100 books like Before the Ever After

By Jacqueline Woodson,

Here are 100 books that Before the Ever After fans have personally recommended if you like Before the Ever After. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Canyon's Edge

Sally J. Pla Author Of The Fire, the Water, and Maudie McGinn

From my list on children’s novels depicting real adversity—and hope.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went through some very tough times growing up. I was an undiagnosed autistic teen, terribly shy, with no real guidance, and I was often bullied and bewildered. But my heart was filled with only goodwill and good intentions, and a yearning to connect meaningfully with others. So, stories of adversity, of characters making it through very tough times, through trauma—these stories were like shining beacons that said, “survival is possible.” Now that I’m a grownup writer, it’s at the root of what I want to offer—hope—to today’s kids who may be going through similar tough stuff. Survival is possible.

Sally's book list on children’s novels depicting real adversity—and hope

Sally J. Pla Why did Sally love this book?

Dusti Bowling’s ability to keep you on the edge is incredible.

Nora lost her mom via a random shooting, and now she is trapped in a desert canyon where a flash flood swept her dad away. The stakes are so high. And yet: Nora’s will to survive, her love for Dad, and her inner strength, pull her beautifully through. 

By Dusti Bowling,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Canyon's Edge 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?

One year since she lost her mother to a random shooting, Nora and her father are exploring a slot canyon deep in the Arizona desert. They like to stay far away from other people now, or at least Nora's father does. Nora has been working with a therapist to try to heal, and she longs to have a normal life again, to be "just an ordinary girl" like she was when her mother was still alive.

But when she and her father reach the bottom of the canyon, a flash flood rips past them, sweeping away Nora's father and all…


Book cover of Red, White, and Whole

Dana VanderLugt Author Of Enemies in the Orchard: A World War 2 Novel in Verse

From my list on middle grade written that tackle grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I worked as a middle school teacher, I surveyed more than 200 students how they felt about books that included sadness and grief. The overwhelming answer from the students was that while adults too often minimize their feelings and dismiss the validity of their heartache, books do not. Many young readers want books that are honest and raw enough not to shield them from the world, but to pay enough attention to its pain to light a path, knowing that they can keep moving forward in the dark when they feel less alone and less afraid.

Dana's book list on middle grade written that tackle grief

Dana VanderLugt Why did Dana love this book?

Another novel in verse, I loved Rajani LaRocca’s Red, White, and Whole for its emotional complexity.

Though a work of fiction, LaRocca has said that many of the aspects of the book are based on her own experience growing up as an Indian American in the 1980s. In the story, thirteen-year-old Reha straddles two worlds: expected to honor Indian traditions and expectations at home, while fitting into the life of an American teenager at school.

But when Reha’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, Reha must confront more than just her fear of blood. I love this book for the mirrors and windows it provides readers of all ages.

By Rajani LaRocca,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Red, White, and Whole as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Newbery Honor Book! A heartbreakingly hopeful novel in verse about an Indian American girl whose life is turned upside down when her mother is diagnosed with leukemia.

* Walter Award Winner * New England Book Award Winner * An NCTE Notable Verse Novel * Golden Kite Award Winner * Goodreads Choice Nominee * A Washington Post Best Children's Book of the Year * An SLJ Best Book of the Year * A BookPage Best Book of the Year * An NYPL Best Book of the Year * A Mighty Girl's Best Book of the Year * An ILA Notable Book…


Book cover of Becoming Joe Dimaggio

Darlene Beck Jacobson Author Of Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully

From my list on in verse with emotional themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love the way verse novels eliminate unnecessary background and scene-setting. They cut straight to the heart of conflict and emotions. We instantly feel what the characters feel. The lyrical flow of words, figurative language, and freedom to arrange the poems in different ways on the pages taps into a different creativity for an author. Each poem stands alone, telling its own story. While writing Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully, eleven-year-old Jack insisted I tell the story his way. Raw, unflinching, unfiltered. I am in love with this form and plan to write more novels in this format. The book is a 2021 NCTE notable verse novel.

