Classroom Resources: An Annotated List of Picture Books, Chapter Books, Videos, Songs, and Websites
Some of these materials have been edited and compiled here for your convenience from previous publications: Adventuring with Books, 12th Ed., pp. 506-544; 13th Ed., pp. 465-487; Talking Points 16(1), pp. 38-39; 16(2), pp. 30-32; 17(1), pp. 34-35; 17(2), pp. 26-28.
Reprinted with permission from the National Council of Teachers of English
Adams, Pam (2000, 2007) This old man. Child’s Play International. Picture Book. Ten old men in colorful outfits are featured with the text of this traditional counting song. Cut-out holes allow readers to predict the next man that will be seen. Adoff, Arnold (2011) Roots and blues: A celebration. Illus. R. Gregory Christie. Houghton Mifflin. Picture Book. Arnold Adoff uses poetry and art to celebrate the history and culture of blues music in America. Famous blues performers are introduced in the second half of the book.
Allard, Harry G. (1977-89) The Stupids (Series). Illus. James Marshall. Trumpet Club. Picture Books. While in principle we might not approve of calling a family “Stupid,” the silly actions of this family support the name choice. For example, the Stupids take a bath without putting water into the tub because they don’t want to get their clothes wet. Their cat and dog drive the car while the Stupids sit on the roof. Children delight in explaining what the Stupids are doing wrong in each picture.
Altman, Linda Jacobs (1991) Amelia’s road. Illus. Enrique O. Sanchez. Lee & Low. Picture Book. Amelia and her family are constantly on the move from harvest to harvest. They live in labor camps for short periods of time and then they’re back on the road. Amelia fears that she will never have a place of her own but eventually she finds a special spot.
Ancona, George (1997) Mayeros: A Yucatec Maya family. Lothrop. Picture Book. The title Ancona chose reflects the name Yucatec Maya call themselves and sets the tone for his respectful and lively photodocumentary of the daily life of a Yucatec Maya family. We meet two young brothers, Armando and Gaspar, as well as their parents, sisters, grandparents and extended family as they prepare and eat meals, build a ring for a bullfight, and dance to celebrate the feast of saints. Though there is room to ask questions about history and economic disparity, this is not primarily a story of poverty or oppression. Rather, Ancona's lens portrays the life of the family as rich with tradition and resilient to change.
Ancona, George (2000) Cuban kids. Marshall Cavendish. Picture Book. This book provides a sympathetic look at the lives of Cuban children and presents an alternative to the typically negative image portrayed in the media. The book is a photo essay of snapshots from daily lives of children, with close-ups of a few. The photographs manage to make Cuba look both exotic and ordinary, so that students will notice differences while still recognizing that Cuban kids go to school, have friends and families, and like to have fun.
Angelou, Maya (1987) Now Sheba sings the song. Illus. Tom Feelings. Dutton. YoungAdult. Maya Angelou gives voice to a powerful, sensuous poem about the spirit of Blackwomen the world over. Tom Feelings’ sketches of Black women in America, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean islands grace each page.
Anzaldua, Gloria (1995) Friends from the other side/Amgios del otro lado. Illus. Consuelo Mendez. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. Prietita befriends Joaquin, a “wetback (illegal alien) who is new to the United States. What is powerful about this picture book is that it shows a human side to this national controversy.
Applegate, Katherine (2012) The one and only Ivan. HarperCollins. Easy Chapter Book. This book was inspired by the somewhat tragic story of a captive gorilla who lived in a shopping mall for twenty-seven years. After a public outcry, Ivan, the Shopping Mall Gorilla, was moved to Zoo Atlanta where he became a celebrity. Ivan is well known for his artwork, which he signs with a thumbprint.
Aristophane (2010) The Zabime sisters. Trans Matt Madden. First Second Publishing. Graphic Young Adult Novel. M’Rose, Elle, and Celina are siblings who live in the Caribbean. The girls awaken to the delights of summer – catching crabs at the river, stealing mangoes, witnessing a fight between rival boys, and suffering the intoxicating effects of rum. The images offer glimpses into the personality of each of the characters as the story unfolds.
Asch, Frank (1982) Happy birthday, Moon. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. When Bear thinks that Moon is sharing his birthday (via an echo that mimics everything Bear asks Moon), he buys Moon a beautiful hat.
Auch, Mary Jane. (2002) Ashes of Roses. Laurel Leaf. Young Adult. Irish immigrant Rose Nolan has high hopes when she arrives in New York in 1911. She soon learns that not everyone has her best interests at heart and life will not be easy. Her story chronicles many forms of abuse and ends with her narrow escape from the horrible fire that killed over 150 workers like her at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. The book tackles tough issues like women's rights, workers’ rights, and class discrimination.
Aylesworth, Jim (2001) The tale of Tricky Fox. Scholastic. Picture Book. Tricky Fox makes a bet with his brother that he can trick a human into giving him a pig and he will bring it home in his sack. He begs his way into homes and tricks the owners into putting something better into the sack than what he maintains was lost. This ruse works well until he encounters a teacher who figures out what he is doing and puts a ferocious bulldog in his sack.
Banks, Lynn Reid (1985) The Indian in the cupboard. Illus. Brock Cole. Doubleday. Chapter Book. The Indian in the cupboard is a controversial book about a young man, Omri, coming of age. Although the book portrays American Indians in ways that many Native Americans have found offensive, this text is still widely read in middle school classrooms and can be used to support readers in taking on a critical perspective and understanding the perspectives of others.
Banting, Erinn (2003) Afghanistan, the people. Crabtree. Picture Book. This book has colorful pictures, but was not written by someone with an insider’s perspective on Afghanistan.
Banyai, Istvan (1995) Zoom! Viking. Picture Book. This wordless picture book re creates a camera lens zooming out. One illustration shows a boy on a cruise ship, thnext shows him from a distance, and the next reveals the whole ship. As the camera lens moves further back, we see the ship is actually on a poster, and the poster is on a side of a bus. As the perspective continues to recede, what seemed visually predictable becomes surprising and new. This is a good book for beginning conversations about perspective.
Barakat, Ibtisam (2007) Tasting the sky: A Palestinian childhood. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Picture Book. This is the story of a child’s shattered childhood during the Six Day War between Israel and Palestine. Although Ibstisam is temporarily separated from her family, she goes on to lead a more or less normal life and is excited by school, using chalk, learning the Arabic Alphabet, and meeting a teacher who appreciates her for whom she is.
Barasch, Lynne (2005) Ask Albert Einstein. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Picture Book. Inspired by actual events, this is the story of how a seven-year-old girl wrote to Albert Einstein, the most famous scientist in the world at the time, for help with her sister’s math problem. Albert Einstein wrote back and answered her question with a sketch that is left for the reader (as well as the sister) to interpret in order to understand his answer.
Bartholomew, Sandy Steen (2010) Totally tangled. Design Originals. Nonfiction. Azentangle is a complicated looking drawing that is built one line at a time into a pattern that evolves in unplanned ways. The originators of this art form see it as leading to meditation and relaxation. This small volume contains hundreds of patterns beginners might try out before they start designing their own patterns.
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell (1999) Kids on strike! Houghton Mifflin. Chapter Book. Arechildren being exploited today in ways similar to how they were exploited during the Industrial Revolution in the USA? Bartoletti's historical account of children in the workforce is complemented by hundreds of authentic, gripping photographs of children at work on city streets, in coalmines, and in the garment industry. The images of the children and descriptions of their inhumane working conditions will raise questions about human nature, progress, and American economic values.
Barwell, Ysaye (1998). No mirrors in my Nana’s house. Illus. Synthia Saint James. Harcourt. Picture Book w/ CD. The CD contains the spiritual on Side 1 and a voiced rendition of the song on Side 2. Nana’s house has no mirrors to reflect her granddaughter’s clothes that don’t fit, or the things that she missed. When the granddaughter views the world through Nana’s eyes, she sees only love and beauty, not poverty and racism.
Beckwith, Kathy (2005). Playing war. Illus. Lea Lyon. Tilbury House. Picture Book. Luke and his friends like to play war by throwing pinecone “grenades” at each other. They change their minds after a new boy tells them about how his family was blown up in a real war. This book provides an opportunity to talk with children about the painful realities of war.
Bellairs, John (1975) The figure in the shadows. Dial. Chapter Book. This is one of three books in a series. The others are The house with a clock in its walls and The letter, the witch and the ring. The series opens as Lewis Barnavelt, ten years old, comes to live with Uncle Jonathan. Little does he know that Uncle Jonathan and his neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, are witches. Lewis finds that he too has supernatural powers which thrust him into battle between good and evil.
Bellairs, John (1993) The letter, the witch and the ring. Perfection Learning. Chapter Book. (See Bellairs, 1975 for an annotation).
Bellairs, John (2004) The house with a clock in its walls. Perfection Learning. Graphic Novel. (See Bellairs, 1975 for an annotation).
Bennett, Cherie & Gottesfeld, Jeff (2004) A heart divided. Delacorte. Chapter Book. After finding herself caught up in the tensions surrounding the flying of the Confederate flag at their school, Kate, a recent Yankee transplant, decides to write a play using the voices of the students she interviews as the text. One of the most powerful aspects of this book is that Kate’s play provides readers with a demonstration of what they might do to address similar complex issues in their own communities.
Benson, Kathleen & Haskins, Jim (2006) Count your way through Afghanistan. Illus. Megan Moore. Millbrook. Picture Book. This book is one in a series that teaches readers how to count in another language, in this case Pashto. While it was not written by someone with an insider view, students might enjoy learning to count in one of languages frequently spoken in Afghanistan.
Benson, Lorri Antosz & Benson, Taryn Leigh (2008) Distorted: How a mother and daughter unraveled the truth, the lies, and the realities of an eating disorder. Health Comunications. Chapter Book/Young Adult. Mother (Lorri) and daughter (Taryn) take turns telling their story of Taryn’s eating disorder and what they had to go through to resolve the issue. While Lorri researches ways to help, Taryn finds new ways to hide her compulsion. Distorted addresses the psychological factors that drive teens to purging, details successful and unsuccessful therapies, and sociologically explores the consequences of the disease for the teen and her family.
Berger, Barbara (1984) Grandfather twilight. Philomel. Picture Book. Grandfather Twilight takes nightly walks in the woods carrying a pearl that becomes the moon whenhe releases it. This gentle tale responds to our need for story to explain everyday events that seem magical.
Bernier-Grand, Carmen (2007) Frida: Long live life! Illus. Frida Kahlo. Marshall Cavendish. Picture/Poetry Book. Carmen T. Bernier-Grand’s biographical poems and Frida Kahlo’s paintings capture the intensity and passion that made Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera’s wife, stand out as a twentieth century painter.
Bernier-Grand, Carmen (2009) Diego: Bigger than life. Illus. David Diaz. Marshall Cavendish. Picture/Poetry Book. Through a series of biographical poems, Carmen T. Bernier-Grand tells Diego Rivera’s story of becoming a world-renowned muralist who was famous for being passionate, political, and controversial.
Birdseye, Debbie, & Birdseye, Tom (1997) Under our skin: Kids talk about race. Photographs by Robert Crum. Holiday House. Chapter/Picture Book. Six 12- and 13-year-olds speak in their own words about their perceptions and experiences of race in America. They describe their own ethnic traditions, their experiences of racism and prejudice, and their ideas and hopes for race relations in America. This focus on kids' individual voices provides a great starting point for discussion of how students experience the impact of race and ethnicity in their own lives.
Birtha, Becky (2005) Grandmama’s pride. Illus. Colin Bootman. Albert Whitman. Picture Book. In 1956, two young African-American girls visit their grandmother and through her example come to understand how to maintain dignity and self-respect despite the deep and abiding injustices of Jim Crow laws that maintained social and racial segregation.
Blue, Rose & Naden, Corinne J. (2009) Ron’s big mission. Illus. Don Tate. Dutton. Picture Book. This is the story of how Ron McNair as a nine-year-old boy desegregates his public library through peaceful resistance and grows up to be a scientist and astronaut on the Challenger space shuttle.
Booktrust (2006). Education resources, Illus. Anthony Browne. http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books-and-reading/children/illustrators/interviews/69 The Booktrust is an independent national charity in Great Britain that encourages peopleof all ages and cultures to discover and enjoy reading. This web page gives all kinds of useful information about Anthony Browne—awards, a short biography, influences on Browne’s illustrations, classroom links, and professional articles.
Booth, Coe (2007) Tyrell. Perfection Learning. Young Adult. “You don’t hardly get to have no kinda childhood in the hood.” At 15, Tyrell is trying to keep his little brother in school and safe in their roach-infested shelter in the Bronx. His mother is in trouble with the welfare agency, his father is in jail, and Tyrell is caught in the middle trying to do what is right. This book provides an all too realistic look at street life in the big city.
Boyne, John (2006) The boy in the striped pajamas. David Ficking Publisher. Chapter Book. Bruno, a nine-year-old, is raised in a German household of privilege. His father, a member of the Nazi party is sent to supervise a prison camp, part of Hilter’s Final Solution. Bruno is curious and makes friends with one of the prisoners, a nine-year-old Jewish boy named Shmuel. Bruno decides to crawl under the fence to explore what life is like for Shmuel and is caught up in the political forces of the times. This book provides a unique addition to Holocaust literature.
Bradbury, Ray (1953) Fahrenheit 451. Ballantine. Young Adult. This dystopian tale of a world where books are illegal is told through the voice of a loyal citizen who lacks a critical perspective and doesn’t understand what is going on. While Bradbury wrote the book as a critique of American culture in the 1950s, there is much to remind readers of difficult contemporary issues as well.
Bradby, Marie (1995) More than anything else. Illus. Chris Soentpiet.Scholastic. Picture Book. This is the story of Booker T. Washington learning to read. As a boy he works in the salt mines and longs to have the magic of reading to pass on to others. When he sees a man reading, Booker talks the man into teaching him to unlock the magic of words and after much work is able write his name in the dirt. This is an uplifting tale of perseverance.
Bray, Libba (2009) Going bovine. Delacorte. Young Adult. Cameron, a 16-year-old slacker is reading Don Quixote when he is diagnosed with mad cow disease. Although the book is written so that one is constantly questioning reality, the heart of the story is hallucinatory: Cameron’s quest is to find Doctor X who can cure him as well as solve the ills of the world. Along the way Cameron meets Sancho (his Mexican-American dwarf bedmate), Dulcinea (a pink-haired angel), and a much-maligned yard gnome. Together they escape from the evil clutches of a happiness cult, materialism, and a new breed of culture clones shunning individual thought. As in Don Quixote, lots of important questions come up along the way, forcing the characters (and readers) to clarify their values and to take a stand.
Breathed, Berkeley (2008) Pete & Pickles. Philomel. Picture Book. Pete is a perfectly predictable pig until a runaway circus elephant named Pickles enters his life. Pickles is larger than life and overflowing with outrageous ideas. Using imagination, Pete and Pickles pretend they are doing exciting things like swan diving off Niagara Falls and sledding down the Matterhorn. In the process, they both change. While on the surface a cute little story, there are many stereotypes perpetuated in this book including women as capricious (or even delusional) and men as selfish and lacking emotion.
Breckler, Rosemary (1996) Sweet dried apples: A Vietnamese wartime childhood. Illus. Deborah Kogan Ray. Houghton Mifflin. Picture Book. This story is told from the point of view of a young Vietnamese girl whose life is changed by the encroaching war that surrounds her. What starts out as a distant threat gradually comes to encompass her family and her life. This book invites conversations about the different forms social action can take and how this action affects people's lives.
Bridges, Shirin Yim (2002) Ruby’s wish. Illus. Sophia Blackall. Chronicle. Picture Book. Although girls living in China in the early 1900s had limited opportunities for what they could do or be, Ruby’s intelligence and desire to learn caused her family to envision a different future for her. The story both challenges and respects tradition.
Brisson, Pat (1998). The summer my father was ten. Illus. Andrea Shine. Boyds Mill Press. Picture Book. Every year while planting their garden together, a father tells his daughter about how he learned an important lesson from a mistake he made when he was ten years old. Because his neighbor, Mr. Bellavista, seemed strange, he thought it would be funny to use the vegetables in his garden as baseballs. After apologizing and helping with the garden the next summer, he had a lasting friendship and a love for gardening.
Brown, Marcia (1971) Cinderella. Atheneum. Picture Book. In this version of the old French fairytale there is no mean stepmother, Cinderella’s foot is anything by dainty (a triple EEE at least), and in the end she gives her stepsisters a home in her palace. Even if purists have trouble with the storyline, the illustrations are absolutely wonderful and tell a parallel story quite different from the one that is written.
Browne, Anthony (1986) Piggybook. Knopf. Picture Book. Mrs. Piggott gets no help around the house from her unappreciative husband and sons so she leaves a note saying “You are pigs” and disappears. Without Mom around to take care of them, the boys and their father gradually do turn into pigs; she finds them “rooting around” for scraps when she finally returns to check on them. After that, she stays—but everyone helps with the cooking and housework.
Browne, Anthony (1995) Willy the wimp. Walker. Picture Book. Willy is tired of being teased and sends away for a bodybuilding book. Charles Atlas he is not, but in the end he strikes up a companionship that lasts.
Browne, Anthony (1998) Voices in the park. DK Publishing. Picture Book. This book features four gorilla characters that dress and act like humans. The author used a different font for each character and structured the text so that each speaks from the first person in telling his or her version of what transpired in the park one day. This is a story about social class; it recounts the interactions of two families when they were in the park at the same time. One family consists of a bossy wealthy mother and her rather shy son. The other is a despondent out-of-work father and his outgoing young daughter. Readers are confronted with issues of prejudice and cultural stereotypes.
Browne, Anthony (2000) Willy and Hugh. Red Fox. Picture Book. Willy is used to being bullied, but his new friend Hugh is big and tough. Together they form the perfect team and in the process overcome their individual fears.
Browne, Anthony (2000) Willy’s pictures. Candlewick. Picture Book. Willy creates his own version of some of the great masterpieces of art in the world. In doing this, he teaches budding artists how they might push their artistic talents to new heights by creating works that build off the masters but have their own unique artistic signatures.
Browne, Anthony (2001) Through the magic mirror. Walker. Picture Book. Toby is bored with all of his toys and books, but when he walks through the magic mirror, everything changes.
Browne, Anthony (2004) Into the forest. Candlewick. Picture Book. In this version of Little Red Riding Hood a young boy awakens from a stormy night to find his father missing. On his way to grandmother’s house he encounters several characters from other fairy tales and finds a red coat, thus making his transition to Little Red Riding Hood complete. The story alludes to absentee fathers at the beginning, but it ends happily.
Brumbeau, Jeff (2000) The quiltmaker's gift. Illus. Gail de Marcken. Scholastic. Picture Book. A generous quiltmaker "with magic in her fingers" sews the most beautiful quilts in the world, then gives them away to the poor and needy. A greedy king, whose storehouse is filled with treasures, yearns for something that will make him happy. Although he is sure a quilt will do it, the quiltmaker refuses, saying she will only make him a quilt if he gives everything away. Through helping others the king finds his own happiness.
Bryan, Ashley (2007) Let it shine: Three favorite spirituals. Simon & Schuster. PictureBook. Bryan uses large construction paper cut-outs to illustrate the underlying meaning and significance of three well-known spirituals, "This Little Light of Mine," "Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In," and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands.” Teachers will find the brief history of spirituals on the last page of the book well worth sharing with their classes. Bryant, Jen (2009) Ringside 1925: Views from the Scopes trial. Yearling. Young Adult. This novel allows readers to take a ringside seat at one of the most controversial trials in American history. J. T. Scopes, a science teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, is arrested for having taught Darwin’s theory of evolution. Jimmy Lee, Pete, Marybeth, and Willy are thrilled as suddenly their teacher and their town is the center of national publicity. In the circus-like atmosphere there is tension not only in the courtroom but among friends. The novel invites readers to consider socio-political forces at work as well as the role of science in advancing knowledge.
Bunting, Eve (1990) How many days to America?: A Thanksgiving story. Illus. Beth Peck. Clarion. Picture Book. After a hazardous adventure by sea, a Caribbean family arrives in the United States on Thanksgiving Day. This is not only great to read at Thanksgiving, but a wonderful addition to discussions on immigration, illegal aliens and what action we as a nation should or should not take.
Bunting, Eve (1991) Fly away home. Illus. Ronald Himler. Clarion. Picture Book. Thenarrator of this story is a boy who lives with his father in an airport. He begins by saying that they don’t have a home and “the airport is better than the streets.” Readers learn that the main goal of people living in an airport is not getting noticed. The boy and his father always have to be on the move in order to stay in crowded locations. Although they have made friends with other homeless families who are doing the same thing, there is a sense of hopelessness about their situation until the boy sees a trapped bird finally escape from the airport. Bunting, Eve (1993). Red fox running. Illus. Wendell Minor. Clarion. Picture Book. A starving red fox searches for food to take back to the den. This story of the hunt is told in verse that captures the desperation of the situation and positions the fox as a caring parent. It provides a counter narrative to stories showing foxes as selfish and/or sneaky animals.
