The best books about childhood

Who picked these books? Meet our 256 experts.

256 authors created a book list connected to childhood, and here are their favorite childhood books.
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What type of childhood book?


The Chain

By Adrian McKinty,

Book cover of The Chain

Robert E. Kreig Author Of Pit Guard: The Tanner's Boy

From the list on suspense to lose yourself in.

Who am I?

I love character-driven, roller coaster ride stories. As a young reader, I gravitated to the “choose your own adventure” books which relied on invoking knotted stomachs, and cold sweats in children as they struggled to make the right decision before reading on; turn to page 105 if you want to face the ravenous bear or page 23 if you wish to flee. Thus, the love of reading emerged and, eventually, the joy of writing followed. These books are just some of the stories that bring similar nostalgic tones when I delve into their pages. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Robert's book list on suspense to lose yourself in

Discover why each book is one of Robert's favorite books.

Why did Robert love this book?

The Chain is one of my most recent reads.

I’d categorise it as a dark thriller that created some of the tightest knots in my stomach. The concept alone was enough to generate terror, anxiety, and anger from the first page onward. But anything that involves the endangerment of children does that to me.

A gripping tale that puts the victims, both the kidnapped and the kidnappers, in peril from an unseen syndicate who controls their actions with a phone call.

Very realistic. Very scary.

By Adrian McKinty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When a mother is targeted by a dangerous group of masterminds, she must commit a crime to save her kidnapped daughter—or risk losing her forever—in this "propulsive and original" award-winning thriller (Stephen King).

It's something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it's a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a…

Childhood in World History

By Peter N. Stearns,

Book cover of Childhood in World History

Hoda Mahmoudi Author Of Children and Globalization: Multidisciplinary Perspectives

From the list on childhood and globalization.

Who am I?

I've been interested in children’s lives for as long as I can remember. I think my own childhood experiences provoked my curiosity about the world as observed and perceived by children. My own childhood was affected by globalization in the broadest sense. When I was a child, my family moved to the United States from Iran. I grew up in Utah where I encountered a different way of life than the one I left behind. The shift from one culture to another was thrilling and scary. The encounter with a new world and a different culture has taught me important lessons about children’s creativity, strength, and curiosity as well as their fears, insecurities, and vulnerabilities.  

Hoda's book list on childhood and globalization

Discover why each book is one of Hoda's favorite books.

Why did Hoda love this book?

I believe this book serves as a solid foundation for the scholarly discussions surrounding the changing paradigms of childhood throughout history and the world. I find its examinations of many different times and places fascinating. This volume explores the cultural creation of concepts of childhood and the ways they have developed and evolved as the world has become more connected, something I can relate to my own childhood experiences.

By Peter N. Stearns,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now in its fourth edition, Childhood in World History covers the major developments in the history of childhood from the classical civilizations to the present and explores how agricultural and industrial economies have shaped the experiences of children.

Through comparative analysis, Peter N. Stearns facilitates a cross-cultural and transnational understanding of attitudes toward the role of children in society, and how "models" of childhood have developed throughout history. He addresses the tension between regional and social/gender differences, on the one hand, and factors that encouraged greater convergence, including the experience of globalization. The book also deals with regional patterns as…

Do Not Let Your Dragon Spread Germs

By Julie Gassman, Andy Elkerton (illustrator),

Book cover of Do Not Let Your Dragon Spread Germs

Beth Bacon Author Of Helping Our World Get Well: Covid Vaccines

From the list on for kids about COVID-19.

Who am I?

I'm an author of books for young readers. These days, there’s nothing more important than having conversations about the Coronavirus disease. It can be hard for grown-ups to start a conversation about Covid with their kids. But they can read a book about the subject and invite the kids to respond to what they heard and saw. My book COVID-19 Helpers was the first place winner of the Emery Global Health Institute’s e-book contest back in May 2020. Through the pandemic, I’ve been reading and talking about the virus with kids from around the world. If you're interested in having me read one of my books to your school, clinic, or your daycare center feel free to get in touch. 

Beth's book list on for kids about COVID-19

Discover why each book is one of Beth's favorite books.

Why did Beth love this book?

This book encourages little ones to read along with a recurring refrain, “Don’t let your dragon spread germs!” The premise of this book is that children have to teach their pet dragons hygiene. In using this logic, the story puts the young characters in the book in the position of the teacher-caregivers. The illustrator, Andy Elkerton, did a great job with the dragons. Each dragon has its own personality and the illustrations are full of energy and motion. Those colorful, dynamic dragons are fun for kids to look at while a grown-up reads the text. 