Darlene's book list on in verse with emotional themes

Darlene Beck Jacobson Why did Darlene love this book?

This book not only features baseball as a metaphor for what unites us and brings us together, but also celebrates the relationship of a boy and his grandfather who bond over their hero Joe Dimaggio. Set in the 1930’s, it is a beautiful, and heartfelt verse novel for anyone who loves baseball and historical fiction.

By Maria Testa, Scott Hunt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming Joe Dimaggio 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?

"With ineffable tenderness and absolute clarity, Testa tells a tale in blank verse. . . . Powerfully moving as it braids together baseball, family, and the Italian-American experience." — Booklist (starred review)

It's 1936, and the Yankees have just hired a star center fielder whose name sounds like music. What could be a better time for Papa-Angelo's grandson to be born? Christened after the legendary ballplayer, young Joseph Paul learns much at his Italian grandfather's knee — about holding your breath in front of the radio during a 3-2 count with the bases loaded and having the audacity to dream…


Book cover of Closer to Nowhere

Darlene Beck Jacobson Author Of Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully

From my list on in verse with emotional themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love the way verse novels eliminate unnecessary background and scene-setting. They cut straight to the heart of conflict and emotions. We instantly feel what the characters feel. The lyrical flow of words, figurative language, and freedom to arrange the poems in different ways on the pages taps into a different creativity for an author. Each poem stands alone, telling its own story. While writing Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully, eleven-year-old Jack insisted I tell the story his way. Raw, unflinching, unfiltered. I am in love with this form and plan to write more novels in this format. The book is a 2021 NCTE notable verse novel.

Darlene's book list on in verse with emotional themes

Darlene Beck Jacobson Why did Darlene love this book?

Closer to Nowhere explores family dynamics and ‘tween feelings in an honest and realistic way. Two cousins – as opposite as left and right – seem to constantly be at odds. When they take time to actually communicate with each other, they realize they have more in common than they thought. Told in alternating POVs, the reader shares Cal and Hannah’s struggles as they tell them. Told with honesty and compassion.

By Ellen Hopkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Closer to Nowhere 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?

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins's poignant middle grade novel in verse about coming to terms with indelible truths of family and belonging--now in paperback!

For the most part, Hannah's life is just how she wants it. She has two supportive parents, she's popular at school, and she's been killing it at gymnastics. But when her cousin Cal moves in with her family, everything changes. Cal tells half-truths and tall tales, pranks Hannah constantly, and seems to be the reason her parents are fighting more and more. Nothing is how it used to be. She knows that Cal…


Book cover of Jada Jones: Rock Star

Laurie Calkhoven Author Of Roosevelt Banks and the Attic of Doom

From my list on laugh-out-loud chapters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a former book publishing professional turned full-time children’s book author. I’ve never swallowed a frog, battled imaginary bears, or had a slime war with ghosts like my character, Roosevelt Banks, but I have written more than fifty books for children. These range from beginning readers (You Should Meet Misty Copeland) and chapter books (Roosevelt Banks, Good-Kid-in-Training) to middle grade historical novels (Daniel at the Siege of Boston, 1775).

Laurie's book list on laugh-out-loud chapters

Laurie Calkhoven Why did Laurie love this book?

With pockets full of rocks and a purple-dragon T-shirt, science-loving Jada Jones makes her debut in this early chapter book series. When her best friend moves away, school is the last place Jada wants to be, until her teacher announces a project about rocks and minerals. The only problem—she’s in a group with two BFF’s who don’t seem to like her or her ideas. Readers will love reading about Jada’s journey to new friendships and becoming a fourth-grade rock star—setting her up for new challenges in subsequent titles. I love the fact that Lyons created a science-loving girl.

By Kelly Starling Lyons, Vanessa Brantley-Newton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Jada Jones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Fans of Princess Posey and Ivy and Bean will enjoy engaging with science-loving Jada Jones in this easy-to-read chapter book.

