Student Voices: Favorite Characters from Dhivya R., Hajirah Q., & Omayma H., 7th grade, and Azuri, 8th grade


Favorite Characters

“Twenty Book Characters That I Want to Meet in Real Life” by Dhivya R., 7th grade

Jameson Hawthorne- Jameson is one of the four Hawthorne Brothers from the Inheritance Games series. I would want to meet him because he is super smart, adventurous, and always up for a challenge. 

Grayson Hawthorne- Grayson is another one of the brothers from the Inheritance Games series. I want to meet him because he will always help his family and friends that need it, and like his brother, he is always ready for a game. 

Juliet Grayson- Juliet is a character from the Inheritance Games series that you will meet in the 4th book, The Brothers Hawthorne. She is super sweet and lively, and will never fail to make you smile. 

Phineas Smith- Phineas, or Finn, is one of the main characters from the book If He Had Been With Me. I would want to meet him and be friends with him because he is described as one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He always puts other people before himself and will always be ready to lend a hand. 

Jack Murphy- Jack is one of the three characters POV that If Only I Had Told Her is told through. Jack is one of Finn’s best friends, and he would do anything for him. If you were one of his friends, you would know that you could always count on him for anything. 

Minho- Minho is the Keeper of the Runners from The Maze Runner series. He is a super hard working person and will always push you to do and be your best.

Daniel Wing (Day)- Day is one of the two main characters from the Legend series. He would do anything for his family and friends, no matter the cost. He would always put his friends first, and is not afraid to take on a challenge. 

June Iparis- June is the other main character from the Legend series. She is a hard working leader and does not ever give up. She is also really sweet and seems like a really nice person to be friends with.  

Peeta Mellark- Peeta is the male tribute from district 12 in the Hunger Games series. He will do anything it takes to protect Katniss, and he is super sweet as well. 

Primrose Everdeen- Prim is the younger sister of Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games. She is the most kind hearted, caring person and would always be able to put a smile on your face. 

Katniss Everdeen- Katniss is the female tribute from district 12 and the main character of the Hunger Games series. She is full of confidence and bravery, doing everything she can to protect her family and friends. 

Lucy Gray-Barid- Lucy is the district 12 tribute in the 10th hunger games from The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes. She is a very strong and determined person, and just a really kind person overall. 

Ally- Ally is one of the four main characters from I Know Your Secret. She is a very quiet and shy girl, but will take the lead when it comes to her family’s animal sanctuary, doing anything that she needs to do to keep it open. She will take initiative when she needs to, and will help her friends do everything they need to protect what they love as well. 

Marcus O’Mara- Marcus is the main character from the Surrender the Key series. He is really brave and will always try to do the right thing, even if it comes with a cost. 

Cassandra Hobbes-Cassie is a profiler from The Naturals series.  She will not stop until she gets what she is looking for, doing whatever it takes. She is super brave and courageous as well. 

Dean Redding- Dean is the first profiler accepted by the Naturals program from The Naturals series. He is really smart and will try to protect his friends whenever he can. 

Parker Jimenez – Parker is a hacker that was befriended by Katrina in Concealed. He helped Katrina find the truth about her identity and her family, even if it meant that he would have to make some sacrifices. 

Drew Ellis – Drew is one of the few kids of color at the private school in the New Kid series. He is brave and always stands up for himself and the other kids of color in his grade, even if it means he has to break the rules. He always does what is best for him and his friends, helping them and getting help as they go.

Omar Mohamed- Omar is the main character from When Stars Are Scattered. His main priority is always taking care of his brother, putting Hassan’s needs before his own and doing whatever he needs to do for his little brother. He is a hard worker, never giving up even when times get tough and making his way through life while also trying his best to follow his dreams. 

Fred and George Weasly- Fred and George are twin brothers from the Weasly family in the Harry Potter series. They are super funny and will never fail to put a smile on your face. They always put each other before anything else and would do anything and everything that they could dream of together. 

“Characters I Would Want to Be Friends With in Real Life” by Hajirah Q., 7th grade

Xander from The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes:
I would be friends with Xander in real life because his personality is to try and make people feel. But he can also be serious and supportive when he wants to be. He tries to make Avery feel at home and comfortable even when no one seems to trust her.

Kenji from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi:
I would want to be friends with Kenji in real life because he jokes around a lot with his friends and has a funny personality. Even when things seem to be out of sorts, he thinks of a way to cheer everyone up. But in serious situations, he always tries to think of a way out of whatever case they’re in. 

Taylor from The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han:
She can sometimes be a little annoying and self-centered but she helps Belly whenever Belly needs it and is a great friend. And even though they fight with each other often, Taylor still tries to be a perfect friend.

Susannah from The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han:
She is such a sweet person and cares for Belly like a mom. When Belly doesn’t want to tell her mom something, she knows she can tell Susannah. Even though Belly likes one of Susannah’s boys’, whenever Belly tells her about them, she always gives motherly advice.

Chris from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han:
Even though she’s wild and does her own thing, she still takes time to care for Lara Jean whenever she needs it. If Kitty can’t make Lara Jean feel better, she makes sure to help Lara Jean get better in whatever way.

Lauren from A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson:
Even though she’s not as close to Pip, she still tries to be a great friend. She knows she’s not as close to Pip as Cara is, but she still tries to be there for Pip when she can, and when Pip lets her be there for her.

Cara from A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson:
Even though Pip is not telling her things, she tries to be a magnificent friend. Even when she herself is feeling down, she makes sure to be there for Pip when she knows Pip needs as much help as she can get.

Abigail from I Hope This Doesn’t Find You by Ann Liang:
Even though she hurt Sadie, she was trying to help her and did it out of the goodness of her heart. She is a great friend through Sadie’s ups and downs. And she listens to Sadie about all her problems and whatever drama is going on in her life.

Easton from Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood:
She is a great friend to Mallory. Even though she has to move away from Mallory, and doesn’t get in touch with Mallory for a while, she surprises Mallory to make sure Mallory understands they are still friends. Because she knows Mallory could be worried about Easton not wanting to be friends with her anymore.

Bee from Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins:
She cares about Harper and loves her like a sister. And she tries to be an excellent friend to Harper. Even when Harper doesn’t tell her everything, she still forgives her and tries to be great friends with Harper.

“Top Five Favorite Book Characters” by Omayma H., 7th grade

Books are fun to read but you want to know what makes them better? The Characters! So here are my top 5 favorite book characters and why! (Note: These are not in order! I can’t choose between them all)

1. Sophie Foster from Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Sophie Foster is the Protagonist in the series The Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger and I think she is amazing! Sophie Foster was born in the human world but she is an elf! When she finds out and is taken to the Lost Cities (That’s what they call all the cities) her life completely changes. She makes friends and lives with a wonderful family. Sophie Foster is one of my favorite characters because she never gives up, Always tries her best, Cares TREMENDOUSLY about her friends and family, and she is brave! The book definitely would feel wrong without her (and not because she is the main character)! 

2. Keefe Sencen from Keeper Of The Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Keefe Sencen is one of the main characters in The Keeper of the  Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. He is one of Sophie Foster’s closest friends and the most supportive of all of them. Even though he has his own problems you can notice that he ALWAYS puts Sophie before himself (and for specific reasons too!!!!!!!). Sophie tends to go to him A LOT whenever she has a problem and I think it is ADORABLE!!! Keefe is the “Clown” in the friend group. He is always making jokes and pranks to make everyone laugh. I think Keefe is one of those characters that all readers like and enjoy having in books. He makes everything better and happier for his friends and everyone around him. Keefe DEFINITELY makes the book more fun!

3. Dex Dizznee from Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Dex Dizznee is one of the main characters in the series. He is Sophie Foster’s adoptive cousin and best friend. He was one of the very first elves Sophie met after she moved into the Lost Cities. Before Sophie arrived, Dex had no friends. He ate lunch all by himself and was always bullied but that never stopped him from being funny and kind! Dex’s character is one of those funny kinds and he LOVES to play pranks on people using his mad alchemy skills! Dex’s personality fluctuates often, ranging from pushy and competitive to kind and gentle.  He is a really good friend and I really can’t imagine the story without him!

