43 Best Middle-Grade Books About Friendship

Middle-grade books about friendship are always in high demand because what’s more pressing to a middle-schooler than friendship drama? These middle-grade books about friendship highlight the struggles of forming friendships, the challenges of maintaining a friendship, and of course, the joys of true friendships.

It was hard to make this list, because honestly, every middle-grade book I’ve read has some kind of focus on friendship. So for this list, I’ve made the effort to select books whose plots center on friendship. Essentially, friendship is the main event in these middle-grade books about friendship.

I’ve separated these books into two categories. The first one features unlikely friendships — many of which will tug at your heartstrings. The next category has all of the drama — sometimes ending happily still, but other times, not so happily ever after.


Best Middle-Grade Books About Friendships

best middle-grade books about friendships

Middle-Grade Books About Friendships – Favorite Unlikely Friendships

You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P

best middle-grade books about friendships

Jilly thinks she’s figured out how life works. But when her sister, Emma, is born deaf, she realizes how much she still has to learn. The world is going to treat Jilly, who is white and hearing, differently from Emma, just as it will treat them both differently from their Black cousins.

A big fantasy reader, Jilly makes a connection online with another fantasy fan, Derek, who is a Deaf, Black ASL user. She goes to Derek for help with Emma but doesn’t always know the best way or time to ask for it.

As she and Derek meet in person, have some really fun conversations, and become friends, Jilly makes some mistakes . . . but comes to understand that it’s up to her, not Derek to figure out how to do better next time–especially when she wants to be there for Derek the most.

Within a world where kids like Derek and Emma aren’t assured the same freedom or safety as kids like Jilly, Jilly is starting to learn all the things she doesn’t know–and by doing that, she’s also working to discover how to support her family and her friends.


The Sky at Our Feet

the sky at our feet

Jason has just learned that his Afghan mother has been living illegally in the United States since his father was killed in Afghanistan. Although Jason was born in the US, it’s hard to feel American now when he’s terrified that his mother will be discovered—and that they will be separated.

When he sees his mother being escorted from her workplace by two officers, Jason feels completely alone. He boards a train with the hope of finding his aunt in New York City, but as soon as he arrives in Penn Station, the bustling city makes him wonder if he’s overestimated what he can do.

After an accident lands him in the hospital, Jason finds an unlikely ally in a fellow patient. Max, a whip-smart girl who wants nothing more than to explore the world on her own terms, joins Jason in planning a daring escape out of the hospital and into the skyscraper jungle—even though they both know that no matter how big New York City is, they won’t be able to run forever.


You Go First

you go first

Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana.

Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.

During the course of one week, Charlotte and Ben—friends connected only by an online Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. The New York Times-bestselling novel You Go First reminds us that no matter how hard it is to keep our heads above troubled water, we never struggle alone.


Harbor Me

best middle-grade books about friendships - harbor me

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes.

When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.


The Bridge Home

best middle-grade books about friendships - the bridge home

Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman’s stirring middle-grade debut.

Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.


Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers

best middle-grade books about friendships - strange birds

When three very different girls find a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion, the promise of adventure and mischief is too intriguing to pass up. Ofelia Castillo (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it isn’t love at first sight.

But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice, independence, and an unforgettable summer, the girls form their own troop and find something they didn’t know they needed: sisterhood.


Emmy in the Key of Code

emmy in the key of code

In a new city, at a new school, twelve-year-old Emmy has never felt more out of tune. Things start to look up when she takes her first coding class, unexpectedly connecting with the material—and Abigail, a new friend—through a shared language: music.

But when Emmy gets bad news about their computer teacher, and finds out Abigail isn’t being entirely honest about their friendship, she feels like her new life is screeching to a halt. Despite these obstacles, Emmy is determined to prove one thing: that, for the first time ever, she isn’t a wrong note, but a musician in the world’s most beautiful symphony.


Nowhere Boy

nowhere boy

Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Aleppo, Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope.

Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy from Washington, D.C. Lonely and homesick, Max is struggling at his new school and just can’t seem to do anything right. But with one startling discovery, Max and Ahmed’s lives collide and a friendship begins to grow. Together, Max and Ahmed will defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave and how hope can change your destiny.


