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1980s: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about 1980s?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to 1980s. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about 1980s.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about 1980s, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Snow Lane to popular sellers like A Long Walk to Water.

We hope this list of kids books about 1980s can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Epic Athletes: Serena Williams
Written by Dan Wetzel & illustrated by Sloane Leong
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

An inspiring middle-grade biography of the most celebrated women’s tennis player ever, Serena Williams, from acclaimed sports journalist Dan Wetzel! Serena Williams is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. From growing up in a tough neighborhood to combatting racism to weathering severe health issues, there is no challenge she can’t defeat, no hurdle that will get in the way of her unwavering desire to be the best tennis player in the world. As a little girl, Serena spent years training at her local court with her father and older sister, Venus, dreaming of one day winning Grand Slam titles and earning the number one ranking in the world. In this exciting biography, young readers will discover what it takes to become a champion. Bestselling author Dan Wetzel brings to life the story of an athlete and trailblazer who broke records and racial barriers. Publishing right between Wimbledon and the US Open, and featuring action-packed comic-style interior art, this uplifting biography of the most celebrated women’s tennis player of all time is sure to be a hit with young sports fans across the country.

Sisters
Written & illustrated by Jeanette Winter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Celebrated picture book biographer Jeanette Winter shares the story of champion tennis players—and sisters—Venus and Serena Williams. Before they were famous tennis stars, Venus and Serena Williams were sisters with big dreams growing up in Compton, California. In the early mornings, they head to the tennis courts, clean up debris, and practice. They compete in their first tournament and they both win. From there, the girls’ trophy collection grows and grows. Despite adversity and health challenges, the sisters become two of the greatest tennis players of all time. This inspiring story of sisterhood, hard work, and determination is perfect for budding athletes or any young reader with a big dream.

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Venus and Serena Williams. Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters. Six days a week they awoke before the sun came up to practice their serves and returns, to learn to run faster and hit harder. They were unstoppable. At age fourteen, Venus played her first professional match. Three years later, it was Serena’s turn. It wasn’t easy. Some tennis fans cheered for these two fresh faces, while those who were unhappy to see two black girls competing in a nearly all-white sport booed and taunted them. But they didn’t let it stop them. With vibrant mixed media art, nonfiction superstars Lesa Cline-Ransome and Coretta Scott King Honor winner James E. Ransome share the inspirational story of two tennis legends who were fierce competitors on the courts, but close sisters above all.

We Dream of Space
Written & illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
The Unabomber
Written by Bryan Denson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A new true-crime series that follows FBI agents behind the scenes as they work to keep Americans safe.

A case of homegrown terrorism: the Unabomber. Agent Kathleen Puckett was a successful linguist and a highly trained psychologist before she was recruited for the UNABOMB investigation. The Unabomber had evaded capture for 17 years, carried out 13 bombings, and killed three men. Agent Puckett was a catalyst in understanding the psychology behind the Unabomber crimes. She led the team to make the arrest of Theodore Kaczynski on April 4, 1996, bringing down one of the most notorious domestic terrorists in American history.

  • A Long Walk to Water - The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

  • A Symphony of Whales - Glashka is the only one in her village who can hear the voice of Narna, the whale. That gift leads her to great responsibility one day, when she discovers thousands of whales trapped in an inlet. The narrow route to the sea is rapidly icing over, and every day ice covers more of the open water the whales need to breathe. There seems to be no way out. . . . This story, based on an actual event, tells of a dramatic rescue—a tale of bravery and faith and the power of music.

  • Story of Rap - Lay down a baby beat and learn all about the history of rap! From Grandmaster Flash to Kendrick Lamar, rap has shaped generations and brought a voice to the voiceless. Bop along with the greats in this adorable baby book that introduces little ones to the rappers that started it all! Parental Advisory: May cause toddlers to develop excessive amounts of swagger.

  • Lost Boys - Based on historical events, this unforgettable and inspiring tale for middle-grade readers is about a young boy torn from the only life he’s ever known and held captive as a prisoner of war. In 1982, twelve-year-old Reza has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, assured by the authorities that he will achieve paradise should he die in service to his country. War does not bring the glory the boys of Iran have been promised, and Reza soon finds himself held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq, where the guards not only threaten violence—they act upon it. Will Reza make it out alive? And if he does, will he even have a home to return to? In this unforgettable tale of friendship and survival against the odds, Reza finds solace through music and forges his own path, wherever that might take him. Lost Boys is a stunning debut from Darcey Rosenblatt. It is perfect for readers interested in current events, history, and the Middle East. Praise for Lost Boys: “In Rosenblatt’s ambitious debut novel, Reza, a 12-year-old Iranian boy, clings to friendship and his love of music as the Iran-Iraq War tears his world apart. . . . Reza’s story is compelling . . . .” —Kirkus Reviews “This hard-hitting first novel opens in Iran in 1982 during the Ayatollah Khomeini’s oppressive rule and that nation’s war with Iraq. . . . The larger political context becomes personal when a devastating public rejection of Reza and his fellow survivors by Iran leaves the boys without a country. . . . [T]he resilience of Rosenblatt’s protagonist strikes a strong chord.” —Publishers Weekly

The Life of/ La Vida De Selena
Written & illustrated by Ariana Stein and Patty Rodriguez
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

A Lil’ Libros Bilingual Biography Selena’s career started at a young age when she became lead singer in her family’s band, Selena Y Los Dinos. She went on to become an award-winning artist with albums like Amor Prohibido and Selena Live, and earned the title “Queen of Tejano Music.” Your little one will learn that Selena’s favorite food was pizza and that the most important people in the world to her were her familiaand fans.

Nya's Long Walk: A Step at a Time
Written by Linda Sue Park & illustrated by Brian Pinkney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

In this picture book companion to the bestseller A Long Walk to Water, a young South Sudanese girl goes on a journey that requires determination, persistence, and compassion. Young Nya takes little sister Akeer along on the two-hour walk to fetch water for the family. But Akeer becomes too ill to walk, and Nya faces the impossible: her sister and the full water vessel together are too heavy to carry. As she struggles, she discovers that if she manages to take one step, then another, she can reach home and Mama’s care. Bold, impressionistic paintings by Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brian Pinkney evoke the dry, barren landscape and the tenderness between the two sisters. An afterword discusses the process of providing clean water in South Sudan, reducing waterborne illness.

Snow Lane
Written by Josie Angelini
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Fifth grader Annie is just like every other girl in her small suburban town. Except she’s starting to realize that she isn’t.

Annie is the youngest of nine children. Instead of being condemned to the bottom of the pecking order, she wants to carve out place for herself in the world. But it’s hard to find your destiny when the only thing you’re good at is being cheerful. Annie is learning that it’s difficult to be Annie, period, and not just because her clothes are worn-out hand-me-downs, and she suffers from a crippling case of dyslexia, but also because there are secrets in her life no one in her family is willing to face.

In Snow Lane, Josie Angelini presents a story about a resilient girl who, in spite of many hardships, can still find light in the darkest of places.

To the Stars!
Written by Kathy Sullivan and Carmella Van Vleet & illustrated by Nicole Wong
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Kathy Sullivan wanted to go everywhere. She loved blueprints and maps. She loved languages and the ocean. She didn’t like the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She wanted to explore and do exciting things that girls weren’t supposed to be able to do. Only men had the exciting jobs.

Kathy liked fishing and swimming; flying planes and studying science. That’s what she liked and that’s what she decided to do with her life. She followed her heart and eventually became a NASA astronaut and the first woman to walk in space. Kathy wanted to see the whole world and so she did: from space!

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