By Julie Gassman, Andy Elkerton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do Not Let Your Dragon Spread Germs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Your dragon loves to hug and high-five and shake hands and sing and blow bubbles and share happiness everywhere she goes. Dragons want to spread joy to everyone! But some of those actions are also spreading germs. It's time to wash your hands, mask up and teach your dragon how to share joy in a safe and healthy way. Author Julie Gassman uses rhyming text, relatable examples and a diverse cast of characters to teach readers about germs in the sixth book in the Do Not Take Your Dragon picture book series.

Self-Portrait with Boy

By Rachel Lyon,

Book cover of Self-Portrait with Boy

Phoebe Hoban Author Of Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty

From the list on genre-bending artists: inside and out.

Who am I?

I grew up in a creative family. My father was an illustrator before becoming a children’s book author and novelist. My mother, a trained dancer, became my father’s collaborator, illustrating their internationally-known Frances books. They inspired me and encouraged me to develop my own talent. I started writing at nine, and have never stopped since. I became a journalist, writing about culture and art for The New York times, New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Vogue, among others. I am also the author of three well-received artist biographies: Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art; Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open; and Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty.

Phoebe's book list on genre-bending artists: inside and out

Discover why each book is one of Phoebe's favorite books.

Why did Phoebe love this book?

Lyon’s protagonist, Lu Rile, is a struggling, ambitious young photographer, living in a derelict Brooklyn warehouse that might soon be destroyed by real-estate developers. In order to somehow pay the rent while at the same time take care of her ill and aging father, she desperately juggles three jobs. When not at work, Lu is in the midst of creating a series of self-portraits of herself in the window of her loft, when she accidentally captures the image of a young boy, the son of her upstairs neighbors, falling to his death. (Shades of Antonioni’s famous film, Blow Up, which also features a key but inadvertent photograph.)

She recognizes at once that it is the best picture she has ever taken, but instantly understands that it poses a major moral dilemma. Should she pull every string she can to get it shown, in an effort to initiate and stamp…

By Rachel Lyon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Self-Portrait with Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

“Fabulously written, this spellbinding debut novel is a real page-turner. A powerful, brilliantly imagined story” (Library Journal, starred review) about an ambitious young artist whose accidental photograph of a boy falling to his death could jumpstart her career, but devastate her most intimate friendship.

Lu Rile is a relentlessly focused young photographer struggling to make ends meet. Working three jobs, responsible for her aging father, and worrying that her crumbling loft apartment is being sold to developers, she is at a point of desperation. One day, in the background of a…

Book cover of Eastern Sun, Winter Moon: An Autobiographical Odyssey

Ronnie Blair Author Of Eisenhower Babies: Growing Up on Moonshots, Comic Books, and Black-and-White TV

From the list on evoking the magic (and miseries) of childhood.

Who am I?

Growing up in a Kentucky coal-mining community, I enjoyed reading about the lives of other people and how their experiences differed from mine. I read biographies of famous people, such as Paul Revere or Stephen Foster, and an occasional memoir, such as Harlan Ellison writing about infiltrating a juvenile gang or David Gerrold revealing how he came to write for Star Trek. Fiction also took me to places that I had never seen. But something about a coming-of-age tale especially resonated with me and I hope these recommendations will help you make that same connection with how others have navigated the magic and miseries of childhood. 

Ronnie's book list on evoking the magic (and miseries) of childhood

Discover why each book is one of Ronnie's favorite books.

Why did Ronnie love this book?

Gary Paulsen is best known for his novels for young people, such as the popular Hatchet, but this R-rated memoir is aimed at an adult audience. Of my five recommendations, this one is far and away the most representative of the miseries of a dysfunctional childhood. Paulsen’s parents were both alcoholics, and his mother had affairs that she could have done a much better job of hiding from her young son. Somehow, despite the trauma (or maybe because of it), Paulsen emerged as a successful and extraordinarily prolific writer. For those of us with wonderful childhood memories, this book serves as a reminder that not everyone is so lucky.

By Gary Paulsen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eastern Sun, Winter Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work describes the author's experiences as a child during World War II. Along with his mother, who is alternatively protective and selfishly neglectful, Paulsen travelled to the Philippines to live with his father, a distant and imperious army officer.

