Childrens book for adults

Table of Contents

No matter how many books your child has in their library, you’ll still wind up reading many of them over and over. I do not like them, Sam I Am!

But luckily for us parents and caregivers, there are a ton of witty, fun, and socially conscious children’s books that won’t make you want to throw the book across the room on the millionth reading. I enjoy them so much, I find myself turning to these books myself when I need to be cheered up!

Children’s Books for Adults and Kids

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Kelp has never quite looked like the other narwhals in his pod. Sure, he has a tusk, but he’s never found it easy to swim in the strong currents like his friends, and seafood has never looked appetizing.

But one day, Kelp swims to the surface and sees an animal just like him—up on land. Kelp finds a community of unicorns just like him, but soon he misses his family in the ocean. He struggles with his identity: is he a land narwhal or a sea unicorn? Kelp is clever, though; he soon finds a way to bring both sides together.

This book is perfect for anyone who has felt a little different from those you grow up with, but not quite at home when you finally find “your people” (so, basically, all of us). The artwork also makes me extremely happy; the underwater rainbows are particularly gorgeous.

King Baby by Kate Beaton

All hail King Baby! I love Kate Beaton’s comics for adults, so this picture book was one of the first additions to my kid’s library. And I love it so. King Baby is an adorable tyrant, bestowing his loyal subject with smiles and achievements.

This is a great book for adopting voices and sound effects—the family cooing over a new baby, the grunts of a child learning to crawl. Like some of the best children’s books, this story is best performed rather than read.

But what I enjoy most about this book is the clever ending. When it comes to kings, and babies, no one rules forever!

Neither by Airlie Anderson

In the Land of This and That, there are blue bunnies and yellow birds. Right? So why is Neither born not quite a bird and not quite a bunny?

Neither struggles to fit in, but then they decide to find a place where their differences aren’t a weakness; they’re just part of what makes Neither wonderful and unique. They travel to a world full of color and variety—the art is really gorgeous—and find a welcoming home much different than This and That. It’s the Land of All.

But what happens when Neither’s old compatriots stumble into this bright new world?

I love that my son will grow up learning about a nonbinary world in which there is a place for everyone. This book is a great foundation for understanding how preconceptions hurt everyone, and that you can’t judge a bird by its bunny ears.

Danza! by Duncan Tonatiuh

Amalia Hernández was a dancer and the founder of El Ballet Folklórico de México. One hundred years after Hernández passed away, this book was published to introduce young readers to a side of history not seen in many other children’s books.

I love a good nonfiction children’s book, and the narrative comes to life with Tonatiuh’s illustration style. (You might recognize Tonatiuh from another favorite, The Princess and the Warrior.) The book is informative without ever becoming dry or boring. The dancing livens up any story time!

Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome and‎ James E. Ransome

Another fantastic nonfiction book about an important woman’s life! This story is told in really beautiful verse with gorgeous flowy watercolor art. The story explores names and identities and legacies, but it does so in an accessible and entertaining way.

I love how fiction encourages kids to dream and imagine better worlds, but I also love teaching them about history from an early age. I actually learned more about Harriet Tubman myself—I hadn’t known much about her work as a suffragist and Union nurse/spy.

I hope reading stories like these means my kid will be a little more interested in history—and the often marginalized but very important people who have shaped our country.

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts

Ada Twist is curious about every part of her world. What are the pointy parts of a rose? Why do hairs grow in your nose? Her parents encourage her inquiries—even when she tries to put the cat in the washing machine.

Ada Twist, Scientist is an engaging exploration of science and passion. Like other titles in this series—Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer—the book encourages children (especially girls) to pursue fields that have often not embraced diversity—and to change all that by doing what you love.

Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza and‎ Alyssa Bermudez

Lucía dreams of being a superhero in her cape and mask, but when the boys on the playground tell her girls can’t be heroes, she’s taken aback. Her grandmother soon reveals a secret about Lucía’s past: she comes from a long line of luchadoras, women who have participated in lucha libre traditions.

The news buoys Lucía’s spirits, but when she confronts injustice at recess, she struggles with fighting for what is right and maintaining her secret identity.

Lucía is a spunky fighter radiating with joy and energy. I particularly love how this story examines the role of superheroes helping those in need—not just fighting.

Yo Soy Muslim by Mark Gonzales and‎ Mehrdokht Amini

This father’s poetic letter to his daughter, where he encourages her to embrace the many identities that make her the person she is, is equally parts encouraging and heartwarming.

Dear little one,
…know you are wondrous.
A child of crescent moons,
a builder of mosques,
a descendant of brilliance,
an ancestor in training.

And the illustrations are just as beautiful. I love how the book celebrates heritage and faith—Muslim and indigenous identities and more. It’s about bringing together different worlds, and then passing them down to your children—something everyone can relate to.

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

Eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot dreams of flying above her apartment building, looking down on 1939 Harlem. She soars above the George Washington Bridge, laid out sparkling like a necklace. Her father helped build that bridge, but he still has not been able to bridge social chasms in a union denying him membership because of his African American and Native American roots.

In her flight, Cassie is free, floating far above a world where her place is never quite assured, buoyed by hopes for her family’s future.

This book is magical and nuanced, exploring fraught histories and identities but also encouraging kids to keep dreaming anyway—keep flying, carried up by hope. Truly a classic.

If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover

This is perhaps the book I remember best from my childhood. It ranges from the fun and silly—if everyone stepped on Dad’s feet, they’d be flat as a pancake—to the important—if everyone littered, the roadsides would be filled with garbage.

It’s a not-preachy way to teach kids to be sensitive to others and to think for themselves about the consequences of their actions. I hope these morals stay with my son as they have with me!

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

This book has no pictures—but this non-picture picture book one of the most creative and imaginative stories I’ve read.

I love how engaged and resourceful this book demands the narrator to be, in terms of voicing the story, and the child to be, in terms of picturing the story.

Also, the writer in me loves any book valuing words so much. And it really is funny!

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

What happens when your favorite crayons revolt? Beige and Brown feel unjustly compared to each other, Black and Blue need breaks from their usual jobs, and Orange and Yellow fight over which best represents the sun.

In this story, Duncan must work with all of the colors so he can get back to his favorite activity—making art. It’s a delightful—and very colorful—meditation on mediation and valuing the everyday objects you take for granted.

Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson

This is a picture book that I bought for myself long before I had a kid, back when I first started reading comics and graphic novels, and I loved it! Now, the parent in me particularly enjoys the strong mother-daughter bond and Hilda’s sense of responsible adventure.

I’m also a sucker for books set in the North, with snow-swept environs and magical creatures—both real and imagined—around every corner. Hilda is no-nonsense and fun, and Pearson employs excellent world-building. These books are quirky and fun for all ages.

Teddy’s Favorite Toy by Christian Trimmer and‎ Madeline Valentine

Of all of his toys, Teddy’s favorite is a doll with excellent manners and fierce fighting skills. But when the doll accidentally takes a trip in a garbage truck, Teddy’s mom comes to the rescue.

Not only does this book encourage boys to play with all kinds of toys, thus teaching young readers about diversity and overcoming gender norms—the women are portrayed as strong, capable, and accepting. (This would be a great Mother’s Day gift!)

Like several titles on this list, I first discovered the book via the helpful staff at One More Page Books and More in northern Virginia—big ups to local indies!

I Love My Purse by Belle DeMont and Sonja Wimmer

Speaking of boys happily demolishing gender norms—Charlie’s red purse, given to him by his grandmother, is one of his most beloved possessions. But when he decides to take it to school, many people—even his dad—ask him why he has to take such an “unusual” item out in public.

But Charlie is undaunted. Soon, his wholehearted joy inspires those people in his life to take more risks out of love—from his dad wearing a bright Hawaiian shirt to work to the crossing guard sporting sparkly footwear. It’s more important to be true to what you love and who you are, they learn, than to try to fit into what the world expects of them.

Need I say more about why this book is so amazing?!

All right, I will. My youngest brother loved carrying around a beautiful beaded purse when he was little, and he got a lot of teasing about it (including from me and his other siblings). I wish we’d had this book back then; it would have taught him that it’s okay to love things like purses, and it would have taught us, his family, that it’s okay to see others love things.

Do Not Open by Brinton Turkle

In the wake of one of her beloved seaside storms, Miss Moody scours the beach for new treasures—and she finds a mysterious bottle. Fooled into ignoring the words “Do Not Open” on it, Miss Moody must find a way to save herself and her sidekick, a cat named Captain Kidd. And oh, does she!

