If you are looking for a fabulous book for any child questioning his or her identity, an LGBQT story, or a thought-provoking read about one tween’s journey to understanding and finding herself, you must check out Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake, stat.
My goodness, can these middle grade books get any better? Where were these phenomenal stories when I was a young girl? I remember when I was 12 years old, and my home in Miami was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. It was a pivotal year in my life- I had just become a Bat Mitzvah, I was struggling to figure out if I would ever become a graceful teenager and not just a gawky teen, I longed to know if boys would ever look my way, and I wondered if my community would ever get put back together after suffering from total destruction. So many questions, so much angst— and so few stories to help me feel less alone and less confused.
Though my longings were not quite the same, I wish I’d had a book like Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World! Ivy Aberdeen’s angst hit all the right notes and resonated so very deeply. In this story, Ivy’s home is flattened by a tornado that rages through her town. All she manages to save is her pillow which contains her most precious possessions inside a thin case - fancy markers and a journal filled up with drawings, many of which contain illustrations of her and an unidentifiable girl. While staying in a school gym with other displaced persons after the storm, Ivy’s notebook goes missing. When her pictures start turning up in her locker, together with notes encouraging her to be true to herself and come clean with who she is at her core, Ivy begins to hope that the mysterious letters are coming from a girl on whom she has secretly developed a crush. Will Ivy let go of her fears and embrace who she is meant to be?
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World will be a valuable window book for some and a mirror book for so many others. Ivy fears being unlike those around her- being shunned for wanting something so different than her friends and her big sister. After all, when Ivy’s sister and her best friend stop speaking and Ivy believes it’s because her sister’s friend has come out of the closet, Ivy fears her sister will totally disown her, too. Though the yearnings expressed in Ivy’s story may certainly be different for some tweens, the burning desire to understand who you are at your core, to not just accept those things that make us unique but love them too, is simply universal. We have all experienced, in unique ways and to varying degrees, the unsettling and anxiety-provoking fear that comes hand in hand with feeling so wholly different from those around us.
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World gave me chills, and it is a book of incredible importance that has an especially significant place in every library, every classroom, and every child’s bookshelf. I am so grateful to the fabulous kidlit authors that continually place these notable books into children’s hands around the globe. There is nothing like a book to make you feel less alone and more understood.
What did you think about Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World? Let us know on our Facebook page, and make sure to follow us there! If you liked this post, make sure to check out our Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2018. We think you will also love these books about tweens discovering themselves: Front Desk, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, and Brown Girl Dreaming.
Want the book? Get it here! Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake. *This is an affiliate link.
You know how people say that someone or some thing gives them “all the feels”? Well, for some reason (don’t judge!) I’m not at all a fan of that expression. Except when it comes to this ridiculously outstanding book, Worm Loves Worm, written by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato, because it literally does just that: it gives me ALL THE FEELS. I read it to every one of my classes last week, and it is a winner every single time.
In Worm Loves Worm, two worms meet, fall in love, and decide to get married. But then the questions start. Who will wear the rings? Will there be a band for dancing? Will they have a cake? But most importantly, who will wear the dress, and who will wear the tux? These things are important, you know, because this is how it’s always done. But does it really matter if that’s the way it’s always been done? Does anything else really matter so long as Worm loves Worm?
Oh, how I love this book. How I love the way it helps kids understand that love is all that matters. How I love the way onlookers passing through our school library stop to listen when I read this, then applaud the story at the end. How I love the message it conveys, and how I love instilling this message in even our young students. Because love is love is love- and if we can help kids recognize this early on, we will go a long way towards building a foundation of understanding and empathy in the next generation. Worm Loves Worm is a must, an absolute MUST for your collections, and it is one of my all time favorite books.
Do you want to check out other amazing books about LOVE? Make sure you check out our list of Favorite Books About Love. And sometimes, loving others and loving ourselves means having a lot of courage. We’ve got you covered there, too. Check out our Favorite Books about Courage, too!
Want the book? Get it here! Worm Loves Worm, J.J. Austrian. *This is an affiliate link.