5 Beloved Children's Book Authors Share Their Favorite Novels

Warning: These picks may provoke under-the-covers-with-a-flashlight reading.


The Arrival, by Shaun Tan

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“Tan’s graphic novel is what genius looks like. A wordless story about the immigration experience (of all things), Tan’s beautifully illustrated book gives the reader a sense of what it’s like to uproot oneself in a quest for a better life. A modern masterpiece, and one that every kid should read.”

Recommended by Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and most recently, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul ($14, amazon.com). He is opening a bookstore in his hometown of Plainville, Massachusetts this summer.

To buy: $20, amazon.com.


The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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“A wonderful old-fashioned adventure fantasy with a snarky, smart-aleck protagonist—a totally appealing boy named Sage, who doesn’t follow any rules—filled with the kinds of twists I love.”

Recommended by R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series. His picture book debut, The Little Shop of Monsters ($17, amazon. com), comes out in August.

To buy: $7, amazon.com.


Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

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“This is one of my favorite books, and my childhood copy is a prized possession. This is a gentle coming-of-age story, told with sweetness and warmth. Nine-year-old Betsy’s timeless struggle with independence and self-reliance takes place in a charming bucolic setting, which probably cemented my love of farms and country life.”

Recommended by Ann M. Martin, author of The Baby-Sitters Club series and most recently, the novel Rain Reign ($17, amazon.com).

To buy: $10, amazon.com.


Words in the Dust, by Trent Reedy

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“This book introduces an Afghanistan that most of us have never imagined, through the eyes of a brave young girl growing up in the middle of it. I don’t write blurbs, but I wrote an introduction to this book because I met the author through a letter he wrote me while serving in Afghanistan. When he told me he wanted to write about a girl he had met there but wondered about an American soldier’s ability to tell a story from the point of view of an Afghan girl, I urged him to try. When I read the manuscript, I saw that he had succeeded beyond anything I could have wished.”

Recommended by Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved, and most recently, Stories of My Life ($18, amazon.com), a series of personal anecdotes.

To buy: $7, amazon.com.


Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm

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“Although the cover of my edition depicts a girl walking arm-in-arm with a starfish, this novel is not the story of a romance between a human and a creature of the sea. Rather, it portrays an oddly named, strangely skilled group of young people living in the baffling circumstances of Key West in 1935, under the shadow of a perplexing but ultimately comforting mystery. This book is like a walk on the beach at midnight: chilling, gritty and very likely to drag you under.”

Recommended by Lemony Snicket (also known as Daniel Handler), author of the series A Series of Unfortunate Events. The last installment in his All the Wrong Questions series, Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights? ($16, amazon.com) comes out in September.

To buy: $7, amazon.com.