The Distance Between Us

By Reyna Grande,

Book cover of The Distance Between Us: A Memoir

Louis Mendoza Author Of (Re)constructing Memory, Place, and Identity in Twentieth Century Houston: A Memoir on Family and Being Mexican American in Space City USA

From the list on Mexican migration to the United States.

Who am I?

As a second-generation immigrant, I knew very little of my family’s migration story. My grandparents never really learned English despite living in the US sixty or more years. In my twenties when the country was undergoing turmoil about immigration reform once again, I began looking at the immigrants all around me (and in literature) and identifying what we had in common—how our lives intertwined and were mutually dependent on one another. In 2007 I traveled 8,500 miles around the perimeter of the US by bicycle on a research trip to collect stories from immigrants and those whose lives they impacted. I wrote two books based on that experience.

Louis' book list on Mexican migration to the United States

Discover why each book is one of Louis' favorite books.

Why did Louis love this book?

Grande’s memoir focuses on her life south and north of the U.S.-Mexico border, which seem like two distinct lives, though neither is easy.

Her life in Mexico is marked by longing for her father who migrates northward to better support his family. Her mother eventually joins her father, and the three children are left with a harsh and insensitive paternal grandmother. When her mother returns because her father has fallen in love with someone else, Reyna’s hopes for a happy family reunion are shattered.

Eventually, Reyna’s father visits and takes her to the US following a perilous journey through the desert. Reyna struggles to adjust to life in the US, but eventually is awarded citizenship. She finds refuge in reading and writing and eventually tells her family story.

I found Grande’s memoir moving because she writes it from a child's perspective and successfully captures the raw and fragile emotions of…

By Reyna Grande,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this inspirational and unflinchingly honest memoir, acclaimed author Reyna Grande describes her childhood torn between the United States and Mexico, and shines a light on the experiences, fears, and hopes of those who choose to make the harrowing journey across the border.

Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in this "compelling...unvarnished, resonant" (BookPage) story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries. As her parents make the dangerous trek across the Mexican border to "El Otro Lado" (The Other Side) in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced…

Emily Writes

By Jane Yolen, Christine Davenier (illustrator),

Book cover of Emily Writes: Emily Dickinson and Her Poetic Beginnings

Lisa Rogers Author Of 16 Words: William Carlos Williams and the Red Wheelbarrow

From the list on biographies to inspire young poets.

Who am I?

I love sharing poetry with children! I became inspired to write poetic picture books during my 20-year career as an elementary school librarian. In class, we often read aloud, discussed, and performed poems. My students considered word choices, identified alliteration, metaphor, and simile, and developed a sophisticated vocabulary of “beautiful” words. They delighted in using their senses to write about special places and moments and did research to create and illustrate fact-based poems about people and animals. In exploring poetry and biographies of poets, students found inspiration and used their authentic voices to craft their own funny, engaging, and thoughtful poetry.

Lisa's book list on biographies to inspire young poets

Discover why each book is one of Lisa's favorite books.

Why did Lisa love this book?

What experiences might children have that inspire them to write poetry? Author Yolen brings readers into the Dickinson home in Amherst, Massachusetts, where young Emily scribbles on scraps of paper in her father’s study. Emily reads her three-word poem to her parents, to the flowers in the garden, and to Mrs. Mack, who provides encouragement that’s as warm and appreciated as the desserts they share. Just as Emily takes time to ponder what is the essence of a poem, this imagined story unfolds at an unhurried pace. That pace, combined with the engaging illustrations, permits readers to linger on small moments and let their own imaginations wander. Poetry takes time, just as growing up does.

By Jane Yolen, Christine Davenier (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Perhaps, she thinks, I'll make a poem.
Emily smiles.
The garden makes her feel all sunny,
like a poet.

As a young girl, Emily Dickinson loved to scribble curlicues and circles, imagine new rhymes, and connect with the bountiful flowers in her spring garden. The sounds, sights, and smells of home swirled through her mind and Emily began to explore writing and rhyming her feelings. She thinks about the real and the unreal. Perhaps poems are the in-between.

This thoughtful spotlight on Emily's early experimentation with poetry as a child offers a unique window into one of the world's most…

Growing Up with the Town

By Dorothy Schwieder,

Book cover of Growing Up with the Town: Family and Community on the Great Plains

Patrick M. Garry Author Of The Power of Gratitude: Charting a Path Toward a Joyous and Faith-Filled Life

From the list on gratitude and how it can uplift your life.

