I don’t like sad books. I avoid them like the plague, even. but every once in a while, some books fool me because they’re so well written that I’m already immersed before I realize it’s going to be a tearful story. While making this list of middle grade books to make you cry, I picked the most of my favorites. these stories are fascinating, sad, but also satisfying. they are not a continuous drag of sadness, but are often interspersed with humor, moving scenes, and end on a bright and hopeful note. if that sounds like your kind of sad story, then this is for you.
Red, White, and Whole
Published: February 2, 2021
You are reading: Sad books for 6th graders
reha feels torn between two worlds: school, where she is the only American Indian student, and home, with her family’s traditions and festivities. But Reha’s parents don’t understand why she is conflicted: they only notice when Reha doesn’t meet their strict expectations. reha feels disconnected from her mother, or amma. Although her names are related (reha means “star” and punam means “moon”), they are a separate universe.
then reha finds out her amma is sick. very sick.
Reha, who dreams of becoming a doctor even though she can’t bear to see blood, is determined to get her amma back on her feet. she will be the perfect daughter, if it means saving her mom’s life.
forever, and a long, long time
Published: March 7, 2017
Flora and her brother, Julian, don’t think they were born. they have lived in so many foster homes that they cannot remember where they came from. And even now that they have been adopted, Flora still struggles to believe that they have found their forever home. Although Flora is doing her best to trust two new people, when she finds out that there will be a new baby, she worries that there won’t be enough love to go around.
So, along with their new mother, Flora and Julian begin a journey to go back and discover their past, because only then can they truly begin to build their future.
in the beautiful country
Published: June 14, 2022
anna is eager to move to the beautiful country – the chinese name for america. Although she has only known her life in Taiwan, she can’t help but brag about the move to her family and friends.
but the beautiful country looks nothing like anna’s photo. her family can only afford a small apartment, she is bullied at school and has trouble understanding a new language. On top of that, the restaurant her parents invested her savings in is barely keeping afloat. The version of America that Anna is experiencing is nothing like her dreams. How will she make this beautiful country her home?
coyote dawn’s extraordinary journey
Published: January 8, 2019
That’s how long Coyote and his father, Rodeo, have lived on the road in an old school bus, across the country.
It’s also how long ago Coyote lost his mother and two sisters in a car accident.
Coyote hasn’t been home all that time, but when she learns that her old neighborhood park is being torn down, the same park where she, her mother, and her sisters buried a prized box of memories, she concocts a concocted plan for his father to drive 3,600 miles back to washington state in four days… without him knowing.
Along the way, they will pick up a strange group of misfit travelers. Lester has a lady he would love to meet. Salvador and his mother are looking to start over. Val needs a safe place to be herself. and then there’s gladys…
Over the course of thousands of miles, the coyote will learn that coming home can sometimes be the hardest journey of all…but with friends by his side, he just might be able to turn his once-upon-time into a “happily ever after”.
a song called home
Published: March 15, 2022
Lou and her family don’t have much, but for Lou it’s enough. breast. her sister, casey. her apartment in the city. her best friend, beth. it would be better if dad could stop drinking and be there for her and casey, and if they didn’t have to worry about money all the time. but lou doesn’t need better, she just needs enough.
which is enough for lou, however, is not enough for mom. Mom’s boyfriend Steve isn’t a bad guy, he’s just not what Lou is used to. and now, he and mom are getting married, and that means moving. packing up life as they’ve known it and storing it in steve’s garage. Lou will be cut off from everything in her small but predictable life, further away from Dad than ever.
On her last night in town, Lou receives a mysterious birthday present: a guitar, left for her at the front door. There’s nothing to say who left it, but it must be Dad’s. And when he leaves the only place he’s ever known, he begins to believe that if he can learn to play it, maybe he can bring a part of him and his old life home.
has anyone seen frenchie?
Published: February 15, 2022
eleven-year-old aurora petrequin’s best friend has never spoken to her. in fact, frenchie livernois doesn’t speak.
Aurora is lively, loud, and impulsive, “a big braggart.” making friends has never been easy. when frenchie, who is autistic, quietly chose aurora as her persona in her third grade, she chose him again. They make a good team and share their love of the natural world in coastal maine.
