What We’re Thankful for: 19 Fantastic Books for Young Readers

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With Thanksgiving on the calendar this month, we’re feeling grateful for all our blessings — including bold heroes and heroines, out-of-this-world settings, hilarious dialogue, and heart-wrenching relationships between characters we can’t help but fall in love with on the page. These are the books for young readers, from tots to teens, that we’re especially excited about right now:

(Click any title to read more about it or order a copy for yourself or the young reader in your life!)

Picture Books
Recommended by Rae Ann

Sam & Eva Cover ImageSam & Eva 

Sam and Eva are creative opponents. When their drawings come to life in this picture book, they decide teamwork is best. Fans of Harold and the Purple Crayon will give thanks!

Recommended by Katherine

My Blue Is Happy Cover ImageMy Blue Is Happy 

I am thankful for local authors like Jessica Young whose vision of the world is imbued with a sense wonder and infinite possibility. Read My Blue Is Happy and see colors with newfound appreciation.

Middle Grade / Independent Readers
Recommended by Stephanie

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow Cover ImageNevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow 

Every children’s publisher hopes that they’ll be the ones to find the El Dorado of kidlit: The next Harry Potter. I don’t want to jinx Nevermoor by raising your hopes too high, so I will just say this: Remember how you felt the first time you got to the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Like you had just really Been Through Something with some new and sort of unexpected friends and a hidden world had opened up before your eyes (by which I mean the wizarding world and also the world in which it was possible to love a book THAT much) and all you wanted was to go back as soon as you could? That’s how I felt when I reached the last page of Nevermoor.

Recommended by Devin, too, and we didn’t want to make them fight over it:

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow Cover ImageNevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow 

I have so many adjectives to describe this book, including some that are just me screaming unintelligible sounds; however I’ll leave it at: enchanting, whimsical, and of course, magical. Dare I say that if you loved the book about a certain boy wizard, you will fall in love with this story about the trials of Morrigan Crow.

Recommended by Catherine

Never Say Die Cover ImageNever Say Die

The Alex Rider books are one of my favorite series. You’ve got action, spies, and evil forces at work with only one kid to save us. I’m so grateful we have a new book in the series.

Recommended by Niki

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Cover ImageFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

I’m doing a lot of reading out loud to our new baby, so I’m thankful for the humor and whimsy of children’s classics like this one. If you haven’t read it since you were a kid, I highly recommend revisiting it!

Young Adult Graphic Novel 
Recommended by Katherine

Macbeth Cover ImageMacbeth 

Macbeth is one of my favorite plays, and I make an effort to reread it every November. This year, I’m so thankful for Gareth Hinds’s graphic novel adaptation — it’s intensely readable and gorgeously illustrated. If you’ve never read the play itself, here is your entry point! Perfect for teens and adults alike.

(We have signed copies available . . . while they last!)

Young Adult Fiction
Recommended by Devin

Dear Martin Cover ImageDear Martin 

This year, I’m grateful for the number of diverse novels I’ve read in YA, and Nic Stone has written one for the ages. Justyce recounts his interaction with the police in an exchange that nearly ended in tragedy, and after this, he wakes up to the world around him. While this is a work of fiction, there are hard truths to be learned.

Recommended by Ella

Renegades Cover ImageRenegades 

I might be a little biased because I love everything superhero, but this. book. ROCKS. Could I be more grateful for Marissa Meyer writing an amazing book packed with cool fight scenes and an awesomely complex main character? To put the bow on top, it’s the start of a new series, making it REALLY hard for me to wait another year for the next one and leading to my reading and rereading it obsessively and trying to give it to anyone in sight.

Recommended by Ella

All the Crooked Saints Cover ImageAll the Crooked Saints 

Saints annoyed by performing miracles that end up going wrong? Give me MORE! I’m so thankful for this delightfully complex plot, which also explains why humans want salvation and what they will do to achieve it — and starts a surprisingly deep conversation (which is rare for me to come across in YA books). This is the perfect balance between comedy, deep-thinking, and mystery that makes me want more from this world!

Recommended by Devin, Stephanie, Katherine, and basically everyone (blurb by Devin)

Turtles All the Way Down Cover ImageTurtles All the Way Down 

I am thankful that after all of these years, we have a new John Green book to read — and it is phenomenal. He writes Aza’s battle with obsessive compulsive disorder honestly and shows realistically how a person’s daily life looks with a mental health diagnosis. You’ll probably want to jump into the lines of this book so you can hug Aza, but until the day that technology comes, you’ll read through this in one sitting and hope she’ll be okay.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Long Way Down Cover ImageLong Way Down 

This is the story of Will’s descent in a ghost-riddled elevator as he departs to avenge his brother’s murder. I read it in one gulp.

Recommended by Grace

Tortall: A Spy's Guide Cover ImageTortall: A Spy’s Guide 

Reading the first words of this new collection felt just like reading the first sentence of Tamora Pierce’s Alanna again — magical and exciting and a memory sure to stay with me for years. Perfect for fans who have always yearned for just a little more of Tortall in their lives or for those just discovering Tamora Pierce’s enrapturing world (and who don’t mind spoilers).

Recommended by Grace

This Darkness Mine Cover ImageThis Darkness Mine 

A dark and twisted novel perfect for any adult or young adult who loves to hate a protagonist. As Sasha pulls you deeper into her own darkness, you will be both repelled and intrigued until the narrative blindsides you with an ending I didn’t see coming but loved all the same.

ParnassusNext — November Selection

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives Cover ImageThe 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives 

Sasha and Richard are two teens who live in the same city but inhabit separate worlds. Sasha goes to a private school, has a comfortably middle class family, is white, and identifies as agender. Richard goes to public school, is being raised by a single mom who struggles to make ends meet, is black, and has been in and out of trouble most of his life. One afternoon on a public bus they both rode home from school, Richard, encouraged by his friends, held a cigarette lighter to a sleeping Sasha’s skirt and changed both their lives forever.

Dashka Slater constructs Sasha and Richard’s stories methodically, almost impressionistically, with a journalist’s eye for meaningful details and a poet’s voice that makes those details sing. By the time Slater arrives at the moment the teens encounter one another, she has travelled with each of them to the place where their stories intersected — but even so, there’s something unexplainable about that moment, something that resists understanding. For the remainder of the book, rather than trying to simplify these unexplainable questions, Slater leans into them, and it’s in her resistance of easy resolutions that The 57 Bus shines. Everything about Sasha and Richard’s story is complicated, uncomfortable, vital, and completely unforgettable.

* * *

Every member of ParnassusNext receives a first edition hardcover of each month’s  selected book, 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). 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 3, 6, or 12 months for yourself, or buy a gift membership for your favorite YA reader.

Which will win??

The National Book Awards are coming up tomorrow, November 15! The winners will be announced at a live ceremony and streamed on the National Book Foundation’s website. Have you read the finalists in literature for young people?

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Elana K. Arnold, What Girls Are Made Of
Robin Benway, Far from the Tree
Erika L. Sánchez, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
Ibi Zoboi, American Street (This was a 2017 ParnassusNext selection!)