100 books like Front Desk

By Kelly Yang,

Here are 100 books that Front Desk fans have personally recommended if you like Front Desk. 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 A Place at the Table

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of Strangers in Jerusalem

From my list on bringing Muslims and Jews together.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a rabbi and educator who lives in the midst of a large Jewish community and a large Muslim community. But up until about 10 or so years ago, I had no Muslim friends. My wife and I set out to change that. (She formed the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom and I benefited as a plus one.) I am also the author of nearly 100 books, a growing number of which are for children and some focus on the relationship between Muslims and Jews. 

Kerry's book list on bringing Muslims and Jews together

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did Kerry love this book?

There are so few young adult novels that demonstrate positive relationships between Muslim kids and Jewish kids. This one succeeds masterfully.

The main characters in the story come from very different backgrounds and seem to share little in common. Their friendship grows slowly, and eventually they learn to trust one another. This story shows both the risks and rewards of such a friendship. With taking risks, there can be no reward.  

By Saadia Faruqi, Laura Shovan,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Place at the Table 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?

A timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.

Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression.

The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has…


Book cover of The Bridge Home

Lisa Lewis Tyre Author Of Hope in the Holler

From my list on to help kids build empathy for those in need.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of two middle grade books, and I love writing about kids who may not have much materially but abound in heart and courage. I grew up in a small southern town and my childhood was just like that—low on income but full of love, hope, and friendship. I want kids to know that despite their circumstances there is hope for a better life. Like Wavie’s mom tells her in my book, Hope In The Holler, “You’ve got as much right to a good life as anybody. So go find it!”

Lisa's book list on to help kids build empathy for those in need

Lisa Lewis Tyre Why did Lisa love this book?

I’ve been to India three times and I love to share books that show its complex, beautiful, and sometimes brutal culture. When sisters Viji and Rukku leave home to escape their abusive father, readers are given a detailed look at what living on the streets of India is like for many children. It’s a realistic lesson on the caste system and abject poverty, all wrapped in a compelling story; and I am always a fan of books that show siblings that care deeply for one another. I also hope it sparks an interest in that amazing country and its inhabitants.

By Padma Venkatraman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Bridge Home 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?

"Readers will be captivated by this beautifully written novel about young people who must use their instincts and grit to survive. Padma shares with us an unflinching peek into the reality millions of homeless children live every day but also infuses her story with hope and bravery that will inspire readers and stay with them long after turning the final page."--Aisha Saeed, author of the New York Times Bestselling Amal Unbound

Cover may vary.

Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman's stirring middle-grade debut.

Life is harsh in Chennai's teeming streets, so when runaway sisters…


Book cover of New Kid

Alyssa Bermudez Author Of Big Apple Diaries

From my list on graphic novels for young readers to encourage empathy.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a graphic novel creator and art teacher with years of experience, I understand the importance of introducing serious topics for discussion in an accessible way. My art students of all ages are curious about different subjects, wondering what life is like for others and if their own feelings are normal. Graphic novels are a perfect tool for fostering these discussions. Having been interested in comics as a medium for a long time, I'm thrilled to share this with young audiences and encourage exploration of diverse perspectives.

Alyssa's book list on graphic novels for young readers to encourage empathy

Alyssa Bermudez Why did Alyssa love this book?

Representation in literature matters, and Jerry Craft's book offers a unique perspective on a young boy's experience of transferring to a private middle school where he stands out due to his race and socioeconomic background.

The book thoughtfully highlights microaggressions and their impact, making it an essential read for children. It's an excellent starting point for important conversations on race, identity, and friendship.

By Jerry Craft,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked New Kid 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?

Winner of the Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Author Award, and Kirkus Prize for Young Readers' Literature!

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang, New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft.

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is…


Book cover of A Good Kind of Trouble

Jasmine Warga Author Of The Shape of Thunder

From my list on middle grade with heart and honesty.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a middle grade author, and I believe so much in the power of books to help broker conversations between kids and the adults in their lives, especially if those conversations are about things that are often tricky and tough to talk about. I love how middle grade fiction will fearlessly tackle these difficult topics, but does so well with heart and humor. 

Jasmine's book list on middle grade with heart and honesty

Jasmine Warga Why did Jasmine love this book?