Bunting, Eve (1994) Smoky night. Illus. David Diaz. Harcourt. Picture Book. This is the story of people and cats that lived in the same building but couldn’t get along until their apartment is set on fire during the Los Angeles riots. It’s a great book for starting conversations about what differences really make a difference and what similarities make us human.
Bunting, Eve (1996) Going home. Illus. David Diaz. HarperCollins. Picture Book. Carlosisn't sure what to think when his mother says the family is going home to Mexico for Christmas. If Mexico is home, why did his parents ever leave? His father's answer is always the same: "We are here for the opportunities." This story raises crucial questions about economic disparity, the difficult conditions of farm workers, differences in language and culture that can exist within families, and the painful choices and sacrifices faced by families living in poverty.
Bunting, Eve (1998) So far from the sea. Illus. Chris K. Soentpiet. Clarion. Picture Book. In 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor; two months later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 decreeing that all people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast of the United States must be relocated to internment camps. Many of those interned were American citizens. Set in 1972, So Far From the Sea is the story of the Iwaskaki family and their visit to the internment camp in California where their grandfather was interned for three and a half years. The story raises important issues about the segregation of the Japanese during the war, and offers a demonstration of how easy it can be to treat some people as 'others.’
Bunting, Eve (1998) Your move. Illus. James Ransome. Harcourt. Picture Book. As the older brother, James has the responsibility of taking care of his little brother, Isaac, when his mother goes off to work. One evening James sneaks out to meet with a local gang called K-Bones. Bunting explores the reasons why James and even six-year-old Isaac are attracted to the K-Bones. She also explores the challenges faced by single mothers, particularly in finding safe and affordable childcare, and the way families and communities try to deal with violence.
Bunting, Eve (2001) Gleam and glow. Illus. Peter Sylvada. Harcourt. Picture Book. An eight-year-old boy named Victor narrates this story of wartime destruction and hope. Left at home with his mother and sister while his father fights in the Liberation Army, Victor becomes more and more frightened as he hears about burning villages from passing strangers who are trying to escape the violence. When his mother decides that they should leave as well, Victor releases two goldfish in the family’s pond. After being reunited with his father at a refugee camp, Victor and his family finally return to find only the charred remains of what used to be their home. They feel more hopeful, however, after they find their pond filled with goldfish, a vivid contrast to the destruction all around them.
Bunting, Eve (2001) Jin Woo. Illus. Chris Soentpiet. Clarion Books. Picture Book. Davy is not thrilled with the changes in his family since his parents adopted a baby from Korea. He feels better once he starts getting to know his new brother and hears from his parents that they still love him just as much as they did before the baby arrived.
Bunting, Eve (2006) One green apple. Illus. Ted Lewin. Clarion. Picture Book. OnFarrah’s second day of school her class goes on a field trip to an apple orchard. Farrah, a Muslim girl who speaks no English, picks a green apple and adds it to the cider mill. While at first the children protest the fact that a green apple has been put in the cider, the result is delicious, a metaphor for how different people might mix to create a more united world.
Burleigh, Robert (2001) Lookin’ for bird in the big city. Illus. Marek Los. Harcourt. Picture Book. Miles Davis came to New York with his trumpet looking for Charlie “Bird” Parker, one of the world’s greatest saxophone players. Miles found music everywhere but once he found “Bird,” bop, bebop, and what they called “cool jazz” was born. Miles’s story invites readers to explore “found sounds.”
Burnett, Karen Gedig (2000) Simon’s hook: A story about teases and put-downs. Illus.Laurie Barrows. GR Publishing. Picture Book. Simon is a boy who needs to learn how to deal with teasing and name-calling. Fortunately, his grandmother helps him understand that he has choices and that how he responds will either encourage more teasing or make it no fun for the person teasing him. She uses a fishing metaphor to describe how Simon is “taking the hook” when he become upset or angry because someone calls him a name. But if he walks away, makes a joke or agrees with the name, then the person teasing will probably lose interest and stop. This is a story about patience, self-control, and in the end, empowerment.
Carle, Eric (1997) From head to toe. HarperCollins. Picture Book/Beginning Reader. This is a book for beginning readers that invites their participation. A giraffe bends her neck and a monkey waves his arms. Each one asks, “Can you do it?” The natural response, of course, is not only to say, “I can do it,” but to parrot the movements as well.
Carle, Eric (2011) The artist who painted a blue horse. Philomel. Picture Book. Building off of the art of Franz Marc, a German who loved to paint animals in bright and unusual colors, Eric Carle invites children explore “Who, indeed, is a good artist?” This almost wordless text challenges many artists’ early notions that art needs to be realistic to be good. In place of realism, Eric Carle advocates imagination and creativity.
Celenza, Anna Harwell (2006) Gershwin’s rhapsody in blue. Illus. JoAnn E. Kitchel. Charlesbridge. Picture Book with CD. This book tells the story of how George Gershwin came to write and compose Rhapsody in Blue, a song that has come to define American music. Anna Harwell Celenza states that the secret to Gershwin’s success was his realization that American music is much like its people, a melting pot of sounds, rhythms, and harmonies.
Chbosky, Stephen (1999; Reissued 2012) The perks of being a wallflower. MTV Books. Young Adult. Charlie is a freshman in high school, and while he is not the biggest geek in the school, he comes close. Wallflower or not, Charlie faces all the things teens face growing up – drugs, what to make of one’s sexuality, how to make friends, how not to let the problems family members face derail your life. Chbosky tells Charlie’s coming of age tale through letters he writes to an undisclosed recipient, which, according to one critic, “adds to the heart-wrenching earnestness saturating this teen’s story” (Amazon.com.review). The perks of being a wallflower is currently being made into a movie.
Chin, Charlie (1993) China’s bravest girl: The legend of Hua Mu Lan. Illus. Tomie Arai. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. This book is an adaptation of a 5th Century Chinese legend about a young woman, Hua Mu Lan, who dressed as a man and went to war to save her family’s honor. Her courage won her the rank of general, and a husband who promised to treat her like he treated his friends-- with honor.
Chocolate, Debbi (1998) The piano man. Illus. Epic Velasquez. Walker. Picture Book. The piano man, Debbi Chocolate’s grandfather, played the piano during silent movies, performed on Broadway for the Ziegfeld Follies, and sold snake oil for traveling medicine shows. This family story shows how musical talents and passions are handed down from one generation to the next.
Choi, Yangsook (2003) The name jar. Perfection Learning. Picture Book. Unhei, like many foreign immigrants to the United States, feels she should take on an American name rather than keep her Korean name. Although her classmates fill a glass jar with suggested names, she finally decides to keep her Korean name as it best represents her cultural background and who she is.
Cisneros, Sandra (1984) The house on Mango Street. Perfection Learning. Young Adult. Esperanza Cordero, a girl coming of age in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago, uses poems and stories to express her thoughts and emotions about growing up. “Eleven,” one of the pieces in this text, is a brilliant short story about being 11years old and concluding that the world is treating you unfairly. This is a wonderful book for inviting readers to write their own family or growing-up stories.
Cisneros, Sandra (1992) Woman Hollering Creek and other stories. Vintage. Young Adult. This collection of stories focuses on the difficulties experienced by Mexican immigrants who struggle to identify with a new culture while remaining bound to their heritage. One story features Cleofilas a young Mexican woman who goes to Texas to get married but soon realizes that her husband is abusive and she is isolated. She gazes across Woman Hollering Creek (a real river in Texas) and thinks about how the situation she is in might drive her crazy.
Cline-Ransome, Lesa (2004). Major Taylor: Champion cyclist. Illus. James E. Ransome. Antheneum. Picture Book. Marshall Taylor, a young African American, was a champion cyclist who won many national and international competitions in the late 1800s. His success did not come easily, however, since he was often bullied by white cyclists and turned away from restaurants and hotels. The book shows how his perseverance and courage allowed him to overcome these challenges.
Coerr, Eleanor (1986). Sadako and the thousand paper cranes. Paintings by Ronald Himler. Yearling. Chapter Book. A Japanese legend holds that making a thousand paper cranes will prompt the gods to make a sick person well. This short chapter book is about a young Japanese girl who contracts radiation sickness ten years after the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 and the efforts to save her.
Cofer, Judith Ortiz (2004) Call me Maria. Orchard. Chapter Book. Maria, a recent immigrant from Puerto Rico, struggles to lose her island accent and find her place within the unfamiliar culture of a New York barrio. Using the multiple perspectives that different genres offer – in this case poetry, journal entries, and prose – Maria comes to grip with her parents’ deteriorating marriage and the fact that she now has two homes and two identities.
Cohen, Barbara (1983) Molly’s pilgrim. Illus. Michael J. Deraney. Lothrop. Picture Book. Molly, an immigrant from Russia, is trying to fit in at her new school in America, but she’s not succeeding. When her teacher asks students to make a pilgrim doll for their Thanksgiving table as homework, Molly worries that the doll her mother helps her make is not what the teacher wants. Despite her worries, the unusual doll helps Molly and her classmates understand that there are lots of different kinds of pilgrims.
Cohn, Diana (2002) Si, se puede!/Yes, we can! Janitor stike in L.A. Illus. Francisco Delgado. Cinco Puntos Press. Picture Book. Carlitos and his classmates want to help their parents when they go on strike to demand better wages for cleaning office buildings so they make signs and take a field trip to join the picket line. This inspirational story is told both in English and Spanish.
Cole, Babette (1997) Princess Smartypants. Putnam. Picture Book. Princess Smarty pantsis not the typical princess. She’s interested in non-princess things and doesn’t want to get married. By turning Prince Swashbuckle (one of her suitors) into a warty toad, she gains new friends, loses her “marriage appeal,” and manages to live happily ever after.
Cole, Henry (2010) A nest for Celeste: A story about art, inspiration, and the meaning of home. HarperCollins. Easy Chapter Book. Celeste is a mouse whose life is turned upside down when John James Audubon and his assistant Joseph come to study and paint the birds of the Louisiana bayou. Celeste befriends Joseph by putting her artistic talent to work adding background pieces and encouraging Joseph to draw from real life. The amazing Henry Cole pencil drawings on almost every page will convince readers that they have had the tool – a simple pencil - to be an artist all their lives.
Coleman, Evelyn (1996) White socks only. Illus. Tyrone Geter. Albert Whitman. Picture Book. This is the story of a young African American girl who decides to take a drink from a water fountain in segregated Mississippi. Thinking that she understands the "Whites Only" sign on the fountain, she sits down in the grass, takes off her patent leather shoes and climbs up on the stool to take a drink with only her clean white socks on her feet. When some of the town's white residents attempt to chastise and humiliate the child, African Americans who witnessed the event decide to take action.
Coleman, Evelyn (1998) To be a drum. Illus. Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. Albert Whitman. Picture Book. Daddy Wes introduces two children to the rhythm of the earth and connects that rhythm to the pulse of the drum and the spirit of African people through history.
Coles, Robert (1995) The Story of Ruby Bridges. Illus. George Ford. Scholastic. Picture Book. In 1960, a judge in New Orleans ordered the public schools in that city to stop the practice of racial segregation. He assigned six-year-old Ruby Bridges to a formerly all white elementary school. As a result, Ruby found herself in the middle of a storm of anger and prejudice. Each day she displayed courage and dignity beyond her years as federal marshals escorted her to and from her first grade classroom.
Collier, Bryan (2000) Uptown. Holt. Picture Book. Collier gives a tour of Harlem from shopping on 125th Street to playing basketball in one of New York City’s parks. He introduces readers to some of New York City’s major icons – Van Der Zee photographs, the Apollo Theater, the Boys Choir of Harlem. He infuses a visual sense of the city through collage, including a trio of sisters in matching yellow dresses as they head off to church.
Collier, James Lincoln, & Collier, Christopher (1985) My brother Sam is dead. Scholastic. Chapter Book. Set in the time period of the American Revolution, this book reveals both the horrors and ironies of war. Living in a farming area in Connecticut, the Meeker family is surprised to learn from Sam, their college son, that the rebellion has started. Loyal to the King of England, Mr. Meeker breaks with Sam when he announces that he will fight for the new patriot army. This is a great book to include when studying the founding of the nation as it adds a tragically human dimension to what might otherwise be seen as a simple political victory.
Collins, Suzanne (2010) The hunger games trilogy (The hunger games, Catching fire, Mockingjay). Scholastic. Young Adult. This dark trilogy takes place in a futuristic nation called Panem that replaced the countries of North America after they were destroyed. Challenged by its citizens in the past, the totalitarian government in the Capitol uses the Hunger Games to punish them. Each district must annually send two young people to the Capitol to compete in a fight to the death contest. In the first book, Katniss and Peeta survive by pretending to be madly in love and threatening suicide rather than killing each other. In the second book they are forced to fight again and Katniss escapes. The final book describes the role they play in leading a revolution to overthrow the Capitol.
Cook, Michelle (2009) Our children can soar: A celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the pioneers of change (Illus. Cozbi A. Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Bryan Collier, Pat Cummings, Leo and Diane Dillon, A. G. Ford, E. B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, James Ransome, Charlotte Riley-Webb, Shadra Strickland, & Eric Velasquez). Bloomsbury. Picture Book. “Rosa sat so Martin could march. Martin marched so Barack could run. Barack ran so our children can soar!” (unpaged). Our children can soar provides young children with an overview of the many African Americans who made history by taking a stance. Part of what makes the book fascinating is that each illustration is the work of a different children’s book illustrator. A postscript contains brief biographies of each person featured in the book
Cooney, Barbara (1985) Miss Rumphius. Puffin. Picture Book. Great-Aunt Alice had three goals in life. She wanted to travel to faraway place, live in a house by the sea, and make the world more beautiful. As she grew old, she realized that she had fulfilled two of her goals, but not the third. To do that, she planted lupine seeds everywhere she could and in the spring, they bloomed into beautiful flowers that multiplied each year.
Corey, Shana (2003) Players in pigtails. Illus. Rebecca Gibbon. Scholastic. Picture Book. Inspired by the movie “A League of Their Own,” this is the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Although girls weren’t encouraged to play baseball in the 1940s, they were welcomed into the sport when male players went off to fight in World War II. This book follows the adventures of a girl who wants to play baseball more than anything else.
Cormier, Robert (1974) The chocolate wars. Laurel-Leaf Books. Young Adult. This coming-of-age story features protagonist Jerry Renault, an adolescent who dares to challenge the status quo at his high school by refusing to participate in a traditional fund-raising event. This seemingly simple act of defiance has far-reaching consequences and Jerry is brutally victimized by some of his peers. This book provides opportunities for conversations about bullying and the ramifications of going (and not going) along with the crowd.
Cormier, Robert (1977) I am the cheese. Laurel-Leaf Books. Young Adult. The protagonist in this book faces forces and issues that go beyond the walls of a high school. The metaphor of traveling on a journey plays out in the daily events of Adam’s life (real or imagined) and in the larger question of where any of us are headed in our life pursuits—and whether we have any control over that or not.
Cormier, Robert (1983) The bumble bee flies anyway. Laurel-Leaf Books. Barney is part of a group of outcast teens living in a laboratory/hospital where doctors are trying to cure them. As medically induced amnesia makes it harder for him to remember his past, Barney finds some comfort in helping other patients who are more “terminal” than he is.
Cowley, Joy (1980). Mrs. Wishy-Washy (Box Set).Wright Group. Picture Book. Young children love these colorful picture books with lots of repeated text. Teachers use them to talk about farm animals and rhyming words.
Cowley, Joy (1991) Bicycle. Wright Group. Picture Book. All sorts of people and animals takes turns getting on a bicycle, but there is little plot beyond that in this simple book.
Crane, Stephen (1895) The red badge of courage. Appleton. Chapter Book. This adolescent novel takes place during the American Civil War. The story features a young recruit who overcomes initial fears and shame to become a hero on the battlefield.
Cronin, Doreen (2000) Click, clack, moo: Cows that type. Illus. Betsy Lewin. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. Farmer Brown has a problem. His cows have found an old typewriter in the barn and are using it to make demands. They want electric blankets to keep them warm at night and have gone on strike to get them. What is worse, the chickens have joined the cows in their strike. No more milk! No more eggs! Duck is the not-so-neutral party. He carries the cows' and chickens' message, which promises to turn over the typewriter in exchange for blankets. Once Farmer Brown capitulates, however, Duck wants something too. The delightfully understated text and expressive illustrations add to the hilarity. A read-aloud must for teachers who wish to create space in their classroom for conversations about literacy and power with even the youngest of readers.
Cronin, Doreen. (2002). Giggle, giggle, quack. Illus. Betsy Lewin. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. Farmer Brown leaves his “city slicker” brother Bob in charge of the farm while he goes on vacation, but not before warning him about how Duck is a troublemaker. As it turns out, Bob is clueless and Duck is able to rewrite all the directions in a way that benefits the animals. The power of literacy is expressed through pictures showing Duck with a pencil.
Crutcher, Chris (2004) Ironman. HarperCollins. Young Adult. Bo Brewster, a tri-athlete, needs anger-management classes after blowing up at one of his teachers. Told in the voices of various characters, the story shows how Bo grows as an individual and finally gains control of his emotions.
Curtis, Christopher Paul (2007) Elijah of Buxton. Scholastic. Chapter Book. Eleven-year-old Elijah is the first “free child” born of slaves in Buxton, Canada, a community established especially for runaways. While everyone in Buxton sees him as naïve and “fra-gile”, circumstances call on him to step up to the challenge of catching a thief who has stolen the money his friend was saving to buy other slaves their freedom. As he ventures forth, readers learn of the horror of slavery and the fate of runaway slaves who got caught.
Cutler, Jane (1999) The Cello of Mr. O. Illus. Greg Couch. Dutton. Picture Book. Set in an unnamed war-torn city, this is a story about courage from an unexpected source. Mr. O is too old to be a soldier. He is one of the only men left in the city since all of the other men and older boys went off to fight. As the violence increases and the people become more frightened and dejected, Mr. O takes his cello into the town square and begins to play. His music serves to sooth the townspeople and makes their situation more bearable. When a bomb destroys Mr. O’s cello, he refuses to be defeated and returns the next day to play his harmonica.
Dahl, Roald (1982) Revolting rhymes. Illus. Quentin Blake. Puffin. Picture/Poetry Book. This collection of Roald Dahl poems offers some hilarious but rather gruesome interpretations of six popular fairy tales. For example, “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf” is a redo of the original story with a different kind of violence.
Danticat, Edwidge (2010) Eight days: A story of Haiti. Illus. Alix Delinois. Scholastic. Picture Book. This is the story of Junior, a Haitian boy who used his imagination to survive eight days beneath his collapsed house after an earthquake. Each day Junior thought of an everyday memory that helped him through this tragedy until he was finally rescued.
Darrow, Whitney, Jr. (1970). I’m glad I’m a boy! I’m glad I’m a girl! Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. Because this book is out of print, it is only accessible through the Internet. Nonetheless, it is worth your time to find a copy as it presents the typical stereotypes that our society all too often continues to hold about gender and the roles of boys and girls. The text reads, “Boys are handsome. Girls are beautiful. Boys are doctors. Girls are nurses…” and continues from there. This is a powerful book that can be used with young children and adults when trying to explain cultural expectations and the underlying systems of meaning that position each of us in our daily lives.
Dash, Joan (1996) We shall not be moved: The women's factory strike of 1909. Scholastic. Young Adult. This historical account of the events leading up to a massive women's factory strike almost a century ago shows how taking social action and working together can help to improve conditions for those who lack power. This book would be appropriate to include in a text set focusing on civil rights and/or suffrage issues as well as in a set dealing with current and past labor practices.
Dawes, Kwame (2005) I saw your face. Illus. Tom Feelings. Dial. Picture Book. Based on conversations he had with Tom Feelings, an artist who sketched the African faces he saw around the world, Kwame Dawes wrote a text -- a poem really -- celebrating the connectedness of African peoples around the world.
Dayton, Brandon (2009) Green monk. Whistling Cloud. Graphic Novel/Comic Book. In this beautifully drawn comic, a Russian monk with the most powerful blade of grass EVER wanders into battle with a fierce giant.
De Brunhoff, Jean (1937) The story of Babar. Random House. Picture Book. Babar, a little elephant, is the personification of a country bumpkin who comes of age during his visit to Paris. On his journey, Babar loses his mother to a hunter, gets a new wardrobe, becomes the hit of high society, marries his cousin, and is crowned King of the Elephants. The story is somewhat controversial because of its dark moments and there have been many attempts to ban the book. However, seven decades after his birth, most of the word is still in love with this noble pachyderm.