I particularly love that the only thing Miss Moody is afraid of—or so she says—is a tiny mouse. As someone with a phobia of rodents, I FEEL that!

My husband grew up with this book, and I wish I had. We both love the story so much, we have a painting of one of the panels hanging on our living room wall.

This is a charming tale of a plucky woman facing down a monster with cunning wit and a sensible sense of humor—who doesn’t need such a reminder every day?

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35 Amazing Picture Books For Adults That Will Warm Your Heart

Even as an adult, when I read picture books to my young child I smile with delight and joy. Sometimes I even catch myself reading some of our favorite picture books after my daughter goes to sleep. In honor of the pictures books that make us giddy, give us an education and teach us how to become better people, here are 35 amazing picture books for adults that will warm your heart.

1. The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, by Peter Sis

Sis’s book illuminates the life of French pilot and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, creator of The Little Prince. This epic tale of adventure follows Saint-Exupéry as he grows from a fatherless child to pioneer of flight.

2. The Heart and the Bottle, by Oliver Jeffers

For anyone who has ever suffered the loss of a close person, Jeffers’s book captures the journey from loss of innocence to the revitalization of the soul.

3. LaRue Across America: Post Cards From the Vacation, by Mark Teague

Gertrude LaRue and her canine companion, Ike, take a road trip through the heartland of American with two cats in tow. The delightful illustrations give us a fun sense of wonder and show us some of the great landscape and adventures found throughout the United States.

4. New Big House, by Debi Gliori

It is never fun outgrowing a small house. But Gliori’s story guides us through the great adventure of searching for a new house, renovating a small house, and settling into a big, new, wonderful home.

5. Seasons, by Blexbolex

This boldly illustrated book takes the reader through the symphony of the four seasons. It captures the great moments of winter, spring, summer and fall with fascinating simplicity.

6. MAPS, by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

MAPS is an aesthetically pleasing, antique-type depiction of various countries’ borders and topography. The book also includes interesting information about various countries’ culture

7. Slim and Miss Prim, by Robert Kinerk, illustrations by Jim Harris


Slim, a strong but shy cowboy, is secretly in love with ranch owner Marigold Prim. After both Slim and her cattle are stolen, Miss Prim travels through the majestic imagery of the Wild West to rescue them. After his rescue, Slim gets up the courage to marry Miss Prim.

8. Bentley and Blueberry, by Randy Houk

Blueberry is a lonely stray dog sitting in a shelter waiting for a family. Bentley is loved but lonely puppy. When the two meet, it brings mayhem and happiness to their owner Ms. Moody’s life. This book is based upon a true story.

9. Olivia, by Ian Falconer

Every Olivia book is a delightful journey into the mind of a young girl. With simple but character-filled illustrations, every one of Olivia’s adventures – whether real or imaginary – are fun.

10. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

This poetic tale of a day at the zoo depicts Eric Carle’s amazing creativity, coupled with Bill Martin’s sense of rhyme for an enjoyable exploration through the eyes of animals.

11. Corduroy, by Don Freeman

Corduroy – a little bear all alone on a department store shelf – finds the love of a young girl, only to be abandoned because of his broken overalls. Corduroy ventures off his shelf to find a button to fix his overalls, but despite his escapades through the department store, he cannot fix them. In the end, the young girl’s love brings her back to buy the broken bear. This heartwarming tale has been loved by generations.

12. Jumanji, by Chris Van Allsburg

Jumanji – the only board game that literally sucks you in – is an amazing jungle adventure that comes to life and symbolizes a son’s conflict with his father and his transformation into adulthood.

13. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl

In its 50th year, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is still celebrating the unlikely friendship between Charlie Bucket – a boy living in abject poverty – and Willy Wonka – the successful chocolatier without a family. This tale of love, triumph and family continues to amaze children from five to 95.

14. Give Thanks for Each Day, by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Robert McPhillips


This heartwarming poem illustrates the beauty of giving thanks for the simple things in life.

15. Little Bea and the Snowy Day, by Daniel Roode

Little Bea and her friends show us the many ways we can have fun playing on a snowy day.

16. A Fine Picnic, by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Leon Baxter

When the family picnic gets rained out, Jack’s family doesn’t let the showers spoil their outing. With the picnic basket, thermoses, rain jackets and a bit of imagination, Jack’s family makes their home into a perfect park land for a picnic.

17. The River, by Alessandro Sanna

The very talented Alessandro Sanna takes us through the seasons with divine watercolor pictorials of each season’s special burst of color and flair.

18. Fox, by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ron Brooks

Another amazing illustrated book, this story explores the wonderful side of friendship and the dark side of jealousy.

19. FArTHER, by Grahame Baker-Smith

FArTHER is a heartwarming story about how the bonds between father and son are hard to break, even when death tears them apart. Yet another amazing illustrated book, the story follows a young man who loses his father during the war and then proceeds to honor his father’s dream of flying.

20. Voices in the Park, by Anthony Browne

Sometimes seeing the world from another person’s point of view can be difficult. Voices in the Park enlightens adults and children alike on how to see life from another person’s perspective and how to look beyond our own prejudice.

21. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce, illustrated with Joe Bluhm


An amazing book about loving books made for book lovers of all ages.

22. Frankenstein, by Rick Walton, illustrated by Nathan Hale

Walton’s parody of Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline features a not-so-scary Frankenstein encompassing the fun spirit of Halloween.

23. Goodnight iPad: a Parody for the Next Generation, by Ann Droyd

A parody of Goodnight Moon, Goodnight iPad pokes fun at the human race’s inability to unplug – ever. It’s also a good reason to put down the mobile device and pick up a book.

24. Lights Out!, by John Himmelman

Himmelman’s book is for moms, dads and sisters who have always wanted to know what really goes on at Boy Scout Camp, or for Boy Scouts who want to remember the silly stuff that makes camp so memorable.

25. What Moms Can’t Do, by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Doug Cushman

This heartwarming tale is about the everyday tasks that moms can’t seem to accomplish – such as keeping the house clean or hearing herself think – told from a kids’ point of view. But in the end, every kid knows that what mom does best is love them.

26. The Littlest Pilgrim, by Brandi Dougherty, illustrated by Kirsten Richards

Mini the pilgrim is a kind soul looking to help out those she loves, but she cannot seem to find anyone who is in need of her help. Eventually, Mini finds a girl who is in need of her friendship.

27. When Lucy Goes Out Walking, by Ashley Wolff

We follow lovable puppy Lucy through her first year of life, month by month. Each month illustrates not only Lucy’s growth, but also the enjoyable aspects of the month, such as the cool April wind and October’s colorful leaves.

28. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, by Charles Schultz


Every year, Linus van Pelt dutifully waits for the Great Pumpkin in the most sinister pumpkin patch, hoping his hero will arrive with lots of toys. And every year, the Great Pumpkin disappoints. But what keeps us in love with this tale is that we get the see the otherwise surly Lucy van Pelt’s love for her brother as she picks him up from the pumpkin patch at four in the morning, puts him to bed and gets extra candy for him while trick or treating.

29. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

One day, Duncan goes looking for his crayons only to find out they have left him a list of grievances and they have gone on strike. Duncan must figure out a way to fix each of their grievances before they will work again. Much like real life, Daywalt and Jeffers illustrate the complexity of relationships and how we can work to make them better.

30. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

A simply beautiful story about a young boy named Peter who wakes up to find the delight of the first snow fall of the season. Peter’s adventures of making snow angels and throwing snowballs are reminiscent of the innocence of a snowy day as a child.

31. The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson

Ferdinand is a gentle bull who would rather smell flowers than butt heads. Ferdinand’s life of contentment and gentle being reminds us all how to be happy with ourselves – as we are—even if we aren’t the same as others.

32. The Story about Ping, by Marjorie Flack, illustrated by Kurt Wiese

Ping the duck lives on a boat in the Yangtze River with his family. One night, Ping becomes separated from his family and through some misadventures figures out just how much he loves them. Ping’s genuine love of his family encourages readers to cherish time with their own families.

33. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

Eric Carle’s classic story follows a caterpillar as he evolves from an egg into a beautiful butterfly. This boldly illustrated story is captivating even as an adult.

34. The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

The Runaway Bunny’s story is perhaps one of the most symbolic stories of how far a parent’s love will travel to keep a child safe. The simple illustrations make the book whimsical and enchanting.