4. Kestra Dallisor from The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen                               

Kestra is an independent woman who just wants to do the right thing. Kestra’s mother died when she was little and her dad is the evil king’s closest advisor. I think what I like best about Kestra is that she never gives up no matter what. She always tries to do the right thing and has to go through a lot. During her Journey she is forced to make, Kestar is forced to be accompanied by  Simon (A boy who used to be her friend until she betrayed him) and Trina ( A girl who doesn’t want to be anywhere near Kestra) and I just think that without that part of the story, the story just won’t be complete! What I mean by that is during the story Simon and Kestra fall in love and it creates a romantic tone in the story. Also Trina and Kestra become friends and understand each other better. 

5. Moonwatcher from Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland

Moonwatcher (Moon) Is one of the students at Jade Mountain Academy (An academy for dragons from every tribe to come live and learn together). Moon is a really nice dragon and cares for people’s privacy except there is one problem she has that prevents her from keeping people’s privacy to themselves. She can read minds! How? Well before the dragonets of destiny (Clay, Glory, Starflight, Sunny, and Tsunami) Nightwings claimed that they had mind-reading and prophecy-receiving/vision powers, but after the war was over the night wings revealed that they didn’t have those powers anymore. But Moon was different. That’s what I liked about her! She was born in the rainforest under a full moon which granted her the powers.

“My Top Ten Favorite Book Characters” by Azuri Z., 8th grade

Pippa Fitz-Amobi from A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
I honestly love this book/series and the missions Pip goes on! Pip has to be one of my favorite characters because she is fearless and is not afraid to do what is right to save her friends. She has sacrificed many things in her life just for her to solve midden mysteries. She has also uncovered mysteries and long-lost secrets that not even the police can crack!

Joe Sylvester from Save Me a Seat
Save Me a Seat is one of my favorite books ever and Joe is the best character in this. He has really good metabolism and struggles with APD. He teams up with another kid in his class, Ravi, and comes up with a clever way to trick his class bully with an epic prank! The way he talks makes me laugh, and he has a great story to tell in this book!

Jen from Stepping Stones
Jen is kind, brave, and can draw very well. She is getting used to her new stepsisters and her annoying stepdad. I can relate a bit to how she feels sometimes, which is another reason why I like her character. She is adventurous, outgoing, and an excellent artist.

Kristy from The Baby-Sitters Club
I would love to meet Kristy from The Baby-Sitters Club because she is extroverted, funny, nice, and has great leadership skills! I feel like she would be a fun person to be around. She loves sports and has the greatest ideas. I love the Baby-sitters Club books, especially the ones where it’s about Kristy, Like Kristy and the Snobs or Kristy’s Big Day. She always knows how to make the story interesting and fun to read!

Bristlefrost from Warriors: The Broken Code
Bristlefrost is a Thunderclan warrior and lives in the forest with the rest of her clan. She has to be in my top 5 because she is courageous, sweet, and always puts her friend’s needs in front of hers. She has saved many lives of her friends and even gave her life to save everyone. I would absolutely love to meet Bristlefrost and I 100% recommend these books!

Jacky from Jacky Ha-Ha
I love these books and Jacky’s point of view. She is talented, fun, and hilarious. She is smart and has sisters. She loves to sing, perform, and tell jokes. She is a great friend and not afraid to stand up for her friends, and what’s right. I think she would be a cool and funny person to be around, and we would get along super well.

Jules from Maybe A Fox
I love this book so much; the story was amazing and so well written. Jules is such an awesome character in this book. She is smart, kind, and collects things like I do. When her sister Sylvie, who always had to be faster than fast, goes missing, Jules is devastated and just questions herself always why Sylvie had to run fast. I would love to get to meet Jules.

Gabe from Wayward Creatures
Wayward Creatures is such an amazing book that I would reread over and over and over again. Gabe is nice and I can relate to him sometimes. In an attempt to impress his friends who have no time for him anymore, Twelve-year-old Gabe sets of fireworks in the woods and causes a huge forest fire that burns acres of woodland. He comes across and helps an injured coyote named Rill who is tired of her family.

Nat from the Nat Enough
This book/series is hilarious and have a good story. Nat is sweet, funny, and smart, and never feels like she is enough. She loses her best friend from elementary when she goes into middle school and tries her hardest to get her back. As she tries to get her best friend back she learns more about herself and her natural talents and realizes she is more than enough just the way she is.

Antonio from Puppy Love
This book was… Uh- interesting. Antonio was the main character’s best friend, and he basically kept the story together. Antonio is hilarious and a good friend. He plays the piccolo and says the funniest things. I think he would be a fun person to be around and it would be really cool to meet him.

Thank you so much to my student voices today and their look at favorite characters!

Student Voices: Favorites and Recommendations from Zunaira S., Anja K., Caeden S., and Alena K., 8th graders


Favorites and Recommendations

“My Top 10 Best Reads of the 23-24 School Year” by Zunaira S., 8th grade

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewel

Then she was gone was definitely one of my best reads of 2024. Everything about this book was just amazing. After finishing the book I was left with my jaw open. The book talks about Elle, who goes missing days before taking her final exams and has no trace left of her disappearance. Laurel, Elle’s mom, is still in disbelief about Elle going missing and doesn’t believe the idea of her running away from home like others around her say. She eventually gets closure when Elle’s body is found and they finally have a proper funeral for her. While Laurel tries to move on from Elle’s death, she meets her future boyfriend, Floyd. She and Floyd go on a date and eventually get together from there. But there’s something strange about his youngest daughter, poppy. Poppy has so many features that are just like Elle’s.  Laurel doesn’t think too much about this and focuses on herself and her new relationship with Floyd. Weeks go by, and Laurel is now a lot closer to both Poppy and Floyd, but she still feels like something is off. She finds out that Floyds ex-girlfriend, Poppy’s mom, was the same woman who had tutored Elle to better prepare her for her exams and was one of the last people she was seen with before her disappearance. The ending of the book had me so shocked and throughout the whole time I was reading the book, I was always so invested in the book.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A good girl’s guide to murder was such a good thriller book and I enjoyed reading it so much. Even though it was mainly a mystery book there was still a small bit of romance between the two main characters. The book kept me on the edge of my seat every time I opened it up and couldn’t put it down. Even when I thought I knew who the killer was, I was nowhere close to who it actually was by the end of the book. Reading this kept me so invested and I always had the thought of who the killer may be in my head. I would say from my experience that this is a great book to start for someone who wants to get into mystery/thriller books but don’t know where to start.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

I only recently just finished reading this book but oh my gosh was this book such a good read. The selection had the perfect balance of romance and thriller and that made the book so much more fun to read. I loved how America, the main character, had created a sort of friendship alliance with the prince and watching their friendship grow into something bigger was so entertaining to read about. Every time I picked this book up I would always get indulged into it and wouldn’t want to stop. I really do wish I had learned about this book sooner enough to have finished reading the series before the school year ended but this book was definitely worth ending the school year with.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Inheritance Games was another amazing romance plus thriller book that I’ve read. Compared to the selection, the inheritance games mainly focused on the thriller part of the book while the selection juggled the romance and thriller parts and balanced them. Nevertheless, the inheritance games had such an interesting plot and build up to the climax. I loved reading about Avery, the main characters’ goal to figure out why a stranger had just left her his whole inheritance rather than giving it off to his own family. I also enjoyed reading about Avery developing a type of relationship with the strangers’ grandsons and watching them work together to also figure out why Avery had gotten their inheritance. This book has always been my number one recommendation to those who came into the library and it still is.

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Hawthorne legacy is the second book to the inheritance series and it was just as good as the first book. This book had gone more in depth into the real reason why Avery had been the one inheriting this so-called strangers’ things. But not only does it go more into the thriller part of the book, it also goes into the romance part as well. I haven’t finished the whole series yet but I do plan on reading the third book over summer and ending the series.

Better Than The Movies by Lynn Painter

Better than the movies was my first romcom type of read and I loved it so much. Before the beginning of each chapter it usually had a quote from a popular romcom movie and it was always fun reading them especially if I had watched the movie before. I loved reading about Liz and Wes, the main characters, going from childhood enemies, to friends, and finally, to lovers. The small romantic gestures were so sweet to read about and always kept a smile on my face while reading the book.