Who am I?

I have published more than twenty books and hundreds of articles. But not one of those books and articles inspired the kind of devotion I felt toward The Power of Gratitude. In a way, this book encapsulates a lifetime of writing. It is the book I believe I was called to write.

Patrick's book list on gratitude and how it can uplift your life

Discover why each book is one of Patrick's favorite books.

Why did Patrick love this book?

This book is likewise a memoir that reveals the deeply engrained gratitude felt by the author. 

This gratitude is not a passing nostalgia but a fundamental pillar of the author’s life—a pillar that defines her entire life and injects it with an unchanging joy. Schwielder is an engaging writer who draws the reader into the circle of gratitude that encompasses Schwielder’s memories of her childhood in a small South Dakota town. 

Schwielder, along with Johnson, gives us tangible proof of the joys of gratitude.

By Dorothy Schwieder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Growing Up with the Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this unusual blend of chronological and personal history. Dorothy Hubbard Schwieder combines scholarly sources with family memories to create a loving and informed history of Presho, South Dakota, and her family's life there from the time of settlement in 1905 to the mid 1950s. Schwieder tells the story of this small town in the West River country, with its harsh and unpredictable physical environment, through the activities of her father, Walter Hubbard, and his family of ten children. Walter Hubbard's experiences as a business owner and town builder and his attitudes toward work, education, and family both reflected and…

Book cover of A Tale of Love and Darkness

Stephen Fredman Author Of A Menorah for Athena: Charles Reznikoff and the Jewish Dilemmas of Objectivist Poetry

From the list on blending Jewish history with a personal quest.

Who am I?

As an enthusiastic and eclectic reader, one of my great joys is recommending books to others. I was able to indulge this joy consistently while teaching at a university, introducing students to authors and books and topics they otherwise might never have encountered. I find this same excitement in my own writing, searching for ways to reveal to others the magnificent wealth I find in modern poetry and in the brilliant concepts of poetic thinking.

Stephen's book list on blending Jewish history with a personal quest

Discover why each book is one of Stephen's favorite books.

Why did Stephen love this book?

The Israeli novelist Amos Oz writes a heartbreakingly beautiful memoir of his family’s escape from Eastern Europe and his growing up in British-controlled Palestine.

I’m haunted as much by the portrait of his gorgeous, tragically romantic mother as by his own experiences as a boy and then as a member of a kibbutz in the new State of Israel. The qualities of Love and Darkness intertwine as unrelentingly in his family’s life as they do in the founding and growth of the Jewish state, making this book as incisive an inquiry into the soul of a writer as into the soul of a nation.

By Amos Oz,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Tale of Love and Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tragic, comic, and utterly honest, this bestselling and critically acclaimed work is at once a family saga and a magical self-portrait of a writer who witnessed the birth of a nation and lived through its turbulent history. It is the story of a boy growing up in the war-torn Jerusalem of the forties and fifties, in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives speaking nearly as many. The story of an adolescent whose life has been changed forever by his mother's suicide when he was twelve years old. The story of a man who leaves the…

The Wicked Boy

By Kate Summerscale,

Book cover of The Wicked Boy: An Infamous Murder in Victorian London

Mark Stevens Author Of Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum

From the list on the history of English mental health.

Who am I?

I’m an archivist, really, masquerading as a writer. For my day job, I am in charge of archives from across England’s Royal County of Berkshire, spanning from the twelfth century to the present day. I have care of collections from Reading Gaol – of Oscar Wilde fame, the conservators of the River Thames, and also Broadmoor Hospital. The latter was built in 1863 as the first criminal lunatic asylum for England and Wales. It’s a place where true crime and social history interact. My book tries to paint a picture of individuals who did dreadful things but also had a life beyond their mental illness.

Mark's book list on the history of English mental health

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

Although Kate Summerscale is best known for The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, this is a book to read for those interested in mental illness and crime. The boy of the title is indeed a child – one who killed his mother and entered the asylum at the age of eighteen. The influence of Victorian social media – the penny dreadfuls and sensational journalism – feels relevant as today’s youth are lambasted for similar fascinations. The story ends far from Broadmoor and provides hope of recovery from even the most desperate and tragic situations.

By Kate Summerscale,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2017 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime Book!

