77 books like Bayou Magic

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Here are 77 books that Bayou Magic fans have personally recommended if you like Bayou Magic. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Island of the Blue Dolphins

Pat Lowery Collins Author Of Daughter of Winter

From my list on protagonist identity other than that of the writer.

Why am I passionate about this?

The books I've recommended are all skillfully told by someone who is not of the race or sexual orientation of the protagonist. Though I believe in the importance of people telling their own stories, I also think there should be room for writers to write from viewpoints other than their own. The past is where many of my characters live, but I still have to deal with the quandry of authenticity. Daughter of Winter is placed in Essex, MA, in 1949, at the height of the shipbuilding industry and features a mixed-race child and a Wapanoag grandmother. To make certain of my characterizations, I hired a chief of that tribe to read the finished manuscript.

Pat's book list on protagonist identity other than that of the writer

Pat Lowery Collins Why did Pat love this book?

This winner of the Newbury Medal is another book that gave me the courage to write a book that includes my own invented tribe. The author, Scott O'Dell, also spent his early years in Southern Calif. as did I and much of the described island flora and fauna is reminiscent of Santa Catalina Island. After hunting for otters Karina's tribe misses the first boat that was to take them back to the mainland. When she misses the second one because of an act of bravery, she is fated to survive many years alone which she does with unimaginable courage and tenacity.

By Scott O’Dell,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Island of the Blue Dolphins 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?

Twelve-year-old Karana escapes death at the hands of treacherous hunters, only to find herself totally alone on a harsh desolate island. How she survives in the face of all sorts of dangers makes gripping and inspiring reading.

Based on a true story.


Book cover of The Boxcar Children

C.S. Johnson Author Of Slumbering

From my list on book series for growing kids into lifelong readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer and a mom, and a former teacher, and someone who constantly has to pay attention to the world we live in today, I feel especially compelled to find a good balance for parents to help their kids love reading without compromising their childhood innocence. As adults, we know we live in a broken world. But telling kids about these things without giving them a reason to hope for a better future or without giving them a good role model is more detrimental than helpful. It dooms them to nihilism and cynicism, and only a mature mind is able to successfully break free from that mind trap. 

C.S.'s book list on book series for growing kids into lifelong readers

C.S. Johnson Why did C.S. love this book?

The Boxcar Children is the next on this list because it’s actually a good mix of the first two series I’ve mentioned—it has four children, with two boys (Henry and Benny) and two girls (Jessie and Violet), and it’s set in America.

There’s no fantasy, but there’s still plenty of strife as the Alden siblings lose their parents, and they try to make it on their own. They settle down in an old abandoned box car as Henry finds work in a nearby neighborhood, Jessie and Violet teach Benny to read as their grandfather, who they’ve been trying to avoid for fear of him not wanting them, is searching for them. 

Overall, it’s a wonderful story about family love and neighborly friendships. The books continue the series, where the children go on vacations, solve more mysteries, and make new friends. 

Note***This series is one of the first “longer” series (we…

By Gertrude Chandler Warner, L. Kate Deal (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Boxcar Children as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are brothers and sisters. They're orphans too, and the only way they can stay together is to make it on their own. When the children find an abandoned boxcar in the woods, they decide to call it home―and become the Boxcar Children!


Book cover of Prairie Lotus

Sally Engelfried Author Of Learning to Fall

From my list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

Father-daughter relationships have always fascinated me. I wrote my first book to explore what it might be like for a girl to have a father with whom communication is, if not easy, possible. Although my own father was around when I was growing up, he was a distant figure. A mechanical engineer, he lost himself in ruminations on machines and mathematics and was made still more distant by his alcoholism. As a kid, I tried to glean from books what having a “regular” father might be like. I still haven’t figured it out, but I love seeing other authors capture the formative effects of this particular parental relationship. 

Sally's book list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships

Sally Engelfried Why did Sally love this book?

This historical novel has been heralded as a fresh look at the era of the Little House books, and it does a wonderful job of looking at frontier life in Dakota Territory in 1880 from the perspective of Chinese-American Hanna. It’s also an examination of a daughter trying to navigate an often prickly relationship with her white father, made even more difficult after the death of Hanna’s Chinese-Korean mother. I love Hanna’s careful study of everyone around her—observances that are borne from a need to protect herself from racism, but which are also windows to empathy and understanding. Despite her father’s resistance to Hanna following her dream to become a dressmaker, Hanna prevails, using her knowledge of her father’s own nature to win him over.

By Linda Sue Park,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching, multilayered novel about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend.

Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a small town in America’s heartland, in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story.