35. The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg

Before Tom Hanks starred in the movie version of this renowned Christmas story, parents and children had been enjoying the tale for over 20 years. This story fills us all with the love and hope of the Christmas season, even if you don’t believe in Santa anymore.

Featured photo credit: Books/Marin Resnick via

Best Chapter Books We Read in 2017

Here are 10 (plus a bonus pick) of the best Chapter Books and series we read in 2017.

I have one more book list for you. I shared my Favorite Fiction Reads from 2017 and my Favorite Non-Fiction Reads from 2017, but some of the best books of all were middle grade chapter books.

Some of these books I read aloud with one or all of my children (ages 11, 9, 7, and 3). Some of them I read on my own and then passed along to one or more of my children to read. All of the books on this list are phenomenal.

In addition to these favorite chapter books that we loved this year, our absolute favorite series to read aloud right now is the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. I adore them with all my heart – we made it to the last available book in the series in 2017 and are now waiting most anxiously for the final book to be released.

For more of our favorite family read aloud books, check out this earlier post.

If you’re on GoodReads you can find all the books in this post in a GoodReads List here so you can easily add them to your “to read” shelf. Follow along on GoodReads to see more of what we’re reading throughout the year.

Seeds of America Series by Laurie Halse Anderson

There are three books in this series, Chains, Forge, and Ashes. They were some of my very favorite books last year. I read them all and then pushed them on my 11 year old daughter, who, thankfully, loved them just as much as I did.

The series begins in 1776 at the start of the American Revolution and ends in book three with the American victory. What makes these books unique and wonderful is that they are told from the perspective of the slaves. The first book, Chains, is narrated by 13 year old Isabel. She was promised her freedom upon the death of her owner, but finds that promises to slaves mean nothing. Following Isabel’s experience, Anderson takes us through a revolution being fought for freedom, but not freedom for everyone. All three books are complex, emotional, gripping, and brilliant.

These are the books that I keep recommending lately. Given the subject matter, I’d say they are best for 10 and up. But they are just as wonderful for adult readers as they are for kids. And if you have a teen that is obsessed with Hamilton, you could probably talk them into reading these pretty easily too. They are just So Good. I want you to read them. If you have any interest at all in well executed historical fiction, please read these books.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Hands down, this was everyone’s favorite family read aloud last year. I somehow made it 35 years without ever reading the Hobbit. So if, like me, you’ve been avoiding the Hobbit, let me say a few things that might change your mind. First, this really has nothing to do with Lord of the Rings. They aren’t alike at all. So if you don’t like Lord of the Rings (or saw the movies but don’t think you’d like that sort of book), think again. They aren’t alike at all. Second, if you saw the newest Hobbit movies and think that you don’t want to read a book like that, think again. Those movies have nothing to do with the Hobbit book – really, nothing.

The Hobbit, as many people already know, is a completely charming book. Even my three year old enjoyed listening to this at the end of each day. It is sweet and funny and absolutely thrilling. It’s a most perfect fairy tale of a book to read aloud together. I can’t believe it took me so long to discover this!

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I read this just after it won the Newbery Award last year and I was smitten. My 11 year old and 9 year old girls also read this and thoroughly enjoyed it too. I actually read this into the wee hours of the morning, despite knowing I would have to wake up at 6:30 AM to get my daughter to her before-school activities, because I just could not put it down.

The book sucks you in immediately with it’s dark and chilly setting. Every year the people of the protectorate leave a baby as an offering to a witch who lives in the forest. They don’t really remember how it began, but they believe that their sacrifice will prevent the forest witch from inflicting horrors upon them. The reader soon discovers that there is another side to this story and things are not at all how they seem.

There’s magic and fantasy, like any good fairy tale, but there’s also science, and critical thinking, and legend, and a beautiful story about the power of stories. I already want to read this book again.

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

I was conflicted about this book at first. However, when I realized that I’d been thinking and talking about this book for weeks after I finished it, it finally dawned on me just how genius the book really is. The problem with it is that there is a dystopian story line happening in the book – there are 9 kids on an island and every year a boat comes and brings a new child and the oldest child must get in the boat and leave the island – but it’s not really the point.

It’s easy to get hung up on the dystopian story line and then feel disappointed when you don’t get any answers. You never find out why the island is there, who is sending the children, where they go after they leave. I wish I’d known these things up front. I might have discovered and enjoyed the real story line more if I hadn’t been looking for answers to questions the whole time. Still, once I caught on, I thought the book was really beautiful and meaningful. The real story here is the story about growing up – transitioning from childhood into the next stage of life. And that story line is very well done. This is a great book for tweens and the parents of tweens.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

The title initially turned me off to this book, but don’t let it fool you too. This book is fantastic! And it’s not a princessy sort of book at all. There are 3 books in this series (we’re in the middle of book 3 right now) and they are all absolutely wonderful. I’ve been reading these aloud with my girls and we adore them. They get so excited to read these at night that they start asking for bedtime as soon as dinner ends.

The series takes place on Mount Eskel, a remote and rugged mountain in the kingdom of Danland. Miri, the main character, has never been off the mountain or away from the quarry that sustains life there. The people of Mount Eskel struggle to earn enough to feed their families, but overall, they are a happy, hardworking, close knit community. And then messengers come from the faraway capital of Asland with an announcement. The king’s priests have divined that the prince’s bride will come from Mount Eskel. A princess academy is set up and whether the girls like it or not, they must spend a year in the princess academy and turn themselves into proper princess material so the prince can choose one of them to marry.

It’s not a fluffy read like the title implies. In fact, all three books have strong, admirable female characters and deal with complex issues. There are so many lessons to be learned in this series, but Hale does it without ever being preachy. I can’t say enough good things about these books! They have prompted such deep and intelligent conversations with my girls, while also just being good fun to read. I even used a scene in book two to help explain the whole Roy Moore scandal to my 11 year old. Really, these are wonderful books for grownups, teens, and middle grade readers.

The Edge of Extinction Series by Laura Martin

I’ve raved about these two books, The Ark Plan and Code Name Flood, here before, but they deserve all my praise. They are so fun and so widely appealing. We listened to these on audio book as a family and they were a big hit. I have been recommending these right and left. Because they are fun for so many ages, they are perfect audio books for the family car trip or great family read alouds. I recommend these books for grown-ups, teenagers, and kids 6 or 7 and up.

These books are Jurassic Park exciting! They begin 150 years after a dinosaur cloning experiment went horribly wrong. In this future, humans were nearly wiped out and the few that remain live in underground compounds. The book follows Sky Mundy and her best friend Shawn as they try to solve the mysterious disappearance of Sky’s father who vanished from the compound 5 years earlier. These books reminded me of the Divergence series without the romance. Survival is the name of the game and these books are full of adventure and excitement. So much fun!

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

This is middle grade fiction at its very best. My 11 year old and I listened to this on audio. We had a difficult time turning it off to do things like sleep and eat. It’s a story about bullying and redemption and it’s full of plot twists that will keep you hanging on to every single word. It’s beautiful historical fiction set between World War I and II. It called to my mind To Kill A Mockingbird and The Hundred Dresses. It deals with some tough subjects, but told by a child narrator, which I think makes it a good read (or maybe read aloud) even for third and fourth graders.

May B. by Caroline Star Rose

I picked this book up at the thrift store, largely because I liked the cover. Turns out, it’s a wonderful book! It’s written in verse – but don’t let that turn you off, because it is very readable. I push this book on almost everyone who stops by my house because it needs to be read.

The book is reminiscent of the Little House on the Prairie books, but more grown up. And by grown up, I mean it deals with more of the hardships of prairie life, more grit and less nostalgia. May doesn’t want to go, but when her family needs the extra money they send her to a neighbor (think miles away on the prairie “neighbor”) to keep house. But it turns out to be more difficult than May could have even imagined. This a beautifully executed story of character and perseverance. All of my girls enjoyed this one too.

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

First, I love everything I’ve ever read by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. This book is the sequel to The War that Saved My Life. In the first book, the story begins during World War II when 9 year old and her brother are sent out of London to avoid the bombings. It isn’t until she is away from home for the first time, that Ada begins to understand and heal from the abuse her mother has heaped on her because she was born with a club foot.

The second book picks up where the first leaves off in the middle of the war. It finishes Ada’s story of growing up and healing with warmth and beauty. These books deal with heavy topics, but they are hopeful books. They are deep and there’s a lot to talk about and even more to think about.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz

This is set in the 1200’s and is told Geoffrey Chaucer style with multiple narrators and stories that weave together. This book is incredible. It’s also tricky for me to recommend because there are some scenes of bloody violence in this book that I felt like were a bit much for middle grade fiction. Luckily, I read this aloud to my kids and did some quick on the spot editing.

