Discover the 10 Best Jerry Spinelli Books – Complete Guide

Looking for a great author to introduce to your young reader? Look no further than Jerry Spinelli. With themes of friendship, family, and finding your own way, Spinelli’s books are a must-read for any child or young adult. Below, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best Jerry Spinelli books to add to your reading list.

complete guide

Who is Jerry Spinelli?

Jerry Spinelli is an American writer born and raised in Pennsylvania. He is known for his work in children’s literature and has won numerous awards for his writing, including the Newbery Medal for his book Maniac Magee. Spinelli’s books often explore themes of individuality, friendship, and finding one’s place in the world.

A Brief Biography of Jerry Spinelli

Space Station Seventh Grade

Jerry Spinelli was born on February 1, 1941, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, to parents Louis and Lorna Spinelli. Growing up, he was an avid reader and writer, often creating his own comic books and stories. He attended Bishop Kenrick High School and later Gettysburg College, where he earned a degree in English. After college, Spinelli served in the United States Navy and then worked as an editor for a magazine before pursuing a career in writing. He later earned a master’s degree in English from Johns Hopkins University.

Spinelli began his writing career in 1977, with his first book Space Station Seventh Grade. Since then, he has published over 30 books, including Stargirl, Wringer, and Crash. His books have been translated into many languages and have been adapted into movies and plays.

The Unique Style and Themes in Spinelli’s Books

Spinelli’s books are known for their unique style and themes. Many of his books feature young protagonists who are struggling to find their place in the world. Spinelli’s characters often face difficult challenges, but through their struggles, they come to better understand themselves and the world around them.

One of Spinelli’s most popular books, Stargirl, tells the story of a homeschooled girl named Stargirl Caraway who enters public high school and struggles to fit in. Stargirl is an eccentric character who wears unusual clothing and performs random acts of kindness, but her nonconformity makes her an outcast among her peers. Through Stargirl’s story, Spinelli explores the themes of individuality and conformity, and the importance of staying true to oneself.

In Maniac Magee, Spinelli tells the story of a young boy named Jeffrey Lionel Magee, who becomes a legend in his town for his athletic feats and his ability to bridge the racial divide that separates the town. Through Maniac Magee’s story, Spinelli explores the themes of racism, friendship, and the power of community.

Overall, Jerry Spinelli’s books are beloved by readers of all ages for their relatable characters, engaging plots, and timeless themes.

Top Jerry Spinelli Books for Young Readers

If you’re looking for a great Jerry Spinelli book to introduce to a young reader, look no further than the following titles:

Maniac Magee

Maniac Magee (Newbery Medal Winner) (Newberry Medal Book)

Maniac Magee is perhaps Spinelli’s best-known book. The story follows orphan Jeffrey Lionel Magee, who finds himself in a racially divided town in Pennsylvania. Through his journey, he bridges gaps between the townspeople and makes important friendships along the way.

The book not only explores issues of race and discrimination, but also the power of kindness and compassion. Jeffrey’s selflessness and willingness to help others, despite their differences, is a valuable lesson for young readers.



Stargirl tells the story of Susan Caraway, a new student at Mica Area High School who is unlike any other student in the school. With her unusual clothing and quirky personality, Susan quickly becomes the most talked about person in school. The book explores the themes of individuality and the power of standing out from the crowd.

Through Susan’s character, young readers can learn about the importance of being true to oneself and embracing their unique qualities. The book also touches on the topic of bullying and how it can affect individuals who dare to be different.



Wringer is a story about a boy named Palmer LaRue who is approaching his 10th birthday. In his town, an annual pigeon hunt takes place where the youngest boys are chosen to act as “wringers” and finish off the wounded birds. Palmer struggles with this concept and must decide whether or not to participate.

The book explores themes of peer pressure and individuality, as Palmer grapples with the expectations of his friends and family. It also touches on the topic of animal cruelty and the importance of standing up for what is right, even if it means going against the norm.

Overall, Jerry Spinelli’s books offer valuable lessons for young readers, while also providing engaging and thought-provoking stories. Whether it’s through the power of kindness, embracing individuality, or standing up for what is right, these books are sure to leave a lasting impact on readers of all ages.

Spinelli’s Middle Grade Masterpieces

Spinelli’s middle grade novels are some of the best in the genre. Here are three that you won’t want to miss:



Crash is the story of John “Crash” Coogan, a tough jock who’s used to being the star of the football team. He is confident and popular, but when a new boy with cerebral palsy moves into town, Crash’s world is turned upside down. The new boy, Penn Webb, is kind and intelligent, but he struggles with his physical limitations. Despite initial resistance, Crash forms an unlikely friendship with Penn and learns important lessons about empathy and understanding. Through their friendship, Crash learns that being a true winner means more than just being good at sports.