In the woods, Aurora and Frenchie encounter a Pied Deer, a strange creature with fur like a patchwork quilt. Every time she appears, Aurora feels compelled to follow her.
at school, aurora takes care of frenchie, who has been her classmate until this year. One morning, Frenchie doesn’t make it to her classroom. Aurora feels that she is to blame. The whole town begins to search, and everyone wonders: how come no one has seen Frenchie?
At the heart of this story is the friendship between hyper-talkative Aurora and non-vocal Frenchie. conflict arises when aurora is better able to expand her social skills and find new friends. When Frenchie goes missing, Aurora must figure out how to use her voice to help find him and pick him up when he’s found.
a place to hang the moon
Published: February 2, 2021
You are reading: Sad books for 6th graders
It’s 1940 and William, 12, Edmund, 11, and Anna, 9, aren’t terribly upset about the death of the not-so-grandma who has cared for them since their parents died. But kids need a guardian, and In London’s dark days of World War II, they are in short supply, especially if they hope to stay together. Could the mass evacuation of children from London to the countryside during the war be the answer?
It’s an absurd plan, but they leave, keeping their situation a secret and hoping to be placed in a temporary home that ends forever. Moving from one lodging to another, the children suffer the cruel deception of foster siblings, the cold realities of open-air baths, and the emptiness of empty stomachs. full of favorite stories and the easy company of nora müller, the friendly librarian. The kids wonder if Nora could be the family they’ve been looking for. . . . But the shadow of war and the unknown whereabouts of Nora’s German husband complicate matters.
glow goes everywhere
Published: May 4, 2021
After kitty’s mother dies on an inappropriately sunny Tuesday, all kitty wants is for her life to return to “normal,” whatever that means without her mother. Instead, her dad announces that he, Kitty, and her sister are moving from their London home to New York City, and Kitty must say goodbye to the places and people who help keep her memory alive. mother.
new york is as big and bustling as kitty has heard, and as she adjusts to life there and befriends a blue-haired boy, she begins to wonder if memories of her mother don’t need to stay in one place. . —if there is a way for them to be with kittens every day, everywhere.
the bidding line
Published: April 16, 2019
Wherever the sharks led them, Lucy Everhart’s marine biologist mother would surely follow. in fact, she was on a boat off the coast of massachusetts, collecting shark data when she died suddenly. Lucy was seven years old. Since then, Lucy and his father have stayed afloat, thanks in large part to a few close friends and neighbors. But June of her twelfth summer brings more than the end of school and a heat wave to sleepy Rockport. On a hot day, the tide brings in a great white shark, and then another tragedy, interrupting a friendship that everyone insists was “meaningful,” but no one can tell Lucy what it all meant. To survive the new wave of grief, Lucy must pick up the line that connects her depressed father, a stubborn fisherman, and a curious elderly widower, to her mother’s unfinished investigation into the return of the great white shark to Cape Town. code If Lucy can find a way to help this unlikely quartet follow the sharks her mother loved, she will finally be able to look beyond what she has lost and what remains to be discovered.
one for the murphys
Published: May 10, 2012
carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child and moves in with the Murphys, she is shocked. This loving and boisterous family shows Carley the stable family life she never knew existed, and she feels like an alien in her perfect home. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what she feels belongs to her, until her mother wants her back and Ella Carley has to decide where and how to live. She’s not really a Murphy, but the gifts she’s been given from her have opened up a new future for her.
Published: April 12, 2016
When thyme owens’s little brother, val, eleven, is accepted into a trial of a new cancer drug, it’s just the second chance he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. Manhattan Island doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace change for what it is: temporary.
after val’s treatment shows real promise and mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the terrifying possibility that the move to New York will be permanent. thyme loves his brother and knows the trial could save his life—she would give anything for him to be okay—but he still wants to go home, even though the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. she finds herself even more confused when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush and even a cantankerous neighbor and her sweet whistling bird. all thyme can do is count the minutes, hours, and days, and hope that time will bring both a miracle for val and a way home.
bridge to terabithia
Published: May 2, 2017
jess aarons has been practicing all summer so she can be the fastest runner in fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, gets over him. The two become close friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. one morning, leslie goes to terabithia without jess, and tragedy strikes. It will take the love of her family and the strength Leslie has given her for Jess to deal with her pain.