Still, bloody violence aside, this book is genius. There’s a lot of humor (oh my, we laughed until we cried in this book) and rollicking adventure. But the reason why this is in my top 10 is because it’s really a brilliant philosophy book. This is a book about morals and it gives you so many levels on which to think about right and wrong, hatred and love, religion, diversity, and more. It can be a bit irreverent though, so I would recommend parents read it first and prepare to talk about it.

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton

We read this aloud together on the recommendation of a friend and it was fun, fun, fun. 10 year old Persimmony Smudge (don’t you just love that name!?) is living a boring and ordinary life on the Island At the Center of Everything. Boring that is until she overhears a very big secret, one that could change everything for the little island. The adventure begins when she tries to get someone to listen and help. This is a fun, lighthearted read that we highly recommend – all 5 of us!

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Wandering into the young adult section of your local bookstore is never something to be embarrassed about — even if you haven’t actually been a teen in years.

In fact, if you’ve left high school behind, you don’t have to read Beowulf between now and September, which frees up time to check out the YA titles below.

SEE ALSO: 22 Books for Your Ultimate Summer Reading List

And if you’re really paranoid about fellow beachgoers judging your teen-title, there’s always the anonymity of a cover-less ereader. Although, unless they’re reading War and Peace surf-side, they’re really in no position to criticize.

Award Winners

It’s not really judging a book by it’s cover if you judge it by the impressively shiny seals adorning its cover.

1. In Darkness Author: Nick Lake

This is the story of “Shorty”-a 15-year-old boy trapped in a collapsed hospital during the earthquake in Haiti. Surrounded by the bodies of the dead, increasingly weak from lack of food and water, Shorty begins to hallucinate. As he waits in darkness for a rescue that may never come, a mystical bridge seems to emerge between him and Haitian leader Toussaint L’Ouverture, uniting the two in their darkest suffering-and their hope.

A modern teen and a black slave, separated by hundreds of years. Yet in some strange way, the boy in the ruins of Port au Prince and the man who led the struggle for Haiti’s independence might well be one and the same . . .Amazon Book Description

2. Ask the Passengers Author: A.S. King

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives—and her own—for the better.

In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything—and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.Amazon Book Description

3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.Amazon Book Description

4. Code Name Verity Author: Elizabeth Wein

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.Amazon Book Description

5. Seraphina Author: Rachel Hartman

In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.Amazon Book Description

The Movies

The next two years will be filled with potential blockbusters based on YA novels. By polishing off the books now, you’ll be able to sit calmly in the theater next to your gasping friends with the satisfaction of totally knowing that plot twist was going to happen.

6. Divergent Author: Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the YA scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.Amazon Book Description

7. The Book Theif Author: Markus Zusak

A New York Times bestseller for seven years running that’s soon to be a major motion picture, this Printz Honor book by the author of I Am the Messenger is an unforgettable tale about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.Amazon Book Description

8. City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments) Author: Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. And she’s more than a little startled when the body disappears into thin air. Soon Clary is introduced to the world of the Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of warriors dedicated to driving demons out of our world and back to their own. And Clary is introduced with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque monster. How could a mere human survive such an attack and kill a demon? The Shadowhunters would like to know…Amazon Book Description

9. How I Live Now Author: Meg Rosoff

“Every war has turning points and every person too.”

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

A riveting and astonishing story.Amazon Book Description

The Crossovers

Even the biggest book snob won’t turn their noses up at these selections that have made it onto book lists for adults and teens alike.

10. The Fault in Our Stars Author: John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.Amazon Book Description

11. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Author: Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie’s YA debut, released in hardcover to instant success, recieving seven starred reviews, hitting numerous bestseller lists, and winning the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.Amazon Book Description

12. Monster Author: Walter Dean Myers


Steve (Voice-Over) Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I’ll call it what the lady prosecutor called me … Monster.Amazon Book Description

13. Where Things Come Back Author: John Corey Whaley

Just when seventeen-year-old Cullen Witter thinks he understands everything about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town, it all disappears. . . . In the summer before Cullen’s senior year, a nominally-depressed birdwatcher named John Barling thinks he spots a species of woodpecker thought to be extinct since the 1940s in Lily, Arkansas. His rediscovery of the so-called Lazarus Woodpecker sparks a flurry of press and woodpecker-mania. Soon all the kids are getting woodpecker haircuts and everyone’s eating “Lazarus burgers.” But as absurd as the town’s carnival atmosphere has become, nothing is more startling than the realization that Cullen’s sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother Gabriel has suddenly and inexplicably disappeared.

While Cullen navigates his way through a summer of finding and losing love, holding his fragile family together, and muddling his way into adulthood, a young missionary in Africa, who has lost his faith, is searching for any semblance of meaning wherever he can find it. As distant as the two stories seem at the start, they are thoughtfully woven ever closer together and through masterful plotting, brought face to face in a surprising and harrowing climax.

Complex but truly extraordinary, tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity, this novel finds wonder in the ordinary and emerges as ultimately hopeful. It’s about a lot more than what Cullen calls, “that damn bird.” It’s about the dream of second chances. Amazon Book Description

Destination Vacation

If you can’t swing so much as a weekend trip this summer you can at least read about an exciting new location. With the right drink and air freshener scent it’ll be just like you’re there.

14. When You Were Here Author: Daisy Whitney

Filled with humor, raw emotion, a strong voice, and a brilliant dog named Sandy Koufax, When You Were Here explores the two most powerful forces known to man-death and love. Daisy Whitney brings her characters to life with a deft touch and resonating authenticity.

Danny’s mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.

Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn’t know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.

When he gets a letter from his mom’s property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother’s memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.Amazon Book Description

15. Second Chance Summer Author: Morgan Matson

From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak. Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.Amazon Book Description

16. Beauty Queens Author: Libba Bray

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, a desert island classic.

Survival. Of the fittest.

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner. What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up? Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.Amazon Book Description

Start a Series

Beginning a series can lead to a desperate need to finish said series immediately. It’s best to save them for the summer vacation when your binge reading won’t interfere with all those pesky responsibilities.

17. Shatter Me Author: Tahereh Mafi

“You can’t touch me,” I whisper.

I’m lying, is what I don’t tell him.

He can touch me, is what I’ll never tell him.

But things happen when people touch me.

Strange things.

Bad things.

No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.

But Juliette has plans of her own.

After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.Amazon Book Description

18. The Selection Author: Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.Amazon Book Description

19. The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle) Author: Maggie Stiefvater

An all-new series from the masterful, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them-not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all-family money, good looks, devoted friends-but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys.Amazon Book Description

20. Delirium Author: Lauren Oliver

They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.Amazon Book Description


The 2013 YA reads getting tons of positive coverage that you’re bound to see come up on your Twitter feed this summer.

21. How to Lead a Life of Crime Author: Kirsten Miller

A Meth Dealer. A Prostitute. A Serial Killer.

Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.

Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?Amazon Book Description

22. The Moon and More Author: Sarah Dessen

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo’s sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline’s mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he’s convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she’s going?

Sarah Dessen’s devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer. Amazon Book Description

23. Eleanor & Park Author: Rainbow Rowell

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says. So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers. I’m not kidding, he says. You should be, she says, we’re 16. What about Romeo and Juliet? Shallow, confused, then dead. I love you, Park says. Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers. I’m not kidding, he says. You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

Amazon Book Description

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Molly Horan

Molly Horan was an editorial intern at Mashable. She’s worked as an editorial fellow at and an editorial intern at and Her web writing has also been published on,, and…More

10 Great and Easy English Books You Must Read

Reading can open your mind to brilliant new worlds and take you to a new level of English language learning.

It may feel like a slow process, but it is effective.

Adopting English books as learning tools can help you reach English fluency faster than ever before.

Take a trip to your local library and see what a difference a few good books can make!

The Benefits of Reading English Books

“The more that you read, the more that you’ll know. The more that you know, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss.

As any English-speaking child can tell you, there is no denying Dr. Seuss. If you love to read, but you’re a little afraid of reading a full-on novel in English, don’t worry. We’re going to help you get there, step by step. With every book you read, the more you’ll improve. To get started, there are some excellent novels written in English that are not too difficult to understand. Anyway, it’s good to set yourself a language challenge now and again. How else are you going to improve in English?

Reading is rewarding.

