Voracious reader Raegan Revord, 11, is an actress on the CBS comedy Young Sheldon, and the founder of the book club Reading with Raegan. Raegan shared some recent favorite reads with The B&N Kids’ Blog—and we love her list! It spans the globe and is filled with truly exceptional, eye-opening, life-changing books. How many have your young readers read?
I’ve always been a bookworm. Every minute of free time I have, I like to spend reading.
My favorite thing about reading is how it teaches me something new and allows me to understand a new perspective that I didn’t have. That’s why I started my book club, Reading with Raegan. I love being able to read books that introduce me to new things, I especially love getting to know the characters and their stories. That is one of the many things I love about acting, getting to share someone else’s story. It’s amazing being able to share these books with others and see what they learned from the characters. That’s what makes reading together special.
It was really hard to narrow down this list, but I wanted to share a few books that really changed my world view. If you’d like some additional recommendations or want to talk about what you’re reading, I would love if you wanted to join the conversation and my book club by following #ReadingWithRaegan on Instagram.
The Only Road, by Alexandra Diaz
The Only Road is a very realistic story about a 12-year-old boy, named Jaime, and a 15-year-old girl, named Angela, who live in Guatemala, a Central American country. They live in a small village with their cousins, Abuela, uncles and aunts, and parents. A gang, called the Alphas, terrorizes the town. They eventually kill Miguel, who is Angela’s younger brother and Jaime’s cousin and best friend. Angela and Jaime are afraid the Alphas will come for them next, so they decide to leave Guatemala. They hope to get to the U.S., where Jaime’s older brother, Tomas, lives. They must cross Central America, Mexico, and the United States border to be safe. It’s a dangerous journey, that includes jumping on moving trains, avoiding thieves, crossing rapid rivers, and hiding from la migra, which is Spanish for the immigration police. With new friends and fellow refugees, they might just make it. This book is a heart-wrenching story, but one that needs to be told. It really helped me to see what immigrants and refugees go through in order to stay safe. It is an emotional rollercoaster that I loved reading.
The Crossroads, by Alexandra Diaz
The Crossroads is the sequel to The Only Road, which follows up as Jaime and Angela continue their story in the U.S., along with Tomas, Jaime’s brother. Jaime can only understand a handful of English and is having trouble at his new school, but his new friend Sean helps him get through the day. Jamie also meets a bully, named Diego, who terrorizes Jamie. When Tomas’s boss, Don Vincente, gets caught up in an immigration sweep, Jaime must use his creative skills to save him. Jaime must go to different friends of Don Vincente and they tell him stories, which Jaime uses to save Don Vincente. I really enjoyed this book because it focused on Jaime’s relationships and how he depended on new and old friends. I learned that if you look hard enough, there someone to lend a hand.
We Are Displaced, by Malala Yousafzia
We Are Displaced is a book written by Malala Yousafzia, a Pakistani activist for female rights and the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. This book is about Malala’s own refugee story and 9 other girls from different countries. These stories tell us about girls with dreams for a better life in another country. You also read about the girls trying to fit into a new environment I especially liked Analisa’s story. When she got caught, her brother Ernesto, did everything he could to get her out, even though he didn’t remember Analisa. I think his actions show real loyalty. I think readers will enjoy this book because it has strong and resilient girls.
Shooting Kabul, by N. H. Senzai
Shooting Kabul is a very powerful book about a young boy, named Fadi, who lives in Afghanistan. When his father gets in trouble with the Taliban, Fadi’s parents make the difficult choice of illegally escaping their country. When the smuggler pulls up in his truck, everyone rushes to get on, including Fadi, his parents, and little sister, Miriam. But as they are getting on the truck, someone jostles Miriam, making her let go of her doll and Fadi’s hand. Fadi is thrown into the truck when the Taliban appear nearby, and the truck starts moving, leaving Miriam behind all alone. Fadi is wrought with guilt when he tells his parents, and Fadi blames himself. When they get to America, Fadi starts searching for ways to get back to Afghanistan and Miriam, all while dealing with the hardships of transitioning into a new life. This book will take you through many emotions, while you go on this journey with Fadi.
Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai
Inside Out and Back Again is a book about Ha, a 10-year-old girl who lives in Saigon, Vietnam when The Vietnam War comes to Saigon. The family decides they should escape to America, where they believe they will find a safe haven. When they get to Alabama, Ha is surprised that some people do not want them there. A bully at school calls her offensive names and someone threatens to beat her up. Ha’s dad went missing in action 10 years ago and she carries around the grief of losing him. This book is about hopes, dreams, healing, and grief. I love this book because Ha is strong in the face of discrimination and sadness. This book is an inspiration to young girls.
A Long Walk To Water, by Linda Sue Park
A Long Walk To Water is a book that tells two separate stories, one, about 11-year-old Nya, and another, about 11-year-old Salva. They both live in Sudan, Salva’s story starting in 1995 and Nya’s story starting in 2008.
Salva is a young boy who lives in a village in Sudan when suddenly there’s an explosion and soldiers are everywhere. It is war. Salva joins a group of people running away from the fight who are from different villages all over. They stop at an old woman’s house for the night and when Salva wakes up, everyone’s gone, except the old lady. She lets him work for her, before she sent him on his way, where he joins another group of people. In this group, he reunites with his uncle and makes a new friend. As they trek through the desert, he encounters many different obstacles. Salva will stop at nothing to find his family, who was separated from him when their village was attacked.
Nya is a young girl who lives in a small village in Sudan when her little sister mysteriously gets sick. They take her to the doctor and find out it’s from the dirty pond they get their water from. When strange men come to their village with a project, Nya wonders if this could be the solution to her little sister’s illness.
In the end, both Salva and Nya’s stories will play a part in the other. This book is very sad and suspenseful, and can be violent, but it can teach you what real life can be like in Sudan.
Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza Rising is about a girl who is used to not having to do chores, who lives in a huge house with servants. But when bandits kill Esperanza’s father, her uncle demands for Esperanza’s mother to marry him. When she declines, he burns down their house, forcing them to live in a shed. Esperanza, her mother, and a handful of servants escape to California to become farmworkers. But when Esperanza’s mother comes down with Valley Fever, Esperanza joins the field workers. There, Esperanza must learn to be strong, which is hard for a girl who can barely use a broom. But some Mexican farmers are striking, and with more immigrants flooding into California, wages are getting lower. Esperanza struggles to keep her family together, and her hope alive. This book is an amazing story that teaches you to always look forward, even if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. This book is a tornado of all different emotions that make you laugh, shout, cry, and gasp.
Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata
Kira Kira is about a young girl named Katie. When she is 5 years old, she and her family move from Iowa to Georgia, where they become one of the 31 Japanese Americans in town. Katie loves her older sister, Lynn, who says everything is Kira Kira, shining and glittery. When Katie starts school, Lynn tells her people may not be nice to her because of her race. Katie isn’t bothered by this. She is more interested in tagging along behind her sister everywhere and copying her every move, and, when her little brother is born, caring for him. Her parents aren’t home much because they work long days and Katie finds school extremely boring. When Lynn gets really sick, Katie feels that she is losing her family. Her parents are working overtime to pay the medical bills and Lynn doesn’t seem herself. Soon, Katie is the one keeping her family together. This book is so touching and sad, yet funny and happy. I love this book because it definitely shows the power of loyalty. It teaches you that if there’s ever a bit of hope, you go for it.
Sylvia and Aki, by Winifred Conkling
Sylvia and Aki is a story about two girls who live in Westminster, California. When Aki and her family are forced to leave their home, heading for a Japanese American internment camp, Sylvia and her family move into Aki’s old house. Sylvia looks forward to her first day of school at her new school, only to find out she and her siblings can’t go, although her lighter-skinned cousins can. This leads to the groundbreaking Mendez v Westminster, the lawsuit that preceded the Brown v Board of Education. Meanwhile, Aki worries about her father, who is interned separately for most of the war. The chapters go back and forth between Aki and Sylvia, introducing readers to the daily injustices of internment and school segregation. This book is such a good story; one that teaches you that injustices can happen anywhere.