Notable Children's Chapter Books 2020

A top-20 selection list of award winners and favorites.

A Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake

In the opener of a series about a pair of unlikely friends, Badger has his quiet little life upset, although at first grumpily, with the arrival of a roommate.   Badger and Skunk show how opposites attract and that making friends means opening yourself up to possibilities. For ages 7-10 

One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate  

The animal characters from the One and Only Ivan are showcased in another empathetic story of rescue.  For ages 8-11 

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson 

The Hart family of Portland, Oregon, faces many setbacks after Ryan's father loses his job, but no matter what, Ryan tries to bring sunshine to her loved ones.  Ryan is a spunky, realistic character, modeled on such classics as Junie B Jones.  For ages 7-10 

Summer We Found Baby by Amy Hest 

Set during World War II, this poignant, briskly paced historical novel relays the events of one extraordinary summer from three engaging points of view.  Two sisters find a baby on the doorstep to the local library.  Unbeknownst to them they are followed by their friend who wonders what is going on. For ages 9-12 

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park  

In Dakota Territory in the 1880s, half-Chinese Hanna and her white father face racism and resistance to change as they try to make a home for themselves. The author wanted to tell a different Little House on the Prairie story.  Added it to our Reading club.   For ages 8+ 

Willoughbys Return by Lois Lowry  

A sequel to the Willoughbys, a family of self-reliant, self-preserving children.  For fans of Lemony Snicket and Roald Dahl stories. For grades 4+ and anyone who enjoyed the first Willoughbys 

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone 

A road trip (or is it going on the lam?) for Scoob Lamar and his grandmother, using the Green Book as a guide to haunting memories. Although contemporary, the story is set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South. For grades 3-6 

Loretta Little Looks Back by Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney

From a bestselling, award-winning husband and wife team comes an innovative, beautifully illustrated novel that delivers a front-row seat to the groundbreaking moments in history that led to African Americans earning the right to vote.  Would make a wonderful group read aloud or even performance. For ages 10 + and families

Daring Darleen: Queen of the Screen by Anne Nesbit 

When a publicity stunt goes terribly wrong, twelve-year-old Darleen Darling, star of the silent film era, must defeat villains both on screen and off in this edge-of-your-seat adventure. Fun old-fashioned adventure story, especially for anyone who likes to act & pretend.  For ages 9-12 

Becoming Muhammad Ali by James Patterson/ Kwame Alexander  

Cassius Clay was a kid with struggles like any other. Kwame Alexander and James Patterson join forces to vividly depict his life up to age seventeen in both verse and prose.His childhood friends, struggles in school, the racism he faced, and his discovery of boxing. Readers will learn about Cassius' family and neighbors in Louisville, Kentucky, and how, after a thief stole his bike, Cassius began training as an amateur boxer at age twelve. For ages 9-13 and anyone interested in Ali. 

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan 

If Max could see tomorrow, he would know if he'd make Santa Maria's celebrated fútbol team and whether he'd ever meet his mother, who disappeared when he was a baby. He longs to know more about her, but Papá won't talk. So when Max uncovers a buried family secret--involving an underground network of guardians who lead people fleeing a neighboring country to safety--he decides to seek answers on his own. Timely and universal. For ages 8+ 

 The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead 

After her parents' divorce, Bea's life became different in many ways, especially as her dad plans to marry again and she will also get a sister. But she can always look back at the list she keeps in her green notebook to remember the things that will stay the same. The first and most important: Mom and Dad will always love Bea, and each other.  A book with great heart and reassurance. For ages 8-12

Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee 

Twelve-year-old Sora and her eight-year-old brother, Youngsoo, must try to escape North Korea's oppressive Communist regime on their own in 1950, when war begins.  Winter weather is just one of the major obstacles.  For ages 8-12 

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk 

When the Great Depression takes almost everything they own, Ellie’s family is forced to leave their home in town and start over in the untamed forests of nearby Echo Mountain.  Beautifully written alternating with stark imagery and inner pathos, with an uplifting satisfying ending.  For ages 10-14 

Twilight Hauntings by Angie Sage 

A fantasy world where enchantment is illegal, Oracles knit octopuses, wizards run around in soggy underpants, and one girl is on a mission to save Enchantment and Enchanters, which might just save the kingdom. For ages 10-13 

Boys in the Back Row by Mike Jung 

Best friends Matt and Eric are hatching a plan for one big final adventure together before Eric moves away: ditching a marching band trip and going to a fantastic comic con. Of course, hilarious hi jinx ensue.   The Boys in the Back Row: it's an unabashed ode to male friendship, because love between boys, platonic or otherwise, is something to celebrate.  For ages 9-12 

Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus 

Incredible true story of a group of French teenagers who helped save refugees in WWII.  Suspenseful, dramatic and characters we care about.  For ages 10+ 

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender  **** National Book Award for Youth

Callender masterfully balances resonant themes of grief, love, family, friendship, racism, sexuality, and coming-of-age. King is bereaved over the death of his brother and also torn with guilt at the secret he is hiding about himself.  For ages 9+ 

When Stars are Scattered  by Victoria Jamieson   Graphic Novel

Our January book discussion choice- true story of life growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp, as told by a Somali refugee.  Hope, boredom, love, disappoint all abound.  But at the heart of the story is the unfailing bond between the brothers.  For ages 8+ 

Class Act by Jerry Craft   Graphic Novel

Follow-up to Newbery Medal Winner The New Kid.  Return to Riverdale Academy with more stories about friendship, expectations, bullying, pressure, and lots of humor.  Basically, life at middle school. For ages 9-14.