From the internationally bestselling author, a deeply researched and atmospheric murder mystery of late Victorian-era London

In the summer of 1895, Robert Coombes (age 13) and his brother Nattie (age 12) were seen spending lavishly around the docklands of East London -- for ten days in July, they ate out at coffee houses and took trips to the seaside and the theater. The boys told neighbors they had been left home alone while their mother visited family in Liverpool, but their aunt was suspicious. When she eventually forced the…

Book cover of Adults and Other Children

Dale Stromberg Author Of Melancholic Parables: Being for the Antiselving Reader

From the list on little stories that link to tell big stories.

Who am I?

When I drafted the pieces which eventually comprised Melancholic Parables, I had no plan. Only upon arranging them into a collection did I discover that, surprisingly, they shared emotional moods and thematic elements. In other words, I had stumbled into a linked collection. Writing a single big story is no small feat, as is writing small stories which each intrigue and delight in their own right—but to create and arrange multiple small stories so that they aggregate into a big story, one greater than the sum of its parts (in ways sometimes counterintuitive, sometimes virtuosic) is a special storytelling skill which I think these five authors’ work exemplifies.

Dale's book list on little stories that link to tell big stories

Discover why each book is one of Dale's favorite books.

Why did Dale love this book?

Miriam Cohen gives us a series of stories loosely linked by recurring characters and contiguous themes.

In the world of these stories, childhood is bewildering and dreadful, while adults fail grotesquely to be adults—some never manage to stop being children, yet they never quite lose our sympathy.

If you love modern literary fiction, you will take as much delight in Cohen’s ruthless humour as you do in the exquisite prose and razor-keen insights which lurk on every page.

By Miriam Cohen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An “acute portrayal of failed relationships and struggles to transcend social norms,”―New York Times Book Review (editor's choice)

“Readers can detect deadpan realism influences of Lorrie Moore and the feminism of Angela Carter in these stories, but the work is distinctly and originally Cohen's voice. . . . [The] plots and these characters will stay for a while. Make room for them."―PopMatters

"These shockingly insightful stories, riddled with breathtaking observation, are also, frequently, laugh out loud funny. Wisdom and hilarity are such a gorgeous couple, and Miriam Cohen makes the absolute most of this pairing. Evocative of Lorrie Moore at…

Nicky & Vera

By Peter Sis,

Book cover of Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued

Karen Gray Ruelle Author Of The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

From the list on courage during the holocaust.

Who am I?

I’m the author/illustrator of over 20 books for children, ranging from whimsical fiction about anthropomorphic cats and rambunctious dogs to serious nonfiction about hidden children, unusual heroes and surprising spies of WWII and the Holocaust. Several of my nonfiction books, including The Grand Mosque of Paris, were created in collaboration.

Karen's book list on courage during the holocaust

Discover why each book is one of Karen's favorite books.

Why did Karen love this book?

In 1938, a young Englishman named Nicholas Winton canceled his ski vacation. Instead, he went to Prague to help the Jewish children seeking refuge there from the Nazis. Up until the start of the war in 1939, he made arrangements to send nearly 700 children to safety in England. He did everything from raising funds and locating foster families, to obtaining travel documents—even forging them when necessary. Then he went home and never told anyone what he had done. Fifty years later, his wife found all the records he’d kept and she tracked down as many of those children as she could. A now-famous video clip from a British TV show, “That’s Life,” shows an elderly and very surprised Nicholas as dozens of those he saved stand up in the audience to thank him. Among them was Vera Diamontova, who was just eleven years old when Nicholas saved her life.…

By Peter Sis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1938, twenty-nine-year-old Nicholas Winton saved the lives of almost 700 children trapped in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia-a story he never told and that remained unknown until an unforgettable TV appearance in the 1980s reunited him with some of the children he saved.

Czech-American artist, MacArthur Fellow and Andersen Award winner Peter Sis dramatises Winton's story in this distinctive and deeply personal picture book. He intertwines Nicky's efforts with the story of one of the children he saved-a young girl named Vera, whose family enlisted Nicky's aid when the Germans occupied their country. As the war passes and Vera grows up, she…

What World is Left

By Monique Polak,

Book cover of What World is Left

Kathy Kacer Author Of Under the Iron Bridge

From the list on the Second World War and the Holocaust.

Who am I?

