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Top 100 Novels for Youth

Lincoln City Libraries children’s librarians have put together a list of 100 novels for kids age 9-12. Most also make great read-alouds for younger children. You’ll find classics and newer award-winning books. You’ll find traditional novels and graphic novels. Many of these are available as audiobooks and/or e-books. In this Top 100 Novels for Youth list, 2020 Edition, we focused on improving diversity allowing kids to see themselves and their friends in books more clearly. Many titles are award winners — you’ll find a guide to those awards at the end of this list. A printable version of the list is also available.

Little Women (1868-1869)
by Louisa May Alcott (Alcott, j Alcott, CD Alcott, CD j Alcott, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, DVD adaptations)

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are four sisters on the verge of adulthood making do with little money while their father is away during the U.S. Civil War.

Followed by Little Men

The Crossover (2014)
by Kwame Alexander (j Alexander, Ebook, Downloadable Audio and Graphic Novel adaptation)

Josh and Jordan are two brothers on the basketball court and at home in this fast-paced novel in verse.

Awards: Newbery Medal; Coretta Scott King Honor

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (1938)
by Richard Atwater (j Atwater, jPB Atwater, CD j Atwater, Playaway, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Mr. Popper is given a penguin as a surprise gift. One penguin leads to another and soon the house is overrun by the waddling birds!

Awards: Newbery Honor

Tuck Everlasting (1975)
by Natalie Babbitt (j Babbit, jPB Babbitt, CD j Babbitt, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, DVD adaptation)

Winnie finds an older boy drinking water from the spring by her family’s house. It’s water that keeps people young forever.

Awards: Christopher Award

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
by Frank L. Baum (j Baum, jPB (Series) Baum, CD j Baum, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, DVD adaptation)

Dorothy and her dog are swept up in a Kansas tornado and dropped off in a magical land. Can she find her way back home with the help of strange new friends?

Followed by The Marvelous Land of Oz, and many more…

Lucky Broken Girl (2017)
by Ruth Behar (j Behar, jPB Behar and Ebook)

Ruthie isn’t in New York City long before a terrible accident leaves her with a broken leg and a body cast. She can’t move much, but she learns to collect stories from family and neighbors that take her far and wide.

Awards: Pura Belpré Award

El Deafo (2014)
by Cece Bell (j Bell, jPB Bell, Ebook, and Hoopla E-comicbook)

In this graphic novel version of the author’s childhood, she reimagines herself as a rabbit with big ears and a big hearing aid. But it turns out hearing aids can give you super powers.

Awards: Eisner Award; Newbery Honor; Golden Sower Honor

The Penderwicks (2005)
by Jeanne Birdsall (j Birdsall, CD j Birdsall, Playaway, Overdrive Ebook and Eaudiobook)

Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty are four sisters on summer holiday exploring a large estate where there’s plenty of adventure and trouble to get into.

Followed by The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
Awards: National Book Award

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972)
by Judy Blume (j Blume, jPB Blume, CD j Blume, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Peter has a problem: a little brother nicknamed Fudge who always seems to make life difficult. It even seems like his parents care more about Fudge than about him.

Followed by Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great
Awards: Regina Medal

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems (2018)
by David Bowles (jPB (Non-Fiction) Bowles, Ebook)

Güero, as he’s nick-named, lives life on both sides of the Mexican-American border and feels like he’s both here and there in other ways too. This novel in verse goes by fast like a holiday weekend, but leaves readers with a lot to think about.

Awards: Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award; Pura Belpré Honor; Walter Dean Myers Honor

Skeleton Man (2001)
by Joseph Bruchac (j Bruchac, jPB Bruchac, Playaway)

Molly’s parents disappear and she’s put in the care of a strange, thin man. She remembers the stories her dad told her about a man who was so hungry he ate himself down to the bones and is looking for more. Is she in danger?

Followed by The Return of the Skeleton Man
Awards: The Golden Sower Award

Charlie Hernandez & the League of Shadows (2018)
by Ryan Calejo (j Calejo, jPB Calejo)

Charlie has always loved Latin American stories of folklore and myth. It’s a good thing he’s so prepared, because his life is about to filled with legends, and that includes himself!

Followed by Charlie Hernandez & the Castle of Bones
Awards: International Latino Book Award Second Place

Hurricane Child (2018)
by Kacen Callender (j Callender, jPB Callender, Downloadable Audio)

Caroline rides a boat from one island to another to reach school, but what she really wants is to find her missing mother. Is the spirit that only she can see connected? Wait, can the popular new girl in class see the spirit too?

