Tag Archives: middle grade novel and picture book pairs

10 middle grade novel / picture book pairings

I’ve wanted to write a post like this for some time. I love picture books, we know that. I also love middle grade novels, that sweet spot of literature for the 8-12 year old set. Here’s why I’m putting them together, beyond that I read and like both. I keep thinking there might be a child who can read a picture book on her own, but wants a middle grade book read to her. Or there’s a family with kids at different ages, but what fun it would be to read related books together or separately and then talk about them. Or there’s a classroom studying one book and the other would complement it perfectly.

My hope is these intersecting pairs (and trios) of kids’ books will be useful to someone in some way. Here goes.


Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 3.59.13 PMOne Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street & Peace is an Offering by Annette Le Box, picturees by Stephanie Graegin.

Both books have a large and varied cast of characters and are really about how they and we are all connected. The trees on the covers don’t hurt either!


gianna-zThe Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. by Kate Messner & My Leaf Book by Monica Wellington & Maia and What Matters by Tine Mortier, illustrated by Kaatje Vermeire.

Gianna Z is doing a leaf identification science project at school. At home, she’s dealing with the pain of her grandmother losing her memory. So, this book gets two companions, one for each important plot thread.


red-pencilThe Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Shane W. Evans & Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams & Khadra Mohammed, illustrated by Doug Chayka.

These are both set in refugee camps in different parts of the world. They also explore what keeps the characters going despite such challenging circumstances, in one case creativity and in the other, friendship.


Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 5.09.18 PMLove That Dog by Sharon Creech & This is a Poem that Heals Fish & Daniel Finds a Poem.

Three books that explore poetry—what it is, where to find it, how to write it. Because everyone can. And these three boys do. Lovely, lovely, lovely.


Confessions of An Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas & Beekle: The Adventures of an Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat.

Two charming and inventive books from the perspective of an imaginary friend. Yes!


Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 4.00.00 PMRed Scarf Girl by Ji LI Jiang & The Red Piano.

Here, too, setting is what unites these stories of the cultural revolution in China.


breadcrumbs-snow-queenBreadcrumbs by Anne Ursu and The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen and adapted by Allison Grace MacDonald, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline.

A masterful MG novel that I cannot recommend highly enough! It takes the classic fairy tale as its starting point and builds out from there, layer upon layer, shaping Hazel’s journey to find her best friend Jack.


Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 3.58.51 PMThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate & Little Beauty by Anthony Browne & Ivan the Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by G. Brian Karas.

The first two are both about animals in captivity who bond with each other. The last is a picture book non-fiction telling of the first. They are all heartbreakers. They are all beautiful.


100-dresses-each-kindnessThe Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin & Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

I’ve paired these two before (and I’m sure I’m not the only one!). Written over 50 years apart, they both explore bullying and, especially, regretting it.


Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 3.58.40 PM

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry & The Pilot and the Little Prince by Peter Sís.

One is the story and one is the story behind the story’s author. A well-suited set!


My hope is that you’ve got some pairs to add to this list of 10! I couldn’t come up with companions for many of my very favorite middle grade novels, so please share any ideas of your own in the comments. Anyone have one for Holes, or Bird in a Box, or A Tangle of Knots

Have you paired related books of different levels in some way? Do tell.