Being able to read a novel in another language and understand it is a huge achievement. You’ll feel accomplished the moment you read that final page, close the book, and reflect on the experience. You might find yourself at the last page faster than you thought – once you begin reading these books, you won’t be able to put them down.

Reading is an exercise in language learning.

Reading English novels will help improve your vocabulary, general understanding and in some cases it may even give you more knowledge into different countries and their cultures. You also get to move at your own pace. While listening to podcasts and radio, you have to keep up with whoever is speaking. Sure, watching movies to learn English can be a lot of fun, but doesn’t it get tiring to have to read subtitles or pause and rewind? While reading a book, you can read as slowly or as quickly as you desire. If you didn’t understand something, simply look at the paragraph again!

Reading opens the mind.

Reading educates. It opens you up to new experiences and perspectives. What better way is there to understand someone’s way of thinking? You may learn new information about language, culture, society, and history that you never knew before.

Reading is fun!

It is, overall, an enjoyable and relaxing way to learn English without any stress whatsoever. People get frustrated when they choose books that go above their reading levels. By choosing your first English books wisely, you should have a very positive experience.

If you enjoy this type of entertaining language learning, you can get a similar experience with FluentU. FluentU offers authentic English videos, like movie trailers, music videos, inspiring talks and more, that’ve been transformed into a language learning experience.

Each video comes with interactive captions, so you can instantly get definitions for any unfamiliar words. There are also flashcards and exercises to help you remember them. So when you’re taking a break from one of the great books below, check out the FluentU free trial to keep learning while having fun!

Check out some of the following well-known novels. If you’ve got a basic level of understanding and comprehension, these novels aren’t going to be a problem. Set yourself a reading challenge. How many of these books can your read?

1. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

This is a lovely novel that all age groups can understand. Aimed at native English speaking children, there are many adults who still say this famous book is their favorite. This is part of the national curriculum in many schools around the world, so it’s quite possible this book will also come up in conversation. You can almost guarantee that the majority of native English speakers have read this book at least once.

Plot Summary

A baby pig is almost killed because of his status – he is the smallest pig that was born and he is considered to be useless and of no value. The pig is saved by a little girl called Fern Arable. She adopts the pig and takes care of it. She gives him the name Wilbur.

Fern grows sad when Wilbur grows up and has to be sent away to a farm owned by her uncle. She has a strong relationship with Wilbur. When Wilbur goes to the farm, all the other farm animals ignore him and he’s left crying for his human friend. One day he hears a voice, but he can’t see anything. This voice promises to become friends with him.

The voice belongs to a small spider called Charlotte. Charlotte the spider knows that the farmers are planning to kill Wilbur. She promises to make a plan to save his life. The farmers are surprised the next day when they see the words “some pig” written in the web* Charlotte has made. Charlotte asked for the other animals’ help over the day to write messages everywhere.

Wilbur is sad when Charlotte disappears. But in the end, her baby spiders turn out to be great company for the pig. They continue to protect each other and the story ends well.

*webs are the sticky traps that spiders make.

2. Mieko and the Fifth Treasure – Eleanor Coerr

This book is not really so famous, but it is on the recommended book list. What’s great about “Mieko and the Fifth Treasure” is that it’s short. At only 77 pages long, this will be an easy read. Again this book is aimed at young native English speakers, so if you’re learning English, the level won’t be so difficult. This book will keep you interested as you’ll learn many interesting things about Japan and its culture.

Plot Summary

This is an emotional story about Mieko. Mieko is a talented artist and calligrapher (handwriting artist). Her hand is badly hurt during the bombings of the war. The scared little girl is sent to live with her grandparents in the countryside where it is safer.

Mieko is worried and afraid that she’s lost her 5th treasure – the “beauty in her heart.” This treasure is the key to her happiness and her beautiful art.

Mieko starts a new school. Her new classmates are mean. They constantly laugh at her and tease her which just makes her angrier. Her grandparents eventually manage to lift her darkness through their patience and wisdom. She also finds a good friend in Yoshi. Yoshi is one classmate who is really kind.

Mieko also grows close to Yoshi’s aunt. Her friend’s aunt is strict, but kind and encourages Mieko to pick up her paintbrushes again.

3. The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

This short novel is perfect for EFL learners. It has modern themes and typical teenage issues that people around the world have experienced. There are very few cultural notes in this, which means you don’t need much background information. The sentences are short and easy to understand. The vocabulary is also very easy. You should be able to read this book without difficulty.

Plot Summary

Ponyboy Curtis is one of the main characters. He is a part of a gang of teenagers called the Greasers. After he leaves the movie theater one day, he’s attacked by a rival (enemy) gang. Ponyboy’s friends chase the group away and he is saved.

The next evening, Ponyboy and his friends go to watch a movie again. They sit behind a few pretty girls from the other gang. They end up sitting together with the girls. Ponyboy and Cherry learn that they have a lot of things in common even though they are from different gangs. The boys begin to walk the girls’ home, but on the way they meet the girls’ boyfriends. The girls have to leave so a fight does not begin.

Because Ponyboy arrives late at home his brother becomes angry. This causes them to fight. As a result Ponyboy tries to run away from home. They meet up with the rival gang again and yet another fight begins. This time one of the enemies is killed.

Ponyboy is really scared. They hide in a church and try to hide their appearance by dyeing (coloring) their hair. A number of different fights break out between the two gangs. Eventually Ponyboy wakes up in the hospital.

A trial is set in the courtroom and the judge has to decide Ponyboy’s fate (future). Is he guilty or not guilty?

4. The House On Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros

The great thing about “The House On Mango Street” is that it’s an interesting read. It’s written from the point of view of the writer. You can really feel what the protagonist (the main character) feels. The sentences are really short so it’s also easy to understand. There are a few challenging words and a little bit of descriptive language, but you can usually understand them with the context. Another great thing about this is book is that it gives you a deep understanding of a different culture.

Plot Summary

This book follows the life of Esperanza, a Mexican girl. The novel takes place over the period of one year. Esperanza moves into a new home on Mango Street. The house is much better than her old one. It is the first house her parents have ever owned – all their other houses have been rented. Esperanza is not very happy because she had been dreaming of a different home – a bigger one. Their new house is old and small. The house is located in a busy Latino area of Chicago. In the new home, Esperanza feels like she has no time to be alone. She promises herself that one day she will leave and have her own home.

Throughout the novel the young girl grows up a lot. The story follows her life as she makes friends, her body changes and she begins to have feelings for a boy. With her new friends, she has many adventures. When she goes back to school after the vacation Esperanza is embarrassed about her family being poor. She writes poetry secretly to make her feel better.

There is a lot of focus on other women in the community and Esperanza hopes never to be like them. Through watching the older women and how they are stuck, she knows that she wants to leave.

5. Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

This story takes place in the present, which means the writer writes using simple grammar. All sentences are short and the vocabulary is relatively easy. The interesting grammar and short paragraphs make this a quick and easy book for ESL learners. This is an award-winning book and on the NY Times best books list, so it’s worth a read. This book deals with some heavy issues. If you’re looking for something light and happy to read over the summer vacation, you should not read this book.

Plot Summary

The main character is Clay Jensen, a quiet high school student. He comes home from school to find a parcel at his front door. He does not know who sent it. He opens it and discovers 7 cassette tapes. These tapes are from Hannah Baker, his previous classmate. She had emotional problems and has committed suicide (killed herself).

The tapes came with instructions. The paper stated that they should pass the tapes from one student to another student. There are 12 people in total. In the paper, she explains to these people that they helped her die – she gives them 13 reasons. Hannah also sends another set of tapes to a different person. She gives them a strong warning that if they don’t pass the first set of tapes onto the next person, the whole school will know how they were a part of her death.

We hear about her pain. She talks about her first kiss, people who lied to her and stole from her. Everything started with gossip. The gossip then grew and became out of control. The book follows each person’s story and the reason why she felt hurt including her English teacher who didn’t take her seriously.

6. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie

Almost everyone knows the story of “Peter Pan” which is why this is an easy read. Being familiar with a story already helps the reader to understand the text better. This book is aimed at children, but it continues to be enjoyed by adults around the world too.

Plot Summary

Every night Peter visits the Darling family house and listens to Mrs. Darling tell bedtime stories. He sits on the window listening. One evening, they see Peter trying to escape. As he tries to run away, he loses his shadow. He goes back to get his shadow. He wakes up the daughter of the house, Wendy Darling. Wendy helps him attach his shadow to his body again. Wendy tells him she knows a lot of bedtime stories too.