Awards: Stonewall Award; Lambda Literary Award

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
by Lewis Carroll (Carroll, j Carroll, jPB Carroll, CD j Carroll, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, plus DVD adaptations)

Alice follows a white rabbit and finds herself in a magical land ruled by the cruel Queen of Hearts.

Followed by Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora (2017)
by Pablo Cartaya (j Cartaya, jPB Cartaya, Downloadable Audio, and Spanish Language edition)

Arturo is looking forward to a great summer vacation, until a land developer threatens his grandmother’s restaurant in his family’s little corner of Miami. But he also discovers the power of poetry and persistence.

Awards: Pura Belpré Honor; E.B. White Read-Aloud Finalist

Gaby, Lost and Found (2013)
by Angela Cervantes (jPB Cervantes)

Gaby’s mother is deported. Her father is barely in her life. When her class project is to help at a local animal shelter, she finds a cat who needs a home as much as she does.

Awards: International Latino Book Award

Pashmina (2017)
by Nidhi Chanani (jPB (Series) Chanani)

Priyanka’s mother refuses to talk about her father, or about life in India before moving to the United States. But Pri finds a magic shawl hidden in a suitcase that gives her visions of a legendary India. How far will Pri go to find out the truth about her mother’s homeland and why she left it? Graphic novel format.

Awards: South Asia Book Award Honor; Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Honor

See You in the Cosmos (2017)
by Jack Cheng (j Cheng, jPB Cheng, Downloadable Audio)

Alex has an obsessive interest in space. That’s why he named his dog Carl Sagan. As the two of them journey across the western United States, Alex records messages to aliens on his golden iPod about the life on Earth he meets along the way.

Awards: Golden Kite Award

Aru Shah and the End of Time (2018)
by Roshani Chokshi (j Chokshi, jPB (Series) Chokshi, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, Spanish language edition)

Aru Shah lives in a museum and likes to make up stories about it. Her classmates don’t believe her until she lights a lamp on a dare and it releases a dangerous spirit.

NOTE: This is the first “Rick Riordan Presents” book, which means it’s written in a similar style to his own mythological adventure series, but by authors from the cultures they’re writing about.

Followed by Aru Shah and the Song of Death

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (1981)
by Beverly Cleary (j Cleary, jPB (Series) Cleary, CD j Cleary, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Ramona goes to a new school for third grade and accidentally embarrasses herself. After school, she has to play with a little kid. It seems like she’s old enough to be blamed for everything, but not old enough to have her way.

Followed by Ramona Forever
Awards: Newbery Honor; Regina Medal; National Book Award Finalist

Frindle (1996)
by Andrew Clements (j Clements, jPB Clements, CD j Clements, Downloadable Audio, Spanish language edition)

Nick is the kind of clever kid that gets himself in trouble. When he finds out that language is something real just because people agree it’s real, he decides a pen is called a “frindle.” And soon the other kids in school agree

Finding Langston (2018)
by Lesa Cline-Ransome (j Cline-Ransome, jPB Cline-Ransome, Downloadable Audio)

When Langston moves from Alabama to Chicago in the 1940s, he discovers that he’s welcome at the public library and learns about a writer named Langston that he was named after.

Awards: Scott O’Dell Award; Coretta Scott King Honor

Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes (1977)
by Eleanor Coerr (jC Coerr, jPB (Series) Coerr, jB Sa8c, j PB (Non-Fiction) Coerr, CD j Coerr, Ebook)

Sadako has blood cancer from the atomic bomb Americans dropped on Hiroshima. When she hears that folding 1000 paper cranes will grant her a wish, she makes it her goal.

New Kid (2019)
by Jerry Craft (j Craft, jPB (Series) Craft, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, Hoopla E-comicbook)

For seventh grade, Jordan is being sent to a new school where almost all of his classmates are rich and white. Can this young cartoonist fit in?

Followed by Class Act
Awards: First graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal; Coretta Scott King Award

Bud, Not Buddy (1999)
by Christopher Paul Curtis (j Curtis, jPB Curtis, CD j Curtis, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, Spanish Language Edition)

Bud runs away from a foster family and has adventures on the way through Great Depression era Michigan to Grand Rapids, where he hopes to find his father based on a jazz band poster his mother had kept.

Awards: Newbery Medal; Coretta Scott King Award; Regina Medal

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
by Roald Dahl (j Dahl, jPB (Series) Dahl, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, DVD adaptations)

Charlie wins a golden ticket to tour Willie Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory along with four other children. But it’s not all safe and sweet for naughty kids.

