13 Books to Read If You Love ‘Holes’

Posted on March 14, 2018 by

If you’re a huge fan of Louis Sachar, we’ve put together a list of books like Holes to read next! Featuring a mix of classics and contemporary works, these books like Holes touch on topics such as personal identity, budding independence, first loves, buried treasure, Shakespeare, survival in the wilderness — you know, all the usual coming-of-age concerns — while still maintaining that laugh-out-loud hilarity and slight absurdity that we so loved about Holes. Check out this list of books like Holes below, complete with publishers’ descriptions included.


From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Books like Holes: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. FrankweilerWhen suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere—to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing that her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.

Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it? Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.


Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos

Books like Holes: Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key“They say I’m wired bad, or wired sad, but there’s no doubt about it—I’m wired.”

Joey Pigza’s got heart, he’s got a mom who loves him, and he’s got “dud meds,” which is what he calls the Ritalin pills that are supposed to even out his wild mood swings. Sometimes Joey makes bad choices. He learns the hard way that he shouldn’t stick his finger in the pencil sharpener, or swallow his house key, or run with scissors. Joey ends up bouncing around a lot—and eventually he bounces himself all the way downown, into the district special-ed program, which could be the end of the line. As Joey knows, if he keeps making bad choices, he could just fall between the cracks for good. But he is determined not to let that happen.

In this antic yet poignant new novel, Jack Gantos has perfect pitch in capturing the humor, the off-the-wall intensity, and the serious challenges that life presents to a kid dealing with hyper-activity and related disorders. This title has Common Core connections.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key is a 1998 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.


The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Books like Holes: The Great Gilly HopkinsThis timeless Newbery Honor Book from bestselling author Katherine Paterson about a wisecracking, ornary, completely unforgettable young heroine. Now a feature film starring Kathy Bates, Glenn Close, and Octavia Spencer!

Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she’s hated them all. She has a reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable, and that’s the way she likes it. So when she’s sent to live with the Trotters—by far the strangest family yet—she knows it’s only a temporary problem.

Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work and get out of there fast. She’s determined to no longer be a foster kid. Before long she’s devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t work out quite as she hoped it would…


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Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Books like Holes: HootThis Newbery Honor-winning, hilarious Floridian adventure involves new kids, bullies, alligators, eco-warriors, pancakes, pint-sized owls, and more. A New York Times bestseller!

Everybody loves Mother Paula’s pancakes. Everybody, that is, except the colony of cute but endangered owls that live on the building site of the new restaurant. Can the awkward new kid and his feral friend prank the pancake people out of town? Or is the owls’ fate cemented in pancake batter?


Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Books like Holes: Walk Two MoonsIn her own singularly beautiful style, Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech intricately weaves together two tales, one funny, one bittersweet, to create a heartwarming, compelling, and utterly moving story of love, loss, and the complexity of human emotion.

Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle, proud of her country roots and the “Indian-ness in her blood,” travels from Ohio to Idaho with her eccentric grandparents. Along the way, she tells them of the story of Phoebe Winterbottom, who received mysterious messages, who met a “potential lunatic,” and whose mother disappeared.

As Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe’s outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold—the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.


Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Books like Holes: Bud, Not BuddyThe Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award-winning classic about a boy who decides to hit the road to find his father—from Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Watsons Go To Birmingham—1963, a Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree.

It’s 1936, in Flint Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud’s got a few things going for him:

1. He has his own suitcase full of special things.
2. He’s the author of Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.
3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers advertising Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!

Bud’s got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road to find this mystery man, nothing can stop him—not hunger, not fear, not vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself.


Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Books like Holes: AL Capone Does My ShirtsWhen Moose Flanagan and his family move home, yet again, and become residents of the famous prison island Alcatraz, things get interesting. First of all, they share the island with a few other families and a lot of pretty heavy-duty criminals including Al Capone. And secondly, Moose’s sister is starting a new school, which everyone hopes will help her become more integrated with those around her. When Moose comes up with some pretty cunning money-making schemes based on his famous co-residents, he does not count on his sister becoming inadvertently involved. A charming, funny and utterly enchanting book that skillfully and delicately weaves a humorous tale with some important issues.


Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Books like Holes: HatchetThis award-winning contemporary classic is the survival story with which all others are compared—and a page-turning, heart-stopping adventure, recipient of the Newbery Honor.

Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single-engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a tattered Windbreaker and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present—and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parent’s divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self pity, or despair—it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.


The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean

Books like Holes: The Death-Defying Pepper RouxPepper’s fourteenth birthday is a momentous one.

It’s the day he’s supposed to die.

Everyone seems resigned to it—even Pepper, although he would much prefer to live. But can you sidestep Fate? Jump sideways into a different life? Naïve and trusting, Pepper sets a course through dangerous waters, inviting disaster and mayhem at every turn, one eye on the sky for fear of angels, one on the magnificent possibilities of being alive.

New York Times bestselling and Printz Award-winning author GeraldineMcCaughrean has created a gripping tale filled with dark humor and daringescapades, where the key to a boy’s lifelies in facing his own death.

Join him on the run—if you can keep up.


The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

Books like Holes: The Wednesday WarsGary D. Schmidt was awarded a Newbery Honor in 2008 for The Wednesday Wars, the story of seventh grader Holling Hoodhood from suburban Long Island in 1967 who is stuck spending his Wednesday afternoons with his teacher Mrs. Baker…who is clearly trying to kill him with Shakespeare. As time rolls on, Shakespeare starts to grow on Holling, and even when he’s not playing the yellow-tighted role of the fairy Ariel, he can’t help but hurl the occasional Elizabethan insult. Laugh-out-loud scenes involving overfed escaped classroom rats and chalk-dusted cream puffs mix seamlessly with more poignant moments, some related to the Vietnam War. Holling is courageous, funny, and unique…and readers will love seeing him evolve beyond the expectations of others to become his own fabulous self.



Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Books like Holes: Dead End in NorveltDead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year’s best contribution to children’s literature and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction!

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels…and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.


The Schwa was Here by Neal Shusterman

Books like Holes: The Schwa Was HereThey say his clothes blend into the background, no matter where he stands. They say a lot of things about the Schwa, but one thing’s for sure: no one ever noticed him. Except me. My name is Antsy Bonano, and I was the one who realized the Schwa was “functionally invisible” and used him to make some big bucks. But I was also the one who caused him more grief than a friend should. So if you all just shut up and listen, I’ll tell you everything there is to know about the Schwa, from how he got his name, to what really happened with his mom. I’ll spill everything. Unless, of course, “the Schwa Effect” wipes him out of my brain before I’m done…


The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

Books like Holes: The Indian In the CupboardFull of magic and appealing characters, this classic novel takes readers on a remarkable adventure.

It’s Omri’s birthday, but all he gets from his best friend, Patrick, is a little plastic Indian brave. Trying to hide his disappointment, Omri puts the Indian in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that once belonged to his great-grandmother. Little does Omri know that by turning the key, he will transform his ordinary plastic Indian into a real live man from an altogether different time and place! Omri and the tiny warrior called Little Bear could hardly be more different, yet soon the two forge a very special friendship. Will Omri be able to keep Little Bear without anyone finding out and taking his precious Indian from him?


Have you read any of these books like Holes? Tell us in the comments!


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