Youth Department

Youth Book Recommendations

Book Bundles

Wondering what to read next?
You tell us what you love. We pick your next read.

Fill out the form below, and a library staff member will hand-select five to ten books catered to your interests. We’ll get them ready for you and library staff will notify you when your items are ready for pickup. They will be on the hold shelves.

Book Bundle Request Form

Book Recommendations from the Youth Department staff!

If you’re stuck in a reading rut or want to find a new favorite book, check out what our staff recommends!

Anastasia, Horror & Graphic Novels

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 Picture Books

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen. “What if you talked to the dark and the dark talked back? This beautifully written and illustrated book seems like it could be fairly simple and straightforward at first glance, but it has complexity that will keep readers of all ages entertained (and maybe even a bit creeped out).”-Anastasia

Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival. “This beautifully illustrated and heartwarming story is perfect for children who struggle with making friends and find socializing overwhelming.” -Anastasia

Twinkle Twinkle Little Kid by Drew Daywalt – This delightful story of unexpected friendship is paired with cute dream-like illustrations making it a perfect bedtime read.

Saturday at the Food Pantry by Diane O’Neill. “Heartfelt and affirming, this picture book covers the topic of food insecurity in a way that helps dismantle the stigma and shame surrounding it. It highlights not only the importance of helping those in need, but that it’s okay to need and accept help for yourself too. The illustrator’s simplistically whimsical style and lovely use of color help keep the book from feeling too heavy while also promoting diversity in its character depictions” -Anastasia

Middle Grade Books

A Soft Place to Land by Janae Marks – This warm and heartfelt story follows Joy, a courageous young girl as she is reshaping her meaning of home. When Joy’s father loses his job, their family is forced to leave their house and move into an apartment. In the apartment complex, Joy discovers a cozy little secret hideaway where she begins writing messages back and forth with another kid in the complex. When the messages stop abruptly, Joy is determined to find out who the mystery writer is and if they’re okay. With its themes of connection, loss, and home, this book is a great winter break read.

I Can Make this Promise by Christine Day. “Inspired by the author’s own familial history, a young girl uncovers family secrets that lead her on a path to discovering her own Native identity. This insightful and beautifully written story illustrates the emotional impact of being unwillingly distanced from one’s cultural identity and the ripple effects of generational systemic oppression. While this book manages to be both deeply sad and brightly hopeful, the main character’s preteen anxiety and emotional maturity make for a relatable and enjoyable read.” – Anastasia

Ghoulia by Barbara Cantini. “A lonely young zombie named Ghoulia lives in a big creepy house with an assortment of strange friends and relatives. This heartwarming tale of friendship and the importance of being yourself is accompanied by ghoulishly witty and detailed illustrations and ideas for fun activities.” –Anastasia

Thirteens (The Secrets of Eden Eld) by Kate Alice Marshall. “Eden Eld is a seemingly “perfect” town with a very dark secret: every thirteen years three thirteen-year-olds disappear. With its eerie atmospheric writing, lovable characters, and enticing mysteries, this book is a perfect October read!”–Anastasia

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling. “This unique novel empathetically blends difficult and sensitive topics with humor and wit. It’s a great read for the start of a new school year as the main character is adjusting to middle school and life in a new state, where her being born armless presents many challenges.” -Anastasia

Aimee, Picture Books

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Picture Books

Trick or Treat, Crankenstein by Samantha Berger.  “A boy who looks ordinary transforms into grumbling Crankenstein when he receives more tricks than treats on Halloween.
Cinderella Skeleton by Robert San Souci- A rhyming retelling of the story of a young woman who finds her prince at a Halloween ball despite the efforts of her wicked stepmother. The main characters are skeletons. (Beautiful artwork)”–Aimee

Here Lies Linc by Delia Ray – “While researching a rumored-to-be-haunted grave for a local history project, twelve-year-old Lincoln Crenshaw unearths some startling truths about his own family.”–Aimee

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano – “Bright, imaginative, eleven-year-old Pram lives with two aunts who run a retirement home, hiding the fact that she can talk with ghosts–but not the spirit of her mother–and after befriending Clarence, who also lost his mother, she decides to find her father in hopes he can answer her questions.”–Aimee

Bekah, Fantasy Lover

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Picture Books

The Rice in the Pot Goes Round and Round by Wendy Wan-Long Shang. “I’m a huge fan of books that can be put to song, which automatically makes this one of my favorite new releases. Set during a family dinner, we are shown how food and traditions bring family together.”

