Tara Shanahan works as a publicist at Penguin Young Readers and has had a passion for children’s books since her mom handed her a copy of Harry Potter in the 4th grade. It’s been true love ever since.
Many books have rotated in my list of favorites over my years in publishing, but one that has held steadily at the top since the week I started at Penguin is Ruta Sepetys’ stunning debut. This account of the forced relocation of a Lithuanian family during the Russian invasion of 1939 was the first book I ever worked on and few stories have struck me so hard and stayed with me so long. BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is just so beautifully written and incredibly special that it is destined to become a classic.
I’m such a sucker for smart, gorgeously written, realistic YA with a healthy dash of romance and few books have hit the spot quite like Cristina Moracho’s literary debut. Althea and Oliver are teenagers in the 90s who have been best friends since they were six, but as their high school careers draw to a close they’re faced with the challenge of Althea’s growing romantic feelings and Oliver’s mysterious illness. I absolutely devoured this book in an afternoon and then proceeded to tell everyone I knew about it, so now I’m telling you! Go read it. You won’t be sorry.
This list wouldn’t be complete without a phenomenal blockbuster YA! THE 5TH WAVE busted onto the shelves last year and it completely lives up to the hype. This epic sci-fi adventure follows Cassie Sullivan as she fights for her life and the life of her younger brother as mysterious strangers start to take over the world. Cassie is a kick-butt heroine who you can’t help but root for. I can NOT wait to see this one come to the big screen next year!
This fresh new picture book has brightened up my mood every time I page through it! Matt’s story of a grandmother taking the bus through the city while teaching her grandson about empathy, gratitude, and giving back is so heartwarming. I love Christian’s illustrations that color every scene with cheer and bring all the bustle and movement of their day to life. A must-have for all city kids’ bookshelves!
Who doesn’t love a sweet, beautifully illustrated picture book? Lori Nichols’ charming debut features Maple, a free-spirited young girl who loves nature and seasons. This is the perfect story to get your whole family excited for spring!
Are you a theater nerd or just love a good middle grade novel? This sweet and funny story of the friendship between two young performers auditioning for Into the Woods, written by two Broadway veterans, is the perfect read for the young entertainer in your life!
Find more books on the Young Readers page.