If you’ve seen a movie or visited a book store in the past few months, you’ve probably heard about a movie based on a book called The Fault in Our Stars (rated PG-13). I bet you can practically hear your older sister gushing about it. Here’s the bottom line: TFIOS is about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love, and by the end of the book, one of them dies. The falling in love part is sappy, and the dying part is downright depressing, so this book is definitely not for kids under 13. But if the fact that the book has been glued to big sis’s hands has made you curious, what are some similar books for kids your age?
Are you 8 or older?
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Auggie Pullman has a facial deformity that has kept him homeschooled until now: the fifth grade. Wonder is Auggie’s story of navigating a new school, making new friends, and learning new rules. Like TFIOS, this realistic fiction novel will bring on the waterworks, but with this book, they’ll be tears of joy.
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu. Hazel and Jack were best friends – before a freak accident caused Jack to mysteriously disappear into the woods with a woman made of ice. Breadcrumbs reminds me of TFIOS because both books are about the things we leave behind when we enter the unknown.
Rules by Cynthia Lord. Catherine just wants to be a regular 12-year-old, but having a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability always keeps her from a normal life. Rules asks one of the very same questions as TFIOS: What is normal?
Are you 9 or older?
Gossamer by Lois Lowry. Why do we dream the way we do? Where do our dreams come from? This novel walks the line between imagination and reality. After this read, you’ll definitely have your thinking hat on for when you’re old enough to read TFIOS!
Radiance by Alyson Noel. Riley has moved on to the afterlife, but finds that paradise isn’t all fun and games. She’s assigned a job as Soul Catcher and must help a certain soul cross the bridge – a soul four other people have not been able to bring to the afterlife. What happens after people die is a big question in TFIOS. Radiance gives us a peak at one possibility!
Are you 10 or older?
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens is just a toddler when he stumbles into the graveyard after his family is murdered. It’s there that Bod starts his life, under the protection of the graveyard’s many ghosts. I know what you’re thinking: What on Earth does this have in common with TFIOS? But this book, too, examines life, death, and what comes after – so there you have it.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. Ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles upon members of the Tuck family who have been given eternal life after drinking from a magic spring. The Tucks explain to Winnie that they are both blessed and doomed to stay the same age forever. Like TFIOS, Tuck Everlasting examines life and death.
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. Melody is a brilliant and talented fifth grader with a photographic memory. But cerebral palsy leaves her unable to communicate with others, and she often feels like a goldfish stuck in a bowl, only able to observe the outside world from inside her head. Melody feels trapped by her condition, much like the main character of TFIOS also does. What does it take to rise above the thing you have no control over?
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. As an 11-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome, Caitlin doesn’t know how to deal with her brother’s death. Caitlin decides she and her father need “closure” after she reads its definition in the dictionary. Mockingbird’s theme of closure will certainly translate to the end of TFIOS when you get there!
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. Willow is a 12-year-old child genius whose greatest comfort is counting by 7s. When her parents die in a tragic accident, Willow must decide to push through her grief. Also like TFIOS, Counting by 7s will give you a snapshot of grief – and most importantly, what it takes to get through it.
So there you have it! We hope these fantastic, realistic fiction recommendations will tide you over until you’re old enough to take on The Fault in Our Stars!
Marisa, STACKS Intern