The music is powerful. It can bring people together, bring comfort, make you happy or sad. Now I can no longer sing or play a musical instrument to save my life. But I like to read books about music, where the characters come together and their strengths through music, whether it’s singing, playing musical instruments, participating in musicals or joining a band. If you too enjoy reading such books, here is a list of mid-level music books where kids navigate friendship, school life, and their insecurities while finding solace in music.
The chance to fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz
Co-written by Ali Stroker, a Broadway star who uses a wheelchair, this book follows Nat, a 13-year-old wheelchair athlete who is trying to fit in at her new school. Nat is obsessed with musicals, so when she stumbles upon auditions you can bet she’s up for it. She gets the part, but with the fire and the challenges that come with how people treat her due to her disability, she has a lot to overcome before she can fly on stage.
Barakah beats by Maleeha Siddiqui (October 19, 2021)
Nimra didn’t expect college to be this difficult. A lot of things trouble her and her best friend avoids her. In a daring plan to fit in and win back her friend, she joins a group of boys at her school.
But what started out as a simple plan evolves into something more as Nimra falls in love with the music and the band. Her group mates respect her faith and watch over her. But keeping her parents a secret might not last long, as Nimra has to decide for herself what really matters to her.
Grant it by Jamie Sumner
Lou struggles with his mother’s need to blackmail her everywhere because of her beautiful voice. She is terrified of loud noises and crowds. So when she is separated from her mother and sent to a posh private school, she feels even more out of place. But with the help of loving parents and new friends, she slowly begins to let go of her insecurities and realizes that a sensory processing disorder doesn’t stop her from experiencing life.
This is a candid novel about family, friendship and empowerment, and it highlights sensory processing disorders.
Dough boys by Paula Chase
From the author of So done comes another mid-level book on friendship and the challenges tweens face. Rollie and Simp work as lookouts for a local drug ring to make ends meet and continue playing on an elite basketball team. But being a lookout has its consequences, and Rollie isn’t ready to stay for that.
When he gets a chance to audition for a popular band, Rollie is ready to stop being a locked out boy and pursue his love of music. But that could mean giving up on your best friend.
The way to stay in fate by Augusta Scattergood
Theo goes to live with his uncle Raymond, a Vietnam War veteran. But adjusting to his new life is more difficult when his uncle doesn’t want anything to do with him. He finds solace in the piano of a local dance school.
Enter a new friend who is great at baseball and looking to discover the city’s connection to former baseball players. Maybe his stay won’t be so bad after all, and he might want to stay in Destiny.
Emmy in the code key by AimÃ©e Lucido
Coding and music come together in the most beautiful way in this mid-level novel about Emmy, who struggles to adjust to her new school and new city while discovering her love for coding.
Emmy looks at the music business, but feels like she’s not really good at making music like her family. When she meets a lovely teacher, finds out about coding, and makes new friends, things start to get better for her. But what happens when her teacher falls ill and her new friend keeps her own secrets?
This book reads like a love letter to coding, music, friendship, and teachers who nurture their students and encourage them to perform at their best.
I Am Drum by Mike Grosso
Have you ever been to a music store to buy a drum kit or a guitar? So you know how expensive they are. Sam loves to play the drums but can’t afford a drum kit, and when her school’s music program is abandoned due to budget cuts, she finds herself in a pinch.
Determined to continue playing the drums, Sam sets out to do whatever it takes to satisfy her passion, including lying to her family. But how far can she go with that?
The lonely heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy
People collect different things, from toys and clothes to cooking. Maybelle loves to collect sounds. But her best sound is the laughter of her father, a father she never really knew.
When she hears his laughter on the radio, she embarks on a singing contest in the hopes of meeting him. But getting to Nashville won’t be easy, especially with the companions of his road trip.
First rule of punk by Celia C. Perez
MalÃº’s first day at his school didn’t go well. From violating dress codes to disturbing the school queen bee, it’s clear that MalÃº has a lot to do to fit into school. But why integrate, when she can bring together outsiders like her and start a group? The first rule of punk is to be yourself, and MalÃº is determined to protect her new band and keep rocking.
This heartwarming novel about mid-level music is sure to make you laugh and leave you rooting for its daring heroine.
Drum roll please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
A heartwarming coming-of-age story that follows Melly, who discovers she enjoys playing the drums. When invited to a music camp, she imagines it will be fun, but everything changes. Her parents have separated, she has lost her best friend, and she falls in love with another girl.
With all that is crumbling around her, will she be able to find her rhythm or will she collapse too?
Sarai saves the music by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown
Sarai is back, and this time she wants to save her school’s orchestral program. When the Sarai School’s funding is cut, the school’s music program is cut. To save him, Sarai and his friends plan to organize a fundraising benefit concert.
But it takes a long time to plan a concert. Could Sarai and his friends be out of their league and can they save their group schedule? This is the third book in the Sarai Gonzalez Illustrated Book Series.
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