Deedy, Carmen Agra (in collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah) (2009) 14 cows for America. Illus. Thomas Gonzalez. Peachtree. Picture Book. The Maasai people of Kenya have a saying, “To heal a sorrowing heart, give something that is dear to your own.” Kimeli Naiyomah was in New York on September 11 studying to be a doctor when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were hit. In the tradition of the Maasai, he decided to give a cow as a gift to the help heal the American people. When he went home, 13 other elders also donated cows. In 2009 the herd numbered 35 and continued to be a symbol of hope from the Massai people of Kenya to their brothers and sisters in America.
de Haan, Linda, & Nijland, Stern (2003) King and king. Tricycle Press. Picture Book. The queen is tired. She wants the crown prince to marry. He agrees though he “never much cared for princesses.” After an extensive search Princess Madeleine shows up with her brother, Prince Lee, and he is the one who strikes the crown prince’s fancy. The wedding is very special, the queen settles down on a chaise lounge in the sun, and everyone lives happily ever after.
De La Pena, Matt (2011) A nation’s hope: The story of boxing legend Joe Louis. Illus. Kadir Nelson. Dial. Picture Book. On the eve of World War II, African American Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling for the heavyweight title of the world. Because of Hilter’s belief in Aryan superiority, there was more at stake than just winning the title. This is the story of how Joe Louis overcame childhood deficiencies and came to symbolize America’s belief in equality and freedom for all people.
Demarest, Chris (2005) Alpha, bravo, charlie: The military alphabet. McElderry. Picture Book. This book introduces young readers to the International Communications Alphabet used by the Navy and other armed forces to insure accurate verbal communications. Each page is illustrated with a Navy signal flag and some of the latest military weapons.
dePaola, Tomie (1979) Oliver Button is a sissy. Harcourt. Picture Book. His classmates' taunts don't stop Oliver Button from doing what he likes best -- dancing. He gains their respect when he performs his dance in a talent show and they realize that he has the courage to be himself in spite of their bullying.
DiCamillo, Kate (2000) Because of Winn-Dixie. Candlewick Press. Chapter Book. Alonely ten-year-old girl adopts a stray dog to save it from the pound and is motivated by the dog to reach out to other people and get to know them better.
Dillon, Leo, & Dillon Diane (2002) Rap a tap tap: Here’s Bojangles – think of that! Scholastic. Picture Book. Clap your hands and tip your hat as the astonishing “Mr. Bojangles” gracefully leaps across each page. This is a toe-tapping book of verse.
Dillon, Leo, & Dillon, Diane (2007) Jazz on a Saturday night. Scholastic. Picture Book. Bebop Doo-Wop! It’s Saturday night and readers are about to experience an evening of spectacular jazz with John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald and others as they get introduced to one of America’s most remarkable art forms. The text and illustrations in this book have the feel and look of jazz.
Doctorow, Cory (2008) Little brother. Tom Doherty Associates. Young Adult. Marcus is a computer nerd who knows not only how the system works but how to beat the system, including the computer surveillance systems set up by his school. After a terrorist attack in San Francisco, Marcus and his school-skipping buddies find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are apprehended by agents of the Department of Homeland Security who have been given full authority to do whatever they wish, including ignoring all human rights. After escaping, he and his friends use their knowledge of technology to dismantle the police state San Francisco has become. In many ways the subplot of the novel explores the kinds of literacy that adolescents bring with them to school and how they might be used productively.
Dorris, Michael (1992) Morning girl. Hyperion. Easy Chapter Book. Morning Girl and her younger brother Star Boy are Taino children living on a Bahamian island in 1492. While their daily experiences are different from those of modern kids, their lives are happy. It appears that all this is about to change at the end of the book when Christopher Columbus arrives with his troops. While Morning Girl greets the strangers in a friendly way, an epilogue on the final page provides a quote from Columbus’s journal that documents his view of the Taino as people who will make good servants to take back to Spain.
Draper, Sharon (2007) Fire from the rock. Penguin. Chapter Book. In 1957 the federal government mandated Arkansas to integrate its schools and sent federal troops in to make sure the mandate was carried out. Governor Faubus went so far as to close the entire school system for the 1958-59 school year in defiance of this order. This historical fiction novel is an account of the integration of Center High School in Little Rock by nine African-American students. Sylvia, the main character, is invited to participate in the integration, but decides not to after the fire bombing of a store she was shopping in. The novel captures the complexity of emotions surrounding students’ decisions to participate as well as a first hand account of the actions of Governor Faubus and other segregationists.
Dunrea, Olivier (2000) Appearing Tonight: Mary Heather Elizabeth Livingstone. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Picture Book. Mary Heather Elizabeth Livingston starts out as a child star but she gains a lot of weight and loses her audience appeal. However, she never loses her love of singing nor of dancing, so at age 82 (and still quite large), she decides to audition for a show. This time the director and the other performers cheer and she sees herself as a star again.
Durrow, Heidi (2011) The girl who fell from the sky. Algonquin. Sophisticated Young Adult. Rachael, an eleven-year-old, suddenly finds herself living with her grandmother in an African American neighborhood in Portland, Oregon after a family tragedy she slowly comes to understand. As a child of a Danish mother and an African American G.I. father, Rachel finds her light brown skin and blue eyes constantly calling attention to her biracial heritage. The story addresses the twin issues of race and class as it deals with a family tragedy almost too horrible to comprehend. This book won the Bellwether Prize for fiction addressing issues of social justice.
Edwards, Cory; Edwards, Tod, & Happily Ever After Agency (2005) Hoodwinked!: The true story of Little Red Riding Hood. Kanbar. The book version of the movie, Hoodwinked (Weinstein Company, 2006).
Edwards, Richard (2005) Petit Singe cherche son refuge/Little monkey’s one safe place. Illus. Susan Winter. Frances Lincoln. Picture Book. Little Monkey is looking all over the jungle for a safe place. After looking in a cave, in a tree, and by the river, he discovers that his safe place is with his mother. This is a bilingual story told in both English and French.
Egan, Tim (2002) The pink refrigerator. Houghton Mifflin. Picture Book. Dodsworth is a mouse who does as little as possible to get by in life. Things begin to change when he discovers a discarded pink refrigerator and starts to examine its intriguing contents. A series of notes encourages him to use the contents and try new activities like painting, reading, and gardening. By the time the notes end, Dodsworth has figured out how to live a more satisfying and vibrant life.
Ellis, Deborah (2001) Breadwinner. Groundwood. Chapter Book. Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, 11-year-old Parvana has rarely been outdoors. That is, until the Taliban hauls away her father and she has to disguise herself as a boy to become the family’s “breadwinner.”
Ellis, Deborah (2002) Parvana’s journey. Groundwood. Chapter Book. This sequel to Breadwinner follows 12-year-old Parvana, disguised as a boy, as she sets off from Kabul in search of her missing mother and siblings in Taliban-era Afghanistan. When war breaks out, Parvana and her collection of lost children join a long line of refugees, finally arriving at a camp where she finds some traces of her family.
Ellis, Deborah (2004) Mud city. Groundwood. Chapter Book. In this third book in the Breadwinner Trilogy, Afghan orphan Shauzia ends up in a refugee camp in Pakistan. Mud City brings readers up to date in terms of the history of Afghanistan -- including recent and continuing Taliban restrictions on women-- and is meant to provide readers with a bird’s eye view on the state of refugees in this part of the world.
Ellis, Deborah (2007) Three wishes: Palestinian and Israeli children speak. Francis Lincoln. Chapter Book. This text shares 20 first-person narratives by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim young people caught up in the Six Day War between Israel and Palestine. The wide range of voices shows the connections between warring neighbors as well as their differences. The immediacy of their voices is guaranteed to spark discussion.
Elya, Susan Middleton (2002) Home at last. Illus. Felipe Davalos. Lee & Low. Picture Book. The Patino family moves to the U.S. where everyone adjusts except Mama. When one of the twins gets ill, Mama finally decides to learn English. An important book in that it parallels the experiences of many immigrant children as they and their families both resist and try to adjust to a new culture.
English, Karen (1999) Francie. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. Chapter Book. This story takes place during the Great Migration of African Americans out of the southern states. Francie's father has moved to Chicago for work and in his letters he promises to find a way to bring his family to join him. Francie begins tutoring an older boy as a way to earn money, but this boy becomes falsely accused of assaulting a white man. Through her feelings of compassion, Francie is drawn into a forcefully unjust system that surrounds both of them. In the details of relationships, we see the ways that unfairness and struggles for power are never simple, never just black or white, and never just of an issue of male versus female.
Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (2007) Artist to artist: 23 major illustrators talk to children about their art. Illus. Mitsumasa Anno, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Quentin Blake, Ashley Bryan, Eric, Carle, Tomie dePaola, Jane Dyer, Mordecai Gerstein, Robert Ingpen, Leo Lionni, Petra Mathers, Wendell Minor, Barry Moser, Jerry Pinkney, Alice Provensen, Maurice Sendak, Robert Sabuda, Matthew Reinhart, Gennady Spirin, Chris Van Allsburg, Rosemary Wells, Paul O. Zelinsky.Penguin. Nonfiction. This is an anthology of children’s literature illustrators that documents in foldout pages their individual stories. Each story contains information as to why the artists became a children’s book illustrator, early sketches of their work, current self-portraits, and photographs of their art studios. This is a book to be revisited as children become aware of new children’s book authors and illustrators over time.
Erlbruch, Wolf (2001) The miracle of bears (Trans. Michael Reynolds). Europa. Bear wakes up hungry and thinks about how he might become a big strong papa bear. He asks advice from an array of animals but no one can help him until he meets a girl bear who suggests they find a nice soft place in a glade, “in the middle of some long, some very long, grass.” “Next spring,” she promises, “we could have some marvelous bear cubs.” While the enigma of birth is never made explicit, the book addresses a question on lots of young children’s minds.
Erlbruch, Wolf (2008) Duck, death and the tulip. Gecko. Sophisticated Picture Book. Duck realizes that Death is following her. Although she is frightened at first, together Duck and Death explore what happens when someone dies. In the end Duck realizes that death is very much a part of life. An edgy book about a topic rarely explored with children.
Ernst, Lisa Campbell (1995) Little Red Riding Hood: A newfangled prairie tale. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. Set on the Midwestern prairie, this is an updated version of the traditional tale told with feisty heroines who, in the end, enlist the wolf in their entrepreneurial adventure to open a muffin shop. While disrupting some stereotypes about women, it perpetuates new stereotypes about farmers.
Evans, C. S. (1920/2010) The sleeping beauty. Illus. Arthur Rackam. Kessinger Publications. Picture Book. This very lengthy version of the familiar fairy tale is most notable for its striking silhouette illustrations.
Evans, Shane W. (2011) Underground: Finding the light to freedom. Roaring Book. Picture Book. Freedom is a word that means different things to different people. For Southern African American slaves it meant escape to the North via a complex network known as the Underground Railroad. This sparely written text tells the story of one family’s journey and is meant to invite readers into exploring the topic and time period further.
Evans, Shane W. (2012) We march. Roaring Books. Picture Book. On August 28, 1963, 250,000 African Americans marched on Washington in a call for jobs, freedom, and racial harmony. The march ended at the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. In the minimalist style of text and art used in Underground: Finding the light to freedom (2011), Shane Evans makes this historical event come alive for even the youngest of readers.
Ewald, Wendy (2001) The best part of me: Children talk about their bodies in pictures and words. Little Brown. Picture Book. Ewald invites children to celebrate their heritage by taking close-up photographs of the part of them that they like best. Camila Villasana likes her hair-"It's wavy like the ocean." Colette Cosner likes her hands "because they turn the pages of a book slowly and magically." Andrew Legge likes his legs because they "carry me a long way." Each photograph is accompanied by a written explanation reproduced in childlike print. This volume constitutes a ready-to-go literacy invitation as readers will want to take their own pictures and write about the best parts of themselves for publication in a class book.
Fierstein, Harvey (2002) The sissy duckling. Illus. Henry Cole. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. Elmer is not like the other male ducklings. While they box, Elmer bakes. When they play football, Elmer builds sand castles. Bullied by Drake Duck and rejected by his father, Elmer runs away, only to witness his father being shot by hunters. Elmer tends him back to health and when the flock returns in the spring, he is seen as a hero.
Figueredo, D. H. (1999) When this world was new. Illus. Enrique O. Sanchez. Lee & Low. Picture Book. A boy and his parents, immigrants from a warm island country, are trying to get accustomed to their new home in New York City. Although everything seems strange to the boy, a walk through the snow with his father helps him to get over his fears.
Fleischman, Paul (1997) Seedfolks. Illus. Judy Pedersen. HarperCollins. Chapter Book. This amazingly complex short novel is told from the perspectives of thirteen residents of an ethnically diverse and polarized inner city neighborhood in Cleveland. Fleischman does a masterful job of intertwining the narratives and lives of the characters. Kim, a nine-year-old Vietnamese girl, plants dried lima beans in a trash-filled "vacant" lot in an attempt to connect spiritually with her father, a farmer who died soon after her birth. While Kim plants the seeds, Ana, an elderly neighbor who lives across the street from the lot, watches and decides that Kim must be hiding drugs. Her suspicion leads to a series of human interactions that transform an ugly trash heap into a community garden where people who had previously been distrustful of each other come together with a common purpose.
Fleischman, Paul (1998) Whirligig. Henry Holt. Chapter Book. The premise of this book is deceptively simple. The thoughtless act of an unhappy teenager has tragic results that set in motion a series of surprising events. As the story opens, the main character, Brent, is charged with the task of designing, constructing and placing four memorial whirligigs at various locations throughout the U.S. Readers follow Brent’s growth from a self-centered, careless teenager to a thoughtful young man. Although Brent's story is engaging in its own right, Fleischman inserts four completely independent narratives with the only connection to Brent’s story being the whirligigs. The characters in these four narratives have to rethink their own lives as a result of their encounter with one of the whirligigs. Taken together, the various layers in this novel provide readers with an understanding of the impact one individual can have on others, regardless of time or space.
Fletcher, Ralph (1998) Flying solo. Clarion Books. Chapter Book. Told from the perspective of different students in Mr. Fabiano's sixth grade class, this is the story of what happens when a substitute teacher doesn't show up and the class decides they'll run things by themselves for the day. When Mr. Fabiano returns, the varying responses to him about how the day went allow for great discussions on taking responsibility versus being irresponsible, and on how school practices can both inhibit and empower kids.
Forrester, Sandra (1997) My home is over Jordan. Lodestar. Chapter Book. Life was not easy for newly freed slaves at the end of the Civil War. Caught between the ruined economy and overt racism of the South, former slaves were often homeless and without means. Maddie Henry's family is better off than most since they have the money that her Papa earned working as a soldier for the Union Army. This is a story about voice—specifically how Maddie and other family members begin to gain voices and refuse to be silenced.
Fox, Mem (1989) Feathers and fools. Illus. Nicholas Wilton. Harcourt Brace. Picture Book. This allegory tells the story of a group of swans and a group of peacocks that share a peaceful coexistence until they realize that they are different. At that point they become suspicious of each other and “for safety’s sake” begin collecting weapons to protect themselves. When a reed for nest making is mistaken for an arrow, an all out war ensues and both groups of birds are ultimately decimated. Fortunately, some eggs remain, and the new swan and peacock hatchlings notice their similarities instead of their differences.
Fox, Mem (1989) Koala Lou. Illus. Pamela Lofts. Harcourt. Picture Book. Koala Lu longs to hear her mother tell her how much she loves her, but as more brothers and sisters arrive, she doesn’t hear her say it as often. To get her mother’s attention, she enters a climbing contest but she ends up losing. After hiding and crying, she comes home and finds her mother waiting to tell her that she always loves her and will never stop.
Fox, Mem (1989) Night noises. Illus. Terry Denton.Harcourt. Picture Book. While Lily Laceby dozes by the fire with her dog Butch Aggie, her 2 sons, 3 daughters, 14 grandchildren, and 35 great-grandchildren are making their way to her house to celebrate her 90th birthday. The story provides many examples of onomatopoeia (words that sound like what they mean) as Lily is awakened by strange noises.
Fox, Mem (1998) Tough Boris. Illus. by Kathryn Brown. Sandpiper. Picture Book. Boris von der Borch is a scruffy and fearless pirate who is nonetheless tender enough to cry when his pet parrot dies. This is an easy to read picture book that challenges “tough man” stereotypes.
Fox, Mem (2006) A particular cow. Illus. Terry Denton. Harcourt. Picture Book. While taking her regular Saturday morning walk, a cow experiences a series of accidental but very funny events. Young readers can use the pictures to predict how these events will unfold.
Fox, Paula. (1995) Monkey Island. Chapter Book. Clay Garrity is an 11-year-old with a big problem when he ends up abandoned and homeless in New York City. He gets some help from two homeless men but what they can provide is not enough to keep him from getting seriously ill. Throughout his traumatic time on the streets, Clay shows great courage and determination to keep searching for his mother. This book points out how the problems homeless people encounter make it hard for them to get out of the bad situations in which they find themselves.
Fox, Paula (1997) Radiance descending. DK Publishing. Chapter Book. Radiance Descending is a novel about an older brother, Paul, learning to accept a younger sibling, Jacob, who was born with Down's Syndrome. At the beginning of the novel Paul would be quite happy if Jacob didn't exist at all. While there is no huge transformation, by the end of the novel Paul is beginning to see the world through less egotistical eyes. Radiance Descending is an easy read that invites children to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviors toward others less fortunate than themselves.
Fradin, Dennis Brindell (2001) My family shall be free! The life of Peter Still. HarperCollins. Chapter Book. This book recounts the life of Peter Still and his family. Born into slavery, Peter and his brother Levin are separated from their mother and sister at the ages of six and seven. Deceived into believing they are being taken to their mother (who has escaped to freedom with their sisters), the two boys are sold to a plantation owner 600 miles from their home. So begins the story of how Peter and Levin wait over half a century for their chance at freedom. The text provides useful information on the Underground Railroad and the work of abolitionists during the mid 1800s.
Fradin, Dennis, & Fradin, Judith Bloom (2001) Ida B. Wells: Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. Clarion. Chapter Book. This historical account follows Ida's life as she crusaded against the unlawful treatment of African Americans in the early part of the twentieth century. Through her writing and speaking, Ida championed voting rights for women, spoke out against lynching, and helped to establish the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She was outspoken in her beliefs, suggesting that those who did nothing to stop lynching and discriminatory practices were just as guilty as those who actually did them.
Frame, Jeron Ashford (2003) Yesterday I had the blues. Illus. R. Gregory Christie. Tricycle Press. Picture Book. The family in this book feels a whole rainbow of colors from blue to green to red, yellow, and gold. This book provides a wonderful introduction to the topic of mood and its relationship to color.
Frank, John (2008) The toughest cowboy: Or how the wild west was tamed. Illus. Zachary Pullen. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. Grizz Bickbottom, the toughest cowboy in the west, flosses his teeth with barbed wire and drinks a quart of Tabasco sauce each day. Not only is he tough, but he is full of advice like “Never squat with your spurs on.” Nonetheless, it takes some effort for Grizz to convince his fellow cowboys that they need a canine companion on the trail. Although he wins this argument, Foofy, a miniature poodle, is not what Grizz or his fellow cowboys expected.
Frost, Helen (2003) Keesha’s house. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Young Adult. Keesha and six other troubled teenagers have found a safe place to live while they try to get their lives back on track. Through the use of traditional poetic forms, each of the teens tells his or her story. Readers hear from a pregnant girl, the confused father of the baby, an abused girl, a boy whose parents have disowned him because he’s gay, a boy whose parents are in prison, a girl arrested for drunk driving, and a girl who is angry at her mother and stepfather.
Gaiman, Neil (2008) The graveyard book. Illus Dave McKean. HarperCollins. Chapter Book. Nobody Owens (Bod) is the adopted name of the main character of this fantasy novel that mixes horror and humor. As a toddler, Bod toddles out of his house while the rest of his family is being brutally murdered. His wandering takes him into a graveyard where the spirits take his welfare as their responsibility and collectively decide that they will bring him up. The rest of the book is a coming-of-age story about Bod growing up and coming into his own as a person. While evil forces play a role in the story (especially at the beginning and end), many of the characters in the cemetery challenge stereotypes of evil spirits and ghosts.
Garden, Nancy (2000) Holly's secret. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Chapter Book. Twelve year-old Holly has a secret-- her parents are gay. Rather than face a new round of painful jokes and gay bashing, she comes up with "The Plan," a new identity for herself. She uses the opportunity of a family move to change into Yvette, the epitome of sophistication, normalcy and grown-up femininity. But keeping her two moms a secret is no easy task and may not be not such a great idea in the first place.
Garden, Nancy (2004) Molly’s family. Illus. Sharon Wooding. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Picture Book. Molly’s picture of her family raises many questions when her kindergarten classmates notice that she drew two mothers and no father. Through talks with her two mothers and her teacher, she comes to understand that families can come in many different forms and they don’t all need to look the same.
Gardiner, John Reynolds (1992) Stone fox. Illus. Greg Hargreaves. HarperCollins. Chapter Book. Willy is determined to win a dog sled race to save his grandfather’s farm. No one has ever beaten Stone Fox, one of the sled dogs in the race, but Willy trains daily with Searchlight, his dog. It seems like Willy might win the race until tragedy strikes.