Followed by Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)
by Kate DiCamillo (j DiCamillo, jPB DiCamillo, CD j DiCamillo, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, Large Type, Spanish Language Edition, and DVD adaptation)

When Opal and her dad move to a new town, she finds a dog at the grocery store that helps her find new friends and changes everything.

Awards: Newbery Honor; Golden Sower Award; Regina Medal

Morning Girl (1992)
by Michael Dorris (jPB Dorris, Downloadable Audio)

Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy live on an island and don’t always get along, but more than one storm is on the way to change their lives forever.

Awards: Scott O’Dell Award

Blended (2018)
by Sharon M. Draper (j Draper, jPB Draper, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Isabella spends one week with her Black dad and the next with her white mom. It’s like switching between two half-worlds. Can she ever feel like one kid again?

The City of Ember (2003)
by Jeanne DuPrau (j DuPrau, jPB (Series) DuPrau, CD j DuPrau, Ebook and Downloadable Audio, and DVD adaptation)

Lina and Doon live in a beautiful glowing city underground, but after hundreds of years the lights are about to go out. Lina finds a clue on how to save the city, but they’ll all need to be brave.

Followed by The People of Sparks
Awards: Golden Sower Honor

Dragons in a Bag (2018)
by Zetta Elliott (j Elliott, jPB (Series) Elliott)

When Jaxon’s mother reluctantly leaves him with an old woman for the day in Brooklyn, he’s pulled into a magical quest and discovers his heritage.

Followed by The Dragon Thief

The Birchbark House (1999)
by Louise Erdrich (j Erdrich, jPB (Series) Erdrich, Downloadable Audio)

Omakayas lives on an island on a big lake. She has adventures with family and animal friends through all the seasons of a year, including one season where things become harder than she can imagine.

Followed by The Game of Silence
Awards: National Book Award finalist; American Indian Youth Literature Award

Harriet the Spy (1964)
by Louise Fitzhugh (j Fitzhugh, jPB (Series) Fitzhugh, Ebook)

Harriet plans to become a writer when she grows up, so she writes down information about everyone she sees in her notebook. But there’s trouble when her “spy” notebook is found by other kids at school.

Followed by The Long Secret

Inkheart (2003)
by Cornelia Funke (j Funke, jPB (Series) Funke, CD j Funke, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, and DVD adaptation)

Meggie lives with just her bookbinder father since her mother disappeared. Strange things start to happen, as if stories in books could become real and real things could become stories.

Followed by Inkspell
Awards: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Honor

The Graveyard Book (2008)
by Neil Gaiman (j Gaiman, jPB Gaiman, Playaway, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, and graphic novel adaptation for both print and Hoopla)

When Bod was a toddler, his family was murdered by the man Jack. Since then, he’s been raised by ghosts in a nearby graveyard and learned ghost tricks. He’ll need all of his skills and bravery when Jack returns for him.

Awards: Newbery Medal; Carnegie Medal; Hugo Award; Locus Award; Cybils Award; Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Honor

My Side of the Mountain (1959)
by Jean Craighead George (j George, jPB (Series) George, Large Type, Playaway, CD j George, Downloadable Audio, and DVD adaptation)

Sam feels cramped living with his family in the city, so he runs away to live in the woods in the mountains.

Followed by On the Far Side of the Mountain
Awards: Newbery Honor; Regina Medal

Old Yeller (1956)
by Fred Gipson (j Gipson, jPB (Series) Gipson, CD j Gipson, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, and DVD adaptation)

Travis meets a yellow dog that he doesn’t want as a pet, but brave Old Yeller is just what the family needs

Followed by Savage Sam
Awards: Newbery Honor

The Vanderbeekers of 141st St (2017)
by Karina Yan Glaser (j Glaser, Ebook)

Five siblings each have their own plans to convince their landlord to let their family stay in their home.

Followed by The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

The Red Umbrella (2011)
by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (YA Gonzalez, Heritage Gonzalez, Downloadable Audio)

When things look too dangerous in Cuba, Lucia’s parents send her away to protect her, and she is placed in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Awards: International Latino Book Award

The Wind in the Willows (1908)
by Kenneth Grahame (Grahame, j Grahame, jP Grahame, jPB Grahame, CD j Grahame, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, and multiple DVD adaptations)

Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger enjoy a pleasant life and light adventures, with boats and motorcars.

The Night Diary (2018)
by Veera Hiranandani (j Hirananandandi, jPB Hiranandani, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

In 1947, one nation split into two: India and Pakistan. Nisha’s family with their Muslim and Hindu heritage make a long journey to a safer place. Along the way, Nisha writes letters to her mother who died in childbirth. A novel told through letters.

