The best children’s books involving sibling dynamics with subtle lessons that you won't dread at bedtime

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by family dynamics and have studied human development and psychology. I’m also a lifelong voracious reader and treasure my childhood reading experiences. Last but not least, I have three kids. Arguments and hurt feelings are inevitable but kids don’t love a lecture. A good story can bring understanding without being boring or pedantic. And we all know reading with your kids at bedtime is vital, but can’t we as parents ask for a little enjoyment too–maybe even a good laugh?!


I wrote...

Book cover of The Beach Dilemma

What is my book about?

Even though her family calls her Emma Bemma, Emma knows she is really a dilEmma.The middle kid between her two brothers, whom everyone calls Big and Little, Emma is just Medium. Big thinks he's the coolest kid on the planet now that he's ten and everyone thinks Little is adorable, even when he picks his nose! As usual, Emma has to ride in the middle seat as her family heads out on a beach vacation with friends, where being just medium will only get worse! Then Emma has an idea. What if she could get out of being in the middle by taking on a new role? What if she acted big? Will things go as planned? Or will she have another huge dilEmma?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Laura Wiltse Prior Why did I love this book?

Judy Blume’s books have an almost magical quality in my memory – they are some of my first and fondest reading recollections.

In this book, the interplay between Peter and his little brother Fudge is relatable and just hilarious. Similar to the younger brother Little in my own book, Fudge gets away with everything, to Peter’s chagrin. I hadn’t thought about it consciously when I was writing my own book, but now I realize that perhaps this book was influencing me all along. A classic!

By Judy Blume,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing 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?

Millions of fans young and old have been entertained by the quick wit of Peter Hatcher, the hilarious antics of mischevious Fudge, and the unbreakable confidence of know-it-all Sheila Tubman in Judy Blume's five Fudge books. And now, Puffin Books honors forty years of the book that started it all, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, with a special edition--featuring a new introduction from Judy--to celebrate this perennial favorite.


Book cover of Rodrick Rules

Laura Wiltse Prior Why did I love this book?

The second in a long-running graphic novel series, middle schooler Greg Heffley is tormented by his older brother Rodrick who is threatening to reveal his most guarded secret, but readers are delighted every step of the way.

When my kids would choose this graphic novel to read with me at night, I knew we’d both be shaking with laughter. This is an especially great choice to lure reluctant readers – mine devoured each new one in the series and can’t get enough. The movies are hilarious too!

By Jeff Kinney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rodrick Rules as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

The highly anticipated sequel to the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling book!

Secrets have a way of getting out, especially when a diary is involved.

Whatever you do, don't ask Greg Heffley how he spent his summer vacation, because he definitely doesn't want to talk about it.

As Greg enters the new school year, he's eager to put the past three months behind him . . . and one event in particular.

Unfortunately for Greg, his older brother, Rodrick, knows all about the incident Greg wants to keep under wraps. But secrets have a way of getting out . .…


Book cover of The Wishing Spell

Laura Wiltse Prior Why did I love this book?

The first in Chris Colfer's incredible series, the book centers on twins who find themselves in a fairy tale world.

Amidst the magic and fantasy, the brother and sister deal with real-world sibling dynamics and disagreements. These were so entertaining and clever–my daughter and I zoomed through the whole series together, getting a kick at what Colfer did with the classic fairy tale characters.

By Chris Colfer, Brandon Dorman (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wishing Spell 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?

Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change...Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, twins Alex and Connor leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.


Book cover of The Lemonade War

Laura Wiltse Prior Why did I love this book?

The first in a series, the ultimate sibling rivalry plays out in a head-to-head lemonade stand competition full of misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Alternate perspectives from a people-person brother and academic sister wind up endearing you to both main characters. The reader comes to understand and empathize with each of them. It’s lots of fun with sprinkles of math, vocabulary, and business.

By Jacqueline Davies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lemonade War 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?

Here is a clever blend of humor, math wizardry, and business know-how. As it captures the one-of-a-kind bond between brother and sister, this poignant novel also subtly explores how arguments can escalate beyond anyone’s intent.

For a full hour, he poured lemonade. The world is a thirsty place, he thought as he nearly emptied his fourth pitcher of the day. And I am the Lemonade King.

Evan Treski is people-smart. He’s good at talking with people, even grownups. His younger sister Jessie, on the other hand, is math-smart—but not especially good at understanding people. She knows that feelings are her…


Book cover of Dinosaurs Before Dark

Laura Wiltse Prior Why did I love this book?

This sweet book, one of a long-running series, features Jack and Annie, two very different siblings who must work together to survive a time travel trip to the age of dinosaurs. It’s action-packed but also historically educational and instructive.

I loved reading this book and all the Magic Treehouse books to my kids when they were little as each could relate to one of the siblings. I especially love how the power to time travel comes from the actual books in the treehouse, reinforcing the magic of reading to beginners.

By Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Dinosaurs Before Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Eight-year-old Jack and his little sister, Annie, are playing in the woods during their summer holiday, when they find a mysterious tree house full of books. But these are no ordinary books . . . And this is no ordinary tree house . . .

Jack and Annie get more than they had bargined for when Jack opens a book about dinosaurs and wishes he could see them for real. They end up in prehistoric times with Pteranodons, Triceratops and a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex! How will they get home again? The race is on . . . !


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Terracolina: A Place to Belong

By Carla Kessler, Richard Kessler (illustrator),

Book cover of Terracolina: A Place to Belong

Carla Kessler Author Of Terracolina: A Place to Belong

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, one of my favorite places was in the top branches of a tree. From up there I could watch the world pass by, remaining invisible. I could make up stories about the world below and no one would challenge me. The second best place for me was inside the story of a book, the kind that took you to magical places where children always found a way to win the day. I knew when I “grew up” I would write one of those empowering books. I became a middle school teacher and have since read many wonderful books for this age. Enjoy my list of favorites.  

Carla's book list on where kids who believe in nature make a difference

What is my book about?

Where do you turn when the only adult who gets you, your grandpa, is gone, and the world seems to be in self-destruct mode?

On his 12th birthday, Thomas runs away to the forest he used to visit with Grandpa. It is dying. Will saving it from a deadly parasite bring him closer to Grandpa or make his world safer? Before he can find out, he is enticed into a magical world under an attack of a different kind.

Welcomed by a garden of talking plants, mind-reading creatures, tree-climbing, nature-loving beings, Thomas conquers the stinging, prickly hedge that guards the portal to this alternate world. At last, a place where he fits in. A place that needs him. But what about his and Grandpa’s forest?

“…a magical book...” John Perkins, New York Times best-selling author

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