A Good Kind of Trouble is the beautiful story that follows the main character, Shayla, as she learns to use her voice and speak up for things that matters to her. The book has everything I love in a middle grade novel like humor and heart (Lisa is a master at describing junior high friendships and crushes!), but also engages honestly with the reader about important things like racism and social justice. This book can serve as a fantastic conversation starter for kids and parents and kids and teachers.

By Lisa Moore Ramée,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Good Kind of Trouble 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?

From debut author Lisa Moore Ramee comes this funny and big-hearted debut middle grade novel about friendship, family, and standing up for what's right, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give and the novels of Renee Watson and Jason Reynolds.

Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she'd also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)

But in junior high, it's like all the rules have changed.…


Book cover of You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P!

Rebecca Petruck Author Of Boy Bites Bug

From my list on good allyship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I think most white kids would say—and genuinely believe—they’re not racist. Yet it's impossible in our society not to have absorbed racist and biased thinking. Admitting this is uncomfortable, and knowing what to do to become a better ally can be confusing. By addressing this systemic issue early in a person’s life, we set them up to be empathetic, good listeners who will speak up. A good place to start is to read Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi, & Sonja Cherry-Paul as well as recent novels by people from marginalized communities. There’s adventure, romance, mystery, humor, fantasy, sci-fi—something for everyone! I’ve also highlighted books that demonstrate good allyship.

Rebecca's book list on good allyship

Rebecca Petruck Why did Rebecca love this book?

When Jilly’s sister Emma is born deaf, she realizes the world is going to treat Jilly, who is white and hearing, differently from Emma, and Jilly’s new friend Derek, who is a Deaf, Black ASL user. Within a world where kids like Derek and Emma aren't assured the same freedom or safety as kids like Jilly, Jilly starts to learn all the things she doesn't know–and works to discover how to support her family and friends. Gino uses their trademark humor, heart, and humanity to show readers how being open to difference can make you a better person, and how being open to change can make you change in the best possible ways.

By Alex Gino,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P! 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 new novel from Alex Gino, the award-winning author of George!

Jilly thinks she's figured out how life works. But when her sister
Emma is born Deaf, she realizes how much she still has to learn.

A big fantasy reader, Jilly connects with another fan, Derek, who
is a Deaf Black ASL user. She goes to Derek for advice but doesn't
always know the best way to ask for it and makes some mistakes
along the way. Jilly has to step back to learn to be an ally, a
sister, and a friend, understanding that life works in different
ways…


Book cover of The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Tziporah Cohen Author Of No Vacancy

From my list on middle grade set in motels and hotels.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a kid, staying in a motel, even a run-down one, was a real treat. Flicking on all the switches to see what they controlled, exploring the bathroom for fun soaps and little shampoo bottles, sharing a room with my sister, swimming in the motel pool, and getting to eat sugar cereals at breakfast—all this was a wonderland to me as a kid. It was part of what made writing No Vacancy so much fun. There’s so much you can do with a motel or hotel setting, and I love to see what other authors come up with. I hope you do too!

Tziporah's book list on middle grade set in motels and hotels

Tziporah Cohen Why did Tziporah love this book?

I grew up reading just about everything that Beverly Clearly wrote, and while it would be impossible for me to choose a favorite, Ralph S. Mouse’s adventure with a boy named Keith, who is vacationing in the Mountain View Inn with his family, is one that doesn’t get old, even after all these years. What kid wouldn’t love a story about a talking mouse, not to mention a mouse that saves the day riding a toy motorcycle in search of medicine for his sick new human friend? I certainly did! And if you can’t get enough of Ralph, there are two more books in the series.

By Beverly Cleary, Jacqueline Rogers (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Mouse and the Motorcycle 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?

In this imaginative adventure from Newbery Medal–winning author Beverly Cleary, a young mouse named Ralph is thrown into a world of excitement when a boy and his shiny toy motorcycle check in to the Mountain View Inn.

When the ever-curious Ralph spots Keith's red toy motorcycle, he vows to ride it. So when Keith leaves the bike unattended in his room one day, Ralph makes his move. But with all this freedom (and speed!) come a lot of obstacles. Whether dodging a rowdy terrier or keeping his nosy cousins away from his new wheels, Ralph has a lot going on!…


Book cover of The Inn Between

Tziporah Cohen Author Of No Vacancy

From my list on middle grade set in motels and hotels.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a kid, staying in a motel, even a run-down one, was a real treat. Flicking on all the switches to see what they controlled, exploring the bathroom for fun soaps and little shampoo bottles, sharing a room with my sister, swimming in the motel pool, and getting to eat sugar cereals at breakfast—all this was a wonderland to me as a kid. It was part of what made writing No Vacancy so much fun. There’s so much you can do with a motel or hotel setting, and I love to see what other authors come up with. I hope you do too!