The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle

the truth as told by mason buttle

Mason Buttle is the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade, and everyone knows he can barely read or write. Mason’s learning disabilities are compounded by grief. Fifteen months ago, Mason’s best friend, Benny Kilmartin, turned up dead in the Buttle family’s orchard.

An investigation drags on, and Mason, honest as the day is long, can’t understand why Lieutenant Baird won’t believe the story Mason has told about that day.

Both Mason and his new friend, tiny Calvin Chumsky, are relentlessly bullied by the other boys in their neighborhood, so they create an underground haven for themselves. When Calvin goes missing, Mason finds himself in trouble again. He’s desperate to figure out what happened to Calvin and, eventually, Benny.

But will anyone believe him?


The Only Black Girls in Town

the only black girls in town

Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black-and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her.

Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living.

When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie’s attic, they team up to figure out exactly who’s behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.


Weird Little Robots

weird little robots

Eleven-year-old Penny Rose has just moved to a new town, and so far the robots she builds herself are her only company. But with just a bit of magic, everything changes: she becomes best friends with Lark, has the chance to join a secret science club, and discovers that her robots are alive. Penny Rose hardly remembers how lonely she used to feel.

But then a fateful misstep forces her to choose between the best friend she’s always hoped for and the club she’s always dreamed of, and in the end it may be her beloved little robots that pay the price. Quirky and wonderful, this illustrated chapter book from Carolyn Crimi and Corinna Luyken shows that making your own space and a true friend in the world is a kind of magic all its own.


The Way to Bea

the way to bea

Seventh grade isn’t starting off so well for Beatrix Lee. Bea used to have friends…and now she doesn’t. She was an only child…and now she’s going to be a big sister. She used to fit in…and now she stands out for all the wrong reasons.

She takes solace in writing poems in ink that is as invisible as she feels, and hiding them in a secret spot. But then something incredible happens–someone starts writing back. Is it her former best friend? The editor of the school paper? The caring librarian who always offers the perfect book? Or the boy whose obsession with labyrinths is as intense as Bea’s love for words? In solving the mystery, Bea just might discover where she belongs.


Raymie Nightingale

raymie nightingale

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home.

To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.


Let’s Pretend We Never Met

let's pretend we never met

If it were up to Mattie Markham, there would be a law that said your family wasn’t allowed to move in the middle of the school year. After all, sixth grade is hard enough without wondering if you’ll be able to make new friends or worrying that the kids in Pennsylvania won’t like your North Carolina accent.

But when Mattie meets her next-door neighbor and classmate, she begins to think maybe she was silly to fear being the “new girl.” Agnes is like no one Mattie has ever met—she’s curious, hilarious, smart, and makes up the best games. If winter break is anything to go by, the rest of the school year should be a breeze.

Only it isn’t, because when vacation ends and school starts, Mattie realizes something: At school Agnes is known as the weird girl who no one likes. All Mattie wants is to fit in (okay, and maybe be a little popular too), but is that worth ending her friendship with Agnes?


Liar and Spy

liar and spy

When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a 12-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?


Wonderland

wonderland

Mavis Jeeter is fearless and bold, but she has never lived in one place long enough to have a real best friend. Her flighty mother has uprooted them again to another new home and taken a job as a housekeeper for the Tully family. Mavis wants this home to be permanent—which means finding herself a best friend.

Rose Tully is a worrier who feels like she doesn’t quite fit in with the other girls in her neighborhood. Her closest friend is Mr. Duffy, but he hasn’t been himself since his dog died. Rose may have to break a few of her mother’s many rules to help Mr. Duffy—and find someone who really understands her.

Henry has run away from home, but he craves kindness and comfort—and doesn’t know where to look for them.

When Mavis and Rose hatch a scheme to find Mr. Duffy a new dog, their lives and Henry’s intersect—and they all come to find friendship in places they never expected.


Hello, Universe

best middle-grade books about friendships - hello universe

Told from four intertwining points of view—two boys and two girls—the novel celebrates bravery, being different, and finding your inner bayani (hero). “Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast of misfits.”—Booklist

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and she loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so he can concentrate on basketball.

They aren’t friends, at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.