When Jada Jones's best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She'd much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada's teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she's in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn't seem to like any of Jada's ideas. She doesn't seem to like…


Book cover of Dough Boys

Laurie Morrison Author Of Coming Up Short

From my list on for athletes and non-athletes alike.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved watching and playing sports, and now I love writing about them, too. As a former teacher, I’ve seen firsthand how sporty books appeal to sporty kids. But after publishing my novel Up for Air, which is about a star swimmer, I’ve been struck by how many readers tell me they connected deeply with the main character even though they don’t like sports at all. That made me think about what makes sports stories resonate, and now I look out for books that capitalize on all the most exciting and relatable things about sports while also offering compelling hooks to readers with all sorts of interests.

Laurie's book list on for athletes and non-athletes alike

Laurie Morrison Why did Laurie love this book?

I love Dough Boys because it’s an engrossing, authentic story about basketball, music, friendship, and the hard decisions thirteen-year-old kids sometimes have to make. It follows Rollie and Simp, best friends who play on an elite basketball team in their low-income neighborhood...but playing on the team means getting involved as lookouts for a local drug ring, and the boys have very different feelings about the pressures and responsibilities they face. Basketball scenes provide an entryway into important topics, and through the two well-developed protagonists, Chase explores what happens when a sport feels like your only chance at the future you want, and what happens when you’re no longer sure you love a game that used to be part of your identity.

By Paula Chase,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dough Boys 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?

In the companion to her acclaimed So Done, Paula Chase follows best friends Simp and Rollie as their friendship is threatened by the pressures of basketball, upcoming auditions, middle school, and their growing involvement in the local drug ring.

Dough Boys is a memorably vivid story about the complex friendship between two African American boys whose lives are heading down very different paths. For fans of Jason Reynolds's Ghost and Rebecca Stead's Goodbye Stranger.

Deontae "Simp" Wright has big plans for his future. Plans that involve basketball, his best friend, Rollie, and making enough money to get his mom and…


Book cover of To Break a Covenant

Katya de Becerra Author Of What the Woods Keep

From my list on horror with mixed media format.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author of horror and thrillers, I have always been drawn to big mysteries, the darker the better. I blame this fascination on my love of David Lynch movies, which had originated in my early teens and persists to this day. I have also found that incorporating ‘found objects’ into mixed media narratives can help better simulate reality while also twisting it in unpredictable ways. It is no surprise that my debut What the Woods Keep is a mixed media genre-bender. While this storytelling method is not new, recent horror novels have used it in incredibly inventive and impactful ways. 

Katya's book list on horror with mixed media format

Katya de Becerra Why did Katya love this book?

A recent addition to the horror genre, this excellent debut novel excels in creating a surreal narrative drenched in dark atmosphere. To Break a Covenant centers around a terrifying, fractured faux-documentary about a town under control of a sinister presence. I dare you to read creepy descriptions of ‘found’ footage and not feel a chill as this mystery unfolds. 

By Alison Ames,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Break a Covenant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Debut voice Alison Ames delivers with a chilling, feminist thriller, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Sawkill Girls.

Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. It started when an explosion in the mine killed sixteen people. The disaster made it impossible to live in town, with underground fires spewing ash into the sky. But life in New Basin is just as fraught. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there's more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit, and the mine still has a hold…


Book cover of Making Friends

Steph Mided Author Of Club Kick Out! Into the Ring

From my list on middle grade inspiring creativity in their readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been drawing and writing ever since I could hold a pencil, and a big inspiration for me to start my lifelong creative journey were graphic novels. So even as an adult, I love to read work from a wide range of genres and age ranges to see what my fellow authors and artists are up to. Especially making my own middle grade graphic novel series, I look up to so many of the authors and artists on this list and chances are you and your kids will too if you pick one of these up!

Steph's book list on middle grade inspiring creativity in their readers

Steph Mided Why did Steph love this book?

Making Friends is a fun, thoughtful graphic novel that overflows with creativity!

