Children who love acting, theater, and musical theater will love these books about acting, theater, and musicals!
Get ready for good books for your theater kids!
Middle-Grade Books for Kids About Acting and Theater
Click by Kayla Miller
(ages 8 – 12)
Click is an excellent, relatable book about friendships and finding your place –my daughter felt could have been her own story. When the talent show is announced, everyone in Olive’s friend group makes pairs and groups up but don’t include her. She feels really left out. Olive’s cool aunt watches variety show videos with her to help Olive get ideas. It does give Olive an idea — to be the host of the show. That’s something she can do on her own. I like that the book contains realistic family situations (a slightly overbearing mom,) realistic friend challenges, the relatable feeling of loneliness among your classmates, and then, a really creative resolution. The artwork is eye-catching, too.
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
(ages 8 – 12, graphic novel)
Callie doesn’t sing so she joins the stage crew as a set designer. But, she doesn’t know anything about that either and it’s tricky getting along with the other crew members. Plus, there is so much drama about who gets what part. Funny and relatable, this story of friendship and theater is an appealing, popular read.
Jack and Louisa by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead
(ages 8 – 12)
Musical-theater nerd (MTN) Louisa is thrilled when child Broadway star Jack moves to her small town in Ohio. When the local theater production of Into the Woods, Jack must decide if he’ll attempt an audition despite his voice’s changes and Louisa must determine if she’s ready to audition without her friend. A delightful story of friendship and a love of musical theater–while dealing with growing up and growing into yourself.
Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
(age 8 – 12)
Jacky stutters badly so to make life easier, she just makes a joke . . . about everything. Now at age 12, she’s started the new school year with tons of detentions. Luckily, someone sees the potential in Jacky and lets her “serve” those detentions in the school play, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. It turns out Jacky is a natural actor — and that helps distract her from her Nonna being sick, her mom being an agent, and her dad never being home. Very enjoyable!
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
(ages 8 – 12)
Helped by his best friend, Libby, Nate manages to leave his small town without his parent’s knowledge to go to an audition in NYC and stay there through the audition process. His experiences feel realistic with the overwhelm and craziness of auditions. He doesn’t care that people in his town make fun of him for being gay and doesn’t even know if it’s true or not true. Then, he gets a call-back and will have to extend his overnight stay — now what will he do? Note: Some minor language including a-hole.
Musical theater kids, get ready for your next favorite book filled with singing, theater puns, and inclusivity. Nat, a thirteen-year-old girl in a chair, moves to a new town where she auditions for her favorite musical, Wicked telling her parents. She thinks that Nessa is her perfect role since Nessa is also in a chair. The group of kids also involved in the musical are welcoming and accepting. But she needs to show the director just how much she can do — that she can dance in her own way– and it works. Then, when a fire burns the theater down, the show is canceled. Nat rallies the cast to find a solution. (Grit is Nat’s middle name.) (And singing.) Add in a bit of romance, friendship troubles, and a surprising new role for Nat to make this is one gem you won’t want to miss.
Dream, Annie, Dream by Waka T. Brown
(ages 8 – 12)
Annie is a Japanese American girl who loves theater and basketball. Due to racism and parents, she’s not cast in the role she deserves in the summer production and now the school play. Surprised by what’s happening, Annie begins to see the prejudice all around her that she’s never noticed. She almost gives up her dreams until a chance arrives to write a play of her own.
Olive and the Backstage Ghost by Michelle Schusterman
(8 – 12 years old)
If you like suspenseful mysteries with ghosts that aren’t too scary, this book is for you! Olive, an aspiring actress with a domineering mother, discovers she fits in perfectly at Maudeville, a gorgeous old theater she’s run away to. Not only that, she’s been cast as the lead in the newest production. But there is something weird going on — her friend’s brother lives outside the theater in the alley and continues to warn her that things aren’t what they seem. What is really going on? Is it good or bad?
Fearless by Mandy Gonzalez
(ages 8 – 12)
Monica moves to NYC to be an understudy in a Broadway hit at the soon-to-be-closed Ethel Merman Theater. Then, terrible things begin to happen before opening night and she and the other actors need to follow the clues and figure out how to stop all the troubles.
The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter
(ages 9 – 12)
Billy Plimpton spends his days at his new middle school avoiding talking so that no one will hear his stutter. But, kids find out eventually and he becomes a target for a bully. However, his kind teacher helps Billy learn about the drums and Billy makes friends with other kids who hang out in the music room. When Billy’s teacher finds out about the bully, his solution is unexpected…and it works. Billy begins to believe in himself and believe he can be who his grandma always knew he is…culminating with a stand-up comedy performance at the talent show. Billy’s huge character arc shows that despite the challenges of a stutter, he can do anything he sets his mind to, in this funny, sweet, and empathy-building story.