Guest blog post by Aimee Friedman, Editorial Director of WISH, Point, and Scholastic Press
Ah, Valentine’s Day—a time for candy hearts, roses, and declarations of love. Except . . . the holiday can also be pretty awkward. Especially when you’re growing up. I remember my sixth grade Valentine’s Day, when I was equal parts terrified and hopeful that my crush would give me a carnation . . . only to receive one from the boy I didn’t like. Oh, the eleven-year-old angst!
Kids feel things deeply. But that’s why I love working as an editor in children’s books. Stories are the perfect place to explore these kinds of rocky feelings—from dealing with a first crush, first heartache, or first kiss . . . or realizing that it’s okay not to have a crush at all. Books provide a safe space for kids to read about and think about these varied experiences, whether or not they’re experiencing them firsthand.
When Scholastic launched the WISH line of books in 2016, we had a simple mission: to offer fun, engaging, books for kids 8-12 centered on family and friendship—and yes, the occasional first crush. While solidly appropriate for a younger audience, WISH books can be a stepping stone for a reader who might be transitioning into reading Young Adult books—or even for a Young Adult reader looking for a lighter read.
And sure, flowers and chocolates are great, but let’s face it: books may be the best Valentine’s Day gift of all. Here are five WISH stories perfect for young readers this holiday:
Dacey Culpepper Biel comes from a long line of pie bakers, but Dacey didn’t inherit a gift for baking. Her pies always end up as messy or burnt disasters. Even worse? Business has been slow lately, and Dacey wishes she could do something to help.
Then opportunity knocks: A popular TV show wants to feature the shop! But that means Dacey will have to spend time with Chayton Freedel, her arch-rival and the cute son of the show's host. And when clues arise about a long-hidden family recipe, life at the shop may never be the same.
Malie’s mom manages an ice cream parlor, but Malie’s real love is ballet. Sadly, her mom is less than supportive. Then cute new boy Alonzo arrives from Italy. His true love is ice cream—gelato, to be exact. Alonzo offers Malie a deal: If she lets him help out at the parlor, she can take dance lessons from his mom, a famed ballerina.
As Malie pirouettes between the parlor and the ballet studio, things start to spin out of control. Does she have feelings for Alonzo? What about her boyfriend, Ethan? And if she doesn’t get a role in Cinderella, can she find her happily ever after?
Ana Ramos may not have a dog of her own, but she does get to walk her neighbor's adorable pug, Osito. One day, at the park, Osito befriends another pug, Pancake, whose owner just happens to be a cute new boy named Calvin. When Calvin assumes that Osito belongs to Ana, she doesn't correct him. No big deal, right?
Ana doesn’t realize the trouble she has unleashed until Calvin shows up at her school. Calvin suggests setting up play dates for the pugs, and Ana can't bring herself to admit that Osito isn’t hers. In fact, her fibs keep multiplying! Will Ana fess up and figure out how she feels about Calvin before her white lies catch up to her?
Alicia Ramirez has always loved baking. Her specialty? Cake pops! But Ali's sweet life turns sour when a sleek coffee shop opens across the street, giving her family’s small bakery a run for its money. Worst of all, the owner's son, Dane McGuire, likes to bake, too. He’s the new kid in Ali's school . . . and happens to be annoyingly cute.
When Dane and Ali engage in a bake-off to prove who is the cake-pop master, it’s Ali’s chance to save her family’s store. But will she be able to rise to the occasion . . . and ignore what her heart might be telling her?
Cecilia Murray has wanted a dog for as long as she can remember. And when a cute pug is brought in to the shelter where she volunteers, she knows he is the dog she’s been waiting for. There's just one problem: Eric Chung, a popular, arrogant boy from school, adopts him first. What's worse, he hopes to train the dog to become a show-dog superstar. Cecilia knows the pup isn’t cut out for that lifestyle, so she sets out to sabotage Eric’s plans.
But the more time Cecilia spends with the pug and Eric, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about dog shows . . . and a certain cute show-dog trainer. Can Cecilia save the dog—while also listening to her heart?
Learn more about all of the stories in the WISH collection.