Keep reading for 10 awesome chapter books and young adult books set in Arizona!
Dr. Seuss once said, “Reading can take you places you have never been before.” I just love this saying because whenever I am feeling down or like a need an escape I pick up a book that takes place in one of my favorite places. It might be a fantasy novel that takes place in a dystopian future or just a place a like to visit like Arizona.
If you love traveling via reading AND if you love the state of Arizona, then check out this middle grade novels and young adult literature set in the gorgeous state of Arizona.
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Descriptions come from Amazon; some are edited for length
Chapter Books Set in Arizona
“Thirteen-year-old Margaret knows her father is innocent, but that doesn’t stop the cruel Judge Biggs from sentencing him to death. Margaret is determined to save her dad, even if it means using her family’s secret, and forbidden, ability to time travel. With the help of her best friend, Charlie, and his grandpa Josh, Margaret goes back to a time when Judge Biggs was a young boy and tries to prevent the chain of events that transformed him into a corrupt, jaded man. But with the forces of history working against her, will Margaret be able to change the past? Or will she be pushed back to a present in which her father is still doomed?”
“Twelve-year-old Tetsu eats, sleeps and breathes baseball. It’s all he ever thinks about. But after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tetsu and his family are forced from their home into an internment camp in the Arizona desert with other Japanese Americans, and baseball becomes the last thing on his mind. The camp isn’t technically a prison, but it sure feels like one when there’s nothing to do and no place to go. So when a man starts up a boys’ baseball team, Tetsu is only too eager to play again. But with his sister suddenly falling ill, and his father taken away for questioning, Tetsu is forced to choose between his family and his love of the game.”
“Meet the D Squad, a foursome of fifth graders at the Grand Canyon School made up of a geek, a class clown, a teacher’s pet, and a slacker. They are bound together by one very big secret: the homework machine. Because the machine, code-named Belch, is doing their homework for them, they start spending a lot of time together, attracting a lot of attention. And attention is exactly what you don’t want when you are keeping a secret. Before long, things start to get out of control, and Belch becomes much more powerful than they ever imagined. Now the kids are in a race against their own creation, and the loser could end up in jail or worse!”
“Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again. Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all. Even without arms.”
“Welcome to Nowhere, Arizona, the least livable town in the United States. For Gus, a bright 13-year-old with dreams of getting out and going to college, life there is made even worse by Bo Taylor, Nowhere’s biggest, baddest bully. When Bo tries to force Gus to eat a dangerously spiny cactus, Rossi Scott, one of the best racers in Nowhere, comes to his rescue, but in return she has to give Bo her prized dirt bike. Determined to buy it back, Gus agrees to go searching for gold in Dead Frenchman Mine, joined by his old friend Jessie, Rossi, and even Bo’s sidekick, Matthew. As they race against the clock hunting for treasure, narrowly surviving everything from cave-ins to mountain lions, they bond over shared stories of how hard life in Nowhere is and they realize this adventure just may be their way out.”
“Nancy Drew arrives in Phoenix, Arizona, eagerly looking forward to a fun-filled vacation at Shadow Ranch, but abruptly finds herself involved in a baffling mystery. The ranch is being haunted by an unknown enemy. Local people believe that the ghostly animal is carrying out the curse of Dirk Valentine, the romantic outlaw who was killed many years ago at Shadow Ranch, where he had gone to fulfill a promise to his sweetheart. Aided by her friends Bess Marvin and George Fayne, Nancy comes face-to-face with disaster when she is trapped inside a building that is toppled by a rockslide. But the pretty titian-haired detective remains undaunted in her determination to solve the mystery.”
“Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths. Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right. Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.”
YA Books Set in Arizona
I should note that my definition of YA literature differs from most. I consider YA books to be a genre rather than a reading level. So if you are picking out books for your kids, do your due diligence with any books that are labeled YA or Young Adult as the subject matter might not be appropriate for younger readers.
For more information on this topic, check out this podcast episode from the Read-Aloud Revival.
“When falling crop prices threaten his family with starvation, fifteen-year-old Victor Flores heads north in an attempt to ‘cross the wire’ from Mexico into America so he can find work and help ease the finances at home. But with no coyote money to pay the smugglers who sneak illegal workers across the border, Victor struggles to survive as he jumps trains, stows away on trucks, and hikes grueling miles through the Arizona desert. Through Victor’s desperate perseverance, Will Hobbs brings to life a story that is true for many, polarizing for some, but life-changing for all who read it.”
“Raised on a flower farm in California, Sumiko is used to being the only Japanese girl in her class. Even when the other kids tease her, she always has had her flowers and family to go home to. That all changes after the horrific events of Pearl Harbor. Other Americans start to suspect that all Japanese people are spies for the emperor, even if, like Sumiko, they were born in the United States! As suspicions grow, Sumiko and her family find themselves being shipped to an internment camp in one of the hottest deserts in the United States. The vivid color of her previous life is gone forever, and now dust storms regularly choke the sky and seep into every crack of the military barrack that is her new ‘home.’ Sumiko soon discovers that the camp is on an Indian reservation and that the Japanese are as unwanted there as they’d been at home. But then she meets a young Mohave boy who might just become her first real friend…if he can ever stop being angry about the fact that the internment camp is on his tribe’s land.”
“From the day she arrives at Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of ‘Stargirl, Stargirl.’ She captures Leo Borlock’ s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first. Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love.”
From time travel to homework machines to ranches and high school, I hope one of these books satisfied your wanderlust. Thanks for reading!
Looking for more books about Arizona? Check out the ones below!