Briana Woods-Conklin is an Associate Manager of Advertising and Consumer Marketing for Penguin Young Readers. Books are one of her favorite things, and she loves surrounding herself with them. But boy, are they heavy when you’re moving to a new apartment!
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
I remember reading this book in sixth grade. And I remember it so clearly because when I was reading, I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t want to do anything else. Everything just seemed to get in the way. Years later, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is still one of my favorite books, as rich and lovely as ever. A story of family, struggle, and the fight to understand both the world and ourselves, this book is as timeless as it is powerful.
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
The best books are the ones that make me want to read slowly — to linger over the language, to reread that excellent piece of dialogue, to turn the pages just a little bit slower, delaying the end and prolonging my time with the narrative. And this book made me do just that. From the very beginning, I knew this book was special. Giving the reader a look into the lives of often overlooked individuals, Counting by 7s is full of humor, sadness, joy, hope, and that intangible bit of story-magic that makes a book one you want to go back to again and again.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.” I love the way this text sounds aloud! Full of rich artwork and simple but compelling text, Madeline’s grand adventures and misadventures have a special place in my heart (as does Miss Clavel!). There are so many great Madeline books, but this is the one that started it all!
Ratscalibur by Josh Lieb
An unexpected story where squirrels do “squagic” instead of magic, and magical rats are called “ragicians,” and one seventh grade boy-turned-rat is expected to save the kingdom, Ratscalibur is an action-packed page-turner that will keep you engaged all the way through. With fun character names, new magical terms, and an abundance of wordplay, and this is a great read-aloud. A little bit scary, a little bit gross, and full of danger, Ratscalibur is definitely a whole lot of fun.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Roller Girl! Every time I mention this title, I feel like I need to put an exclamation point at the end of the sentence. Because Roller Girl is just so much fun! This graphic novel tackles the difficulties of friendship and the fear of trying new things through the wonderful setting of the roller derby. Not only is the art fantastic, but the story is great, too. Roller Girl speaks to all of us, who sometimes need a little encouragement to follow our passions and the bravery to be a little bit different from our friends.
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