Thursday 11 June 2015

Poll Results: The Best Middle Grade Books Of The 21st Century

Back in our launch week, which seems like years but was actually only just four months ago, SF Said wrote a brilliant piece for MGSB questioning why there were no books for children or young adults listed in a (then) recent poll organised by the BBC to discover the best books of the 21st Century. We decided that we would run our own poll on MGSB to find out which middle grade books our readers and contributors felt were worthy to appear in list of the best children’s books of the 21st century so far. We intended to get the results out soon after we closed the poll, but one thing led to another and life has been pretty crazy, so apologies for keeping you waiting.

Before we present the results, I need to explain a decision that we have made regarding the votes. Over the weeks following the poll there were quite a few Top 10 lists appearing across various forms of the media, leading to much discussion regarding their relevance, with some commentators questioning this need to rank books and authors. We have therefore decided that we are not going to give any individual scores, nor are we going to name books that scored much higher than others. Instead we decided that any book that received three or more votes would deserve a place on our list, which we would present in chronological order of the books’ release dates.

A few points before we reveal the list:

  • Louis Sachar’s Holes received a good number of votes but was published in 1998 so does not qualify in this instance (even if it is a flippin’ great book).
  • A number of the Harry Potter books received more than the requisite three votes. Some of these books were published pre-2000 so do not qualify for the list. In the interest of keeping things balanced we have only included the Harry Potter book from the 21st Century that received the most votes.
  • All three books in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series received more than three votes, but as SF Said pointed out at the time of the poll, Pullman intended for the trilogy to be seen as one complete story, and the third book in the trilogy was published in 2000 so qualifies as far as we are concerned.
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness scored well, but as it is a YA book it does not qualify for this poll.

And so on with the results:














(Note: In the case of His Dark Materials and the Harry Potter series, The Amber Spyglass and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire each received the most votes out of those voted for from their respective series)

I think you will agree that this is a pretty incredible list of books that every lover of middle grade fiction should read (I’ll be honest – there are a handful that I need to add to the ever-towering TBR pile now). We would love to hear your thoughts on the results. Did your favourite make it to the list? Are there any glaring omissions? And what about 2005 and 2009? Were they particularly dry years for quality children’s fiction?

Big thanks to all who took the time to add their votes to the poll.


  1. Love this list! Awesome - could have done with a lot more Michelle Paver and SF's The Outlaw Varjak Paw, which is even better than the original, but a brilliant list none the less...oh, and surely we could have picked a better David Almond book?

  2. WOW! With few exceptions, this a my kind of list. So many great books, however, I take exception to the above comment. David Almond is indeed an incredible writer, and I can see why he made the list. I was glad to see Harry Potter and His Dark Materials. These books have worked wonders with getting the reluctant readers in my classes interested in reading. Thanks for sharing this poll.

  3. Oh no! Didn't mean I didn't like David Almond - far from it!! Just that book isn't one of my favourites of his books, that's all. Obviously it's still brilliant...

  4. Delighted to see Pullman & Boyne on the list. Also happy to see Ness and Cottrell Boyce, though these are not their best titles, in my opinion. Good list though.

  5. Beautiful list with many books & authors for me to discover.

    My two favorites from that time period both missed.

    You mentioned Sachar's HOLES missing the cutoff date. A more recent, lesser known book, THE CARDTURNER I love so much. It is one of my very favorite books to share. Such a fun, inventive, creative story, and Sachar teaches you how to play and fall in love with bridge as you read.

    And Jerry Spinelli's 2002 book, STARGIRL. I am sure I could find flaws with this book. But I fell in love with the titular character so much. And I have learned from her so much. This book I hold close to my heart.

  6. Surely you should include the last two books in Joan Aiken's Wolves Chronicles, published after her death -
    Midwinter Nightingale and The Witch of Clatteringshaws in 2004 and 2005

  7. The Harry Potter series and the His Dark Materials series aren't Middle Grade. They're Young Adult

  8. Funny because in the US I think many of these books would be considered YA or at least a bit much for the elementary school library. Goes to my theory that it's a bit more anything goes in the UK. Is this true so you think?