The Little Blue Bridge by  Brenda Maier. “I loved ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’ when I was little, and this is a great reimagining of it that blends girl power and STEM”.–Bekah

Middle Grade Books

Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe.  “In this novel, the young heroine Eva must set out on a journey to prove herself as a novice witch– reminiscent of Kiki’s Delivery Service. Eva must locate a town without a witch and help them for one moon, but when the town Eva has chosen comes under a dangerous threat, what can a semi-magical witch repair witch do? Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch will take readers on a heartwarming journey full of laughter, magic, determination, friendship, and love. The sequel Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch just recently came out, and it is equally delightful.”

That Thing About Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar. “Sonali has a hard time remembering a time when her parents didn’t argue, but she does remember their reactions when she presented a PowerPoint Presentation to them (and their extended family) about why parents shouldn’t argue. Since that day, Sonali has pretended that she is fine, her parents are fine, everything is fine, but when she finds out her parents are getting a divorce, she can no longer suppress her emotions. Bollywooditis takes over, and she begins to sing every time she gets emotional. Can Sonali find a way to stop singing? I loved how this book covered hard topics, like changing family and friend dynamics,  but made them more approachable through Bollywoodesque song and dance.”–Bekah

The Moorchild by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. “This is an oldie but a goodie. Steeped in Scottish folklore, The Moorchild explores what happens when a changeling discovers what it is and goes on a journey to the faerie court to steal back her parents’ biological child. This story packs an emotional punch, and I recommend it to those who love tales of the fae and historical fiction.”–Bekah

The Queen's Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner. *My favorite*

“I can steal anything.”

In The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner(MWT) introduces us to Gen, the main protagonist in her Queen’s Thief series. His entrance is far from grand. We meet him, contemplating his life choices, in the king’s prison, waiting for an opportune moment to steal himself away. Just the opportunity comes when the magus, the King of Sounis’s highest advisor, visits him and offers him a deal: die in prison or steal something for him. Thus, the magus, his two apprentices, a soldier, and a thief begin a journey that turns out to be so much more than stealing an object of legend.

Told in first-person, Gen proves to be a very unreliable narrator. It’s like he’s telling this story to an old friend who knows much more than we do, allowing them to fill in blanks we don’t even realize are missing. His tone is playful, engaging, and exasperating. Interspersed throughout the narrative, MWT includes stories of the old gods, which are still worshipped in Sounis’s neighboring country Eddis. These stories often mirror the events of the main storyline and provide not only depth to her world-building but insight into the importance of the object Gen is tasked with stealing. The Thief is very much a straight forward ‘hero’s journey’ story. The pace can sometimes lag, but the payoff is brilliant.

MWT constructs the plot of The Thief and The Queen’s Thief series like she’s piecing together a puzzle, carefully assembling the narrative in order to deceive and delight readers. Details we think are erroneous end up being impactful and important.

After The Thief, there are five more novels: The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, Thick as Thieves, and Return of the Thief. Each book builds on the last, and while Gen is not the main protagonist of each of these books—The Thief is the only time we get to be in his head—he remains the pivotal character, the binding glue, of the series. His actions will cause wars, manipulate monarchs, topple and rebuild kingdoms, and steal hearts. And throughout, he remains our loveable, incorrigible Gen who, if given the chance, will steal your heart as well. (He just can’t help himself).


