Kids Chase Their Dreams in These 'Better Nate Than Ever' Read-Alikes

Starry-eyed characters follow their passions in three middle grade novels for kids excited about the Disney+ film adapted from Tim Federle's novel.


Better Nate Than Ever.

PG. Disney+. April 1.

Thirteen-year-old Nate Foster, a white boy, travels to New York City to audition for a part in a musical in this family film based on the book by former Broadway dancer Tim Federle.


All Four Stars by Tara Dairman. Puffin. 2014.
Gr 4-7–After 11-year-old white foodie Gladys is banned from the kitchen following a brûlée blowtorch incident, she secretly accepts a position as a food critic for an NYC newspaper and must figure out how to sneak into the city. Readers tickled by kids’ clandestine escapades as they follow their dreams will enjoy this delightfully humorous novel.

The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz. Abrams. 2021.
Gr 5-8–Thirteen-year-old Nat, a white wheelchair user, moves across the country to New Jersey, where she auditions for her school’s production of Wicked, proving to her family that she can succeed on stage. This endearing, character-driven novel by Tony-award-winning star Stroker will appeal to young Broadway fans.

Mango Delight by Fracaswell Hyman. Sterling. 2017.
Gr 4-7–A spat with her best friend leads Black 12-year-old Mango to try new activities, including the school play, in this dynamic, relatable novel. While this story concentrates more on friendship elements than Nate, readers will root for the courageous Mango as she takes the stage in this book and its sequels. 

In the Role of Brie Hutchens... by Nicole Melleby. Algonquin. 2020.
Gr 6-8–White eighth-grader Brie distracts her mom from questions about her sexuality by lying about being chosen as the student to crown Mary at her Catholic school’s annual celebratory Mass. Now, Brie must improve her schoolwork as she navigates a crush on a female classmate and questions her commitment to her faith. This novel deals more directly with awakening sexuality than Nate, but middle school actors may appreciate both.

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