It’s almost June, somehow, and I just finished my first semester as a graduate student. I’m working towards earning my Master of Fine Arts in writing for children and young adults, and so I have been doing a LOT of reading. Here are my top reads of 2022, so far:
- Fry Bread, Kevin Noble Maillard, Picture Book (PB): This precious picture book swept me off my feet. Fantastic representation in a gorgeously illustrated, inclusive narrative is the whole package. Great for read alouds and with extensive back matter explaining the significance of Fry Bread to Native communities. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Stand Like a Cedar, Nicola I. Campbell: Lyrical, enchanting, perfect for reading out loud. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- The Day You Begin, Jacqueline Woodson: A beautiful, heart tugging book perfect for all ages. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Eyes that Kiss in the Corners, Joanna Ho: A love letter to the traits that tie us to our loved ones. Gorgeous illustrations, beautiful words. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- New Kid, Jerry Craft: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The perfect blend of humor and heart. Friendship, the struggle of microaggressions, the difficulty of being the new kid. Just all around wonderful.
- The Crossover, Kwame Alexander: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Available as a graphic novel or a novel in verse, this story will grab ahold of you and not let go. Funny and full of sports references for basketball fans, but also relatable and heart wrenching.
Middle Grade (MG)
- Ancestor Approved, Cynthia Lietich Smith: This short story collection is edited by Heartdrum curator Cynthia Lietich Smith. Comprised of a variety of stories and characters with a shared setting, Ancestor Approved is absolute perfection from start to finish. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Healer of the Water Monster, Brian Young: The perfect blend of traditional Navajo stories with contemporary characters and setting. Mental health representation, diverse, inclusive. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Lalani of the Distant Sea, Erin Entrada Kelly: Fantasy with high stakes, gorgeous writing. Perfect for fans of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Jennifer Chan is Not Alone, Tae Keller: Bullying, mystery, aliens. Full review here! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin: Will this rip your heart out? Absolutely. Will you be enchanted the entire time, and be thinking about it long after you’ve closed the cover? Also yes. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- From the Desk of Zoe Washington, Janae Marks: Engaging writing in a thought provoking plot. So good. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson: This nonfiction memoir is a lyrical novel in verse that reads like fiction. Spectacular storytelling and great MG voice. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Anybody Here Seen Frenchie?, Leslie Connor: This is one of those books where you just want to grip your face and yell, “so good! So good!”. Full review here! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- I Can Make This Promise, Christine Day: A bit of mystery, relatable characters, and changing friendship all combine in this heart-filled story. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Young Adult (YA)
- An Arrow to the Moon, Emily X.R. Pan: This novel has such gorgeous imagery, the scenes still randomly pop into my head. I’m hoping it gets turned into a movie, because it has such a cinematic quality to it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo: Every word she writes is perfection. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger: I can’t normally handle spooky, but this magical realism, mystery, loads of Native representation book was totally worth the possible nightmares from the spook factor. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Hearts Unbroken, Cynthia Lietich Smith: This is one of those novels that just unfolds so perfectly, it feels like a living, breathing thing. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Bravely, Maggie Stiefvater: I’m currently reading this one, so I can’t give it a star rating yet. But I can already tell it’s going to be a favorite. Merida, once again interacting with magic and trying to change a fate? I can’t put it down. It’s fantastic so far!
- Part of Your World, Abby Jimenez: A laugh out loud rom-com with a dash of magical realism, plenty of thought-provoking depth, and lovable characters. Full review here! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Sari, Not Sari, Sonya Singh: I love books that can be funny and tackle real, deep topics at the same time, and Sari perfectly encapsulates that. Full review here! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer: Gorgeous, lyrical, and the kind of book you want to cuddle like a favorite stuffed animal because it speaks so deeply to your heart. Or my heart, at least. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
As always, you can find this as a shoppable list at Bookshop.org here. Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org. I will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase.
That’s all for now! As of this original May posting, I’ve read 54 books so far this year. I know this list is entirely four and five stars– that’s because they’re my top reads! Four stars means I loved it, five stars means I’d want to re-read it. I’ll update this post again in the fall, and again at the end of the year.
What are your favorite reads so far this year?