Kersti is a PhD student studying medieval literature, so she spends a lot of time reading non-fiction on medieval gender, magic, the history of science, feminist theory, and authors like Geoffrey Chaucer. For fun reading, she loves fiction of all kinds, particularly mysteries, YA novels, sci-fi/fantasy, and anything with a queer storyline.
A book that's stayed with me since I read it the summer before 1st grade! Junie B. Jones's adventures as she starts first grade are fun and relatable- a great pre- or during-school read, or for any kid who has to ride the bus and knows just how strange it can be!
History comes alive in the Magic Tree-House, which features brother and sister Jack and Annie traveling through time with the help of Morgan le Fay and her Magic Tree House. This book tells the story of their adventure to ancient Rome, land of gladiators and soldiers, in 100 CE. Together, they learn about Roman history and how to be good warriors- while making it home just in time for bed.
This is a great one to read out loud- not just for the fun words and sounds, but also because it helps kids practice tricky words in a silly way. A classic for decades, this is a great board book for alphabet practice or just as a bedtime favorite.
Stellaluna is a baby fruit bat who accidentally finds herself in a bird's nest, who welcome her and raise her as a sister. But what happens as Stellaluna grows up? This beautifully-illustrated book is a staple of libraries and kids' shelves everywhere and it's one I still think about 25 years after getting it as a 3 year old.
This early-reader book takes place in the same world as the fun Mercer picture books about Little Critter. I remember thinking that I was JUST LIKE Little Critter when I was five!
This middle-grade read is a fantastic story about a ten-year-old girl whose undocumented parents run a motel in California. I laughed and cried when I read this (at age 27!) and it's a great read for anyone starting a new school or interested in heartfelt, funny immigrant stories.
I read this book back in fifth grade and it still sticks with me twenty years later. Thirteen-year-old Esperanza is the only daughter of wealthy Mexican parents, but her idyllic life changes after her father’s (off-screen) murder, This historical fiction novel covers Esperanza's subsequent move to California with her mother and servants during the Great Depression and the challenges they faced here.
Louis Sacher is the king of funny kids' books for a reason, and his Sideways Stories series are books I can't wait to share with my kids when they're ages 7-11. This book is a collection of short stories from the perspectives of students, teachers, and staff at a very weird and wacky school, and this book is a classic for all millennials.
This book is AMAZING! Think Clue for kids starring an incredibly-clever thirteen year old girl. When reclusive millionaire Samuel Westing dies, he leaves everything to the tenants of nearby Sunset Towers Apartments. But there's a catch: only the first team of two to solve the puzzles he left behind will win it all. Recommended for all readers 8-13.
This classic is perfect for anyone who's ever dreamt of spending the night in a museum. Siblings Claudia (age 12) and Jamie (age 9) do just that, pooling all their pocket-money in an attempt to live in NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art. What ensues is more than either expected, and with the help of the eccentric widow Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, they have the adventure of a lifetime.
The YA fantasy that made me a feminist and a medievalist! Though written in the 80s, this book set the tone for queer-coded YA (Alanna disguises herself as a boy throughout) and embraced feminist themes before anyone else for a young female reading audience. The rest of Pierce's Tortall books (over 15 in all) all start with this volume; Alanna is both flawed and admirable, and I love the moral complexity of this book against the larger backdrop of archetypal fantasy worlds. Can't recommend it enough!
Did you love Harry Potter but wish it was queerer? Rainbow Rowell delivers in this fantastic homage to Hogwarts life in their novel centered all around Simon Snow, the savior of the wizarding world who also happens to be in love with his best friend. You don't have to know Harry Potter to fall in love with this book, however- there's plenty of romance, intrigue, and magic to appeal to any fan of fantasy or witty writing.
If you love Margaret Atwood and/or dystopian fiction, buy this book immediately. The Power hooked me from the first chapter, and I think this will become a feminist classic just like The Handmaid's Tale. Each of the characters in Alderman's version of Earth are richly described- no formulaic tropes here. I still think about this book regularly since I first read it three years ago.
This is the YA sapphic fantasy I've wanted to read my whole life! It has everything: enemies to lovers; family drama; twists and turns; and an actual (not just hinted at!) queer plot. I want to live in the magical world Tooley created-- though it's not perfect, it's so richly described I was completely transported as I read. Great for anyone who loves fantasy novels, queer rep, or just a great weekend read. I can't wait for the sequel!
Need a beach read? A funny, well-written romance with plenty of political intrigue? This novel has it all. It reminds me of The Devil Wears Prada blended with a queer dash of The Princess Diaries, and I instantly fell in love with Alex, the First Son of the United States, and Prince Henry of Wales' budding relationship. Highly recommend for an entertaining escapist read!
The best YA I've read in years. A fantasy inspired by West African culture, Raybearer tells the story of what it truly means to be the chosen ones-- and the drawbacks and pleasures that power provides. Richly written with fast-paced action, I can't recommend this debut novel enough!
What if the one fated to save the world wasn't the charming, beautiful queen-to-be but her shy and plain handmaiden? This #ownvoices LGBT fantasy novel brings together classic tropes-- quests, magic, and plenty of mythic challenges-- with lifelike queer characters. Based in part on Jewish mythology, this book reminds me of Spinning Silver with Tamora Pierce-esque worldbuilding (and anything that Tamora Pierce blurbs as a favorite is a good sign for me!).
This thriller is the perfect blend of Margaret Atwood, Naomi Alderman, and Tana French. Set in the modern day, Girl One tells the story of Josephine Morrow, the first girl born by parthenogenesis, or spermless asexual reproduction, during the height of the 1970s feminst movement. Anyone who loves a heart-pounding mystery with a feminist slant-- think The Power meets Gone Girl-- won't be able to stop reading (I read it all in one afternoon and still can't stop thinking about it!).
Fans of Dear Prudence and queer zines rejoice: Maddy Court has written a book that combines the best of lesbian advice with commentary on queer culture in the age of Instagram. Court, the wildly-popular creator of LGBT memes (@xenaworrierprincess on Instagram), has turned the theme of her viral underground zine series into a winning debut that will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between. Plus, I love the illustrations!