I'm the child of Holocaust survivors. I grew up with parents willing to talk about their survival experiences and do so in a way that wouldn't terrify me. I asked a million questions that my parents willingly answered. I grew up passionate about this history and determined to write their stories and the stories of other survivors. I'm aware that this generation of survivors is aging and passing away. Their "voices" will soon be gone. I feel a responsibility to capture these stories and write them for the next generations. I'm about to have my thirtieth book about the Holocaust published! And I've got more book ideas on the go.

Kathy's book list on the Second World War and the Holocaust

Discover why each book is one of Kathy's favorite books.

Why did Kathy love this book?

I love stories that are inspired by real people, and this is one of them; based on a true story about the author's mother who was sent to a concentration camp with her family. Anneke, the young girl of the story, must grapple with the trauma of having left behind the life she once knew. She also faces a terrible choice; standing by her father who is forced to create propaganda that conditions in the camp are good, and her own desperate need to get the truth out. The voice of the young girl is so authentic.

By Monique Polak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What World is Left as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A pampered child used to having her own way, Anneke Van Raalte lives outside Amsterdam, where her father is a cartoonist for the Amsterdam newspaper. Though Anneke's family is Jewish, her religion means little to her. Anneke's life changes in 1942 when the Nazis invade Holland, and she and her family are deported to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Not only are conditions in the camp appalling, but the camp is the site of an elaborate hoax: the Nazis are determined to convince the world that Theresienstadt is an idyllic place and that European Jews are thriving under the…

The Disappearance

By Geneviève Jurgensen, Adriana Hunter (translator),

Book cover of The Disappearance

Monica Wesolowska Author Of Holding Silvan: A Brief Life

From the list on maternal grief and universal love.

Who am I?

I am a member of an unfortunate tribe, the tribe of grieving mothers who write. Upon learning that my newborn son was profoundly brain-damaged, I kept a diary. Writing those pages helped me make sense of his prognosis and figure out how to care for him before he died. Later, my diary helped me write my memoir Holding Silvan: A Brief Life which went on to be named a “Best Book” of the year by both Library Journal and the Boston Globe. Today, I write and work with other writers trying to craft their own stories of loss. Each experience of grief is unique. The five memoirs I’m recommending give voice to a variety of maternal losses — from stillbirth to murder. While each of these memoirs is powerful in its own way, the love in them is universal.

Monica's book list on maternal grief and universal love

Discover why each book is one of Monica's favorite books.

Why did Monica love this book?

Upon receiving the news that her two young daughters had been killed by a drunk driver, Genevieve Jurgensen didn’t think she could go on, let alone ever write about her loss. Fortunately for us, she eventually found a way to tell this story. Through letters to a friend, she draws us in, circling the pain of that terrible day, musing about the mysterious ways in which loss can coexist with a happy, ongoing life. With its raw and intimate feel, the book is a profoundly moving testimony to the complicated process of healing.

By Geneviève Jurgensen, Adriana Hunter (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What do you do, how do you live, when both of your daughters are killed on the same afternoon?

On April 30, 1980, Genevieve Jurgensen found herself facing that question when she lost her four- and seven-year-old daughters to a drunk driver. Here she presents her search for an answer.

French Kids Eat Everything

By Karen Le Billon,

Book cover of French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters

Linda Åkeson McGurk Author Of There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge)

From the list on parenting secrets from other cultures.

Who am I?

I’m a Swedish American journalist, blogger, and author whose writings about Scandinavian parenting culture have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online publications across the world, including,, and Green Child Magazine. I’m particularly interested in the role of nature in childhood and believe the best memories are created outside, while jumping in puddles, digging in dirt, catching bugs and climbing trees. In 2013, I started the blog Rain or Shine Mamma to inspire other parents and caregivers to get outside with their children every day, regardless of the weather. I’m currently working on my second book, about the Nordic outdoor tradition friluftsliv, which will be published by Tarcher Perigee in 2022.

Linda's book list on parenting secrets from other cultures

Discover why each book is one of Linda's favorite books.

Why did Linda love this book?

The title alone of this book was enough to get me hooked since my experience with young children was that they typically don’t eat anything – and I know I’m not alone. Le Billon gives us a peek into the culinary lives of French parents and shares her best tips for getting kids to not only eat what the adults eat, which in France may involve both beef tongue and smelly blue cheese, but also enjoy it. 