mrs. the last day of bixby
Published: June 21, 2016
everyone knows that there are different types of teachers. the boring ones, the bad ones, the ones who try too hard, the ones who gave up trying a long time ago. the ones you will never remember and the ones you want to forget. em. bixby is neither of these. she is the kind of teacher who makes you feel like school is worth it. she that she recognizes something in you that sometimes you don’t even see. who you never want to disappoint. what mrs bixby is, she is one of a kind her.
topher, brand and steve know this better than anyone. and so when mrs. bixby unexpectedly announces that she won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a risky plan, more like a quest, really, to give mrs. bixby the last day she deserves. through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand what mrs. bixby means to each of them, and what the three mean to each other.
the bridge home
Published: February 5, 2019
Four homeless kids determined to make a living in Padma Venkatraman’s heartwarming high school debut.
Life is tough on the bustling streets of Chennai, so when fugitive sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects seem bleak. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring and dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter and friendship on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a kind of family. And while they make their living digging through the city’s rubbish heaps, the kids find plenty to laugh about and be proud of, too. after all, they are now their own boss and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when the disease strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or continue to cling to her fragile, hard-fought freedom.
count by 7s
Published: August 29, 2013
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing illnesses, who finds it comforting to count from 7 to 7. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that has not prevented him from leading a quiet and happy life. . . until now. Suddenly, Willow’s world changes tragically when her parents are killed in a car accident, leaving her alone in a bewildering world. the triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. this extraordinarily strange, yet extraordinarily endearing girl manages to get over her pain. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and entirely believable foster family is a joy and an eye-opener to read.
beverly, right here
Published: September 24, 2019
beverly tapinski has run away from home many times, but that was when she was just a kid. At this point, she thinks to herself, she’s not running away. she leaves determined to fend for herself, beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, her friend, now buried under the orange trees in her house; her friend raymie de ella, whom she left without saying a word; and her mom, rhonda, who has never cared for anyone but herself. Beverly doesn’t want to be dependent on anyone, and she definitely doesn’t want anyone to be dependent on her. But despite her best efforts, she can’t help but form connections with the people around her, and gradually she learns to see herself through her eyes. In a poignant, funny and bold conclusion to her string of novels about the beloved Three Ranchers, New York Times #1 bestselling author Kate Dicamillo tells the story of a character who will break your heart and break it again. join.
lemon drops falls
Published: February 15, 2022
Morgan is devastated by the sudden death of her mother. Before, Mom’s amazing organizational skills kept the family on track, and her bowl of lemon drops was always on hand to ease difficult conversations, turning the sour in life into something sweet. Later, there is no one to help Morgan deal with her new role of taking care of her younger siblings, her worries about starting high school, and her increasingly confused friendships. all she can do is try to fulfill her mother’s final request: keep them safe, morgan. be brave for them. help them to be happy.
When Dad insists on taking the family on their usual summer camping trip, and Morgan’s efforts to keep her promise to Mom seem doomed, Morgan’s anxiety turns into a panic attack. And Dad treats her like she’s impossible. Unable to share her fears and needs with Dad, and desperate to prove that she has the strength to hold the family together, she morgan part of herself to walk a flooded canyon trail. But somewhere on that lonely and dangerous journey, Morgan will find the truth about her mother’s last words to her, her power to find her own voice, and the possibility of new beginnings.
closer to nowhere
Published: October 6, 2020
For the most part, hannah’s life is just how she wants it. she has two supportive parents, she is popular in school and has been doing well in gym. but when her cousin Cal de Ella moves in with her family, everything changes. Cal tells half-truths and tall tales, constantly teasing hannah and seems to be the reason her parents are fighting more and more. nothing is like before. She knows Cal went through a lot after her mom died and she’s trying to be patient, but most days, Hannah just wishes Cal never moved.
For his part, Cal is doing his best to fit in, but not everyone appreciates his unique sense of humor and storytelling skills as much as he does. Humor and stories may be his defense mechanism, but if Cal doesn’t bring down his walls soon, he could alienate the very people who are doing everything they can to love him.
Told in verse from the alternate perspectives of Hannah and Cal, this is the story of two cousins who are more alike than they think and the family they both want to save.