True Beauty by Yaongyi

True beauty was a really fun and entertaining graphic novel to read. I loved the drawings and the facial expressions of the characters when they had a minor convenience were always so funny to look at because their faces would get scrunched up. It was a really good book that gave me a small break from the traditional chapter books and was really easy to just breeze through but still enjoy the book at the same time.

Spy X Family by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family was one of those books that I started because of other suggestions but ended up really liking it. I loved how all three characters seemed normal to each other but in reality had their own secrets. Learning about each characters secrets was a little shocking but always made me wonder if one of them would ever catch them in their secret. I did hope that they did find out since I thought it may actually benefit them rather than harm them. The book overall though was really interesting to read about but I did sometimes wish it had more color, but that might just be me since I like colorful books.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

I read this book over summer during a road trip but it helped me pass time so quickly. Not because it kept me distracted but because I was so engaged in the book. I did originally start it because of the show but I am so glad I read the book first because it helped me take note of other details while watching the actual show. The book was definitely a really cute and romantic book to read and I loved reading about the rising romance between belly and the fisher brothers. I felt like reading this during the summer also made it a lot more fun for me to read as well.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter me was one of the first dystopian books I had read and it ended up being a pretty entertaining book to read. At first it was a little hard for me to get into it cause I found it a little boring but eventually the more I had read it, the more I became interested. I did think the book would mainly just be a type of fantasy book and didn’t expect things like romance but there was a lot more of that than I thought. Reading the book in Juliet’s perspective really helped me get into the setting of the book and I really liked that. I do plan on reading the rest of the series before the year ends since the first book left a really good impression on me.

“My Top Ten Favorite Authors of 2023-24” by Anja K., 8th grade

Stephanie Perkins

Stephanie Perkins is one of my all-time favorite authors that I will be talking about. She has written Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After. Anna and The French Kiss was one of my favorite books in 2023-2024. I loved how she wrote this book and how cute the romance was! I feel like the plot of this book was so adorable and I loved how she put the setting in Paris! Stephanie Perkins has a writing style that I love and will continue to read! She has a nice personality and she writes my favorite type of genre, which I love.

Tahereh Mafi

Ms. Mafi is an amazing writer who has created an all-time favorite series called Shatter Me. This is one of my FAVORITE series that I love and will continue to do. She has an amazing writing style and an amazing personality that thrives in her books. She puts so much emotion into all her books which makes me cry and have butterflies in my stomach. The Shatter Me series is filled with such emotion which thrives from book to book and was recommended by peers. 


LambCat is also one of my favorite authors. LambCat writes webtoons that are so entertaining including the Cursed Princess Club Series. This series looked very childish in my opinion but when I started reading it I got sucked into it and it became one of my all-time favorite webtoons that LambCat has created! I feel like LambCat is very likable because of the books they make and how their writing style is very cute and fun! 


Yaongyi is an amazing webtoon creator who wrote the True Beauty Series. The True Beauty series is really good and I recommend it to peers! It is a cute little webtoon that inspires us teenagers to be ourselves and not to worry about our appearance as much as we do now. Yaongyi teaches lessons in her books and that is why I love her books so much!

Alexis Castellanos

Alexis Castellanos is an amazing author who created a book called Isla to Island. This book is very inspiring because it is about a girl that is moving from a small city with no population to a big city which is New York City. She is taking care of random people who do not speak her language Spanish. Ms. Castellanos made this book very descriptive without any words in it that had a special meaning to it. She describes her books very beautifully and that’s why I love her so much!

Ali Hazelwood

Ali Hazelwood is an author who creates Adult romance novels that are not age-appropriate for middle schoolers but came out with a Young Adult novel called Check & Mate. I read this and I thought it was so good for her first YA book I was really happy! I love how she wrote this book and explained the character’s feelings in the book and also how the book just flowed to how it ended. Her writing style IS TO DIE FOR I love how she wrote the book and how she expresses and makes every single one of her books so descriptive.

Rachel Renee Russell

Ms. Russell is another amazing author who wrote the Dork Diaries series and I LOVED this series when I was younger and still do to this day. I just love the concept of these books and how she wrote them is stunning. The main character Nikki always expresses her feelings about being bullied and not having such a fun time with her new school. But, her friends always push her through these situations and help her through tough times which is real friendship! 💖

Naoko Takeuchi

Ms. Takeuchi is the author of the Sailor Moon Series and is a series I read twice! That is how you know I loved it! Naoko Takeuchi is an author who took her time and dedication to create this beautiful series that is very viral in the Anime Community. Ms. Naoko is a very lovely and nice person who takes her time with fans to have individual conversations with them and makes them feel like they are family.

Kelly Starling Lyons

Ms. Lyons is another amazing author who created one of my all-time favorite American Girl children’s books called A Girl Named Misty. This book is very inspiring to me because as a ballerina Misty had to go through some terrible financial problems to be where she is today. She never quit being herself and fought to be a ballerina. Ms. Lyon is another one of my favorite authors because she writes inspiring stories of women to one day inspire children who read her books to work hard to complete their dreams one day.

Vashti Harrison

I LOVE Vashti Harrison! She writes inspiring books such as Big. Big is about a little girl who is seen as a big ballerina in the world and wants to be smaller because of people making fun of her but then she learns to love herself and not get taken down just by words that people spread. This book is written beautifully for little children and the main theme of them is to never give up and to strive for greatness. 

“10 Books for Readers Wanting Something New” by Caeden S., 8th grade

If you like mythology…

The Trials of Apollo (Specifically The Hidden Oracle) by Rick Riordan
(It might be a good idea to read Percy Jackson First)

The first book in this series is so cool! Taking a god, and putting him in a situation where he has no power, and is just a regular human being is such a cool scenario that I think reinvents some ideas created when Rick Riordan was writing Percy Jackson and The Heroes of Olympus (which are also extremely good series.) 10/10

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Such a perfect book! Plot, Characters and topic! One of my favorite books about mythology I’ve ever read, and one of my favorite graphic novels I’ve ever read!  10/10

If you like action and adventure, but comedy too…

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs 

This is easily one of my favorite book series I’ve read (even though at the time of writing this, I’m on the 5th book out of 11) the third book throws an absolute wrench into the story, and that’s why it’s interesting to read for something different. 20/10

Wing of Fire: The graphic novel series by Tui. T Sutherland 

This series has some comedy, not a lot, but some. And it delivers it so well, that it’s got me laughing a couple times. The graphic novel adaptation is also so well done, I love seeing the characters in an art style, so I don’t have to imagine what they look like. 9/10 

If you’re a fan of romance… 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 

John Green has to be one of my favorite romance novelists of all time, because dang, this book is good! Excellent romance tension when it’s needed, detailed writing, and overall an excellent way to write a romance novel that doesn’t read like a typical romance novel! 1000/10 

Bloom by Kevin Panetta 

An actual masterpiece! 10/10 characters, art and plot. Everything is delivered so well, and I couldn’t ask for a better LGBTQ+ book. 1000/10

If you’re looking for an LGBTQ+ book…

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

There’s nothing I can say about this series besides the fact that it’s absolutely perfect! Perfect characters, perfect storyline, and perfect pacing! I can’t stop reading these masterpieces, and they take an interesting spin on the LGBTQ romance novels in my opinion. 2000/10

Rick by Alex Gino 

Such a good way to introduce someone to LGBTQ! I loved the plot, and the character’s inner thoughts contribute so well to the overall plot. The characters are really well thought out. Such a good book. 10/10

If you’re looking for sports…

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

You might think this book is all about basketball, but it’s not! The character (aka the actual author) writes the book so beautifully, and manages to tell a story about the history of basketball, the history of the school he works at, and about the author himself! 1000/10 

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

One of the only sport books I’ve read that isn’t about a mainstream sport! 

