10 books like Eastern Sun, Winter Moon

By Gary Paulsen,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Eastern Sun, Winter Moon. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

By Bill Bryson,

Book cover of The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

The title might sound like fiction, but the Thunderbolt Kid is simply an imaginary superhero version of himself that Bryson created as a child. Mostly, this trope is used sparingly throughout the book, which is a memoir of growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, in the 1950s. Bryson brings plenty of humor to the work, as well as a wistful nostalgia for the era. He is roughly a decade older than me, but I identified greatly with his descriptions of the time period. Plus, he and I were both fans of The Roy Rogers Show on TV, though Bryson seems a little more put off than I was about how the show couldn’t seem to decide which century the characters were living in.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of our most beloved and bestselling authors, a vivid, nostalgic, and utterly hilarious memoir of growing up in the 1950s.

Born in 1951 in the middle of the United States, Des Moines, Iowa, Bill Bryson is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24 carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generation, Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around the house wearing a jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel round his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings…


An American Childhood

By Annie Dillard,

Book cover of An American Childhood

Annie Dillard, probably best known for her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, is masterful with words and brings all of her writing abilities to this memoir of growing up in Pittsburgh. For a city girl, she is especially entranced by nature as she gathers in her bedroom a rock collection that seems to foretell a career as a geologist that never happened. But it’s her tales of her father that are the most striking to me because as a child I didn’t know any fathers quite like him. He once set off alone on a long-planned river trip from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. Most wonderful of all, he had a role in the 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead. Finally, think of the title Dillard chose for her memoir: An American Childhood. In many ways, her childhood was no more unique than any other…

An American Childhood

By Annie Dillard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An American Childhood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"[An American Childhood] combines the child's sense of wonder with the adult's intelligence and is written in some of the finest prose that exists in contemporary America. It is a special sort of memoir that is entirely successful...This new book is [Annie Dillard's] best, a joyous ode to her own happy childhood."  — Chicago Tribune

A book that instantly captured the hearts of readers across the country, An American Childhood is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Dillard's poignant, vivid memoir of growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1950s and 60s. 

Dedicated to her parents - from whom she learned a love…


Morningstar

By Ann Hood,

Book cover of Morningstar: Growing Up with Books

I was a huge bookworm as a boy, so I identified greatly with Ann Hood’s memoir that focuses on her own love of reading, which she developed as a child growing up in Rhode Island. While I still enjoy reading as an adult, nothing matches the way I could lose myself in a Hardy Boys adventure or a Doctor Dolittle tale as a youngster. Hood captures this total-book-immersion experience as she recalls reading Little Women, one of the first books to whisk her away to a different world. The title of this memoir refers to another of Hood’s beloved books, Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk.

Morningstar

By Ann Hood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her admired works of fiction, Ann Hood explores the transformative power of literature. Now, with warmth and honesty, Hood reveals the personal story behind these works of fiction.

Growing up in a household that didn't foster the love of literature, Hood channelled her imagination and curiosity by devouring The Bell Jar, Marjorie Morningstar, The Harrad Experiment and other works. These titles introduced her to topics that could not be discussed at home: desire, fear, sexuality and madness. Later, Johnny Got His Gun and The Grapes of Wrath influenced her political thinking and Dr. Zhivago and Les Miserables stoked her…


The Yearling

By Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings,

Book cover of The Yearling

My only fiction pick, this classic novel set in Florida in the 1870s is about 12-year-old Jody Baxter and his friendship with a fawn. I became familiar with this coming-of-age tale in an unusual way. In seventh grade, I was on a school speech team, and one of the other kids competed in the storytelling competition using an excerpt from The Yearling. That excerpt included the moment when Jody’s father talks to him about becoming a man: “What’s he to do when he gits knocked down? Why, take it for his share and go on.” That phrase stuck with me, and was even more powerful years later when I read the novel in its entirety and learned all that Jody had gone through by the time he and his father reached that moment.

The Yearling

By Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Yearling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Yearling is a novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings published in March 1938. It has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, French, Japanese, German, Italian, Russian and 22 other languages. It won the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel.
Rawlings's editor was Maxwell Perkins, who also worked with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and other literary luminaries. She had submitted several projects to Perkins for his review, and he rejected them all. He advised her to write about what she knew from her own life, and The Yearling was the result.


Herman Melville's Whaling Years

By Wilson Heflin, Mary K. Bercaw Edwards (editor), Thomas Farel Heffernan (editor)

Book cover of Herman Melville's Whaling Years

Wilson Heflin’s indispensable but unfinished account of Melville’s life at sea from 1841-45, here lovingly edited by two experts on Melville and maritime life, unearths the full story and factual basis of Melville’s Pacific travels. Drawing from logbooks, consular records, newspaper accounts, and museum archives from around the world, Heflin reveals what Melville knew and fictionalized in his books. Highly readable for novices and scholars alike, this book provides an exciting entrée into early shipboard adventures and dangers and a chronicle of places and people around the globe—many long gone. 

Herman Melville's Whaling Years

By Wilson Heflin, Mary K. Bercaw Edwards (editor), Thomas Farel Heffernan (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Herman Melville's Whaling Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on more than a half-century of research, this work examines on of the most stimulating period's of Melville's life - the four years he spent aboard whaling vessels in the Pacific during the early 1940s.