My Jasper June

best middle-grade books about friendships - my jasper june

The school year is over, and it is summer in Atlanta. The sky is blue, the sun is blazing, and the days brim with possibility. But Leah feels. . . lost. She has been this way since one terrible afternoon a year ago, when everything changed. Since that day, her parents have become distant, her friends have fallen away, and Leah’s been adrift and alone.

Then she meets Jasper, a girl unlike anyone she has ever known. There’s something mysterious about Jasper, almost magical. And Jasper, Leah discovers, is also lost.

Together, the two girls carve out a place for themselves, a hideaway in the overgrown spaces of Atlanta, away from their parents and their hardships, somewhere only they can find.

But as the days of this magical June start to draw to a close, and the darker realities of their lives intrude once more, Leah and Jasper have to decide how real their friendship is, and whether it can be enough to save them both.


The Reckless Club

best middle-grade books about friendships - the reckless club

On the last day of middle school, five kids who couldn’t be more different commit separate pranks, each sure they won’t be caught and they can’t get in trouble. They’re wrong.

As punishment, they each have to volunteer one beautiful summer day-the last one before school-at Northbrook Retirement and Assisted Living Home, where they’ll push creamed carrots into toothless mouths, perform the world’s most pathetic skit in front of residents who won’t remember it anyway, hold gnarled hands of peach fuzzed old ladies who relentlessly push hard candies, and somehow forge a bond with each other that has nothing to do with what they’ve done and everything to do with who they’re becoming.

All the action takes place in the course of this one day, with each chapter one hour of that day, as the five kids reveal what they’ve done, why they did it, and what they’re going to do now.


Save Me a Seat

best middle-grade books about friendships - save me a seat

Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they’re both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL.

Joe’s lived in the same town all his life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own.

Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in.

Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common — but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.


Emily Out of Focus

best middle-grade books about friendships - emily out of focus

Twelve-year-old Emily is flying with her parents to China to adopt and bring home a new baby sister. She’s excited but nervous to travel across the world and very aware that this trip will change her entire life. And the cracks are already starting to show the moment they reach the hotel—her parents are all about the new baby, and have no interest in exploring.

In the adoption trip group, Emily meets Katherine, a Chinese-American girl whose family has returned to China to adopt a second child. The girls eventually become friends and Katherine reveals a secret: she’s determined to find her birth mother, and she wants Emily’s help.

New country, new family, new responsibilities—it’s all a lot to handle, and Emily has never felt more alone.


Two Naomis

best middle-grade books about friendships - two naomis

Other than their first names, Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are sure they have nothing in common, and they wouldn’t mind keeping it that way.

Naomi Marie starts clubs at the library and adores being a big sister. Naomi Edith loves quiet Saturdays and hanging with her best friend in her backyard. And while Naomi Marie’s father lives a few blocks away, Naomi Edith wonders how she’s supposed to get through each day a whole country apart from her mother.

When Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi Edith’s dad get serious about dating, each girl tries to cling to the life she knows and loves. Then their parents push them into attending a class together, where they might just have to find a way to work with each other—and maybe even join forces to find new ways to define family.


A Place at the Table

best middle-grade books about friendships - a place at a table

Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression.

The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners . . . but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends?


A Galaxy of Sea Stars

best middle-grade books about friendships - a galaxy of stars

Eleven-year-old Izzy feels as though her whole world is shifting, and she doesn’t like it. She wants her dad to act like he did before he was deployed to Afghanistan. She wants her mom to live with them at the marina where they’ve moved instead of spending all her time on Block Island. Most of all, she wants Piper, Zelda, and herself―the Sea Stars―to stay best friends, as they start sixth grade in a new school.

Everything changes when Izzy’s father invites his former interpreter’s family, including eleven-year-old Sitara, to move into the marina’s upstairs apartment. Izzy doesn’t know what to make of Sitara―with her hijab and refusal to eat cafeteria food―and her presence disrupts the Sea Stars. But in Sitara Izzy finds someone brave, someone daring, someone who isn’t as afraid as Izzy is to use her voice and speak up for herself. As Izzy and Sitara grow closer, Izzy must make a choice: stay in her comfort zone and risk betraying her new friend, or speak up and lose the Sea Stars forever.


