Fall 2018’s Best Children’s and Middle Grade Books

Fall 2018’s Best Children’s and Middle Grade Books

fall’s must-read children’s books

Fall is here, and this year’s book harvest has been bountiful. To help ensure you have an A+ list of autumn reads, we’ve rounded up 12 of this fall’s must-read children’s books. Picture book readers can choose between books about lovable dogs, a scrumptious stew, or a mother and son’s journey to America. Middle grade readers can join a middle grade Breakfast Club, learn the art of trading, or cheer as two graphic novel characters fight to save their city. So settle in and get cozy: You’ve got a lot of reading to do.

Picture Books

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

In her latest picture book, Caldecott Honor artist Yuyi Morales draws inspiration from her own experiences immigrating from Mexico to the U.S. in 1994 with her infant son, Kelly. Told through stunning mixed media, the story follows a mother and son as they settle in San Francisco. It’s a daunting task to start over in a new country, and the pair face discrimination. But then they discover their local public library. It’s there that they begin to dream of what their future could look like and to truly feel at home in this new land: “We learned to read, to speak, to write, and to make our voices heard.” Morales’ Dreamers is a moving story about the power of language (both to alienate and to comfort) and what it means to find home.

On shelves: September 4

Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

This picture book opens with the heartwarming image of a baby boy asleep on a blue blanket beside a golden puppy. As the pages turn, the two grow older and begin to explore the world around them and the story tracks the significance of the color blue in their shared lives. Much of that world, it turns out, is blue. First there’s the blue blanket, then there are blueberries, the ocean, and even the feeling of a too-soon goodbye (followed by a hopeful ending). In this companion to Green, Laura Vaccaro Seeger explores the depth of a bond between a child and an animal, while crafting an ode to a shade that truly colors all of our lives in one way or another.

On shelves: September 25

Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

In this inspiring poem, Juan Felipe Herrera shares his journey from childhood to becoming the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, while encouraging young readers to imagine what they could achieve in their own lives. Each two-page spread, illustrated by Lauren Castillo, shares a chapter of Herrera’s life—from feeding chickens at his family farm in California to teaching himself English. The verses each end on the word “imagine,” prompting readers to put themselves in Herrera’s shoes and to think of the possibilities that their own futures hold. Readers young and old will want to grasp onto that word and spend some time after reading sharing their own dreams.

On shelves: September 25

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

Omu spends her afternoon carefully crafting a hearty stew for dinner. After taking an early taste, she swears it’ll be the best she’s ever made. Omu leaves the meal simmering while she indulges in a book before supper, but she’s interrupted over and over again when the smell of stew wafting from her window brings hungry neighbors to her door. Ever generous, Omu lets each neighbor have a taste until finally there’s no stew left her for evening meal. But Omu’s kindness doesn’t go unnoticed, and her neighbors all return bearing dishes of their own to share. Told through collage art, this picture book is a celebration of sharing and coming together. But a word of warning: This scrumptious book is sure to elicit a growling stomach. Have a delicious supper handy when reading this gem.

On shelves: October 2

The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee

This book’s narrator, a young knight, lives on the left side of the wall that runs down the gutter of this book. As he uses a ladder to scale the wall and replace a fallen brick, he eagerly informs the reader that the wall protects him from all of the dangers on the opposite side, such as a sharp-toothed tiger, a ready-to-charge rhino, and (most dangerous of all) a club-wielding man-eating giant ogre. While the knight is bragging, he fails to notice the flood waters rising beneath him. Will our hero perish or perhaps be proven wrong and saved by those he scorned so quickly earlier? This hilarious tale packs in an ever-timely reminder that you should never judge someone before getting to know them.