Peter invites Wendy to return to Neverland with him. He wants her to be the mother of the Lost Boys. Wendy agrees to the mission and asks for her brothers Michael and John to join them.

They have a magical flight as they travel to Neverland and have many adventures along the way. Wendy is nearly killed and the boys build her a house in the trees to recover. After Wendy is okay, she takes the role of the mother.

After all their adventures and fun, Wendy decides that her place is at home with their mother. Wendy helps all the Lost Boys return to London. But Peter doesn’t want her to go. Instead he tries to trick her. He tells her that their mother doesn’t want them anymore. However, he understands how sad their mother must be. In the end, he decides to let them go home.

7. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemmingway

This is a famous classic. Almost all native English speakers will have read this book at some point in school. So, if you ever find yourself in a conversation about literature and books, this is a good one to talk about. At some points it has a little bit of difficult vocabulary, however, it is short and you won’t have too much trouble being able to finish it.

Plot Summary

This is a story of a long fight between an old, experienced fisherman and the best fish he ever caught. Santiago has returned to the village without any fish for 84 days. The young boy who helps Santiago is told by his parents to join another boat. But the young boy continues to help the fisherman at night.

On the eighty-fifth day, his luck changes and so does his life. Santiago sails his boat further away. He drops his fishing lines. At 12 pm, a huge fish (a marlin) takes the bait (the food used to attract fish). The man tries to pull the fish up, but the fish is too big and strong. Instead, the fish begins to pull the boat. The old man continues to fight and hold on to the line. The fish pulls the boat around the sea for two days.

On the third day, the fish gets tired. Santiago is able to pull the fish closer and kill it. It’s the biggest fish he has seen in his life. He begins to sail back to the village, but the blood of the fish attracts sharks. The boat is attacked by a Mako shark, but Santiago is able to kill it. He kills most of the sharks, but there is a problem. They have eaten the meat of the fish and now only the skeleton (bones) is left. He returns back to his home and falls asleep.

All the people of the village are amazed at the size of the fish skeleton. The young boy agrees to be the fishing partner of Santiago once more.

8. The Giver – Lois Lowry

“The Giver” begins in a very interesting way and catches the attention of the readers from the beginning. It has easy-to-understand grammar. Most of the grammar is just past simple and past perfect. All of the sentences are short and there is no confusion in the story. This is a longer book. It’s really easy though, so you’ll finish it quickly.

Plot Summary

Jonas is a young boy. He lives a very safe life with a lot of order and rules. There are many rules and everyone follows them. The citizens’ lives are planned for them and they don’t often make a decision by themselves.

They try not to say anything different. One rule is that you must never say anything that will make another person uncomfortable. Every husband and wife is matched by a special committee. Each family has two children, one boy and one girl.

When Jonas and the rest of his group become the “Twelves” in December, they get special jobs. Because Jonas is smart and respected, he is given an extra special job. His new job is to become the Receiver of Memories. The Receiver of Memories is the only person in the group who can see all of the memories in the past. He must keep these memories secret until he trains another person to take his place. This job is really difficult. This person knows things that others do not, and they also have to deal with all of the sadness from the past.

At first Jonas is really excited. But he soon learns some truths about the people in the community. He comes to understand that this kind of life is unfair. He wants to allow people to make their own choices. Jonas comes up with an interesting plan to change the community. He decides he needs to move the community to another place. In his plan, they will get their memories back and be able to live a good and fair life.

9. Number the Stars – Lois Lowry

This is a realistic novel. It’s based on history. Unlike other historical literature, it’s easy to understand. If you already know a lot of information about World War II, this might be an interesting book for you. It’s not recommended if you don’t know too much about the World Wars. In this case, you will be focusing on trying to understand the facts too much so you will not enjoy the book as much.

Plot Summary

This is a story of hope and courage. The year is 1943 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The area has been taken over by Hitler’s army. There are soldiers everywhere. The life of 10-year-old Annemarie has changed a lot. There is little food and everyone is very scared. There is talk about moving all of the Jewish people to another place. This is difficult for Annemarie because her best friend, Ellen, is Jewish.

This is a different book about the war. It shows it was not only the Jewish people who suffered during the war. Annemarie’s family lost their eldest daughter, Lise, a few weeks before her wedding.

Annemarie will later do what her sister, Lise, did. She will join the resistance party to fight against the Nazis. She ends up being a heroine (a female hero) for a few reasons (which I will not tell you because I don’t want to ruin the story).

10. A Wrinkle In Time – Madeline L’engle

This book has a mix of shorter and longer sentences. The short sentences allow the readers to relax a little bit more. They also create the scene well and let you know what is happening through simple words. There is a lot of vocabulary to learn. It is a good book if you’ve already got experience reading novels in English. Make sure you have your vocabulary notebook with you, just in case there are any cool words that you’d like to learn. This book has MANY!

Plot Summary

Meg is 14-years-old. Everyone sees her as a troublemaker (a person who makes/causes trouble). They think she’s a bad student. Everyone in her family seems to be perfect. Her mom is a very beautiful scientist. Her twin brothers are very athletic. And her little 5-year-old brother, Charles Wallace Murry, is a child genius and can often read the mind of Meg.

One night Meg can’t sleep. She goes downstairs to find her young brother sitting at the kitchen table drinking milk. Later their mom joins them. A strange neighbor called Mrs. Whatsit joins them. Mrs. Whatsit is talking a lot and says that the “tesseract” is real. We (the readers) don’t know what this means, but Mrs. Murry knows what it is. She looks like she is going to faint (fall down from sickness or fear).

Meg and her brother meet a friend the next day. Calvin O’Keefe is a high school junior student. Together, the three of them go to visit an old haunted house which belongs to Mrs. Whatsit. While going there they meet Mrs. Whatsit’s friend, Mrs. Who. Mrs. Who is also very strange. Meg and Calvin begin to like each other. Charles suddenly announces that they should focus on finding their father who is lost somewhere in the universe.

Strange things happen and the older women turn into supernatural (not from Earth) beings. They transport the kids to the universe by the “tesseract.” They stop and visit different planets on the way. The women tell the children that the universe is being attacked by the “Black thing” (the devil).

They find out where Meg’s father is being kept. Charles tries to use his psychic (in his mind) powers to see where their dad is. Eventually they find their dad, but not without drama. Along the way, Meg learns to love. She uses this new love to help them escape.

There are so many cool and fun books to read. It’s always better to find books that are for middle school readers in the US so the language and ideas will never be too difficult to understand.

Reading is a wonderful way to improve your English. It’s an awesome way to learn new vocabulary. Reading opens your mind. It’s a great way to learn how to guess what things mean and at the same time enjoy English in another way.

And One More Thing…

Learning English with classic books is great.

But there’s one part about it that’s very difficult.

Sometimes it’s hard to understand every word on the page.

Other times, it’s a lot of work to look up words and write them down.

Well, there’s a better way to learn from real English content: FluentU.

FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news, and inspiring talks and turns them into English learning experiences. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.

FluentU has a lot of fun videos – topics like popular talk shows, music videos, and funny commercials, as you can see here:

FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are interactive captions. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.

For example, when you tap on the word “brought,” you see this:

And FluentU is not just for watching videos – it’s a complete English learning platform. Learn all the vocabulary in any video with useful questions. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.

The best part is that FluentU remembers what vocabulary you learned. Using those words, FluentU recommends you examples and videos. You have a truly personalized experience.

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or take it anywhere with the FluentU mobile app.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.

Experience English immersion online!

11 Children’s Books That Are Actually Meant For Adults (You’re Welcome!)

Thanks to the brilliant, creative, and somewhat dark minds of the world, adults can enjoy the whimsical illustrations and rhyming allure of children’s books — minus the cheesy lessons. in a new crop of books:. From parodies of fairy tales to original stories, children’s books for adults are popping up everywhere, and they are nothing short of hilarious. If you need a good laugh and a break from the tongue-twisting rhymes of Dr. Seuss, then you’ll want to grab yourself a not-so-kid-friendly children’s book.

You don’t have to be a parent to enjoy the humorous spin these modern stories put on the childhood classics. Filled with sexual undertones, dark topics, and potty-mouthed characters, these adult storybooks will become fast favorites of any grown-up with a sense of humor. Buy them for yourself, or give them as a gift, just make sure you don’t read these to the little ones. (Unless you’re ready to do a lot of explaining.)