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Picture Books

May Your Life Be Deliciosa by Michael Genhart: This book brought an immediate smile to my face as I was reminded of my own family gatherings and the memories made with food, laughter, and quality time together. May Your Life Be Deliciosa is a beautiful story that celebrates the power of family and the joy of the holiday season. Featuring Spanish and English, Rosie’s abuela shares her wisdom with Rosie and their whole family as they work together to make tamales, passing down her “recipe” with the story told along the way.

Butterflies Are Pretty Gross! by Rosemary Mosco: This book is great for kids into all things stinky, sticky, and gross. Featuring silly narration, this book shares fun facts about butterflies you’ve probably never heard of before without becoming too technical. Featuring a unique illustration style, the book is engaging for readers of all levels. The ending of the book includes a listing of all the different butterflies illustrated in the book for further research opportunities and discussion.

Ducks Overboard! A True Story of Plastic in our Ocean by Markus Motum: Sharing the journey of a duck destined for bathtime who becomes lost at sea, this book brings light to complex topics like plastic pollution and how goods are brought to the US and other countries without being too difficult for younger readers to understand. Beautifully illustrated, this story centers around the spill of a cargo ship full of ducks and their travels around the world. Taking readers through the Pacific Ocean and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, readers learn about the impact of ocean pollution on sea life and more. Informational text at the end of the story provides opportunities to research more about the topic and expand on the themes highlighted in the story.


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Picture Books

Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places by Katie Frawley

A story told all in letters by an elephant and a cat trading living spaces. They experience the ups and downs of living in each other’s homes.

Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio. “A lonely zombie just wants to find love but will he find someone to share his heart?”–Chelsea

Middle Grade Books

Hooky by Mirium Bonastre Tur – J TUR

A perfect graphic novel for fans of whimsy and magic. When Dani and Dorian miss the bus to magic school they decide to play hooky instead. Soon things spiral out of control as they are declared traitors of witches. There are plenty of adventures and mayhem found in this wonderful story.

Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller. “When Elizabeth moves into her father’s family home, a creepy old mansion called Witheringe House, she learns she had an aunt who vanished years ago. Soon Elizabeth realizes that something very menacing is going on within the house’s dark and empty rooms.”–Chelsea

 Wayside School books by Louis Sachar. “So enjoyable and perfect for back-to-school time.”- Chelsea

Katie, Audiobook Lover

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Picture Books

A Home Under the Stars by Andy Chou Musser. Toby is new to city life and he misses his home, especially the stars. Toby makes friends with animals who are also struggling to adjust to city life. Join Toby and his new friends as they try to find the North Star so the animals can make it home. Musser uses light and dark colors to create beautiful imaginative illustrations that bring you along on the journey.

Have You Ever Seen a Flower? by Shawn Harris . “This book’s colors are so much fun! Bright and happy, perfect as we are looking towards the dullness of winter. With shorter text this book would work with younger kids and conceptually keep older ones interested.”–Katie

I Promise by LeBron James and illustrated by Nina Mata. “Inspired by LeBron’s I Promise school, this book is perfect to read at the start of the school year. It is full of helpful affirmations that will set your child up for a great school year. The bright, bold illustrations help to show what a great school year can look like. Check it out later for a helpful “tune up” as the school year goes on.”-Katie

Lifesize by Sophy Henn. “In this book see animals lifesize! Compare your hand to a polar bear’s paw. Hold the book over your head to see what you’d look like with kangaroo’s ears. This book is full of fun while learning about different animals.”–Katie

Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming. “This book’s short rhyming text is perfect for little ones. It’s bold illustrations will keep their attention and put you all in the Halloween spirit.”–Katie

Middle Grade Books 

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. “Amina is a Pakistani-American Muslim girl who is struggling to stay true to her culture but also wants to fit in with her American classmates. Her mosque gets vandalized and her friend is thinking about changing her name to a more American name. Does Amina need to change who she is to fit in?”-Katie

The Girl with the Glass Bird by Esme Kerr.  Edie is sent to a boarding school, but not to be a student. She is sent to be a spy. Who is she spying on? A Russian princess named Anastasia, who keeps claiming people are stealing from her. The stolen items always show up, so none of the other girls believe her. Does Edie believe her? As the two become best friends, they start to unravel the dangerous mystery that could cost them their lives. (Also good in audiobook!)

