A Book Told From a Child's Point of View: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2023

February 16, 2023 | Reagan

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Stack of books on a wooden table.

As a mom, I jumped on the opportunity to share recommendations for a book told from a child's point of view. My 3.5 year old's perspective on the world is a cross between optimistic, steadfast and downright bizarre but it is also always refreshing to see the world through his eyes. Like this morning when we were running late and he earnestly reminded me "mom, we don't dunk our heads in the toilet, that would be yucky." The perfect remedy to your winter blahs, get out of your own head and see the world through the lens of a child with these great recommendations. 

Grocery Shopping with my Mother

Grocery Shopping with My Mother by Kevin Powell

Extremely lyrical, Powell wants us to consume this collection of poems like an album, with each poem dubbed as a "track." Though a grown man now, Powell's writing explores the deep mother-son bond as well as the impact of a wide range of icons, from Tupac to Bell Hooks. For fellow music lovers, skip ahead to the track titled "The Beatles."

Other categories:

  • A book celebrating Black Joy
  • A book about a person over age 65
  • A book about survival
  • A book you've read more than once
  • A book with a food item in the title


Girlsplaining by Katja Klengel

This graphic novel will have you reminiscing, or maybe cringing, about the transition from girlhood to womanhood. I love stumbling across books like this because it normalizes periods (pun intended) in our lives that can be isolating or difficult to talk about. The artwork is beautiful. 

Other categories:

Recommendations from TPL staff

Staff across the TPL system recommended books featuring a wide range of experiences of children, from fun adventures to feeling big feelings and dealing with trauma. Depending on what mood you're in, we've got you covered with the following recommendations. 

The Cat's Table

The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje

Our book club just finished The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje. It tells the story of Michael and two friends he makes aboard a ship as they travel to England. His aunt is on the ship to keep an eye on him, but he is mostly left to himself. The story is full of adventure and laughs as the three boys, ages 11-12 explore the ship and get to know people. The book is so beautifully written and full of vivid imagery , you feel like you are there on the ship with them, hiding in the lifeboat and spying, sneaking a dog on board and just having fun. We had plenty of discussion about the use of a child narrator (is that why the story felt slow at times? why we only got snippets of details sometimes?) and the leaving behind of childhood as told in the story (and the lasting impacts that events can have on a person).

Other categories:

  • A book about friendship
  • A book with multiple timelines (the book does alternate between the author as a child and an adult)

—Pauline, Librarian

The Bear

The Bear by Claire Cameron

The Bear is a riveting tale told from the perspective of six year old Anna, who has to fend for herself and her brother after her family is attacked by a bear on a camping trip in Algonquin Park. It is beautiful, tragic story of love and survival.

Other categories:

  • A book about survival

—Emily, Librarian

Lullabies for little crimincals

Lullabies for Little Criminals: a novel by Heather O'Neill

Told by Baby who is 13 years old. She lives with her drug-addicted father, Jules. Her mother is dead and she lives within a world of drugs, prostitution and is alone much of the time navigating life. It's a sad and yet powerful story of the highs and lows of her life and her salvation. 

—Jennifer, Public Service Assistant (this book was also recommended in our Facebook Group)

Fight Night

Fight Night by Miriam Toews

Fight Night by Miriam Toews is told from the perspective of nine year old Swiv who has endless curiosity and wit but few answers as she navigates life with her ailing but fiery grandmother and pregnant (struggling) actress mum in downtown Toronto. The plot is framed around her efforts to write a letter to a dad she does not know. The story is funny and touching in equal parts, filled with Toew's signature heart. It explores intergenerational relationships between women and family, disability and aging, and trauma. 

—Heather, Children’s Services (this book was also recommended in our Facebook Group)


Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth by Hermann Hesse

This tale of an old man wistfully re-examining his childhood through the use of dreamy sequences might remind you of the Swedish movie Wild Strawberries (1957). However, the similarities end there. Whereas the movie's narrator regrets the errors and inhumane deeds committed throughout his life, Demian's protagonist focuses on spiritual awakening during childhood and youth. Even if individualistic self-actualization, psychedelic trips, Magic Realism, epiphany, pursuit of ecstasy, etc aren't your bag, the sheer weirdness of this novel might appeal to you. Hesse wrestles with his troubled relationship with Christian morality, makes coy homoerotic allusions and pays respects to other religions (namely South Asian ones).

Other categories:

—Cameron, Digital Design Technician

Recommendations from the Facebook Group

These are just some of the suggested titles from our Facebook TPL Reading Challenge 2023 discussion group. You can read all of the responses in the original post .You do not need a Facebook account to read the suggestions.

French Recommendations

If you like to read in French, check out the list of recommended books for "Le regard de l'enfant" - there's a mix of books, ebooks and digital audiobooks to try!

What did you read for "A book told from a child's point of view"? Do you have other recommendations? Share in the comments below!