Back to School with Middle Grade Audiobooks

This is the time of year when school supplies invade every store you enter. Notebooks, scissors, crayons, and pens sit in bins extending through the aisles. And I couldn’t be more excited for it. Back to school joy always makes me think of middle grade novels, an age range of books I still love to read. Earlier this year, I spent an entire weekend listening to middle grade stories, and it felt like the perfect way to enjoy some time off. So in that vein, this week, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite middle grade novels, but first, it’s time for new books!

Bookish Goods

A photo of an AirPods case the says, "I can't hear you. I'm listening to me audiobook."

Sorry I Can’t Hear You I’m Listening to My Audiobook, AirPods Pro Case by Smart Match

My favorite pair of headphones are my AirPods. I actually have two so I can swap them out and keep listening. So if you, like me, primarily use your AirPods to listen to audiobooks, then this case is for you. $21

New Releases

A graphic of the cover of Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America's Overdose Crisis by Beth Macy

Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis by Beth Macy | Narrated by the Author

The author of Dopesick is back with her follow-up, Raising Lazarus, in which she continues to report on the devastating impact  of the opioid crisis in Appalachian Virginia. Macy has been reporting on the crisis for years and brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to untangling the complex realities of ongoing court cases against drug companies, the impact of COVID, and ongoing recovery efforts.

A graphic of the cover of Complicit: A Novel by Winnie M Li

Complicit: A Novel by Winnie M Li | Narrated by Katie Leung

Thriller writer Winnie M Li is back with her latest novel, Complicit, in which we follow Sarah La, a Hollywood hasbeen who’s now stuck teaching at a lackluster university. But when a reporter reaches out to her to try to find out what happened to her career, and who was at fault, Sarah La decides that this is the perfect opportunity to seek vengeance on the person who ruined her career.

Riot Recommendations

This week is all about middle grade novels! I adore middle grade. There’s just something special about reading these engaging, hopeful stories. Here are two of my favorites that I’ve read this year.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

A graphic of the cover of Omar Rising by Aisha Saeed

Omar Rising by Aisha Saeed | Narrated by Vikas Adam

Vikas Adam performs this story about a Pakistani boy finding his voice and using it to make change. Omar is excited to start at his new boarding school. He managed to get a scholarship to attend and can’t believe his luck. But when he arrives, he discovers that he and the other scholarship students are required to maintain an A average AND do extra chores every week. As Omar and his friends investigate these sky-high requirements, they learn that the system is rigged — they were never intended to succeed. Aisha Saeed has given us an incredible story in this slim novel. And Vikas Adam’s performance captures Omar’s resilience and sense of hope.

A graphic of the cover of The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga

The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga | Narrated by Reena Dutt and Jennifer Jill Araya

Reena Dutt and Jennifer Jill each narrate one of the viewpoint characters, Cora and Quinn. A year before the opening of a novel, Cora’s sister was killed in a school shooting. Ever since that day, Cora and Quinn’s relationship has never been the same. But on Cora’s birthday, Quinn leaves a box on her doorstep hoping that together they can fix their relationship and their mourning families. Jasmine Warga tackles a very difficult topic in such a gentle way while still illustrating the horrific affects a school shooting can have on a community. This book gives adults a way to talk about gun violence with the kids in their lives.

a photo of Gwen, a black and white Cardigan Welsh Corgis, sitting on the floor with her pink donut toy
Gwen and her beloved pink donut toy

That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave or over on Instagram @kdwinchester. As always, feel free to drop me a line at For even MORE audiobook content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy listening, bookish friends!

~ Kendra