The internal struggle of the main character trying to push through the lessons because she wants to play, and also struggling in her own personal life is such a good way to write a book like this! 10/10 

If you’re looking for some good graphic novels… 

Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi 

Such an amazing series! The final book is just indescribable in how detailed it is, and the top 5 greatest series I’ve read ever. 30/10

New Kid (But specifically Class act) by Jerry Craft 

O.M.G. Literally the top #1 graphic novel I’ve ever read, and top 5 in greatest books. The plotline is something I never thought I’d see in graphic novel form, but here it is! 10000000000000/10 

“Recommended Books” by Alena K., 8th grade

Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

Liv Varanakis is a teenage girl about to graduate high school in hopes of becoming an artist. She has a happy life with her family Mom, Stepdad, and her younger brother.  But she has dark thoughts about why her real dad left her. A few of her memories of her real dad were about trying to find Atlantis with her dad and trying to pinpoint where it could be. Back in the present day, she received a letter from her real dad urging her to come to Santorini, Greece to help him find Atlantis.

Opinion: Honestly, the plot is great. I like the world-building, it did feel like I was ‘in the book’. Reading this book only made me want to visit Greece even more.

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

A high school student named Lina has to spend the summer in Italy for her mother’s dying wish. In Italy, she has to spend time with who seems to be her father, but as the book progresses the characters find out the truth about her actual father. With the help of her mother’s journal that her caretaker gifted her she could get to the truth faster. 

Opinion: Again with the world building- BEAUTIFUL! It felt quite cool looking through the main character’s eyes in this book, having a great group of friends and everyone being happy that I was there.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

With every start of Summer break, Belly, and her family have a tradition of visiting her mom’s friend- Susannah at Cousins Beach. Susannah has two boys around Belly’s age (one of them being her crush). After years and years of crushing over one of Sussannah’s boys, she finally glows up.

Opinion: I read this back in the Summer of 2023, and it was the Perfect read to set me up for a long break of summer, the heat, the beaches, pools, and adventures!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean has a secret stash of love letters that she wrote for all of the boys she loved, only 5. Unexpectedly, all of them get sent away right when her big sister has to move out for her college. With all of the stress of having the letters sent away and keeping the house clean with her younger sister being in the way- there is Josh, her big sister’s ex and one of the boys she loved before. 

Opinion: After reading this book I was left in shock. The BIGGEST plot twist happened right at the end of the book (not saying it was a bad thing), but it was unexpected.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

A chance of a lifetime- The selection. Thirty-five girls are being selected to be the next new Queen to the throne of the kingdom where your rank means everything to your family. We meet our protagonist- America Singer. She was a part of the artist’s rank when she was forced to be enlisted by her family and then later to be picked up by the Selection.  Will she survive the tension between the other thirty-five girls or snap immediately?

Opinion: When I first read this book, it was like I was translated into a life of celebrity (I kind of envied the main character but it’s whatever). A good and fast read deserves a ten out of ten.

Red Queen by Aveyard Victoria

The whole world is divided by the color of your blood- red and silver. The red bloods were the peasants, meanwhile, silver bloods were a part of the royalty and had god-like powers too. Mare was a red blood, struggling to survive in the world, working through poverty and stealing. But finally, Mare had found a stable enough job as a maid in the silver palace! She finds that she is one of the silvers, but her blood is red… How could it be?

Opinion: This book has very fancy language but I could understand most of it. The characters were very easy to understand and their intentions.

Flowers for Algernon by Keyes Daniel 

Charlie Gordon is about to embark upon an unprecedented journey. Born with an unusually low IQ, he has been chosen as the perfect subject for an experimental surgery that researchers hope will increase his intelligence – a procedure that has already been highly successful when tested on a lab mouse named Algernon. As the treatment takes effect, Charlie’s intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment appears to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance, until Algernon suddenly deteriorates. Will the same happen to Charlie?

Opinion: This book was recommended to me by my parents who read it back in their country… and let me tell you I WAS SOBBING BY THE END OF THIS BOOK.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

An orphan named Alina Starkov. She is one of the most valuable people in Ravka because she is a Sun Summoner discovering her gift while crossing the Shadow Fold, filled with creatures beyond the human mind. She is the only person that can stop the Shadow Fold from spreading. But, it does require a lot of skill and practice to master such a gift as being able to summon light to her hands. Will she be able to beat the Shadow Fold and free Ravka?

Opinion: The world building is great and it was inspired by Russian culture, and it was a great feeling having something written about your culture and where you used to live. The hard part is memorizing the system and how it worked after getting side tracked by other books.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera 

It’s September 5th, on this day Mateo Torez and Rufus Emeterio might die. Death-Cast is a call that only lasts a few seconds but could change everything. Somehow people have found out how to predict the day you’ll die. Being lonely on such a day is no fun but an app called ‘Last Friends Inc.’ is where Rufus and Mateo met. They are hoping to get through the day and somehow not die in the process. Will they be able to do it, or just die like the rest is? 

Opinion: A very sweet story about how love technically never dies. The most clever part about this book is- the cover! It has so many hidden secrets, like how Mateo’s and Rufus’ shadow looks like the grim reaper and how the skull looks like a skull. The author was even kind enough to put the relationship chart between the characters at the end of the book.

Matched by Ally Condie

In a dystopian society, a system was made- a Matching system.  Where the 18-year-olds are taken to a nice mansion and have a system pair them up with another person who is psychologically compatible with them. There was rarely an instance where the matching system wouldn’t give someone their special somebody compatible with him. Cassie is the rare case, having no compatible person was her worst nightmare. At the last second, her match was made! She got matched with her best friend but before that, she could’ve sworn that someone else was matched with her. Now she is dreaded with the choice between perfection and desire. What will she choose?

Opinion: The book had a lot of moments where I would be at the edge of my seat trying to find out how it would continue! I was talking about the book so much, now my mom is reading the book!  

Thank you so much to my student voices today and sharing their recommendations and favorites!

Author Guest Post: “Social Emotional Learning with Picture Books” by Darcy Pattison, Author of BE STRONG: The Rise of Beloved Public Art Sculptor, Nancy Schön


“Social Emotional Learning with Picture Books”

Educators know the importance of addressing the social and emotional learning of kids in their classrooms. The Casel framework has become a popular way to discuss the skills. It begins with a breakdown of the child’s social situation: classroom, schools, with family/caregivers, and communities. Within each level, it looks at a child’s social awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision making, self-awareness, and self- management. Here are recent picture books that address these social and emotional skills.

Social Awareness: The abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts. 

Barrio Rising: The Protest that Built Chicano Park, by María Dolores Águila,  Magdalena Mora  (June, 2024)

Which would you want in your neighborhood, a city park or a police station? When the residents of San Diego’s Chicane neighborhood Barrio Logan discovered a police station is being built they decide to speak out. When you try to make your voices heard, you must reach for understanding between diverse groups and cultures. Follow a young activist who must connect her perspective to the wider perspectives to accomplish her goals for her neighborhood.

Relationship Skills: The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups

Luli and the Language of Tea written by Andrea Wang and illustrated by Hyewon Yum (2022)

Tea has the power to unite and build relationships. Or at least that’s what a Chinese child Luli discovers. When she is left in a playroom with other multilingual kids, she calls out “Cha!” When the kids realize that she is offering them a drink of tea, they each respond with their own language’s word for tea. Luli’s willingness to share enriches the relationships in the playroom.

Responsible Decision Making: The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations. 

The Little Butterfly That Could by Ross Curach (2021)

After a hard hatching from its chrysalis, the butterfly faces a huge new challenge: migration.

“200 MILES? How am I supposed to travel that far?” the butterfly wails.

Each step along the way involves a decision that will affect his success or failure in traveling to the ancestral home. The butterfly encounters whales, insects, storms, and discouragement. Each decision leads him closer to his destination. Hilarious, this book is sure to make kids think about decisions, and about persistence.

Self-Awareness: The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts.

Fairy Science by Ashley Spires (2019)

All the fairies in Pixieville believe in magic–except Esther. She believes in science.

When a forest tree stops growing, all the fairies are stumped–including Esther. But not for long! Esther knows that science can get to the root of the problem–and its solution! Esther is self-aware and understands that she operates by science, not magic.

Self-Management. The abilities to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations. 

BE STRONG: The Rise of Beloved Public Art Sculptor, Nancy Schön, by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Rich Davis (2024)

When kids are frustrated by art, building, creating, athletics, or life, and they want to quit, sculptor Nancy Schön’s story will inspire them with two simple words: Be Strong.

