The best books that bring real events and real kids alive for readers

Frieda Wishinsky Author Of Avis Dolphin
By Frieda Wishinsky

The Books I Picked & Why

A Girl from Yamhill: A Memoir

By Beverly Cleary

Book cover of A Girl from Yamhill: A Memoir

Why this book?

Beverly Cleary's kid's books have been enjoyed by many generations of readers. I loved her true to life, tinged with humor books as a reader, teacher, and writer.

Like me, many readers wonder about the lives of people we admire and luckily Cleary has written a riveting, direct, and insightful memoir that helps us connect her fiction with her real-life experiences. Throughout Cleary comes across as someone we wish we knew.


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Catherine, Called Birdy

By Karen Cushman

Book cover of Catherine, Called Birdy

Why this book?

What was life like for a young woman in medieval times? Cushman brings the life and challenges of a feisty, aware young woman to life through the words of her diary. Readers will empathize with Catherine and cheer her strength at a time when young women had few rights, few opportunities, and limited resources. Cushman weaves her knowledge of the era seamlessly into this book of fiction.


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The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

By Eugene Yelchin

Book cover of The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Why this book?

What was life like under the Stalinist Soviet regime? Author Eugene Yelchin vividly and often hilariously recounts his own experiences during those repressive, poverty-stricken, and politically difficult times. Filled with Yelchin’s charming black and white drawings, readers of all ages will applaud Yelchin while learning much about those long-ago times in a country still run by a repressive regime. This timely, poignant book is a great read.


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A Year Without Mom

By Dasha Tolstikova

Book cover of A Year Without Mom

Why this book?

This engaging graphic novel follows twelve-year-old Dasha as she is forced to separate from her mom who leaves for America to make a better life for the two of them. The spare yet touching text brings us into Dasha’s world in Russia and her fears and hopes for a new life. Based on Tolstikova’s own experiences, the book draws the reader into Dasha’s fears and joys.


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Stitches

By David Small

Book cover of Stitches

Why this book?

In this riveting memoir told through minimum text and vivid black and white graphic art, we learn of the hardships, sorrow, and choices Small dealt with as a young man. Although heartbreaking, this is ultimately a story of courage despite a painful upbringing. The reader senses how art helped Small cope with sadness, disappointment, and confusion growing up in a difficult family.


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