Garland, Michael (1995) Dinner at Magritte’s. Dutton. Picture Book. This book tells the story of a young boy visiting the artists Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali. This visit helps him understand that anyone can paint what they see, but that what makes Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali paintings unique is that these artists paint what they think and what they dream.
Garland, Sherry (1977) The lotus seed. Illus. Tatsuro Kiuchi. Voyager. Picture Book. Being present when the last emperor of Vietnam abdicated the crown, the narrator of this story tells how his grandmother collected a lotus seed, brought it with her to the U.S., and lived long enough to see it bear fruit and seeds which she then distributed to her grandchildren. A story of continuity and hope as cultures are crossed and cultural traditions maintained.
Giles, Gale (2002) Shattering glass. Roaring Brook. Young Adult. Rob Haynes, an out-of-state transfer student, has it all – good looks, unshakeable confidence, and a hold on everyone around him. To prove his power he talks his personal clique into taking on the seemingly impossible task of making Simon Glass, a textbook geek, into one of the most popular kids in the class. Unlike the others, Simon sees Rob’s dark side and readers are invited to ponder the problems in following a charismatic but amoral leader.
Giovanni, Nikki (Ed.) (2008) Hip hop speaks to children: A celebration of poetry with a beat. Illus. Kristen Balouch, Michele Noiset, Jeremy Tugeau, Alicia Vergel de Dios, & Damian Ward. Scholastic. Picture Book with CD. This anthology of 51 hip hop pieces celebrates the poetry and music of a wide variety of artists, from Eloise Greenfield to Maya Angelou and Queen Latifah. The accompanying CD allows students to hear many of the original artists perform their pieces. The text allows readers to explore the rural and urban cultures that spawned these works.
Gleeson, Libby (2011) I am Thomas. Illus Armin Greder. Allen & Unwin. Sophisticated Picture Book. Thomas is being invited to be like everyone else – come to the Lord, open your heart and be saved, vote like us, think like us, let the army make you a man. But Thomas does not agree. An unsettling book
Glenn, Mel (2002) Split image. Putnam. Young Adult. Laura Li is a dutiful Asian daughter in the daylight, but at midnight her reputation changes. Using the multiracial and multiethnic voices of teachers and friends, Glenn poetically tells the story of what can happen when teenagers are denied the freedom to determine their own identities.
Gollub, Mathew (2000) The jazz fly. Illus. Karen Hanke. Tortuga. Picture Book with CD. Gollub creates original jazz as he tells the story of a fly asking critters how to get to town. Fortunately the fly hears music in the animals’ words and that evening he creates a jazz solo that listeners of all ages will want to hear again and again.
Gomi, Taro (1993) Everyone poops. Illus. Amanda Mayer Stinchecum. Kane Miller. Picture Book. As the simple text and illustrations suggest, eating leads to pooping for all animals, and that includes people. This book will be a favorite in any classroom since it focuses on a taboo topic that kids find interesting.
Gonzalez, Rigoberto (2005) Antonio’s card/La tarjeta de Antonio. Illus. Cecilia Concepcion Alvarez. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. Antonio is trying to figure out how to make a Mother’s Day card for his mother and her female partner. Although his classmates tease him about this situation, he knows that both women are important in his life. This bilingual story is told both in Spanish and English.
Goss, Janet, & Harste, Jerome C. (1981) It didn’t frighten me! Willowisp. Picture Book. “One pitch black night/Right after Mom set off the light/I looked out my window to see” (p. 1) a purple witch, a silver tiger, a red rhinoceros, and the endings to this repeated structure go on and on throughout the book. This is an extremely predictable book, one that many children remember as being helpful when they were learning to read.
Gourse, Leslie (2007) Sophisticated ladies: The great women of jazz. Illus. Martin French. Dutton. Chapter Book. Jazz historian Leslie Gourse presents the biographies of Bessie Smith, Mildred Bailey, Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee and ten other women who changed the landscape of popular music. Each biography is accompanied by a Martin French portrait of the singer.
Grant, Mira (2010) Feed. Orbit. Young Adult. A gripping post-apocalyptic 2039 tale in which bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason become the news team selected by the presidential candidate Senator Peter Ryman. Social media has become of age as it saved the world from a virus that reanimates the dead. Zombies, of course, attack the convention and are used by Ryman’s opponent to disrupt the campaign. This masterpiece of suspense encourages readers to notice that what is reported by the news media is not always true.
Greder, Armin (2007) The island. Allen & Unwin. Sophisticated Picture Book. What happens when a stranger visits “The Island”? They take in him. They understand they have a responsibility. But the stranger is not like them. They pen him up and because he disrupts ongoing life, they finally force him back out to sea. To insure that nothing this disturbing ever happens again they build a fortress around the island to keep everyone out, including the seagulls and cormorants. (The closing illustration shows the fortress and a seagull with an arrow shot through its body falling to earth.) Metaphorically the story explores xenophobia and a society’s notion of right, wrong, and who does and who does not belong.
Greder, Armin (2009) The city. Allen & Unwin. Sophisticated Picture Book. A mother goes to great lengths to protect her child by making sure he is never hurt, threatened, nor even influenced by other people. But, one day the mother dies and the child is left to decide what to do with her bones. Never having made a decision for himself, he is at a loss, until a wolf threatens him and he drops the bundle of bones. The book provides a great way to start conversations about problems that result when people constantly defer decision-making to others.
Green, John (2012) The fault in our stars. Dutton Juvenile. Chapter Book. Draw a circle representing all the kids in the world. Then draw a much smaller circle in the middle of this circle representing all the kids in the world with cancer. What you have is a Venn diagram of The fault in our stars. Here is an emotional and elegantly told story of Hazel and Augustus, both sixteen, who meet at a kids-with-cancer support group. This is a coming of age novel that addresses the hard questions of life – Will I be remembered? If so, why and for what? Does my life and death have meaning? Guaranteed to make you laugh as well as make you cry and, despite the topic, beg for more.
Greenberg, Jan (2003) Romare Bearden: Collage of memories. Harry Abrams. Picture Book. Romare Bearden (1911-1988) described his way of making art as “putting something over something else” (book jacket). Greenberg says that Bearden expands our notion of collage by experimenting with a variety of media while firmly rooting his artwork in the African American experience. Bearden’s folk art tells the story of what it means to be and grow up African American in the United States.
Greenfield, Eloise (2011) The great migration: Journey to the north (Illus. Jan Spivey Gilchrist). Amistad. Picture Book. This picture book of free-verse poetry tells the story of the great migration of blacks from the south to the north in search of a better life for their families. Interestingly, the period covered is 1915-1930 during which time both the author and illustrator’s families were part of the great migration. While written for very young children, this book might be used in conjunction with older students reading No crystal stairs (Rutland, 2009).
Grimes, Nikki (1999) My man blue. Illus. Jerome Lagarrigue. Dial. Picture Book. This is a beautifully illustrated book which addresses the stereotypes that haunt African-American males as they are often seen by visitors to the inner-city. My Man Blue is the story of a nurturing adult African American male, told in verse form from the perspective of an inner-city child.
Grimes, Nikki (2003) Bronx masquerade. Putnam. Chapter Book. “Open Mike Friday” is everyone’s favorite period in Mr. Ward’s English class. After Wesley writes a poem, 18 of his classmates clamor to use poetry to express frankly what is on their minds. The novel as a whole is a nice demonstration of the power of teaching as well as how teachers might use writing to inscribe the lives of the students they teach.
Grindley, Sally, & Varley, Susan (2006) Why is the sky blue? Andersen. Picture Book. Donkey, who is old and knows a lot, is more than willing to pass his knowledge on to Rabbit if only he would sit still and listen. Before Donkey can answer Rabbit’s question of why the sky is blue, Rabbit is off running around. When Rabbit doesn’t show up, Donkey gets concerned and goes to find Rabbit. On the way he rediscovers the joys of youth and finds Rabbit counting the spots on a ladybug. Donkey joins him and learns new things about ladybugs and how everyone has things to teach each other.
Grove, Vicki (1999) The starplace. Putnam. Chapter Book. The setting for this book is Quiver, Oklahoma in 1961 when racial segregation continues to be the unquestioned way of life despite the 1954 Brown versus Topeka Supreme Court decision. Celeste is the first black student to enroll in Frannie's school and the girls become friends. Without being heavy handed, the narrative exposes the attitudes of prejudice among the students, parents, and teachers at the school and recounts the story of the KKK's lynching of Celeste's grandfather.
Gunning, Monica (2004). A shelter in our car. Illus. Elaine Pedlar. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. Zettie and her mother, immigrants from Jamaica, are homeless and living in their car. This book provides a sympathetic yet realistic view of the problems encountered by people who are trying to survive on the street while also looking for work. In this case, the mother’s love and determination help her daughter stay positive in spite of all the problems they are experiencing.
Hague, Kathleen (1999) Ten little bears: A counting rhyme. Illus. Michael Hague. Morrow Junior Books. Picture Book. This easy to read, predictable book is a delightful counting rhyme about ten little bears who get up in the morning and keep losing one of their ranks for one reason or another. It starts: “10 Little Bears, time to rise and shine, one stayed in bed, then there were nine.” The rhyme continues with a surprise at the end. This is a great book for young children to chant along as a read aloud and then read on their own.
Hague, Michael (1993) Teddy bear, teddy bear. HarperCollins. Picture Book. Hague has illustrated the traditional rhyme, “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around. Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear touch the ground.” The Teddy Bear gets into some unexpected situations during the rhyme and his mother is there to clean things up. This is a good book for examining stereotypes.
Hakim, Joy (2007) A history of U.S.: 11 Volume Set. Oxford University Press. Illustrated Chapter Book. Hakim’s books have brought history to life for many children. The books include engaging prose, stunning illustrations, and a number of primary source documents. The series won the James Michener award from the National Council of Social Studies and is touted by many historians as being one of the most vivid and well-written accounts of history for young people.
Hal Leonard Corporation (2001) The lyric book: Complete lyrics for over 1,000 songs from Tin Pan Alley to today. Hal Leonard Corp. Song Book. This compilation of songs contains the lyrics to more than 1,000 songs in genres ranging from Broadway to jazz to early rock n’ roll, from Tin Pan Alley to love songs, many of which are still hits today.
Hannah, Jonny (2005) Hot jazz special. Candlewick. Picture Book with CD available as separate purchase from Mono Recordings. In this book, readers are introduced to eight greats in jazz through a trip with Henry to the Body and Soul Cafe. The book jacket unfolds to a poster and the fonts change on each page.
Hansen, Joyce (2007) Women of hope: African Americans who made a difference. Scholastic. Illustrated Chapter Book. Hansen's short biographies with photographs depict the lives of 13 African American women. The book is based on a series of posters from the Bread and Roses Cultural Project of the National Health and Human Service Employees Union (AFL-CIO), providing images of women who fought against injustice. Hansen introduces us to well-known African American women such as Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, as well as less famous women such as Dr. Mae C. Jemison, the first African American woman astronaut.
Haskins, James (1998) Separate but not equal: The dream and the struggle. Scholastic. Chapter Book. Haskins provides a gripping look at he history of black education in America from colonial times to the present day, starting with the 1957 Central High confrontation in Little Rock, Arkansas. The book describes numerous laws and court rulings that have had both positive and negative effects on education for African Americans in this country. This volume is fairly sophisticated and would work well at the middle school level.
Haskins, James, & Benson, Kathleen (2001) Building a new land: African Americans in Colonial America. Illus. James Ransome. HarperCollins. Chapter Book. Coretta Scott King Award winning author James Haskins along with Kathleen Benson describes the brutality of slave life in colonial America. The book presents many uncelebrated aspects of slavery including slave resistance, revolts, and rebellions. Building a New Land strengthens the argument that this country could not have been built without forced black labor.
Hautman, Pete, & Pritzker, Burton (2004) Godless. Simon & Schuster. Young Adult. This book won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and deals with difficult issues like agnosticism, faith, and freedom of religion. Rather than follow in his father’s footsteps, Jason Block decides to invent a new religion with a new god, the town’s water tower. Hautman begins each chapter with a Bible-like verse written from the perspective of his new religion.
Hearne, Betsy (1997) Seven brave women. Illus. Bethanne Andersen. Greenwillow. Picture Book. Feminism, pacifism, and genealogy are the themes woven through this book. None of the women here fought wars, but each did great things by nurturing generation after generation. This would be a great book to use in getting children interested in their own family histories.
Heide, Florence Parry, & Gilliland, Judith Heide (1992) Sami and the time of the troubles. Clarion. Picture Book. “My name is Sami, and I live in the time of the troubles. It is a time of guns and bombs.” These are the opening lines for a story about a ten-year-old boy who lives in a war-ravaged city where frequent bombings and gunfire make it unsafe for his family to leave the basement of his uncle’s house. As Sami and his family pass the long hours by remembering better times, readers learn they used to enjoy picnics at the beach and that Sami’s father owned peach orchards. We also learn that his father was killed in a bombing at the local market. There is some hope as the story goes on, however, because we read about a “good day” when the fighting stops temporarily and the family is able to leave the basement. Also, Sami’s grandfather reminds him of a time in the past when hundreds of children marched in the streets to ask for peace, and this is what Sami is thinking about as the book ends.
Helakoski, Leslie (2008) Woolbur. Illus. Lee Harper. HarperCollins. Picture Book. This book, with charming text and illustrations, is about Woolbur, a non-conformist sheep who has his own way of doing things on the sheep ranch. His parents try to get him to do things the right way, but Woolbur figures out how to get the other sheep to follow his novel ways of doing ranch jobs. Despite some problems, Woolbur is able to stay true to himself.
Henkes, Kevin (1991) Chrysanthemum. Greenwillow. Picture Book. Chrysanthemum, a seemingly perfect girl with doting parents, gets a rude awakening when she goes to school and gets teased about her name. This is something that happens to many students, so the book has universal appeal. It is an ALA Notable Book, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and is on the Horn Book Fanfare Honor List.
Heppner, Max Amichai (2007) I live in a chicken house. AuthorHouse.Chapter Book. Between ages 8 and 11, a Jewish boy named Max Heppner lived in a chicken coop with his family in Holland. To pass the time, he drew pictures. In this volume he uses these drawings (the originals of which are now in the Jewish Museum of Maryland) to tell his family’s life story during the Holocaust. In so doing, he convincingly demonstrates how destructive war is for children and childhood.
Hesse, Karen (1998) Just Juice. Illus. Robert Andrew Parker. Scholastic. Chapter Book. This multi-layered story is told from the point of view of nine-year-old Juice Faulstich, a chronically truant child who is happier at home with her unsuccessful father and pregnant mother than at school where she is constantly reminded of her inability to read. As the story unfolds, Juice comes to realize that her father is also a non-reader and that his lack of reading proficiency has brought the family to the brink of disaster in the form of eviction from their home. Juice begins to understand that although both she and her father are skilled in many ways, their acceptance by society and even by other family members is greatly affected by their status as illiterates. The book ends on a hopeful note as the family finds a way to avert eviction and makes literacy a goal for all of them.
Hesse, Karen (2001) Witness. Hyperion. Chapter Book. This book takes place in the 1920s as a town in Vermont comes face to face with the Ku Klux Klan. Told through the voices of the residents, this is the story of how a community comes to discover that they collectively must evict the Ku Klux Klan in order to once again feel safe. Part mystery, part social commentary, Witness explores race and identity from multiple viewpoints.
Hill, Eric (1980) Where’s Spot? Putnam. Picture Book. A predictable, participation book for beginning readers. Readers open flaps to see whether or not Spot is there. Of course he is not anywhere to be found-- except in the most logical of place at the end of the book.
Hill, Laban Carrick (2010). Dave the potter: Artist, poet, slave. Illus. Bryan Collier. Little Brown. Picture Book. This is the story of a South Carolina slave who was a potter and not credited for his art during his lifetime. Dave is portrayed as a powerful individual with hands and eyes that mesmerize and pots that are both big and useful. The text is simple, matching Dave’s poems, which he inscribes on the pots.
Hirschi, Ron (1996) People of salmon and cedar. Illus. by Deborah Cooper. Cobblehill. Chapter Book. Although this is a non-fiction text about the Native American tribes that populated the Northwest region of the United States, it is told like a story that invites the reader into these cultures to learn about their history and traditions. The text traces the history of tribes like the Suquamish, S'Klallam, and Lummi, and realistically recounts their struggles since their land was invaded by European Americans.
Hoban, Tana (1987) I read signs. Greenwillow. Picture Book. Real pictures of environmental print support beginning readers as they predict what each sign says based on their previous experience. This is great book for beginning readers.
Hoffman, Mary (1991) Amazing Grace. Illus. Caroline Binch. Dial. Picture Book. Grace uses her lively imagination to act out stories and assume the roles of her favorite characters. When she tries out for the part of Peter Pan in the class play, however, her classmates point out that she doesn't have a chance of getting it because she is a girl and because she is black. But Grace is independent and persistent as well as imaginative. She believes in herself and gets others to believe in her as well.
Hoffman, Mary (1997) An angel just like me. Illus. Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu. Dial. Picture Book. As Tyler's family prepares for Christmas, he discovers that the angel which usually tops their tree has broken. Wondering why all the representations of angels he has seen are female, pale and blond, Tyler sets out to find a black boy angel who looks more like him.
Hoffman, Mary (2002) The color of home. Illus. Karin Littlewood. Phyllis Fogelman. Picture Book. Hassan feels out of place in his new country. Everything seems gray and he doesn’t understand English. At school he paints a bright picture of his Somalian home and then uses dark colors to show how his home was destroyed in the war.
Hogrogian, Nonny (1971) One fine day. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. One fine day a thirsty fox stole milk from an old woman. As a result he lost his tail and spent the day bargaining to get it back. This is a good book for starting conversations about stereotypes and whether the punishment fits the crime.
Holiday, Billie, & Herzog, Arthur Jr. (2003) God bless the child. Illus. Jerry Pinkney. HarperCollins. Picture Book with CD. The lyrics of Billie Holliday’s song God Bless the Child supplies the text for this book. Together with Jerry Pinkney’s wonderful illustrations, this volume captures the spirit of African Americans moving from the south to the north during the Great Migration. Also included is a very helpful artist’s note about the Great Migration.
Holmes, Richard (2000) Eyewitness: Battle. DK Publishing. Picture/Chapter Book. This non-fiction reference book provides detailed illustrations of numerous combat weapons that have been used in various wars throughout history. The book’s message is that weapons are used for protection and are therefore helpful to the people. However, the assumptions underlying this message are left unquestioned.
Hoose, Phillip M. (2001) We were there too! Young people in U.S. history. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Chapter/Reference Book. Children have always gotten less attention than adults when it comes to American History. Phillip Hoose found that behind every major event in U.S. history there were young people – brave courageous, clever and strong. We were there too! Examines the lives of dozens of young people who helped shape our nation. This is history children can relate to, complete with photographs and illustrations as well as sidebars with fascinating tidbits of information.
Hoose, Phillip M., & Hoose, Hannah (1998) Hey, little ant. Illus. Debbie Tilley. Tricycle Press. Picture Book. In both music and words “Should I step on you or not?” is the question that is debated in this simple text made up of the conversation between a small boy and an ant. The book indirectly addresses issues of bullying as well as how we should treat other species on our planet. Rather than wrapping everything up in a nice tidy way, the authors leave these issues open to discussion and invite readers into the conversation.
Howard, Elizabeth (2005) Virgie goes to school with us boys. Illus. E. B. Lewis. Perfection Learning. Virgie is the youngest and only girl in a family of five boys. Virgie works hard to convince everyone she is old enough, strong enough, and smart enough to attend the school set up by the Quakers for recently freed blacks in Tennessee. At school Virgie say she is learning “to be free.” The story is based on the author’s great aunt, a tribe of annoying brothers, and two wise parents.
Howe, James (2005) Totally Joe. Ginee Seo Books. Young Adult. Totally Joe describes the hopes and anguishes of a gay character named Joe. In telling the story of his life, Joe describes how he liked to play dress up, owned at least four Barbies, and went through an Easy-Bake Oven stage. While he understands that he should be more like his older brother who likes to play football and even takes lessons from his friend Skeezie on how to be a “guy-guy,” he fails. After trying to teach and explain why men do not cross their legs, wave their hands around, or keep them folded in their lap, Skeezie gives up and says to Joe, “Just be who you are, okay?” (p. 11).
Hurd, Thatcher (1985) Mama don’ allow. HarperCollins. Picture Book. Miles lives in a swamp and loves to play music. His mother hates music and chases him away from the house. In the swamp he finds a number of others who also can’t play their music at home and together they form a swamp band. An alligator who overhears their music invites them to play at the Alligator Ball, but he has ulterior motives which Miles and his band members’ foil. This is an easy-to-read, predictable book.