On a rainy day in October, 1987—perfect weather for a duck—a bronze sculpture of a duck family was installed in Boston’s Public Garden. Based on Robert McCloskey’s Caldecott award-winning book MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS, sculptor Nancy Schön created a kid-friendly sculpture. She wanted the duck family to be touchable and huggable, a sculpture that kids could climb around on.

The incredible journey from a book to a sculpture adds a new chapter in an inspiring new biography of Jewish-American sculptor Nancy Schön, BE STRONG. Large outdoor sculptures were a new venture for Nancy and the scale made the project incredibly difficult. The mother duck’s head fell off. One duckling was the wrong size. She had to research how it looked inside of a duck’s beak. Through the hard days of trying to create a new type of sculpture, Nancy clung to two words: Be Strong.

About the Author: Children’s book author and indie publisher DARCY PATTISON has written over seventy award-winning fiction and non-fiction books for children. Five books have received starred PW, Kirkus, or BCCB reviews. Awards include the Irma Black Honor award, five NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books, four Eureka! Nonfiction Honor book (CA Reading Assn.), two Junior Library Guild selections, two NCTE Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book, a Best STEM Book, an Arkansiana Award, and the Susannah DeBlack Arkansas Children’s History Book award. She’s the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist for her work in children’s literature. Her books have been translated into ten languages.

Thank you, Darcy, for putting together this amazing SEL picture book list!

Trent’s Favorite Books He Read When He Was 9


I read 199 books when I was 9. Here are my favorites!

Glitch by Sarah Graley

I love video games, and in this book they get stuck in the video game and have to fight monsters to get out. It is like Minecraft Dungeons, but a book. It is very cool!

Plum Crazy! Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat, Vol. 1-4 by Natsumi Hoshino

I love cats, as you’ll see by all the cat books on my favorites lists, and Plum Crazy is a book of funny little stories about a cat named Plum who is a very wild cat who has the zoomies. He also has a friend named Snowball who he plays with.

Yokai Cats Vol. 1-6 by Pandania

This book has mini little stories about different cats with different personalities and powers. For example, one cat can stretch its neck as long as it wants to and is always stretching his neck out to beg for food. I enjoy reading this series because it is very silly, and all the cats have humans that add to the story in a funny way.

Amari and the Great Game (Supernatural Investigations #2) by B.B. Alston

I liked being able to read another Amari story! Number 1 was on my 8 year old list. These books are very epic in some parts, sad in some parts, dramatic in some parts, and more. All of these feelings make me enjoy reading the stories. I am so excited for number 3!

Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

In Swim Team Bree moves to Florida and wants to take a math elective but it is full, so she has to take Swim 101, but she doesn’t know how to swim. Then Ms. Etta teaches Bree, including teaching her the history of Black people not being allowed to use pools in America. Ms. Etta is a great teacher and Bree learns how to swim. I like this book because it is interesting to follow Bree’s problems in life and how she solves them. I’ve read this book 4 times, and I liked it every single time.

Glitch by Laura Martin

This book takes place in the future where they are able to time travel. Students Regan and Elliot don’t like each other but are forced to be partners and decide to work together to help the school to not be destroyed by a butterfly which is a person who time traveled back in time and messes everything up. Glitch was very exciting because I liked following all of the action as they work to solve the school’s problem.

Better with Butter by Victoria Piontek

Better with Butter is about a goat who is found by a girl named Marvel. Marvel has anxiety, and Butter calms her down and becomes her therapy goat. I loved this book because I connected with Marvel because I have anxiety sometimes too. I also love goats.

Creepy Cat Vol. 1-4 by Cotton Valent

A girl named Flora lives in a haunted mansion and finds a cat who can multiply itself and has other powers. I liked Creepy Cat because it has a good plot that is creepy, just like the title says. And it has cats!

Avatar: The Last Airbender Graphic Novels (The Promise, The Search, The Rift, Smoke & Shadow, North & South) by Gene Luen Yang

I love the show Avatar, so I was happy to find out there were books. The books take place after the show ends and continues the story. I love all of the weird animals in the Avatar stories and the plot is always exciting. (I am so excited to watch the new live action Avatar!)

Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi, Illustrated by Melissa Manwill

This book is about a group of dogs which has a new dog that comes in and ruins everything. While listening to the book, I kept rooting for the good dogs. I found the book to be really dramatic, and I think it is special because the dogs end up saving themselves.

Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi

Amulet is one of my favorite series I have ever read. It is about siblings who lose their mom and go on an adventure into a new world looking for her. During the adventure everything is chaotic and full of madness. While reading, I felt many emotions because the story was exciting and full of adventure.

Hooky Volume 3 by Míriam Bonastre Tur

Hooky 1 & 2 were on my list last year, and I love them and now #3 too which continues the story. I love them because they are full of adventure and thrilling. The illustrations were mind-blowing and the plot story was awesome.

Hazardous Tales series (One Dead Spy; Big Bad Ironclad; Treaties, Trenches, Mud & Blood; Underground Abductor; Lafayette; Major Impossible; Above the Trenches) by Nathan Hale

I like this series because they let you learn history in a fun way and a very good series. I found the hangman and the provost funny I LOLed while reading. Each of the books taught me different things. It’s impressive how Nathan Hale teaches you in a fun way. I look forward to reading the rest of them.

First Cat in Space and the Soup of Doom by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Shawn Harris

I’ve been a fan of the First Cat in Space since it started as a live cartoon. I am so excited for the third one to come out! I like these books because they are funny but also adventurous.

A Story of Seven Lives by Shirakawa Gin

I felt sad for most of this book because Nanao has a sad life, but I ended up liking this book because someone who doesn’t like cats likes cats at the end and Nanao’s life gets better.

Baby-Sitters Club #1-3 (Kristy’s Great Idea, The Truth About Stacey, Mary Anne Saves the Day) by Ann M. Martin, Graphic Novel by Raina Telgemeier

My mom’s favorite book series as a kid was the Baby-Sitters Club. There is even a show which is a little like the book but a little different. I was excited to finally read the graphic novels, and I really liked them because they are realistic and full of drama. (P.S. I am so mad they canceled the series! It is such a good show!)

Smile Series (Smile, Sisters, Guts) by Raina Telgemeier

This book is about Raina Telgemeier’s life. Smile is about when she got braces. Sisters is about how when she was little, she wanted a sister but when she started getting older, she felt like her sister was annoying but still loved her. Guts is about how Raina learns her stomach pains are because of anxiety. I like this series because it’s entertaining, and I felt like I NEEDED to read it. I couldn’t put it down.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I read Coraline because I was going to see Neil Gaiman at the Dr. Phillips Center (He was so good! Though it was odd to hear the voice of the audiobook in real life). This was one of the weirdest books I have ever read, but I really liked this book and I felt like I couldn’t put it down. I liked it so much, I also read the graphic novel and watched the movie.

Honorable Mentions

If I listed and mini-reviewed all of the books I loved, it would take forever! So here are some other favorites:

Past “Trent’s Favorite Books” Posts

Kellee and Trent’s Favorite Picture Books: First 3 Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: 3 to 6 Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: 6 to 9 Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: 9 to 12 Months

A First Year Full of Books: Trent’s Journey Through Books
**Check this one out if you haven’t–it is one of my favorite posts ever!**

Trent’s Favorite Books: 1 to 2 Years Old

Ten of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His 3rd Birthday

Ten(ish) of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His 4th Birthday

Trent’s Favorite Reads as of His 5th Birthday

Trent’s Favorite Reads as of His 6th Birthday

Trent’s Favorite Reads as a 6 Year Old

Trent’s Favorite Books He Read When He was 7

Trent’s Favorite Books He Read When He was 8

Kellee’s 2023 Reading Round Up: Statistics, Favorite Reads, #mustreadin2023 End-of-Year Check In, & 2024 Reading Goals


Here is my 2023 Reading Round Up!

And just for fun: here is Trent’s 2023 Year in Books!

Here are my five star reads from 2023!

I also did a 2023 Reading Bracket!

