The first thing I learned when I stared writing for kids was to read, read, read, lots of kids books. I never stopped. Here are some of my favorites:

Holes, Louis Sachar
Each Little Bird That Sings, Deborah Wiles
The Tiger Rising, Kate DiCamillo
The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson
All Alone in the Universe, Lynn Rae Perkins
Criss Cross, Lynn Rae Perkins
The Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall
Sparrow Road, Sheila O’Connor
Shooting the Moon, Frances O’Rourke Dowell
Missing May, Cynthia Rylant
Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
Skellig, David Almond
When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
Because of Mr. Terrupt, Rob Buyea
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
The View from Saturday, E. L. Konigsburg
A Crooked Kind of Perfect, Linda Urban
Matisse on the Loose, Georgia Bragg
The Call of the Wild, Jack London
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Hope was Here, Joan Bauer
Insight, Diana Greenwood
Inside Out and Back Again, Thannha Lai
Okay for Now, Gary Schmidt
Wednesday Wars, Gary Schmidt
Mockingbird, Katherine Erskine
The Giver, Lois Lowry
Gathering Blue, Lois Lowry
Loser, Jerry Spinelli
Wringer, Jerry Spinelli
Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan
Waiting for Normal, Leslie Connor
Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me, Nan Marino
Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
Twisted, Laurie Halse Anderson
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Graceling, Kristin Cashore
Pieces of Georgia, Jen Bryant
Skin Deep, E.M. Crane
Curse Dark as Gold, Elizabeth Bunce
Undercover, Beth Kephart
Nothing but Ghosts, Beth Kephart
Saving Francesca, Melina Marchetta
Story of a Girl, Sara Zarr
How to Save a Life, Sara Zarr
Where Things Come Back, John Corey Whaley
Octavian Nothing, M.T. Anderson
Life As We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer
Bog Child, Siobhan Dowd
Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins
Saint Iggy, K.L. Going
The Revenant, Sonia Gensler
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Round Things, Carolyn Mackler
Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher
The Sky is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson
How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
Ashes, Ilsa J. Bick
Looking for Alaska, John Green
Divergent, Veronica Roth
Before I Die, Jenny Downham
Keturah and Lord Death, Martine Leavitt
I am the Messenger, Marcus Zusak
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart