100 books like When You Reach Me

By Rebecca Stead,

Here are 100 books that When You Reach Me fans have personally recommended if you like When You Reach Me. 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 Book Scavenger

Kim Long Author Of Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament

From my list on competition/game aspects at the heart of the story.

Who am I?

Kim Long loves to write stories with a sense of adventure, a dash of magic, and a hint of science. Her debut, Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament, was a 2021-2022 Texas Bluebonnet Master List Selection. She loves board games, scavenger hunts, and puzzles, so books with aspects of those elements have always appealed to her. Every book recommended below has at least one of those elements, and the great news is that it's also the first in its series, so if you fall in love with the first book, there’s a good chance you’ll love the others, too!

Kim's book list on competition/game aspects at the heart of the story

Kim Long Why did Kim love this book?

I love how this book has a game theme but isn’t limited to a specific location. Instead, the main characters travel throughout San Francisco to compete in Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). The reader can play along and there is a deeper mystery to solve—who attacked the game’s creator and can the culprit be caught before another attack is made?

By Jennifer Chambliss Bertman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Book Scavenger 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?

For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it's the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon arriving, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself.…


Book cover of The Book Thief

Mark Stibbe Author Of A Book in Time

From my list on the magic of books, bookshops, and libraries.

Who am I?

When I was a boy, my adoptive father – a star pupil and friend of C.S. Lewis – heard I’d started reading the Sherlock Holmes stories. He bought every Sherlock Holmes book he could find. I remember lifting one to my nose and smelling the pages. I fell in love with books that day. I went on to earn a senior scholarship in English Literature at Cambridge University, and a PhD in storytelling. Since then, I have written over 50 books of my own and ghostwritten over 30 titles. I now host The Christian Storyteller Channel on YouTube, and I run BookLab, dedicated to helping emerging authors. My whole life is books.

Mark's book list on the magic of books, bookshops, and libraries

Mark Stibbe Why did Mark love this book?

I love the way this story is narrated by Death.

I love unusual first-person narrators anyway. But the idea of Death telling the story of a young girl in World War 2 who grows to love words and adore books, that’s genius. I love it! And I love the way that this girl, Liesel, comes to a very Hebraic understanding of the power of words to give life.

This, in the end, causes a great reversal. Instead of Liesel being frightened of death, Death is frightened of her! I love the idea of books containing something that’s stronger than death.

By Markus Zusak,

Why should I read it?

28 authors picked The Book Thief 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?

'Life affirming, triumphant and tragic . . . masterfully told. . . but also a wonderful page-turner' Guardian
'Brilliant and hugely ambitious' New York Times
'Extraordinary' Telegraph
___

HERE IS A SMALL FACT - YOU ARE GOING TO DIE

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT…


Book cover of The City of Ember

Thomas B. Cavanagh Author Of Head Games

From my list on non-mystery youth that are really mysteries.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning mystery author of several private detective novels. All of my recommendations have an especially sentimental appeal since they were favorites of my son when he was younger. As we read them together, my mystery novelist sensibility couldn’t help but notice the classic crime story elements in all of these books. Dressed up as middle-grade fantasies, each of these novels uses the structures, tropes, and conventions of the mystery genre to propel its plot forward.

Thomas' book list on non-mystery youth that are really mysteries

Thomas B. Cavanagh Why did Thomas love this book?

The central theme running through the book’s post-apocalyptic landscape is a series of clues that must be solved, in true mystery fashion. Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow follow the signs left behind by the original builders of the underground City of Ember to escape to the outside world. Along the way, the reader is pulled further and further into the story, trying to understand this strange world and decipher the meaning of the clues alongside our intrepid heroes. Also thrown in is some old-fashioned political corruption to add to the mystery feel.

By Jeanne DuPrau,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The City of Ember 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?

Ember is the only light in a dark world. But when its lamps begin to flicker, two friends must race to escape the dark. This highly acclaimed adventure series is a modern-day classic-with over 4 MILLION copies sold!

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to dim. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she's sure it holds a secret that will save the city. Now, she and her friend Doon must race to figure out the clues to…


Book cover of Tuck Everlasting

Jill K. Sayre Author Of The Fairies of Turtle Creek

From my list on realistic fiction with a dollop of magic.

Who am I?

Like most writers, I am extremely interested in the “what if” factor. What if food ingredients could make a person feel specific emotions? What if drinking from a spring in the woods could give you a superpower? What if fairies really do take care of and grow all plants and trees in the world? I love to read and write about ordinary people, living everyday life, who encounter threads of magic. Influenced by reading books in the genre of “magical realism,” I love to explore how a dab of magic can be used in realistic fiction to emotionally affect the characters and story arc.

