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10 x 10: The Best Books of the Decade

Best Kids and Young Adult Books

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • November 29, 2019

Time sure does fly! It's hard to believe that 2020 is upon us, but this milestone has us thinking about all of our favorite books of the last decade, so we’ve decided to put together some top-ten lists—TEN TOP-TEN lists, to be exact. Ten lists of ten books, which equals one hundred books! Excited? We are too! Over the next five weeks, we will be packaging lists for two genres together and publishing them here each week. Obviously we had a plethora of great options, so these lists will definitely be leaving out a lot of wonderful books. Please let us know what we've missed in the comments below! This week's genres are Kids and Young Adult books. Enjoy!

Kids 10 x 10

This list of our favorite kids books from the last decade includes a mixture of picture books and middle grade reads.

  • Everything On It—Published posthumously, this collection of poems and illustrations from Shel Silverstein reminds us just how inventive, brilliant, and hilarious he was.
  • The Journey—A gorgeous wordless picture book by Aaron Becker about a lonely girl embarking on a wondrous adventure. Preschool and up.
  • El Deafo—By Cece Bell, this poignant, funny graphic novel introduces a girl who turns her hearing loss into a super power. For grades 3–7.
  • Last Stop on Market Street—C.J. is full of complaints on a bus ride with grandma, but Nana helps him see the other side of things. By Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson. Preschool and up.
  • Stella By StarlightSharon M. Draper's stirring, heartfelt novel for grades 4 and up tells the story of a young girl's defining moment growing up in the Jim Crow South.
  • They All Saw a Cat—At once simple and ingenious, Brendan Wenzel's picture book about a cat moving through the world is a celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination. Preschool and older.
  • Refugee—This middle grade thriller by Alan Gratz weaves together three separate, but interrelated, stories of refugees on the run. A must-read!
  • Julian is a Mermaid—An exquisite story by Jessica Love about a boy mesmerized by the costumed mermaids he sees on the subway. An anthem for individuality and self-love. Preschool and up.
  • Harbor Me—A quietly powerful novel about the importance of connections and community by National Book Award-winner Jacqueline Woodson. Grades 5 and up.
  • Small in the City—A lovely, immersive picture book by Sydney Smith about a young child navigating an urban jungle. Imbued with feelings of hope and peace. Perfect for preschool and older.

Young Adult 10 x 10

This list of ten of our favorite young adult books from the last decade offers a great mix of fantasy, realistic fiction, romance, and even a graphic memoir.

  • Between Shades of GrayRuta Sepetys's haunting debut novel portrays the horror of the Stalin regime from the point of view of a 15-year-old Lithuanian girl who is evacuated to a Siberian work camp.
  • Never Fall Down—This novel by Patricia McCormick is based on the inspiring true story of Arn Chorn-Pond who defied the odds to survive the Cambodian genocide of 1974–79 and the Khmer Rouge labor camps.
  • Fangirl—From the always-excellent Rainbow Rowell comes this delightful romance about an introverted girl's freshman year in college.
  • Six of Crows—The first in a thrilling new fantasy trilogy from Leigh Bardugo assembles a scrappy band of outcasts to pull off a daring heist to save the Grisha, a tribe with magical powers.
  • The Sun is Also a Star—By Nicola Yoon, this romance takes place over the course of a single day with the story of a Jamaican girl about to be deported, who meets and falls for a Korean-American boy.
  • The Serpent King—Filled with humor and optimism, Jeff Zentner's novel centers around three teenage friends in small Southern town helping each other grapple with issues around family, violence, and self-discovery.
  • Far From the Tree—In this beautiful, heart-wrenching National Book Award-winner, Robin Benway interweaves the stories of three very different teenagers connected by blood.
  • Children of Blood and BoneTomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, the first in her Legacy of Orisha series.
  • Hey, Kiddo—A moving graphic memoir by Jarrett Krosoczka that plumbs the depths of his own story of being raised by his grandparents because of his mother's heroin addiction.
  • How to Make Friends with the Dark—This raw and powerful novel from Kathleen Glasgow tells the story of Tiger, a girl learning to live with loss after her mother passes away.

Too Many to Choose!

These are just a few of the books from the past ten years that we’ve loved, but it really was nearly impossible to winnow it down! Surely you have some favorites to add. Let us know in the comments!

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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YA | Childrens | BestOfTheDecade
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