BookKids: Rediscovering Kid & Teen Lit in 2019

Inspired by the new year, we’ve set new goals for ourselves! Reading goals, that is. Over the next few months, our booksellers will share their own personal journeys to achieve their reading goals for 2019. Below, adult events coordinator Christina M. tells us about committing to reading more Kids & Teen books! Keep up with the blog series here.

I’ve always been a voracious reader. And although my tastes haven’t changed much over time, there has been a recent noticeable lack of Children’s and Young Adult literature that I’ve always known and loved. That’s why one of my reading goals this year is to get back into kids books–specifically books by writers of color. With the help of some great recommendations by our amazing BookKids staff, I think I’ve made a pretty good start on the year.


First, I chose to read Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee. This fabulous book is part of the new Rick Riordan Presents imprint of Disney-Hyperion. Dragon Pearl is a sci-fi space opera adventure that follows thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits–a shape-shifting species that must hide their identity as such–with the ability to use charm magic.

Min is miserable under her household rules on their broken down planet when her brother disappears from his military post under suspicious circumstances. In order to clear his name and bring him home, she uses her forbidden fox magic to sneak aboard his battle cruiser and uncover the conspiracy of the world-building Dragon Pearl. Space pirates, spirits, and Korean mythology provide an exciting new setting for this story about how far you can go for the people you love.

My next read was the super popular, National Book Award-winning The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s the story of a girl coming of age in Harlem and discovering a passion for spoken word. Caught between her highly religious mother’s expectations and falling in love, poetry becomes an outlet for her.

I actually listened to the audiobook version and that was the right decision. Read by Acevedo, you really get the full beauty of the lyrical prose. I fully admit this one had me sobbing through the last 30 minutes or so. It’s books like this that show how important representation is in literature. I can only imagine how much this helped any number of kids out there going through the same struggles of Xiomara to know they are not alone.


My last read was Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. I can’t believe it took me so long to read something by this amazing author. Reynolds writes so honestly about loss and the expectations of Black men and boys to find “justice” that won’t ever come, justice that leads to more heartbreak. The ambiguous ending leaves you wondering whether the main character Will continue to follow the rules of his community or break them and make a decision for his own self.

I also listened to the audiobook version of this and after hearing Jason and Elizabeth reading their books in verse, I’m convinced we need more of that! These difficult stories are so much more personal and heartbreaking in their poetic style. I love it!

I’m off to a good start and can’t wait to keep this going. Some books I’m looking forward to in the coming months are: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (coming in May from Harper Teen– preorder here), and The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad (coming in May from Scholastic– preorder here). Two very different books but equally fascinating in my opinion!

-Christina M., BookPeople Events Coordinator

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