I Have Just the Book for That!

June 1, 2019

Have you ever read a book at a certain point in your childhood that stuck with you into adulthood? Sometimes books become paper memories – as soon as you reread it your mind drifts back to a time in your life like looking at a photograph.

In today’s post there are a series of hypothetical scenarios that your child may face at different times and some books that would suit that scenario best! Perhaps some of these books will become precious memories for them too.

( Key: P = picture book  MG = middle grade YA = Young Adult )

When you’re going on a summer vacation and can only pack one read aloud:

The Penderwicks (MG) – a personal favorite childhood summer read! In this whimsical book, follow the story of four sisters on their summer vacation on an estate in the mountains. This book is sweet, character-driven, and perfect for your imaginative child.

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora (MG) – thirteen year old Arturo Zamora spends his summers in his hometown of Miami playing basketball and washing the dishes at his Abuela’s restaurant. But when a land developer comes and threatens to change things Arturo must fight to protect his beloved community. This touching middle grade read celebrates community, family, and the art of poetry and protest.

Camp Babymouse (P) – follow Babymouse on her very first camping trip! Everything is fun and games until she gets lost in the wilderness. Will she ever find her way back? Find out in this delightful children’s graphic novel, part of the Babymouse series!

When the power is out and it’s dark and spooky at night:

In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories (P) – who says that easy readers have to be boring? This creepy little book of short horror stories is perfect for your early reader to read and love (or fear). It features seven spooky stories, including the infamous girl with the green ribbon around her neck and more!

Coraline (MG) – when I read this book as a child, it absolutely terrified me! Follow the young Coraline as she moves into a new house with her parents. One day she discovers a doorway in their new house. Inside, she finds an alternate-reality version of their home and alternate-reality versions of her parents! She decides she likes them much better than her real ones. But things aren’t quite as perfect as they seem… Let’s just say, I’ll never see button-eyes the same way again.

Graveyard Book (MG) – another Neil Gaiman classic! Follow the story of Nobody “Bod” Owens, a living boy who lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts. Bod can never leave the graveyard. If he does the ghosts cannot protect him against the evil man who killed his parents. But Bod can’t hide forever… Creepy yet touching, a book that every young horror fan will cherish!

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (MG) – this book is not for the faint of heart! This is a collection of some of the most terrifying stories ever told, paired with horrific illustrations. Best read late at night, under the covers, a flashlight in hand.

A Tale Dark and Grimm (MG) – one of the spookiest retellings of Hansel and Gretel ever written! Follow Hansel and Gretel as they trek through eight classic Grimm’s fairy tales (in all of their dark and grisly glory) in search of their own ‘happily ever after’. One of the scariest books I ever read as a child, but also a very beloved book that sparked a love of fairy tales that hasn’t died yet.

When your child cannot fall asleep and wants to escape into another world in their dreams:

The Chronicles of Prydain (YA) this was one of my all time favorite fantasy series when I was younger – I devoured these at night on my first kindle fire. Taran longs to be a hero. Unfortunately his only purpose seems to be looking after a pig with oracular powers. But when the pig senses danger and runs away, Taran is suddenly thrown into a grand adventure! He meets lots of other fascinating, colorful characters and visits many dark and magical places along the way to saving the kingdom.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon (MG) – a beautiful, magical story about a young girl named Luna with extraordinary magic after a kindhearted witch accidentally fed her moonlight when she was a baby. The witch raises Luna as her own, but keeps her magic a secret from her until she turns thirteen. But when people from the village want to kill the witch, viewing her as evil, Luna must learn to use her magic in order to protect her adoptive mother.

Gregor the Overlander (MG) – a strange, silly book series about a boy named Gregor and his little sister who fall through a grate in their laundry room and discover a world below called the Underland where cockroaches are gigantic and can speak and people fly on the backs of giant bats. Gregor soon discovers however that the Underland might have something to do with the disappearance of his father. Not only that, but Gregor himself is a part of a prophesy regarding the future of the Underland itself!

The Door to the Lost  (MG) – when the magical world of Talhaven loses all of its magic in an explosion, most of its children (who still possess magical powers) are sent away to another world. But this new world doesn’t trust magic. Even though these children might be the only thing that can save them from the evil, dying magic poisoning everything it touches.

Roxaboxen (P) – a touching, heartfelt picture book that celebrates the magic of a child’s imagination. Most only see Roxaboxen as just an ordinary rocky hill, but to the children who know it best it is a special place all their own, filled with its own imagination-fueled magic.

When your child’s best friend moves away and they are sad:

Juna’s Jar (P) – Juna is heartbroken when Hector, her closest friend, moves away without being able to say goodbye. When they played together they would go on ‘adventures’ and fill empty kimchi jars with the things they’d find. Follow Juna’s journey as she learns to cope with her friend moving away. Juna learns that with imagination adventure can be found anywhere, even if Hector is no longer there.

