Fall 2019 Book Recommendations for Young Readers

This month, the Berkshire Eagle featured Fall book recommendations from our very own Children's & Youth Services Supervisor Samantha Cesario! All of these titles are currently available to borrow at the Berkshire Athenaeum.

Picture Books


Why by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Ages: birth – 8.

Rabbit is curious, Bear is patient, and fall is slowly slipping into winter. Beautiful watercolor illustrations combined with a sweet friendship make this a wonderful choice for reading together. For caregivers who have endured a child’s why phase this book is reminder that it’s okay to not have all the answers, that the love and support of another can be comfort enough even when things are changing.  


Here and Now by Julia Denos
Ages: birth- 8

An introduction to mediation and mindfulness through simple prose and relatable scenes. Denos encourages readers to open their senses to each moment of their day, to notice the details of the events that are happening around them. More narrative than instructional, a complex topic for youths is transformed with gentle illustrations into a soothing bedtime read.


The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry
Ages: birth- 8

It’s a lonely life for scarecrow, at least until an unlikely friend falls from the sky. Illustrating the power of friendship found in surprising circumstances this titles also celebrates the joy of helping others. Rhythmic rhyming text coupled with lush seasonal scenes create a tale to share over a cup of apple cider and some pumpkin pie.  


Middle Grade Fiction


For Black Girls Like Me by Marima Lockington
Ages: 10+

Adopted as an infant, 12-year-old Keda has spent her life fielding intrusive inquiries from folks who don’t understand a Black girl with a white family. Now forced to make a family move from Baltimore to Albuquerque, Keda is feeling more isolated than ever. Complicating things further, she and her sister are left as caregivers for their mentally ill mother when their father leaves for tour. A character driven exploration into race, identity and the impact of parental mental illness on children, this is an important work for all.


Wildfire by Rodman Philbrick
Ages: 8-12

Sam is at a summer camp in Maine when he finds himself in the midst of a raging wildfire. Leaving the safety of the evacuation buses to retrieve his forgotten phone, Sam is left to survive on his own. During his escape he comes across 14-year-old Delphy in a similar predicament. Working together the teens fight to escape the inferno closing in on them. Know a reluctant reader? Hand them this title, fast paced, suspenseful and at times humorous this is sure to keep them reading to the end.


Middle Grade Graphic Novels


Guts by Raina Telgemeier
Ages: 8-12

Following up Smile and Sisters, Telgemeier has created another deeply relatable middle grade memoir. After a terrible stomach bug, Raina develops an intense phobia to vomit setting off a spiral of anxiety not at all helped by the regular turmoil of middle grade life. Humor and highly expressive illustrations are used to make a tough topic more accessible to a middle grade audience. Old and new fans of Telgemeier will find much to love here.


The Crossover (Graphic Novel) by Kwame Alexander
Ages: 10+

Alexander’s Newbery Medal winning novel, The Crossover, gets a graphic novel make over. A tale of high school twins on and off the court, Kwame expertly weaves love, loss, and the bond of family together to create an entirely captivating narrative. Told through a highly energetic novel in verse, the fast passed rhythm of this story will carry readers right to the end. The vivid illustrations and stylistic choices only enhance an already stand out work. Even the most reluctant of readers won’t be able to put this down.


Young Adult


The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

The summer before her junior year gives 16-year-old Birdie more than she expected. Planning on intense SAT prep classes and work at her mother’s beauty salon, Birdie finds herself dealing with much more. A forbidden romance and family secrets this coming-of-age story could have fallen into familiar tropes. Instead Colbert gives readers well developed characters and a story line worth sticking around for. Hungry for more works like The Hate U Give? Add this to the top of your to be read pile.


His Hideous Heart Edited by Dahlia Adler 

Perfect for the start of the spooky season, this collection of Edgar Allan Poe retellings keeps the creeps with a modern twist. Highly diverse in gender, race, identity and sexuality with strong feminist themes throughout the authors have done an exemplary job bringing Poe’s works in to the 21st century.  Poe’s original tales are included at the end giving readers an opportunity to compare the versions.