Just popping on to share some new favorite children’s books I have read this year! If you follow me on Instagram, this will be old news. I am mostly posting these for my new batch of students who are about to begin a Children’s Literature course with me. Thanks for reading!
Graphic novels I loved last year:
Jerry Craft’s New Kid and the sequel Class Act are a peek into what it’s like to be different from those around you–something most of us can relate to, but maybe not in the same way as the main characters from each book. They are dealing with having different skin color from most kids at their private school and all this entails. Interest level will be likely about 4th-8th grade for these two.
Cub, by Cynthia Copeland, will appeal to about 5th-8th grade. It follows a young girl in the 1970s who wants to be taken seriously as a young woman and a reporter, but she is also navigating the usual middle school/junior high issues. My favorite part of the book was when a new girl moved to their school, and she is an awesome example of kindness and works to include others in everything she does. The main character is strongly affected by this new girl’s attitude.
The Great Pet Escape and its sequel The Great Art Caper, by Victoria Jamieson (who also wrote two others I love, Roller Girl and All’s Faire in Middle School) are fun and silly graphic novels for younger children. Interest age will probably be about age 4-8. These graphic novels follow 3 animal friends who have become class pets in the same school. One, G.W., is set on escaping and taking his friends with him–but he discovers something horrifying about his 2 friends–they LIKE it there?! Enter a bossy mouse and her minions and a pet snake, and GW and his friends may have found a reason to stay after all.
Diverse chapter books I have loved:
Front Desk by Kelly Yang is about a Chinese family who has immigrated to California in the 1980s. Mia, their daughter, helps work at the motel that her parents are managing. Life is hard, and we see that how we treat people–our family, aquaintances, and strangers–has an impact. This book is uplifting and helps us relate to others who may be different from us. Interest level is about grades 5-8 again.
I might have gone a little crazy on Jason Reynolds’ books this year (Long Way Down, a young adult novel, was also fascinating). First up, his collection of short stories in Look Both Ways. This one will also appeal to about grades 5-8. It actually inspired me to start collecting some short stories of my own, by opening my eyes to the importance of the mundane things that are going on around us every day, and the people we see.
My favorites by Reynolds were those in the Track series, of which there are four books: Ghost, Patina, Sunny and Lu. Maybe because I’m female, I related strongly to Patina and really enjoyed that one, but I also loved the other three, particularly Ghost and Lu. Same interest level as the previous two!
By the way, I listened to all these except for Sunny, which I read in book format! (And of course I read the books of the graphic novels at the top; those don’t work as read-alouds!) I love to listen to my books, and through listening alone, I got over 70 books read this past year; this doesn’t include all the books I read visually. Imagine though, that is over 70 books that I would not be familiar with, if I did not listen to audiobooks. That is 70 more books that I now know and can recommend to children!
An exciting fantasy series I loved:
The Lockwood and Co series, by Jonathan Stroud (author of the Bartimaeus Trilogy), begins with The Screaming Staircase. Because of the intense subject matter and situations, I would recommend this series for 6th or 7th grade and up. It involves young teenagers living in a dystopian-type of society where ghost hauntings are a real problem; ghosts can and do kill people in this version of London. Unfortunately children and teens are the only ones who have enough sensitivity to detect the ghosts, so they have been recruited to deal with the problem (going on 50 years now). Lockwood, George and Lucy (narrator) form the ghost-hunting firm of Lockwood and Co., and together they are an effective team: so effective, that they begin to uncover the root of this strange problem as the series proceeds. I am not a massive fantasy fan, and even less a science fiction fan (dystopian), but this series hooked me, and I could not rest till I finished it! I listened to the majority of it on audiobooks, but I did have to get hard copies from time to time. It was great both ways!
Last one, my current read:
I have been on an adult book kick the past few weeks, with the exception of this new-to-me installment in Robin Stevens’ Wells and Wong Mystery series (as it is known in the US; in England they are known as Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries!). I always enjoy this series! It is about two young teen girls who are pretty much opposites (Daisy is very English; Hazel is very Chinese). They meet at boarding school in England in the 1930s and find they both have a knack for solving mysteries. Due to the intensity and seriousness of some of the crimes, I would recommend for 5th or 6th grade and up.
What have you been reading lately? I’d love to know.