Tuesday, March 17, 2015

14 Children's Books You Should Read in Your 20s

I'm a sucker for children's books. Even before I taught elementary school or began editing children's books, I loved picture books, middle grade adventures, and YA novels. Children's books have just always held a joy and love of pure storytelling that I found missing in books for grown ups (ha). Today, I thought I'd share 14 of my favorite children's and YA books, from picture books to lengthy novels.

[All images from Amazon.com]

1. Waiting Is Not Easy! by Mo Willems

This book may be aimed at elementary schoolers, but it could have easily been written for all the 20-somethings waiting for their lives to start. Elephant & Piggie totally get it.

2. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

In my experience, Calvin and Hobbes only get better with age. Every time I read these comics, I find additional layers to jokes that I missed in my younger years.

3. ish by Peter H. Reynolds

This story about a young artist who loses his confidence and motivation is inspiring at any age. But I have found it especially useful when navigating my mid-20s identity crisis.

4. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

With hilarious illustrations and a simple, but witty premise, this is easily one of my favorite picture books right now.

5. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

I remember this book partly for teaching me curse words in 3rd grade. BUT it's still a beautiful, tragic story that takes on another layer of depth when read as an adult.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Because Harry Potter.

7. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Remember getting to high school and college and realizing so much of what you'd been taught in elementary school was a lie? (Like, can we just talk about Christopher Columbus for a minute?!) Chains is one of those books that works against the dumbing down history for young readers. Anderson presents a wonderfully complex look at the politics of war and slavery during the Revolution and it's awesome.

8. Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda's intelligence, cleverness, and bravery are even more impressive when you're old enough to get her literary references.

9. Frindle by Andrew Clements

This story is a reminder that ideas can go viral without social media. Nick Allen, the protagonist, is an excellent example of the value of creativity, wit, and determination.

10. The Invention of Huge Cabret by Brian Selznick

This book is illustrated by Brian Selznick, the long-time illustrator for Andrew Clements (author of Frindle). In this book, Selznick captures the wonder of discovering your first passion. And the images are just stunning.

11. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Another book that packs a stronger punch once you have the knowledge of history to back it up. This is a book that is moving at any age.

12. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Oh John Green, how I love thee.
13. The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston

I would be remiss if I didn't mention at least one of the many wonderful books published by Lerner, where I work. Owen is a refreshing novel about a young dragon slayer and his bard...set in the modern day. Bonus points for no forced romance between the two. (Though I am a sucker for romantic tension.) 

14. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

It's easy to write off the relationships we had in high school now that years have passed. This book is a reminder that first relationships can still be just as meaningful and life-changing as the ones we have as adults.

What books would you add to this list?

**This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you buy one of the linked products, I'll receive a small commission. However, I have not received any free products, and all opinions are my own** 


  1. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

  2. I love reading and have also written a childrens book called Three Little Monsters, which is available to pre-order. It is a fun book for all children and adults (children at heart) and there is a lot more to come if this one is successful.

  3. Looking for Alaska is one of my favourite books! And Chains seems like such a worthwhile read. I'd probably add Alice in Wonderland! xx

    1. Alice in Wonderland is a great addition to this list!


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