Published: April 2, 2019
the cat and his brother the chicken have always had a very special bond: the cat is one of the few people who can make the chicken happy. when he has a “tantrum”, she is the one who scratches his back and reads his favorite story. she is the one who knows what the chicken needs. Since her mother has had to work twice as hard to keep her family afloat after her father passed away, the cat has been the glue that has held her family together.
But even the strongest glue sometimes has trouble holding on. When a summer trip doesn’t go as planned, the cat and the chicken end up spending three weeks with grandparents they’ve never met. For the first time in years, Cat is given the chance to be a girl again, and the journey she embarks on proves that even the most broken or strained relationships can be healed if people take the time to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. /p>
the benefits of being an octopus
Published: September 4, 2018
some people can do their homework. some people fall in love with boys. some people have other things to do.
7th grader zoey has her hands full as she babysits her much younger siblings after school each day while her mom works her shift at the pizzeria. not that her mother seems to appreciate it. at least there is lenny, her mother’s boyfriend: everyone can live in her nice and clean trailer.
at school, zoey tries to keep a low profile. Her only friend, Fuchsia, has problems of her own, and since they’re in a completely different world than the rich kids, it’s best that no one notices them.
zoey thinks how much easier it would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. incredible camouflage ability and constant, unblinking vision. powerful protective defenses.
Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Although Zoey is reluctant to participate, the discussion eventually leads her to see things in a new way: her mother’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of better-off people. than her Can Ella Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?
clues of the universe
Published: January 12, 2021
the only thing rosalind ling geraghty likes more than watching nasa launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When she unexpectedly dies, all she is left with is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.
Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he never tires of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. when he finds a sketch that suggests his father created the comics, he gets excited. It’s a pity that his father left years ago and Benji has no way of contacting him.
Although Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science classmates, the pair become unlikely friends, with Ro even discovering a way to reunite Benji and his father. but benji hesitates, which angers ro. Doesn’t she realize how much I wish I could be in her place?
As the two deal with bullying, pain, and their own differences, Benji and Ro try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.
lightning girl miscalculations
Published: May 1, 2018
lucy callahan was struck by lightning. she doesn’t remember him, but she changed her life forever. The Zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since then, Lucy has been homeschooled. now, at 12, she is technically ready for college. She only has to pass 1 more exam: high school!
Lucy’s grandmother insists: go to high school for 1 year. make 1 friend join 1 activity. and read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy isn’t sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can learn in seventh grade. she has everything she needs at home, where no one can make fun of her rigid routines or her overpowered brain. Lucy’s life equation has already been solved. unless there was a calculation error?
hope in the cry
Published: January 9, 2018
Just before wavie’s mother died, she gave wavie a list of instructions to help her find her way in life, including this one: be brave, wavie b! You have as much right to a good life as anyone, so find it! But little did Wavie’s mother know that events would conspire to bring Wavie back to Conley Hollow, the Appalachian hometown her mother tried to leave behind. now wavie is back in the scream and in the clutches of her aunt samantha rose. Life with the devilish Samantha Rose and her obnoxious cousin Hoyt is no picnic, but there is real pleasure in sleeping in your own mother’s old bed and befriending the fun, easy-going kids your aunt calls the “neighborhood with no accounts.” “. With her help, Wavie could prevent her aunt from becoming her legal guardian and find her courage and her place in the world.
ten thousand attempts
Published: July 13, 2021
Twelve-year-old Golden Maroni is determined to channel his hero, soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and become captain of his soccer team and teacher of his eighth-grade universe… especially since his home universe it’s going out of orbit. Off the field, Golden’s father, once a professional soccer player, is now battling ALS, a disease that attacks his muscles, leaving him less and less physically able to control his body on a daily basis. and while mom says there is no cure, golden is convinced that his dad can beat this, like any opponent, they just have to try.
golden knows that if you want to perfect a skill you have to make ten thousand attempts, so he is convinced that if he can work as hard on and off the field, he can keep everything from changing. But when his father continues to decline and his constant pressure begins to alienate his friends and crew from him, Golden is forced to confront the idea that being the master of the universe from him may not mean having the control of everything. what if it means letting go of the things you can’t control so you can do the most good for the things you can?
isaiah dunn is my hero
Published: August 18, 2020
isaiah is now the big man in the house. but it’s much harder than his father made it seem. his little sister charlie asks too many questions and mom has gone totally silent.
