Regional Reads for Christmas

How do you pick out a Christmas present or birthday gift for a young reader?  There are all sorts of ways to choose, but sometimes I like to pick out a book set in a place where those readers live or featuring characters from the same locality. Readers have enjoyed recognizing places from Suspect, my mystery set in Missouri with scenes that take place in St. Louis and Augusta. Defending Irene might be set in the Italian Alps, but it features a young American soccer player from the St. Louis area. Saving the Griffin is set in Tuscany, but it features characters from Minnesota.

What are some other fun regional reads?  Here’s a mix new releases and old favorites that I could think of off the top of my head during the busy holiday season. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments. I’ll be adding, updating and annotating as time allows even after the 2015 holiday season wraps up.


Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan (YA)


One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia (Oakland)
Quad by C.G. Watson
Millicent Min: Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (San Francisco)
One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin
Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle  (A boy whose mother has been arrested for dog fighting goes to live with his great-uncle, who is a forest ranger and has a wilderness search and rescue dog.)


Katerina’s Wish by Jeannie Mobley
Searching for Silverheels by Jeannie Mobley


The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck


Cynthia’s Attic by Mary Cunningham (Southern Indiana)


Do You Know the Monkey Man by Dori Hillestad Butler



A Voice for Kanzas by Debra McArthur (Lawrence)



Harvest Moon by Tonya Coffey (recommended by the author, a former student, which is always fun)



Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith



Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack
Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
Kiki and Jacques by Susan Ross


The Dirt Diaries by Anna Staniszewski



Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw
Copper Magic by Julia Mary Gibson (Fictional town on Lake Michigan)
Bud, not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis


Ghosts I Have Been by Richard Peck
Suspect by Kristin Wolden Nitz  (St. Louis and Augusta)


Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson



Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman


New Hampshire

Any Way You Slice It by Kristine Carlson Asselin



Screaming at the Ump by Audrey Vernick

New Mexico 

Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways to Fly by Conrad Wesselhoeft (YA)

New York

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman
Eighth-Grade Super Zero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


Pucker Up by Rachele Alpine  (Lakewood, a place near Cleveland)



The Caged Grave by Dianne Marenco Salerni (In 1867, a girl returns to her hometown and discovers her mother and aunt are buried in caged graves.)

The Eighth Day by Dianne Marenco Salerni (A boy discovers a secret day of the week hidden between Wednesday and Thursday.)

South Carolina

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


Palace Beautiful by Sarah Deford Williams (Salt Lake City)



Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith
Golden Girl by Mari Mancusi (A snowboarding prodigy tries to reclaim her standing as the “Golden Girl” at her elite winter sports academy. )



Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj



Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft (YA) Seattle



Finders Keepers by Shelley Tougas


Faithful by Janet Fox (YA) Set in and around Yellowstone



3 thoughts on “Regional Reads for Christmas

  1. Kristin, don’t forget about me, your former student, who wrote Harvest Moon book 1. It’s Kentucky based and now you can get book 2 Snow Moon.

  2. Lots of good reading from NM!

    Caroline Starr Rose: MAY B. (mg-19th C. midwest) OVER IN THE WETLANDS (pb-Louisiana) BLUE BIRDS (mg novel-in-verse, Roanoke, Va.)

    Vaunda Michaeux Nelson: NO CRYSTAL STAIR (CSK winner ya-Harlem) ALMOST TO FREEDOM (pb-Civil War south)

    Uma Krishnaswami: BRIGHT SKY, STARRY CITY (pb-large metropolitan city) THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING (mg-India)

    Katherine B. Hauth: WHAT’S FOR DINNER?: QUIRKY, SQUIRMY, POEMS FROM THE ANIMAL WORLD (gr. 3-5 – anywhere with bugs!)

    All are rooted in a strong sense of place.

    1. Thanks, Stephanie! I’m thinking about another post featuring writers FROM various regions. Do you know where May B. and Almost to Freedom are set? I’ll incorporate them into the list on top if you let me know. Otherwise, I’ll pick up this thread after the holidays. Have a merry one. My kids STILL get something to read for Christmas even though the youngest is out of college.

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