Part bildungsroman, part crime drama, Where the Crawdads sing centers around Kya, an untrained and wild girl. The story follows her life’s ups and downs. Although she lives a lonely existence, her story is filled with hope. She can survive with a little help and can even learn how to read.
You might be a huge fan of “Where the crawdads singing“, but you need to get rid of this book. Penn Book has a list of the top books that will help you find books like Where the Crawdads Sing.
WHAT IS WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING ABOUT?
From 1952 to 1969, Where the Crawdads Sing is a family drama and mystery. The body of Chase Andrews is found in the swamp at the beginning of the novel. The book alternates between Chase Andrews’ death investigation and Kya Clark’s story. Kya Clark is six years old in 1952 when her mother abandons her, along with her four older siblings, and leaves them with her violent, alcoholic father. The Clarks lead a life of abuse and poverty in a swamp shack. Soon, Kya and her father are gone.
Kya sometimes is left home alone while her father takes a break. She quickly learns how to take care of herself and manages to be independent for several days or even weeks. She learns to cook and finds food to eat in her mother’s gardens and swamps. She has a lot of fun with the seagulls and enjoys having regular conversations with them. Her father appears to be changing his ways, and she stays home for long periods. He spends time with Kya and teaches her how to fish. His domesticity does not last long, and Kya learns that she will always need to look after herself.
BOOKS LIKE WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING
Delia Owens’ debut novel, Where the Crawdads sing, is called. It was published just over a decade ago and has been dominating book clubs.
When writing this article, the Crawdads Sing had spent 24 consecutive weeks at the top on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction List in 2019. Its huge success can be attributed to Reese Witherspoon’s choice of the novel last year for her book club and plans to adapt it into an animated movie.
Kya enjoys collecting shells and feathers and painting pictures of what she finds. She is a lonely person who relies on her instincts and wits to survive in the swamp. This earned her the nickname “Marsh Girl”.
Then she must fight an alien robot invasion all on her own.
It’s a joke. Just kidding.
These 11 books, whether you’ve read them or not, will help you continue to have great reading experiences.
BEASTS OF EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCE BY RUTH EMMIE LANG
This was the first book I remembered when I tried to think of Where the Crawdads sing. Weylyn Grey, like Kya, lives in solitude and is in tune with the natural world. Weylyn was left orphaned at birth and believed to have been raised in a wolves’ den. He now lives in a cabin deep within the forest with Merlin, his horned pet pig. It is the beginning of a long-lasting romance between them when he saves Mary from being attacked and killed by wolves.
LET’S NO ONE GET HURT BY JON PINEDA
Another gut-punch about privilege and poverty set in the American South. This story is about Pearl, a teenage girl who lives on the land she squats with her father. Main Boy, the son of affluent landowners and Main Boy, establishes an unbalanced relationship that gives Main Boy power over Pearl.
WHERE THE LINE BLEEDS BY JESMYN WARD
Ward’s debut novel is an excellent one. It is about Joshua and Christophe, twins who were raised in Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. After high school, they struggle to make ends meet. Joshua finds an honest job, while Christophe gets involved in drug dealing. Their lives become even more complicated when their parents return. It’s a classic example of poor parents and young people trying to take care of themselves, like Where the Crawdad sings.
SWAMPLANDIA BY KAREN RUSSELL
Although I find the Pulitzer Prize finalist’s writing style not to be the same, it also features a young girl living in poverty with her dysfunctional family, making it an easy inclusion on this list.
THE ROUNDHOUSE BY LOUISE ERDRICH
The novel is similar in style to Where the Crawdads Sing, as it is part mystery and part coming-of-age story. The story is about a child forced to grow up too quickly. It is set on the Ojibwe reservation of North Dakota and follows a young man who searches for his mother’s attackers.
THE WILDLANDS BY ABBY GENI
Similar to Kya, this is also a similarity. Kya has a family full of orphaned children who are extremely in touch with the natural world. Tucker, Tucker’s only brother, is involved with a radical animal rights group. Tucker ends up taking Cora, their youngest sister, across the country while Dora searches desperately for them.
