Notice: All forms on this website are temporarily down for maintenance. You will not be able to complete a form to request information or a resource. We apologize for any inconvenience and will reactivate the forms as soon as possible.

Gobble-Worthy Books 2023: Plugged In’s Yearly Picks

Reading books? Do people still do that? Yup, they do! And there are some very good reasons why people young and old should be diving into a good book right now. (If you don’t know what those reasons are, well, you ought to read a bit more.)

With that in mind, here’s a selection of page-turners from the collected books that Plugged In reviewed in 2023. There might be one or two or five good reads on this list that your brilliant booklover will relish. (But, of course, check out our full reviews to make sure that they’re a good fit.)

Finally Seen

by Kelly Yang (ages 8 to 12)

After spending years in China while her parents and sister built a life in America, Lina Gao finally gets to join them. It’s an exhilarating trip—but for all of her excitement, Lina soon realizes that life in America isn’t always easy. Finally Seen features strong characters and a compelling plot. And this middle school-focused book gives its readers a new perspective on the topics of bullies, racism, and censorship.

Oliver’s Great Big Universe

by Jorge Cham (ages 8 to 12)

Another kid-focused read, Oliver’s Great Big Universe is all about a young guy who wants to learn how the cosmos ticks. It won’t be easy: Just learning how middle school operates is a pretty big hurdle for him. And from Oliver’s early perspective, the biggest thing to learn there seems to be how to turn your armpit into a musical instrument. But maybe science will reveal the secrets he longs to find. You won’t find any faith-focused answers here, but this is a great STEM-themed, kid-focused book that can challenge young readers to think about the big universal picture. It’s funny, inviting and creative.

The Dragon and the Stone (The DreamKeeper Saga Book 1)

by Kathryn Butler (ages 8 to teen)

If you’re looking for a faith-focused fantasy, this might the dragon story you’re seeking. Lily McKinley finds a dragon in her kitchen eating her mom’s chili. (She knew that stuff was spicy, but man!) And it seems that the dragon’s been sent to bring her to a mysterious realm where she must foil evil plans. The Dragon and the Stone contains an exciting story that fantasy lovers are going to gobble up. (You know, like Mom’s chili.) The strong Christian themes and imagery also portray powerful messages about surrender, sacrifice and redemption.

The Kate in Between

by Claire Swinarski (ages 8 to teen)

Kate makes the news for saving her friend’s life. The world cheers. But when Kate stops smiling for the adoring crowds, she isn’t so sure that she’s even a very good friend, much less a hero. The Kate in Between can at first seem like a straightforward coming-of-age story about lost friendship. But it branches out into an engaging tale that not only asks young people to consider who they are and what they want to be, but also deals with issues of divorce, bullying, popularity, and the use and misuse of social media.

The Only Girl in Town

by Ally Condie (Young Adult)

Part sci-fi thriller, part Twilight Zone-like puzzler and part romance novel, The Only Girl in Town is about teen July Fielding who wakes up one summer day and realizes that her usually buzzing phone has gone silent. In fact, it doesn’t appear that there’s anyone else in town at all. And after she starts a search, she begins to fear that … she’s to blame. This compelling and thought-fueling novel is aimed at older readers and has some content issues. But it broadly addresses the mental health challenges of dealing with sadness, guilt, and even thoughts of suicide. And it resolves in an eloquent and almost lyrical fashion, encouraging readers to release bad things of the past and learn to move forward in healthy ways.

That closes the page on this best-of blog. But don’t stop reading now. And if you have any books you’d like us to tackle, we’re eager to read about them at [email protected].

Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.