Mango Rash

By Nan Sanders Pokerwinski,

Book cover of Mango Rash: Coming of Age in the Land of Frangipani and Fanta

Put on your flowered shirt and place a flower in your hair to be taken away to the beautiful island of Samoa. This page-turning memoir chronicles the author’s struggles with adolescence against the backdrop of a changing Samoan culture. With lyrical language, Ms. Pokerwinski paints true-to-life scenes of the island and the Samoan people. The situations and the fascinating characters will keep you reading. I thoroughly enjoyed reliving memories of the 60s such as the music of the Beach Boys, White Rain Conditioner, and Tangee lipstick. If you witnessed life in the 60s, you will identify with the author and enjoy her humor and sass. 

Mango Rash

By Nan Sanders Pokerwinski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mango Rash as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Moving to a South Pacific island from small town Oklahoma, sixteen year old Nancy Sanders trades cruising Main Street in search of tater tots for strolling sandy shores with islanders who feast on sea worms and summon sharks with song.



With a dash of teenage sass, MANGO RASH chronicles Nancy's search for adventure—and identity—in two alien realms: the tricky terrain of adolescence and the remote U.S. territory of American Samoa. Against a backdrop of lava-rimmed beaches, frangipani-laced air, and sensual music, Nancy immerses herself in 1960s island culture with a colorful cast of Samoan and American expat kids.



But life…


Blitz Families

By Penny Starns,

Book cover of Blitz Families: The Children Who Stayed Behind

We’re all familiar with wartime images of young evacuees gathered together on railway stations. But over fifty percent of children were not evacuated from British cities, and it is they that Penny Starns has studied. Once we get past the mothers’ ‘keep or send’ moral dilemma, there are the issues of discipline, education, health, food, and psychological development to consider. Starns takes these subjects chapter by chapter, relating stories of disease, poverty, criminality, and terror (including one child who spent the night in a shelter within reach of an unexploded bomb). These tales she counterpoints with examples of unexpectedly increasing emotional and physical wellbeing amongst some of the stay-behinds. This is an important record of the experiences of a demographic that war histories often ignore.

Blitz Families

By Penny Starns,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blitz Families as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mass evacuation of children and new and expectant mothers during the Second World War is well documented. But over fifty per cent of children were not evacuated during the War, and it is these young people who offer an unrivalled view of what life was like during the bombing raids in Britain's cities. In Blitz Families Penny Starns takes a new look at the children whose parents refused to bow to official pressure and kept their beloved children with them throughout the War. As she documents family after family which made this difficult decision, she uncovers tales of the…


The Power of One

By Bryce Courtenay,

Book cover of The Power of One

Never would I expect to fall in love with a book whose anchor is boxing, but that’s exactly what happened when I read The Power of One. Possibly because Peekay—an abandoned boy of English heritage growing up in South Africa after the Boer War and during the rise of Nazi Germany—is so damn loveable. Possibly because the author is adept at weaving audacious characters, cultural clash, and mysticism into a delightful yet thought-provoking yarn. The Power of One had me at chapter one when Peekay’s Zulu nanny, a medicine man, and a chicken named Granpa Chook cure his “night water.” It takes some fancy footwork for Peekay to go from bed-wetter to welterweight champion of the world, and I was in the ring with him every step of the way.

The Power of One

By Bryce Courtenay,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Power of One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“The Power of One has everything: suspense, the exotic, violence; mysticism, psychology and magic; schoolboy adventures, drama.”
–The New York Times

“Unabashedly uplifting . . . asserts forcefully what all of us would like to believe: that the individual, armed with the spirit of independence–‘the power of one’–can prevail.”
–Cleveland Plain Dealer

In 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams–which are nothing compared…


Torpedoed

By Deborah Heiligman,

Book cover of Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of "The Children's Ship"

My own kids absolutely devoured non-fiction when they were middle-graders, and this book would have topped their lists. Torpedoed tells the story of the torpedoing and tragic sinking of the SS City of Benares, an ocean liner bearing English evacuees to Canada. Full of photographs, excerpts from letters, first-person accounts, and ephemera like packing lists, other evacuation paperwork, and even the ship’s emergency drill instructions, Deborah Heiligman’s book belongs in every middle-grade non-fiction collection. There is heartbreak and tragedy in these pages, but there is also extraordinary bravery and heroism. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Torpedoed

By Deborah Heiligman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Amid the constant rain of German bombs and the escalating violence of World War II, British parents by the thousands chose to send their children out of the country: the wealthy, independently; the poor, through a government relocation program called CORB. In September 1940, passenger liner SS City of Benares set out in a convoy of nineteen ships sailing for Canada. On board were ninety CORB children, chaperones, and crew, along with paying passengers. When the war ships escorting the Benares to safe waters peeled off and the way forward seemed certain, a German submarine attacked and torpedoed the Benares.…


Witnesses of War

By Nicholas Stargardt,

Book cover of Witnesses of War: Children's Lives Under the Nazis

Nick Stargardt’s Witnesses of War is the kind of book I’d love to write – it’s really one of the most comprehensive and accessible studies of children’s experiences under Nazism out there. The author doesn’t shy away from describing the lives of the Third Reich’s youthful victims in harrowing detail, but he also explores the lives of children who were seduced by the Nazi dictatorship. "In war," he writes, "all children are victims." 

Witnesses of War

By Nicholas Stargardt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witnesses of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Even in this most murderous of European wars, children were not merely passive victims of genocide, bombing, mechanised warfare, starvation policies and mass flight. They were also active participants, going out to smuggle food, ply the black market, and care for sick parents and siblings. As they absorbed the brutal new realities of German occupation, Polish boys played at being Gestapo interrogators, and Jewish children at being ghetto guards or the SS. Within days of Germany's own surrender, German children were playing at being Russian soldiers. As they imagined themselves in the roles of their enemies, children expressed their hopes,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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