Best-selling author Rebecca Elliot is a champion of children’s illustrated literature. Her Owl Diaries series is known around the world for its positive themes and imaginative illustrations.
While children’s stories in literature have evolved over the years to be more inclusive, tell new stories of acceptance, and feature new voices — the themes remain constant and important to young readers.
This list will go through some modern illustrated novels, from bestsellers to hidden gems. So if you have a young reader in your family, take notes of the variety offered.
Here we go!
Star Darlings: Sage and the Journey to Wishworld
The Star Darlings book and Disney animated television franchise launched around the same time. The novels are a collaborative effort, offering the same eye-popping illustrations as the novel.
Star Darling: Sage and the Journey to Wishworld looks at the story of twelve special students and how they learn to grant wishes. Friends grow on the back of secrets as the students undertake a top-secret mission. Sage is the first to soar off to Wishworld; what journey awaits her?
Have a young reader Star Darling: Sage and the Journey to Wishworld would appeal to? You can purchase the novel on Amazon here.
Unicorn Academy: Rainbow of Adventure Boxed Set
The Unicorn Academy: Rainbow of Adventure Boxed Set is from the minds of author Julie Sykes and illustrator Lucy Truman. The more extensive Unicorn Academy series brings forward multiple helpful themes for young readers who are just beginning their learning adventures.
Students at the Unicorn Academy receive their unicorn, each possessing its special kind of magic. For a unicorn to find its powers, it must bond with the student. Sounds interesting, right?
If you know a young reader who likes unicorns, The Unicorn Academy: Rainbow of Adventure Boxed Set will be the perfect read for them. You can purchase the first stories in the series on Amazon here.
Dork Diaries 1: Tales From A Not-So-Fabulous Life
Author and illustrator Rachel Renee Russell brings us the first novel in the Dork Diaries series. The fourteen-part series is extremely popular with young readers, and this is where it all began.
Protagonist Nikki confesses everything in her diary, including arguments with her mom and details about her crush, Brandon. What other secrets does Nikki spill in her diary? Come find out.
Younger readers will enjoy this bestselling series. If you’re interested in purchasing Dork Diaries 1: Tales From A Not-So-Fabulous Life, you can grab it on Amazon here.
Dork Diaries: Party Time
Dork Diaries is too good of a series to only have one entry on the list. Author and illustrator Rachel Renee Russell continue to deliver great work surrounding protagonist Nikki. Dork Diaries: Party Time is the second book in the series.
Nikki has adjusted to her new school; if you want to know how — read the first Dork Diaries adventure linked above; no spoilers in this house. In Dork Diaries: Party Time, Nikki wants to go to the Halloween dance with her crush Brandon.
Readers can continue the journey with Nikki in Dork Diaries: Party Time. The book is available on Amazon here.
Ella Says: I’m Not Afraid Of The Dark!
Author and illustrator Anu D. Misa brings to us Ella Says: I’m Not Afraid of the Dark! the first story in the Ella Says series for young readers. It’s time for more to uncover these hidden gems.
In this fun story, we follow Ella and her dog Ollie. As the title implies, darkness is involved. Will Ella face up to the dark or give in to her fear? Read and find out!
If you know a younger reader Ella Says: I’m Not Afraid of the Dark will appeal to, you can purchase the book on Amazon here.
Diary Of An Ice Princess: Snow Place Like Home
Author Christina Soontornvat brings us Diary of an Ice Princess: Snow Place Like Home, the first book in the Diary of an Ice Princess series.
The story follows Princess Lina who lives in a palace within the clouds and has everything any kid could want. However, Lina wants to go to a non-magical school with her best friend. What stories await her? Let’s find out.
If you know a young reader who would be interested in reading Diary of an Ice Princess: Snow Place Like Home, you can purchase it on Amazon here.
Owly: The Way Home
Author and illustrator Andy Runton brings to us the first story in the Owly series. The art style and meaningful life lessons should set a good example for young series. Owly: The Way Home is one to not miss.
Owly has a kind heart but seems to chase away would-be friends. Will Owly be able to overcome his frightening demeanor to find a friend? You aren’t too old to read and find out.
If you or a young reader is interested in Owly: The Way Home, you can grab it on Amazon here.
The Adventures of Andy & Linda
Author Amy Blocher and illustrator Christina Rudenko put together a gem that deserves far more recognition. This wonderful story of friendship and acceptance also has great illustrations.
The story follows three adventures of best friends Andy and Linda, tackling themes of overcoming fears, learning, and being responsible for your actions. It’s worth a read.
If you want a great way to introduce a young reader to common themes and some subtle ones, The Adventures of Andy and Linda is available for purchase on Amazon here.
Lily Faye And The Mighty Oak
Author Ingrid Jennings and illustrator Estela Raileanu worked together remarkably well to fill the pages of Lily Faye and the Mighty Oak with intrigue. Young readers should be encouraged to read this hidden gem.
The informative book speaks about animals, trees, kindness, and the importance of conservation. Great themes, right? What are you waiting for; get to reading!
Right. You need to know where you can quickly purchase Lily Faye and the Mighty Oak; the book is available on Amazon here.
The Bad Seed
Author Jory John and illustrator Pete Oswald worked together on the first book in The Bad Seed series. Conveniently the first entry is also entitled The Bad Seed. Funny how that worked out extremely well for this popular New York Times bestseller.
The Bad Seed has bad manners, a bad temper, and a bad attitude. No, he’s not a professional wrestler, but he does have a turn of mind that makes him want to experience happiness. This is great for young readers, especially if they get a little angry at times.
Want to grab The Bad Seed for a young reader? You can pick up this well-written book on Amazon here.
Cats Don’t Like That
Author Andy Wortlock and illustrator Nahum Ziersch came together to deliver an interesting concept for young readers to go along with great artwork. Cats Don’t Like That is another sleeper that young readers and cat lovers will enjoy.
The story is a humorous look at things cats don’t enjoy before your family decides to bring one home or one decides to break in and claim your house as theirs. Also, the book rhymes! What are you waiting for?
For cat lovers of all ages, Cats Don’t Like That is available on Amazon here.
Sneezy The Snowman
Author Maureen Wright and illustrator Stephen Gilpin come together to tell the story of an unfortunate snowman who doesn’t like the cold that much. What? Check it out.
Sneezy the Snowman tells the story of a snowman that has a cold and can’t stop sneezing. This humorous young reader story shows how Sneezy attempts to fix his sneezing problem with the help of some children. What could go wrong?
Want to read more about Sneezy the Snowman and his struggles to defeat the cold? You can purchase this light-hearted book on Amazon here.
I Love Pete The Kitty
Author and illustrator James Dean (no, not that one) and author Kimberly Dean combine to tell one of the sixty short stories in the Pete the Cat series. I Love Pete the Kitty is targeted toward Valentine’s Day but is good for any time.
Pete the kitty cat loves quite a few things in his life, but in I Love Pete the Kitty, the youngest of children will find out what Pete loves the most. If you want to express your heartfelt feelings, I Love Pete the Kitty is a good read.
I Love Pete the Kitty is available on Amazon here.
Mommy, Mommy, Where Is The Moon
The themes in Mommy, Mommy, Where Is The Moon are touching and meaningful. Author Serene Chia and illustrator Sinem Kılıç Rabito combine to tell a beautiful story that more need to know about.
The story tells about the relationship between a mother and her daughter, with beautiful illustrations to bring the narrative to life. It encourages imagination, is suitable to help improve a parent and child relationship, and shows that little girls can engage in science and STEM activities.
Oliver And The Wishing Star
Jennifer Decker and illustrator Chrish Vindhy form a tag team in a tale about encouraging children to look up to the stars and wish for anything that brings them joy. Oliver and the Wishing Star is a nice read with great themes.
However, Oliver and the Wishing Star also tells young readers to be careful what they wish for, as sometimes you may have it better than what you thought. This award-winning book touches on several important life lessons.
If you want your young reader to get a good lesson, you can purchase Oliver and the Wishing Star on Amazon here.
The Nice Dream Truck
Author Beth Ferry and illustrator Brigette Barrager show why they are New York Times bestsellers in The Nice Dream Truck, a wonderful read for young adults which touches on themes of inclusivity, adventure, and imagination.
The story tells of children’s bedtime when they might receive a visit from the Nice Dream Truck. Instead of serving ice cream, this truck delivers peaceful dreams for children to enjoy. Sounds fun?
You can purchase The Nice Dream Truck for a young reader on Amazon here.
My Superhero Day
V. Moua is the author and illustrator of the Sammy Bird series, which contains a whopping 237 entries to date. My Superhero Day takes a close look at Sammy being a superhero for a day.
Sammy waited for a day when he could show everyone the hero he is. Is today the day? Will Sammy save anyone’s day? Why not read and find out?
You can read the quirky My Superhero Day with a young reader and the entire Sammy Bird series if you purchase on Amazon here.
Rosie The Dragon And Charlie Say Good Night
Author Lauren Kerstein and illustrator Nate Wragg come together to tell the popular story of Rosie The Dragon And Charlie Say Good Night. This story of friendship is enough to melt the coldest of hearts.
Charlie must help his pet dragon and best friend get a good night’s sleep. How does Charlie go about the difficult task of assisting Rosie to get a good night’s rest? Read Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Good Night to find out.
Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Good Night is available for purchase on Amazon here.
Mariah: The Brave Mermaid
Author Lindsey Scott tells the illustrated story of Mariah: The Brave Mermaid, a narrative full of curiosity, exploration, and overcoming fears to help someone in need. This is a fun story with great themes for young girls and boys alike.
In Mariah: The Brave Mermaid, Mariah explores with her dolphin friend Squirt while enjoying her free time as princess of the underwater kingdom of Olantia. What will she and Squirt encounter? You and your young reader can enjoy this hidden gem together.
If you want to go on an adventure with Mariah and Squirt, you can purchase this book on Amazon here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Would Any Of The Books Listed Be Mature Enough For Children Between Ages 8-10?
The two Dork Diaries books featured on the list, including the rest of the series, would be a good fit for young readers in that age range.
What Three Books Would You Recommend The Most?
Dork Diaries 1: Tales From A Not-So-Fabulous Life, The Nice Dream Truck, and Lily Faye and the Mighty Oak.
Will A Young Reader Need To Watch The Star Darlings Series To Understand Star Darlings: Sage and the Journey to Wishworld?
No, the books are easy to follow by themselves.
Which Book Listed Has The Most Touching Theme?
Mommy, Mommy, Where Is The Moon? If you want a young reader to experience numerous important lessons at once, this is the book for them.
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