Books, Lists

The Joy of Telling & Reading Stories: Happy and More

This year’s theme for #WorldStorytellingDay is building bridges. And I just realized that the day falls on #InternationalDayofHappiness as well as #NationalJumpOutDay! Hence jumping with joy as I share happy stories and more for you to tell. I truly believe in the power of stories. Of reading stories and telling stories as well.

Stories help us build bridges everyday, as we share them with others. Whether we read those stories from books, or tell our own life stories, each one connects us to others in innumerable ways, and strengthens those connections, builds more bridges, and breaks down walls.

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The Joy of Reading Stories

Reading middle-grade fiction makes me happy! I know I am not the audience for it, far from it, but there is something about them that warms the heart and fills it with hope, happiness, and even heartbreak at times. But in the end, what remains is this sweet joy from having read the book.

This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday over at ThatArtsyReaderGirl is books on my spring to-read list, and I picked the middle grade books I hope to get to over the next few weeks.

Amil and the After

Amil and the After by Veera Hiranandani (8 – 12 years, and up)

Description: A hopeful and heartwarming story about finding joy after tragedy, Amil and the After is a companion to the beloved and award-winning Newbery Honor novel The Night Diary, by acclaimed author Veera Hiranandani.

At the turn of the new year in 1948, Amil and his family are trying to make a home in India, now independent of British rule.

Both Muslim and Hindu, twelve-year-old Amil is not sure what home means anymore. The memory of the long and difficult journey from their hometown in what is now Pakistan lives with him. And despite having an apartment in Bombay to live in and a school to attend, life in India feels uncertain.

Nisha, his twin sister, suggests that Amil begin to tell his story through drawings meant for their mother, who died when they were just babies. Through Amil, readers witness the unwavering spirit of a young boy trying to make sense of a chaotic world, and find hope for himself and a newly reborn nation.

My Why and More: Stories set in this time and setting somehow call out to me (and loudly too) to be read.

I actually realize that reading this means also reading Hiranandani’s The Night Diary which has been on my TBR for way too long!

Ant Story

Ant Story by Jay Hosler (Science fiction manga! | 8 – 12 years, and up | pub. date March 26, 2024)

Description: Insect-extraordinaire Jay Hosler is back, this time exploring how we seek to understand ourselves and the world around us through the eyes of one of our world’s tiniest creatures: the ant.

Meet Rubi, a tiny ant with a big personality and an even bigger love for stories. Who knew the small world of her colony could be full of unexpected friendships, epic adventures, and death-defying escapes?

Follow Rubi on the journey of a lifetime as she uncovers the mystery and wonder of one of the world’s tiniest, mightiest insects.

My Why and More: Jay Hosler’s Ant Story promises to be a book that entertains and educates at the same time. Plus, it is a comic book/graphic novel! I love it already.

image courtesy: my digital arc edition via Edelweiss

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It: How 25 inspiring individuals found their dream jobs by Colleen Nelson and Kathie MacIsaac (Biographies | 8 – 12 years, and up)

Description: In If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It, Colleen Nelson, middle-school teacher and award-winning author of The Harvey Stories and The Undercover Book List, teams up with children’s librarian and literacy advocate Kathie MacIsaac to show young readers that there are many paths to a dream job. Education may come from university, college, trade school, apprenticeship, specialized training, or simply asking questions and getting involved. Your career may be something you’re already dreaming about or something you’ve never even heard of. No matter what, success means feeling happy with the work you do.

My Why and More: Inspiring, and love that it includes careers from a barber to a chief of public health of a nation!! I have read a couple of pages but hope to get back to it and finishing it soon.


Olivetti by Allie Millington (Children’s Fiction | 8 – 12 years, and up | March 26, 2024) 

Description: A heartfelt debut middle-grade told from the unique vantage points of a witty typewriter and an introverted boy—for fans of Wishtree and A Rover’s Story.

Being a typewriter is not as easy as it looks. Surrounded by books (notorious attention hogs) and recently replaced by a computer, Olivetti has been forgotten by the Brindle family—the family he’s lived with for years. The Brindles are busy humans, apart from 12-year-old Ernest, who would rather be left alone with his collection of Oxford English Dictionaries. The least they could do was remember Olivetti once in a while, since he remembers every word they’ve typed on him. It’s a thankless job, keeping memories alive.

My Why and More: Well, what can I say except I need to read this one! Wouldn’t you want to as well?

Animated cover courtesy of publishers via Edelweiss

The One and Only Family

The One and Only Family by Katherine Applegate (Children’s Fiction | 8 – 12 years, and up | May 7, 2024)

Description: For more than a decade, readers have been enchanted by the modern classic The One and Only Ivan, a Newbery Award winner and a #1 New York Times bestseller, and by its bestselling sequels, The One and Only Bob and The One and Only Ruby. Powerhouse author Katherine Applegate invites readers back into Ivan’s world for one last adventure—his most exciting yet.

My Why and More: Need I say more than that this is more of The One and Only Ivan’s story!!

Picture a Girl

Picture a Girl by Jenny Manzer (Children’s Fiction | 9 – 12 years, and up | May 14, 2024)

Description: Addie’s mom is good at two things (three, if you count making French toast): surfing and telling stories.