Jill's book list on realistic fiction with a dollop of magic

Jill K. Sayre Why did Jill love this book?

So, this book was made into two movies, the first in 1981 and the other in 2002, but I first experienced this story by reading the book when I was a young girl in sixth grade in 1978. I remember reading the epilogue over and over again—it broke my heart to think how the greed of one man could ruin something so magical. I pondered whether it was a blessing or a curse to live forever, and the town of Treegap felt like it could exist in any wooded place. Whenever I find myself in a thick forest, I still search for springs that bubble up from the ground, taking me right back to those emotions when reading this great classic.

By Natalie Babbitt,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Tuck Everlasting 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?

Winnie Foster is in the woods, thinking of running away from home, when she sees a boy drinking from a spring. Winnie wants a drink too, but before she can take a sip, she is kidnapped by the boy, Jesse Tuck, and his family. She learns that the Tuck family are blessed with - or doomed to - eternal life since drinking from the spring, and they wander from place to place trying to live as inconspicuously as they can. Now Winnie knows their secret. But what does immortality really mean? And can the Tucks help her understand before it's…


Book cover of Refugee

Alda P. Dobbs Author Of Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

From my list on kids in war.

Who am I?

I’m passionate about this topic because my own great-grandmother escaped a war, the Mexican Revolution of 1913, at the age of nine years old. Family stories described her journey of marching across the desert, almost dying, determined to reach the United States. I am also an immigrant myself and I enjoy relating to stories that depict the immigrant experience. 

Alda's book list on kids in war

Alda P. Dobbs Why did Alda love this book?

My favorite part of this book is that it is three stories that are narrated and each one is very unique. However, the dreams, hopes and fears parallel one another making the reader understand that these journeys are universal.

You also learn that history repeats itself because each story is set in a different era. 

By Alan Gratz,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Refugee 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?

This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and
timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.

JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With
the threat of concentration camps looming, he and
his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world .
. .

ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and
unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft,
hoping to find safety in America . . .

MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his
homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he…


Book cover of Show Me a Sign

Shirley Vernick Author Of Ripped Away

From my list on historical fiction for young readers.

Who am I?

I fell in love with historical fiction as a child, devouring books like Johnny Tremain and The Door in the Wall. While I always wanted to be a writer, and I always loved history, it took a special discovery to align my two interests. In college, I learned that “real history” had happened in my little hometown in northern New York in the 1920s. A small girl had gone missing, and local anti-Semites accused the Jewish community of murdering her for a ritual sacrifice. It got ugly. Decades later, this incident became the subject of my first novel, The Blood Lie.

Shirley's book list on historical fiction for young readers

Shirley Vernick Why did Shirley love this book?

This engrossing book, inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha's Vineyard in the early 1800s, triumphantly probes our perceptions of ability and disability. I’m always drawn to stories that explore what it means to be and/or feel different. Too many youngsters (and adults) equate being different with being less than, whether the different person is themselves or someone else. I don’t know if our species will ever fully break free of that false belief, but novels like this one go a long way toward achieving that goal.

By Ann Clare LeZotte,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Show Me a Sign 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?

Don't miss the companion book, Set Me Free

CRITICS ARE RAVING ABOUT SHOW ME A SIGN

Winner of the 2021 Schneider Family Book Award * NPR Best Books of 2020 * Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2020 * School Library Journal Best Books of 2020 * New York Public Library Best Books of 2020 * Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2020 * 2020 Jane Addams Children's Book Award Finalist * 2020 New England Independent Booksellers Award Finalist

Deaf author Ann Clare LeZotte weaves a riveting story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha's Vineyard…


Book cover of To Night Owl from Dogfish

Danielle Svetcov Author Of Parked

From my list on for a 5th-grade book group.

Who am I?

In addition to being an author of MG fiction, I run two book groups for kids, which means I spend lots of time in libraries, communing with kids’ librarians, placing wagers on which books will win the Newbery, so that I can pass along great books to my groups. While there are all kinds of terrific MG books out there, I find that boisterous group meetings require something special – i.e. books with a controversial idea or character or act that merits debate/discussion. I remember when we read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler -- one girl just could not get past the idea that two kids left home without telling their parents. I love that sort of passionate objection!

Danielle's book list on for a 5th-grade book group

Danielle Svetcov Why did Danielle love this book?

An entire book group of girls decided to try sleep-away camp after reading this hilarious title. Constructed entirely of emails between anxious Avery Bloom (NYC) and gonzo Bett Devlin (Los Angeles), it’s about an unlikely friendship that is aided-and-abetted by the existence of the Internet and summer camp…and theatre…and love-at-first-sight…and unvarnished truth.