It centers around a middle schooler who feels lonely so she uses a magic sketchbook to design her dream best friend and to her surprise- she becomes real! It brings me right back to the days of doodling for hours on end and dreaming of all the possibilities of the future! It’s also a good message for young readers that even the most hard-to-express emotions can be worked out through art.

Even as an adult it’s inspired me to keep drawing and keep dreaming. 

By Kristen Gudsnuk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making Friends 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 heart-warming graphic novel that thoughtfully explores
friendship, family and school issues.
Danielle needs a perfect friend, but sometimes making
(or creating) one is a lot easier than keeping one!

Sixth grade was SO much easier for Dany - she knew exactly
what to expect out of life.

Now that she's in seventh grade, she's in a new middle school,
her friends are in different classes and forming new cliques, and
she is totally lost.

What Dany really needs is a new best friend!

So when she inherits a magic sketchbook, she
draws Madison, the most amazing, perfect, and awesome…


Book cover of I Like You

Sarah Williamson Author Of Elevator Bird

From my list on teaching kids kindness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Of all the lessons that we should be teaching kids, I think kindness should be at the top of everyone’s list. If people treated every human and sentient being with kindness and compassion the world would be a better place, which is something we all want. The more we can illustrate this for children the better so that they can understand that we are all in this together and that everyone deserves respect.

Sarah's book list on teaching kids kindness

Sarah Williamson Why did Sarah love this book?

I love this charming book about the kindness that comes with friendship. Pen drawings accompany the text, which is at certain times silly, other times fun, and at the best of times poignant. Point in case:

“And I like you because

When I am feeling sad you don’t always cheer me up right away

Sometimes it is better to be sad."

I’m not sure every child would understand the significance of that sentence. But the words at some point in their lives will come back around. The book lists reasons why we like our friends, namely because they offer us kindness and empathy when we are down. And when we are up, they take pleasure in the moment right alongside us – a valuable lesson for kids.

By Sandol Stoddard Warburg, Jacqueline Chwast (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Like You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic and funny hardcover picture book is the perfect way to say I like you.

A deeply affectionate celebration of all the reasons we like each other, here is the book that Romeo would have given Juliet, Charlie Brown would have given Snoopy, and you can give to some very special friend.

This book expresses the true meaning of friendship in a long list of ways with charming accompanying illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast. For example: I like you because you know where I'm ticklish, and you don't tickle me there except just a little tiny bit sometimes!

Whether for…


Book cover of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Kris Dinnison Author Of You And Me And Him

From my list on YA with fabulous plus-size heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always felt like a bit of a misfit. I was taller, bigger, and clumsier than the other kids. I listened to the wrong music, wore the wrong clothes, and read the wrong books. I wasn’t cool. And when I became a high school teacher, I saw many kids, especially young women, who I could see felt the same. When Young Adult literature came into its own, I really loved all the wonderful ways YA stories were telling the stories of the kids who didn’t fit in, and it made me want to read them, and eventually write one of my own.

Kris' book list on YA with fabulous plus-size heroines

Kris Dinnison Why did Kris love this book?

I was teaching high school when this novel came out over twenty years ago, and it immediately struck a chord with me, and with my students. This story of a lifelong friendship and the pain that comes with growing up has so many great characters. But Carmen has always been my favorite. The relationship with her father, her emergence into the (literal) spotlight, and her willingness to speak her mind to her loved ones, make her, for me, the true heroine of this novel. One of my favorite moments is her surprise and wonder when the pants actually fit her, not just her skinny friends. The idea that she had access to all the things they did, regardless of her size, is a beautiful metaphor for living. 

By Ann Brashares,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 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?

Carmen, Tibby, Lena and Bridget have been best friends all their lives. They live in the same small American town and usually spend every moment of their long summer holidays together. The year they turn 16 is the first time they have separate plans for the summer but the girls are determined to keep in touch. Tibby buys a pair of jeans in a second-hand shop and the girls discover that the trousers magically fit each of them perfectly, despite their different figures and heights. They hit upon a wonderful plan of sharing the jeans throughout the vacation - sending…


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