Addie and her brother, Billy, live with their mom in a shabby rental cabin in the tourist town of Cedarveil, BC, right off the beach. Their lives are a little different than some—they often visit the food bank, and they don’t have a phone or TV. For entertainment, their mom tells them stories before bed…if she’s in a good mood, or home at all. Sometimes Mama copes with her depression by drinking; sometimes, she just disappears.

My Why and More: Sure to be heartbreaking and one that will leave me teary-eyed but then I want to read it too for all that it promises to be. Hope, strength, bravery, resilience, family, love, and all that.

Sona and the Golden Beasts

Sona and the Golden Beasts by Rajani LaRocca (Children’s Fiction | 8 – 12 years, and up |

Description: From Newbery Honor and Walter Award–winning author Rajani LaRocca comes a gripping middle grade fantasy perfect for fans of The Serpent’s Secret and The Last Mapmaker.

Though music is outlawed in the land of Devia, Sona hears it everywhere. Sona is a Malech, a member of the ruling class that conquered Devia centuries ago. Malechs forbade music to prevent the native Devans from using their magic, and Sona hides her abilities lest they put her in danger.

My Why and More: 1) Author; 2) That combination of themes – music + magic + more ; 3) the cover ; 4) is a book (:-))

Tree. Table. Book.

Tree. Table. Book. by Lois Lowry (Children’s Holocaust Fiction Books | 8 – 12 years, and up | Apr 23, 2024)

Description: From two-time Newbery medalist Lois Lowry comes this warm and resonant story of an unlikely friendship, which unfolds as a revelation on how we hold on to—and pass on—what matters most.

Everyone knows the two Sophies are best friends. One is in elementary school, and one is . . . well . . . in a little trouble of late. She’s elderly, sure, but she’s always been on her game, the best friend any girl struggling to fit in could ever have. The Sophies drink tea, have strong opinions about pretty much everything, and love each other dearly.

Now it seems the elder Sophie is having memory problems, burning teakettles, and forgetting just about everything. It looks like her son is going to come and get her and steal her away forever. Young Sophie isn’t having that. Not one bit. So she sets out to help elder Sophie’s memory, with the aid of her neighborhood friends Ralphie and Oliver. But when she opens the floodgates of elder Sophie’s memories, she winds up listening to stories that will illustrate just how much there is to know about her dear friend, stories of war, hunger, cruelty, and ultimately love.

My Why and More: Lois Lowry, WWII, the Holocaust, multigenerational friendships, the title, etc, etc.

I loved Lowry’s On the Horizon and Number the Stars, among other books by her.

Plus, happy birthday Lois Lowry (March 20, 1937)

True Colors

True Colors by Abby Cooper (Children’s Books | 10 – 13 years, and up | May 7, 2024)

Description: Turning Red meets The Giver in this novel about a town where everyone agrees to think positively—but one girl, whose emotions manifest as colors, can’t hide her true feelings.

In Serenity, Minnesota, everyone looks on the bright side, and that’s on purpose: to live in this town, people have to agree to talk positively and only focus on the good things in life. For twelve-year-old Mackenzie Werner, who has the rare gift of her emotions showing up as a colorful haze around her body, this town seems like the perfect place; she’ll never face the embarrassment of a grumbly grapefruit smog if everyone and everything is set up to be happy.

But when a documentary maker comes to town and starts asking questions, Mackenzie, overwhelmed with emotion, can’t hold her haze back—and it explodes onto the whole town. Now everyone has their own haze, revealing their real feelings. As Mackenzie learns that emotions go beyond surface level, the whole town must reckon with what it means now that these true colors are on display.

My Why and More: They say you can’t hide your true colors, or emotions, and when a book combines the two like this, I have to pick it up to read.


Ultraviolet by Aida Salazar (Children’s Fiction | 10 years and up | April 2, 2024)

Description: Sometimes life explodes in technicolor. In the spirit of Judy Blume, award-winning author Aida Salazar tells it like it is about puberty, hormones, and first love in this hilarious, heartwarming, and highly relatable coming-of-age story. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Kwame Alexander, and Adib Khorram.

Hilarious, heartwarming, and highly relatable, Ultraviolet digs deep into themes of consent, puberty, masculinity, and the emotional lives of boys, as it challenges stereotypes and offers another way to be in the world.

My Why and More: I have been meaning to read Aida Salazar’s books for too long now, so maybe start with this one?

And Now, the End of This Post

Dear reader, which of these books have you read/heard about? Which one would you pick first? Any recommendations for me? What books are on your spring reading list?

18 thoughts on “The Joy of Telling & Reading Stories: Happy and More

  1. Instill read stories nowadays and I am a full grown adult woman. I felt like stories made me dream and develop my imagination and I am very grateful for that

  2. I love the list of books because it offers a treasure trove of diverse narratives, each promising to spark joy, inspire, and deepen our understanding of the world. ‘m particularly drawn to titles like “Amil and the After” for its poignant exploration of hope amidst adversity.

  3. What a great selection of books and perfect for middle age. I’ve seen a few of these before, I think my daughter has “If You Can Dream It ,You Can Do It”!!

  4. I love the description of If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It. “No matter what, success means feeling happy with the work you do.” So true, couldn’t say it any better.

  5. This is a great book list and I am looking forward to getting a copy of the Ant Story. My little boy is into graphic novels lately and I think he would love this.

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