Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Robot Problems: Kid Lit Recommendations

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Jenn and guest expert Preeti Chhibber take on kids book questions in this week’s Get Booked!

This episode is sponsored by Dietland by Sarai Walker and Bright Cellars.

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Need a book recommendation? Fill out the form at the bottom of the post, or email and we’ll help!



1. First of all — THANK YOU for this podcast! It’s so nice to hear other people looking for the same kinds of books I am. My to-read list has gotten so much more organized because of you. Thank you!
Okay, so I’m looking for children’s books that feature characters of color. I used to teach 3rd and 4th grade in a small rural town in the deep south, where all of my students (and most of the families in my community) were black. Finding books that would interest everyone and still be on their reading/maturity level was such a challenge every year. I currently work at a small publishing company because I want to eventually work to make sure these kinds of books become more accessible to kids everywhere, especially in rural communities like mine. My students loved books about sports/athletes (the STAT series by Stoudemire and the Sugar Plum ballerina series by Whoopi Goldberg were very popular), animals, mysteries, and historic figures. They also really enjoyed the Ramona Quimby series, because what 9-yr-old doesn’t love seeing other kids get into trouble? So I’m looking for these kinds of books in a range of reading levels (2nd – 6th) that feature black characters. What’s out there? What authors should I pay attention to? What publishers should I stay updated on?
You are the best,


2. Hi Amanda!

I love listening to your podcasts. Your particular brand of candor and cynicism is exactly my cup of tea 🙂
My daughter is in 1st grade and I have just started reading chapter books to her for story time. We started off with A Little Princess. I would like to diversify our selections and I’m not really sure where to start.
She likes princesses, tutus, and her favorite color is pink. While I personally do not love these things, I don’t want to discourage her tastes or make her feel bad for liking them. Do you know of any books that show being a princess is more than wearing pretty clothes? Or books that show that girls don’t have to be princesses to be awesome?

Thank you for your time and I hope you have a lovely day!



3. Hi Amanda-
I’m looking for books for my daughter who is in 4th grade. I’ve struggled to get her motivated to read for pleasure and I don’t think she’s found a series or author that really excites her. The one author she does consistently go back to is Kate DiCamillo. When she was younger she enjoyed the Mercy Watson series and more recently Flora & Ulysses and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Do you have any similar recommendations where animals are the main characters?
Thank you- Alexa


4. Hi Amanda and Jenn!

I need some help coming up with graphic novel recommendations for my 10 year old stepson. He’s completely hooked on them but he goes through them so fast that I can’t keep up, so I desperately need your recommendations!

He reads books with both male and female protagonists (he read El Deafo and Nimona) so I’m already planning to try your recent recommendation of Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant. My husband and I have also exposed him to a wide range of subject matter (for example, he read George by Alex Gino) so we’re comfortable with anything.

He read the Bone series by Jeff Smith but his absolute favorite is the Amulet series and he can’t wait for the next one to be released. Any suggestions for what other graphic novels (or series) I can get him??

Love the show, and thanks so much!


5. Okay, this is a tall order, but I’m sort of hoping that other book nerds were like me as a kid, high strung and really needing other people to be “correct.” Because that’s what my boy is like now and I need to help him so that his life isn’t as miserable as mine was growing up. He’s already got a few extra things going for him, but …

My seven year old son needs everyone to follow the rules, and, among other things, ends up being more disruptive trying to get other kids to shush than the kids who need to shush are. He has an odd sense of humor that pushes boundaries in a very uncomfortable way. No one is suggesting that anything is “wrong” with him per se, just that … well, he’s different. His teacher has “never seen anything like it,” which is terrifying, since as a parent all you want to hear is that “every kid is different, but they’re all basically the same.”

I am writing for two suggestions: One, books that don’t glorify the busybodies. While he reads at a normal first-grade level, he loves to hear longer books, whether read by us or an audiobook, and his vocabulary and understanding seems to match. We loved the Green Knowe series, The Dark Is Rising Series, The Hobbit, the first two books of Harry Potter, City of Ember, etc. but all these books focus on people who are in other people’s business. Hermione might be my hero, but man, she tells other people what to do a lot! I don’t really want my kid to not question the status quo, but I want to help him fit in. Is this a crazy idea? Are there books that — without being all 1984 — teach kids how to be members of a group? How to be in step with society? I want him to fly his freak flag, I just want him to stop telling other people when they step out of line. I’m trying to get through the parenting books about out of sync children, but … man they’re boring, and since I was out of sync they don’t always make a lot of sense to me. I’m not much of a role model here. No one is suggesting he needs any special therapy, but maybe he could have someone to look up to?

My other request is for books that make meditation, or just mindfulness, seem like fun for kids. We had some success when he and I meditated for a few minutes every day. But he hated it. And meditating while angry or annoyed doesn’t work as well. Yoga would be fine, probably, but meditation with Thích Nhất Hạnh’s Pebble Meditation and a couple kids meditation books we found online worked well. It’s just … not normalized? I feel like there needs to be a ninja book out there or something that would make this not so weird and make him want to do it. It just helped his emotional control so much, and I know it is what has helped me in the years I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety.

These are crazy. One is “help my kids be more like everyone else” and the other is “help me make this weird thing I want my kid to do seem normal.” But, honestly, I don’t know what else to do. He’s been improving so much over the school year, but I just don’t feel like he’s internalized the need for what he’s doing, and I know he gets a lot from reading.


6. Hi there!

Love the show! I am asking for reading recommendations for my 9 year old nephew. He’s a smart kid and a fast reader. He is OBSESSED with sports and he loves to write. He has just let us know that he wants to be a sports reporter when he grows up – and has even written an article for his class newspaper (which makes my little Journalism-major-heart flutter). He devoured the Treasure Hunter series books by James Patterson. I know Mike Lupica has a bunch of children’s books out – but i have not read any of them. The books don’t have to be sports related, but that’s definitely a plus.

Any recommendations are appreciated!


Anne Wexler (aka – Auntie Anne)


Books Mentioned

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

EllRay Jakes series (EllRay Jakes is Not a Chicken!, #1) by Sally Warner and Jamie Harper

Jason Reynolds

Lee & Low

Children’s Book Council Diversity site

Kick by Walter Dean Myers

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale

Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman

The Best Princess Books for All Ages, post by Karina Glaser

Abel’s Island by William Steig

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

Redwall by Brian Jacques

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

Drama from Raina Telgemeier

Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman

Cleopatra in Space: Target Practice by Mike Maihack

Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel

The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel, recommended by Molly Wetta’s library

Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin, recommended by Jessica Woodbury

Mike Lupica

The Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson

Kid Owner by Tim Green

Pets Are For Keeps, Animal Inn series by Virginia Vail

Infinity Ring series (A Mutiny in Time #1), includes authors like Carrie Ryan and Matt de la Peña