Listen to the Kids! 12 Memorable Novels With Child Narrators

November 10 2015
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If we listen closely, children can remind us of what is truly important in life and refresh our jaded, grown-up viewpoints. These twelve inspiring, funny, and memorable novels, narrated by children, are exemplary of the notion that kids, while they can say the darndest things, are often wise beyond their years.

Ella Minnow Pea
by Mark Dunn

In this hilarious and moving tale of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, Ella Minnow Pea must act to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of her town’s city council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet. As the letters are banned from the town, they also disappear from the novel, resulting in a linguistic achievement sure to delight word lovers everywhere.

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Ella Minnow Pea
Mark Dunn

In this hilarious and moving tale of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, Ella Minnow Pea must act to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of her town’s city council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet. As the letters are banned from the town, they also disappear from the novel, resulting in a linguistic achievement sure to delight word lovers everywhere.

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Gardenias
by Faith Sullivan

A month after the United States enters World War II, the country is in upheaval—and so is the Erhardt family. Nine-year-old Lark and her mother and aunt make their way toward San Diego with its booming wartime economy and begin to forge new lives and new dreams for themselves. Told through Lark’s observant eyes, this richly detailed novel reflects on the era’s tumultuous events and everyday dramas.

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Gardenias
Faith Sullivan

A month after the United States enters World War II, the country is in upheaval—and so is the Erhardt family. Nine-year-old Lark and her mother and aunt make their way toward San Diego with its booming wartime economy and begin to forge new lives and new dreams for themselves. Told through Lark’s observant eyes, this richly detailed novel reflects on the era’s tumultuous events and everyday dramas.

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Room
by Emma Donoghue

Room is the only world that five-year-old Jack has ever known. But to his mother, it is the tiny cell where she has been held captive for the past seven years. With Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer. Narrated from Jack’s innocent perspective, this is a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances and the unbreakable bond between a mother and her child.

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Room
Emma Donoghue

Adapting a child narrator for the screen could make a screenwriter’s life hell—but the author herself penned the script in this case, so there’s hope that the book’s celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child will have the adaptation it deserves.

Release date: Fall 2015

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran

Jonathan Safran Foer confronts the traumas of our recent history with humor, tenderness, and awe. Nine-year-old Oskar Schell embarks on a seemingly impossible and healing mission to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11.

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Jonathan Safran

Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

Now adapted into a Tony Award-winning play, this captivating novel is told through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old autistic boy who relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. This powerful story of his quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for a captivating read.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon

Now adapted into a Tony Award-winning play, this captivating novel is told through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old autistic boy who relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. This powerful story of his quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for a captivating read.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

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Jim the Boy
by Tony Earley

This coming-of-age novel details a year in the life of a ten-year-old boy living with his mother and three uncles in the small town of Aliceville, North Carolina, during the Great Depression. Delightful and wise, it brilliantly captures the pleasures and fears of youth at a time when America itself was young and struggling to come into its own.

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Jim the Boy
Tony Earley

This coming-of-age novel details a year in the life of a ten-year-old boy living with his mother and three uncles in the small town of Aliceville, North Carolina, during the Great Depression. Delightful and wise, it brilliantly captures the pleasures and fears of youth at a time when America itself was young and struggling to come into its own.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

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The Everlasting Story of Nory
by Nicholson Baker

This enchantingly idiosyncratic tale of a young American girl going to school in England, where she is mocked for her accent and her friendship with an unpopular girl, evokes childhood in all its luminous weirdness.

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The Everlasting Story of Nory
Nicholson Baker

This enchantingly idiosyncratic tale of a young American girl going to school in England, where she is mocked for her accent and her friendship with an unpopular girl, evokes childhood in all its luminous weirdness.

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
by Fredrik Backman

This charming, warmhearted love letter between a seven-year-old girl and her eccentric, hilarious grandmother explores big emotions with wisdom, charm, and fairy tales.

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Fredrik Backman

This warmhearted love letter between a granddaughter and her grandmother explores big emotions with wisdom and charm.

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Whistling Past the Graveyard
by Susan Crandall

In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old Starla runs away from her strict grandmother’s home in Mississippi and embarks on a life-changing road trip.

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Whistling Past the Graveyard
Susan Crandall

In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old Starla runs away from her strict grandmother’s home in Mississippi and embarks on a life-changing road trip.

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In the Shadow of the Banyan
by Vaddey Ratner

Amid the Cambodian killing fields, seven-year-old Raami tries desperately to hold on to the remaining vestige of her childhood through the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. This searing novel—based on the author’s personal history—is an extraordinary celebration of the human spirit in a time of suffering, cruelty, and loss.

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In the Shadow of the Banyan
Vaddey Ratner

Told from the tender perspective of a young girl who comes of age amid the Cambodian killing fields, this searing novel is also an extraordinary celebration of strength, survival, and the transcendent power of imagination.

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Ellen Foster
by Kaye Gibbons

The brave and engaging tale of eleven-year-old Ellen Foster, who tells her unforgettable story with honesty, perceptivity, humor, and unselfconscious heroism.

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Ellen Foster
Kaye Gibbons

The brave and engaging tale of eleven-year-old Ellen Foster, who tells her unforgettable story with honesty, perceptivity, humor, and unselfconscious heroism.

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The Age of Miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker

The unforgettable eleven-year-old girl at the heart of this debut is coming of age against the backdrop of an utterly altered world. With crystalline prose and the indelible magic of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has crafted a story about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty.

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The Age of Miracles
Karen Thompson Walker

“THE AGE OF MIRACLES was so frightening because the apocalypse begins as an annoyance, like a lipstick that has melted. Walker’s greatest device is that the end of the world comes incrementally, almost casually, and each turned page winds the reader just a little more tightly.”

Read the full review by Richard Fifield here.

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MENTIONED IN:

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Our 16 Most Anticipated New Reads of March

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 24, 2021

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