Talking About ADHD

10 Middle Grade Books with ADHD Characters Who Slay

Reading is how I learned to understand my ADHD challenges. Books introduced me to characters who transformed their differences into unique abilities. Here are some of my favorite middle grade fiction books — ones that made a difference as I came to understand my own ADHD.

teens holding books
Three young people standing and enjoyed reading books together
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Great Middle School Books

My middle school years were pivotal in my ADHD journey. During adolescence, I first learned how ADHD impacts my learning and how to advocate for myself. I’m in high school now and I’ve already written two books inspired by my ADHD challenges. In just a few short years, I’ve truly come to view them as a superpower.

Of course, it took me time to arrive at this place. Since I’m an author, it likely won’t surprise you to hear that fiction books are a great source of personal inspiration. Reading great books is not just entertaining; books are the best source of information and an excellent way to develop empathy and to feel less alone in this world. As it turns out, research agrees.

I love discovering books with characters who overcome challenges associated with ADHD or other difficulties because they encourage me to fight through my own struggles and find my superpower.

If you’ve never seen yourself in a protagonist before, here’s a list of middle-grade books featuring main characters with ADHD. Pass them on to your friends, parents, and teachers so can explore what ADHD looks like in a variety of settings and situations. Mystery, comedy, fantasy fiction, adventure, and realistic fiction — there’s something to appeal to every book lover here!

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'Lights, Camera, Disaster' by Erin Dionne

Gracie's Take: Readers who struggle with disorganization (like me!) will see themselves in Hester, the super-creative main character. Written partially in script form (with stop, pause, play, and rewind moments), this story that will have you laughing out loud, too.

Publisher’s Summary: “Hester Greene loves making movies and when she holds the camera, focusing and making decisions is easier. The camera seems to give her the control she lacks in life, where her executive function disorder (EFD) sabotages her every move.

“But middle school is not a movie, and if her last-ditch attempt to pass eighth grade doesn't work, Hess could lose her friends, the school year, and her camera. It will take more than a cool training montage to get her life together, but by thinking outside the frame, she just might craft a whole new ending.”

Buy on Amazon:  Lights, Camera, Disaster (#CommissionsEarned)

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'The Boy with the Butterfly Mind' by Victoria Williamson

Gracie's Take: Told through alternating viewpoints, this is a realistic story of divorce with themes of forgiveness and acceptance.

Publisher’s Summary: “Jamie Lee just wants to be normal, but his ADHD isn't making it easy. If only he could control his butterfly mind he could live with his mom. Elin Watts just wants to be perfect. If she could be the best student and daughter possible, then maybe her dad would leave his new family and come back to live with Elin and her mom.

“Find out what happens when Jamie and Elin's families blend. As their lives spiral out of control, Jamie and Elin discover that they're actually more alike than they'd like to admit. Maybe there's no such thing as normal, or perfect. And perhaps, just like families, happy-ever-afters come in all shapes and sizes.”

Buy on Amazon:  The Boy with the Butterfly Mind (#CommissionsEarned)

[Read: 8 Books for Kids Who Resist Reading]

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'Focused' by Alyson Gerber

Gracie's Take: Author Alyson Gerber grew up with undiagnosed ADHD and EFD. She applies this first-hand knowledge to the character of Clea, with a realistic description of what it is like to live with ADHD.

Publisher’s Summary: “Clea can't control her thoughts and it’s starting to be a problem. Not just in school but when she’s playing chess, or just hanging out with her BFF. Other kids are starting to notice, too. When Clea fails one too many tests, her parents take her to be tested, and she learns she has ADHD, which explains why her attention is all over the place instead of where it needs to be. Clea knows life can't continue the way it's been going. She's just not sure how to fix a problem that's all in your head. But that's what she's going to have to do, to find a way to focus.”

Buy on Amazon: Focused (#CommissionsEarned)

Each Tiny Spark
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'Each Tiny Spark' by Pablo Cartaya

Gracie's Take: I love to read about strong female characters in fiction, and it’s even better to see one who is diagnosed with ADHD, like me.

Publisher’s Summary: “Emilia Torres has a wandering mind. It's hard for her to follow along at school, and sometimes she forgets to do what her mom or abuela asks. She remembers a happier time when her family was whole, before her dad was deployed. When Dad returns, life at home unravels unexpectedly. He shuts himself in the family's auto shop to work on an old car and Emilia becomes mesmerized by his welder. One day, Dad invites her in and teachers how to use it. And over time, flickers of her old father reappear. Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya is a tender story about asking big questions and being brave enough to reckon with the answers.”

Buy on Amazon:  Each Tiny Spark (#CommissionsEarned)

check mates
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'Check Mates' by Steward Foster

Gracie's Take: This book features the irresistible combination of an underdog story, a mystery to be solved, and a multi-generational relationship.

Publisher’s Summary: “‘Some people think that I’m a problem child, that I’m lazy and never pay attention in lessons. But the thing is, I’m not a problem child at all. I’m just a child with a problem.’

“Felix is struggling at school because of ADHD-related challenges. Everyone tells him to try harder, but no one seems to understand just how hard he finds it. When Mum suggests Felix spends time with his grandfather, he can’t think of anything worse. Granddad hasn’t been the same since Grandma died, and he’s always trying to teach Felix the boring game of chess. But, as Felix soon learns, the best lessons sometimes turn up in unexpected places.”

