boyfriend has just been arrested. Della knows that something awful has happened to her sister and wants to protect her like Suki has always done for here. Della's story involves sexual abuse and suicide, but Bradley's storytelling is sensitive even funny sometimes, and she creates characters that we can't help but fall in love with. Highly recommended! Ages 11 and up.
The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade
by Jordan Sonnenblick
This is a really wonderful book! Maverick carries a sheriff's badge with him, a gift from his father who died in Afghanistan. He hopes it will help him to be courageous and stand up to bullies, making school a better place for everyone. His mother's boyfriends are abusive and alcoholic and Maverick is not always perfect himself. Sonnenblick has created relatable characters, written in laugh-out-loud humor and given the story a huge amount of heart. Highly recommended. Ages 9 and up.
MORE: Books that address alcoholism and addiction
Karma Khullar's Mustache
by Kristi Wientge
Karmajeet Khullar is going to be starting middle school soon, but she is worried about the 17 new dark hairs on her upper lip. She is anxious to get the help and advice from her best friend, but she has been acting so different lately and Karma feels lost. Karma's Indian father is learning how to be a stay at home dad, and her white mother is very busy with work. The book addresses themes of middle school friendships and bullying and I love how Karma's interfaith Sikh-Methodist household plays an integral role in her journey. Ages 9 and up.
Beverly, Right Here
by Kate DiCamillo
Fourteen-year-old Beverly has run away. Now that her beloved dog is buried, she wants to escape from her alcoholic mother who offers her no love or affection. Beverly wants to live without the help of others, but finds herself making friends and gathering a community of people around her. Beverly's new friends form a eclectic support group. Beverly, Right Here is a companion book to DiCamillo's Raymie Nightingale. Ages 9 and up.
Revenge of the Red Club
by Kim Harrington
Riley and her middle school friends have formed a club where they come together to talk about the ups and downs about having their periods. It's a place where they can talk freely and support one another, imparting information that they aren't getting elsewhere. However, an anonymous complaint leads to the school shutting down their club. The girls are upset and are determined to set things right! Ages 9 and up.
MORE: Middle grade novels about puberty
The Seventh Wish
by Kate Messner
Charlie goes ice fishing and she catches a fish who says it will grant her wishes if she will release him back into the water. Charlie hopes for a lot of things, both for herself and for her friends, but the most poignant of all involves her sister. Abby is in college and is struggling with an to heroin. Abby's disease disturbs the whole family and Charlie experiences dashed hope and false promised. The topic of opioid addiction may not be something you wish to read about in a children's books, but millions of children see it in their lives and Messner has tackled the subject with age-appropriate sensitivity. Ages 9 and up.
by Alyson Gerber
Braced is based on Gerber's own experience growing up with scoliosis. 7th grader Rachel is an enthusiastic soccer player but this year her doctor tells her she must wear a corrective brace for her scoliosis for 23 hours a day. Understandably, she is devastated by this. Rachel's journey to acceptance of her condition is touching and relatable as she works through relationships with her classmates and mother. An excellent read. Ages 9 and up.
MORE: Middle grade books with characters who have medical challenges
It Ain't So Awful Falafel
by Firoozeh Dumas
I like to recommend this novel to fans of Are You There God? It's Me Margaret. In 1970s California a young Iranian immigrant figures out how to be American without rejecting her heritage. While this funny and moving novel may not include pleas to God on the part of the protagonist, I knew immediately that fans of Judy Blume will connect to Zomorod Yousefzadeh's (who now wants to be called "Cindy") attempts to fit in with her peers. Ages 9 and up.
Martin McLean Middle School Queen
by Alyssa Zaczek
Seventh grader, Martin McLean, is trying to figure out where he fits in. He loves being on the Mathletes team and he embraces his mixed race, Afro-Cuban and white, identity. He's particularly close with his Tío Billy, who supports Martin's desire to enter a drag queen contest. Now that Martin has found a way to express himself he wants to figure out a way to tell his friends. This is a wonderful, readable story which presents diverse racial, cultural and gender identities in a positive light. Ages 9 and up.
MORE: Children's Books with LGBTQIA+ characters
by Torrey Maldonado
I really enjoyed Maldonado's previous book, Tight, and What Lane? lives up to its predecessor. Stephen is mixed race but he knows the world sees him as Black. He is becoming more and more aware of how his is treated differently than his white best friend, Dan. Stephen increasingly wonders if he should be friends only with black and brown kids. In this short novel, Maldonado reaches out and grabs the reader, drawing them into to Stephen's personal journey which plays out against the background of larger social movements. Ages 9 and up.
MORE: Anti-bias middle grade books
This is Just a Test
by Wendy Wan-Long Shang and Madelyn Rosenberg
I loved this book. It's the early 1980s and David is prepping for his bar mitzvah. His two grandmothers, one Jewish and one Chinese, are not making things easy for him with their constant bickering over whether David's Jewish or Chinese heritage should take precedence. On top of that, David and his friend are secretly building a fallout shelter, inspired by the movie, The Day After. Kids will love the humor, David's character and the 1980s setting adds an interesting layer without becoming too remote for a contemporary audience. Ages 9 and up.
MORE: Jewish middle grade novels
Waiting for Normal
by Leslie Conner
I'm pretty much in love with all of Leslie Connor's books. Addie lives in a mobile home with her bipolar mother. She is mostly left to take care of the home front, while her mother continuously disappears for days. Her stepfather and half sisters come by to offer a glimpse of what it might like to live a normal life. Addie perseveres, making friends, playing her flute and facing the challenge of school work when she has dyslexia. Ages 9 and up.
MORE: Children's novels that address mental illness
The Wednesday Wars
by Gary D. Schmidt
Holling Hoodhood always seems to be getting into scrapes, but his father appears to be mostly concerned with how Holling's antics affect his business reputation. On Wednesday afternoons, most of his classmates head off to Catholic or Jewish religious education classes. However, the Hoodhoods are Presbyterian, so Holling stays behind at school where his teacher introduces him to Shakespeare. Holling's antics at school, his involvement in a Shakespeare production and the general mayhem he creates wherever he goes make for lots of laughs from a master storyteller.Ages 9 and up.
by Sharon M. Draper
Isabella is trying to figure out who she is and she feels torn between two identities. Her divorced parents, a wealthy black father and a working class white mother, share custody and Isabella spends alternate weeks at her parents' homes. A distressing even at school makes immediate Isabella's search for identity when she knows her sense of self is so much more complicated that the world perceives. Ages 9 and up.
MORE: Middle grade books by Black Authors
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers
by Celia C. Pérez
Four very different girls come together to work towards a goal. The Floras is a beauty pageant girls club and and uses a crown made of bird feathers to crown the winner. Cat, Aster, Ofelia and Lane team up to get the Floras to stop using the crown. They hit some bumps along the way and form their own club, the Ostentation of Others and Outsiders. This is a wonderfully engaging story of friendship and justice. Ages 9 and up.
Rain Is Not My Indian Name
by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Although this book is located in the J FIC section of most libraries, I consider it borderline YA. The protagonist is 14 and the story begins with the death of Rain's best friend and love interest. So, your middle schooler will enjoy it, but perhaps it is of less interest to upper elementary children. That said, it is an excellent book. Rain, still grieving over the loss of her friend, gets caught up in a controversy over a relative's Indian Camp. She begins taking photographs for a local paper and finds her voice again. Despite some of the serious nature of the book, it also contains humor and examples of positive family relationships. Ages 11 and up.
MORE: Native American #OwnVoices middle grade novels
For readers who want more books like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and Pain and the Great One, I recommend the following book lists:
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