Middle-Grade Books About Friendships – Friendship Drama


So Done

best middle-grade books about friendships - so done

Jamila Phillips and Tai Johnson have been inseparable since they were toddlers, having grown up across the street from each other in Pirates Cove, a low-income housing project. As summer comes to an end, Tai can’t wait for Mila to return from spending a month with her aunt in the suburbs. But both girls are grappling with secrets, and when Mila returns she’s more focused on her upcoming dance auditions than hanging out with Tai.

Paula Chase explores complex issues that affect many young teens, and So Done offers a powerful message about speaking up. Full of ballet, basketball, family, and daily life in Pirates Cove, this memorable novel is for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Jason Reynolds’s Ghost.


Well, That Was Awkward

best middle-grade books about friendships - well that was awkward

Gracie has never felt like this before.  One day, she suddenly can’t breathe, can’t walk, can’t anything—and the reason is standing right there in front of her, all tall and weirdly good-looking: A.J.

But it turns out A.J. likes not Gracie but Gracie’s beautiful best friend, Sienna. Obviously Gracie is happy for Sienna. Super happy! She helps Sienna compose the best texts, responding to A.J.’s surprisingly funny and appealing texts, just as if she were Sienna. Because Gracie is fine. Always! She’s had lots of practice being the sidekick, second-best.

It’s all good. Well, almost all. She’s trying.


The Thing About Jellyfish

best middle-grade books about friendships - the thing about jellyfish

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting–things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.


Real Friends (Graphic Novel)

best middle-grade books about friendships - real friends

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group―or out?


The Friendship Experiment

best middle-grade books about friendships - the friendship experiment

Future scientist Madeline Little is dreading the start of middle school. Nothing has been right since her grandfather died and her best friend changed schools. Maddie would rather help her father in his research lab or write Standard Operating Procedures in her lab notebook than hang out with a bunch of kids who aren’t even her friends.

Despite Maddie’s reluctance, some new friends start coming her way—until they discover what she’s written in that secret notebook. And that’s just part of the trouble. Can this future scientific genius find the formula for straightening out her life?


Honeybees and Frenemies

best middle-grade books about friendships - honeybees and frenemies

It’s the summer before eighth grade and Flor is stuck at home and working at her family’s mattress store, while her best friend goes off to band camp (probably to make new friends). It becomes even worse when she’s asked to compete in the local honey pageant. This means Flor has to spend the summer practicing her talent (recorder) and volunteering (helping a recluse bee-keeper) with Candice, her former friend who’s still bitter about losing the pageant crown to Flor when they were in second grade. And she can’t say no.

Then there’s the possibility that Flor and her family are leaving to move in with her mom’s family in New Jersey. And with how much her mom and dad have been fighting lately, is it possible that her dad may not join them? Flor can’t let that happen. She has a lot of work to do.


Click’d

best middle-grade books about friendships - click'd

Allie Navarro can’t wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. CLICK’D pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other. 

And it’s a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking about CLICK’D. Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone’s making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition.

But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone’s secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt–all before she steps on stage to present CLICK’D to the judges?


Karma Khullar’s Mustache

best middle-grade books about friendships- karma khullar's mustache

Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.

With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.


The Queen Bee and Me

best middle-grade books about friendships - the queen bee and me

Meg has always found comfort in her best friend Beatrix’s shadow. Self-assured Beatrix is the one who makes decisions, and the girls have been a pair since kindergarten. But middle school has brought some changes in Beatrix, especially when Meg tries to step outside her role as sidekick.

A special science elective is Meg’s first step away, but when she’s paired with quirky new girl Hazel, Beatrix steps in to stake her claim on Meg. Meg is taken aback at how mean Beatrix can be–and how difficult it is to stand up to her friend. But as Meg gets to know Hazel while working on their backyard beehive project, she starts to wonder: Is being Beatrix’s friend worth turning down the possibility of finding her own voice?

This pitch-perfect exploration of middle-school friendship dynamics brims with heart and hope, and will resonate with readers of all ages.


Keep It Together, Keiko Carter

best middle-grade books about friendships - keep it together, keiko carter

Seventh grade is supposed to be a game changer. And Keiko thinks she’s got it covered, especially with Audrey and Jenna by her side to shop for a new look, pick out a prime lunch spot, and even hit up that cute new bubble tea place after school. Her trio is ready to tackle life as they always have… together.

