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Middle-Grade Books From the '80s That Are Still Worth Reading

Share part of your own childhood with these classic books from the '80s

Tina Cha

Published on: October 16, 2020

Middle-Grade Books From the '80s That Are Still Worth Reading

Book cover: ‘Dear Mr. Henshaw’ by Beverly Cleary

‘Dear Mr. Henshaw’ by Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary’s first Ramona Quimby book was published in the 1950s and has found a permanent place in our hearts. However, in the mid-‘80s, it was Cleary’s book “Dear Mr. Henshaw” that garnered her a 1984 Newberry Medal.

Told through letters that Leigh Botts writes to his favorite author (and eventually letters he writes in a journal), DMH tells a tale of a boy living with a single mom — friends few and far between and fathers who don’t always come through.

The storylines still resonate today. Perhaps Leigh would have written an email or Instagram DM instead of a letter today, but the story’s emotional range and themes are still relevant, whether he is entering a school writing contest, setting a trap for a lunch thief, or managing disappointment and loneliness. This is one that is worth rereading and encouraging your kids to read. For those who are Leigh Botts fans, Cleary wrote a sequel, “Strider,” which takes place when Leigh is in high school.

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