Narrated by Hanna, the novel has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant…


Book cover of The Secret Island (Secret Series)

Elizabeth Doyle Carey Author Of Summer Lifeguards

From my list on girls with the skills to survive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in the children’s book publishing industry for more than twenty-five years, as an editor, bookseller, author, library volunteer, school visit coordinator for authors, and more! I love connecting readers with great books, especially if the readers are middle schoolers, which is my favorite reading level. I see book searches as scavenger hunts—give me a small clue and I’ll find you the book!—and I find it especially gratifying to pair a reader with a book they’ve never heard of before. I’m also good at pairing books with ice cream flavors (Anne of Green Gables + Cinnamon Apple, Little House In the Big Woods with Maple Sugar, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Darkest Fudge, and so on!), but that’s a story for another time.

Elizabeth's book list on girls with the skills to survive

Elizabeth Doyle Carey Why did Elizabeth love this book?

A larder full of dry goods, a dense thicket of gorse protecting a carefully hidden homestead, heather and pine needles for bedding, dry caves for winter shelter, natural tinctures and salves for injuries and illnesses, small brooks for bathing and cold creeks that preserved fresh milk and sweet butter…Four brave, skilled and industrious children run away from abusive situations in this vintage British book, and manage to care for and support themselves with farming and homesteading skills that were exotic to me as an over-supervised hothouse flower growing up in New York City in the 1970s. Outdoor living and childhood independence were completely foreign to me, and the resourcefulness and nerve of the protagonists created my lasting love for Enid Blyton’s The Secret Island that remains to this day. 

By Enid Blyton, Dudley Wynne (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Island (Secret Series) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Mike, Peggy and Nora are sent to live with a cruel uncle and aunt, they long to run away. Then they meet Jack, who tells them of a mysterious Secret Island, and they soon begin to make plans to escape to it - but do they realise the challenges and dangers of the great adventure that lies ahead?


Book cover of Freedom in Congo Square

Laura Freeman Author Of Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon

From my list on award-winning, illustrated books on African American history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Laura Freeman is a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honoree. Her work has been recognized with an NAACP Image Award, reached the New York Times Best Seller List, been honored by the Society of Illustrators, the Georgia Center For The Book, and in the Annuals for Communication Arts and American Illustration. She has illustrated over thirty children’s books, most of them biographies.

Laura's book list on award-winning, illustrated books on African American history

Laura Freeman Why did Laura love this book?

This brilliant book tells the story of a lesser-known piece of African American history. Congo Square in New Orleans was a place where slaves were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music...but only on Sundays for half a day. If you ever feel down this is a reminder of how indomitable the human spirit can be in the face of unspeakable adversity.

By Carole Boston Weatherford, R. Gregory Christie (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Freedom in Congo Square as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Winner of a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2016: Nonfiction
Starred reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and The Horn Book Magazine
A Junior Library Guild Selection

This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human's capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans' Congo Square was truly freedom's heart.

Mondays, there were hogs to slop,

mules to train, and logs to chop.

Slavery was no ways fair.…


Book cover of Mules and Men

Paul Stoller Author Of Wisdom from the Edge: Writing Ethnography in Turbulent Times

From my list on writing about the wisdom of others.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was passionate about anthropology in the 1970s when I was in my twenties and am still passionate about anthropology in the 2020s in my seventies. Throughout the years I have expressed my passion for anthropology in university classrooms, in public lectures, and in the 16 books I have published. As my mind has matured, I understand more and more fully just how important it is to write powerfully, cogently, and accessibly about the wisdom of others. In all my books I have attempted to convey to the public this fundamental wisdom, none more so than in my latest book, Wisdom from the Edge: Writing Ethnography in Turbulent Times.   

Paul's book list on writing about the wisdom of others

Paul Stoller Why did Paul love this book?

Hurston’s Mules and Men is a classic work in which the author returns to her hometown, Eatonville, Florida, in the late 1920s to conduct anthropological research. 

In the work Hurston captures the complex texture of social life in a fully incorporated African American community. The result is a rich mix of character descriptions, masterfully crafted dialogues, and a collection of stories that reflect powerfully the deep knowledge and profound wisdom of Eatonville’s cast of characters. 

By Zora Neale Hurston, Miguel Covarrubias (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mules and Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Hurston recounts her experiences collecting Afro-American folklore and offers some seventy folk tales and a series of hoodoo rituals


Book cover of Table Scraps and Other Essays

James E. Cherry Author Of Edge of the Wind

From my list on contemporary African American authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a contemporary African American writer born and raised in the South. It was this sense of place that has shaped my artistic sensibilities. I was in my mid-twenties, searching, seeking for answers and direction on my own, when other Black southern writers were instrumental in pointing me in the right direction: Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Walker, Ernest J Gaines, Alice Walker, Arna Bontemps, Albert Murray, just to name a handful. Their writings were revelatory. The same issues that they were dealing with a generation earlier were the same ones I was struggling with every day. It opened my eyes, mind, heart and creativity to put into perspective what I was feeling. 

James' book list on contemporary African American authors

James E. Cherry Why did James love this book?

