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101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up: The Must-Read Book List for Kids by Bianca Schulze, 144 pp, RL 4

3 Reasons Why You Need to Buy This Book:

2) Visual Appeal
3) This list rocks

I almost feel like I don't need to write a review of 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up by Bianca Schulze, founder of The Children's Book Review, especially since I include the Table of Contents and a sample page here. Look at them, and you see the validity of my three reasons for buying this book. But, I feel like I do need to say one specific thing about 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up - this book is designed to appeal to kids from ages 4 - 11 (see a guest post from Schulze below on the great reason for this age cap), from the great graphics to the small trim size to the chunks of information on each page. Kids will be drawn to this book, pick it up, flip through it and find more than a few books they want to read - especially thanks to Schulze's excellent "What to Read Next" list that accompanies every title. And, as parents, I think we need to admit that our kids don't always want to read a book we put in their hands. I have MUCH better luck getting one of my students to read a book I like than I do my own 12-year-old-son. For those of us who read, of course we want our children to read books we like, but what we really want is for that passion to be sparked in our children, driving them to seek out books on their own. 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up will spark this passion!

I do also want to speak briefly to the diversity of characters and settings represented in Schulze's book. While the world of American children's books still has far to go, there have been advances made in bringing diversity to the page and Schulze's list shows that, at ever reading level. From obvious choices like this year's multiple award winner Last Stop On Market Street to titles like Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground RailroadAnna Hibiscus, Mango, Abuela and Me,  Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom, The Year of the Dog, George, Rickshaw Girl,  The Crossover, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, One Crazy SummerThe Birchbark House, Inside Out and Back Again, A Long Walk to Water, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry and Esperanza Rising. There are also books about kids facing physical challenges like El Deafo, Out of My Mind, and Wonder. And of course there are plenty of books about the immigrant experience, which you can discover by looking at the Titles By Genre section at the end of the book that is FANTASTIC! I will say, though, that I think the very important inclusion of books with diverse characters might have limited the number of books from the fantasy genre that were included. White kids as main characters pretty much dominate the middle grade fantasy genre... And, as a lover of all things kid's books, I was very pleased to find more than one verse novel on the list (and HOW HARD was it to leave Brown Girl Dreaming off the list??) as well as two graphic novels, El Deafo and The Arrival.

I hope you will read this guest post that Schulze wrote for!

101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up … And 101+ More

“As a child, my family’s menu consisted of 2 choices: take it or leave it.”—Buddy Hackett, American comedian and actor
Which books did not make the list of 101 books to read before a child grows up?
One of my biggest fears I had when creating this book was … creating this book. Coming up with the 101 books that I feel that kids should read before they grow up was absolutely no easy feat. With so many tremendous books to choose from, I took this job very seriously. I wanted as many children as possible to be able to use it as a guidebook for finding a story that they could see themselves in. I wanted kids to be able to read stories about characters, places, and situations that would provide them with a greater love and understanding for the world around them and the people in it. Most importantly, I wanted (and want) kids to find stories that they enjoy reading!
Sure, my day job is sorting through the many published children’s books available and then featuring the best of the best on The Children’s Book Review, but it’s a never-ending (hopefully) accumulation of book sharing. If I have missed a great book that published a year ago, I can always add it. If I love a book so much that I can’t stop talking about it, I can share it in as many articles as I wish. Writing 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up: The must read book list for kids (Walter Foster Jr. 2016) meant that I was providing a definitive list, and a list that touts it is the must-read book list for kids. No pressure, right?
I can’t say for sure, but the original list—which was spread across post-it notes, spreadsheets, an iPhone note, Facebook comments from friends, and e-mails from my editor at Quarto Kids—was a couple of hundred books long. With the help of my editor and the Quarto publishing team, I was able to get the list down to 101 books that I would, forever more, recommend as must-read titles to my own kids and yours.
But, what were the books I left out? Too many to list here, but I made the decision, with the support of my editor, to create a list that was capped at books for ages 11 and under. Once we introduce books for 12 and up, we enter the world of young adult novels. As a parent of 3 children (currently ages 1, 4, and 10), while I wanted to include stories that challenge the readers emotions (be it through humor or sadness), I also wanted to make sure our picture book readers weren’t going to stumble upon content that was too far beyond them. Once I made this decision, I had to make some cuts that snowballed (thankfully) into justified cuts of other books.
Then there were my all-time favorite authors like Judy Blume and Roald Dahl. I could have included all of their books, but then the list would not have been diverse enough. However, I did find a sneaky way to add more of my fave books from my fave authors. With each of the 101 books there is also a “You may also like:” section. I was able to sneak in plenty more of my favorite books that may otherwise not have been mentioned within the pages. The title of the book could also be: 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up … and 101+ More.
Here are a few that would have, should have, could have made the list:
To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee
The Boy with the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D Salinger
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
The Magic Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton
And everything by Dr. Seuss.
Now let me ask you: What would you have included or excluded in your list of 101 books for kids to read before they grow up?

Source: Review Copy


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