Ready for a reading list of Pennsylvania books?
Last summer, I came up with a “Reading Road Trip” article that described the real places in the U.S. featured in some of my favorite books. As a kid, I dreamed of visiting the places I read about, everything from Prince Edward Island to Manzanar and Helen Keller’s Alabama home.
I’ve been shopping the article around and looking for a publication or magazine to buy it, but in the meantime I thought I’d work on a list of books that were based closer to home, right here in Pennsylvania.
I have my own Pittsburgh, PA based stories in mind, but my first two middle grade novels are based in Maryland.
- Maniac Magee, Jerry Spinelli. Not based in Pittsburgh, but includes a visit to Valley Forge. It also tackles the tough topics of race and class.
- Criss Cross, Lynn Rae Perkins. I picked this up because it was a Newbery winner, and fell in love. It’s so lyrical and really captures a feeling and moments rather than a strict storyline. I loved that style. And it’s based in the steel town suburbs up the Allegheny river, some of my favorite parts of Pittsburgh. I plan to read her first novel, also based in PA, called All Alone in the Universe.
- Echo, Pamela Munoz Ryan. This novel follows three characters and one is based in eastern PA.
- Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, Virginia Ann Heyerdahl. Not the best book I’ve ever read. It’s a Newbery but fits into the Gay-Neck category, unfortunately. It’s about a doll who travels the world on random adventures and at one point lives in Philadelphia.
In the comments, my friend and fellow writer Amy suggested two more Pennsylvania books.
Macaroni Boy, Katherine Ayers. This book is based in the Strip District of Pittsburgh and is also a period piece and a mystery. My kids read it for school and enjoyed the classic banana explosion story.
I’ve read Macaroni Boy but not her other book Voices at Whisper Bend.
Any more suggestions?
What real live place from a book would you love to visit?
Macaroni Boy by Kathy Ayres
I think her book Voices at Whisper Bend is in PA too.