I introduced my #mustreadin2023 list last January–here is my end-of-year summary:

I am not sure if there is going to be a #mustreadin2024 challenge, but if there is, I am setting my goal to read the 29 2024 Project Lit books that I haven’t read (red checkmarks = I’ve already read).

Happy reading in 2024, friends!!!
To see all the books I’m reading, visit my READ Goodreads shelf and feel free to follow 📖💙


Recent, High Interest, Engaging Graphic Novels Your Elementary and Middle School Students Will Love


Recently, a few of my very close friends (incredible parents who I could not survive without) asked for book recommendations. Because recommending books is the thing that brings me the most joy, I am going to share a few upper elementary and middle grade titles that my kids have enjoyed recently. I will share the age that the books are marketed towards, but I won’t share reading levels because I don’t believe in them (see this article or this post).

Every family is different. Please pre-read the texts if you are nervous about content. I feel comfortable giving any of these books to my 1st and 4th graders, but I am okay with giving them anything that doesn’t have strong/graphic sexual content or graphic violence. Please be sure to talk with your child about the books, too, to unpack themes and ideas they are reading.

In most cases, I posted the first book’s name within the series to make it easier to search for book one.

The Titles Are In No Particular Order


Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke, Marketed ages 8-12.

Zita’s life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of an eye.

When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don’t even phase her. Neither do ancient prophecies, doomed planets, or even a friendly con man who takes a mysterious interest in Zita’s quest.

Zita the Spacegirl is a fun, captivating tale of friendship and redemption from Flight veteran Ben Hatke. It also has more whimsical, eye-catching, Miyazaki-esque monsters than you can shake a stick at.

HiLo series by Judd Winick, Marketed Ages 8-12

Take off on an action packed adventure with HILO Book 1! Dog Man meets Big Nate in this hilarious New York Times bestselling graphic novel series that kids love!

BOOM! CLANG! CRASH! D.J. and Gina are totally ordinary kids. But Hilo isn’t! Hilo just fell out of the sky and doesn’t know where he came from, or what he’s doing on Earth. (Or why going to school in only your underwear is a BAD idea!) . . . But UH-OH, what if Hilo wasn’t the only thing to fall to our planet? Can the trio unlock the secrets of Hilo’s past? Can Hilo survive a day at school? Find out in HILO-a laugh-out-loud, epic story of friendship! Adventure! (And the occasionaly mutant space robot).

Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland, Marketed Ages 8-12

(Also in novel form.) The New York Times and USA Today bestselling series soars to even greater heights with a new prophecy and five new dragonets ready to claim their destiny! Daring mission… or deadly mistake?Winter has been a disappointment to his royal IceWing family his whole life. When his sister, Icicle, runs away from Jade Mountain Academy, fleeing terrible crimes and possibly planning to commit more, Winter knows that they both need a second chance to make things right — if only he can find her. Winter’s new clawmates, Moon, Qibli, and Kinkajou, won’t let him make this dangerous journey alone. They don’t seem to understand that IceWings, the most superior of all dragon tribes, can fix their own problems. When their search leads the dragonets straight into Queen Scarlet’s vicious talons, Winter is grateful to have some help. But even the bravest dragons can’t follow him to the Ice Kingdom, where he’ll have to face the greatest threat of all: his own family.

Guardians of Horsa series by Roan Black, Marketed Ages 5-9

In the first installment of the action-packed Guardians of Horsa graphic novel series, four young horses from clashing herds must join forces to solve a mystery and save magic.

Welcome to the realm of Horsa, a world of magic, wild horses, and danger. The four elemental herds of Horsa live in uncertain peace, which is to stay out of each other’s way and all will be fine. But when signs of a mysterious prophecy about a yearling with untold magical powers appear, four young horses from each herd are called to action. Now these elemental enemies must work together to solve the prophecy, find the yearling, and restore balance to Horsa.

Giants Beware series by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre, Marketed ages 6-9

Make way for Claudette the giant slayer in this delightful, fantastical adventure!

Claudette’s fondest wish is to slay a giant.But her village is so safe and quiet! What’s a future giant slayer to do?

With her best friend Marie (an aspiring princess), and her brother Gaston (a pastry-chef-to-be), Claudette embarks on a super-secret quest to find a giant—without parental permission. Can they find and defeat the giant before their parents find them and drag them back home?

Giants Beware! offers up a wondrous, self-contained world in the tradition of the very best of Pixar. Claudette and her friends will have you laughing out loud from page one.

Barb the Last Berzerker series by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson, Marketed ages 6-8

The action of Moana meets the humor of books like Dog Man in this sidesplitting graphic novel about a young Berzerker who has to rescue her fellow warriors from the evil villain Witch Head before he destroys the world!

Barb is a Berzerker, one of a group of warriors sworn to protect the land of Bailiwick from the scourge of monsters that plagues it. But the fearsome crew seem to have met their match in the nefarious Witch Head. Using power from his magical sword, he tricked the Zerks and took them captive. Only Barb was able to escape—and she took Witch Head’s Shadow Blade with her.

Now it’s up to Barb to free her fellow warriors so they can stop Witch Head from taking over Bailiwick. On the way, she’ll battle vampire goat fiends, snot goblins, and a giant with serious foot odor issues (but don’t mention that to him—he’s very sensitive about it). Luckily, she’s got her best friend, Porkchop the yeti, to help her.

But the power of the Shadow Blade has a mind of its own, and the deeper Barb gets into her quest, the harder it is to keep the blade’s awesome power under control.

City of Dragons series by Jaimal Yogis & Vivian Truong, Marketed ages 8-12

Grace and her friends must protect a newly hatched dragon from mysterious evildoers.

When Grace moves to Hong Kong with her mom and new stepdad, her biggest concern is making friends at her fancy new boarding school. But when a mysterious old woman gifts her a dragon egg during a field trip, Grace discovers that the wonderful stories of dragons she heard when she was a young girl might actually be real–especially when the egg hatches overnight.

The dragon has immense powers that Grace has yet to understand. And that puts them both in danger from mysterious forces intent on abusing the dragon’s power. And now it’s up to Grace and her school friends to uncover the sinister plot threatening the entire city!

Aru Shah and the End of Time series by Roshani Chokshi, Marketed ages 8-12

(Also available in novel form) Best-selling author Rick Riordan introduces this adventure by Roshani Chokshi about twelve-year-old Aru Shah, who has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur? One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again. But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them. The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell, Marketed ages 8-12

Grace and her friends must protect a newly hatched dragon from mysterious evildoers.

When Grace moves to Hong Kong with her mom and new stepdad, her biggest concern is making friends at her fancy new boarding school. But when a mysterious old woman gifts her a dragon egg during a field trip, Grace discovers that the wonderful stories of dragons she heard when she was a young girl might actually be real–especially when the egg hatches overnight.

The dragon has immense powers that Grace has yet to understand. And that puts them both in danger from mysterious forces intent on abusing the dragon’s power. And now it’s up to Grace and her school friends to uncover the sinister plot threatening the entire city!

The Sand Warrior series by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Xanthe BoumaMatt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun, Marketed ages 8-12

Think Star Wars meets Avatar: The Last Airbender!

The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves—and more to their worlds—than meets the eye. . . .

Oona Lee, the clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.

An Tzu, a boy from the poorest slums, has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.

Jax Amboy is the star athlete who is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends?

When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!


Two Tribes by Emily Bowen Cohen, Marketed ages 8-12

In her poignant debut graphic novel inspired by her own life, Emily Bowen Cohen embraces the complexity, meaning, and deep love that comes from being part of two vibrant tribes. Mia is still getting used to living with her mom and stepfather, and to the new role their Jewish identity plays in their home. Feeling out of place at home and at her Jewish day school, Mia finds herself thinking more and more about her Muscogee father, who lives with his new family in Oklahoma. Her mother doesn’t want to talk about him, but Mia can’t help but feel like she’s missing a part of herself without him in her life. Soon, Mia makes a plan to use the gifts from her bat mitzvah to take a bus to Oklahoma—without telling her mom—to visit her dad and find the connection to her Muscogee side she knows is just as important as her Jewish side. This graphic novel by Muscogee-Jewish writer and artist Emily Bowen Cohen is perfect for fans of American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. It is published by Heartdrum, an imprint that centers stories about contemporary Indigenous young people.

