Published March 17, 2020

The 2020 Festival line-up featured books for young readers of all ages—kindergartners, middle-schoolers, adolescents, and the young at heart. Keep reading for some book suggestions for young readers…

  • Becoming RBG by Debbie Levy 
    “Dual themes of struggle and support are threaded throughout the creators’ depiction of Ginsburg’s love for the law and its vital documents. Gardner’s tidy, bluescale illustrations feature pops of red for emphasis, paralleling the bursts of passion and humor in Ginsburg’s deliberate life. The result is an excellent introduction to a woman who has no doubt already inspired a generation of lawyers and scholars; Levy and Gardner’s well-crafted biography may recruit a few more.”—Publishers Weekly

  • How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian
    “Padian creates a world that the reader can easily dive into. Anyone who’s ever been a self-conscious teen will see themselves in Izzy.”—Book Riot

  • Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles 
    “Giles’s thoughtful, hilarious read offers a timely viewpoint on religion, toxic masculinity, and teen sexuality.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

  • Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry 
    “Raya and Sarah’s story is a credit to Rebele-Henry’s own teen voice, mature beyond her years. The emotionally dramatic narrative… rings incredibly true.”—NPR

  • Please Return to: Norbert M. Finkelstein by Frank Morelli 
    “Morelli has done it again—given us an indelible and lovable character with a hilarious voice. Norbert M. Finkelstein is the big-hearted middle school teacher and wrestling coach with a secret identity. With nonstop action and uproarious humor, [this book] will have readers hooked.”—Lisa Williams Kline, author

  • Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Watson Hackl
    “[Hackl’s] plot, full of adventure, treasure hunts, and mystery, will keep young readers hooked.”—School Library Journal

  • The Dark Matter of Mona Starr by Laura Lee Gulledge
    “Heartfelt, emotionally vulnerable, and visually stunning, The Dark Matter of Mona Starr is a story that takes the inner life of a teenager seriously, while giving readers a new way to look at the universal quest for meaning and connection.”—Amulet

  • The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music by Debbie Levy
    “Immigrant musician Flory Jagoda preserved a repertoire of Ladino and Sephardic songs learned from her Bosnian Jewish family. A descendant of the Altaras family forced to leave Spain during the Inquisition, Flory and her family escape from the Balkans during World War II. Flory’s childhood is filled with the stories about ancestors and the music played and sung in Ladino by her talented family. Levy gently weaves the history of the Sephardim into the story of Flory’s specific Balkan Jewish life. Lovely mixed-media illustrations limn several scenes across the centuries, adding perspective to an element of Sephardic culture that is mostly unknown today in American Jewish circles. Based on a true story, an inspirational reclamation of history.”―Kirkus Reviews

  • The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles
    “[The Last Last-Day-of-Summer is a] zany, clever adventure filled with surreal humor… Anchored by its genuine characters and buoyed by its true fun, this is an adventure with staying power.”—Booklist, starred review

  • The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos
    “Ramos writes with intensity and poeticism in this fresh, painful, but ultimately optimistic coming-of-age novel. Notable for its up-to-the minute depiction of gender identity, sexual orientation, and race.”―School Library Journal

  • Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker
    “Drawing on her own teen experiences, Parker adroitly touches upon matters of respectability and ‘presentableness,’ stigmas against discussing mental health issues in the black community and among young adults, and internalized and societal racism.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

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