100 books like Prairie Lotus

By Linda Sue Park,

Here are 100 books that Prairie Lotus fans have personally recommended if you like Prairie Lotus. 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 Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963

Frances M. Wood Author Of Daughter of Madrugada

From my list on bringing American history alive for middle graders.

Why am I passionate about this?

A reader. A librarian. A writer. I majored in History/English in college, partly because I love historical novels. When my editor asked that my second book be set during the California Gold Rush, I knew I wanted to write from the Mexican point of view - I’m a quarter Mexican. I soon found myself deep in research, learning about those years when Mexico owned what is now the American Southwest. Writing Daughter of Madrugada left me wondering: were some of my own ancestors displaced by American encroachment?

Frances' book list on bringing American history alive for middle graders

Frances M. Wood Why did Frances love this book?

This is one of the funniest, and saddest, books ever. When Kenny starts telling the story, it’s dead winter in Flint. Michigan. Cold enough to make your spit freeze. Momma, who grew up in Alabama, begins yearning for the South. By reputation, Momma’s momma is the strictest, meanest grandma ever. Kenny - who’s never met her - decides Grandma Sands must look like a troll. Dad and Momma decide that Grandma Sands is the perfect person to straighten out big brother Byron, who shows signs of turning into a juvenile delinquent. So... Join the Watsons. Get in their car (also known as the Brown Bomber), listen to the tires roll onto I-75, and imagine what’s going to happen when Byron meets his doom.

By Christopher Paul Curtis,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 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?

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree about an unforgettable family on a road-trip during one of the most important times in the civil rights movement.

When the Watson family-ten-year-old Kenny, Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron-sets out on a trip south to visit Grandma in Birmingham, Alabama, they don't realize that they're heading toward one of the darkest moments in America's history. The Watsons' journey reminds us that even in the hardest times, laughter and family can help us get through anything.

"A modern classic." -NPR

"Marvelous . . . both comic…


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 The War That Saved My Life

Katherine Marsh Author Of The Lost Year: A Survival Story of the Ukrainian Famine

From my list on historical fiction to read with middle schoolers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Not only have I written six critically acclaimed novels for middle-grade readers, including three historical fictions, I am the parent of a tween and teen who is always looking for great read-alouds and read-alongs for my own family. I am a firm believer that this is a valuable way to encourage literacy and love of story as I wrote in a recent, much-discussed essay in The Atlantic. Having lived abroad, including as an exchange student and camper in the Soviet Union and for three years in Belgium, I am also a huge believer in expanding our own as well as our kids’ knowledge of history beyond our own borders, cultures, identities, and perspectives. 

Katherine's book list on historical fiction to read with middle schoolers

Katherine Marsh Why did Katherine love this book?

This younger and gentler World War II book is also a great family read aloud—one I read to my own.

After her brother is evacuated during the Blitz, Ada, a young Londoner with a disability kept home by her abusive mother, runs away after him.

Bradley’s story follows a familiar turn: namely the introduction of a seemingly hard-hearted caregiver who turns out to be the very parent Ada needs. But the book hits these notes with precision and warmth, evoking older, beloved classics. There’s also a great sequel!

By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The War That Saved My Life 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
*Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award 

This #1 New York Times bestseller is an exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War II, from the acclaimed author of Fighting Words, and for fans of Fish in a Tree and Sarah, Plain and Tall.
 
Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.
 
So begins a…


Book cover of Beyond the Bright Sea

Kate McCarroll Moore Author Of Elinormal

From my list on navigating middle school years with honesty & empathy.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a former middle school teacher and librarian, I know first-hand the power of story to motivate and teach. Over the years, I have also been lucky enough to facilitate several mother-daughter book groups and have found that books that show characters wrestling with decisions about doing the right thing, and recovering from bad choices, help to show children that there is always hope. Middle school is a time of such challenge and change, and stories that show authentically drawn characters navigating this tough terrain can act as guideposts. Becoming independent, finding your voice, growing empathy, and cherishing family and friends are necessary steps to becoming confident and healthy humans.

Kate's book list on navigating middle school years with honesty & empathy

Kate McCarroll Moore Why did Kate love this book?

I read this book with my mother-daughter book group and we all loved it!

The story focuses on the quest for twelve-year-old Crow to discover where she came from and who she truly is. It’s a story filled with suspense and intrigue fueled by Crow’s insatiable curiosity. There are powerful lessons here for Crow and for the lucky readers who follow her journey. The writing is hauntingly beautiful!

By Lauren Wolk,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Beyond the Bright Sea 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?

'Harper Lee has a worthy successor. Wolk is a big new talent' - The Times

Crow has lived her whole life on a tiny, starkly beautiful island. Her only companions are Osh, the man who rescued her from a washed-up skiff as a baby and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their neighbour across the sandbar. But it is only when a mysterious fire appears across the water that an unspoken question of her own history forms in Crow's heart, and an unstoppable chain of events is triggered. Crow sets out to find her lost identity - and, ultimately, to learn…


Book cover of Finding Langston

Ellen Mulholland Author Of This Girl Climbs Trees

From my list on middle grade dealing with death, dying, and grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with life and death. As a child, my own life was fairly mundane and even joyful. However, I went through loss like most. We lost two dogs when I was maybe seven or nine. Then my beagle Suzy, who we had the longest, was struck by a car on a rainy day. A few years later, my grandfather passed from cancer. Watching my mother grieve stuck with me. It shaped me—how I cared about life, how I longed to understand it. Once I decided to write stories for children, I knew it could be a safe place to explore my hidden feelings.