Awards: Newbery Honor; Walter Dean Myers Honor; South Asia Book Award Honor

Out of the Dust (1997)
by Karen Hesse (j Hesse, jPB Hesse, Spanish Language Edition)

Billie Jo is living through the hard times of the Dust Bowl era in Oklahoma. The dust makes farming hard and an accident leaves her hurt in more ways than one. Novel in verse format.

Awards: Newbery Medal; Scott O’Dell Award

Bunnicula (1979)
by James Howe (j Howe, jPB (Series) Howe, CD j Howe, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Harold the dog and Chester the cat have to share their human family with a new rabbit that looks suspiciously like Dracula. Vegetables start to turn white with little bite marks. Is Bunnicula a vampire rabbit?

RFollowed by Howliday Inn
Awards: Golden Sower Award

The Case of Windy Lake (2019)
by Michael Hutchinson (jPB (Series) Hutchinson, Ebook)

Four cousins from the Windy Lake First Nation hear adults talking about a missing archeologist and decide to investigate amid a heated conflict about land usage. A contemporary remix of classic children’s mystery series like The Boxcar Children.

Followed by The Case of the Missing Auntie

The Parker Inheritance (2018)
by Varian Johnson (j Johnson, jPB Johnson, Downloadable Audio)

During summer vacation, Candice and Brandon work together to solve a mystery around a 1950s tennis match, and maybe even win a fortune.

Awards: Cybils Award; Coretta Scott King Honor

Kira-Kira (2004)
by Cynthia Kadohata (j Kadohata, jPB Kadohata, YA PB Kadohata, CD j Kadohata, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Katie’s older sister, Lynn, always helped her see the Kira-Kira in life: the special sparkle. But when Lynn is taken away, can Katie still find the sparkle?

Awards: Newbery Medal; Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

Hello Universe (2017)
by Erin Entrada Kelley (j Kelley, jPB Kelley, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Four misfit kits need to work together to rescue a boy and his guinea pig who are stuck at the bottom of a well.

Awards: Newbery Medal

Song for a Whale (2019)
by Lynne Kelly (j Kelly, jPB Kelly, Downloadable Audio)

Iris loves working with electronics. When she finds out about a whale who can’t hear the call of other whales, she feels a kinship because she’s deaf. She goes on an adventure to send him a song he can hear.

Awards: Schneider Family Book Award

Amina’s Voice (2017)
by Hena Khan (j Khan, jPB Khan)

Amina’s best friend, Soojin, wants to change her name to something that doesn’t sound Korean. Amina’s uncle says her love of singing is un-Islamic. When her family’s mosque is vandalized, Amina will need to decide whether to keep blending in for everyone else, or lift her voice.

Awards: South Asia Book Award Highly Commended

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler< (1967)br /> by E.L. Konigsburg (j Konigsburg, jPB Konigsburg, CD j Konigsbury, Large Type, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

When Claudia runs away with her brother Jamie to live in an art museum, they might just be the ones to solve the mystery about a special statue.

Awards: Newbery Medal; Regina Medal

Worth (2004)
by A. LaFaye (j Lafaye, jPB Lafaye, CD j Lafaye, Downloadable Audio)

Nathaniel helped his dad out on their Nebraska farm, until an accident left him unable to walk. Now he has to go to school while a city boy from the Orphan Train seems to be taking his place in the family.

Awards: Scott O’Dell Award

Pie in the Sky (2019)
by Remy Lai (j Lai, jPB Lai)

Two brothers move to Australia with their mother. They don’t know the strange language, English, that their classmates speak. They do know they want to open a bakery like their father planned before he died, so they decide to learn to bake all of the special pies in their family’s cookbook in secret. Text with heavy illustrations, similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Awards: Golden Kite Award

Inside Out and Back Again (2011)
by Thanhha Lai (j Lai, jPB Lai, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Hà has to leave Saigon when the war approaches. Her family settles in Alabama and everything in the world feels different in this poignant novel in verse.

Awards: National Book Award; Newbery Honor

A Wrinkle in Time (1962)
by Madeline L’Engle (j L’Engle, jPB (Series) L’Engle, CD j L’Engle, YA L’Engle (Graphic Novel), Ebook, Downloadable Audio, and DVD adaptation)

Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg’s father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.