Buy on Amazon:  Check Mates (#CommissionsEarned)

Eliza Bing
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'Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big, Fat Quitter' by Carmella Van Vleet

Gracie's Take : This fast-paced and fun book is narrated by Eliza, who shares her 5th grade challenges and adventures, including coping with her ADHD. Readers who enjoy this story may want to read the sequel, Eliza Bing Is (Not) a Star.

Publisher’s Summary: “Eliza has had many hobbies in her 11 years... and most haven't lasted very long. After she and a friend create a baking business for a class project, Eliza is convinced cake decorating is her destiny. Her parents say the summer "Cakes with Caroline" class is too expensive — especially given Eliza's history of quickly losing interest in things.

“Desperate to prove them wrong, Eliza takes her brother's unwanted spot in a taekwondo class. At first, she finds the focus and discipline needed in martial arts, too difficult since she has ADHD. Then mean girl Madison shows up and things get even more complicated. Find out if Eliza can rise to the challenge.”

Buy on Amazon:  Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big, Fat Quitter (#CommissionsEarned)

[Free Resource: The All-Time Best Books on ADHD]

Ninja Brothers
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'The Amazing Ninja Brothers: Entering the Deep Unknown by Robert Martin

Gracie's Take: The author, Robert Martin, said he wrote this book to “offer reassurance and a path to courage” for students diagnosed with ADHD and “a roadmap to understanding and age-appropriate ways to provide support” for their friends. A teaching guide is also available.

Publisher’s Summary: “Eleven-year-old Tommy's classmates are annoyed with him for always goofing off and disrupting class. Tommy has ADHD, so sitting still and being quiet is difficult. His friends, brothers Aiden and Jacob, want to help him adapt to the challenges at school and at home. But Tommy's two buddies are actually Ninjas!

“Their power comes from ancient, magical Ninja rings passed down to them from their great-great-grandfather, an explorer. The Ninja rings give Aiden and Jacob the power to understand how Tommy's ADHD brain thinks differently and through strong bonds of friendship, learn that Tommy’s way of seeing the world gives him some pretty interesting superpowers, too!”

Buy on Amazon:  The Amazing Ninja Brothers: Entering the Deep Unknown (#CommissionsEarned)

Joey Pigza
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'Joe Pigza Swallowed the Key' by Jack Gantos

Gracie's Take: This novel, a National Book Award Finalist, is narrated by Joey Pigza, the main character, who gives a first-hand account of his impulse-control issues and other struggles related to his ADHD. As a reader, you’ll love rooting for Joey! Even better, this is the first in a five-book series.

Publisher’s Summary: "Joey’s got heart, a mom who loves him, and 'dud meds,' (his name for the Ritalin pills that are supposed to even out his wild mood swings), too. Sometimes Joey makes bad choices and doesn’t learn from his mistakes, so he winds up downtown in the district special-ed program, which could be the end of the line. But he is determined not to let that happen. The author, Jack Gantos, perfectly captures the humor, intensity, and serious challenges that life presents to a kid dealing with hyperactivity and related disorders."

Buy on Amazon:  Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (#CommissionsEarned)

Percy Jackson
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'Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief' by Rick Riordan

Gracie's Take: Percy Jackson is a hero whose ADHD and dyslexia sometimes get him into trouble. I highly recommend the entire series and I especially love that the author’s mythology-loving son, who learns differently, are the reason these books came to be. “ADHD and dyslexia inspired a fantasy novel about a regular kid with not-so-regular problems,” says Rick Riordan.

Publisher’s Summary: “Percy is a good kid but can’t seem to focus on school work or control his temper and is convinced his math teacher turned him into a monster and tried to kill him. Percy’s mom sends him to a place where he’ll be safe — a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island). It’s there that he discovers the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. A mystery unfolds and together with his interesting group of friends, Percy sets out on a quest to the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevents a catastrophic war between the gods.”

Buy on Amazon:  Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (#CommissionsEarned)

Welcome to Superhero School
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'Welcome to Superhero School' by Gracie Dix

Gracie's Take: And last but not least, I’d like to recommend my own debut novel! Writing helps me work through my problems. Writing this book helped me process and celebrate my ADHD. I hope it helps you do the same.

The school in my book is a place where all the students have learning differences. Knowing this makes it easier for its students to communicate honestly with each other. They respect each other’s differences, and this openness creates a strong community.

Instead of labeling the characters’ learning differences or explaining their behavior, I just make it an essential piece of their descriptions so they will probably seem somewhat different from the characters you’re used to in fiction. Those of us who learn differently are indeed interesting people. I hope that comes across in the book.

Publisher’s Summary: “Welcome to Superhero School! Join Oliver, Jess, and all their friends on a mission to destroy the power-hungry, evil villains of Vork. From subterranean sewers to lush jungles, and dinosaurs to dragons, our heroes are pushed to their limits in ways they’d never imagined. Will their collective powers — flight, morphing, invisibility, mind reading, and more — be enough for them to overcome the malevolence of Vork? Or will they stumble over their own doubts and painful histories? Read this action-packed journey of friendship, hardship, and humor to find out.”

Buy on Amazon:  Welcome to Superhero School  (#CommissionsEarned)

[Click to Read: The All-Time Best Books About ADHD to Read and Pass On]

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