Luckily, Isaiah can count on his best friend, the cunning one, who always has a plan to get around the rules. Also, his angel classmate has some good ideas of her own, once he stops bothering Isaiah.
And when the going gets really rough, there’s Dad’s Journal, full of stories about the amazing Isaiah Dunn, a superhero who gets his powers from beans and rice. isaiah wishes his father’s stories were real. He could use those powers right now!
the shape of thunder
Published: May 11, 2021
Cora hasn’t talked to her best friend, Quinn, in a year.
Despite living side by side, they exist in separate worlds of pain. Cora is still dealing with the death of her beloved sister in a school shooting, and Quinn takes the blame for what her brother did.
On Cora’s 12th birthday, Quinn leaves a box on her doorstep with a note. She has decided that the only way to fix things is to go back in time to the moment her brother changed everyone’s lives forever and stop it.
despite herself, cora wants to believe. and so the two former friends begin to work together to open a wormhole in the fabric of the universe. But as they try to unravel the mysteries of time travel to save their siblings, they discover that the magic of their friendship may hold the key to saving themselves.
Published: March 30, 2021
A brilliant and moving middle grade novel by Sarah Allen, and a great exploration of sisterhood, dreams, and what it means to be there for someone you love. Olivia is on the road trip of her dreams, with Ella’s trusty camera and Ella’s older sister Ruth at her side. Three years ago, before her family moved from California to Tennessee, Olivia and Ruth buried a time capsule on her favorite beach. Now, they’re taking an RV back across the country to discover the memories they left behind. But Ruth’s depression has been getting worse, so Olivia has come up with a plan to help her remember how life used to be: an impromptu scavenger hunt across the country, like pirates looking for treasure, taking pictures and creating memories in the road. all she wants is to take the photo that makes her sister smile. but what if things can never go back to the way they used to be? What if they never find the treasure they’re looking for? Through all the questions, loving her sister, not changing her, is all Olivia can do, and maybe it’s enough.
before ever after
Published: September 1, 2020
for as long as zj can remember, his father has been everyone’s hero. As a charming and talented professional soccer star, he is as loved by the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is by his millions of sports fans. but lately life at zj’s house is anything but charming. his dad has trouble remembering things and he seems to be angry all the time. zj’s mother explains that she is due to all the head injuries his father suffered during his career. zj can understand that, but it doesn’t make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on to family traditions and memories of the glory days, all the while wondering what his past amounts to if his father can’t remember him. And more importantly, can those happy feelings be regained when everyone is so busy pining for the past?
the distance home
Published: June 28, 2016
Last summer, Quinnen was the star pitcher for her baseball team, the Panthers. They were headed to the championship, and her biggest supporter at each game was her best friend and older sister, Haley. this summer, everything is different. Haley’s death late last summer has left Quinnen and her parents reeling. Without Haley in the stands, Quinnen doesn’t want to play baseball. It seems like nothing can fill Haley’s sized hole in her world. the only glimmer of happiness comes from the bandidos, the local minor league baseball team. for the first time, quinnen and her family welcome one of the players of the season. Without Haley, Quinnen isn’t sure it’s fun, but she soon makes friends with some players. With her help, will she be able to make peace with the past and return to the pitcher’s mound?
we dream of space
Published: May 5, 2020
Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas are three brothers who are in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country eagerly awaits the launch of the challenging space shuttle, each wrestles with their own personal anxieties. Cash, who loves basketball but has a recently broken wrist, is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon wreaking havoc in the main arcade, struggling with an explosive temper he doesn’t understand. and Bird, her twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander, but she feels like she’s disappearing.
The children of Nelson Thomas exist in their own orbits, spinning around in a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. living room as the challenger’s release draws near, mrs. salonga gives her students a project: they are separated into spaceship crews and must create and complete a mission. when the fated day finally arrives, she changes everyone’s life and brings them together in unexpected ways.
there they are: 30 heartbreaking middle grade books if you need a good cry. Which of these books have you read and cried over? if you need an avalanche of suggestions, check out the replies to author stacy mcanulty’s tweet
Question: I’m working on a presentation. What children’s books have made you cry?
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