By Karen Le Billon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked French Kids Eat Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Far too many parents face an ongoing struggle to get their kids to eat well, so why is it that French children gladly wolf down all the things our kids hate - the dreaded spinach or broccoli, fish, olives, salad...? In French Kids Eat Everything, Karen Le Billon shares her experience of moving to France and finding the inspiration to transform her family's approach to eating.

If you've ever tried hiding healthy foods in your kids' meals, bribing them to finish - or even start - something healthy, or simply given up in exasperation at your child's extensive list of…

Book cover of Understanding Toddlers & Twos: Winning Ways for Early Childhood Professionals

Joni Levine Author Of 365 Toddler Activities That Inspire Creativity: Games, Projects, and Pastimes That Encourage a Child's Learning and Imagination

From the list on toddler development and behavior.

Who am I?

My passion has always been caring for and educating young children. I spent over 20 years in the classroom as a child care professional and much of that time was with toddlers. I discovered that the stereotype of the terrible twos was truly misguided. I chose books that will shed new light on why toddlers behave the way that they do. These books will show the reader what an important time this is in a child’s growth and learning. I believe that these books will help convince you that toddlers are not terrible; they are terrific!

Joni's book list on toddler development and behavior

Discover why each book is one of Joni's favorite books.

Why did Joni love this book?

This book is part of a trilogy that offers valuable insights and strategies for caring for young children. Readers will gain an understanding of toddler development and behavior. The author also covers techniques for promoting positive connections with adults and responding to the child’s individual needs.

By Gigi Schweikert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding Toddlers & Twos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Understand the complex yet amazing toddler years as you help children develop new skills One- and two-year-olds are in the midst of developing and exploring their skills to communicate, move purposely, and assert their independence and individuality. As their teacher, you have great patience, energy, and creativity as you work with their on the go approach to life. Use this professional development workbook to help navigate the complex toddler years and gain a better understanding of their growth and development. You will improve your interactions with them by responding to their individual needs, find out how to create a routine…

Separate Is Never Equal

By Duncan Tonatiuh,

Book cover of Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight for Desegregation

Mara Rockliff Author Of Sweet Justice: Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

From the list on civil rights heroes.

Who am I?

I am a children’s author best known for digging up fascinating stories about famous people—and forgotten people who deserve to be famous again. As a kid, I loved reading about the old days, but I wasn’t very interested in “history,” which seemed to be dull facts about a few Great Men. In college, though, I studied social movements and discovered that we all make history together, and that it takes the combined efforts of countless unsung heroes—just as brave, hardworking, and persistent as the big names everybody knows—to achieve real change. 

Mara's book list on civil rights heroes

Discover why each book is one of Mara's favorite books.

Why did Mara love this book?

Civil rights have been denied to many groups in the United States at different times in different ways—and sometimes in very much the same way, as I learned from this book about a landmark school desegregation case in 1946 in California. Eight-year-old Sylvia Mendez didn’t understand why she had to go to the “Mexican school,” a rough shack without a playground or a cafeteria, when there was a much nicer public school close to her house. So her family decided to fight—not just for Sylvia and her brothers, but for all children in segregated schools in California. Ultimately, they won, with help (as Tonatiuh points out) from the American Jewish Congress, the Japanese American Citizens League, and the NAACP.

By Duncan Tonatiuh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Separate Is Never Equal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 2015 Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor Book and a 2015 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a "Whites only" school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.Praise for Separate is Never EqualSTARRED REVIEWS"Tonatiuh masterfully combines text and…

My Name Is Why

By Lemn Sissay,

Book cover of My Name Is Why

Jools Abrams Author Of Girl in the Mirror

From the list on un-miserable memoirs with tricky family history.

Who am I?

I’ve been a life writer since I kept my first Mary Quant, Daisy diary in 1973. Reading and writing memoir, I’ve written thirty as a ghostwriter in the last six years and am working on my own. I’m fascinated by life stories. After an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, I won the Wasafiri Life Writing Prize, which led to a novel in biographical form, based on the life of my nan in the last century, Girl in the Mirror. I write stories, short and long, for adults and children, performing nationally and in London, was Writer in Residence for Talliston House, and have been published by Walker Books and Mslexia.

Jools' book list on un-miserable memoirs with tricky family history

Discover why each book is one of Jools' favorite books.

Why did Jools love this book?

