6 Authors Writing Compelling Stories For Young Readers
Young readers can never have too many good books. Whether it's a realistic novel about growing up or an extravagant fantasy set in a faraway land, the best youth titles are brimming with authentic characters, imaginative scenarios, and enriching life lessons. In no particular order, here are some authors penning engrossing books for everyone from early readers to more well-versed teens and young adults.
For #1 we find Mya Kay, who has a passion for helping young people heal from their traumas. Born and raised in a single-parent home in North Philadelphia, she often used books to escape her own childhood trauma, wishing that one day she could do for others what many of her favorite authors did for her. Whether focusing on stories that capture the pain of growing up in a single-parent household, or touching on the hardships of being a child with a disability, her goal is to leave kids feeling inspired when they finish her books.
Kay is the author of "The Clover Chronicles," a young adult series that traces the ups and downs of the siblings of the Clover family as they deal with love, illness, and school life. Other titles include "A Song for Jordan," about a music-loving fifteen-year-old searching for her estranged father, and "Before Empire," an exclusive look into the life of celebrity mother Andria Mayberry, who co-wrote the book. Beyond her writing, Kay founded Girls Anthem, a movement that empowers teen girls to pursue destiny without compromising their values.
Showing up at #2 is Shauna LaVoy Reynolds, a writer and storyteller who describes her work as "uncommon stories for uncommon children." She is the author of "POETREE," a picture book illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani. A Spring 2019 Kids' Indie Next List Selection, it tells of a girl who writes a poem to a birch tree, and is surprised when the birch seems to write back to her.
Signed and personalized copies of "POETREE" are available from Reynolds' local independent bookseller, Nashville, Tennessee's Parnassus Books. Additionally, Reynolds makes school visits and delivers talks on topics such as poetry, the joy of reading, life as an author, and more. Since 2014, she has been a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
For #3 we have Sarah Lynn Scheerger. Based in Southern California, this author is a clinical social worker serving at-risk youth. Under the name Sarah Lynn, she writes picture books and easy readers, while she uses her full name for her young adult novels. Illustrated titles for young readers include "Mitzvah Pizza," "Tip-Tap Pop," and "The Boulder Brothers," which centers on fun-loving cavemen Mo and Jo.
For middle grade readers, "Operation Frog Effect" is a novel told in eight perspectives, including through the form of a graphic novel. Offerings for adolescents include "The Opposite of Love," a gritty story focused on the relationship between two wounded teens, and "Are You Still There?," about a straight-A student who finds herself drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with a mysterious high school bomber.
Arriving at #4 is Meg Medina, an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author who writes picture books, as well as middle grade and young adult fiction. Her titles include "Tia Isa Wants a Car," winner of the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Award, and "Mango, Abuela, and Me," a 2016 Pura Belpre Author Honor Book. There's also "Evelyn del Rey Is Moving Away," with illustrations by Sonia Sanchez.
In 2019, Medina released "Merci Suarez Changes Gears." Winner of a John Newbery Medal, it's a coming-of-age story that looks at the confusion and constant change that define middle school, as well as the steadfast connection that defines family. For teenage readers, Medina wrote "The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind," "Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass," and the 1970s-set thriller "Burn Baby Burn." The author has also been featured in a handful of anthologies.
For #5 we come to Liz Flanagan, a British author who divides her time between teaching and writing. Her first solo fiction book, "Eden Summer," is a Y.A. thriller set in the rugged Yorkshire landscape. This was followed by "Dragon Daughter," a fantasy novel that takes place on the imaginary island of Arcosi, where a servant girl finds herself caring for the last surviving dragon eggs.
Flanagan wrote a sequel to "Dragon Daughter" called "Rise of the Shadow Dragons," which takes place ten years after the events of the first book. Described by Bluebird Reviews as "Harry Potter meets Eragon," it continues an epic saga focused on themes of friendship, bravery, and acceptance. On top of her writing, Flanagan visits schools for author talks and creative workshops.
Finally, at #6 is Peter Bunzl. A lover of cinematic images, magic adventures, and odd ideas, he writes quirky tales about characters finding their place in the world. He is the author of the "Cogheart Adventures" series, a Victorian steampunk saga featuring two friends, airships, automata, and plenty of mystery and mayhem. The first title in the series was the recipient of numerous honors, including the 2017 Dudley Teen Book Award.
In addition to his flagship series, Bunzl has contributed his work to poetry and short story collections. One of the collections, "The Book of Hopes," is completely free for children and families to read online. The author also offers a number of activities for readers and educators on his site, including coloring sheets, mazes, and guides for making puppets, flip-books, and zoetropes.