By Holly Goldberg Sloan, Meg Wolitzer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked To Night Owl from Dogfish 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?

A REVERSE PARENT TRAP FOR A NEW GENERATION FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHORS HOLLY GOLDBERG-SLOAN AND MEG WOLITZER.

Avery (Night Owl) is bookish, intense, likes to plan ahead, and is afraid of many things. Bett (Dogfish) is fearless, outgoing, and lives in the moment. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and their dads are dating each other.

Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same camp for the summer vacation. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends - and possibly, one day, even sisters.…


Book cover of Holes

Karen Samuelson Author Of Weaving Dreams in Oaxaca

From my list on books where the setting is like another character.

Who am I?

I have a passion for novels with complex characters and a memorable sense of place. The setting is key to the overall ambiance of a novel: its colors, smells, architecture, terrain, weather, flora, and fauna. My novel, Weaving Dreams In Oaxaca, takes place in Oaxaca, Mexico. The story is unique to the location because it includes the zocalo, cathedrals, outlying pueblos, food, etc. My family and I moved there for six months in 2006, and I fell in love. I sent my mother audio tapes every two weeks describing our adventures as she had become blind. I later transcribed them into twenty-two pages of detailed description of this magical city which I used in my novel.

Karen's book list on books where the setting is like another character

Karen Samuelson Why did Karen love this book?

I think this book is a great read for all ages and the setting, Camp Green Lake, is not a lake, but a dusty dry desert.

This location informs the plot. It is a punishing environment as the boys sent there are being “reformed” by making them dig huge holes in the sun all day long. Digging holes is a metaphor for digging up the secrets of the camp and the threat of snake bites and dehydration and infighting enhance the tension.

By Louis Sachar,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Holes 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?

WINNER OF THE NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD SELECTED AS ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE'S 100 BEST YA BOOKS OF ALL TIME Stanley Yelnats' family has a history of bad luck, so when a miscarriage of justice sends him to Camp Green Lake Juvenile Detention Centre (which isn't green and doesn't have a lake) he is not surprised. Every day he and the other inmates are told to dig a hole, five foot wide by five foot deep, reporting anything they find. Why? The evil warden claims that it's character building, but this is a lie. It's up…


Book cover of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Jennie Yabroff Author Of If You Were Here

From my list on young readers set in old-school NYC.

Who am I?

Growing up in California, I was enchanted by the idea of New York City—largely due to the visions of it I found in the books on this list. I’ve now lived in NYC for 20 years and love matching real locations with their versions in my imagination. In my time in the city I’ve been a staff writer for Newsweek Magazine, an editor at Scholastic, and a freelancer for many publications including The New York Times and The Washington Post. I’m currently working on a second novel. 

Jennie's book list on young readers set in old-school NYC

Jennie Yabroff Why did Jennie love this book?

In this book, a sister and brother escape the horrors of suburban Connecticut and take refuge in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they discover an art mystery that leads them to a wealthy surrogate grandmother. Beyond the iconic setting, this story has an irresistible only-in-New York feeling to it, so that you can’t help believing it all might have really happened, or still could happen.

Book cover of The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Mary Kendall Author Of The Spinster's Fortune

From my list on vintage gothic suspense by iconic authors.

Who am I?

Sometimes I have to take a trip back to my reading "roots": gothic mystery and suspense. This list is a deep dive into some of my very favorite vintage gothic authors and ones that I consider to be icons of the genre. These writers formed the foundation not only for my reading tastes but also for who I have become as a writer. The memories of my younger self come flooding back when I revisit these authors and their works as I have done with this list. Some of these novels are hard to come by now but, in my opinion, the older and more beat-up paperback, the better. 

Mary's book list on vintage gothic suspense by iconic authors

Mary Kendall Why did Mary love this book?

I adored this book as a kid and decided to pick it up and re-read as an adult. I was not disappointed.

I loved it all over again and also gave myself a little pat on the back for having good book taste at a young age.

The witchcraft trial era of early colonial history in the US is so well crafted here with the accuracy of the historical details blended into the evocative setting.

Published in 1958 and a Newberry Medal winner in 1959, it is young adult but I think non-YA readers could easily enjoy it as a compelling variation of the genre.

Sad to admit that I had forgotten a lot of the plot and details. But happy to say, I have benefited from the reread now.

By Elizabeth George Speare,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Witch of Blackbird Pond 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?

In this Newbery Medal-winning novel, a girl faces prejudice and accusations of witchcraft in seventeenth-century Connecticut. A classic of historical fiction that continues to resonate across the generations.

Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met.

Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when…


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