Hurmence, Belinda (1997) Slavery time: When I was chillun. Putnam. Chapter Book. These 12 stories were selected from "Slave Narratives" that came out of the 1930s Works Progress Administration Interviewing Project. We hear the voices and stories of African American men and women who lived under slavery. These are voices that have been largely erased or ignored by American history and culture. The stories range from nostalgic recollections of childhood games and plantation cuisine to painful memories of deprivation and abuse.
Hutchins, Pat (1971) Rosie’s walk. Aladdin. Picture Book. The Fox is after Rosie the hen, but Rosie doesn’t know it. Unwittingly, she leads him into one disaster after another, each funnier than the last. This is an easy-to-read, predictable book for beginning readers. Igus, Toyomi (1998) I see the rhythm. Illus. Michele Wood. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. This is a uniquely visual and poetic introduction to the history of African American music. Beginning with the roots of black music in Africa and ending in hip hop, each stunning spread – including art, poetic text, a description of the music style, and a time line of historical events – cumulatively tells the story of black music in America.
Isadora, Rachel (1979) Ben’s trumpet. Greenwillow. Picture Book with CD available for purchase from the American Library Association’s Notable Recording Series. In this Caldecott Honor Book, Ben loves to stop and listen to the musicians in the Zig Zag Jazz Club filling the air with the sounds and rhythms of jazz. He even plays along on his imaginary trumpet as a new world of possibilities opens up to him.
Isadora, Rachel (1984) Max. Aladdin. Picture Book. Max walks Lisa to ballet class each day. One day Lisa’s ballet teacher invites Max, a crack baseball player, into the studio. While initially skeptical, Max finds out that ballet is a great way to warm up for hitting a home run.
Isadora, Rachel (2002) Bring on that beat. Putnam. Picture book. Rachel Isadora has long been fascinated by the challenge of capturing music in pictures. This book is no exception. Can you envision the illustration she created for: “When you rap and you rhyme; Remember that time – When cats played the beat; It was jazz on the street” (unpaged)? No?!? Then you’ll just have to take a look.
Iwaoka, Hisae (2010) Saturn apartments. VIZ Media LLC. Young Adult Graphic Novel Series. This book follows the Japanese manga format of reading from right to left. There are directions in the front on how to read the book. It takes place in the future on earth, where class and status are everything. How high an apartment you live in determines your status. Mitsu’s family is poor and throughout the book he is figuring out his place in the world.
Jackson, Ellen (1994) Cinder Edna. Illus. Kevin O’Malley. Lothrop. Picture Book. This updated version of the old Cinderella story adds an assertive and creative new neighbor named Cinder Edna who decides that sitting in the cinders is “a silly way to spend time” so she keeps warm by mowing the lawn and cleaning parrot cages for the neighbors for $1.50 an hour. While Cinderella approaches her problem of needing a dress for the ball by wishing for a fairy godmother who would change her rags into a beautiful gown, Cinder Edna uses her cage-cleaning money to put a dress on layaway. When Cinderella rides to the ball in an elegant coach (also supplied by the fairy godmother), Cinder Edna takes the bus. The book ends with Cinderella marrying the handsome (but deadly dull) prince and Cinder Edna marrying his goofy-looking (but definitely more fun) brother. Readers are invited to “Guess who lived happily ever after.” Readers are not invited to consider why this happy ending and so many others conclude with a heterosexual marriage, but the book provides an opportunity to ask that question.
Jiang, Ji-Li (1997) The red scarf girl: A memoir of the Cultural Revolution. HarperCollins. Chapter Book. "Chairman Mao, our beloved leader, smiled down at us from his place above the blackboard." Thus begins the true story of Ji-Li Jiang and her family from 1966 to 1969 during the Cultural Revolution in China. Mao commanded everyone to find and destroy the four “olds"--old ideas, old customs, old habits, and old culture. Because of her family's class status of being former landlords, Ji-Li and her family were publicly humiliated and threatened.
Jimenez, Francisco (1998) The Circuit: Stories from the life of a migrant child. University of New Mexico Press. Chapter Book. Told from the point of view of the author as a young child, The Circuit tells a series of inter-connected stories about what it means to be the child of a Mexican illegal immigrant without health insurance, job security, or even the right to an education. America is “La Frontera,” as are the strong familial bonds that maintain the family through all sorts of crises.
Johnson, Angela (2003) The first part last. Simon & Schuster. Young Adult. Using time and perception to give perspective, alternating chapters go back and forth between 16-year-old Bobbie’s present day attempts to cope with being a single teenage parent (“Now”) and the story of how family and friends reacted to his girlfriend Nia’s pregnancy (“Then”).
Johnson, Angela (2007) Just like Josh Gibson. Illus. Beth Peck. Aladdin. Picture Book. This seemingly simple story features a grandmother reminiscing about her love of baseball when she was young. She explains that although she could catch and hit better than any of the boys in her town, she couldn’t be on the baseball team because she was a girl. But one day when one of the regular team members couldn’t play, she was recruited to fill in and went on to become the star of the game. While the victory of a girl playing baseball is something to be celebrated, the gender discrimination underlying the entire story is not easily dismissed.
Johnson, Donald (2000) Henry hikes to Fitchburg. Houghton Mifflin. Picture Book. This book is critical only to the extent that teachers take time to question with readers the underlying issues it raises: Why is our society always on the go, thinking faster is better? What social practices keep this lifestyle in place? Who benefits? What do we as a society lose? How could we, like Henry (a.k.a. Thoreau) make a difference? The story line is simple: Two friends agree to go to Fitchburg to see the country. They choose very different methods of travel based on their very different approaches to life.
Johnson, Stephen (2008) A is for art: An abstract alphabet. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. Art, like language, is about discovery. In this book Johnson takes each letter of the alphabet and paints a picture of the linguistic associations he made with this letter. The language is complex but invites conversation and stimulates the imagination -- “B Blueberry Blues. Beside a bisected, black, bumpy bicycle tire, a bunch of busy burgundy brushstrokes blurs into a blue background with a broken bowl below at the bottom” (unpaged).
Johnston, Tony (2004) The harmonica. Illus. Ron Mazellan. Charlesbridge. Picture Book. This book is based on Henry Rosmaryn’s true story of how the harmonica his father gave him saved his life in a Nazi prison camp. The book captures the power music has on all of us as well as how music both suspends time and provides hope.
Jones, Bill T., & Kuklin, Susan (1998) Dance. Photographs by Susan Kuklin. Hyperion. Picture Book. Jones, a renowned performer and choreographer, shares his love of dance. The text in this photo-essay is brief and to the point while the close-ups of Jones’ hands and feet as well as Kuklin’s full-body shots captures the sheer joy of movement. A great book to use when introducing dance to students.
Joosse, Barbara (2001) Stars in the darkness. Illus. R. Gregory Christie. Chronicle. Picture Book. Joosse wrote this book for the “stars in the darkness,” the little brothers and sisters who have older siblings in gangs. The story describes the trials of a family with a child in a gang and how the neighborhood finally bands together to try and help the situation. Gang prevention resources are provided.
Kajikawa, Kimiko (2009) Tsunami! Illus. Ed Young. Philomel. Picture Book. Ojiisan, a wealthy old rice farmer who lives on the mountainside, feels tremors, sees the ocean recede, and realizes a tsunami is coming. To save the village people below he sets his rice fields on fire, an act of bravery and selflessness that draws the people to higher ground. This is the story of one man’s heroism and how it saved the lives of four hundred villagers.
Kaler, Rebecca (1993) Blueberry bear. Inquiring Voices Press. Picture Book. In this cumulative pattern book there is first a yellow bear and later a yellow bear with a red basket eating too many blueberries. Even the youngest readers will find the result and this book an easy predictable read.
Kaplan, William (1998) One more border: The true story of one family's escape from war-torn Europe. Illus. Stephen Taylor. Groundwood. Picture Book. In this historical non-fiction book, William Kaplan shares the story of his father's family as they escaped war-torn Europe during the late 1930s to avoid persecution for being Jewish. Through the story of the Kaplan family's escape, the reader learns about the oppression and marginalization of the Jews during the war. Inclusion of authentic artifacts such as photographs, maps and the visa that allowed Bernard, Igor and Nomi Kaplan to leave Europe provide a sense of realism.
Kasza, Keiko (1992) A mother for Choco. Putnam. Picture Book. This is the tale of a youngster (a chubby-faced yellow bird with blue-striped feet) searching for a loving parent. Animals with even the slightest physical resemblance interest him. Although most turn him away, Mrs. Bear takes him in and he meets others who become his brothers and sisters – a young alligator, a hippocampus, and a pig. The emphasis on sharing and caring despite differences will help children to understand what is really important about belonging and family.
Keith, Toby (2004) Courtesy of the red, white, & blue (The angry American). Greatest hits 2. DreamWorks Nashville. ASIN B00063F8CG. Song Album. Contains the lines: “My daddy served in the army/Where he lost his right eye/But he flew a flag out in our yard/Until the day that he died.”
Khan, Rukhsana (1998) The roses in my carpet. Illus. Ronald Hunter. Holiday House. Picture Book. Set in a refugee camp where the only food is bread and water, this story paints a stark picture of war for Afghan children. The child’s only joy is weaving a carpet containing intricate rose patterns. Throughout the book, he dreams of finding a space “the size of a carpet” where no bombs can strike and rose bushes abound.
Kim, Susan, & Klavan, Laurence (2010) Brain camp. Illus Faith Erin Hicks. First Second Publishing. Sophisticated Graphic Novel. Brain Camp follows Lucas, a tough kid from the wrong side of the tracks, and Jenna, an Asian girl who isn’t measuring up to her parents’ expectations, as they are bundled off to Camp Fielding where their parents have been guaranteed that they will come home as real go-getters. But horror of all horror, something is desperately wrong at brain camp. Counselors sneak into cabins at night with hypodermic needles and kids start acting strangely. Despite the setting, the book provides genuine insight into the social issues of dealing with parents, fitting into a new crowd, and handling the pressures of performance.
Koertge, Ron (2001) The brimstone journals. Candlewick. Chapter Book. Using the voices of the Branston High School class, poet Ron Koertge portrays the anatomy of a would-be high school shooting. Readers hear from Boyd, an angry young man, and his classmates – the fat kid, the activist, the egghead, the jock, the anorexic, the rich boy, the stud, the dyke, and the list goes on. Topics addressed include racism, classism, homophobia, and an entire high school melting pot of “isms.”
Konigsburg, E. L. (2000) Silent to the bone. Atheneum. Chapter Book. Silent to the Bone invites readers into a mystery to uncover a secret kept by Branwell, a 13-year-old boy who has been accused by a nanny of dropping his baby sister and putting her into a coma. He is being detained at the Clarion County Juvenile Behavioral Center and has been silent since the accident. Branwell's father, Dr. Z, asks his son's friend Conner to see if he could get Branwell to talk about what happened that fateful afternoon. Through visits at the detention center, Conner and Branwell discover that there are many ways to communicate without using speech. As clues are revealed, readers begin to see the many layers in the complex relationships between family members, friends, and peers.
Krull, Kathleen (2001) Harvesting hope: The story of Cesar Chavez. Illus. Yuyi Morales. Harcourt. Picture Book. Telling the story of Cesar Chavez with captivating illustrations, this book describes Chavez’s early years, both the good and devastating parts of being the child of migrant workers. The book tells the history of his leadership in organizing the National Farm Workers Association and the 1965 non-violent strike against grape growers in Delano. There is an excellent author’s note about Chavez’s life.
Kubler, Annie (2002) Head, shoulders, knees & toes. Child’s Play International. Picture Book. Eight parts of the body are introduced to young children as they read this book and sing its text. This is an easy-to-read, predictable book for very young readers.
Kurusa (2008) The streets are free. Illus. Monika Doppert. Annick. Picture Book. This is based on a true story of children living in a barrio of Caracas, Venezuela, who built their own playground. When they realized that the mayor’s promised playground must be built using their own sweat and hard work, they did just that.
Kyuchukov, Hristo (2004) My name is Hussein. Illus Allan Eitzen. Boyds Mills. Picture Book. At end of this book, Hussein, about age eight, asks, “What would you call me?” This question is important as Hussein and his family were forced to take Christian names after their country (Bulgaria) was invaded, even though they were Muslims and their Muslim names had historical and familial significance. This is an important book in that readers get a sense of what life is like in other parts of the world for children who live under repressive regimes.
Laden, Nina (1998) When Pigasso met Mootisse. Chronicle Books. Picture Book. This is a story of the friendship between Matisse and Picasso told in the characters of a bull and a pig. While initially they don’t like each other’s styles of painting, over time they learn to collaborate and to create amazing “works of heart.”
Landowne, Youme & Horton, Anthony (2008) Pitch black. Cinco Puntos Press. Sophisticated Picture Book. After meeting on a subway platform in New York City, Landowne and Horton share a conversation about art and life. Landowne listens carefully as Anthony tells his story of living on the streets, making a home for himself six stories under the city, and seeing “things no kid should ever see.” Written in almost graphic novel style, the text is terse, and the images powerful. This is a true-to-life collaboration between author and illustrator that will appeal to children and to teens.
Lawton, Clive (2004) Hiroshima: The story of the first atom bomb. Candlewick. Picture Book. This is a non-fiction account of Hiroshima before and after the bomb was dropped. It recounts the history of the atomic bomb covering the Manhattan Project, Truman’s decision to use the bomb, the Enola Gay mission, and the aftermath of the explosion.
Layman, John (2009) Chew Volume 1: Taster’s choice. Illus Rob Guillory.Imagine Comics. Graphic Novel. Tony Chu is a detective with a weird secret: He gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. He ends up working for the FDA, which has become a critical crime-fighting agency due to a bird flu epidemic. As teen readers might expect and hope, Tony gets invited to investigate the strangest, sickest, and most bizarre cases the Special Crimes Division has to offer.
Lears, Laurie (1998) Ian's walk: A story about autism. Illus. Karen Ritz. Albert Whitman. Picture Book. This book explores not only the range of emotions Julie feels as a sibling to an autistic child, but also the ways in which Ian himself experiences and senses the world "differently." On the journey to the park, Ian wants to smell bricks, not flowers, and once there, he lies with his cheek on the concrete instead of feeding the ducks. After Ian becomes lost in the park, Julie tries hard to enter his world and figure out where Ian would go. In so doing, she not only finds her brother, but also finds a way to connect with him and share experiences together.
Lee, Harper (1960) To kill a mocking bird. Lippincott. Chapter Book. A black man is charged with the rape of a white girl in this classic tale of racism, prejudice, and hypocrisy in the deep south in the 1930s. Atticus Finch defends the man as his children, Scout and Jem, narrate the story of one man’s heroism against the odds.
Lee-Tai, Amy (2006) A place where sunflowers grow. Illus. Felicia Hoshino. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. Inspired by the experiences of the author’s Japanese American grandparents during World War II, this picture book, written in English with Japanese translations, celebrates creativity. Everything is grim in Mari’s life, but with the encouragement of her parents and an art teacher, Mari creates crayon drawings that lift her spirit, metaphorically paralleling the sprouting of her mother’s sunflower seeds.
Lester, Helen (1999) Hooway for Wodney Wat. Illus. Lynn Munsinger. Houghton Mifflin. Picture Book. Poor Rodney Rat is teased by his classmates because he has trouble pronouncing his “Rs.” He fixes Camilla, the class bully, and becomes the hero of his class, but in doing this becomes a bully himself. This is a great book to read in support of students with a speech problem in your class and also a way to get at some of the tough issues around bullying.
Lester, Julius (1998) From slave ship to freedom road. Illus. Rod Brown. Dial. Sophisticated Picture Book. This disturbingly graphic picture book leads readers through the painful experience of slavery, beginning with the ocean passage and auction block, and ending with freedom for those who were fortunate enough to be alive when that happened. Haunting paintings by artist Rod Brown anchor the story and serve as the main focus. While the story recounts horrendous acts like throwing sick and dying slaves overboard during the long journey from Africa to the American colonies, it is usually the impenetrable strength and endurance of the Africans that stays with readers as the most memorable aspect of the book.
Lester, Julius (2001) The blues singers: Ten who rocked the world. Illus. Lisa Cohen. Hyperion. Picture Book. Here, in the voice of a grandfather passing on a legacy to a younger generation, Julius Lester introduces ten of the most notable blues singer in history including Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, B. B. King, and James Brown to name but a few.
Lester, Julius (2005) Let’s talk about race. Illus. Karen Barbour. HarperCollins. Picture Book. Julius Lester begins this book by announcing that he is a story. He proceeds to tell his story with details that kids enjoy, like his favorite food, hobbies, and time of day. “Oh, there is something else,” he says, “I’m black.” Throughout the narrative he asks questions of readers in an effort to create a dialogue about who they are and how, despite color differences, we are all alike.
Levine, Ellen (2007) Henry’s freedom box. Illus. Kadir Nelson. Scholastic. Picture Book. Henry Brown was a slave. After experiencing his family being sold off, he decided to fight, even if fighting meant risking his life. Together with participants in the Underground Railroad, Henry “Box” Brown, as he became known, had himself mailed to Philadelphia and freedom.
Lionni, Leo (1969) Alexander and the wind-up mouse. Knopf. Picture Book. Everyone loves Willy the wind-up mouse while Alexander, a real mouse, gets chased away with brooms and mousetraps. Alexander wishes he were a wind-up mouse too. Alexander and the wind-up mouse explores friendship in typical fable fashion.
Lionni, Leo (1995) Little Blue and Little Yellow. HarperCollins. Picture Book. Little Blue and Little Yellow share wonderful adventures. One day they can't find one another. When they finally meet, they are overjoyed and hug until they become green.
Littlefield, Holly (2001) Children of the Indian boarding schools. Carolrhoda. Chapter Book. This book takes a hard look at Indian boarding schools and the effects they had on children and parents during the early 1800s and 1900s. The tale being told is not all bad since the boarding schools did help some Indian families survive during the depression. But change was needed, and some of it still remains to be accomplished today.
Lobel, Arnold (1972) Frog and Toad together. Harper & Row. Picture Book. Frog and Toad are best friends. They do everything together. When Toad admires the flowers in Frog’s garden, Frog gives him seeds to grow a garden of his own. When Toad bakes cookies, Frog helps him eat them. And when both Frog and Toad are scared, they are brave together. This is an easy-to-read, predictable book for young readers.
London, Jonathan (2000) Who bop? Illus. Henry Cole. HarperCollins. Picture Book. “Who bop? We bop. We all bop for be-bop!” (unpaged). So begins this book on jazz which can be used with even the youngest children to help them feel the rhythm of be-bop. So, “Hip-hop, doodlee-wop, let’s go to the sock hop!” (unpaged).
Lopez de Mariscal, Blanca (2001) The harvest birds/Los pajaros de la casecha. Illus. Enrique Flores. San Val. Picture Book. Juan Zanate likes to sit under his favorite tree dreaming of becoming a farmer. When his father dies, Juan’s two older brothers get the farm. Juan is disappointed but learns that he has the power to determine his own destiny. This is a sensitive book about nature, rural Mexican traditions, and the importance of dreams.
Lorbiecki, Marybeth (2006) Jackie’s bat. Illus. Brian Pinkney. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. Joey, the batboy, recounts Jackie Robinson’s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Torn between what he had been taught at home – “it ain’t right, a white boy serving a black man” – and keeping his job, Joey grapples with his own prejudice, hostility from fans, and what it means to be a true sportsman.
Lorbiecki, Marybeth (1996) Just one flick of a finger. Illus. David Diaz. Dial Books. Sophisticated Picture Book. This is an urban tale of two boys trying to cope with the violence that guns bring into their lives. The boys know well enough the dangers of guns and can articulate the reasons to avoid using these weapons. Yet, when one of the boys feels threatened by an older peer, he decides to ignore what good sense tells him and brings his father's gun to school. The use of street language and rhyme gives the story the feel of a rap song.
Lorbiecki, Marybeth (1998) Sister Anne’s hands. Illus. K. Wendy Popp. Dial. Picture Book. Told in the style of a memoir from the 1960s, this book tells the story of second grader Anna Zabrocky, who is surprised to discover that her new teacher, Sister Anne, is African American. Since Sister Anne believes in active learning and the power of story, Anna is also surprised to discover how exciting school can be. Tension arises, however, when Sister Anne intercepts a paper airplane containing a racial slur. Skillful educator that she is, she uses this incident as an opportunity to teach her students about race, oppression and social action. Hands become a metaphor for reaching across the racial divide.
Low, William (1997) Chinatown. Holt. Picture Book. Chinatown is a city within a city. It is home to restaurants. Best of all, Chinese New Year brings a New Year’s Day parade complete with a lion dance. This is an easy-to-read, predictable text with pictures that will give young readers lots to talk about
Lowry, Lois (1983) The one hundredth thing about Caroline. Illus. Diane de Groat. Houghton Mifflin. Caroline and her brother live with their mother in an apartment. While their mother is dating a man, Caroline finds a note that says, “eliminate the children.” Caroline and her brother figure they’re the potential victims. Joining forces with a friend, the team gathers evidence to expose the plot.
