Fictional Family Troubles For Young Readers

Oftentimes reading about another person in a similar (or worse) situation than your own helps a reader of any age feel less alone and better about their personal situation.  It can also help them process what is happen and deal with their own emotions. While nothing helps more than a solid support system or counseling, reading a book that we can relate to can also do wonders. This is true for the children and teens in our lives, not just for adult readers.

If familythere is something serious going on in the home life of a young child in your life, here are some books they might relate to that could help them know they are not alone. They can also see someone else come to terms with and learn to cope with the same issues with which they are currently dealing. Most of these novels deal with the characters coming to terms with family issues such as separation or divorce, but some also include other family changes or conflicts.

family1Shelved in Childrens:
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
I, Lorelei by Yeardley Smith
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Sarah Simpson’s Rules for Living by Rebecca Rupp
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes
family2What Would Joey Do? by Jack Gantos
How Tía Lola Learned to Teach by Julia Alvarez
Your Friend in Fashion, Abby Shapiro by Amy Axelrod
The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister by Charlotte Agell

Shelved in Young Adult:
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
family3Unbecoming by Jenny Downham
Dark Water by Laura McNeal
Far from Fair by Elana K. Arnold
Black, White, Other by Joan Steinau Lester
The Secret Diary of Ashley Juergens by Ashley Juergens
Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
family4Zipped by Laura and Tom McNeal
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

As always, these are just some suggested titles, there was no way to include all the wonderful books out there that might help.  If you have a favorite book that you would suggest on this topic please share it in the comments.

Reads for Students Worried About Fitting In

Everyone faces some level of anxiety about being liked, fitting in, or finding their own place in the world. For children and teens that have just started getting into the swing of school for the year, this is especially true.

fitinThese are some books about children struggling with fitting in and finding their own worth in the face of new situations and bullies. More often than not, our main characters discover that everyone has the same worries and that standing out is not such a bad thing. As a bonus for readers that are not facing some of these fears, reading books about others struggling can help them empathize with siblings or classmates. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinellifitin2
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass
Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renée Russell
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Locker Hero by Rachel Renée Russell
The Detention Club by David Yoo
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yangfitin4
The Loser List by H. N. Kowitt
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
School Spirit by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart
Warp Speed by Lisa Yee
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Callie’s Rules by Naomi Zuckerfitin6
The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman
Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Hound Dog True by Linda Urban
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Every Soul a Star by Wendy Massfitin7
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow

There are so many wonderful books about fitting in and standing out that I only touched the surface here. Do you have a favorite from your childhood, or that you have recently discovered, that you would like to recommend? If so leave the title in the comments so the rest of us can check it out too.

The Cover Was Blue.

How many times has someone recommend a book, or you saw a book on the shelf and did not have time to read it, and you thought you would remember the author or title when it came time to find it and read it yourself? It happens to us too. We know exactly who wrote that book or series, at least until someone asks us. When that happens, we use our skills and look it up, even though we feel like we should already know the answer.

bluebooksSometimes no one can remember enough of the author or title to do the necessary searching to figure out the answer. Often times at this point all any of us can remember is the color or image on the cover. For some reason, the cover in these cases is almost always blue. So, here are some of the most popular books that might fit the bill if you are looking for a popular read and all you can remember is that the cover was blue. I have noted any books shelves in or children’s room with a J, and any books shelved in our young adult or teen area with a YA.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (YA)
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
The Selection by Kiera Cass (YA)
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (YA)
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (YA)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (J)
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (J)

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Eragon by Christopher Paolini (YA)
Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (YA)
The Wind is Not a River by Brian Payton
The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

This is only a small portion of possibilities, as blue seems to be a very popular color for book covers. Are you still searching or need a different cover color? Comment with the information you do have and I will do my best to find the book for which you are searching!

Young Adult and Children’s Books by Young Writers

Everyone likes to see a little bit of themselves in the books they read, or the shows or movies they watch, whether it is relating to the author or to pieces of a character’s personality or circumstances. This is especially true for children and teens. One way to easily find some common ground is by reading material written by people of the same age range as the reader. As a bonus, young readers and teens might find inspiration or encouragement in knowing some of the books they love are written by people their age or younger.

bykidsjakeThe Just Jake series for middle grade readers is by Jake Marcionette. He started writing, prompted by his mother, when he was in elementary school. Now in middle school, Jake has three books published and more are sure to be on the way. The three books he currently has are Just Jake, Dog Eat Dog, and Camp Wild Survival. If you want to know more bykidsswordabout Jake and his books, visit his website.