Ellen's book list on middle grade dealing with death, dying, and grief

Ellen Mulholland Why did Ellen love this book?

This is a warm hug book. The kind that sneaks up on you when you’re reading words. Langston is a lovable main character. His story is rich with family, tradition, loss, and poetry. He is eleven when his mother dies, and his dad decides they must leave Alabama. So many changes for this boy as he is bullied and deals with segregation in 1940s Chicago. But he discovers the library that welcomes all. Such a sweet story and perfect for younger middle grade readers.

By Lesa Cline-Ransome,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Finding Langston 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 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
Winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

When eleven-year-old Langston's father moves them from their home in Alabama to Chicago's Bronzeville district, it feels like he's giving up everything he loves.

It's 1946. Langston's mother has just died, and now they're leaving the rest of his family and friends. He misses everything--Grandma's Sunday suppers, the red dirt roads, and the magnolia trees his mother loved.

In the city, they live in a small apartment surrounded by noise and chaos. It doesn't feel like a new start, or a better life. At…


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 Bayou Magic

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?

Maddy is a city kid spending her first summer alone at her Grandmère’s house on the bayou in Louisiana. Her grandmother is a little bit strange, but she and Maddy get along perfectly and can even read each other’s minds. At Grandmère’s side, Maddy learns to cook, to care for her chickens, to make healing potions, study the weather and tides, but she also learns not to stare, not to mumble, not to be quick to judge. And when an environmental and emotional disaster occurs, Maddy is called on to lead and to heal all on her own. Her triumph is thanks to what she learned from Grandmère. This multigenerational story, gorgeously written by Coretta Scott King award-winner Rhodes, is heartwarming and exciting and Maddy’s survival skills are impressive.

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

If only Maddy can see the mermaid, can it be real?

It's Maddy's turn to have a bayou summer. At first she misses life back home in the city, but soon she grows to love everything about her new surroundings -- the glimmering fireflies, the glorious landscape, and something else, deep within the water, that only Maddy sees. Could it be a mermaid? As her grandmother shares wisdom about sayings and signs, Maddy realizes she may be the only sibling to carry on her family's magical legacy. And when a disastrous oil leak threatens the bayou, she knows she may…


Book cover of The Night Diary

Irfan Shah Author Of Sigh For A Strange Land

From my list on displaced people.

Why am I passionate about this?

A combination of things led me to this topic: My father was forced to leave his home in northern India during partition and was therefore a child refugee. In 2016, I was filming in Ukraine and became hugely interested in what was happening there. I have looked for a way to help ever since then. Discovering Monica Stirling’s novel about refugees from East Europe, I realised that here was an opportunity to help give voice to the refugee experience; to help raise funds for Ukraine, and to help bring back to life an incredible story written by an author who deserves to be rediscovered.

Irfan's book list on displaced people

Irfan Shah Why did Irfan love this book?

A children’s book that adults will enjoy, The Night Diary is the story of twelve-year-old Nisha, half-Muslim, half-Hindu, and caught up in the tragedy of partition – where Pakistan and India separated in the aftermath of India’s independence from Britain.

Nisha is about to experience the disorientation and fear that comes when a family decides to flee for safety. Nisha’s story is told through a series of letters to her mother as she leaves what is now Pakistan, to find a home and an identity. Her predicament – that of a desperate search not just for physical safety but for hope - reminds me of that of Resi, the main character in Sigh For A Strange Land, who wants nothing more than to find that "'tomorrow' is not a threatening word."

By Veera Hiranandani,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Night Diary 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?

It's 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.

Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn't know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it's too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha…


Book cover of One Jar of Magic

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?

Haydu is a master at using fantasy as a metaphor for real-life trauma. What I love about One Jar in particular is Haydu’s delicate pacing as Rose, who has always idealized her father, slowly comes to the realization that he’s been manipulating her into believing she’s destined for a special kind of magic and—in an even more devastating betrayal—has made her believe there is only one definition of special. When Rose doesn’t measure up to that definition, she blames herself until the evidence against her father becomes too overwhelming to ignore. It’s a masterful portrait of an abusive parent using divisiveness to keep everyone in their place, and of a young girl rising above her father’s machinations and redefining “special” for herself.

By Corey Ann Haydu,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked One Jar of Magic 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 the critically acclaimed author of Eventown comes a hopeful and empowering tale set in an enchanting world of magic and mysterious family secrets-perfect for fans of Anne Ursu, Rebecca Stead, and Wendy Mass.

Magic is like a dream. Delightful. Terrifying. Unreal.

Rose Alice Anders is Little Luck. Lucky to be born into the Anders family. Lucky to be just as special and magical as the most revered man in town-her father. The whole town has been waiting for Rose to turn twelve, when she can join them in their annual capturing of magic on New Year's Day and become…


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