Our New Favorites for Young Readers, From Babies to Teens (Plus the Latest ParnassusNext Pick!)

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Are the young readers in your life claiming “nothing to read”? Do you need a perfect baby shower gift or birthday present for a grade-schooler or teen? Would you perhaps just like an excuse to come browse the darling titles on the shelves of our children’s section? Come on over — we’ve got you covered.

Here’s the latest roundup of most-adored staff favorites, for the youngest book-lovers all the way up to mature YA-lovers. Click any title for more details or to order a copy!

Picture Books

Recommended by Ashley

The Book of Mistakes Cover ImageThe Book of Mistakes

Do you love simple, whimsical illustrations? If so, this book is for you. And if the drawings aren’t enough to lure you in, the message will. I’m not ashamed to admit I teared up a bit at the end, at the beautiful truth that our mistakes, though painful at the time, make us who we are.

Recommended by Devin

Lucy Loves Sherman Cover ImageLucy Loves Sherman

From a girl who also wishes to free the lobsters in tanks at restaurants (however, I still enjoy a good lobster roll — don’t ask me how that is possible), Lucy has the determination I might adopt in the future. Inspired by a true story. #FreeSherman

Recommended by Jackie

John Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien Cover ImageJohn Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien

Tolkien loved dragons as a boy, but never found one until he created Smaug. This biography is a perfect introduction to his work. It would be a great family read-aloud, and it includes a bibliography.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Ella Who? Cover ImageElla Who?

A visiting elephant and distracted parents make moving day fun in this charming picture book.

Recommended by Katherine

Phoebe Sounds It Out Cover ImagePhoebe Sounds It Out

Children with unusual names or anyone who has struggled with the weird rules of the English language (silent e? i before e except after c??) will love Phoebe Sounds It Out, a warmly illustrated story that champions effort over perfection.

Recommended by Katherine

Be Quiet! Cover ImageBe Quiet!

This is my new go-to for storytime; Ryan T. Higgins has created a read-aloud experience similar to The Book With No Pictures. (Read them back-to-back for uproarious fun!)

Recommended by Keltie

Escargot Cover ImageEscargot

I dare you to try to read this book without using a Pepe Le Pew accent — impossible! This is the story of a snail and a salad and a journey. The struggle is real for the slimy French gastropod who will win your heart.

Recommended by Mary Laura

Fruits in Suits Cover ImageFruits in Suits

I mean, COME ON. I didn’t think Jared Chapman could outdo Vegetables in Underwear, but here we are. Give this to your budding artist and out-of-the-box thinker, the one who arranges her dinner foods into a smiley face and talks to her French fries.

Middle Grade / Independent Readers
Recommended by Katherine

Ms. Bixby's Last Day Cover ImageMs. Bixby’s Last Day

Three sixth-grade boys come up with a plan to give their favorite teacher the perfect last day of school, and the result is both exciting and heartwarming. This is the kind of instant classic that comes along only every once in a while. (Now out in paperback!)

Recommended by Ashley

Real Friends Cover ImageReal Friends

The friendships I had as a young girl and teen are some of the most influential and important relationships in my life. Hale’s graphic memoir speaks to this beautiful, sometimes tumultuous power. If you love the books of Raina Telgemeier, this book is for you.

Recommended by Ashley

Lumberjanes Beware the Kitten Holy: Vol. 1 Cover ImageLumberjanes Beware the Kitten Holy: Vol. 1

I would absolutely have joined the Girl Scouts if they’d been like the Lumberjanes. This volume is packed with wicked humor, daring deeds, and kick-butt gals — and it’s quite the mystery. Sign me up! Side note: Vol. 6 is out and waiting for you to binge-read this whole series.

Young Adult
Recommended by Ashley

Noteworthy Cover ImageNoteworthy

What happens when a girl at an elite performing arts school can’t seem to get a good part in the musicals? Why, convince everyone you’re a boy and go out for an all-male a capella group of course! Witty and insightful, this book explores sexuality, gender, poverty, and first love. A must for music nerds and fans of Glee.

Recommended by Grace

How to Make a Wish Cover ImageHow to Make a Wish

This is the book I wanted with all my heart when I was a teen — and definitely still craved as an adult. It’s beautiful, piercing, and heart-filling. Track me down, and I will happily tell you at length everything I love about this story, but suffice it to say for the moment: AGH. SO GOOD.

Recommended by Grace

The Wrath & the Dawn Cover ImageThe Wrath & the Dawn 

I’m re-reading this duology in preparation for Renee Ahdieh’s event on May 21 for her new book Flame in the Mist (which is also AMAZING). I am floored all over by her vivid writing and irresistible characters. This is a book I could happily read again and again and again.

And a perfect gift for middle schoolers or high schoolers wearing caps and gowns this month:
Recommended by Rae Ann

The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life Cover ImageThe Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life

For new graduates or anyone who needs to be inspired!

ParnassusNext — May Selection

A Million Junes Cover ImageA Million Junes

Jack “June” O’Donnell has grown up surrounded by stories: Stories of her house, lived in by six generations of O’Donnells, and the maybe-magical fruit produced by her family’s cherry tree; stories of the adventurous travels of her grandfather, Jonathan, and of how her father, Jack, won her mother’s heart; and stories about the Angerts, and why, whenever an Angert and an O’Donnell cross paths, darkness and tragedy follow. So June knows she should stay away from Saul Angert when he returns to their small town of Five Fingers after a long absence. But June quickly realizes that not only does Saul have stories of his own, but the threads of their stories are interwoven. Together, June and Saul must illuminate the darkness that lies between their families and find the truth inside their stories.

Emily Henry’s A Million Junes is full of inventive fictional delights: Mysterious coywolves who steal shoes and then disappear, floating white puffs that contain living memories, pink-tinted ghosts that hover just at the edge of vision. It is also permeated by deep truths: that grief and loss shape us as much as love and joy; that our stories create who we are and how we see the world as much as we create our stories; and that only by letting go can we discover and hold onto what truly matters.

Emily Henry will discuss and sign A Million Junes alongside fellow author Brittany Cavallaro (who will share the new book in her Charlotte Holmes series, The Last of August) in conversation with fellow ParnassusNext authors David Arnold and Jeff Zentner on Friday, May 19 at 6:30.

Every member of ParnassusNext receives a first edition hardcover of the selected book of the month, signed by the author. There is no membership fee to join — and no line to stand in for the autograph. You’re billed just for the cost of each book (+ shipping if you’d like yours mailed to you). Not only will you have one of the best YA books of the month when it comes out, you’ll have it straight from the author’s hands, with an original, authentic signature! Choose a 3, 6, or 12 months for yourself, or buy a gift membership for your favorite YA reader.

Know a parent, teacher, or librarian who loves books? Send ’em a link and tell them to subscribe to Musing so they’ll get every new post by email. As always, it’s free, and in addition to exclusive author interviews, reading lists curated by expert book-folks, Ann Patchett’s blog, and behind-the-scenes peeks at our shop dogs (and people), we highlight great books for young readers once a month!

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Little hands love nesting dolls (which pair perfectly with board books).