Recommendations

Here are a few of my favorite books.

Picture Books

  • Two Speckled Eggs
  • Your Place in the Universe
  • Marilyn’s Monster
  • Library Lion
  • Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet
  • Beautiful Blackbird
  • Between Us and Abuela
  • Eyes that Kiss in the Corners
  • Mario and the Hole in the Sky
  • The Rock from the Sky
  • They All Saw A Cat

Middle Grade Prose Novels

  • Amari and the Night Brothers
  • The Greenglass House
  • Akata Witch/Akata Warrior
  • A Place to Hang the Moon
  • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
  • Brown Girl Dreaming
  • Flora and Ulysses
  • Skunk and Badger
  • Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us
  • One and Only Ivan
  • Wild Robot by Peter Brown
  • Pax
  • Because of Winn-Dixie
  • Flora and Ulysses
  • Raymie Nightingale
  • The Dark is Rising sequence

Middle Grade Graphic Novels

  • This Was Our Pact
  • The New Kid
  • Cardboard Kingdom
  • The Okay Witch
  • the Amulet series
  • Cleopatra in Space series
  • Nameless City trilogy
  • My Little Pony series
  • El Deafo
  • The Stars Were Scattered
  • Phoebe and Her Unicorn series
  • The Dam Keeper series
  • All of Raina Telgemeier’s books
  • Twins
  • Roller Girl
  • Mr. Invincible: Local Hero
  • Superman Smashes the Klan

Young Adult Prose Novels

  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (this is actually a novel-in-verse)
  • The Binti trilogy

Young Adult Graphic Novels

  • Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
  • On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
  • Lumberjanes (series)
  • Nimona
  • Kiss Number 8
  • Bloom

Adult

  • House on the Cerulean Sea
  • The Anthropocene Reviewed
  • Underland: a Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane

Craft Books

My favorite craft books extend across categories. I’ve found these books to be helpful regardless of whether I’m writing a long form narrative nonfiction essay for adults, a middle grade novel, or a fiction picture book. In other words, Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul can help you knock out that adult novel.

  • Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul
    The handbook to get started with picture books.
  • Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole
    Written by an editor, this book distinguishes between MG and YA and offers valuable advice for writing and editing.
  • The Magic Words by Cheryl B. Klein
    Same as the above, but has more of an analytical bent towards editing. Lots of examples.
  • Story Genius by Lisa Cron
    This is a great read for anyone struggling with surface characters or characters who feel separated from the story you’re writing them into. My biggest takeaway from this is we need to ask “why” of every motivation our characters have to find the deeper story.
  • Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
    A must read for anyone interested in writing comics, but also immensely helpful for picture book writers to train themselves to think and tell stories through pictures.
  • The Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and The Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction from Rose Metal Press
    Great books for anyone writing short. I also love them to exercise my brain before digging into the more challenging (for me) realm of picture books.
  • The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne
    Talk about analytics. Story Grid offers a mathematically grounded basis for plotting based on the genre you’re writing in. This is a great book for anyone stuck in the muddy middle, who has a plot that fizzles, and who is told their writing is great, but the plot is just not right. I describe it as making transparent something that an avid reader of a genre knows intuitively, but may forget when they’re writing in that genre. In some ways it’s antithetical to Story Genius, and in other ways it’s the perfect companion.
  • Make a Scene by Jordan E. Rosenfeld
    This book is great for getting down to scene work. What does a scene need to accomplish? What IS a scene, anyway? What makes for a strong scene? Great for when you have your characters and overall plot down pat, but struggle with showing those in scene (vs in exposition).
  • The Plot Clock by Joyce Sweeney
    For those among us who like drawing, the plot clock teaches the writer to graphically map their plot so it hits the major Acts. A great companion to The Story Grid. A great introduction for anyone struggling with understanding the three Acts in a story (although Joyce uses four Acts)
  • Resources on Writing Graphic Novels by me!
    Not a craft book; I assembled a list of tips for getting started writing for graphic novels.