Mixing official documents with real, remembered events, Lemn Sissay’s memoir is a search for identity, for his true name. Left in a home in Liverpool for unmarried mothers, he is moved between a series of foster and care homes, until he is given access to all his records in 2015, after a thirty-year campaign to find them. He finds who he really is. It’s an honest, poignant, unsettling, and heartfelt journey, revealing how a small boy’s life is shaped by ‘the authority’ and the faceless state. Complimented with inspiring poems and useful resources, this is a hopeful and helpful book. 

By Lemn Sissay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Name Is Why as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


How does a government steal a child and then imprison him? How does it keep it a secret? This story is how.

At the age of seventeen, after a childhood in a foster family followed by six years in care homes, Norman Greenwood was given his birth certificate. He learned that his real name was not Norman. It was Lemn Sissay. He was British and…

Wonder Bear

By Tao Nyeu,

Book cover of Wonder Bear

Lisa Cinar Author Of Monster Problems

From the list on destined to be classics but flying under the radar.

Who am I?

I am an author, illustrator, and designer who has always been passionate about books, and especially picture books. As a child I loved to look at the pictures, listen to my mom read them out loud to me, and dream about them. Today I am making my own! Knowing that now it’s my books that kids are reading, gives me a true sense of purpose and joy. A few of the things I care about (other than books) are spending time in nature with my cute senior dog, learning new things, riding my bike, neurodiversity, climate advocacy, and new ways of thinking and problem-solving.

Lisa's book list on destined to be classics but flying under the radar

Discover why each book is one of Lisa's favorite books.

Why did Lisa love this book?

I love wordless picture books and this one is very special! The artwork is incredibly beautiful and was silk-screened using water-based inks resulting in the most luscious colour. Two kids plant a seed; a giant magical flower tree grows with a magical bear on top who takes them on an enchanted journey full of flying monkeys, bubbles, flowers, dolphins, seals, and more. Don’t miss out and join them in this dream of a book!  

By Tao Nyeu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two kids plant mysterious seeds (all that?s pictured on the envelope is a blue top hat), and up grows a remarkable flowering vine, out of which emerges an even more remarkable big white bear. On his head is the top hat?a hat that allows him to work all kinds of magic that day. He pulls monkey after monkey from the hat, blows bubbles in amazing shapes, and transforms flowers into spectacular floating sea creatures.

The two kids are wide-eyed with wonder, and you will be too. This is a dazzling debut?a vibrant, welcoming, strikingly original picture book.

The Turn of the Screw

By Henry James,

Book cover of The Turn of the Screw

Thomas Reed Author Of Pocketful of Poseys

From the list on siblings in trying circumstances.

Who am I?

I taught my first three recommendations as an English professor at Dickinson College. Since I retired, I’m constantly on the lookout for books worth discussing. Growing up, my feelings towards my brilliant and accomplished older sister cycled between awe, jealousy, resentment, and affection. That must partly account for the draw of books that explore the shared experiences and complex relationships of siblings. She’s sadly gone now, but watching the closening ties and lingering frictions between my own daughter and son keeps that interest alive—as does my constant witnessing of my wife’s rich relationship with her two older brothers. Since Cain and Abel, it’s all been about siblings.

Thomas' book list on siblings in trying circumstances

Discover why each book is one of Thomas' favorite books.

Why did Thomas love this book?

James’s novella is the closest thing I know to a literary version of the “Rabbit or Duck?” illusion— either a ghost story or a case study in psychopathology, depending on your perspective.

Miles and Flora, 10 and 8, are Victorian orphans left in the charge of an uncaring uncle. Their governess is far more attentive, but her own cloistered religious upbringing hasn’t prepared her for a world of anything other than Purity versus Corruption.

When she learns that the previous governess at Bly House was seduced by the uncle’s valet, she’s driven at any cost to purge the children of their vile influences—which she thinks they continue to exert as ghosts. But is she the only dangerous adult presence?

A chilling look at the power of puritanical ideology and the total dependence of children on their educators and caregivers, this book is well worth whacking through the thicket of James’s…

By Henry James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A most wonderful, lurid, poisonous little tale' Oscar Wilde

The Turn of the Screw, James's great masterpiece of haunting atmosphere and unbearable tension, tells of a young governess sent to a country house to take charge of two orphans, Miles and Flora. Unsettled by a dark foreboding of menace within the house, she soon comes to believe that something, or someone, malevolent is stalking the children in her care. Is the threat to her young charges really a malign and ghostly presence, or a manifestation of something else entirely?

Edited and with an Introduction and Notes by David Bromwich