Doodleville series by Chad Sell, Marketed ages 8-12

For fans of Svetlana Chmakova’s Awkward and Raina Telgemeier’s Smile comes an inventive new story from Cardboard Kingdom creator Chad Sell about a group of young artists who must work together when one of their own creations becomes a monster.

Levi won’t be easily tamed, and it seems there is a link between the monster’s bad behavior and Drew’s feelings. With the help of her loyal art club friends, will she be able to save Doodleville–and Levi–before it’s too late?

Drew is just a regular artist. But there’s nothing ordinary about her art. Her doodles are mischievous . . . and rarely do they stay in Doodleville, the world she’s created in her sketchbook. Instead, Drew’s doodles prefer to explore the world outside. But after an inspiring class trip to the Art Institute of Chicago–where the doodles cause a bit too much trouble–Drew decides it’s time to take her artistic talents to the next level.
Enter the Leviathan–Levi, for short. He’s bigger and better than anything Drew has ever created before. He’s a monster, but a friendly one. That is, until Levi begins to wreak havoc on Drew’s other doodles–and on the heroes her classmates have dreamt up.

Squished by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter, Marketed for ages 8-12

From the Eisner-nominated duo behind the instant bestseller Allergic comes a fun new graphic novel about finding your own space… especially when you’re in a family of nine!

Eleven-year-old Avery Lee loves living in Hickory Valley, Maryland. She loves her neighborhood, school, and the end-of-summer fair she always goes to with her two best friends. But she’s tired of feeling squished by her six siblings! They’re noisy and chaotic and the younger kids love her a little too much. All Avery wants is her own room — her own space to be alone and make art. So she’s furious when Theo, her grumpy older brother, gets his own room instead, and her wild baby brother, Max, moves into the room she already shares with her clinging sister Pearl! Avery hatches a plan to finally get her own room, all while trying to get Max to sleep at night, navigating changes in her friendships, and working on an art entry for the fair. And when Avery finds out that her family might move across the country, things get even more complicated.

Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter have once again teamed up to tell a funny, heartfelt, and charming story of family, friendship, and growing up.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, Marketed for ages 8-12

For fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, a heartwarming graphic novel about friendship and surviving junior high through the power of roller derby.

Twelve-year-old Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole. So when Astrid signs up for roller derby camp, she assumes Nicole will too. But Nicole signs up for dance camp with a new friend instead, and so begins the toughest summer of Astrid’s life. There are bumps and bruises as Astrid learns who she is without Nicole…and what it takes to be a strong, tough roller girl.

Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas, Marketed for ages 8-12

Bree can’t wait for her first day at her new middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the Mighty Manatees–until she’s stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she’s forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears. Lucky for her, Etta, an elderly occupant of her apartment building and former swim team captain, is willing to help.

With Etta’s training and a lot of hard work, Bree suddenly finds her swim-crazed community counting on her to turn the school’s failing team around. But that’s easier said than done, especially when their rival, the prestigious Holyoke Prep, has everything they need to leave the Mighty Manatees in their wake.

Can Bree defy the odds and guide her team to a state championship, or have the Manatees swum their last lap–for good?

Hoops by Matt Tavares, Marketed for ages 8-12

A work of fiction inspired by a true story, Matt Tavares’s debut graphic novel dramatizes the historic struggle for gender equality in high school sports.

It is 1975 in Indiana, and the Wilkins Regional High School girls’ basketball team is in their rookie season. Despite being undefeated, they practice at night in the elementary school and play to empty bleachers. Unlike the boys’ team, the Lady Bears have no buses to deliver them to away games and no uniforms, much less a laundry service. They make their own uniforms out of T-shirts and electrical tape. And with help from a committed female coach, they push through to improbable victory after improbable victory. Illustrated in full color, this story about the ongoing battle of women striving for equality in sports rings with honesty, bravery, and heart.

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, Marketed for ages 9-13

Heartbreak and hope exist together in this remarkable graphic novel about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.

Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.

Twins by Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright, Marketed for ages 8-12

Coretta Scott King Honor author Varian Johnson teams up with rising cartoonist Shannon Wright for a delightful middle-grade graphic novel!

Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best friends. They participate in the same clubs, enjoy the same foods, and are partners on all their school projects. But just before the girls start sixth grade, Francine becomes Fran — a girl who wants to join the chorus, run for class president, and dress in fashionable outfits that set her apart from Maureen. A girl who seems happy to share only two classes with her sister!

Maureen and Francine are growing apart and there’s nothing Maureen can do to stop it. Are sisters really forever? Or will middle school change things for good?

Play Like a Girl by Misty Wilson and David Wilson, Marketed for ages 8-12

Debut author Misty Wilson chronicles her seventh-grade experience as the only girl on her town’s football team in this empowering graphic memoir about teamwork, friendship, crushes, and touchdowns.

Misty never shies away from a challenge, on or off the field. So when the boys tell her she can’t play football, there’s only one thing to do: join their team and show them what she’s got.

But the training is rougher than she thought—and so are the other guys, who aren’t thrilled about having a girl on their team.

Middle school isn’t so easy, either. Misty wants to fit in with the popular kids, but they think a girl playing football is “weird.” Even her best friend doesn’t get it.

El Deafo by Cece Bell, Marketed for ages 8-12

Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school — in the hallway… in the teacher’s lounge… in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.

Sunny Side Up series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, Marketed for ages 8-12

When is a summer vacation not really a summer vacation? Sunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer. At first she thought Florida might be fun — it is the home of Disney World, after all. But the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park. It’s full of . . . old people. Really old people.Luckily, Sunny isn’t the only kid around. She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they’re having adventures of their facing off against golfball-eating alligators, runaway cats, and mysteriously disappearing neighbors. But the question remains — why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place? The answer lies in a family secret that won’t be secret to Sunny much longer. . .

Drama by Raina Telgemeier, Marketed for ages 10-14


Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

The Smile series by Raina Telgemeier, Marketed for ages 8-12

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly. This coming-of-age true story is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in middle school, and especially those who have ever had a bit of their own dental drama.

Measuring Up by Lily LaMatte and Ann Xu, Marketed for ages 8-12

Twelve-year-old Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle, and the only thing she wants more than to fit in at her new school is to celebrate her grandmother, A-má’s, seventieth birthday together.

Since she can’t go to A-má, Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There’s just one problem: Cici only knows how to cook Taiwanese food.

And after her pickled cucumber debacle at lunch, she’s determined to channel her inner Julia Child. Can Cici find a winning recipe to reunite with A-má, a way to fit in with her new friends, and somehow find herself too?

Katie the Catsitter series by Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue, Marketed for ages 8-12

A new middle-grade graphic novel series about growing up, friendship, heroes, and cats (lots of cats!).

Katie is dreading the boring summer ahead while her best friends are all away at camp–something that’s way out of Katie and her mom’s budget, UNLESS Katie can figure out a way earn the money for camp herself. But when Katie gets a job catsitting for her mysterious upstairs neighbor, life get interesting.

First, Madeline has 217 cats (!) and they’re not exactly . . . normal cats. Also, why is Madeline always out EXACTLY when the city’s most notorious villain commits crimes?! Is it possible that Katie’s upstairs neighbor is really a super villain?

Can Katie wrangle a whole lot of wayward cats, save a best friendship (why is Beth barely writing back? And who’s this boy she keeps talking about?!), AND crack the biggest story in the city’s history? Some heroes have capes . . . Katie has cats!

The New Kid series by Jerry Craft, Marketed for ages 8-12

A graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real.

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Gabriela Epstein, Marketed for ages 8-12

For fans of Twins and Allergic, a must-have graphic novel about five very different students who are forced together by their school to complete community service… and may just have more in common than they thought.

How can you be yourself when no one sees the real you?

Five students meet in the school cafeteria when they’re forced to complete their school community service hours.

There’s Jorge: the brain

Sara: the loner

Dayara: the tough kid

Nico: the rich kid

And Miguel: the athlete

They immediately know that they have nothing in common with each other… even though their school administration has decided that they all belong together.