My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva.  “A black butterfly appears to Sab one week before her birthday. She knows that the black butterfly is an omen of death. With one week left to live, Sab and her best friend try to figure out how to grant Sab’s last wish; bringing her estranged father and sister together for her birthday.”–Katie

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. “This twisted fairy tale is not for the faint of heart!! Follow Hansel and Gretel through some wild and scary adventures as they come up against many foes, such as witches, dragons, and even the devil himself!”–Katie

Glitter Gets Everywhere by Yvette Clark. “This lovely book about grief follows Kitty and her family after her mother dies of cancer. Kitty’s father gets an opportunity to temporarily work in New York City, so her sister, her father, and Kitty move from their home in London to New York City. There are some sad parts in the book, but overall it is a good story and worth a few tears. Highly recommend listening to the audiobook, because the accents are fun to listen to.”–Katie

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone. “William, or Scoob as he likes to be called, is excited to get out of lockdown and go on an adventurous road trip with his G’ma, but things are not as they appear. The farther they drive, the more Scoob learns more about the country’s and his family’s past, but perhaps it was a mistake to leave home.”-Katie

Zoe in Wonderland by Brenda Woods, narrated by Sisi Aisha Johnson. “Meet Zoe, whose family owns an exotic plant wonderland but thinks her real life is boring. Until one day an astronomer from Madagascar arrives and starts Zoe looking for real-life adventures. This audiobook will be great for summer road trips!”–Katie


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Ayoko’s picture book pick of the month is My name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins Bigelow. “A beautiful story of embracing who you are and how to share your name with the world. Some names are infused with fire, some must be spoken from the heart, and all names should be sung. This is a perfect back-to-school read for everyone learning to take pride in the link between who you are and what you are called.”–Ayoko

Bry’s Picture Book recommendation is Olwen finds her Wings by Nora Surojegin and Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin. Little baby Olwen the owl wants to do something new. All of the new friends she meets can do things like roar and leap, but try as she might, she just can’t do the things the other forest animals can, and she desperately wants to know what things she can do. Cozy up this season and read about Olwen’s journey through the winter forest to find out what makes her special.

Bry’s middle-grade pick of the month isStephen McCranie’s Space Boy by Stephen McCranie. Space Boy is a webcomic that in the last few years has been being adapted into a printed graphic novel series. In this sci-fi drama, readers will encounter Amy, a girl who belongs in a different time, Oliver, a boy haunted by a traumatic past and an emptiness as cold and vast as space itself, alien artifacts, mysterious murder, and a love story that transcends light years. It’s so easy to fall in love with McCranie’s characters and even easier to become enthralled by his story! Find volume one in the library’s Youth Department, join the Space Cadets, and come along on the adventure!

Bry’s November Picture Book recommendation is Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton: It can sometimes be hard to feel confident in who you are, and putting yourself out there can often feel scary. In Becoming Vanessa, Vanessa feels unsure about how easy it will be to make new friends at her school. She dons her fanciest dress and heads to school, but her outfit isn’t getting the reaction she had hoped for. Soon, Vanessa starts to wish she could simply blend in rather than stand out. She even wishes that Vanessa was not her name, but when her mother tells her the meaning behind her name, it gives her the confidence she needs to introduce her classmates to the real Vanessa. A story all about self-love and empathy, this book will help children learn how to go from a timid caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly.