But when Audrey decides they need boyfriends before Fall Ball, it looks like things may be changing in all the wrong ways. Jenna is sick of caving in to Audrey’s demands, and soon Keiko’s besties are barely talking, leaving her caught in the middle. While she’s been dreaming about triple-dates, first kisses, and a boy she really shouldn’t have a crush on, the friendship she’s always thought was rock-solid is beginning to crumble.

Keiko feels pulled in two directions. Should she try to help her friends — even if it means losing one of them — or follow her heart? When it comes to flirting, friendships, and fallouts, how is Keiko supposed to keep it all together?


From the Desk of Zoe Washington

best middle-grade books about friendships - from the desk of zoe washington

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.

But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.


That’s What Friends Do

best middle-grade books about friendships - that's what friends do

Samantha Goldstein and David Fisher have been friends ever since they met on their town’s Little League baseball team. But when a new kid named Luke starts hanging out with them, what was a comfortable pair becomes an awkward trio.

Luke’s comments make Sammie feel uncomfortable—but all David sees is how easily Luke flirts with Sammie, and so David decides to finally make a move on the friend he’s always had a crush on.

Soon things go all wrong and too far, and Sammie and David are both left feeling hurt, confused, and unsure of themselves, without anyone to talk to about what happened.

As rumors start flying around the school, David must try to make things right (if he can) and Sammie must learn to speak up about what’s been done to her.


Dough Boys

best middle-grade books about friendships - dough boys

Deontae “Simp” Wright has big plans for his future. Plans that involve basketball, his best friend, Rollie, and making enough money to get his mom and four younger brothers out of the Cove, their low-income housing project.

Long term, this means the NBA. Short term, it means being a dough boy—getting paid to play lookout and eventually moving up the rungs of the neighborhood drug operation with Rollie as his partner.

Roland “Rollie” Matthews used to love playing basketball. He loved the rhythm of the game, how he came up with his best drumbeats after running up and down the court. But playing with the elite team comes with extra, illegal responsibilities, and Rollie isn’t sure he’s down for that life. The new talented-and-gifted program, where Rollie has a chance to audition for a real-life go-go band, seems like the perfect excuse to stop being a dough boy. But how can he abandon his best friend?


The Long Ride

best middle-grade books about friendships- the long ride

Jamila Clarke. Josie Rivera. Francesca George. Three mixed-race girls, close friends whose immigrant parents worked hard to settle their families in a neighborhood with the best schools. The three girls are outsiders there, but they have each other.

Now, at the start seventh grade, they are told they will be part of an experiment, taking a long bus ride to a brand-new school built to “mix up the black and white kids.” Their parents don’t want them to be experiments. Francesca’s send her to a private school, leaving Jamila and Josie to take the bus ride without her.

While Francesca is testing her limits, Josie and Jamila find themselves outsiders again at the new school. As the year goes on, the Spanish girls welcome Josie, while Jamila develops a tender friendship with a boy–but it’s a relationship that can exist only at school.


The Friendship Lie

best middle-grade books about friendships - the friendship lie

Cora Davis’s life is garbage. Literally. Her professor parents study what happens to trash after it gets thrown away, and Cora knows exactly how it feels–to be thrown away. Between her mom and dad separating and a fallout with her best friend, fifth grade for Cora has been a year of feeling like being tossed into the dumpster.

But Cora has learned a couple of things from her parents’ trash-tracking studies: Things don’t always go where they’re supposed to, and sometimes the things you thought you got rid of come back. And occasionally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, which Cora and Sybella learn when they come across a diary detailing best-friendship problems. Told in two intertwining points of view, comes a warm, wry story of friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself.


The Right Hook of Devin Velma

best middle-grade books about friendships - the right hook of devin velma

Devin wants to hit it big on the internet by pulling a stunt at an NBA game—one the entire nation will be watching. Addison can’t turn Devin down, but he can barely manage talking to his teachers without freezing up. How’s he supposed to handle the possibility of being a viral sensation?

