5 Books for Kids by Authors Who Usually Write for Grown-Ups


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Some of your favorite authors of adult fiction have written books for middle-grade readers. Here are five of our favorites.

  • The cover of the book Small Spaces

    Small Spaces

    You already know (and likely love) Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy (The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and The Winter of the Witch), but unless you have a young person in your life, then Small Spaces might have escaped your notice. It’s the story of eleven-year old Ollie, who has found solace in reading following a tragic loss. When Ollie sees a wild-looking woman about to toss a book into a river, she seizes it to read for herself. Her snap decision leads to the discovery that her small town may have some terrible secrets to hide, along them a murder and a sinister supernatural entity known as “the smiling man.” 

  • The cover of the book Dungeons & Dragons: Escape the Underdark

    Dungeons & Dragons: Escape the Underdark

    An Endless Quest Book

    Matt Forbeck is no stranger to anyone who likes tabletop role-playing games. This prolific designer and writer has worked with some of the biggest lines in the market, developing both game content and world lore to support their products. Dungeons & Dragons, Vampire: The Masquerade, Call of Cthulhu, Mutant Chronicles, and Deadlands are just a few of titles to which he’s been attached. He’s also written tons of comic books, video, novels and short fiction. Most recently, Forbeck has authored four books in the Dungeons & Dragons: Endless Quest line, a series of pick-a-path style novels for middle graders set in the world of the popular fantasy role-playing game.

  • The cover of the book Minecraft: The Island

    Minecraft: The Island

    An Official Minecraft Novel

    Max Brooks is best known for his horror novel World War Z, and the parodic survival manual The Zombie Survival Guide: two books that are almost totally responsible for setting off the modern zombie craze. Brooks also wrote a graphic novel about the legendary Harlem Hellfighters, an all African American World War I regiment, as well as a gruesome vampire vs. zombie vs. human comic book series, The Extinction Parade. None of his work is kid friendly, except for Minecraft: the Island, an adventure novel for middle-graders inspired by the video game sensation. Is that out of character for Brooks? Well, not exactly. As any kid (and a lot of adults) can tell you, hostile zombies are a near-constant presence in the Minecraft universe.  

  • The cover of the book The Halloween Tree

    The Halloween Tree

    Casual science fiction readers may only know Ray Bradbury for his novel Fahrenheit 451, but the late author wrote lots of novels and short fiction for young and old alike. Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree is the story of a group of young trick-or-treaters who are led on a journey across time and space that teaches them the origins of Halloween and the deeper meaning of the holiday. The novel was originally published in 1972, but has been reissued with new illustrations by Gris Grimly. 

  • The cover of the book The Wishing Tree

    The Wishing Tree

    Mississippi writer William Faulkner, unlike the other authors on this list, never wrote any science fiction or fantasy novels for adults. He’s best known for a string of southern gothic masterpieces, including As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Absalom, Absalom! Adults aside, Faulkner did write a children’s book titled The Wishing Tree: a fairy tale-like story of a young girl who, on her birthday, accompanies a strange boy on a quest and ends up learning a valuable lesson. It has been in and out of print since the first copies were written and and crafted by the author in 1927.