The best books about kids doing things you thought only grown-ups could do

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of a number of books for kids and teens, many of which imagine young characters having more influence than you might expect. My book The Museum of Lost and Found is about an 11-year-old girl who secretly curates a museum. The Campaign is about a 12-year-old who runs her babysitter’s campaign to become mayor of their town. And This Song Will Save Your Life is about a 16-year-old who secretly becomes an underground DJ. These characters have realistic and relatable kid problems, emotions, and relationships—but they also get to have responsibilities and power well beyond their years. 


I wrote...

The Museum of Lost and Found

By Leila Sales, Jacqueline Li (illustrator),

Book cover of The Museum of Lost and Found

What is my book about?

Vanessa isn't sure which happened first: finding the abandoned museum or losing her best friend Bailey. She doesn't know what to do with herself now that Bailey has left her behind—but when she stumbles upon an empty, forgotten museum, her purpose becomes clear. Vanessa starts filling the museum with her own artifacts and memories, hoping that perhaps, if she can find the right way to tell the story of her broken friendship, she can figure out how to make it whole again. But what Vanessa soon discovers is that this hidden museum harbors mysteries of its own…

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Heist Society

Leila Sales Why did I love this book?

You describe a book as “Ocean’s Eleven for teens,” and I am a hundred percent in.

Like most heists, this one has the cat burglar and the genius hacker and the femme fatale and the getaway driver—except this time, they’re all teenagers. What a dream!

I just love a good heist story. They have to be so carefully crafted, so tightly plotted, and as a writer I really admire any storyteller who can do that. All three books in the Heist Society series are remarkable feats of plotting and pacing. I got to see Ally Carter give an author talk once, and she spoke about just how hard it is to write something that looks this easy. That’s so true; it really stuck with me.

By Ally Carter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heist Society as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

From the international bestselling author of the Gallagher Girls series

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her to the Louvre...to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie travelled to Austria...to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own - scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind.

But now her dad's life is on the line, and Kat must go back to the world she tried so hard to escape...


Book cover of The Kid Who Ran for Principal

Leila Sales Why did I love this book?

This book was in my third-grade classroom library, and I read it so many times that when the school year ended, my teacher let me keep it. I’m glad she did, because I’ve never seen it anywhere else.

This was the first book I ever fell in love with about a kid doing something you thought only grown-ups were supposed to do—namely, becoming principal of her own school! Adult readers might protest that this premise is “unrealistic,” but it’s written in such a way that as a young reader it seemed completely plausible to me.

As a kid, there’s just so much that you have no control over, so the idea of earning a position with real power is incredibly appealing.

By Judy K Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Kid Who Ran for Principal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A shy sixth grader learns to assert herself when she is encouraged to run for interim principal of her school


Book cover of Stormbreaker

Leila Sales Why did I love this book?

What if James Bond were fifteen years old? Great question; let’s find out!

I love the idea of a kid being a great spy, not despite their age but in fact because of it. Being a kid gives Alex Rider access to places and situations where an adult would arouse suspicion. Alex gets all the cinematic spy gear that you expect from spy movies. He’s constantly underestimated because of his age—and that is exactly what makes him so powerful.

I think that’s really the theme across all these books, and what makes them so appealing to me: People don’t expect much of you because you’re a kid, but secretly you are so much greater than they could ever comprehend. 

By Anthony Horowitz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Stormbreaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

The first book in the number one bestselling Alex Rider series.

In the first book in the number one bestselling Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, fourteen-year-old Alex is forcibly recruited into MI6. Armed with secret gadgets, he is sent to investigate Herod Sayle, a man who is offering state-of-the-art Stormbreaker computers to every school in the country. But the teenage spy soon finds himself in mortal danger.


Book cover of All Four Stars

Leila Sales Why did I love this book?

One of the things I like about this type of book is that the main characters often have a secret identity.

To their classmates or teachers or parents, they’re just an ordinary kid—but when they’re not being watched, they’re doing something important and impactful. I love the tension of worrying that their secret identity might get found out. In this series, the main character’s secret identity is that she’s an accomplished and influential restaurant critic and no one knows, not even her parents. 

By Tara Dairman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Four Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

“A scrumptious gem of a story!”—Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author of The False Prince
 
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)
 
Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for…


Book cover of How My Journal Became a Bestseller

Leila Sales Why did I love this book?

I wrote my first book and started submitting it to publishers when I was eleven years old. I dreamed of publishing a book before I graduated from high school.

Ultimately, that didn’t happen—I was 25 by the time I sold my first book. So you can see why I loved a story about a character who lived my dream; a 14-year-old girl who becomes a bestselling author. Most people didn’t believe that kids can be authors, but seeing another kid do it—even if her story is fictional—makes it feel possible.

By Julia DeVillers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How My Journal Became a Bestseller as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Jamie longs to be popular, but she never dreams of the fame that is suddenly hers after a private journal entry accidentally finds its way to her teacher, then a publisher, and her career as a bestselling author is kicked into motion. In no time at all she is caught in a swirl of book signings, power lunches, and photo ops. And the hottest guy in school finally knows her name! Could it get any better than this?

Girls who love wish-fulfillment fantasies like The Princess Diarieswill relish Jamie's foray into a world of glamour and glitz, which she ultimately…


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Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

By Ralph Hickok,

Book cover of Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

Ralph Hickok Author Of Vagabond Halfback: The Saga of Johnny Blood McNally

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Green Bay and my dad was the official scorer for the Packers, so I was immersed in pro football history even as a child. During my careers as a newspaper feature writer and editor and as an advertising copywriter, I also became a sports historian. My magnum opus was “The Encyclopedia of North American Sports History,” 650,000 words. But my favorite by far is my biography of Johnny Blood. I was 12 or 13 when I decided I wanted to write it, 33 when I began working on it, 38 when I finished it, and 78 when it was finally published.

Ralph's book list on the history of pro football

What is my book about?

From Kirkus Reviews: "This debut short-story collection paints the wistful life of a newspaper journalist as seen through his sexual and romantic encounters...

Throughout, Hickok writes in an assured style, pulling readers along. The narrow sexual focus results in a distorted picture, yet other aspects of Art's life emerge at the edges—his intelligence, his career as a journalist, and even the sincerity with which he gives in to his male urges and construes sex as love... 

Subdued yet alluring; a pensive reflection on the male psyche."

Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

By Ralph Hickok,

What is this book about?

A man arrives in a new city, hoping to start a new life, but he’s still haunted by memories of past loves…
A 12-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl have a brief romantic encounter when their families are vacationing in neighboring lakeside cottages…
Two teenagers enjoy sexual experimentation when she babysits for her little brother while her parents are out drinking…
A high school boy has a crush on an older woman who identifies with Molly Bloom…
A college freshman falls in love with a high school freshman and is amazed at the depths of her passion…
A guy wins…


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