Bry’s November Middle-Grade recommendation is Mighty Inside by Sundee T. Frazier: Melvin Robinson is anxious about starting high school for the same reasons any kid might be, but worsening those anxieties is the stutter which keeps him from saying what’s on his mind. Not to mention that he is one of only two Black students in his class, and the class bully never misses a chance to bring him down. Lenny, Melvin’s saxophone-playing friend who lives above the Black-owned, but segregated, Harlem Club, encourages Melvin to express himself through music. In his story, Melvin discovers just how mighty he truly is, and with a marvelously multicultural lineup of characters, readers will learn more about the impact of racism everywhere and the tight-knit community relationships needed to endure it. Inspired by the family of the author’s real-life experiences integrating into a White neighborhood in Spokane, Washington in the 1950’s, this historical fiction novel tells a heartfelt story about finding your voice and having the courage to use it.

Bry’s picture book pick of the month is Monsters 101 by Cale Atkinson. “You are cordially invited to join the world’s top monster scientists as they debunk the many myths and misconceptions surrounding the world’s frighteningly misunderstood monsters.”-Bry

Bry’s middle-grade pick of the month is The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright – “Everybody knows that toys can’t move by themselves … or can they? That’s what Amy begins to wonder when she uncovers an old dollhouse in her great-grandparents’ attic. Every night, Amy checks on the dollhouse and the dolls inside, but they’re never in the same place that she left them. The dollhouse, replicated to look exactly like the house it’s been found in, used to belong to Amy’s aunt Claire, and its reappearance has brought up painful memories Claire had tried to leave in the past. In a house filled with mysteries and unspoken secrets, the dollhouse and the dolls inside of it begin to unravel unsolved murders and dig up events and emotions that were thought to be buried years ago.”-Bry

Bry’s picture book pick of the month is Love by Corrinne Averiss, illustrated by Kirsti Beautyman. “It can be very difficult to be away from people that you love. In Tess’ house, everyone loves everyone, but everyone can’t come with Tess when she starts school. Tess worries that the love won’t be able to stretch far enough when she is away at school. This emotional and uplifting story addresses the tough topic of separation anxiety in a gentle way that will leave readers feeling reassured and comforted. This story is a beautiful reminder that love is a tie that binds. Love “may stretch and tangle, but it will never truly break.”–Bry

Bry’s middle-grade book pick of the month is The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. “The only world ten-year-old Ada has ever known is the one-room apartment she shares with her mother and brother, Jamie. Because of her twisted foot, Ada’s mother has never allowed her to leave, but In 1940 London, when Jamie and other children are sent to the countryside to escape war, Ada takes the chance to escape her mother and flee with Jamie. Ada and Jamie are placed in the care of Susan Smith, and during their time together, each of them learns how to overcome the pain of past traumas. Ada’s unforgettable, powerful story is told in a beautifully honest way, and if you’re at all like me, it will claim a special place in your heart for years to come.”–Bry

Bry’s picture book pick of the month is My First Day by Phung Nguyen Quang. “This is a visually stunning book that takes readers with a young boy on his journey traveling along the Mekong River to get to his first day of school.”–Bry

Bry’s picture book pick of the month is Ruby’s Reunion Day Dinner written by Angela Dalton & illustrated by Jestenia Southerland.  “A book bursting with the joys of food and family, readers are invited to Ruby’s family reunion where you can find mouth-watering soul food and loving conversation. Come along with Ruby as she tries to find the perfect, special dish to bring to her family’s table!”–Bry

Bry’s middle-grade book pick of the month is Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy by Emmanuel Acho. “A very enlightening and impactful read! Acho approaches what can feel like uncomfortable or complex topics, and he creates a welcoming learning environment for all, breaking down each topic in a very understandable and unique way. This is a very timely book that a person of any age could learn from.”–Bry

>American Library Association book and media awards

>American Library Association notable children’s books and media lists

>Association for Library Service to Children Book Lists

>Babies Need Words

>The Booklist Reader

>The Iowa Children’s Choice Award (for grades 3-6)

>The Goldfinch Awards (for Pre-K-3rd grade)

>Bridge to Reading Picture Book Award (for preschoolers)

>Newbery Award Winners and Newbery Honor Books 

>Hedgehog Books: Where teachers help you find the right book for your child (pre-K through gr. 8)

>Rainbow Book List

>What Should I Read Next?

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