The next time you find yourself asking the question, What should I read next? think outside the book club list and grab one of these unexpected treasures. Get in touch with your inner child and enjoy these 11 children’s books that are anything but kid friendly. Before you know it, you’ll be lining your shelves with these new standards and becoming the trendsetter for your reading circle.

1. ‘All My Friends Are Dead’ by Avery Monsen & Jory John

In this dark and funny tale, dinosaurs, houseplants, pirates, and cassette tapes have to come to grips with the reality that all their friends are dead. With a dose of humor, All My Friends Are Dead explores what if feels like for these lonely soles left behind. (And if you love this, pick up the sequel All My Friends Are Still Dead.)

2. ‘If You Give A Kid A Cookie, Will He Shut The F*ck Up?’ by Marcy Roznick

Maybe the answer to a little peace and quiet is as simple as a cookie. This is the hilarious hypothesis behind If You Give A Kid A Cookie, Will He Shut The F*ck Up? Parents should read this one after an especially long day of crying and tantrums.

3. ‘Goodnight iPad’ by Ann Droyd

A friendly (and funny) reminder to power down each night, Goodnight iPad is a riff on the classic, Goodnight Moon; where saying goodnight to everything in the room makes the baby very sleepy.

4. ‘Are You My Boyfriend?’ by C.B. Bryza

A hilarious look at the downsides of dating, Are You My Boyfriend, draws inspiration from the children’s classic, Are You My Mother. But in place of a lost baby bird, readers follow a strong and independent young single woman as she searches for a worthy boyfriend.

5. ‘K Is For Knifeball’ by Avery Monsen & Jory John

An alphabet book like none other, K Is For Knifeball, takes readers on an ABC journey of bad decision making. With advice like “O is for opening things with your teeth,” adults are sure to see some things that they often do, yet tell their kids to avoid.

6. ‘Bi-Curious George: An Unauthorized Parody’ by Andrew Simonian

Follow the adventures of Bi-Curious George whose awakening begins with this quote:

“George was a straight little monkey but always very… curious. One day George saw a man. He had on a sassy purple beret. And George got excited, despite himself.”

7. ‘Do You Want To Play With My Balls?’ by The Cifaldi Brothers

Full of references and innuendo, Do You Want To Play With My Balls is a festival of double entendre. I dare you to read this one without laughing out loud.

8. ‘You Have To F*cking Eat’ by Adam Mansbach

From the author who brought you Go The F*ck To Sleep, You Have To F*cking Eat takes a humorous look at another struggle for parents: getting the kids to eat.

9. ‘The Very Hungry Zombie’ by Michael Teitelbaum

Quite opposite from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, who eats his way through fruits and veggies, The Very Hungry Zombie snacks on clowns, astronauts, and — of course — brains. Will he ever be full?

10. ‘The Taking Tree’ by Shrill Travesty

The Taking Treeis the story of a selfish boy and a tree who’s had enough of the boy’s shenanigans. After becoming fed up with the boy’s ways, the tree makes a plan for revenge.

11. ‘Q Is For Quinoa’ by Joel Rickett

With ABC references from Active Birth to Zumba, Q Is For Quinoa is full of examples for modern day parents.

Image: Lars Plougmann/Flickr

November is Picture Book Month! I have a serious love for all picture books and firmly believe they can be appreciated by every age group, but there is a special delight in finding a picture book specifically intended for grown ups. Adult picture books can range from humorous, not-quite-comics or satires of beloved childhood favorites to being nearly-graphic-novels. Some will make you laugh out loud while others will educate and inspire. I tried to keep this list to books that were not originally intended for the wee ones’ consumption. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of actual children’s picture books worth gracing your grown-ass bookshelves, and not simply for sentimental reasons. Don’t be scared of the kid’s department in your local bookstore; picture books are pure art!

1. Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

Lish McBride, author of Firebug, has a great anecdote about this one: Her youngest is a die-hard sleep-fighter and in a fit of parental irony she played him Samuel L Jackson’s narration of Go the Fuck to Sleep. It worked like a charm. Results may have been atypical. This is perfect for anyone who has ever begged their child to just. go. to. sleep.

2. All My Friends Are Still Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John

The follow up to All My Friends Are Dead, this is just a hysterical throwback to childhood storybooks in general. Its morbid sense of humor makes me laugh out loud every time I flip through it. A little existential dread is good for the soul. Trust me.

3. The Who, the What, and the When by Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman, and Matt Lamothe

Okay “picture book” may be a stretch here, but it is a book with pictures. 65 artists illustrate the stories of some of History’s lesser-known sidekicks. From Lewis & Clark’s John Ordway to Rodin’s Gwen John the movers and shakers of history would never have succeeded as well without their muses, mothers, coaches, partners by their sides. You can also check out The Where, the Why, and the How for 75 artists’ illustrations of Science’s most intriguing questions.

4. Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow

Using the original illustrations from those prolific staples of your childhood story-time, Little Golden Books, Muldrow offers no-nonsense advice for life. This book makes an excellent gift for so many situations and will bring on the warm nostalgia-induced fuzzies. For Disney fans, Muldrow also has Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Disney Little Golden Book.

5. Goodnight Mr. Darcy by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Alli Arnold

There’s a picture book for Austen fans, too. The brains behind BabyLit have brought us this genius parody of Goodnight Moon. Bennetts and Darcys and Bingleys, oh my!

6. Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel

Maybe journals aren’t traditionally considered picture books, but this creativity boosting one is beautifully illustrated and deserves a spot on this list. Patel’s stationary and prints have a huge following for good reason and her interactive journal is the perfect way to carve our some (gorgeous) time for yourself.

7. Do You Want to Play with My Balls? by The Cifaldi Brothers, illustrated by Santiago Elizalde

I just can’t with this one. You could absolutely read this to young children and they would think it is a story about rubber balls. However, you start reading this to anyone older than, say five (elementary school is not as innocent as you think), and their minds will be going straight to the gutter. Aren’t double entendres the best?

8. Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World by Ann Shen

Ann Shen’s art paired with badass ladies throughout history – ancient to modern – is literally my idea of the perfect book. The profiles range from FLOTUS Abigail Adams to renowned spy Mata Hari and from danceuse Josephine Baker to author Judy Blume. 100 profiles of 100 women who refuse/d to be anything but themselves.

9. There Is No Right Way to Meditate: And Other Lessons by Yumi Sakugawa

Yumi Sakugawa has The. Best. Books. I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You spoke to a special place in my soul. Your Illustrated Guide To Becoming One With The Universe has really helped me through some dark times. This selection will majorly help you to stop stressing about how you de-stress. Whether you choose to meditate on one lesson or read your way from cover to cover, I promise you will walk away from this soothing, beautiful, and genuinely helpful book with a smile.
10. Cozy Classics: War & Peace by Jack & Holman Wang

I don’t know why I chose War & Peace. I could’ve chosen any of the Cozy Classics series: Great Expectations, Moby Dick, Les Miserables, Emma, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to name a few. Like the BabyLit series, these do make a great way to introduce babes to the classics, but adults will truly appreciate the felt-work artistry and the Wangs’ skill with breaking these tomes down to such simplicity. Bonus for HamilFans: They’ve felted Lin-Manuel Miranda.
11. It’s Never Too Late: A Kid’s Book for Adults by Dallas Clayton

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with life, this offering from Dallas Clayton will soothe your exhausted soul. Clayton has been billed as the next Dr. Seuss and dreamy, watercolor illustrations paired uplifting prose fill his pages. Keep this one around for when you’re suffering from a case of the Mondays and questioning what you’re actually doing with your life.

12. The Taking Tree: A Selfish Parody by Shrill Travesty, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

If you’ve ever read The Giving Tree and felt really sorry for the poor tree just giving and giving and that selfish kid just taking and taking, this is the book for you. The Taking Tree – an oak, thank you – isn’t really down with her resources being stolen by an ungrateful brat and she’s about to exact her revenge… maybe?
13. Where’s Warhol? by Catherine Ingram and Andrew Rae

Who didn’t love Where’s Waldo? as kid? Or as an adult really? Unless you had a rotten sibling who circled him in permanent marker. (My sister never did, but I knew of a few culprits.) Now art lovers, and Andy Warhol fans in particular, can enjoy this refresh on the series. If you’re more of a fashion fanatic, Where’s Karl? – as in Lagerfeld) by Stacey Caldwell and Ajiri A. Aki is another great choice.
14. Goodnight Unicorn by Karla Oceanak, illustrated by Kendra Spanjer

Here’s another excellent parody of Goodnight Moon; and this one is perfect for unicorn lovers. Nothing that isn’t kid friendly here. I love unicorns and I love Goodnight Moon, so this one is staying on this list. If you want more snark from your parodies, you have plenty of options: iPad, Obama, Brew, etc!
15. Ella by Mallory Kasdan, illustrated by Marcos Chin

Eloise fans also get an adult update with the sassy, hotel-living Ella. Her nanny, Manny, and she have adventures and attend social functions. She supports Hillary Clinton, dreams of owning a food truck, upcycles plastic bags into fashion accessories, and rides a scooter. Basically, Ella is the ultimate six-year-old hipster and I wholeheartedly adore her.