Lowry, Lois (2000) Gathering blue. Houghton Mifflin. Chapter Book. Orphaned and physically flawed, Kira faces death in a futuristic society that shuns and discards the weak. When summoned to the Council of Guardians, Kira is surprised to find that the Council has plans for her and her talent for weaving. While performing her new duties, Kira gathers "blue" (a metaphor for truth) and begins to question taken-for-granted notions of community, creativity, and values. Like Lowry’s earlier book, The Giver, Gathering Blue is a provocative tale that inspires contemplation long after the last page is turned.
MacHale, D. J. (2004) Pendragon (Boxed Set): The merchant of death; The lost city of Foe; The never war. Aladdin. Chapter Books. Bobby Pendragon, a seemingly normal 14-year-old boy, had a family, a home, and a dog. Then one day his Uncle Press showed up telling Bobby that some people need his help. Bobby learns that he is a Traveler and that it is up to him to save Halla which is being threatened by an evil enemy named Saint Dane.
Mackler, Carolyn (2003) The earth, my butt, and other big, round things. Candlewick. Young Adult. This story about 15-year-old Virginia recounts her large size, eating junk food, and being incessantly on the web. Virginia’s siblings and parents are all thin and successful, although each has his or her flaws. The story touches on issues of date rape, eating disorders, and parental pressure and is told using various media such as journal entries and email. This book was a Printz honor book winner.
Magoon, Scott (2007) I’ve painted everything. Houghton Mifflin. Picture Book. Hugo the elephant thinks he has painted everything until he goes to Paris and gets inspired by how other artists have painted everyday things from new perspectives. “If I change the way I look at things, I’ll never run out of ideas,” said Hugo. “And he never did” (unpaged).
Marin, Guadalupe Rivera, & Rivera, Diego (2009) My papa Diego and me: Memories of my father and his art. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. Written in both Spanish and English, the text in this picture book tells the story of Guadalupe growing up with her famous artist father, Diego Rivera. While Diego is known for his murals, this book features the paintings he did of Guadalupe and the children he encountered throughout his career. This is a wonderful new look at an artist most readers will think they already know.
Marshall, James (1993) Red Riding Hood. Penguin. Picture Book. Retold and illustrated by Marshall, “Granny isn’t feeling up to snuff today,” so Red Riding Hood is on her way to Grandma’s house. This is a fresh retelling that invigorates the spirit of the classic tale without ruining the fundamental story.
Martin, Bill, Jr. (1983) Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? Illus. Eric Carle. Holt. Picture Book. “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” is a repeated structure through this book. When brown bear sees a yellow duck, the structure becomes “Yellow duck, yellow duck, what do you see?” This classic predictable book is a favorite of many beginning readers and their teachers.
Martinez, Alejandro Cruz (1999) The woman who outshone the sun/La mujer que brillaba aun mas que el sol. Illus. Fernando Olivera. Children’s Book Press. This bilingual (English/Spanish) book retells the Zapotec legend of Lucia Zentano, a woman so radiant and beautiful that all the creatures of nature loved her, including the river that ran by the village. Many of the people loved and respected her too, but others feared her beauty and treated her cruelly. Finally they drove her from the village. But when Lucia left, she took the river with her. The villagers suffered drought and misery until they finally found her again and begged her forgiveness. She promised that the river would return only if the people would agree "to treat everyone with kindness, even those who seem different from you."
Martinez, Victor (1996) Parrot in the oven: Mi vida. HarperCollins. Chapter Book. In Mexico there is a saying about a parrot who complains how hot it is in the shade, while all along he is sitting in an oven. In this novel, the protagonist is known as Perico ("parrot" in Spanish), and the more one reads, the more one comes to appreciate the appropriateness of the book's title. Perico is growing up in an oven where his sister dates one of the roughest characters in the barrio, where gang membership is assumed, and where participation in what the gang does, even if it involves robbery, is considered common practice.
Maruki, Toshi (1980) Hiroshima no pika (The flash of Hiroshima). Lothrop. Picture Book. This book follows a family in Hiroshima as they attempt to escape the devastation of the atomic bomb blast on August 6, 1945. The text and illustrations graphically describe the sudden change from peaceful life in the city to widespread chaos and destruction caused by the collapse of buildings and a huge fire that engulfs the area. While the father of the family ultimately dies from radiation sickness, the girl and her mother survive and remember the event each year on its anniversary-- with the wish that it never happens again. An “About This Book” section at the end describes how the author was inspired to write the story by meeting a survivor whom she later wrote about as the mother of the family.
Marx, Trish (2000) One boy from Kosovo. Photographs by Cindy Karp. HarperCollins. Chapter/Picture Book. Global conflicts involve each of us, whether our response is action or inaction. The story line focuses on Edi Fejzullahus, a 12-year-old Albanian, and his family as they are driven from their home in Kosovo by Serbian soldiers. An introductory chapter provides historical and political context not only for the conflict abroad but for questioning our society's practices relative to the rest of the world. At issue are questions about the kind of people we wish to be, why we respond to some world crises and not others, what responsibilities we have to people in other nations, and how we might make a positive difference both locally and globally.
Mason, Margaret H. (2010) These hands. Illus. Floyd Cooper. Houghton Mifflin. Picture Book. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that deciding what jobs people could do based on their skin color was against the law. This is the story of Joseph and his grandfather as he teaches Joseph to tie his shoes. “These hands,” his grandfather says, “could play the piano, throw a curve ball, and fix a bowline” but they weren’t allow to touch the Wonder Bread dough where he worked. The book provides a compelling oral history of the unwritten rules that supported racial discrimination in America and a nice jumping off point for exploring the “unwritten rules” that might still be operating.
McCully, Emily Arnold (1996) The ballot box battle. Alfred Knopf. Picture Book. Set in the late 1800s, this book weaves history and fiction as it shares the parallel stories of two female characters and their attempts to challenge social norms and expectations. Cordelia is a young girl and neighbor to suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. As the book unfolds, we learn of Cordelia's desire “to jump a four foot fence on horseback” and Elizabeth’s story of going to the polls to attempt to vote and fight for women's suffrage.
McCully, Emily Arnold (1996) The bobbin girl. Dial. Picture Book. Rebecca Putney is a ten-year-old bobbin girl in 19th century Lowell, Massachusetts, who works 13 hours a day under unhealthy conditions in order to help support her family. The story supports conversation about child labor, child abuse, and unfair labor practices. McCully's use of a dark palette sets the tone and captures the working conditions girls faced during this period in our history.
McDermott, Gerald (1974) Arrow to the sun: A Pueblo Indian tale. Viking. This Caldecott Medal winning book is extremely controversial in the Native American community. Issues of accuracy and putting sacred objects into the text have created lots of dialogue and debate around this text.
McEwan, Ian (1987) Rose Blanche. Illus. Roberto Innocenti. Lectorium. Sophisticated Picture Book. A young German girl discovers a concentration camp in the woods outside her town. While she daily takes food and befriends several children, one day she discovers the camp abandoned and the people gone. This is an adult story cast in children’s book form. McGovern, Ann (1997) The lady in the box. Illus. Marni Backer. Turtle Books. Picture Book. Two children befriend a homeless woman who is trying to survive the winter living in a cardboard box next to a heat vent. Since they see her everyday, they become concerned about her and begin to take food and warm clothes to her. When the lady is ordered to move away from the vent, they are horrified and tell their mother about the situation. Their mother takes action to get the lady back to the warm grate and all three of them start to work as volunteers in a local soup kitchen.
McGuffee, Michael (1996) The day the earth was silent. Illus. Edward Sullivan. Inquiring Voices Press. Picture Book. The class makes a beautiful new flag which they want to share with all the earth! The principal asks, "Why try?" But one child insists, "Why not try?" In this story, children keep asking their good questions, cooperating, and insisting on a unity among all people until the whole world is awed and healed by their vision. But this isn't simply a story of visionary optimism--it's also about the importance of persistence and cherishing small yet significant moments of change. Edward Sullivan's illustrations radiate the bright energy of kids engaged in creative expression and social action.
McKissack, Patricia C. (2011) Never forgotten (Illus. Leo & Diane Dillon). Schwartz & Wade. Picture Book. Given the brilliant paintings of Leo and Diane Dillon that are reminiscent of woodcuts, this book strikes one picking it up as a coffee-table book. Set in West Africa, the story being told is one of a young black boy who is kidnapped and sold into slavery while his father, a blacksmith, is left to mourn. Both beautiful and lyrical, the text may be difficult for young children to follow and understand without teacher or parental guidance. Regardless, the book strikes anyone picking it up as keepsake that should be shared broadly.
McNaughton, Colin (2005) Once upon an ordinary school day. Illus. Satoshi Kitamura. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Picture Book. An ordinary boy has an ordinary school day until Mr. Gee shows up and makes it an extraordinary day by inviting the children to listen to music and let their imaginations flow. This book is a delightful read aloud.
McPhail, David (1999) Mole music. Scholastic. Picture Book. Can music change the world? Mole, who diligently works to master the violin, doesn’t think so, though he continues to hope. While he plays on and on in his underground home, McPhail’s illustrations show his audience above ground growing and his wish for a more peaceful world coming to be.
McPhail, David (2002) The teddy bear. Holt. Picture Book. A young boy leaves his beloved teddy bear in a diner. A homeless man finds it in the trashcan and takes care of it by tucking it in his coat pocket and sleeping with it. One day he leaves the teddy bear on a park bench just when the child and his parents happen to be passing by. The youngster is pleased to find his old friend but when the man cries out, “Where is my bear?” the child returns the stuffed animal to him. There are lots of moral and ethical issues to explore with children.
Mellencamp, John (2003) To Washington. Trouble no more. Sony. ASIN B0000940U1. Song. Contains the lines: “So a new man is in the White House/With a familiar name/Said he had some fresh ideas/But it’s worse now since he came.”
Meltzer, Milton (2001) There comes a time: The struggle for Civil Rights. Random House. Chapter Book. Meltzer traces the roots of racism back to slavery, describes the brutality of the segregated South in the first half of the 1900s, and chronicles the sit-ins, freedom rides, and other key events in the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. Children played an important role in this history, and Meltzer features them in the stories and black and white pictures.
Merriam, Eve (1999) The wise woman and her secret. Illus. Linda Graves. Aladdin. Picture Book. The wise woman is so wise that people come from far and wide to learn the secret of her wisdom. While the wise woman’s practice of telling them that they will have to discover it for themselves frustrates many, Jenny lags behind noticing things that others miss and in so doing discovers the wise woman’s secret.
Meyer, Stephenie (2005) Twilight. Little Brown. Young Adult. At age 17, Bella elects to move to her dad’s cabin in Washington rather than move to Florida with her mother. There she meets Edward Cullen, a disarmingly handsome senior who is also a vampire. Because the vampire family to which Edward belongs hunts animals rather than humans, Bella feels safe. All the twists – predator falls for prey, human falls for vampire – make for exciting reading.
Meyer, Stephenie (2011) Breaking Stalin’s nose. Holt. Chapter Book. Breaking Stalin’s nose covers two days in the life of Sasha Zaichik, who since the age of 6 has wanted to join the Soviet Young Pioneers. As Sasha’s world unravels (his father gets arrested and he accidently breaks the nose off of a statue of Stalin they have in their school), readers are given a glimpse of what it was like to live in the Soviet Union during Stalin’s rule. Brief, eye-opening, and powerful.
Michelson, Richard (2010) Busing Brewster. Illus. R. G. Roth. Knopf. Picture Book. This is the story of Brewster, who gets bused from his own neighborhood to Central, the white school. When the bus arrives at school, there are people picketing and a rock crashes through one of the windows of the bus. There is some hope at the end of the book through Brewster’s interactions with Central’s librarian. There is an author’s note at the end about the history of school busing to achieve desegregation.
Milich, Zoran (2005) City signs. Kids Can Press. This book is full of photographs of people and places that are part of everyday life. Each photo has words on it that young readers can read. This is a great book for emergent readers.
Miller, William (1998) The bus ride. Illus. John Ward. Lee & Low. Picture Book. Based on the Montgomery bus boycott and framed through the experience of Rosa Parks, The Bus Ride can be used as a vehicle for starting conversations about systems of meaning that 'other' certain groups of people are maintained. The book opens up space to talk about the role the media can play in raising consciousness or maintaining inequities.
Miller, William (2001) Rent party jazz. Illus. Charlotte Riley-Webb. Lee & Low. This story takes place in New Orleans and recounts how Sonny was able to find a solution to paying the rent after his mom lost her job. He runs into a famous jazz musician who tells him about the tradition of rent parties in African American communities in the South and North.
Mitchell, Margaree King (1997) Granddaddy's gift. Illus. Larry Johnson. BridgeWater. Picture Book. On her 18th birthday, Little Joe is able to register to vote simply by filling out a voter registration card. She does this while remembering her granddaddy's gift--his example of standing up for things he believed in and being proud, even when he was afraid. This book celebrates the gift given to us by preceding generations who made a difference in the struggle for human dignity and civil rights for all.
Mochizuki, Ken (1997) Passage to freedom: The Sugihara story. Illus. Dom Lee. Lee & Low. Sophisticated Picture Book. In July 1940, young Hiroki Sugihara, son of the Japanese consul to Lithuania, saw hundreds of Jewish refugees from Poland gathered at the gate of his family's house. These people wanted the Consul to give them travel visas so that they could escape from imminent persecution. After Consul Sugihara was denied permission to give out visas to the refugees, for the next month he hand wrote thousands of visas. This book raises important topics such as human rights; the relationships between compassion, courage, and sacrifice; non-violent resistance; and the power of the pen as an instrument of social justice.
Mora, Pat (1997) Tomás and the library lady. Illus. Raul Colón. Knopf. Picture Book. Based on the life of Tomás Rivera, a migrant farm worker who became a national education leader and University of California chancellor, this story shows how literacy and access to good books can work together to give voice to people who historically have been marginalized. This book would be a good addition to a text set dealing with inequities and harsh working conditions in the workplace.
Mora, Pat (2009) Book fiesta! Celebrate children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos el dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros. Illus. Rafael Lopez. Rayo. Picture Book. This Pura Belpré Award winning book, celebrates the joys of reading in English and Spanish in all kinds of places with all kinds of creatures.
Morrison, Toni, & Morrison, Slade (1999) The big box. Illus. Giselle Potter. Hyperion. Picture Book. This seemingly humorous book has a haunting message about children who don't fit accepted definitions of what it means to be "normal." In poetic form, the authors tell the stories of Patty, Mickey and Liza Sue, who live in a big brown box with doors that open "only one way." Because of their behavior, the adults who are responsible for these children have concluded that they just can't handle their freedom and must be locked away. Although they are provided with lots of toys and "fun" items like beanbag chairs and Bubble Yum, the children are portrayed as prisoners who have been separated from their families and peers. The story is reminiscent of children who are pulled out of their regular education classes and segregated in special education classes because they don't meet the standard definition of what children at any specific age should be able to do.
Mortenson, Greg & Relin, David Oliver (2007) Three cups of tea: One man's journey to change the world... one school at a time. Penguin. Young Adult. This is the story of Mortenson’s near disastrous climb of K2 and his rescue after the people of a Pakistani village took him in. In return he vowed to return to build schools, which is what he did.
Mortenson, Greg & Relin, David Oliver (2009) Three cups of tea: One man's journey to change the world... one school at a time (The Young Reader's Edition). Adapted by Sarah Thomson. Puffin. Chapter Book with Photographs. The same story as the original Three Cups of Tea, but for intermediate readers.
Mortenson, Greg, & Roth, Susan (2009) Listen to the wind. Illus. Susan L. Roth. Dial. Picture Book. This is the same story as the original Three Cups of Tea, but told in picture book format. What makes the book special is the scrapbook of real pictures that end up enriching the opening story line, as well as the artist’s notes which document Susan Roth’s attempt to create art that is culturally sensitive and reflective of the region being discussed. From a critical perspective one might question the notion of schooling being imposed, rightfully ask whose story is being told and wonder, in the end, if the book isn’t just an advertisement for the Pennies for Peace program.
Moss, Lloyd (1995) Zin! Zin! Zin! A violin. Illus. Marjorie Priceman. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. “The strings all soar, the reeds implore, the brasses roar with notes galore. It’s music we all adore. It’s what we go to concerts for” (jacket cover). Through a musical stream of rhyming couplets, this book introduces children to the feel of music, the names of musical groups, and the instruments that make up an orchestra.
Muller, Jorg (1996) El soldadito de plomo/The Lead Soldier. Loguez. Wordless Picture Book. A tin soldier and a Barbie doll are discarded and end up in a third world nation where they are recycled as children’s toys. A tourist buys the recycled toys and over time they end up in a historical museum as treasured artifacts. This delightful story invites conversations about the psychological, cultural, and political stories and social practices that give meaning to artifacts in our everyday world.
Mullin, Mike (2011) Ashfall. Tanglewood. Young Adult. Left alone while his family is visiting relatives, Alex thinks he’s in for a fun weekend when a super-volcano under the geysers of Yellowstone National Park erupts. This is a gripping story of environmental disaster, human determination, and a life-changing journey.
Munsch, Robert (1983) The paper bag princess. Illus. Michael Martchenko. Annick. Picture Book. Just when she is about to marry Prince Ronald, a dragon smashes the feisty Princess Elizabeth’s castle and burns up everything she owns, including her clothes. Elizabeth dons a paper bag and sets out to find Ronald. Even in her disheveled state, she figures out how to trick the dragon, and comes to discover she is better off alone than trying to live happily ever after with a snob likeRonald.
Murphy, Claire Rudolf (2011) Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the fight for women’s suffrage (Illus. Stacy Schuett). Peachtree. Picture Book. In this piece of historical fiction, Bessie, a 10-year old, is upset because she is a girl and in 1896 it is unseemly for girls to go hiking. As a result Bessie stays home and meets the aging Susan B. Anthony who is in California to give a speech on woman’s suffrage. “Aunt Susan,” as everyone calls her, inspires Bessie and her friend Rita to participate in the movement, making posters and licking envelopes. While the bill Aunt Susan is fighting for does not pass the California legislature in 1896, the book ends on a happy note with Bessie’s mother learning to ride a bicycle and Bessie going hiking with her father. Both events are used metaphorically as symbols of the new freedoms for women that were achieved during this historical period.
Myers, Christopher (2000) Wings. Scholastic. Picture Book. Ikarus Jackson, a new kid in the neighborhood, is very different from everyone else-- he has wings and he flies. This Icarus-inspired character is relentlessly taunted and laughed at by other kids and ordered out of school by his teacher. The narrator, an extremely quiet girl who is also an outsider, feels a connection to Ikarus but remains silent for most of the book. After a policeman orders Ikarus off of the top of a building, the girl wonders, "Could the policeman put him in jail for flying, for being too different?" This realization brings her to action and she invites conversations about difference and diversity.
Myers, Walter Dean (1999) Monster. Amistad. Sophisticated Chapter Book. “Monster” is what the prosecutor calls Steve Harmon, age 16, for his role in the fatal shooting of a convenience store owner. Written as a screen play which moves between Steve’s journal entries and transcripts of his trial, the reader becomes both juror and witness.
Myers, Walter Dean (2002) Patrol: An American solider in Vietnam. Illus. Ann Grifalconi. HarperCollins. Picture Book. Patrol tells the human story of war from the perspective of a young recruit who was supposed to shoot an equally young enemy but couldn’t. This book provides a counter-narrative to use in a text set on war.
Myers, Walter Dean (2003) Blues journey. Illus. Christopher Myers. Holliday House. Picture Book. The blues collection includes sharecropper poems, Jim Crow poems, and bitter poetry about chain gangs and lynching. But there is love, too, and it comes across in the text as well as in the limited blue, black, and brown palette of Christopher Myers’ award winning illustrations.
Myers, Walter Dean (2004) Here in Harlem: Poems in many voices. Holiday House. Middle School/Young Adult. Imagine all of the people you might meet on a street corner in Harlem: Langston Hughes, Joe Louis, old men, stately ladies, poets, lovers, and musicians. Match the poems you write about these people to photographs you love and you have Here in Harlem. This is poetry at its very best.
Myers, Walter Dean (2006) Jazz. Illus. Christopher Myers. Holiday House. Picture Book with CD of the text with musical accompaniment available from Live Oak Media, Pine Plains, New York. The 15 poems in this book celebrate jazz, everything from ragtime to swing, be-bop, and fusion. “Your feet will tap and your fingers rap.
Myracle, Lauren (2004) Internet Girls Series: TTYL (Talk to you later); TTYL #5 (Camp confidential); TTFN (Ta-ta-for-now); 18R G8R (Internet girls); BFF (A girlfriend book you write together). Harry Abrams.Young Adult. As an example of the series, TTYL is written completely in an instant messaging format and tells the stories of three friends and how they make it through the good times and traumas of tenth grade.
National Exhibition of Children’s Art (1976) Pictures by Chinese children. Foreign Language Press. Using art created by Chinese school children from 4 to 15 years old, this book illustrates what life in China was like under the guidance of Chairman Mao. Many of the illustrations are political and advocate a cultural revolution.