BEARTOWN: A NOVEL BY FREDRICK BACKMAN
Melissa was concerned that anything she read after Where the Crawdads Sing might feel disappointing. Then she created Beartown. Although it is a completely different story, Fredrik Backman still has the gift of storytelling that can take a book from great to amazing. Beartown uses nature as a supporting role.
Instead of focusing on one person, the book explores the complex relationships among many people in a small town whose existence revolves around hockey. Angela and Melissa both gave Beartown more than five stars and considered it a must-read.
THE GOOD DREAM BY DONNA VANLIERE
The South is where this novel takes place in the 1950s. It is about Ivorie Walker, an “old maid” who lives on her farm alone. One day, she finds a young, feral boy in her garden to steal food. She is intrigued by his origins and her curiosity about him.
THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER BY KAREN DIONNE
This book is most similar to Where the Crawdads Sing if you love the mystery part of Where the Crawdads Sing. This story is about Helena, a young woman who lived in solitude in a cabin in the woods with her family. Helena’s father abducted her mother when she was a little girl and kept her captive for many years. He taught Helena all there was to know about the land and how to live off it. Helena, her mother, is now grown, and her father is free.
MAGIC HOUR BY KRISTIN HANNAH
This book was included in the book Like Where the Crawdads Sing because it features a 6-year-old feral girl. This one, however, wanders into the Pacific Northwest woods. A child psychologist takes her in and tries to unravel the girl’s past.
ANNIE JOHN BY JAMAICA KINCAID
This one is about a young woman who her family has rejected. Annie John needs support both intellectually and emotionally. Despite being raised in a safe environment, Annie John is still struggling with her memory and emotional health.
IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE BY LEAH WEISS
The story If the Creek Don’t Rise takes place in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. This area shares many of the struggles of the low country, where Kyaa was raised. Sadie Blue soon realizes her mistake in marriage, but she doesn’t see any way out until a stranger comes to town. While some readers may find the local dialect difficult or distracting, others find the story compelling and easy to follow.
BEFORE WE WERE YOURS BY LISA WINGATE
The characters of Before We Were Yours are similar to Kya. They grew up in isolated areas close to the water. They live in a Mississippi River shanty boat until the Tennessee Children’s Home Society forever changes their lives.
Based on the true story about Georgia Tann’s adoption agency, the book is authentic. Although the agency claimed to be helping orphans, it instead kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families.
Before We Were Yours’ children, like Kya, have to learn how to survive in difficult situations. Melissa loved that the story was multi-generational. The book allows you to experience their struggles and gives you a glimpse into their older years and how they have changed.
HIMSELF BY JESS KIDD
This story is about an orphan searching for his mother and an investigation into possible criminal activity. Mahony, a young Irish man, comes to town looking for the woman who abandoned him. Many things can happen, both supernaturally and real. My favorite part of the story is the charming, elderly woman he meets along the way.
A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC (OUTDOOR ESSAYS & REFLECTIONS) BY ALDO LEOPOLD
This is an add-on for anyone who wants to read the book Delia Owens said inspired her when she wrote Where the Crawdads Sing.
CRY OF THE KALAHARI BY MARK OWENS AND DELIA OWENS
Delia Owens is also the author of this nonfiction book about their time in Africa with her husband.
GETTING MOTHER’S BODY BY SUZAN-LORI PARKS
This is a novel about a young girl abandoned by her mother in the South during the middle of the 20th century. This novel is a favorite of mine, and I recommend it to everyone who has the opportunity.
A GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST BY GENE STRATTON-PORTER
Crawdads is a storyline that’s similar to A Girl of the Limberlost. The 1909 classic Freckles is a standalone sequel. Elnora, the main character in A Girl of the Limberlost, is the one who struggles with her mother’s school. In an Indiana swamp, she finds solace and meets a boy who shares her passion for nature. She discovers a way to use her love for nature to fund the education she wants.
This book is suitable for children in 3rd through 6th grades. This book would make a great read-aloud choice for your middle and upper elementary students.
EDUCATED BY TARA WESTOVER
Did you feel heartbroken at Kya’s inability to access formal education? If so, Educated is a book you should read to continue the theme.
Tara Westover’s memoir is a bestseller. She was raised in Idaho by a small group of survivalists. She was 17 when she first entered a classroom. She was able to continue her studies at Cambridge and earn her Ph.D.