None of the kids wants to be there, and each has their own issues they’re dealing with in their life outside of school. But when they encounter someone who truly needs their help, they might just be able to come together to work as a team—and help their community—after all.

Christina Diaz Gonzalez, award-winning author of The Red Umbrella, and Gaby Epstein, illustrator of the Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel adaptations, have created a vibrant and relatable graphic novel about unexpected friendships and being seen for who you really are.

Awkward series by Svetlana Chmakova, Marketed for ages 10+

Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.

Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.

On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!

Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

I’ll continue to add books to this list as more are released! Let me know if I missed one of your favorites in the comments section, and I’ll add it! Happy Reading!

Student Voices: Book Recommendations from Anja K., Meghan K., & Teresa Z., 7th graders, and Silvia S., 8th grader


Book Recommendations

“Top Ten Books I Recommend” by Anja K., 2022-23 7th grade

This book is so good; I really don’t get why people don’t read it! It is about a girl that goes to school in Paris and meets a boy that she really thinks is cute. I really thought it was a cute moment when St. Clair took Anna to his secret spot!! So Romantic!!! I REALLY RECOMMEND!!

This book is such a great book!! It is about 4 kids that are in suspicion for killing a young man in the same grade. I REALLY RECOMMEND!! (I definitely recommend it for people that are interested in mystery!!) 

This book is SO GOOD! It has a lot of action and a bit of blood, but if you like action, this book is for you! It is about students that go to a school and learn how to be heroes. Great! Amazing! Recommend!!

I think this book was a really cute book!! It is about this girl that found a smelly pet and does not know what it is so she tries to find out what the animal is and how it got there. This was a very interesting and funny book to read!! Really recommend for people that like funny content!!

This series is so good!! I am trying to finish the series and you can get some of the books in the HCMS library!! This series is about a boy named Tanjiro and his sister which turns into a demon and fights with him in the Demon Slayer Corps. 

 I really recommend this book it is so good!! It has a nice theme to it about twins, their competitiveness, and how they live!! It was a cute little book!!

This book is such a good book!! I totally recommend this!! It is about a girl that is allergic to mainly dogs and all animals with fur so she tries to get a pet, and it does not work out so well. 

This book is about kids that learn how to do Yo-Yo tricks and dancing. I really recommend this book for kids that like graphic novels that have dancing in it. This book is a little different from others though.

A Silent Voice is about a girl that is deaf and a boy that makes fun of her and how he tries to make up with her in High School after Middle School. I really loved how it had a cute message to it!! If you like this summary, I totally recommend this book for you!! 

I really loved how this book had 2 twins that wanted to be different and not the same as the other twin because people kept on messing up there identities I really recommend!!

“Ten Favorite Books” by Meghan K., 2022-23 7th grade

A girl who wants to play football with the boys but everyone is judging her….She does not care what people think and she follows her dream. I recommend this book because girls can do anything boys can do. Also, this book made me really happy to read because I was in a similar situation when I started playing football with the boys.

A family moves to a new town, They meet this boy and he claims the town is haunted, Only to their surprise he is right….. I recommend this book because it was interesting! I could not stop reading it.

A girl named Pip thinks Sal did not murder Andie Bell. Will she find the real murderer. I LOVE this book!! SO many twist and turns. Always kept me interested. 

A girl who does not want to have a Quince. Her family convinced her but it went differently for what she suspected. I really like this book because the mom finally realizes that the girl should wear what she likes and do what she likes.

A girl who wanted a pet dog until she found out she was ALLERGIC… So she decided to get a rat, still allergic. Ends up finding a way to keep her cute little rat friends. I Love Allergic! Definitely a 5 out of 5. Amazing book. I Understand because I have a lot of pets and I thought I was Allergic to my cat and I was sooo sad. But it ended up that I was not!

A girl who wants to be just like her dream Tik Toker. One day she wished for her to be 22 just like the famous Tik Tok star she wanted to be. Really good book! Kept me interested. Definitely worth reading. I loved it!

A big family has to share a tiny house. Second oldest child is not too happy with her older brother because he does not have to share a room, so they find a solution. I can relate to this book because my middle sister got the biggest room and I always wanted it but when she moved out I got it! Definitely miss my sister though.

When girls were brought down because they wanted to do other things besides chores. Jane Goodall did not care and did what she loved…Studying chimpanzees. I love reading books where women do what they want to do and do not let people judge them!! Pretty good book.

A young Otter learns to follow his mothers footsteps and be just as good as her. I like this book a lot because as family you always need to stick together even through ups and downs. 

Stacy has to go to babysit this family… They go to the beach and Stacy falls in love. How does Marry Anne feel about having to watch over all the kids by herself while Stacy is off with this guy. I recommend this book because it shows that you should stick with your friends over a guy! Don’t just push your BFF over a guy you just met. 

“Ten Books I Enjoyed from my School Library” by Teresa Z., 2022-23 7th grade

This book is really good. I enjoyed it!

It was about a kid that just went to a new school which has rich kids and more bullying involved with it but I thought it was really good!!

I love this book because it teaches you how to reach your goals.

I like this book. Overall it’s good, but it is really dark.

This book is so good. I love how they learned how to overcome their differences and be friends.

I love this book–it’s so good! I love love stories!

I love this book it teaches how to go through stuff, and it’s so fun to read. 

This book is good; it teaches a really good lesson.

This book is really good, and it’s really fast to read. I love it so much!

This book is really good–I 100% recommend this book.

“Recommended: The Clique by Lisi Harrison” by Silvia S., 2022-23 8th grade

The Clique books felt exclusive and special. I truly enjoyed the drama and how Lisi Harrison created their own slang and inside jokes with hidden meanings. Reading the clique allowed me to live a fantasy quite similar to Mean Girls with girls my age with real insecurities. I do wish the clique continues and that some of the characters undergo some character development. The Clique will always be a series I recommend because it deserves every star it gets. I hope that you are as interested in the clique as I was. 

Ever dream of that fashionista and luxurious lifestyle with the perfect friend group? Meet The Pretty Committee comprised of 4 girls Massie, Alicia, Dylan, and Kristen. Massie the girl meant to lead and conquer with her miu miu lace cami, who can turn any fashion-don’t into a fashion-yes. Alicia is the exotically beautiful and stylish runner-up that can get any boy with a hair flip. Dylan the polished redhead daughter of a tv star surrounded by cameras and all you can hear of clicks and flashes. Kristen is the smartest and sportiest girl in the pretty committee with her secret double life. 

On the night of the nationwide New Year Yve’s party where everything comes to place by the drop of a handbag. Massie Block trapped as a beta in The Ahnnabeees (the wanna-be clique) at Presbyterian Middle, has amazing ideas for them but is neglected. Alicia Rivera eager to guide and lead her dance studio squad with their caption on vacation, gets her one in a lifetime to shine and perform at Merri-Lee Marvil’s New Year Yves party. Dylan Marvil always sweet-talked because of her mother’s fame she has had no one ever bother standing up to her. Kristen Gregory needs to leave planet loser and change up her life this year. Claire Lynons the sweet naive Orlando girl psyched to win a last-minute invite to the New Year Yves party but has to sneak out before the countdown to midnight ends. 

Massie goes to a physics telling her she will now be the leader and connect 5 gems by midnight and she should have purple because royals like Massie always had purple. Alicia with her determination “offends” one of her teammates and gets in great trouble but who can let a chance of being the next star go like that? But it’s not meant for her; she trips on a bracelet charm. Claire was held in a room before getting her first kiss from a star until her parents come in to take her out after seeing her on tv. Dylan struggling to fit in her size 2 pants doesn’t know her mother’s stylist has put skinning mirrors is told the truth by Massie and wonders who that girl is. Massie after telling a girl her pants are not going to fit no matter what bumps into someone and her charms come falling out.

Kristen who happened to come in and sees Dylan out asking to switch clothe seems rich enough to enter the party sees a girl looking for something and goes to help. Each girl finds a charm and goes to Massie to give her the charm and they realize they are meant for each other after discussing how each of their lives is missing something. Massie and Alicia decide to move schools to Octavian Day and The Clique begins. But where is the last gem? 

Thank you so much to my student voices today and their recommendations!