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds (1991) Shiloh. Illus. Barry Moser. Atheneum. Marty finds a beagle dog and names him Shiloh. The boy and dog are best friends and then Marty finds out the dog belongs to an abusive, alcoholic, gun-toting neighbor.
Nelson, Kadir (2011) Heart and soul: The story of America and African Americans. HarperCollins. Sophisticated Picture Book. Covering the colonial days through the civil rights movement, this text tells two stories about African Americans as they participated in the shaping of the heart and sole of a nation. One is the story of discrimination, and one is the story of contribution. Together, the author argues, these twin stories help define America as well as force it to address injustices and live up to its vision of freedom. This epic yet intimate introduction to African American history is told through small victories and transformative events.
Nelson, Kristin (2004) The Lincoln Memorial. Lerner Publications. Nonfiction Picture Book. This book focuses on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, Lincoln’s life, the building of the memorial, and what has taken place at the memorial. The illustrations are a mix of photographs, drawings, maps, and word bubbles. It’s a great example of nonfiction for young readers.
Nelson, Marilyn (2009) Sweethearts of Rhythm: The story of the greatest all-girl swing band in the world. Illus. Jerry Pinkney. Dial. Picture Book. This is the story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all female swing band that performed around the country during World War II. The text and illustrations are beautiful and there are very helpful resources in the back including a chronology of the band, an author’s note on the research it took to write the book and what she found about the Sweethearts, an artist’s note, and a bibliography of film, recordings, print, and web media.
Neri, G. (2010) Yummy: The last days of Southside Shorty. Illus. Randy Duburke. Lew & Low. Graphic Novel. This comic-like book, based on the true story of 11year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, focuses on his killing of a local girl, broken homes, poverty, and gangs. The gang Yummy joined, like many others, used young kids to commit crimes since at that time they couldn’t be tried as adults. The book asks readers to explore why Yummy was the way he was and how he ended up being shot by his own gang members.
Nilsen, Anna (2003) The great art scandal: Solve the crime, save the show! Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Comic Book Form, Grade 4 & Up. In this quasi-art book and mystery novel, readers are asked to solve the case of who is sabotaging the opening exhibition to an art show by putting in a fake piece of art. In order to solve the mystery, readers need to examine masterpieces and note artistic styles. Thirty-two famous artists are introduced as well as a glossary of art terms. This is a clever way to invite children to look at art more closely.
Newman, Leslea (2000) Heather has two mommies. Illus. Diana Souza. Scholastic. Picture Book. Preschooler Heather hears other children talking about their daddies and wonders if everyone has a daddy except her. Luckily she is in the care of a smart teacher who asks the children in the playgroup to draw pictures of their families. When they look at them, they see that the family configurations are all different – and all are accepted as normal.
Nunez, Sandra, & Marx, Trish (1997) And justice for all: The legal rights of young people. Millbrook . Sophisticated Chapter Book. Nunez and Marx provide a valuable presentation of the legal rights of minors in the United States today. Each chapter focuses on a different issue, from children's rights to safety and protection, to first amendment protections for minors, and child labor laws.
Nye, Naomi Shihab (1997) Sitti's secrets. Illus. Nancy Carpenter. Aladdin. Picture Book. Mona, a U.S. citizen, travels to a Palestinian village in the West Bank to visit her grandmother where, in order to communicate, they have to develop their own language, full of hums and claps and aahhs. When Mona gets home, she writes to the president and assures him that if he would meet Sitti, he would like her. Both she and Sitti vote for peace.
O’Brien, Tony, & Sullivan, Mike (2008) Afghan dreams: Young voices of Afghanistan. Bloomsbury. Picture Book. Afghan dreams is a photo-essay featuring Afghan children from ages 8 to 18. Each of the featured children share their thoughts about schooling, their family, the work they do (including pick pocketing), and the effects of war on them, their families, and their county.
Olson, Gretchen (2008) Call me hope. Little Brown. Chapter Book. Eleven-year-old Hope struggles to live with her abusive mother. She creates a safe haven in her bedroom closet and receives inspiration from reading the book, Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl. With the help of teachers and friends she becomes more and more resilient and also makes her mother aware of how her abusive language hurts and what she might do to change. This is an inspiring novel about an important issue that is rarely discussed. We recommend it highly.
Pak, Soyung (1999) Dear Juno. Illus. Susan Kathleen Hartung. Viking. Picture Book. In order to stay in contact with his grandmother in Korea, Juno draws pictures and sends them to her. His grandmother responds in Korean, which Juno’s mother translates and reads to him. His grandmother includes pictures and colored pencils in her return mail letting Juno know that more of his drawings are expected. From the pictures Juno’s grandmother sends, Juno knows that his grandmother has a new cat and flowers blooming in her garden. When he receives a toy plane he also realizes that grandmother is coming for a visit.
Palacio, R. J. (2012) Wonder. Knopf. Chapter Book.“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.” So opens, Palacio’s Wonder. August Pullman (Auggie) was born with facial deformities and up until now has been home-schooled. His social skills (including table manners) are lacking. He is now in 5th grade and it is time for him to interact with other children his age. Wonder is written from various perspectives – Auggie’s, his classmates’, his sister’s, her boyfriend’s, and others. Together these perspectives explore our society’s assumptions about disability, discrimination, compassion and more. A wonderful read with a character you will continue to think about long after this novel has been shelved.
Paladino, Catherine (1999) One good apple: Growing our food for the sake of the earth. Houghton Mifflin. Picture Book. An old (and very uncritical) saying suggests that "what we don't know won't hurt us" but this book points out how important it is to know more about the foods we purchase and eat. One Good Apple explains how many of the pesticides and fertilizers used to grow perfect fruits and vegetables are toxic to our bodies and the balance of nature. The author's cogent, urgent case for healthier agricultural practices raises many questions. Do the economic motivations of commercial farming justify the use of toxins? What are the alternatives? Whose needs are being met and whose are not? What can we do as consumers? Who is working on these issues? What other action is needed?
Panahi, H. L. (2005) Bebop express. Illus. Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher. Picture Book. The beboppin’, doo-woppin’ sound of jazz is captured in the lyrical text and collage-like illustrations of this book about railroads, New York City, and New Orleans.
Paolini, Chistopher (2008) Inheritance (Boxed Set): Eragon, Eldest, Brisinger. Knopf. Chapter Book. At one time Eragon was nothing more than a poor farm boy. His dragon, Saphira, was a blue stone in the forest. That, however, was a long time ago. As the books in this series evolve, Eragon and Saphira suddenly learn that the fate of an entire civilization rests on their defeat of Galbatorix. The question of whether the two are strong enough to carry out their mission drives the tale, as well as knowing that there are no second chances.
Park, Linda Sue (2002). When my name was Keoko. Clarion. Chapter Book. Sun-hee and her older brother Tae-yul are proud of their Korean heritage, but Korea is torn apart by Japanese invaders during World War II. As they live under Japanese occupation, they are forced to read and write in Japanese and are not allowed to fly the Korean flag. Hardest of all is when the Japanese Emperor forces all Koreans to take Japanese names. Sun-hee and Tae-yul become Keoko and Nobuo. Everyone must help with war preparations, but it doesn’t mean they are willing to defend Japan. Tae-yul risks his life to help his family, while Sun-hee stays home guarding life-and-death secrets.
Parker, David, with Engfer, Leeanne & Conrow, Robert. (1998) Stolen dreams: Portraits of working children. Lerner. Chapter/Picture Book. It is impossible to read this book on the exploitation of children throughout the world and not feel the need to act on their behalf. Although the subject matter is difficult to read about, it is important to be aware of the injustices of child exploitation and labor. The final pages of the book are devoted to poignant letters and genuine questions from children speaking out eloquently against the exploitation of other children. Throughout the book, stunning and disturbing black and white photographs of exploited children reveal their suffering and despair.
Paterson, Katherine (1977). Bridge to Terabithia. HarperCollins. Chapter Book. Jess is in fifth grade and his greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in class. He practices all summer, only to be beaten by Leslie, a new kid in class– and a girl! Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where they reign as king and queen and where only their imaginations set any limits. When tragedy occurs, Jess comes to grips with the new freedom that Leslie has given him. In the end he decides to use the gift of imagination to open up a new world for his younger sister.
Paterson, Katherine (1987). The great Gilly Hopkins. Perfection Learning. Chapter Book. Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember and she has disliked all of them. She has a county wide reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable. So when she is sent to live with the Trotters – by far the strangest family yet – Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work. Before long, she has devised an elaborate scheme to get her birth mother to come and rescue her. Even thought this scheme does not work out, Gilly is left thinking that maybe life with the Trotters isn’t so bad.
Paulsen, Gary (2009) Notes from the dog. Wendy Lamb. Young Adult. Fifteen-year-old Finn is a loner who would like to find a job where he doesn’t have to talk to anyone except his amazing dog, Dylan. Then Johanna moves in next door. She not only is dealing with breast cancer, but hires Finn to use his imagination in creating a backyard garden. As Johanna’s disease worsens (and Finn’s garden plans backfire), Finn learns to care and to discover he has a talent for connecting not only with dogs, but with people as well. A tear jerker for sure, but one that supports readers in clarifying what they value most in life.
Peacock, Carol Antoinette (2000) Mommy far, mommy near. Illus. Shawn Costello Brownwell. Albert Whitman. Picture Book. Young Elizabeth feels a range of emotions as she explores why she has two mommies (one in the United States who adopted her and one in China), as well as why her Chinese mother couldn’t keep her.
Perez, Amada Irma (2002) My diary from here to there/Mi diario de aquí, hasta allá. Illus. Maya Christina Gonzalez. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. Although everyone in her family seems excited about their move from Juarez, Mexico, to Los Angeles, California, Amada uses her own personal journal to voice her reservations. Perez tells her story in both Spanish and English.
Peters, Julie Ann (2004) Luna. Little Brown. Sophisticated Young Adult. Peters tells the story of two siblings, Regan and Liam. Regan is very protective of her transgendered brother, Liam, who transforms himself into Luna at night. When Luna decides to have gender reassignment surgery, the issue becomes public. Not only are eyebrows raised but their mother is shocked and their father is horrified. While many readers and school librarians have reacted negatively to the strong language, Peters’ handling of some very sensitive issues makes this a book that should be available to teens as they explore and try to understand their own and their friends’ sexual identities.
Philbrick, Rodman (2009) The mostly true adventures of Homer P. Figg. Blue Sky. Young Adult. Harold, Homer’s brother, has been paid to take a rich man’s place in the Union army. Homer doesn’t let truth stand in his way as he attempts to free his brother from service in the Civil War. While the book shows the horrors of war and the injustice of slavery, the mood is lightened by Homer’s tall tales and his adventures. These include being abducted, being thrown in with pigs, and joining a circus. In light of the recent trend (even among politicians) that truth isn’t as important as the narrative you can spin, a rip-roaring discussion is almost guaranteed following the reading of this rip-roaring adventure.
Picoult, Jodi (2004) My sister’s keeper. Atria. Sophisticated Young Adult. Kate Fitzgerald has a rare form of leukemia. Her sister, Anna, was conceived to provide a donor match for procedures that become increasingly invasive. At 13, Anna hires a lawyer so that she can sue her parents for the right to make her own decisions about how her body is used when a kidney transplant is planned.
Pilkey, Dav (2010) Captain Underpants (Multibox Set). Scholastic. Easy Chapter Books. Readers are asked to join George and Harold on their hilarious adventures with Captain Underpants. They duel Dr. Diaper, tackle talking toilets, clash with crazy cafeteria ladies, and wrestle wicked Wedgie Woman. While adults might have trouble recommending these books, children – even reluctant readers – have found themselves hooked on books as a result of their involvement with this series.
Pilobolus (2005) The human alphabet. Photographs by John Kane. Roaring Book. Picture Book. The American dance troupe Pilobolus uses their talents to portray the alphabet in a variety of twisted, contorted, human forms. Thankfully, there is a guide at the end of the book. While each letter is recognizable, the objects being depicted are often quite abstract.
Pinkney, Andrea Davis (1995) Alvin Ailey. Illus by Brian Pinkney. Hyperion. Picture Book. Alvin Ailey (1931-1989), an African American, was both a dancer and choreographer. He began his career in the mid-1940s and founded the still operating Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in New York City in 1958. While historical fiction, the book intertwines facts about Alvin’s childhood with what the authors see as the ethos of the time.
Pinkney, Andrea Davis (1998) Duke Ellington. Illus. Brian Pinkney. Scholastic. Picture Book. This is the story of Duke Ellington and his influence on the history of music. The “Duke,” as he was called, is best known for his contribution to swing music, one of the best-loved jazz forms in America. During his 50-year career, some claim the “Duke” wrote and composed as many as 5,000 musical compositions.
Pinkney, Andrea Davis (2000) Let it shine: Stories of black women freedom fighters. Illus. Stephen Alcorn. Gulliver. Chapter Book. Pinkney takes readers on a civil rights journey from the eighteenth century to the present with her compelling stories of black women who fought for freedom and social justice. The stories in this book are about familiar "sheroes" like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks as well as lesser-known black women like Biddy Mason, Ida Wells-Barnett, and Dorothy Irene Height. The stories are brief, but powerful, highlighting the women's struggles against sexism, racism, and oppression. The book offers insight into the principled choices these women made when they were faced with challenges and compromising situations.
Pinkney, Andrea Davis, & Pinkney, Brian (2008) Boycott blues: How Rosa Parks inspired a nation. HarperCollins. Picture Book. Told to a blues rhythm, this is the story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. United as a community, African Americans walked to work for 382 days but won the right to sit wherever they wanted on public transportation.
Pinkney, Andrea Davis (2010) Sit-in: How four friends stood up by sitting down (Illus. Brian Pinkney). Hachette. Picture Book. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Woolworth lunch counter sit-in, this book opens by recounting February 1, 1960, when “the Greensboro Four” staged a peaceful protest for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement. “They didn’t need menus. Their order was simple. A doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side” provides a recurring word pattern found throughout the book. Included in the book is a recipe for integration which starts with love, a Civil Rights Timeline (in paragraph form from 1954 to 1964), an actual photograph of the “Greensboro Four” in Woolworth’s, and a recommended website and book list if readers want additional information or resources.
Polacco, Patricia (2000) The butterfly. Philomel. Picture Book. The Nazis have taken over Monique’s small French village. Although she believes nothing will ever surprise her again, she is stunned to find “a little ghost” named Sevrine sitting on the end of her bed late one night. Sevrine and her family are Jewish and are hiding in Monique’s basement. All goes well until they are discovered and both families must flee.
Polacco, Patricia (2001) Mr. Lincoln’s way. Philomel. Picture Book. “Mean Gene” is a bully. He hates anyone who is different. Mr. Lincoln is the school principal and he knows that “Mean Gene” is just repeating what he has heard at home. Mr. Lincoln enlists Gene’s help in attracting birds to the school atrium and uses Gene’s love of various birds to help him gain a respect for the diversity of humans that surrounds him. Polacco, Patricia (2009) In our mothers’ house. Philomel. Picture Book. Marmee, Meema, and their three adopted kids are a family. In this loving home everyone cooks together, laughs together, and dances together. Mrs. Lockner, their neighbor, doesn’t like the fact that this family is different, made up of two mothers and no dad. But the house is full of love and the children learn that different does not mean wrong.
Polacco, Patricia (2009) Mrs. Katz and Tush. Doubleday. Picture Book. Larnel, a young African American boy, and Mrs. Katz, an elderly Jewish lady, develop a friendship over their mutual concern for an abandoned cat named Tush. Together they explore religious and cultural themes that crisscross their heritages.
Randle, Kristen (2003) Slumming. Harper. Young Adult. Seniors Nikki, Sam, and Alicia’s “great idea” is each to choose a person “who is obviously untapped” and “by slumming” try to release that individual’s potential. What they learn is that it’s futile to impose one’s ideals and values on others without a complete understanding of their situation—and this is a life lesson worthy of serious reflection.
Raczka, Bob (2001) No one saw: Ordinary things through the eyes of an artist. Millbrook Press. Picture Book. Artists create unique perspectives on the world. In this singsong text -- “No one saw stars like Vincent van Gogh; No one saw people like Joan Miro” (unnpaged) -- children are invited to look closely at everyday images and try to figure out what the artist saw that most everyone else did not.
Raczka, Bob (2003) Art is. Millbrook Press. Picture Book. “Art is a wall” (Lascaux cave paintings, unpaged), “Art is a frame holding nothing at all” (Eva Hesse’s Hang Up), “Art is how artists get you to think” (Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker). This is a great book to help children broaden their definition of art.
Raczka, Bob (2003) More than meets the eye: Seeing art with all five senses. Millbrook Press. Picture Book. Raczka invites readers to use all of their senses to explore art by showing examples of how famous artists have dealt with the senses of feeling, seeing, tasting, touching and hearing.
Raczka, Bob (2006) Here’s looking at me: How artists see themselves. Millbrook Press. Picture Book. Fourteen self-portraits of artists are presented, just enough to whet readers’ appetites as to how they might represent themselves in portrait. The collection of portraits includes people of different ages, from different cultures, and in different time periods.
Raczka, Bob (2008) Artful reading. Millbrook Press. Picture Book. This book contains 23 paintings that all feature readers. Simple sentences serve as captions: “Read to discover what something means; Read to escape to a place you can dream” (unpaged). The book sends the message that reading opens up new worlds and has engrossed humankind for centuries.
Ramos, Mario (2011) I’m so strong. Gecko Press. Picture Book. A cheeky wolf saunters through the woods bullying everyone he meets, including the three little pigs and the seven dwarfs. But then he meets someone bigger and stronger. A great book to add to a text set on bullying or even on gender stereotyping as the wolf, of course, is male.
Ramsey, Calvin Alexander & Strauss, Gwen (2010). Ruth and the green book (Illus. Floyd Cooper). Carolrhoda Books. Picture Book. Ruth was so excited. Her parents had bought their first automobile and she and her family were going to take a trip to see Grandmother in Alabama. Because many hotels and gas stations refused to serve African Americans, Ruth and her family had a hard time traveling. Finally, a friendly attendant showed Ruth’s family The Green Book, a publication that listed all of the businesses from Chicago to Alabama that would serve them. Readers might be shocked to discover that there was ever a need for such a book.
Rapp, Adam (1997) The buffalo tree. Front Street. Young Adult. Told from the perspective of Sura, a juvenile who is doing six months in the Hartford Juvenile Home for "clipping" hood ornaments, The Buffalo Tree is a haunting tale of how the residents of this detention center--juveniles and adults as well--seem to be doing all that they can to make their collective experience there “a living hell.” This book invites conversations about young people whom many adults see as "anchorless," and whether institutionalizing them is an answer to the problems they bring.
Rappaport, Doreen (2001) Martin’s big words: The life of Martin Luther King Jr. Illus. Bryan Collier. Hyperion. Picture Book. This biography of Dr. Martin Luther King is an accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders. Using Dr. King’s own words, Doreen Rappaport has created a captivating narrative that tells the story of Dr. King’s life and challenges readers to come up with their own “big words.”
Rappaport, Doreen (2004) Free at last! Stories and songs of emancipation. Illus. Shane W. Evans. Candlewick. Picture Book. African Americans have always used song and story to educate their children about their people’s proud history of defiance and resistance. In this book, the author details the life of African American heroes who made a difference and the songs that told of their achievements.
Raschka, Chris (1998) Yo! Yes? Scholastic. Picture Book. Using just 34 words, Chris Raschka explores how two young boys – one white, one black, one shy, one outgoing, one nerdy, one street-smart – take a chance on friendship. An easy to read, predictable book children enjoy.
Rawls, Wilson. (1974). Where the red fern grows. Yearling. Chapter Book. Billy and his beloved coonhounds romp through the Ozarks trying to tree raccoons. Together they win the annual coon-hunt contest and bravely fight a mountain lion. When tragedy strikes, Billy grieves but is comforted by an old Native American legend about a red fern growing over the graves of those we love and miss.
Recorvits, Helen (2004) My name is Yoon. Illus. Gabi Swiatkowska. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Picture Book. This is a story about a little girl finding her place in a new country. Yoon means “shining wisdom.” When she writes it in Korean it makes her happy, but in English all the letters stand alone, just how she feels about the United States. Yoon tries on a variety of names before she decides on one.
Reynolds, Aaron (2010) Back of the bus. Illus. Floyd Cooper. Philomel. Picture Book. We all know that Rosa Parks defied a Montgomery, Alabama law that forced African Americans to sit in the back of the bus. Readers get a new perspective on this event from a child who witnesses the event while playing with a marble. His mother wants him to be cautious, but in the end he decides Rosa is right and neither he nor his marble is going to hide anymore.
Reynolds, Peter (2003) The dot. Chadwick. Picture Book. Vashti seems beaten by the blank paper before her. “Just make a mark” is her teacher’s sage advice. Once Vashti takes the first stab at art there is no stopping her. Teachers will find this book invaluable in helping students get over the notion that they are not artists.