Addi’s not sure why Devin is bent on pulling off this almost-impossible feat. Maybe it has something to do with Devin’s dad’s hospital bills. Maybe it all goes back to the Double-Barreled Monkey Bar Backflip of Doom. Or maybe it’s something else entirely. No matter what, though, it’s risky for both of them, and when the big day finally comes, Devin’s plan threatens more than just their friendship.

With memorable protagonists and a wonderful supporting cast, The Right Hook of Devin Velma is a one-of-kind knockout in middle-grade fiction.


11 Birthdays

best middle-grade books about friendships - 11 birthdays

It’s Amanda’s 11th birthday and she is super excited—after all, 11 is so different from 10. But from the start, everything goes wrong. The worst part of it all is that she and her best friend, Leo, with whom she’s shared every birthday, are on the outs and this will be the first birthday they haven’t shared together.

When Amanda turns in for the night, glad to have her birthday behind her, she wakes up happy for a new day. Or is it? Her birthday seems to be repeating iself. What is going on?! And how can she fix it? Only time, friendship, and a little luck will tell. . .


11 before 12

best middle-grade books about friendships - 11 before 12

The first day of middle school means trading in freeze tag at the pool for new schedules, fabulous outfits, and a fresh start. But for eleven-year-old Kaylan, the chaos of new locker combinations, cafeteria cliques, and potential first kisses is more than she can handle. She dreads the start of sixth grade and feels like she wants—no, needs—a winning game plan.

Luckily, Kaylan and her effortlessly chill BFF, Arianna, have a fool-proof plan for tackling transitions: a list of eleven things they need to do to totally transform themselves before they both turn twelve in November.

But between making guy friends, getting detention (and makeovers!), helping humanity, and having super-candid conversations with their moms about their flaws, the first 100 days of school turn out worse than Kaylan ever imagined. Kaylan and Ari forget to focus on their friendship and soon their loyalty to the list—what was meant to help them keep it together—becomes the very thing tearing their lives apart.


Lemons

best middle-grade books about friendships - lemons

Lemonade Liberty Witt’s mama always told her: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But Lem can’t possibly make lemonade out of her new life in Willow Creek, California—the Bigfoot Capital of the World—where she’s forced to live with a grandfather she’s never met after her mother passes away.

Then she meets eleven-year-old Tobin Sky, the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives Inc., who is the sole Bigfoot investigator for their small town. After he invites Lem to be his assistant for the summer, they set out on an epic adventure to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film. But along the way, Lem and Tobin end up discovering more than they ever could have imagined. And Lem realizes that maybe she can make lemonade out of her new life after all.


There they are: 43 of the best middle-grade books about friendships! Whether you’re looking for a book for tweens about unlikely friendships or some major friendship drama, there’s something for you on this list!

Do you enjoy middle-grade books about friendships? Which are your best middle-grade books about friendships? I’d love to hear your recs!

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best middle-grade books about friendships
best middle-grade books about friendships
best middle-grade books about friendships

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6 thoughts on “43 Best Middle-Grade Books About Friendship

  1. What a wonderful compilation! I loved A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan. Two quite different girls coming from different backgrounds, religions, and such make a beautiful friendship that bonds over food of all things. That was special. I just finished Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt today and that was a great one that was solely focused on unhealthy relationships and how your once friend may not always be a true friend. Also, friendship can come in the most interesting ways too, as the main character, Delsie, did not expect to be friends with a new kid who seemed a little “out-there”. I loved it!

    1. Ah yes! I loved A PLACE AT THE TABLE too and yes, now that you mention it, SHOUTING AT THE RAIN should be on this list too! I read that last year and loved it too! For some reason, I remembered the heart of it and Cape Cod more than the friendships, haha. But yes, great example of toxic friendships. Thank you for reading and commenting, Sierra — I appreciate it 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading as always, Carol! Raymie is great, although the other two are definitely my favorites 😉

  2. When I see one of your lists, I immediately open Goodreads because I know I will have a few books to add to my TBR 😛 Today I am adding A Galaxy of Sea Stars, Emily Out of Focus, Nowhere Boy, and That’s What Friends Do. I was already looking forward to A Place at the Table. Save Me a Seat is one of my favourie friendship stories, so I’m happy to see it on this list 🙂

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