One evening while I was covering the reference desk, a tween girl approached me in a panic. She wanted a book from the teen department, but her mother didn’t feel like she was ready.
As I worked with this tween, she confided in me that she had her first crush. She wanted to read a romance story to figure out what relationships were like. All of a sudden, I realized why this reference question mattered so much. As librarians, we wear many hats. Sometimes as I juggle my other job responsibilities, I often take for granted the power of books. One of the most difficult parts about serving tweens is their vast range of interests, maturity levels, and life experiences. This summer, I did a series on cross-under and crossover books for tweens. Part 1 of this series dealt with crossover books like Percy Jackson, Part 2 dealt with books like Harry Potter, and today, I am briefly going to share a very short list of my favorite new romance books for grades 6-8.
Geekerella by: Ashley Poston
This modern retelling of Cinderella centers around a sixteen-year-old name Danielle (Ella). Ella lives with her stepmother and evil stepsisters. Her only escape is a TV show called Starfield that she used to watch with her late father. When an opportunity to enter a cosplay contest opens up, Ella jumps at the chance to enter. It is the ticket she needs to get away from her home life, but could it also be her chance to find her happily ever after too? Told from alternate viewpoints, and filled with pop culture references, this book is perfect young readers who enjoy all things geeky.
Star-Crossed by: Barbara Dee
In this new LBGTQ middle-grade book, star student Mattie is excited about her eighth-grade production of Romeo and Juliet. She connects to the play, and can’t wait to get involved.
When the male lead drops out, Mattie gets her chance to be in the play. She steps up to play the lead role of Romeo. As Mattie spends more time with her co-star, Gemma, she develops a crush on her, but Mattie isn’t sure how to feel about it.
With a supportive cast of characters, author Barbara Dee creates in a sweet coming of age story with the theme of accepting yourself.
Crushing It by Joanne Levy
Twelve-year-old Kat and her best friend Olivia are taking on seventh grade together. When Olivia admits that she has a crush on Kat’s longtime next door neighbor and friend, Tyler, Kat makes it her mission to try to get the two together. When her efforts to bring them together begin to work, however, Kat realizes she has feelings for Tyler too. In this crossunder based on Cyrano de Bergerac, author Joanne Levy weaves together a light romance with the theme of being yourself.
If readers enjoy these titles, they might also enjoy – Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch, Lucky in Love by Kasie West, Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith, The Selection series by Kiera Cass, and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. What are some of your favorite gentle romance stories?