Lynda Mulally Hunt’s One for the Murphys is one of my preservice teachers’ favorite reads each semester. I book talk it once at the beginning of the semester, and then it’s passed around and I don’t see it again for 15 weeks. I do hear about it quite a bit, though, as students are browsing the shelves looking for their next book. “Do you have something else like One for the Murphys? I want another book just like that.”
Here are some of my favorites to recommend for those readers who love One for the Murphys.
A natural readalike is Hunt’s own Fish in a Tree, another heartfelt story but one with special resonance for my preservice teachers as it’s about a girl with undiagnosed dyslexia who finally has a teacher who gets it and offers help.
Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind is another perennial Children’s Lit class favorite, and it connects with readers who are seeking the strong voice, overcoming challenges plot, and meaningful relationships with adults theme of One of the Murphys.
Ruby on the Outside is also about a girl trying to understand her mother’s choices, as Ruby discovers more about why her mother is in prison.
I think Peace, Locomotion is an even better readalike, but you have to start with Locomotion, which will appeal to readers who want more about the lives and experiences of foster children but will also introduce them to a new format, the verse novel.
Surely no book has ever needed a cover update as much as The Great Gilly Hopkins. There have been several covers, and they’re all bad and make this book an almost impossible sell to any of my students. But if I could only get them past the terrible cover, I think they would like this book and find it a bit of a challenge, because Gilly can be a trying heroine, however much we might empathize with her.
Counting by 7s has a main character who loses her family and sets out to find a new one. The thoughtful exploration of what it means to be a family will appeal to readers of One for the Murphys.
Lisa Graff’s Absolutely Almost shares a similar sensibility and strong voice as well as a plot point about finding our greatest cheerleaders outside our family.
Coe Booth’s Kinda Like Brothers focuses on Jarrett, who, much against his will, is forced to share his room with a new foster child. A novel that is probably as much about friendship as family and should connect with readers who love One for the Murphys.
Here are a few more books that I like to put in the hands of readers who love One for the Murphys: