Children’s Book Recommendations

Book Reviews by Jordan Waters

*all of these titles are available through the Jasmine Digital Library Consortium and accessible through Overdrive and Libby app


Realistic Fiction

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Ages 10-14 (AR Level 5.6, 10 pts)
Willow is an intellectually gifted twelve-year-old, but she has problems relating to her peers. Her adoptive parents support her in all her endeavors and encourage Willow to be the best she can be. Soon after Willow starts attending a new school, her parents are killed in a tragic accident. Willow learns a new meaning for the word family when she is thrown into an uncertain living situation with some new Vietnamese friends. Counting by 7s is a work of realistic fiction that quietly explores themes of mental health issues, friendship, and family while showing that these things can look very different depending on who you are.

Like Magic by Elaine Vickers

Ages 8-12 (AR Level 5.0, 7 pts)
Grace, Jada, and Malia are ten-year-old girls who are facing some tough circumstances in their lives, and they are each in desperate need of a true friend. With the help of an old librarian, a treasure box, and a little luck, the girls meet each other and realize that they are all exactly where they need to be.


Funny Fiction

Hamstersaurus Rex by Tom O’Donnell and illustrated by Tim Miller

Ages 8-12 (AR Level 4.5, 5 pts)
Sam Gibbs is a normal kid who likes to draw and procrastinates on his homework. After his class’ pet hamster goes missing, Sam sees him eating the gym coach’s Dinoblast Powerpacker supplement, turning the hamster into a mutant of a rodent that is obsessed with junk food. In this book, Tom O’Donnell has found a fun way to explore the daily life of kids and the challenges they face while presenting the original and exciting concept of a hamster who is literally on steroids.



The Wishing Spell (Land of Stories, Book #1) by Chris Colfer

Ages 8-12 (AR Level 5.0, 15 pts)
Alex and Conner recently lost their dad to an accident and now they are adjusting to living in a smaller house and getting less and less attention from their mom, who is working long hours to pay the bills. When their grandmother comes to visit them for their twelfth birthday, she gives them the old storybook that she and their dad would read to them as children. Alex discovers that there is more to the book than meets the eye when she and Conner are transported to a fairytale world where they find out that all their favorite stories are real. This is the first book in the Land of Stories series.


Picture Book: Realistic Fiction

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena

Ages 3-5 (AR Level 3.3, .5 pt)
After church, C.J. and his grandmother ride the bus. During the ride, C.J. complains, albeit halfheartedly, about how he wishes they had car, that he had an iPod/MP3 player, etc. With each statement, his grandmother responds by talking about how they get to do and see beautiful things that other people may not ever have the chance to. Eventually they reach their destination, which is in a poor part of town, and they have come to a soup kitchen/homeless shelter to volunteer. C.J. realizes that there is beauty in all of the things and people they have seen and is glad to be doing something worthwhile with this grandmother.


Picture Book (Social Themes-Friendship)

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

Ages 2-5 (AR Book 2.3, .5 pt)
Everywhere he goes, Chameleon changes. He wishes to be the same all the time, to have a color of his own. When he meets another chameleon, he realizes that his color doesn’t matter, as long as he has a friend.


Picture Book (Social Themes-Family)

The Best Time to Read by Debbie Bertram

Ages 3-7 (AR Level 1.9, .5 pt)
The best time to read is not when your mom is cooking, or when your sister is admiring herself in the mirror, or when your dad is doing yard work. So when is the best time to read? Find out by reading this book!


Picture Book (Social Themes-Love)

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Ages 4-8 (AR Level 2.6, .5 pt)
One day, a boy meets a tree. The Tree loves the boy-she lets him climb on her branches and eat her apples. As the boy gets older, the Tree keeps giving, all the way to the end of the book. The Giving Tree is a story about love and all the things we would do for the important people in our lives.