Some of Stephani's favorite books for young readers

Since I was a child, so many books have been published that I love to share with young readers. While I love lots of different types of stories, I tend to gravitate to those with a strong sense of family and history. Here are a few of my favorites:

Picture Books

Title: Gittel's Journey
Author: Lesléa Newman Illustrator: Amy June Bates


a moving account of one girl’s immigration, based on a true story

Title: Where Are You From?
Author: Yamile Saied Méndez
Illustrator: Jaime Kim


a beautiful and love-filled exploration of the titular question

Title: Grandfather's Journey
Author: Allen Say


a tender story of coming to understand a grandfather

Title: We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga
Author: Traci Sorell
Illustrator: Frané Lessac


I absolutely love the celebration of gratitude

Middle Grade

Title: Brown Girl Dreaming
Author: Jacqueline Woodson


a captivating memoir in verse - and favorite book to recommend

Title: The War
That Saved My Life
Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


a heart-breaking, heart-mending read

Title: The Parker Inheritance
Author: Varian Johnson


I love how its emotional connections between the past and present are relevant to the mystery

Title: A Single Shard
Author: Linda Sue Park


characters that jumped off the page and into my heart

Young Adult

Title: Vincent and Theo
Author: Deborah Heiligman


charting each of the Van Gogh’s lives and their relationship makes this an emotionally powerful read

Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys


riveting World War II story told from four perspectives

Title: Ordinary Hazards
Author: Nikki Grimes


achingly powerful and hopeful memoir in verse

Title: Okay for Now
Author: Gary D. Schmidt


both tough and tender, this book radiates grace and hope

Young Stephani's favorite books from childhood

Stephani picking blueberries with her grandmother
Young Stephani Reading

My parents read lots of stories to me before I could read. Some favorites I remember were Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal. My grandmother had blueberry bushes in her backyard, and I always felt a bit like little Sal out there with my bucket.

Don Freeman’s Corduroy inspired me to make overalls for my teddy bear.

And Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona was a family favorite–he was from the same Connecticut town as most of my family.

Small Pig by Arnold Lobel was the first book I ever read by myself. My mom and I had a lot in common with the farmer’s wife and the pig in those days. She’d come clean-up, or insist that I clean up, the mess I loved so much.

Charlotte’s Web is still one of my most beloved books.

As a kid, I resembled Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby to the extent that a kid in elementary school told me I should play her if they ever made a movie. Of course, by the time they did make the movie, I was too old to be Ramona.

And Little Women’s Jo affirmed all my passion for writing as well as my quick temper.

In Anne of Green Gables, I found a much-needed friend.

As I got older, I found books like Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. I still can’t read the end without sobbing.

I might have gotten into a bit of trouble rummaging through a relative’s suitcase after reading Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy.

When I was in third grade, I checked out Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing more than any other book from the library, just so I’d be ready for the next year.

But it was books like Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Anne Frank: the Diary of  a Young Girl, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond that ignited my love for history—specifically its impacts on individuals. I was fortunate enough to share these works with students when I became a teacher.

What is Stephani
reading right now?

A Thousand Questions

Echo Mountain