Faraway Friends  (P) – this book urges children to channel their loneliness into creativity! Sheldon is sad that his best friend moves away. Instead of wallowing in his loneliness, he decides to use his imagination and art to build a spaceship and go on an epic adventure through outer space!

Love Amalia  (MG) – this book is both a beautiful exploration of Hispanic heritage and the story of a girl named Amalia who learns more about her heritage in order to cope with her best friend Martha moving away and the death of her beloved grandmother.

When you’re moving away and your child is sad/anxious:

Anastasia Again!  (MG) – twelve year old Anastasia is convinced that moving to the suburbs will be the beginning of the end. But will she grow to love her new home, especially with the cute boy who lives down the street?

Ghosts  (MG) – Catrina is less than thrilled about moving to the coast of Northern California, not wanting to be away from her friends. However her parents believe the ocean air would be good for her younger sister Maya who has cystic fibrosis. Things get much more interesting when a neighbor tells Catrina and Maya that ghosts live there as well…

Georgia Rules  (MG) – Maggie never wants to leave Georgia, but her mother decides to move to Vermont anyways, to a farm once owned by her late father.  There they meet the peculiar Parker family and she learns more about the father she never knew and why her mother kept him hidden from her for so long.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street  (MG) – Tessa has no time to feel homesick after moving from hot Florida to cold and wet Chicago when she discovers that the house they moved into is haunted! It all starts when her little brother’s doll starts to cry. She learns that strange things have happened here hundreds of years ago… and the ghosts are trying to communicate with her!

When your child is dealing with a bully:

One  (P) – a whimsical picture book in which the color red likes to pick on the color blue, and none of the other colors know what to do! One day the number One appears and teaches the other colors how to accept each other as they are. This book teaches very young children all about colors, numbers, and accepting those who are different from themselves.

Jacob’s New Dress  (P) – a heartwarming picture book about tackling gender roles. Jacob wants to wear dresses, but all the other children tease him and tell him that dresses are “girl clothes” and that he can’t wear them. Can Jacob convince his parents to let him wear dresses anyway?

Wonder (MG) – this book is about a fifth grader named Auggie who was born with a facial deformity that other children make fun of and call him a ‘freak’. Auggie just wants to be seen as a normal kid, but fears he never will. This is a very popular, well-loved story about empathy and acceptance.

Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories (YA) – this is a non-fiction collection of stories from seventy different YA authors (ex. Kierstin White, R. L. Stein) telling of their own personal experiences with bullying and how they overcame it.

Inside Out and Back Again  (MG) – Hà grew up in Saigon, but due to the Vietnam War she and her family are forced to flee and move to Alabama. This is a novel-in-verse about the struggles of adjusting to a new country and its people, and the strength of family in the face of hardship.

When there’s a death in the family:

Charlotte’s Web (MG) – the classic story of a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte who become close friends. This is a story of love, friendship, and death. It is a good, gentle way to introduce the concept of death to younger children.

Annabelle & Aiden: What Happens When You Die?  (P) – this gorgeously illustrated picture book tackles the concept of death from a scientific viewpoint. Protagonists Annabelle and Aiden ask the question “what happens when you die?” and discovers the truth about mortality and how to live their own lives to the fullest before their time comes as well.

A Monster Calls (YA) – after the tragic death of his mother, Conor dreams of a monster outside his window. The monster asks him for the truth. This is a tragic, heartfelt story of courage and healing from loss.

The Astonishing Color of After (YA) – this beautifully written novel is a personal favorite – it tells the story of a girl named Leigh who is convinced that after her mother committed suicide she transformed into a bird and is trying to communicate with her through the afterlife. This book deals with family heritage (Leigh travels to visit her grandparents in Taiwan), mental health, love, and grief.

When your child becomes an older sibling:

Cilla Lee-Jenkins, Author Extraordinaire! (MG) – Cilla Lee-Jenkins is going to be a famous author one day. But she needs to work fast. If she doesn’t finish her novel and become famous before her little brother is born her family will forget all about her!

On Mother’s Lap  (P) – a young Inuit boy worries that with the birth of his baby sister his mother won’t be able to love him as much anymore. But he soon discovers that there is always room on his mothers lap.

Just Fly Away (YA) – fifteen year old Lucy Willows finds out that her father had an affair with another woman, and she has an eight year old brother she never even knew about! Feeling isolated from everyone she knows and loves, she goes to Maine to stay with her estranged grandfather. There she learns more secrets about her family…


Books can make a major impact on your life depending on the time that you discover and read them. They can become the holders of memories, a way of framing a certain point in your lifetime. You can reread them to reflect on yourself and who you were at the time you first read it. Hopefully, with these book recommendations you and your child can create more bookish memories that can be saved and cherished for a lifetime.

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Sarah Cook has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She loves to read, daydream, and fangirl over her favorite anime and manga. As a K – 12 homeschool survivor and graduate, she is currently a creative writing major in college. She hopes to someday travel the world, write bestselling novels, and own 152 cats. You can follow her on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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