Ja­son Reynolds of­ten tells fans he didn’t read a novel cover to cover un­til he was 17. What did fas­ci­nate him were words. When asked about books of his child­hood, Reynolds men­tioned Mau­rice Sen­dak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” Another fa­vorite was Dr. Seuss, a mas­ter of word­play.

A pas­sion for po­etry led him to the Univer­sity of Mary­land, where he stud­ied English. Even­tu­ally he turned his fo­cus to writ­ing for teens and kids, fea­tur­ing African-Amer­i­can char­ac­ters deal­ing with tough is­sues.

Ja­son Reynolds and Wash­ing­ton Post chil­dren’s book re­view­ers each share fa­vorite books of 2018: “Amal Un­bound”

By Aisha Saeed (Nancy Paulsen, ages 10 to 13)

Amal, a young Pak­istani girl, wants to be a teacher, but she’s forced to go work as a ser­vant to pay off a fam­ily debt.

“Betty Be­fore X”

By Ilyasah Shabazz and Renée Wat­son (Far­rar, Straus and Giroux, ages 10 to 14)

A stun­ning por­trait of the civil rights ac­tivist and wife of Mal­colm X, young Betty Shabazz.

“Dactyl Hill Squad” By Daniel José Older (Arthur A. Levine, 8 to 12)

Sim­ply put, there’s the Civil War and di­nosaurs and kids rid­ing di­nosaurs. “Har­bor Me”

By Jac­que­line Wood­son

(Nancy Paulsen, ages 10 and older)

A novel that puts six stu­dents in a room, with only one re­quire­ment that they talk, and shines light on the world young peo­ple are grow­ing up in. “The Night Di­ary” By Veera Hi­ranan­dani (Dial, ages 8 to 12)

A heart-wrench­ing novel about Nisha, a halfHindu, half-Mus­lim girl whose life is up­ended af­ter In­dia is split into two coun­tries.

– Rec­om­mended by Ja­son Reynolds


“A Big Moon­cake for Lit­tle Star”

By Grace Lin (Lit­tle,

Brown, ages 4 to 8)

A small girl in starry pa­ja­mas mixes a cake with her mother, who puts the baked moon­cake into the night sky.

“Blue” By Laura Vac­caro Seeger (Roar­ing Brook, ages 3 to 6)

Six­teen two-word phrases form a poem about a life­long friend­ship be­tween a boy and a dog. “Dream­ers” By Yuyi Mo­rales (Neal Porter, ages 4 to 8)

Mo­rales tells, through il­lus­tra­tions that seem to dance and sing, the story of cross­ing bor­ders with her young son.

“Hello Hello” By Bren­dan Wen­zel (Chron­i­cle, ages 3 to 6)

This ex­u­ber­ant look at an­i­mals who share the planet with hu­mans is both poignant and light­hearted.

“The Stuff of Stars”

By Mar­ion Dane Bauer, il­lus­trated by Ekua Holmes (Can­dlewick, ages 4 to 8)

Where do we come from? Deep blues and reds and sun­lit skies cel­e­brate mys­ter­ies of the uni­verse, the blue planet Earth and birth of a child.

– Kathie Meizner


“(Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Con­ver­sa­tion About Men­tal Health”

Edited by Kelly Jensen (Al­go­nquin, ages 14 and older)

This book asks ques­tions and pro­vides re­al­life ex­pe­ri­ences and hope for the fu­ture.

“Fac­ing Fred­er­ick: The Life of Fred­er­ick Dou­glass, a Mon­u­men­tal

Amer­i­can Man” By Tonya Bolden (Harry N. Abrams, 10 to 14)

Dou­glass finds his way as a speaker, writer, news­pa­per pub­lisher and Amer­i­can hero.

“Hey, Kiddo” By Jar­rett J. Krosoczka (Graphix, ages 12, older)

This pow­er­ful graphic mem­oir re­veals how he sur­vived, thanks to his grand­par­ents and his art. “Martin Ris­ing: Re­quiem For a King”

By An­drea Davis Pinkney, il­lus­trated by Brian Pinkney (Scholas­tic, 9 to 12)

The wa­ter­col­ors are in­spired, and the text bursts with feel­ing. “Spooked!” By Gail Jar­row (Calkins Creek, ages 10 to 14)

An en­ter­tain­ing de­scrip­tion of the 1938 ra­dio broad­cast of “War of the Worlds” and af­ter­math.

– Abby McGanney Nolan


“Endling: The Last” By Kather­ine Ap­ple­gate (HarperCollins, 8 to 12)

Byx may be an endling, the last talk­ing dog. As she jour­neys in search of oth­ers, she un­cov­ers a plot of a vi­cious hu­man king. “Front Desk” By Kelly Yang (Arthur A. Levine, ages 8 to 12)

Mia Tang helps her hard-work­ing par­ents run an old mo­tel in this lively his­toric tale.

“Nowhere Boy” By Kather­ine Marsh (Roar­ing Brook, 10 to 14)

An Amer­i­can boy named Max dis­cov­ers a Syr­ian war or­phan hid­ing in his fam­ily’s base­ment in Brus­sels.


By Tor­rey Mal­don­ado (Nancy Paulsen, 10 and older) Bryan doesn’t want to lose his best friend or be seen as “soft,” and tries to fig­ure things out.

– Mary Quattlebaum

BILL O’LEARY The Wash­ing­ton Post

Young adult and chil­dren’s au­thor Ja­son Reynolds didn’t find books that re­lated to his life when he was a kid. Now he writes them.

Pen­guin Young Read­ers

Amal Un­bound


Hello Hello

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