Loser tells the story of Donald Zinkoff, a kind-hearted boy who struggles to fit in with his classmates. Donald is a little different from the other kids – he’s not very good at sports, he can be a little clumsy, and he’s always eager to learn. Despite constant teasing and bullying, Zinkoff maintains his positivity and learns important lessons about self-acceptance and compassion. Through his journey, he discovers that being a “loser” isn’t such a bad thing after all, and that true friends will accept you for who you are.



Eggs is the story of David, a boy who has recently lost his mother and is sent to live with his grandparents. David is struggling with his grief and feels lost and alone in his new surroundings. However, he soon meets a strange and quirky girl named Primrose who lives in a nearby apartment complex. Despite their differences, the two become fast friends and embark on a series of adventures together. Through their friendship, David learns that it’s okay to feel sad and that healing can come in unexpected ways. Eggs is a heartwarming story about the power of friendship and the importance of finding joy in the midst of sorrow.

Spinelli’s middle grade novels are beloved by readers of all ages. His stories are full of heart, humor, and important life lessons. Whether you’re a young reader just starting to explore the world of literature or an adult looking for a nostalgic trip down memory lane, Spinelli’s books are sure to delight and inspire.

Exploring Spinelli’s Young Adult Novels

Spinelli’s young adult novels are perfect for older readers looking for a great coming-of-age story. With relatable characters and meaningful themes, his books are sure to be read and enjoyed for years to come. Here are three of his books that are sure to please:

Smiles to Go

Smiles to Go

Smiles to Go tells the story of eighth-grader Will Tuppence, whose life is turned upside down when he learns that the universe is expanding and that someday everything will end. This thought causes Will to question the meaning of life and the universe. The book explores themes of mortality and the value of life.

The story takes place in a small town in Pennsylvania, where Will lives with his parents and younger sister. Will is a curious and thoughtful boy who loves science and is fascinated by the universe. He has a close relationship with his grandfather, who encourages him to explore the mysteries of the universe and to find his own place in it.

As Will struggles to come to terms with the idea of the universe’s eventual end, he also has to deal with the everyday challenges of being a teenager. He has a crush on a girl in his class, and he tries to navigate the complexities of friendship and social dynamics. Through it all, he learns the importance of living in the moment and cherishing the people and experiences that make life worth living.

The Warden’s Daughter

The Warden's Daughter

The Warden’s Daughter is the story of Cammie O’Reilly, who lives in an apartment above the entrance to the Hancock County Prison. Cammie struggles with the loss of her mother and turns to the prisoners for friendship and guidance. The book explores themes of grief and the power of forgiveness.

Cammie is a complex and conflicted character who is still grieving the loss of her mother, who died when Cammie was just a child. She feels isolated and lonely, and she struggles to connect with her father, who is the warden of the prison. Cammie finds solace in the company of the prisoners, who she sees as kind and compassionate people who have made mistakes in their lives.

Through her interactions with the prisoners, Cammie learns about the power of forgiveness and the importance of second chances. She also learns about the complexity of human nature and the ways in which people can surprise you. The book is a moving exploration of grief, love, and redemption.

Love, Stargirl

Love, Stargirl

Love, Stargirl follows the character of Stargirl after the events of the first book. Now living in Pennsylvania, Stargirl tries to fit in and make new friends, but finds it difficult. The book explores themes of acceptance and the importance of staying true to oneself.

Stargirl is a unique and quirky character who is unapologetically herself. She loves to wear colorful clothes and play her ukulele, and she is always looking for ways to make the world a better place. However, her eccentricities make it difficult for her to fit in with the other kids at her new school.

Despite the challenges she faces, Stargirl remains true to herself and refuses to compromise her values. She forms a close bond with a boy named Leo, who is also struggling to find his place in the world. Together, they explore the beauty and mystery of the world around them, and they learn that being different can be a source of strength and inspiration.

If you’re looking for great books for young readers or young adults, be sure to check out the works of Jerry Spinelli. His books are filled with relatable characters, meaningful themes, and beautiful prose that will stay with you long after you finish reading.


Is Jerry Spinelli still writing?

Spinelli released My Fourth of July in 2022, following the publication of Dead Wednesday in 2021. However, it is currently unknown when or if Spinelli will publish another book.

Are all of Jerry Spinelli’s books written for children?

Yes, initially Spinelli wanted to write adult fiction. However, his first four pieces of adult fiction were rejected by publishers. His fifth novel, which was originally intended for adult readers, eventually became his first children’s novel after being revised.

How many books has Jerry Spinelli written?

Spinelli has written over thirty-five books, with the most popular titles including Stargirl, Maniac Magee, and Fourth Grade Rats.

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Eddison Monroe
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