On shelves: October 2

Found by Jeff Newman and Larry Day

In this wordless picture book, a young girl named Jenn begins to heal after her dog goes missing. Jenn misses her dog Prudence more than anything, and she keeps Prudence’s bed and photos of them both in her room. Then she finds a lost dog out in the rain and welcomes him into her home and her heart. Just when she believes she’s found a new best friend, Jenn discovers that the dog has an owner. Though it’s hard, Jenn makes the right decision and returns the dog. Alone once more, Jenn starts to walk back, not knowing that she’s about to pass an animal shelter where another canine is in need of a home. Animals lovers will adore this picture book that celebrates the idea that when we rescue a dog, they rescue us right back.

On shelves: November 20

Middle Grade

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

This stunning anthology is certain to inspire readers of all ages to keep fighting for a better tomorrow. It collects 30 illustrated works from over 50 children’s authors and illustrators (including favorites such as Jacqueline Woodson, Jason Reynolds, and Ellen Oh). Each piece is an answer to the question “In this divisive world, what shall we tell our children?” The inclusive contributions tackle prejudice, racism, and injustice. These creators share their wisdom, experiences, and encouragement with the next generation, reminding readers to embrace their heritage, to hold their heads high, and to be proud of who they are.

On shelves: September 4

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini, illustrated by Dan Williams

Khaled Hosseini’s latest novel draws inspiration from the widely circulated 2015 photograph of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned off the coast of Turkey. This illustrated book is written as a letter from a Syrian father to his son on the night before their journey to Europe. The father reminisces about his peaceful childhood in Homs, one starkly different from the one his own son has known. He confesses his fears, knowing that the sea they’re traveling across can be cruel and deadly, as well as his knowledge that they have no choice but to leave their home and pray for a safe journey. This is a slim book, but one that readers young and old won’t soon forget.

On shelves: September 18

The Divided Earth by Faith Erin Hicks

Faith Erin Hicks brings her Nameless City trilogy to a close in this dynamic final volume. The story picks up where the second book left off with a race against the clock as Rat and Kaidu prepare to steal a deadly weapon from Erzi, the reigning Dao prince, before he can use it to destroy the city they love. This series is a staff favorite here at Bookish, and we’ve been counting down the days until its release. Fans won’t want to waste a second before diving into this new adventure. New readers, especially those who are fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra will want to start at the beginning with The Nameless City.

On shelves: September 25

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Twelve-year-old Louisiana Elefante is awoken in the middle of the night by her grandmother, who insists that they leave home immediately because “the day of reckoning has arrived.” Granny believes that their family is cursed, and swears that she had a vision of how they could reverse it. The two drive away from Florida but stop in Georgia when Granny needs a doctor. It’s there that Louisiana learns of long-hidden family secrets that change everything she thought she knew about her past. When her Granny disappears, leaving Louisiana abandoned and alone, things start to look dire. Despite her circumstances, Louisiana doesn’t give up hope. With the help of a new friend, she begins to find her way home. Readers who first met Louisiana in Raymie Nightingale will be overjoyed to reunite with her, while new readers will immediately finish this standalone and want to meet Raymie next.

On shelves: October 2

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon

Brothers Caleb and Bobby Gene are tired of playing by their dad’s rules. If he had his way, their summer would be as safe, ordinary, and boring as their Indiana town. Their father’s concerns stem from not wanting his black sons to be racially profiled or targeted outside of their community, but Caleb can’t help but dream of life outside of their small town. In search of extraordinary adventure, the brothers tag along with their new neighbor Styx Malone and embark on a mission to complete Great Escalator Trade—where they start with a small item and keep trading up and up and up. It’s all fun and games until the brothers uncover secrets that Styx has been hiding. This is a summer story that readers will want to return to over and over again.

On shelves: October 16

It Wasn’t Me by Dana Alison Levy

Settle in for detention, readers, because The Breakfast Club is going middle grade. When seventh-grader Theo’s photos in the student gallery are vandalized with homophobic slurs, his teacher takes drastic measures to uncover the culprit. Theo and the five suspects meet during their school’s vacation week and their teacher guides them through different trust exercises. Just like Bender and the gang, Theo and his group slowly open up to each other. They’re no longer the nerd, the princess, the jock, the weirdo, and the screw-up. They discover that they’re each so much more.

On shelves: November 13

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