With the holiday shopping season upon us, we thought we’d pass along a few notable books with Texas ties that are also perfect for young readers. Most of the books below have received significant regional or national recognition. With one exception, all of them have been released in the last two years.
Note: If you choose to purchase books using the Amazon Affiliate links below, this website may receive a small commission on the sale. Our full disclosure statement can be found at the bottom of this page.
Almost a Minyan
Story by Lori S. Kline; Illustrations by Susan Simon
Sociosights Press (2017)
Intended as a guide for young Jewish children to religious practice, the remarkable Almost a Minyan offers something for kids of all ages who seek to understand one of the world’s major religions. Written by Lori S. Kline of Austin, the book includes a helpful glossary. (Look for our recent story on the book’s publisher, Debra Winegarten of Sociosights Press, here.)
The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition
Story by Chris Barton; Illustrations by Cathy Gendron
Millbrook Picture Books (2015)
Did you know that three small-town vaudeville guys from Utah helped to make a certain Russian ballet an American Christmas tradition? The incredible story is the basis of this delightful book with text by Austin’s own Chris Barton.
Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton
Story and illustrations by Don Tate
Peachtree Publishers (2015)
Austinite Don Tate brings his phenomenal storytelling and artistic skills to the story of George Moses Horton, a self-taught poet born into slavery in the 19th century American South.
Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions
Story by Chris Barton; Illustrations by Don Tate
Barton and Tate (from above) teamed up for this delightful book about the man who accidentally created one of the greatest toys of all time. The book is sure to engage creative youngsters.
The Gift of the Poinsettia
Written by Pat Mora and Charles Ramírez Berg; Illustrations by Daniel Lechon
Arte Publico Press (1995)
In this charming book, readers are introduced to a young boy and his pursuit of the perfect present for Baby Jesus. The book highlights Mexican traditions and seasonal songs familiar to many Texas families. Mora was born in El Paso and is widely recognized for her work promoting literacy within the Lone Star State. Ramírez Berg is a professor at The University of Texas at Austin.
For Tweens & Teens
Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood
Written by Varsha Bajaj
Albert Whitman & Co. (2015)
Abby’s never met her father, who lives in India. Oh, sure, she’s grateful for her life in America, but the drive to meet him is great. And the adventure she takes to meet him? Well, it takes her to a whole other world. The book, written by Varsha Bajaj of Houston, won the prestigious 2015 Crystal Kite Award awarded by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate
Written by Jacqueline Kelly
Henry Holt & Co. (2015)
This selection is a follow up to Austinite Kelly’s popular 2009 debut novel, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, a 2010 Newbery Honor Book (or, a runner-up to the prestigious Newbery Medal). Set at the turn of the twentieth century in rural Texas, the Calpurnia Tate stories offer young readers insights into history—and the challenges of being a growing girl a full century before the invention of smart phones.
Out of Darkness
Written by Ashley Hope Pérez
Carolrhoda Lab TM (2015)
Written for mature teens and young adults, this striking work of fiction by Pérez (a native Texan who now lives in Ohio), centers on a historic East Texas school tragedy. The event serves as the backdrop for a heartbreaking story about love, family, segregation, and personal destruction.
Looking for more Texas authors with specific Hill Country ties? We’ve got recommendations.