10 books like The Lions of Little Rock

By Kristin Levine,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Lions of Little Rock. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Nickel Boys

By Colson Whitehead,

Book cover of The Nickel Boys

An unflinching and raw look at the early twentieth-century juvenile justice system for two, young Black boys named Elwood and Turner. The Nickel Boys explores how Elwood and Turner come to depend on one another through times of unimaginable trauma, loss of innocence, and grief. Sometimes your family is the one person standing right next to you and that bond not even the evilest of actions can break.

The Nickel Boys

By Colson Whitehead,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Nickel Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In this Pulitzer Prize-winning follow-up to The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys unjustly sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.
 
When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way…


To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee,

Book cover of To Kill a Mockingbird

Told from the point-of-view of a young girl, Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird masterfully immerses us in fictional Maycomb, Alabama, where racial prejudice and inequities are part of the fabric of the town. Against that backdrop, the precocious Scout, gently guided by Atticus Finch, her father, learns the roots and consequences of racism and otherness. Scout is every outsider child of the South who has questioned norms and stood up against fear-based hatred. This book got deeply under my skin, in my cells, when I read it in high school. I understood Scout and cheered her on from the sidelines.

To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel - a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped…


Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

By Mildred D. Taylor,

Book cover of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

By the time Mildred Taylor received the Newbery Award for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry in 1977, I had moved on to reading historical fiction for adults. In grad school I studied all of the Newbery winners to learn how to write literary fiction for young readers, and I fell in love with the whole Logan family at first read, especially the nine-year-old narrator, Cassie. Taylor had the exceptional talent of being able to climb inside a child’s mind and take the reader through her lived experience with stunning psychological depth and truth. With heartfelt humanity, Cassie’s narrative puts readers inside a loving, proud, and independent land-owning Black family defying racism in 1933 Mississippi. 

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

By Mildred D. Taylor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The stunning repackage of a timeless Newbery Award Winner, with cover art by two-time Caldecott Honor Award winner Kadir Nelson!

With the land to hold them together, nothing can tear the Logans apart.

Why is the land so important to Cassie's family? It takes the events of one turbulent year-the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she is black-to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family's lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride, for no…


The Bluest Eye

By Toni Morrison,

Book cover of The Bluest Eye

Her haunting classic that was always both on point and ahead of its time. Beloved was her big hit, but this was always my favorite. It’s sparse and slim—you can read it in a day—but it lingers with you. Made this young teenage white boy really think about race at a time when it was the furthest thing from my mind.

The Bluest Eye

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Bluest Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read the searing first novel from the celebrated author of Beloved, which immerses us in the tragic, torn lives of a poor black family in post-Depression 1940s Ohio.

Unlovely and unloved, Pecola prays each night for blue eyes like those of her privileged white schoolfellows. At once intimate and expansive, unsparing in its truth-telling, The Bluest Eye shows how the past savagely defines the present. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison's virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterised her writing.

'She…


Takedown

By Laura Shovan,

Book cover of Takedown

If you thought competitive wrestling was just for boys, then think again, because this book is bound to suplex that idea into submission for you. There’s so much to love about Takedown. Laura Shovan gives us two stories in one with a dual-POV narration by Mikayla and Lev. Both are packed with tension, humor, and their own unique voice. Combine that with the added bonus of a gender-stereotype-busting story and you’ve got all the makings of an amazing book with a very powerful message. 

Takedown

By Laura Shovan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discover what happens when one girl wants to break barriers in a sport dominated by boys in this exciting and thoughtful novel by the author of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary.

Mikayla is a wrestler; when you grow up in a house full of brothers who wrestle, it's inevitable. It's also a way to stay connected to her brothers and her dad. Some people object to having a girl on the team. But that's not stopping Mikayla. She's going to work hard, and win.

Lev is determined to make it to the state championships this year. He's used…


The Great Greene Heist

By Varian Johnson,

Book cover of The Great Greene Heist

Who doesn’t love a middle school con artist with a heart of gold? Jackson Greene thinks he’s out of the scam business forever, until he believes that the fix is in on the next student council election. The only way he can take down the school bully and student council president candidate, Keith Sinclair, is to pull off the biggest con the school has ever seen. The diverse cast of characters makes this book feel like Ocean’s 11 for tweens. Each kid has his or her own “specialty” and Jackson is the guy who brings them all together. The book also reminded me of the Kiki Strike series, but in a more realistic setting. Could anything like The Great Greene Heist really happen in a middle school? Well, no, but the book is just a great time from beginning to end.

The Great Greene Heist

By Varian Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Saving the school -- one con at a time. (And in paperback!)

"A political heist page-turner set in middle school? Is that even possible? Varian Johnson shows us how it's done." - Gordon Korman, author of SWINDLE "Do yourself a favor and start reading immediately." - Rebecca Stead, author of WHEN YOU REACH ME Jackson Greene swears he's given up scheming. Then school bully Keith Sinclair announces he's running for Student Council president, against Jackson's former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it -- but he knows Keith has "connections" to the principal, which…


Diary of a Wimpy Kid

By Jeff Kinney,

Book cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

A classic. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a proven franchise that can springboard reluctant readers into other literary and visual works. This fun beginner’s book for the middle-grade audience does one thing very well: entertain. As Greg Hefley navigates the ups and downs of middle school one thing remains certain: nothing goes according to plan for Greg. Filled with funny jokes, humorous plot twists, and a whole lot of goofy moments, Diary of a Wimpy kid will certainly hold a reluctant reader’s attention. I know it did for me as Diary of a Wimpy Kid was the second book I ever managed to read on my own and was laughing along with everyone else at the silly misfortunes that befall on the unfortunate protagonist. 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

By Jeff Kinney,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Diary of a Wimpy Kid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Boys don't keep diaries-or do they?

The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to

It's a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you're ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.

In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley's star…


Revenge of the Red Club

By Kim Harrington,

Book cover of Revenge of the Red Club

The title alone intrigued me. Once I learned the premise of this middle-grade novel, I was hooked: a group of students supporting one another through the ups and downs of navigating their periods is shut down by the school administration after receiving complaints. 

As the investigative reporter of her middle school’s newspaper, Riley’s no stranger at going the distance to uncover a story. Using her fact-finding skills, Riley hunts for the truth on who put an end to their club and why. Filled with humor and heart, this book had me up all night to finish in one sitting, cheering Riley and her friends on as they fight to save their club and stand up for their rights. 

Revenge of the Red Club

By Kim Harrington,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Revenge of the Red Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A tween reporter discovers an important and beloved club at school is being shut down-and uses the power of the pen to try and activate some much-needed social change in this period-positive and empowering middle grade novel about the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

Riley Dunne loves being a member of the Red Club. It's more than a group of girls supporting each other through Aunt Flo's ups and downs; it's a Hawking Middle School tradition. The club's secret locker has an emergency stash of supplies, and the girls are always willing to lend an ear,…


Bea Is for Blended

By Lindsey Stoddard,

Book cover of Bea Is for Blended

This heartwarming novel is full of soccer, touching family dynamics, and girl power. It stars a feisty sixth-grader named Bea who has to adjust to a new house, a new school, a new blended family, and a new neighbor who’s gunning for her position on the soccer field. At first, Bea is determined to look out for herself and protect her turf, but then she and her neighbor team up to fight against sexism and form the first-ever all-girls squad. The team dynamics in this book will make any reader cheer. Soccer fans will love the on-field action, but this gem of a novel also has humor, emotional depth, delightful and inspiring characters, and even references to the beloved Katherine Paterson novel Bridge to Terabithia!

Bea Is for Blended

By Lindsey Stoddard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bea Is for Blended as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Girl power scores a goal in this uplifting story of teamwork, new beginnings, and coming together to fight for what’s right—perfect for fans of Lisa Graff and Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

Bea and her mom have always been a two-person team. But now her mom is marrying Wendell, and their team is growing by three boys, two dogs, and a cat.

Finding her place in her new blended family may be tough, but when Bea finds out her school might not get the all-girls soccer team they’d been promised, she learns that the bigger the team, the stronger the fight—and that…


Dress Coded

By Carrie Firestone,

Book cover of Dress Coded

For the budding middle-grade activist on your list, this book is my 11-year-old daughter’s favorite, and I loved it too. The eighth-grade main character, Molly, starts a podcast to protest unfair dress code enforcement in her school, and her small rebellion starts a revolution. A great introduction for kids to activism, with a deft treatment of body differences, girl power, and friendships. 

Dress Coded

By Carrie Firestone,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dress Coded as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Because Olivia was yelled at for wearing a tank top.

Because Liza got dress coded and Molly didn't, even though they were wearing the exact same outfit.

Because when Jessica was pulled over by the principal and missed a math quiz, her teacher gave her an F.

Because it's impossible to find shorts that are longer than her fingertips.

Because girls' bodies are not a distraction.

Because school is hard enough.

And so Molly starts a podcast where girls can tell their stories, and before long, her small rebellion swells into a revolution. Because now the girls are standing up…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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