11 Picture Books, Middle Grade Titles, and YA Novels to Celebrate the Cousin Crew

July 24th is National Cousins Day. Hand any of these 11 books to kids, tweens, and teens proudly sporting their "Cousin Crew" t-shirts this summer and throughout the year.

July 24th is National Cousins Day. For many kids, getting to spend time with cousins brings the benefit of having friends during family gatherings. Cousins can also help children understand themselves and their extended families. Hand these 11 books to kids, tweens, and teens proudly sporting their "Cousin Crew" t-shirts this summer and throughout the year.


Picture Books

Biindigen! Amik Says Welcome by Nancy Cooper. illus. by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley. Owlkids. ISBN 9781771475150. 
K-Gr 3–With a variety of Indigenous translators providing the correct tribal word for beaver (Amik is Anishinaabe, Amisk is Cree, Gopit is Mi’kmaq, Amicos is Algonquin, etc.), this story is about Amik and her little sister Nishiime, who are welcoming their beaver cousins from all over the country to visit. Nishiime is shy and disappears for most of the visit, but learns that although the cousins have different names, they are all just like her, and she cannot wait for their next visit.

 How to Eat a Book by Mrs. & Mr. MacLeod. illus. by authors. Union Square Kids. ISBN 9781454945444. 
K-Gr 3–Mrs. and Mr. MacLeod introduce cousins Sheila, Gerald, and Geraldine Grunion in this fun and clever book. With a touch of Lewis Carroll and a little bit of Edward Gorey, plus a smidge of Roald Dahl–style misadventure, the children are gobbled up by various books and must snack their way out of trouble. 

When My Cousins Come to Town by Angela Shanté. illus. by Keisha Morris. West Margin Pr. ISBN 9781513267227. 
K-Gr 3–A bespectacled Black girl with dark hair narrates how her cousins have nicknames based on their strengths. The author gives readers a unique look into extended family relationships beyond siblings and parents. A good story to share when discussing different family units, this will keep children guessing at story hours. 

My Cousin’s Mermaid: A Story from Poland by Anna Staniszewski. illus. by Ewa Poklewska-Koziello. Barefoot. ISBN 9798888590041. 
K-Gr 4–A heartwarming and necessary story about building family connections across cultural divides. Natalia has always wanted a cousin at home to play with, but when she sees her Polish cousin Karolina, she has trouble connecting with her. But with the help of a mermaid, Natalia and Karolina will discover their shared love of stories and strengthen their bond as “cousin-sisters.” 

redstar When the Cousins Came by Katie Yamasaki. illus. by author. Holiday House. ISBN 9780823434572.
K-Gr 2–Lila eagerly anticipates the arrival of her two cousins who are visiting from the city. She is excited to have children her own age to play with, but when Rosie and Takeo arrive things don't go exactly as Lila imagines. The gentle plot captures the nuance of childhood friendships and growing up as part of a multiethnic family.  

Middle Grade

The Last Chance for Logan County by Lamar Giles. illus. by Derick Brooks. HarperCollins/Versify. ISBN 9780358423362. 
Gr 4-7–Logan County, VA, is a place where “anything can happen,” and what’s happening right now is a storm of Tooth Frogs. Cousins Otto and Sheed, the Legendary Alston Boys, fight off the Tooth Frogs with their grandma, but more alarming visitors arrive: Otto’s mom and Sheed’s dad. A humorous, fast-paced, surreal fantasy adventure story featuring resourceful kids working together to defeat evil.

[Read: 10 Titles Featuring Twins for Middle Grade and YA Readers]


A Mystery at Lili Villa by Arathi Menon. Yali. ISBN 9781949528824.
Gr 3-5–Mystery fans will find lots to enjoy in this fresh title set in India. When her aunt’s jewelry goes missing, Tam and her two cousins, Arj and Mira, team up to crack the case by investigating a parade of suspects who have recently visited the villa. Purchase for medium to large collections or those in need of gentle, entertaining mysteries.



Not Our Summer by Casie Bazay. Running Pr. ISBN 9780762472291. 
Gr 8 Up–Although they are cousins, high school seniors KJ and Becka, who are white, have been strangers most of their lives, until they meet again at their eccentric grandfather’s funeral and learn that they must fulfill his bucket list of adventures—together. The two have lived separate and very different lives as a result of a feud between their mothers, but their grandfather wanted them to be friends despite the rift, so he forces them to go on five exciting trips.

An Improbable Season by Rosalyn Eves. Farrar. ISBN 9780374390181. 
Gr 7 Up–This Regency romance exemplifies the thrills of the genre while being true to the historical period. When Charis and her cousins Thalia and Kalliope head to London for their season, they aren’t just looking for husbands. This must-read for Regency fans combines the true friendship of Lisa Kleypas’s “The Wallflower” series, the emotional thrills of Bridgerton, and just the right number of first kisses.

We Don’t Swim Here by Vincent Tirado. Sourcebooks/Fire. ISBN 9781728250809. 
Gr 9 Up–Told in dual points-of-view, this novel features cousins Bronwyn and Anais, both second generation Black Dominicans, who are at odds as soon as Bronwyn and her family move to Arkansas to help with their abuela’s end of life care. Rooted in systemic racism and small-town living, Tirado’s novel is captivating and raw. Recommended for fans of dark YA such as that by Kayla Cottingham.

Boys of the Beast by Monica Zepeda. Tu Bks. ISBN 9781643790954. 
Gr 9 Up–Matt, Ethan, and Oscar are cousins who barely know each other, besides being connected through the Latino roots of their moms. At the funeral for Grandma Lupe, the boys decide they could all benefit from a road trip from Portland, OR, to Albuquerque, NM, in their grandmother’s Thunderbird. Each cousin has his own journey to work through.

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