I try to read a good mix of books (fiction, nonfiction, sci-fi, children's, teens') so I wanted to share some of my favorite children's books I've read in the last couple years that have really stuck with me. So these are books intended for children (middle grade reading level) that I think are valuable to adults as well.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Auggie is a child who has been through a lot due to the facial deformity he was born with. Otherwise, he's a relatively normal kid who loves Star Wars. When he starts mainstream school, he encounters how cruel the world can really be. It's told from multiple perspectives, which really adds to the story. This book is sad, sweet, and quite eye-opening.
Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
Set in 1930s south, Stella is a young black girl who has few worries in life, since she is used to how everything works in her town. When she and her brother witness a KKK gathering, she learns that everything isn't as nice as she thought. This book covers a lot of ground, discussing the disparities in schooling, housing, jobs, and voting in this time period. It's well-written and stays firmly with Stella's perspective, making some of the perceptions of racism noticeable to the reader that she hasn't noticed. (Also, I read the audiobook, which was very good, if you like that.)
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Even if you read this book as a child, it's time to revisit it as an adult! I read this relatively recently (within the last few years), and found it much better as an adult. Matilda's desire to learn is admirable, even if there's some suspension of disbelief you need to have. The book and the movie are fairly different though, so be prepared for that if you're used to the film.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Soon to be a film, this book is definitely worth the read. It's sort of a picture book even, so it goes very quickly. This book is about a young boy whose mother is sick. He's visited by a tree monster who claims to know his secrets. It's a very metaphorical type story, so I felt like it was better reading it as an adult because I understood the symbols a little better than I'd think a child would. The book is sad, sweet, and filled with impressive illustrations.
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
There are a lot of books about WWII out there for middle grade readers, and this one has received a lot of attention this year. I think that is in large part due to the uniqueness of this story. Ada was born with a deformed foot to a poor mother in London. When the bombs are imminent, children are rounded up and sent off to more rural areas of England for their protection. Ada and her brother escape to a spinster woman who doesn't want them there. Together, they all grow and learn from one another. The details of this book are fabulous, giving just enough minutiae to make me feel "in" the story. An excellent read at any age.
Have you read any children's books I should add to my list?