I have been using more and more picture books with a few of my classes this year. I’ve been looking for more resources/lists that share picture books for older readers. What are some of your favorite picture books for older readers?
Last night I stayed up an hour past my bedtime because I absolutely could not put down Gayle Forman’s If I Stay. As a result, I went to bed only after crying through the last twenty minutes of reading. Gayle Forman’s writing is powerful and heart-wrenching, making you feel like you are right there with Mia.
Seventeen-year old Mia is a high school cellist who has the perfect family. Her parents are former rockers/punks who fell into parenting and her little brother is pretty cute. (I wanted to be adopted by her family through the whole book!) A senior in high school, she is torn between attending Juilliard on the East Coast or staying in Oregon with her family and Adam, her soon-to-be-a-rockstar boyfriend. But on a rare Oregon snow day the whole family is home and decides to spend the day out visiting friends and family, just enjoying on another’s company. The one moment on the slippery road changes Mia’s life forever.
One moment, Mia is in the car listening to classical music with her parents. The next, she is outside her body staring at the mangled wreck that was her parent’s car. Her parents are dead, her brother is missing, and she has no idea if she is alive or dead.
The rest of the book follows Mia as she is whisked away to the hospital, where she learns she is in a coma. Unsure of where exactly she is (is she alive? dead?) Mia watches as her extended family, friends, and boyfriend arrive at the hospital. Over the course of a few hours, she is forced to decide if she will stay or go. Life or death? Is it worth living if the rest of her family has died?
This is a phenomenal book that will leave you in tears. However, Forman also ensures that you laugh a lot, as Mia looks back on her life and family. Everything about If I Stay is perfect and I highly recommend it. It will leave you laughing and crying while reminding that life is precious and needs to be lived. I don’t think I have ever read a novel about death that left me so fulfilled and happy in the end. Forman has managed to craft a life-affirming story that will tear at your heartstrings and leave you wanting to call your family and say, “I love you” upon closing the book.
*book purchased using Scholastic Book Clubs bonus points