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Prisoners: Books For Kids

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

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

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. 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 prisoners, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Secret of Wildcat Swamp to popular sellers like Darkest Minds.

We hope this list of kids books about prisoners can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild
Written & illustrated by Dav Pilkey
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Is Dog Man bad to the bone? The heroic hound is sent to the pound for a crime he didn’t commit! While his pals work to prove his innocence, Dog Man struggles to find his place among dogs and people. Being a part of both worlds, will he ever fully fit in with one?

Dav Pilkey’s wildly popular Dog Man series appeals to readers of all ages and explores universally positive themes, including empathy, kindness, persistence, and the importance of being true to one’s self.

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The Dragon Crown
Written by Geronimo Stilton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
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Bringing Me Back
Written & illustrated by Beth Vrabel
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Noah is not having a good year. His mom is in prison, he’s living with his mom’s boyfriend—who he’s sure is just waiting until his mother’s six month sentence is up to kick him out—and he’s officially hated by everyone at his middle school, including his former best friend. It’s Noah’s fault that the entire football program got shut down after last year. One day, Noah notices a young bear at the edge of the woods with her head stuck in a bucket. A bucket that was almost certainly left outside as part of a school fundraiser to bring back the football team. As days go by, the bear is still stuck—she’s wasting away and clearly getting weaker, even as she runs from anyone who tries to help. And she’s always alone. Though Noah ignores the taunts at school and ignores his mother’s phone calls from jail, he can’t ignore the bear. Everyone else has written the bear off as a lost cause—just like they have with Noah. He makes it his mission to help her. But rescuing the bear means tackling his past—and present—head-on. Could saving the bear ultimately save Noah, too?

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Darkest Minds
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-17
Soon to be a major motion picture!
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Escape from Alcatraz
Written & illustrated by Eric Mark Braun
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

What’s more exciting than a prison break? Frank Morris and John and Clarence Anglin escaped from Alcatraz in 1962 and have never been caught. Many authorities are certain they died crossing San Francisco Bay. Relatives claim they made it to Brazil. The theories of what happened to them are endless. Find out the facts from people who dealt with the men and the case first-hand. This is one mystery you’ll definitely want to solve.

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  • Could You Escape Alcatraz? - Could you escape Alcatraz? You became the hero of your own adventure the moment you set foot on The Rock. Will your choices lead to escape, or will you be locked up forever?

  • Sophia's War - In 1776, young Sophia Calderwood witnesses the execution of Nathan Hale in New York City, which is newly occupied by the British army. Sophia is horrified by the event and resolves to do all she can to help the American cause. Recruited as a spy, she becomes a maid in the home of General Clinton, the supreme commander of the British forces in America. Through her work she becomes aware that someone in the American army might be switching sides, and she uncovers a plot that will grievously damage the Americans if it succeeds. But the identity of the would-be traitor is so shocking that no one believes her, and so Sophia decides to stop the treacherous plot herself, at great personal peril: She’s young, she’s a girl, and she’s running out of time. And if she fails, she’s facing an execution of her own. Master storyteller Avi shows exactly how personal politics can be in this “nail-biting thriller” (Publishers Weekly) that is rich in historical detail and rife with action.

  • Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy - “Magic is “messy and dangerous and filled with longing,” we learn in this brave tale of grief, villainy and redemption that borrows from the story of the Snow Queen. Set in a vast, chilly museum, the tale brings together a valiant girl, a charmed boy, a magical sword and a clock ticking down to the end of the world.”–<i>The Wall Street Journal<br></i><br>This is the story of unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard who doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty, the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help. <p/>As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy’s own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world. <p/>A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

  • Isle of the Lost - Evil tree. Bad Apple? <p/>Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon to the Isle of the Lost–a dark and dreary place protected by a force field that makes it impossible for them to leave. Stripped of their magical powers, the villains now live in total isolation, forgotten by the world. <p/>Mal learns from her mother, Maleficent, that the key to true darkness, the Dragon’s Eye, is located inside her scepter in the forbidden fortress on the far side of the island. The eye is cursed, and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the Dragon’s Eye, these four kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

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Nevertell
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
After escaping a Soviet prison camp, Lina is pursued by a powerful witch and her shadow wolves in a riveting debut that imbues frozen wilderness with fairy-tale magic.
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Sinking the Sultana
Written & illustrated by Sally M. Walker
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

The worst maritime disaster in American history wasn’t the Titanic. It was the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River–and it could have been prevented.

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The Year the Swallows Came Early
Written & illustrated by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Eleanor “Groovy” Robinson loves cooking and plans to go to culinary school just as soon as she’s old enough. But even Groovy’s thoughtfully—planned menus won’t fix the things that start to go wrong the year she turns eleven—suddenly, her father is in jail, her best friend’s long-absent mother reappears, and the swallows that make their annual migration to her hometown arrive surprisingly early. As Groovy begins to expect the unexpected, she learns about the importance of forgiveness, understands the complex stories of the people around her, and realizes that even an earthquake can’t get in the way of a family that needs to come together. Kathryn Fitzmaurice’s lovely debut novel is distinctively Californian in its flavor. Her rich characters and strong sense of place feel both familiar and fresh at first meeting—and worth revisiting, again and again.

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The Secret of Wildcat Swamp
Written by Franklin W. Dixon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

An invitation from Cap Bailey, science teacher at Bayport High, to accompany him out West to Wildcat Swamp on an archaeological expedition triggers off a series of dangerous events for Frank and Joe Hardy. On their way West the boys and Cap have a near-fatal accident in a private plane which has been sabotaged. Though warned to leave the area, Frank, Joe, and Cap doggedly remain until they have caught the cunning ex-convicts they are up against in this swift-paced adventure.

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Dungeons & Dragons: Escape the Underdark: An Endless Quest Book
Written by Matt Forbeck
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

You awaken in an underground cell, stripped of your armor and your sword. Your fellow prisoners inform you that you’re trapped in the Underdark, soon to be taken to the great drow city of Menzoberranzan and sold off as a slave. But word is that demons are stirring in the underworld’s depth. Perhaps you can use that to break free, fighter.

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  • Breaking News: Bears to the Rescue - A missing cub, a carnival, and a gang of cat burglars… Hold on to your hats! Best-selling author David Biedrzycki brings back the hilarious bears from Breaking News: Bear Alert, but now they have sleepy bear cub in tow. When the cub goes missing Mama and Papa Bear go on the hunt. Their search takes them to the town carnival where the whole family rides the Ferris wheel, rocks the rollercoaster, and inadvertently foils another dastardly plot by the persistent cat burglars from Bear Alert. Covering the story is intrepid—but bumbling—reporter Chad Newsworthy and the rest of the crew at Channel 3 News.

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