Nancy Yi Fan started writing her first now published book when she was only eleven years old. Now there are three books in her Swordbird series; Swordbird, Sword Mountain, and Sword Quest which takes place 100 years before Swordbird).

bykidseragonChristopher Paolini might not be a teen anymore, but he started writing his first book when he was only 15. Eragon (the first book in his series) was published when he was 18. Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance soon followed. In 2007 Eragon was even made into a movie. For more information on Christopher and his series you can explore his website.

bykidsforestAmelia Atwater-Rhodes was writing her first young adult novel at the age of 13. In the Forests of the Night was the first of her books published, though she now has a pretty extensive list of published books. Her other books include;  Demon in my View,  Shattered Mirror,  Midnight Predator, Persistence of Memory, Token of Darkness, All Just Glass, Poison Tree, Hawksong,  Snakecharm, Falcondance, Wolfcry, Wyvernhail, and most recently Bloodkin. Fans and those interested in the author can stay up to date with her by reading her blog; The Den of Shadows.

bykidsschoolAlec Greven wrote his first book at 9! He writes self-help books for other kids. Rules for School is the most recent publication, but he also has written How to Talk to Girls, How to Talk to Dads, and How to Talk to Moms.


Still looking for more? Did you know that a now 52 year old author of over eighty bykidskormanbooks for children and teens wrote his first book at 12, and had it published when he was just 14? Check out Gordon Korman‘s tween age writing in This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall! to see how his first book rates in comparison to his many more current and very popular titles.

Alexandra Adornetto wrote her first book at the age of 13. The start of her second series, Halo was published when she was the ripe old age of 17 in 2010 and has been translated into a variety of languages. She is still writing and publishing steadily. S.E. Hilton‘s well known book, The Outsiders, was published when she was only 18.  Age is no obstacle, it all comes down to talent, determination, and luck!

Autobiographies for Children

The biography’s in the children’s room are all shelved together, in order alphabetically by the last name of the person they are about. Well, all but the Who Is/Was series which has a special display and place of honor. So finding a biography (a book written by an author about someone else) is not hard, as long as you know who you want to read about. What is difficult is finding an autobiography (a book that a person writes about their own life). Often there is no way of knowing which books are regular biographies and which are autobiographies until you pick the book up off the shelf and read the author’s name. Finding a well done and interesting autobiography, or one by someone you want to read about, can be even more challenging.

AUTOB1So, I decided to get busy and find a list of autobiographies for children to make the search a little easier for young readers, their parents, and my fellow seekers. Here are some of the best autobiographies for children that are part of our library’s collection. I have them divided into three groups. The groups are authors and illustrators, important figures in history and civil rights, and athletes.

Authors and Illustrators:AUTOB2
Knots in My Yo-Yo String: the Autobiography of a Kid by Jerry Spinelli
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Bill Peet: an Autobiography
26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie dePaola
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
It Came from Ohio!: My Life as a Writer by R.L. Stine as told to Joe ArthurAUTO9
Guts: the True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books by Gary Paulsen
No Pretty Pictures: a Child of War by Anita Lobel
A Girl from Yamhill: a Memoir by Beverly Cleary
Down a Sunny Dirt Road by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl
Looking Back: a Book of Memories by Lois Lowry

AUTOB3Important Figures in History and Civil rights
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
Escape from Slavery: the Boyhood of Frederick Douglass in his Own Words edited and illustrated by Michael McCurdy
Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks with Jim Haskins
I am Rosa Parks by Rosa Parks with Jim Haskins
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
AUTOBehind the Secret Window: a Memoir of a Hidden Childhood During World War Two by Nelly S. Toll
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible..on Schindler’s List by Leon Leyson; with Marilyn J. Harran and Elisabeth B. Leyson

Tony Hawk: Professional Skateboarder by Tony Hawk with Sean Mortimer
Soul Surfer: a True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton with Sheryl Berk and Rick Bundschuh
Oksana: My Own Story by Oksana Baiul; as told to Heather Alexander
AUTO3Michelle Kwan, Heart of a Champion: an Autobiography by Michelle Kwan as told to Laura James
Cal Ripken, Jr.: My Story by Cal Ripken, Jr. and Mike Bryan; adapted by Dan Gutman
Chamique Holdsclaw: My Story by Chamique Holdsclaw with Jennifer Frey
Dominique Moceanu, an American Champion: an Autobiography as told to Steve Woodward
Fire on Ice: autobiography of a Champion Figure Skater by Sasha Cohen with Amanda Maciel

aatoThere are several more great autobiographies that I just could not fit in these lists,or that are accessible to willing children and teens, but shelved with the adult biographies. In no particular order, these include: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, More About Boy: Roald Dahl’s Tales from Childhood by Roald Dahl, Tara Lipinski: Triumph on Ice: an Autobiography as told to Emily Costello, I am Malala: the Girl who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, Caught by the Sea: My Life on Boats by Gary Paulsen, Bad Boy: a Memoir by Walter Dean Myers, The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland,  A Pioneer Woman’s Memoir: Based on the Journal of Arabella Clemens Fulton by Judith E. Greenberg and Helen Carey McKeever, Positive: Surviving My Bullies, Finding Hope, and Living to Change the World: a Memoir by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin, and The Year We Disappeared: a Father-Daughter Memoir by Cylin Busby & John Busby.