Followed by A Wind at the Door
Awards: Newbery Medal; Hans Christian Andersen Award runner up; Regina Medal

Ella Enchanted (1997)
by Gail Carson Levine (j Levine, jPB (Series) Levine, CD j Levine, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, and DVD adaptation)

At her birth, Ella of Frell receives a foolish fairy’s gift–the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order, whether it’s to hop on one foot for a day and a half, or to chop off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not accept her fate…

Followed by The Two Princesses of Bamarre
Awards: Newbery Honor; Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Honor

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
by C.S. Lewis (j Lewis, jPB (Series) Lewis, CD j Lewis, Playaway, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, Spanish Language Edition)

Four adventurous siblings–Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie–step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

Followed by Prince Caspian

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (2009)
by Grace Lin (j Lin, jPB Lin, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Minli, an adventurous girl from a poor village, buys a magical goldfish, and then joins a dragon who cannot fly on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon in hopes of bringing life to Fruitless Mountain and freshness to Jade River.

Followed by Starry River of the Sky
Awards: Newbery Honor; Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (1984)
by Bette Lord (j Lord, jPB Lord, Ebook)

A timeless classic about an immigrant girl inspired by the sport she loves to find her own home team–and to break down any barriers that stand in her way.

The Giver (1993)
by Lois Lowry (j Lowry, jPB (Series) Lowry, YA Lowry, CD j Lowry, Playaway, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, and DVD adaptation)

Jonas’ life assignment is as the Receiver of Memory, where he will apprentice the Giver and become a storehouse of all the things humanity left behind when it entered utopia: color, emotion, and even more complicated secrets.

Followed by Gathering Blue
Awards: Newbery Medal; Regina Medal; Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Honor

Sarah, Plain and Tall (1985)
by Patricia MacLachlan (jC MacLachlan, jPB (Series) MacLachlan, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Anna and Caleb lost their mother in childbirth. When their father seeks out a new wife in a newspaper ad, Sarah from the Northeast Coast travels to the Midwest to meet them. Will she stay, or will she go back to the seaside life she loves?

Followed by Skylark
Awards: Newbery Medal; Scott O’Dell Award; Golden Kite Award

The Season of Styx Malone (2018)
by Kekla Magoon (j Magoon, jPB Magoon)

Things were looking down when Caleb and Bobby Gene get grounded for the summer, but now they’re looking up when a cool teenager appears in their town with plans for greatness.

Awards: Coretta Scott King Honor

Merci Suárez Changes Gears (2018)
by Meg Medina (j Medina, jPB Medina, Ebook)

Merci and her brother attend a richer kid school on scholarship. At home, grandfather is showing signs of Alzheimer’s, but no one will explain what’s happening to her. Can she find her own balance?

Awards: Newbery Medal; International Latino Book Award Honor

A Dash of Trouble (2018)
by Anna Meriano (j Meriano, jPB (Series) Meriano, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Leo is forbidden to help her mother and older sisters with Day of the Dead baking until her fifteenth birthday. But she spies on them, and discovers just how magical her family’s bakery is. What could go wrong if she tries a few recipes on her own?

Followed by A Sprinkle of Spirits

Winnie the Pooh (1926)
by A.A. Milne (j Milne, jPB (Serie) Milne, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, and DVD adaptations)

Christopher Robin has fun in the woods with his talking animal friends: Winnie, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, and more!

Followed by The House at Pooh Corner.

Anne of Green Gables (1908)
by Lucy Maud (L.M.) Montgomery (j Montgomery, jPB (Series) Montgomery, CD j Montgomery, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, and multiple DVD adaptations)

Anne is sent from her orphanage to live with an older pair of siblings who expect a boy to help with farmwork. She gets to stay anyway and finds her own place in the town of Avonlea.

Followed by Anne of Avonlea

The Borrowers (1953)
by Mary Norton (j Norton, jPB (Series) Norton, Ebook)

Arrietty is a very tiny girl who lives with her family who live under the floor. They “borrow” what they need from the big people who live in the house. But can they live a safe, quiet life with a girl as curious as Arrietty?

Followed by The Borrowers Afield
Awards: Carnegie Medal

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1971)
by Robert O’Brien (j O’Brien, jPB and jPB (Series) O’Brien, CD j O’Brien)

Mrs. Frisby needs to move her family away from a garden that’s about to be plowed, but young Timothy is sick and can’t be moved safely. She gets help from rats who were part of human experiments that made them extra-smart.

Followed by Rasco and the Rats of NIMH
Awards: Newbery Medal

Spirit Hunters (2017)
by Ellen Oh (j Oh, jPB (Series) Oh, Ebook)

Harper’s family has just moved into a house that’s supposedly haunted. Then her little brother starts acting odd. Will the memories she’s locked away and her family heritage give her the power to save her brother?

Followed by The Island of Monsters
Awards: Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor

Bridge to Terabithia (1977)
by Katherine Paterson (j Paterson, jPB Paterson, CD j Paterson, Playaway, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, and several DVD adaptations)

Jess loves running. When Leslie beats him and all the other boys in a race, the two become friends and imagine a magical kingdom for themselves in the woods, until it all comes crashing down.

Awards: Newbery Medal

Hatchet (1987)
by Gary Paulsen (j Paulsen, jPB and jPB (Series) Paulsen, CD j Paulsen, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Brian is the only survivor of a small airplane crash in the vast Canadian wilderness. The only gear he has is a hatchet and his own determination.

Followed by The River
Awards: Newbery Honor

A Long Way From Chicago (1998)
by Richard Peck (j Peck, jPB and jPB (Series) Peck, Downloadable Audio)

Every year, Joey and Mary Alice leave Chicago to spend the summer with their Grandmother in a small town. Each of these eight summers is its own funny story.

Followed by A Year Down Yonder
Awards: Newbery Honor; National Book Award Finalist

The First Rule of Punk (2017)
by Celia C. Perez (j Perez, jPB Perez, Ebook, Spanish Language Edition)

Malú is into zines, punk rock, and fighting for her right to express herself at her middle school’s Fall Fiesta. The zine illustrations in this book may inspire readers to create their own.

Awards: Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award; Pura Belpré Honor; E.B. White Read-Aloud Finalist

The Golden Compass (1995)
by Philip Pullman (j Pullman, jPB (Series) Pullman, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, Video Game, and Graphic Novel and DVD adaptations)

Lyra lives at a college with her magical companion. She discovers a plot to poison her uncle. Why is his research considered so dangerous? Why are so many children being kidnapped? Lyra is closer to the truth than she can imagine.

Followed by The Subtle Knife
Awards: Carnegie Medal

The Westing Game (1978)
by Ellen Raskin (j Raskin, jPB Raskin, CD j Raskin, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Sixteen people of different ages live in an apartment building owned by a millionaire, Mr. Westing. When he dies, they all become part of a puzzle contest and the winner gets the Westing fortune.

Awards: Newbery Medal; National Book Award Finalist

Where the Red Fern Grows (1961)
by Wilson Rawls (Rawls, j Rawls, jPB Rawls, CD j Rawls, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, and multiple DVD adaptations)

Billy buys two puppies that he trains to be hunting dogs. Can they track down the “ghost coon” and win a hunting contest against adults?

The House that Lou Built (2018)
by Mae Respicio (j Respicio, jPB Respicio)

Lou inherits a little plot of land from her father and decides to spend the summer building a “tiny house” for grandmother and herself to get away from the rest of their big family.

Awards: Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor

As Brave As You (2016)
by Jason Reynolds (j Reynolds, jPB Reynolds, Downloadable Audio)

Genie and Ernie are sent from the city to Virginia’s countryside to spend the summer with their grandparents. They find out their grandfather is blind and won’t go outside. They all have something to learn about bravery.

Awards: Schneider Family Book Award; Coretta Scott King Honor; E.B. White Read-Aloud Finalist

Ghost Boys (2018)
by Jewell Parker Rhodes (j Rhodes, jPB Rhodes, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Jerome becomes a ghost after he’s shot by a police officer who saw him playing with a toy gun. He meets another ghost, Emmett Till, and the one living person who can still see him: the police officer’s daughter.

Awards: Walter Award; E.B. White Read-Aloud Award

The Gauntlet (2017)
by Karuna Riazi (j Riazi, jPB (Series) Riazi)

On her birthday, Farah receives a strange, heavy board game from her aunt. When her little brother vanishes into the game, Farah and her two friends go into the game world to rescue him, but they might all be trapped there forever!

Followed by The Battle

Esperanza Rising (2000)
by Pam Muños Ryan (j Ryan, jPB Ryan, Downloadable Audio, Spanish Language Edition)

Esperanza is a rich girl in Mexico, but when tragedy strikes, she has to travel to the United States as a poor girl, working hard to one day be reunited with her family.

Awards: Pura Belpré Award

The Moon Within (2019)
by Aida Salazar (j Salazar)

Celi’s first period is coming soon. Her mother is excited for her and promises to host a moon ceremony, but Celi only wants attention from a boy who isn’t being kind to her best friend. Can she find space of her own and still be what everyone expects from her? Novel in verse format.

Awards: International Latino Book Award

Betty Before X (2018)
by Ilyasah Shabaaz & Renee Watson (j Shabaaz, jPB Shabaaz, Downloadable Audio)

In 1940s Detroit, Betty gets involved in social movements through her church and becomes the civil rights activist who would later partner with Malcolm X. Ilyasah is Betty’s real life daughter.

The Egypt Game (1967)
by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (jPB and jPB (Series) Snyder, CD j Snyder)

April and Melanie become friends when they both turn out to have an obsession with Ancient Egypt. Soon other kids join in imaginging they’re in Egypt and it all takes a scary turn with a murderer loose around town.

Followed by The Gypsy Game
Awards: Newbery Medal

The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1958)
by Elizabeth George Speare (j Speare, jPB Speare, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Kit moves from Barbados to Puritan New England where her ability to swim is viewed with suspicion. Things get more dangerous when she makes friends with an older woman, Hannah, who has more relaxed religious views. Is Hannah a witch, or just a little different?

Awards: Newbery Medal

Maniac McGee (1990)
by Jerry Spinelli (j Spinelli, jPB Spinelli, CD j Spinelli, Downloadable Audio)

Jeffrey runs away from extended family and comes to a town where he gains a reputation for his athletic feats and also for crossing social lines.

Awards: Newbery Medal

When You Reach Me (2009)
by Rebecca Stead (j Stead, jPB Stead, CD j Stead, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Strange things are happening to Miranda on the streets around her home, and then she starts to get letters from someone who seems to know the future.

Awards: Newbery Medal

The Mysterious Benedict Society (2017)
by Trenton Lee Stewart (j Stewart, jPB Stewart, CD j Stewart, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance are selected as exceptional children fit for a puzzle challenge which has worldwide consequences.

Followed by The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey
Awards: E.B. White Read-Aloud Award; Golden Sower Honor

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976)
by Mildred D. Taylor (j Taylor, jPB (Series) Taylor, CD j Taylor, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Cassie and her family have a difficult year of dealing with injustice, but she learns how to appreciate the strength of her family’s roots in their land.

Followed by Mississippi Bridge
Awards: Newbery Medal; Coretta Scott King Honor; National Book Award Finalist

All-Of-A-Kind Family (1989)
by Sydney Taylor (jPB (Series) Taylor, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertrude are five sisters in New York. This is one year of fun and challenges in their life, including the holidays that join the cultures they celebrate.

Followed by All-Of-A-Kind Family Downtown
Awards: National Jewish Book Award

How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story (2013)
by Tim Tingle (j Tingle, jPB (Series) Tingle)

Isaac talks to readers about how his people were forced to move to a new place. Many of them died along the way, including Isaac, but that doesn’t stop their ghosts from helping the living. You can learn a lot from a ghost.

Followed by When a Ghost Talks, Listen
Awards: American Indian Youth Literature Award

The Hobbit; or There And Back Again (1966)
by J.R.R. Tolkien (Tolkien, PB Tolkien, j Tolkien, jPB (Series) Tolkien, CD j Tolkien, Playaway, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, animated and live-action DVD adaptations)

Bilbo’s quiet life is interrupted by dwarves on their way to an adventure to take treasure back from a dragon. He goes with them and finds a magic ring that makes him invisible.

Followed by The Fellowship of the Ring

The Thief (1996)
by Megan Whalen Turner (j Turner, jPB (Series) Turner, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Gen believes he can steal anything, but he goes too far and ends up in prison. A magus lets him out of prison on the condition that Gen steal a very special stone for him.

Followed by The Queen of Attolia
Awards: Newbery Honor; Mythopoeic Fantasy Award

Save Me a Seat (2016)
by Gita Varadarajan & Sarah Weeks (j Weeks, Playaway, Downloadable Audio)

Two boys with different family backgrounds have trouble fitting in at middle school, especially during lunchtime. Two authors with different backgrounds write their story.

Awards: Cybils Finalist

Stargazing (2019)
by Jen Wang (jPB (Series) Wang)

Two Chinese American girls whose parents have very different ideas about culture become best friends. One has visions about a special destiny. Graphic novel format.

Awards: Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

Charlotte’s Web (1952)
by E.B. White (j White, jPB White, CD j White, Playaway, Ebook, Downloadable Audio, animated and live-action DVD adaptations)

Fern saved a little pig, Wilbur, when he was a baby, but he’s still being raised to become food. She’s trying to save him again with help from a word-spelling spider named Charlotte.

Awards: Newbery Medal

One Crazy Summer (2010)
by Rita Williams-Garcia (j Williams-Garcia, jPB (Series) Williams-Garcia, Playaway, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Delphine and her little sisters Vonetta and Fern ride an airplane from New York to Oakland, California to see their mother. They attend a day camp run by the Black Panther Party. Will they ever understand why their mother lives so far away from them?

Followed by P.S. Be Eleven
Awards: Coretta Scott King Award; Scott O’Dell Award; Newbery Honor; National Book Award finalist

The Sweetest Sound (2017)
by Sherri Winston (j Winston, jPB Winston)

Cadence has a secret: she can sing beautifully and doesn’t want anyone to know. When a recording gets out to her whole church, she needs to decide whether to admit it’s her or to keep hiding her talent

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach (2011)
by Brenda Woods (j Woods, jPB Woods)

A boy named Saint plays music for New Orleans tourists. Hurricane Katrina is approaching, but he can’t leave without his dog. That’s a good thing because an elderly neighbor needs their help to survive the storm.

Brown Girl Dreaming (2014)
by Jacqueline Woodson (j818 Woo, jPB (Non-Fiction) Woodson, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Jacqueline tells the story of her own childhood in the 1960s and 70s in the South and in the North in this heartfelt novel in verse about a slow reader who became a great writer.

Awards: National Book Award; Coretta Scott King Award; Newbery Honor; E.B. White Read-Aloud Award; Hans Christian Andersen Award

Front Desk (2018)
by Kelly Yang (j Yang, jPB (Series) Yang, Ebook, Downloadable Audio)

Mia lives in a motel with her parents and they all have to work hard every day just to have a place to live. Then they risk it all to secretly give newer immigrants a place to live too. What can one girl who dreams of being a writer do to stand up for what’s right?

Followed by Three Keys
Awards: Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature; Cybils Finalist

An earlier (2012) version of the list is also available for printing.

Guide to Literary Awards cited in this list:

American Indian Youth Literature Award — American Indian Library Associations awards “the very best writing and illustrations by Native Americans and Indigenous peoples of North America. Books selected to receive the award present Indigenous North American peoples in the fullness of their humanity.”

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature — Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association awards “individual work about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage, based on literary and artistic merit.”

Carnegie Medal — The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (of the UK) awards “an outstanding book written in English for children and young people.”

Christopher Award — The Christophers organization awards books and other media that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit” to “to encourage men, women and children to pursue excellence in creative arenas that have the potential to influence a mass audience positively.”

Coretta Scott King Award — American Library Association’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table awards “outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” | (See Coretta Scott King Award page on BookGuide)

Cybils Award — Frequent contributors to blogs primarily about youth literature award “the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal.”

E.B. White Read Aloud Award — American Booksellers Association awards “books that they believe most embody the ideal of a good ‘Read Aloud.'”

Eisner Award — People involved with the comic industry award many aspects of comic creation and promotion.

Golden Kite Award — The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators awards “excellence in children’s literatures.”

Golden Sower Award — Children in Nebraska award their choice of favorite new books.

Hans Christian Andersen Award — International Board on Books For Young People awards “an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children’s literature.”

Hugo Award — Members of the World Science Fiction Convention award “excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy.” | (See Hugo Awards page on BookGuide)

International Latino Book Award — Latino Literacy Now awards “to recognize the greatness in both Latino writers and in non-Latinos who are writing on Latino topics.”

Lambda Literary Award — Lambda Literary Foundation awards “literary merit and content relevant to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer lives.”

Locus Award — Locus Magazine’s readers award their choice of science fiction and fantasy books.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature —Mythopoeic Society awards “books for young readers to age thirteen, in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia.”

National Book Award — The National Book Foundation awards “the best literature in America.” | (see National Book Awards page on BookGuide)

National Jewish Book Award — Jewish Book Council awards “outstanding English language books of Jewish interest.”

Newbery Medals and Honors —The Association for Library Service to Children awards “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” | (See Newbery Awards page on BookGuide)

Pura Belpré Award — REFORMA and the Association for Library Service to Children award authors and illustrators who “best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”

Regina Medal —Catholic Library Association awards “a living exemplar of the words of the English poet, Walter de la Mare “only the rarest kind of best in anything can be good enough for the young,” for continued, distinguished contribution to children’s literature.”

Schneider Family Book Award — American Library Association awards “a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction — The Scott O’Dell Award Committee awards “a meritorious historical fiction book published in the previous year for children or young adults.”

South Asia Book Award — South Asia National Outreach Consortium awards “high-quality children’s and young adult books that portray South Asia or South Asians living abroad.”

Stonewall Award — American Library Association’s Rainbow Round Table awards “English language books that have exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.” | (See Stonewall Award page on BookGuide)

Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award — Texas State University College of Education awards “literature that depicts the Mexican American experience.”

Walter Dean Myers Award — We Need Diverse Books awards “diverse authors (or co-authors) whose works feature diverse main characters and address diversity in a meaningful way.”

First posted on BookGuide – May 2020 gh | Last update – June 2023 gh/sdc