Tziporah's book list on middle grade set in motels and hotels

Tziporah Cohen Why did Tziporah love this book?

Oh, this book! I loved this creepy mystery, set in a strange and isolated inn where something unusual is most definitely going on. The author deftly uses flashbacks to slowly unravel the mystery, and when you figure out what is happening, I guarantee you will gasp. This is a genre-bending book that doesn’t shy away from grappling with emotionally intense issues while being an absolutely riveting read.

By Marina Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Inn Between 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?

Eleven-year-old Quinn has had some bad experiences lately. She was caught cheating in school, and then one day, her little sister, Emma, disappeared while walking home from school. She never returned. When Quinn's best friend, Kara, has to move away, she goes on one last trip with Kara and her family. They stop over at the first hotel they see, a Victorian inn that instantly gives Quinn the creeps, and she begins to notice strange things happening around them. When Kara's parents and then brother disappear without a trace, the girls are stranded in a hotel full of strange guests,…


Book cover of Aliens on Vacation

Tziporah Cohen Author Of No Vacancy

From my list on middle grade set in motels and hotels.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a kid, staying in a motel, even a run-down one, was a real treat. Flicking on all the switches to see what they controlled, exploring the bathroom for fun soaps and little shampoo bottles, sharing a room with my sister, swimming in the motel pool, and getting to eat sugar cereals at breakfast—all this was a wonderland to me as a kid. It was part of what made writing No Vacancy so much fun. There’s so much you can do with a motel or hotel setting, and I love to see what other authors come up with. I hope you do too!

Tziporah's book list on middle grade set in motels and hotels

Tziporah Cohen Why did Tziporah love this book?

From the title to the fantastic cover illustration, you know this book will be a treat. David, nicknamed Scrub, is sent to spend the summer with his grandmother, who owns The Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast. And yes, its clientele is just whom you would expect! Full of hijinks, discoveries, a new friendship, and a meddling, suspicious sheriff (who just happens to be the new friend’s father), this book is a fun, out-of-this-world read.

By Clete Barrett Smith, Christian Slade (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aliens on Vacation 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?

13-year-old David discovers that his grandmother's inn is a portal for comical aliens from all over the universe---a secret that, until now, she has been able to keep from her small town.

Scrub isn't happy about having to spend the summer with his hippie grandmother in "Middle of Nowhere," Washington. When he arrives at her Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast, he's not surprised by its 1960s-meets-Star Wars decor; but he is surprised by the weird looking guests. It turns out that each room in the inn is a portal and his grandma is the gatekeeper, allowing aliens to vacation on Earth.…


Book cover of How to Steal a Dog

Lisa Lewis Tyre Author Of Hope in the Holler

From my list on to help kids build empathy for those in need.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of two middle grade books, and I love writing about kids who may not have much materially but abound in heart and courage. I grew up in a small southern town and my childhood was just like that—low on income but full of love, hope, and friendship. I want kids to know that despite their circumstances there is hope for a better life. Like Wavie’s mom tells her in my book, Hope In The Holler, “You’ve got as much right to a good life as anybody. So go find it!”

Lisa's book list on to help kids build empathy for those in need

Lisa Lewis Tyre Why did Lisa love this book?

This is a wonderful book about homelessness that is full of heart and humor. I love that it explores the question of whether it’s okay to do something wrong, in this case stealing a dog for the reward money, when you’re desperate for money. This is an entertaining way to teach kids about the reality of living out of a car, the choices kids and their parents must navigate when impoverished, and how we often make biased assumptions when we encounter those less fortunate than ourselves.

By Barbara O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Steal a Dog 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?

Half of me was thinking, Georgina, don't do this. Stealing a dog is just plain wrong. The other half of me was thinking, Georgina, you're in a bad fix and you got to do whatever it takes to get yourself out of it.

Georgina Hayes is desperate. Ever since her father left and they were evicted from their apartment, her family has been living in their car. With her mama juggling two jobs and trying to make enough money to find a place to live, Georgina is stuck looking after her younger brother, Toby. And she has her heart set…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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