16. Me Write Book: It Bigfoot Memoir by Graham Roumieu

Bigfoot is really just trying to fit in. He may be a big, hairy beast but he has the same struggles as you and me. Well, maybe not exactly the same, unless casual cannibalism is a normal concern for you. (I sincerely hope it’s not.) This one will have you laughing for sure.

Who today remembers the plays of AA Milne or the political writing of Erich Kästner? Yet their children’s books are read the world over.

Salman Rushdie has suggested that of all his work – including Midnight’s Children, which won the Best of the Booker – his children’s books may last the longest. He recalled being urged to write them by publisher Kurt Maschler, who had published Kästner’s Emil and the Detectives.

“As Kurt Maschler said to me, ‘It’s the only one of his books that’s still in print!’ That was a lesson I didn’t forget. It may end up that Haroun and the Sea of Stories and Luka and the Fire of Life are the only books of mine that remain in print. And that would be fine, actually.”

Neil Gaiman tells the similar story of AA Milne, who is no longer remembered as a West End playwright or features editor of Punch, but only as “the author of two books of short stories and two books of verse for small children”.

It’s striking how long children’s books can last. One explanation may be the way in which they’re read. They become part of our emotional autobiographies, acquiring associations and memories, more like music than prose.

Another explanation may lie in the fact that children’s books are designed with re-reading in mind. For all children’s writers are conscious that our books may be re-read by children themselves.

“Yes, kids read and re-read favourite books,” says Francesca Simon. “My favourite Horrid Henry books to sign are the ones which are so dog-eared and stained through re-reading they are practically translucent. When Simon Mayo interviewed me, he commented that he had read them to his kids over 200 times. He looked like a man undergoing penance …”

Enduringly odious … Horrid Henry: Tony Ross/Orion Photograph: illustration©Tony Ross/PR

A similar view is taken by Gaiman, who writes for all ages. “When I’m writing for kids,” he says, “I’m always assuming that a story, if it is loved, is going to be re-read. So I try and be much more conscious of it than I am with adults, just in terms of word choices. I once said that while I could not justify every word in American Gods, I can justify every single word in Coraline.”

Many parents will know this already. They sometimes even fear there’s something wrong with a child who re-reads favourite books rather than new ones.

“There’s nothing wrong with them,” says Charlotte Hacking, of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE). “Children need to read and re-read and keep coming back to books, looking at them in different ways. It’s actually a really good thing; it allows you to go deeper.”

So re-reading is a given for children’s authors. It’s one reason why we try to write books that have many layers and work on different levels, rewarding re-reading by growing richer each time.

But if this is true, then why are children’s books rarely considered for literary prizes such as the Man Booker and the Costa? This year’s Costa coverage barely considered the possibility that the children’s prize-winner, Kate Saunders’s Five Children on the Western Front, might win the overall prize.

Yet it’s an exceptional book that already feels like a classic. In a stunning twist on E Nesbit’s Five Children and It, Saunders takes those carefree Edwardian children and plunges them into the first world war. For they belonged to the generation who would die in the trenches, and she works this to devastating emotional effect.

“It’s an amazing book,” says Guardian children’s books editor Julia Eccleshare. “If that was an adult book working with Jane Austen, as it were, people would be wowing about it. The textual play on a classic, in the adult world, would receive far more praise than I think she has been noticed for – yet.”

Perhaps it’s unsurprising, given that only one winner of the Costa/Whitbread children’s book prize has ever won the overall book of the year. That was Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass, back in 2001.

The Amber Spyglass Illustration: PR

“It hasn’t happened since,” says Pullman. “But one day they’ll have to find a book they just have to give it to. Maybe one day a children’s book will get the Booker prize. Why not? Why not a children’s author winning the Nobel prize?”

Sarah Churchwell, one of last year’s Booker judges, has written about the judging process. She said that it “asks of books something they’re not really designed for: to be read three times in a row by people probing for weakness. Most books just crumble under that kind of pressure: only the most rich, the most layered, continue to dazzle and reveal ever more.”

She concluded that only two books on last year’s list met this criterion. Yet as a children’s writer, I couldn’t help thinking that this is exactly what all children’s books are designed to do. They may achieve it to a greater or lesser degree, but that’s always the aim.

Children’s laureate Malorie Blackman agrees. “Call me biased,” she says, “but I find the standard of storytelling in children’s books and books for young adults second to none. I find it telling that even now, there are far more children’s books and books for teens that I’d like to re-read than books for adults.”

These are the books that get handed down through generations, becoming classics, but perhaps their readability works against them. Reflecting on the children’s books he still re-reads, Pullman observes: “Part of the joy of all these books is a sort of perfect lightness and grace in the words. Everything is in its right place. Not a comma needs changing. Things like that make it possible to read them again and again without fatigue.”

That lightness and grace is a hallmark of the best children’s writing, along with the multi-layered richness Churchwell found so rare. Yet only The Amber Spyglass and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time have ever appeared on a Booker longlist. Not one single children’s book has made the shortlist, let alone won, in the history of the prize.

Luke Treadaway as Christopher in The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time Photograph: Tristram Kenton

Meanwhile, media coverage of children’s books is vanishingly small. Former Children’s laureate Julia Donaldson has pointed out that they get less than one in 40 of all review spaces. And yet children’s books now account for one in four of all books sold in the UK. This is the most vibrant sector of British publishing, outperforming adult fiction in 2014.

A generational shift may now be occurring. For many of my generation, growing up in the 1970s with books like Watership Down, story is story, regardless of age. That’s even truer of younger writers.

“I certainly don’t see children’s books as being in any way lesser than adult literature,” says Katherine Woodfine, born in the 1980s, whose debut The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow is published this year. “If anything, I’d argue the opposite. Children’s books can have a hugely powerful effect on their readers, helping to shape and inform their view of the world, in a way that adult books rarely achieve. They’re the first literature we engage with, and what’s more, they’re often the first art works we ever encounter.”

Woodfine’s response to the lack of coverage is to create new media space. Together with Melissa Cox of Waterstones, she hosts Down the Rabbit Hole on Resonance 104.4FM: the only dedicated children’s books radio show. It’s part of a vibrant online community, too. Twitter, the Guardian children’s books site, and other digital spaces are connecting writers, readers, bloggers, vloggers, booksellers, librarians and teachers as never before, while hashtag chats such as #ukyachat and #ukmgchat regularly trend.

“Since JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials,” Jeanette Winterson has observed, “children’s literature has been repositioned as central, not peripheral, shifting what children read, what we write about what children read, and what we read as adults. At last we seem to understand that imagination is ageless.”

It’s true that such books brought children’s fiction to higher prominence in the early 2000s, but they are part of a literature that is continually regenerating itself. And as the generation who grew up on Rowling and Pullman begin to publish their own books, it will only go further.

Yet neither media coverage nor literary prizes have kept pace. Until they do, anyone looking for the richest contemporary literature might be advised to consult the lists for prizes such as the Guardian children’s fiction award and the Carnegie medal instead. Because that is where you will find book after book that stands up to re-reading: the true classics of the future.

Children’s books that we re-read

Philip Pullman:
The Magic Pudding. Anything by Arthur Ransome. Tove Jansson’s Moomins.

Neil Gaiman:
The Narnia books. The Mary Poppins books. The Wind In the Willows.

Francesca Simon:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Half Magic, by Edward Eager. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

Andrew Motion (former poet laureate and Man Booker prize jury chair):
Treasure Island and other books by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Erica Wagner (former Times literary editor and Man Booker prize judge):
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin. The Owl Service by Alan Garner. Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban. All of George and Martha by James Marshall. All of Maurice Sendak. Watership Down by Richard Adams.

Daniel Hahn (translator and chair of the Society Of Authors):

Charlotte Higgins (Guardian chief culture writer)
The Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper. Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley.