Great Books for Children and Young Adults: Our Favorites from 2014

It’s So Hard to Choose . . . 

BookendsCindy and Lynn: It’s that time again! We have to join the fray and list our favorite books of 2014. Some of these are surely award contenders, others are just personal favorites that we think are worthy of highlighting at year’s end. Some we blogged and some we didn’t but at least want to include here. This year Cindy is serving on a nonfiction award committee so she is avoiding listing any nonfiction.

We’d love to hear what you liked best last year . . . and/or what title you most look forward to in 2015. Leave us a comment!

Cindy’s 2014 Favorites

It’s hard to leave nonfiction off my list! I’ll be glad to add that back in next year. In the meantime, my list is skewing almost entirely to the middle-school range with a few exceptions. These are books that I really enjoyed, that are already popular with my students, and that make great booktalks.

Brother Hugo and the BearCrossover, by Katy Beebe

A bear ate my overdue library book . . . really!

Crossover, by Kwame Alexander

My favorite booktalk of the year. I’ve got game where I recite the first, attitude-filled poem in this basketball-themed verse novel with real heart.

The Elevator Ghost, by Glen Huser

An elderly babysitter who uses ghost stories to improve the behavior of her charges? My cup of tea.

Going Over, by Beth Kephart

My favorite historical fiction of the year, and one that is circulating well with my teens, who are intrigued by what the Berlin Wall meant to individuals.

Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith

History will show that this brave new YA novel is something special. Can I have a sticker, please?

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, by Dana Allison Levy

Four exuberant boys + two caring dads = one lovable family.

The Shadow Hero, by Gene Luen Yang

The Shadow Hero won my heart as he fought crime while trying to keep his mother happy.

Turtle of OmanSkink: No Surrender, by Carl Hiaasen

Environmental themes, an online-safety mystery, and Skink. More Skink, please.

Space Case, by Stuart Gibbs

Life on a moon colony, a mysterious death to solve, and wicked space toilets. I need a lot more copies for my middle-school readers. Even a gravity-free environment couldn’t slow their page-turning on this one.

The Turtle of Oman, by Naomi Shihab Nye

A quiet, subtle story about a big transition. Nye’s poetic voice works magic here as grandfather and young grandson prepare for their upcoming separation due to the boy’s scary move from his home in Oman to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Lynn’s 2014 Favorites

Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater

The quest for Glendower becomes even more perilous. And, oh, those Raven Boys!

Brown girlBrown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson

Each poem is a gem! Put them all together and you have a story that is truly memorable.

The Crack in the Kingdom, by Jacyln Moriarty

I loved the first book in the series and this one is even better.

Egg and Spoon, by Gregory Maquire

I loved everything about this story but especially Baba Yaga and her house, who totally stole the show.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia, by Candace Fleming

Fascinating, with outstanding research and documentation—and it reads like a thriller. Looking for literary nonfiction? This is IT!

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems, selected by Paul Janeczko

Wonderful poems and illustrations—just perfect for the classroom.

This is the weirdest book I’ve
ever read and I adore it.

Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith

This is the weirdest book I’ve ever read and I adore it. Not sure what that says about me, but who cares?

family fletcherThe Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, by Dana Alliston Levy

Warm, sweet, and so funny—at times I felt Levy was writing about my house!

Operation Bunny, by Sally Gardner

Who could possibly resist fairy detectives and a six-foot talking cat???

Red Madness, by Gail Jarrow

I loved the way this medical mystery unfolds and puts the reader right into the investigation. This story was new to me and I learned so much.

The Scar Boys, by Len Vlahos

Probably the biggest surprise for me this year. From the description, I didn’t expect to like this coming-of-age story but it went straight to my heart.

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, by E. K. Johnston

Despite the fact that Johnston creates a world where Michigan has been abandoned to the dragons, this is my favorite fantasy of the year. The world-building is so intriguing. This is a hero’s tale with heart and humor.

The Whispering Skull, by Jonathan Stroud

The story of Lockwood & Co. gets better and better.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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