This is where prose and poetry blossom into memoir. James’ account of growing up impoverished with an absentee father and how a small rural Louisiana community became her surrogate family is both moving and insightful. She engages in an exercise of self-examination of the things that made her a writer and the person she has come to be. There is much grace and beauty in these pages as she seeks a path of truth and understanding and mending a broken relationship with her estranged father. This story is both personal and universal and provides understanding of the human condition. There is much poverty, pain, humor, blues, disappointment, and love in this book. Always love.

By Juyanne James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Table Scraps and Other Essays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Table Scraps and Other Essays is for all intents and purposes memoir writing. At the heart of the twenty-two true stories is an African American female who, as a child, along with her siblings, must learn the value of hard work as hired hands. James's young spirit is often at odds with her growing family, especially with a father figure who ignores his duties as husband and provider. She has a strong, loving mother who insists on keeping the family together. James learns to trust and depend on the "guardians" of her small Louisiana community--teachers who are eventually forced to…


Book cover of A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

Written by accomplished historian Carolyn Morrow Long, A New Orleans Voudou Priestess tells the true story of Voodoo queen Marie Laveau based on extensive archival research.

In telling her readers about this Creole woman of color who was deeply embedded in the culture of New Orleans in the 1800s, we learn the real story of a woman who was often glorified and denigrated by the press and by local authors who wrote many fantastical tales about her life misleading many about her character and her religion. 

By Carolyn Morrow Long,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A New Orleans Voudou Priestess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Legendary for an unusual combination of spiritual power, beauty, charisma, showmanship, intimidation, and shrewd business sense, Marie Leveau also was known for her kindness and charity, nursing yellow fever victims and ministering to condemned prisoners, and her devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. In separating verifiable fact from semi-truths and complete fabrication, Carolyn Morrow Long explores the unique social, political, and legal setting in which the lives of Laveau's African and European ancestors became intertwined in nineteenth-century New Orleans.


Book cover of The Yellow House: A Memoir

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Author Of Let's Talk Race: A Guide for White People

From my list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should.

Why we are passionate about this?

We grew up in predominantly white communities and came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. As academics, we focused on issues of race in our research and teaching. Yet, despite our reading and writing about race, we still hadn’t made a connection to our own lives and how our white privilege shielded us and made us complicit in perpetuating racial inequities. We didn’t fully see our role in white supremacy until we adopted our sons. Becoming an interracial family and parenting Black sons taught us about white privilege and the myriad ways that Blacks confront racism in education, criminal justice, health care, and simply living day-to-day. 

Marlene and Fern's book list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Why did Marlene and Fern love this book?

A memoir that haunted both of us about Broom’s love for the New Orleans house she grew up in, her family, and a neighborhood torn apart by the institutional racism embedded in banking practices, zoning laws, highway development, and other corporate and government policies and practices.

Broom’s mother purchased the house in 1961 in a then “promising” neighborhood. Over the years, the neighborhood was cut off from the city by the growth of the interstate highway, which left this largely Black area in decline from years of indifference by New Orleans elected officials. The house was eventually destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The book provides a harrowing description of the destructive effects of institutional racism.

By Sarah M Broom,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Yellow House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NONFICTION

'A major book that I suspect will come to be considered among the essential memoirs of this vexing decade' New York Times Book Review

In 1961, Sarah M. Broom's mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant - the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah's father Simon Broom; their combined family would…


Book cover of Forever This Summer

Shannon Wiersbitzky Author Of What Flowers Remember

From my list on when a loved one has Alzheimers dementia.

Why am I passionate about this?

The inspiration to write about Alzheimer’s came from my own life. My grandfather had the disease. He and I were very close and it broke my heart when I realized I’d been forgotten. He only remembered my voice, that it sounded like a little girl he used to know. I wanted to capture the truth of that in a story. Sadly, dementia is so common, but for some reason, we don’t talk about Alzheimer’s as openly as we do other diseases. Kids need to be able to have everyday conversations about what they might be experiencing in regards to whomever they know with the disease. My hope is that books like Flowers can help.

Shannon's book list on when a loved one has Alzheimers dementia

Shannon Wiersbitzky Why did Shannon love this book?

Forever This Summer is a lovely tale about the power of a family coming together in a tough time. Georgia, her Mama, and the happenings in and around the Sweetings Family Diner are relatable. As Georgia and her Mama look to help Aunt Vie, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, she learns her own family history. It’s a different take on the notion of memories. Aunt Vie’s memories are disappearing and being replaced by those of Georgia’s as she visits the people and places that made the women in her life who they are. 

By Leslie C. Youngblood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forever This Summer 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?

Georgie has no idea what to expect when she, Mama, and Peaches are plopped down in the middle of small town USA--aka Bogalusa, Louisiana--where Mama grew up and Great Aunt Vie needs constant care.

Georgie wants to help out at the once famous family diner that served celebrities like the Jackson 5 and the Supremes, but everyone is too busy to show her the ropes and Mama is treating her like a baby, not letting her leave her sight. When she finally gets permission to leave on her own, Georgie makes friends with Markie--a foster kid who'd been under Aunt…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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