Helping kids find their next favorite book

Adrian Liang on August 20, 2019

By pairing with a trio of charities who have spotlighted the books that kids in school need, Goodreads has made it easy for us to spread our love of reading to the next generation. Here are a half-dozen books from these back-to-school lists that we enjoyed tremendously and believe kids will too.

To see the full lists, visit Goodreads’ post about this back-to-school event.

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees

I love this sweet tale about Gerald the giraffe, whose awkward body makes it hard for him to dance. After he is teased for dancing in front of the other graceful animals, Gerald finds a cricket who helps him find music that inspires him to dance beautifully. This book will appeal to a broad age range—from newborn all the way up new readers, and the message about self-esteem and making peace with your true self, no matter how “weird,” is an important one for kids and parents alike. —Sarah Gelman

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

When it comes to diversity in literature, the young adult genre has been on the cutting edge. Case in point: Meredith Russo’s award-winning If I Was Your Girl, a tender boy-meets-girl story with a twist: Amanda was once known as Andrew, a secret that has already festered into a suicide attempt, caused her to be the victim of a hate crime, and now might threaten her budding romance with high school classmate, Grant. In less skilled hands, this premise could easily be sensationalized. But Russo deftly explores the fears and unique challenges that face many transgender people (and their loved ones), and offers a message of hope. —Erin Kodicek

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Because my wife and I have always worked in books, our two sons have grown up with books all around them. Whether they wanted them around or not. We read to the boys when they were small; and when they were a little bigger, we watched them page through picture books themselves. It was fun and easy, and they really seemed to want to read books. Then came the jump to chapter books.

Boys often get singled out as “reluctant readers,” which is unfair. My boys weren’t reluctant—they didn’t want to read at all. But Captain Underpants changed all that. Dav Pilkey’s series is funny, irreverent, smart, and entertaining. My boys were drawn by the cover and the title, but they stayed for what was between the covers. They loved it! And once they had read through all of the Captain Underpants books, they wanted more to read. So my wife and I helped them find more books to read. As they say, the rest is history. —Chris Schluep

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone is the first book in an exciting new series that’s already won multiple awards and high praise from readers. Author Tomi Adeyemi’s refreshing and original fantasy blends the religious deities (the Orïsha) of her West African heritage with a diverse landscape into a novel that is completely riveting. Children of Blood and Bone is told from multiple points of view, as Inan and Amari, children of the iron-fisted king, and Zélie and Tzain, siblings who have suffered greatly under the king’s regime, find themselves on a dark, magic-filled quest for power. Their journey is accompanied by violence and betrayal, but friendship and even star-crossed love also play a part. Enriched with themes that resonate in today’s social and political landscape, Children of Blood and Bone takes on injustice, discrimination, and a struggle for change. There is a fantastic cliff-hanger ending that’s had many of us on the edge of our seats, waiting for book two. Luckily, Children of Virtue and Vengeance is right around the corner (December 3rd)! —Seira Wilson

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

The first moment a book spoke directly to me was in a dark corner of my elementary school library, when I found Where the Wild Things Are on a low, dusty shelf — the monster on its jacket waiting patiently for me, just as it awaited on shore for Max on his dream-driven sailboat. Already a monster-enthusiast, I was sure the book was a secret message from Maurice Sendak, written just for me. But the real revelation was the feeling that he respected us kids, that he understood our frustrations and fantasies. And that he knew we could handle the monsters. —Jon Foro

El Deafo by Cece Bell

The cover alone gives a glimpse into what’s inside: imagination, whimsy, and bravery. This graphic novel aimed at kids ages 8 to 12 stars Cece, a girl who lost her hearing while young and has to use her bulky Phonic Ear to understand what’s being said at school: a tough situation when you want to make new friends and fit in. Cece’s funny, bittersweet journey from considering her deafness as a disability to seeing it as simply a difference made my heart grow at least two sizes bigger. A smart, perfect read. —Adrian Liang

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