Youth Reading List - Curated by Ann Arbor District Library

What Makes Life Worth Living?

John Denver's Sunshine on my Shoulders
Adapted & illustrated by Christopher Canyon
Dawn Publications, c2003 9781584690481
Picture book adaptation of a John Denver song which celebrates the simple things in life such as sunshine, being in nature, and loving relationships.

Eight Days: A Story of Haiti
by Edwidge Danticat Orchard Books c2010 9780545278492
Junior is seven, and he is trapped under his house for eight days. We know from the first page that he is rescued, as we see him surrounded by news crews with huge cameras. But then we find out what he has played in his mind during his time in the rubble. Here are all the normal things Haitian children do, like marbles, kite-flying, hide and seek, visiting Papa at his business, singing in the choir at the church, soccer. Here is a beautiful Haitian family, welcoming back their rescued son. There is grief in this story, but it is understated. The main message is that Haiti is a place worth rebuilding, a place of hope.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
by Mem Fox; illustrated by Julie Vivas
Kane Miller c1989 (1985) 9780916291266
A small boy tries to discover the meaning of "memory" so he can restore that of an elderly friend.

Mama, Do you Love Me?
by Barbara M. Joosse; illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Chronicle Books c1991 9780877017592
In this universal story, a child tests the limits of independence and comfortingly learns that a parent's love is unconditional and everlasting.

The Thanksgiving Bowl
by Virginia Kroll; illustrated by Philomena O'Neill
Pelican Pub. Co. c2007 9781589803657
Each member of a family writes an anonymous "I'm thankful for" note and places it in the Thanksgiving bowl. When the bowl is accidentally left outside, various creatures find and put the bowl to good use.

Guess how Much I Love You
by Sam McBratney; illustrated by Anita Jeram
Candlewick Press c2008 (1995) 9780763641757
During a bedtime game, every time Little Nutbrown Hare demonstrates how much he loves his father, Big Nutbrown Hare gently shows him that the love is returned even more.

Thank you World
by Alice B. McGinty; illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin
Dial Books for Young Readers c2007 9780803727052
Eight children from eight different countries express their thanks for many special things including the sun that colors the sky, breezes that lift kites, clouds that paint cotton pictures and send rain, and sparkling stars that "shine like Mommy's eyes."

Inside All
by Margaret H. Mason; illustrated by Holly Welch
Dawn Publications c2008 9781584691112
Takes the reader on a nesting doll-like journey, from the edges of the universe into the heart of a child at bedtime, showing how we each have our place inside the universe and the universe has a place inside each of us.

The Bee Tree
by Patricia Polacco
Philomel Books, c1993 9780399219658
When Mary Ellen complains to Grampa that she's tired of reading her book, he proposes they hunt for a bee tree. After an adventurous chase, Grampa spoons a drop of honey onto Mary Ellen's book, saying "There's such sweetness inside books too . . . adventure, knowledge, wisdom. But these things do not come easily. You must pursue them…"

Let's go Home: the Wonderful Things about a House
by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin
Simon & Schuster c2002 9780689823268
Describes the individual rooms in a house, moving from porch to attic, stopping by the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms in between. In a quiet, warm mood, the narrative delineates the gestures and activities of a multigenerational household. “No matter the kind of house, it is the living inside that makes it wonderful.”

City Dog, Country Frog
by Mo Willems; illustrated by Jon J. Muth
Hyperion Books for Children c2010 9781423103004
Two seemingly incompatible animals--a free-range frog and a curious urban dog--discover the endless possibilities that unfold when we share the best of ourselves with each other.

Biblioburro: a True Story from Colombia
by Jeanette Winter
Beach Lane Books c2010 9781416997788
After amassing piles of books, Luis, a voracious reader, dreams up a way to share his collection with “faraway villages.” He starts with two burros—one for himself, one for books—and heads off. Both understated and full of life, this satisfying story is a vibrant reminder of the pleasures of books and the difference one individual can make.

The Story Blanket
by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz; illustrated by Elena Odriozola
Peachtree, c2008 9781561454662
With no wool to be found in the village, Babba Zarrah, the storyteller, starts unraveling her story blanket bit by bit, to secretly supply the needs of the community, and when the villagers realize what is happening they return the favor.