Reynolds, Peter (2004) Ish. Chadwick. Picture Book. Maurice doesn’t like his artwork so he crumples it up and throws it away. His sister, however, retrieves his pieces and hangs them on the wall in her bedroom. When Maurice goes looking, he finds that his vases do look vase-ish, his flowers look flower-ish, and his sunsets look sunset-ish. A great read to support budding artists in getting over the idea of art as having to be realistic.
Richards, Beah E. (2006) Keep climbing, girls. Illus. R. Gregory Christie. Picture Book. This book is an ode to girl power written by African-American actor, poet, and playwright Beah E. Richards. It was first published in 1951 and begins, “The only way to make a bid for a girl’s equality is to climb right up to the toppermost bough of the very tallest tree.” Its inspirational message continues from there.
Richardson, Justin & Parnell, Peter (2005) And Tango makes three. Illus. Henry Cole. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. It takes two to Tango. Based on a true story of animal families in the Central Park Zoo, this is the story of Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins, who hatch an egg given to them by the zoo keeper when he realized that just like the boy-girl penguin couples in the zoo, they were a couple as well.
Ringgold, Faith (1999) If a bus could talk, the story of Rosa Parks. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. From the moment when Marcie, a young African American girl, steps onto the strange driverless bus, readers learn about the events in the life of Rosa Parks, told from the voices of famous passengers--all of whom participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Although criticized for it's condensed form, there is a remarkable amount of information about Mrs. Parks presented in this picture book format. She is portrayed as a courageous political activist and readers discover much about her life before and after the boycott. This book can open up conversations about the Civil Rights movement, segregation, and political activism.
Robinson, Aminah Brenda Lynn (1997) A street called home. Harcourt. Picture Book. This book features people in a neighborhood who were largely invisible to the community. The author gives each a title such as “The Chicken Lady” or “The Shoe Shine Man” and then explains how they contribute to the community. This book invites readers to think about members of their own communities who might be largely invisible to the wider public.
Robles, Anthony (2006) Lakas and the Makibaka Hotel/Si Lakas at ang Makibaka Hotel. Illus. Carl Angel. Trans. Eloise D. de Jesus. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. Lakas and his friends are trying to save the Makibaka Hotel. Their protest against eviction becomes a clarion call to the community as well as to readers as to why they need to take action in their own communities to save things they feel are important. Told in both Tagalog and English, the book honors Filipino culture.
Rockwell, Anne (2000) Only passing through: The story of Sojourner Truth. Illus. R. Gregory Christie. Dragonfly. Picture Book. This disturbingly graphic picture book begins with an auctioneer poking a stick at a young slave girl named Isabella. Her owner has died and she is to be sold with the rest of his property. After enduring a series of owners, Isabella runs away and seeks the help of people who are known for their belief that slavery is immoral. These people purchase Isabella from her angry master and then promptly set her free. When Isabella learns that her son has been illegally sold in New York to a plantation owner in Alabama, she achieves what many consider to be an impossible task. She finds a lawyer to help her sue the man and have her son returned to New York, where slavery has been abolished. Later in life, she has a dream that directs her to become a sojourner who travels the country and serves as a voice for slaves still in bondage.
Rodriguez, Luis (1996) America is her name. Illus. Carlos Vasquez. Curbstone. Picture Book. In school, nine-year-old America Soliz passes some teachers in the hallway and hears her teacher, Miss Gable, whisper: "She's an illegal." How can a girl called America not belong in America? Miss Gable finds America's Spanish-speaking class "difficult," but when Mr. Aponte, a Puerto Rican poet, comes to visit, America rises to recite Spanish poetry and the whole class listens and applauds. Encouraged, America begins to write poetry.
Rohmer, Harriet; Chow, Octavio, & Viduare, Morris (1997) The invisible hunters/Los cazadores invisibles. Illus. Joe Sam. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. This is the bilingual retelling of a Nicaraguan legend meant to caution indigenous people when strangers from outside the culture come to give advice and to change tribal customs.
Rosen, Michael, & Oxenbury, Helen (1997) We’re going on a bear hunt. Little Simon. Picture Book. A father with his toddler, a preschool boy and two older girls go on an imaginary bear hunt. “We’re going on a bear hunt/We’re going to catch a big one/Oh, what a beautiful day….” (book jacket). The text has great rhythm and is easy to dramatize.
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse, & Lichtenheld, Tom (2009) Duck! Rabbit! Chronicle Books. Picture Book. An easy to read book that introduces children to perspective and how facts change depending on how you look at them.
Roth, Susan (2001) Happy birthday Mr. Kang. National Geographic Society. Picture Book. Mr. Kang, a Chinese American, carries on the tradition of owning a caged Hua Mei bird. Every Sunday he and a group of his countrymen meet with their birds at the Sara Delano Roosevelt Park in New York City. Sam, his grandson, doesn't think that caged birds belong in America, the land of the free. Mr. Kang thinks about what Sam has said and, much to the surprise and horror of his fellow Chinese Americans, frees his Hua Mei bird. The book raises several critical issues: Who is an American? Who gets to decide? What social practices make immigrants feel that they must act like the dominant culture in order to be seen as American?
Rowling, J. K. (2009) Harry Potter (Boxed Set): Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone; Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets; Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban; Harry Potter and the goblet of fire; Harry Potter and the order of Phoenix, Harry Potter and the half-blood prince; Harry Potter and the deadly hallows. Arthur Levine. Chapter Books. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series appeals to all but the youngest readers and has been translated into 68 languages. Harry Potter was born a wizard but is learning how to use his special skills. Because of his heritage, he must fight the evil Lord Voldermort. If introducing this series to your students, our recommendation is that you read the first book aloud. Many of them will pick up the remaining six volumes on their own.
Roy, Jennifer (2006) Yellow star. Marshall Cavendish. Chapter Book. Written in free verse, Yellow Star tells the story of Sylvia, a Holocaust survivor who lived in the Lodz Ghetto throughout World War II. Sylvia’s story is significant in that she is only one of twelve children who survived.
Rutland, Eva (2009) No crystal stair. IWP Books. Chapter Book. Told through the eyes of Ann Elizabeth Carter, this historical novel tells the story of black Americans and their progress towards racial equality during the first 60 years of the 20th century. Raised in the privileged and comfortable world of Atlanta’s black elite, Ann Elizabeth grows up and in the process confronts discrimination in the south, the military, Germany, postwar Los Angeles, and when participating in civil rights events.
Ryan, Pam Munoz (2002) Esperanza rising. Perfection Learning. Chapter Book. Esperanza lived a life of luxury in Mexico until her father was murdered and she and her mother flee to California as migrant agricultural workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard work, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she faces in a new society. This is a story about how one’s social class changes as a result of immigration as well as an immigrant story of triumph over adversity.
Ryan, Pam Munoz (2002) When Marian sang: The true recital of Marian Anderson. Illus. Brian Selznick. Scholastic. Picture Book. African American Marian Anderson was one of the world’s most talented singers. She was well received in Europe but faced many challenges due to racism at home in the U.S. This began to change after her recital in 1939 at the Lincoln Memorial where she drew a mixed black and white audience of 75,000 Americans.
Rylant, Cynthia (1985) Every living thing. Illus. S. D. Schindler. Aladdin. Chapter Book. Rylant tells twelve short stories about people whose lives have been significantly altered because of their contact with animals. While on the surface this text does not seem very critical, at a deep structural level it questions many of the social practices common in our society as we interact with others.
Rylant, Cynthia (2000) The old woman who named things. Illus. Kathryn Brown. Sandpiper. Picture Book. How does an old woman who has outlived all of her friends keep from being lonely? She names things that she knows she will never outlive, like her house (which she calls Franklin) and her bed (which she calls Roxanne). When a shy brown puppy appears at her front gate, she initially won’t name it, but things change when she finds out that the puppy needs her as much as she needs the puppy.
Saenz, Benjamin (2012) Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe. Simon & Schuster. Young Adult. Ari and Dante, two Mexican teens, meet at the age of 15. Dante is quite comfortable with his homosexuality, while Ari isn’t. Everyone should have parents who are as open and understanding as Ari’s. They have no problem with Ari’s homosexuality and are excited about his attraction to Dante. Critics say the plot moves slowly, but the novel is beautifully written. At one point Saenz says “to be careful with people and words was [is] a rare and beautiful thing.” That is exactly what we see as one of the many strengths of this book.
Salinger, J. D. (1951). Catcher in the rye. Perfection Learning. Sophisticated Young Adult. This classic story – on many high school and college reading lists -- details the life of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield after he has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned by the “phoniness” of his world, he searches for truth and rails against the adult world. As one of the first “alienated adolescent” novels of modern times, Holden’s language is edgy; hence, why the book is still banned reading in many high schools.
Saltzberg, Barney (2010) Beautiful oops! Workman. Picture Book. “A torn piece of paper…. is just the beginning!” Smudges and smears, hot chocolate stains, even holes can be made into great works of art when a little paint is applied. There is no such thing as a mistake, only the opportunity to explore artistic talents. This festive invitation to young artists is a must for early childhood educators and a great gift for any child.
Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (1966) Lil’ Red Riding Hood. Lyrics & MP3 music download: http://top-lyrics.elizov.com/lyrics/ Sam+The+Sham+&+The+Pharaohs.html - 27k – or at www.itunes.com
Sanchez, Alex (2006) So hard to say. Simon & Schuster. Young Adult. Thirteen-year-old Latina Xio (pronounced C-O) can’t keep her eyes off Frederick, an incoming transfer student from Wisconsin. Xio would like their relationship to get serious, but Frederick is trying to find himself and is initially horrified to discover that he might be gay. The action progresses through chapters, alternating between Xio and Frederick. Both characters are portrayed as on the brink of reinvention as they struggle with families in transition, teenage love, and their place in this world.
Sanchez, Alex (2007) The God box. Simon & Schuster. Sophisticated Young Adult. Paul, a religious teen living in a small conservative town, meets Manual, a young man who says he is both gay and Christian. As Paul struggles with his own identity and Manual’s interpretation of the Bible, Paul finds himself re-examining his whole life. Reviewers have said, “This is an unforgettable book on an extremely timely topic that strives to open minds on both ends of the spectrum” (Amazon Review of Books, 5/2009).
Sand-Eveland, Cyndi (2012) A tinfoil sky. Tundra. Chapter Book. In real life, Cyndi Sand-Eveland works with homeless youth. Using this experience, she opens this story with Mel (10 years old) and her mother, Cecily, escaping an abusive relationship. This time they are going to go live with Mel’s grandmother, Cecily’s mother….that is, if she will have them. Cecily not only up and left last time but she also stole money from her mother. Despite a not so welcome reception, the car breaking down, and Cecily’s poor decision making, Mel is determined to rise above what fate has dealt her. Slowly she works her way into her grandmother’s heart as she does into the hearts of readers.
Sanders, Mark D., & Sillers, Tia (2003) I hope you dance. Illus. by Buddy Jackson & Karinne Caulkins. Thomas Nelson. Picture Book. This book is part of a multimedia set that includes a CD of the song I hope you dance sung by Lee Ann Womack, a copy of the lyrics, and a book that takes readers through each line of the song, expanding the ideas and illustrating them with photographs. This small (68 page) book has an encouraging tone that brings a tear to the eyes of many who read it. Satrapi, Marjane (2003) Persepolis: The story of childhood. Pantheon. Middle School/Young Adult. In black and white comic strip images, Persepolis tells the story of life in Tehran during a time when the Shah’s regime was overthrown, the Islamic Revolution came into being, and Iran went to war with Iraq. The story, told from the author’s perspective, covers a nine-year period and illuminates a world few American children understand or have ever imagined.
Say, Allen (1990) El Chino. Houghton Mifflin. Picture Book. Billy Wong, the son of Chinese immigrants, buys into the American dream that you can be whatever you want to be if you work hard enough. Unable to play basketball because he is too short, Billy finally finds his sport in the bullrings of Spain. He is not accepted because of his ethnicity, but eventually figures out that embracing rather than hiding his identity is the key to success.
Say, Allen (1993) Grandfather's journey. Houghton Mifflin. Picture Book. Reminiscent of a family photograph album, this story vacillates between Allan Say’s grandfather and his own life story. What is captured is the struggle that immigrants face as they leave one home country for another. “The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other.”
Schiver, Maria (2001) What’s wrong with Timmy? Illus. Sandra Speidel. Little Brown. Picture Book. When eight-year-old Kate meets Timmy for the first time, she feels funny inside. Timmy is different. After talking with her mother, Kate begins to understand that Timmy has disabilities. While he takes longer to learn, he also shares many of Kate’s likes (sports) and dislikes (math).
Schiver, Maria (2004) What’s happening to Grandpa? Illus. Sandra Speidel. Little Brown. Picture Book. Kate has always adored her grandfather’s storytelling, but lately he’s repeating the same stories again and again. One day he even forgets Kate’s name. Her mother explains that sometimes elderly people have a memory loss. In an effort to communicate with Grandpa, Kate creates a photo album of their times together.
Schmidt, Gary (2011) Okay for now. Clarion. Middle School/Young Adult. Doug Swieteck is new in town, 14 years old, and on his way to becoming a “skinny thug” just like his older brother, or so people think. But Doug sees himself differently and has some good things going for him: One, being Lil Spicer a fiery young lady who likes him; and two, his love of art. Lil and Doug find refuge in the local library where they study original Audubon photos under the loving guidance of a gifted retired art teacher turned librarian. While the novel teems with humor, it also teems with invaluable lessons about love, creativity, survival and the slippery slope between loss and recovery, success and failure, hope and despair. Schmidt sees Okay for now as a sequel to Wednesday wars, Schmidt’s 2008 novel that won the Newbery Honor Medal.
Schulman, Janet (1976) The big hello. Illus. Lillian Hoban. William Morrow. Picture Book. Moving can be a traumatic event. But it can also be a wonderful experience-- especially if you loose your favorite toy, and in finding it again you meet a new friend.
Scieszka, Jon (1996) The true story of the three little pigs. Illus. Lane Smith. Viking. Picture Book. Remember the story of the three little pigs? Well, here is the story again retold by Alexander T. Wolf. From his perspective, everything was a big misunderstanding. Sure, he did some huffing and puffing, but he had a cold. All he wanted from the pigs was a cup of sugar as he was in the middle of baking. Is he responsible for the shabby construction of their houses? Who can blame him for not wanting to waste food and eating them after they had been killed?
Scieszka, Jon (2005) Seen Art? Illus. Lane Smith. Viking & MoMA. Picture Book. A little boy is looking for his friend Art but is misunderstood and directed to the Modern Museum of Art in New York City. There he encounters all kinds of “art” but not the Art he was looking for.Readers are taken on a tour of the MoMA and introduced to some of the greatest pieces of art housed there, including Picasso’s goat and Moore’s family group.
Sendak, Maurice (1960) The sign on Rosie’s door. Trumpet. Picture Book. There was a sign on Rosie’s door that read, “If you want to know a secret, knock three times.” Kathy, Sal, Pudgy, Dolly, and Lenny (who occasionally didn’t quite believe in Rosie’s magic) all knocked, only to find that Rosie was gone and in her place stood Alina, a lovely lady singer. And so the adventures begin.
Sendak, Maurice (1963) Where the wild things are. HarperCollins.Picture Book. Having been sent to bed without his supper, Max, wearing a wolf suit, uses his imagination to visit the wild things. When first published, this book was banned because the monsters were thought to be too scary for young children. Since then the book has become known as a classic in children’s literature though some parental groups dislike the book because they think it encourages disrespect for parents. Others dislike it because withholding food is used as punishment.
Sendak, Maurice (1970) In the night kitchen. HarperCollins. Picture Book. Imagination runs wild as Mickey, a young boy, floats through a baker’s kitchen in this classic text. Sendak is said to have changed children’s literature permanently by telling stories from a child’s point of view. The book has been banned by some groups because a few illustrations show Mickey without clothing.
Senisi, Ellen (1998) Just kids: Visiting a class for children with special needs. Dutton. Picture Book. Because she really does not know any special needs kids, Cindy makes a hurtful comment to a child in the special needs class. To help her better understand the special needs of some learners, Cindy is asked to join their class for a half hour each day over the course of two weeks. Through Cindy, the reader comes to know and appreciate the nine learners and their disabilities in this special needs classroom. It offers an entry point for discussions surrounding these sensitive issues.
Sepetys, Ruta (2011) Between shades of gray. Philomel. Chapter Book/Young Adult. In 1939 Russia invaded Lithuania and sent much of its population to labor camps in Siberia. Sixteen-year-old Lina, a gifted artist, tells her family’s story including their ongoing hope of being reconnected with their father. Even though this proves unlikely, it is her art that saves her by helping her retain her identity as well as her dignity. Historians estimate that the Baltic States lost more than one-third of their population during the Russian genocide.
Seurat, Marie (1990) Angel child, dragon child. Illus. Vo-Dinh Mai. Scholastic. Picture Book. Ut's American schoolmates call her "Pajamas" because her clothes are not like theirs and they laugh at her accent when she tries to speak English. But she still tries to be the "angel child" her mother asked her to be when her family escaped from Vietnam. When Ut finally fights back, the principal assigns the boy who has been her chief tormentor to write her story as his punishment. When he discovers who Ut is and the problems she has faced, he helps organize a school fair to raise the money necessary to bring Ut's mother to the U.S.
Seuss, Dr. (aka Theodore Geisel) (1971) The Lorax. Random House. Picture Book. “Unless someone like you…cares a whole awful lot…nothing is going to get better…It’s not.” Long before saving the earth became a global concern, Dr. Seuss, speaking through his character, the Lorax, warned against the mindless disrespect of the environment and the greedy consumption of our nation’s resources.
Seuss, Dr. (aka Theodor Geisel) (1984) The butter battle book. Random House. Picture Book. Engaged in a long-standing disagreement over whether bread should be eaten with the butter side up or down, the Yooks and Zooks erect a wall to make sure that each group remains on its own side. After border skirmishes that test the primitive weapons of each group, both sides get to work on bigger and better inventions to use against the other. As the weapons become more sophisticated and lethal, bands and pep squads are added to support the home teams and get everyone involved. Finally, the Yooks announce that the “boys in the back room” have created a bomb that will annihilate the Zooks. But as the leader of the Yooks jumps to the top of the wall to drop the bomb on the Zooks, the leader of that side appears with an equally destructive bomb. The story ends with the two staring at each other and readers are left to wonder what will happen, providing an eerie reminder of the current world scene.
Shange, Ntozaki (1997) White wash. Illus. Michael Sporn. Walker. Picture Book. Helene-Angel, an African American preschooler, walks home from school with her brother, who doesn't particularly enjoy the task of walking his little sister home. One day, a gang of white kids surrounds them, blackening Mauricio's eye and painting Helene-Angel's face white as they show her how to be a "true American" and "how to be white." Helene-Angel is, of course, traumatized; she hides in her room until her mother forces her to come out. As she emerges from the house, her classmates greet her and promise to stick together so that events like this won't happen again.
Shange, Ntozake (1978) I live in music. Illus. Romare Bearden. Welcome Enterprises. Picture Book. Music defines us as individuals, influences where we live, and how we live our lives. Shange’s lyrical poem is a tribute to the language of music and an invitation to children to discover how music connects them to their community.
Shange, Ntozake (1983) Ellington was not a street. Illus. Kadir Nelson. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. This book is a tribute to the African American men whose actions changed the world and whose history inspires us today.
Shange, Ntozake (2012) Freedom’s a-callin me (Illus. Rod Brown). HarperCollins. Sophisticated Picture Book. Fleeing on the Underground Railroad meant avoiding trackers and their dogs as well as walking long distances mostly at night. It also meant trusting some whites and allowing them to hide you. In this chapter/story book Ntozake Shange uses poetry (“ah might get hungry/ah might get tired/good lard, ah might be free” [unpaged]) and Rod Brown’s artistic snap-shots to re-imagine the journey African Americans took on their way to freedom in Canada. The book is similar in layout and style to From slave ship to freedom road (Lester, 1998).
Shannon, David (1998) A bad case of stripes. Blue Sky. Picture Book. Have you ever liked some foods, like lima beans, but felt funny because your friends didn’t? To fit in, Camilla Cream says she hates lima beans too. Influenced by her peers, Camilla starts changing color with whatever others suggest. Her bad case of stripes is only cured when she becomes more independent and her true colors emerge.
Sharra, Steve (1996) Fleeing the war. Macmillan Malawi. Illustrated Chapter Book. This is the story of a group of friends in Malawi, hunting near the Mozambique border. They find two young Mozambican children who are hiding because they got separated from their parents while running from the soldiers during the civil war. The war was devastating and Malawi took in more than a million refugees. The two children, Rosa and Jose, are taken to a village, finally start feeling safe and comfortable, and eventually are reunited with their parents. This book won the highly competitive British Council Write a Story Competition in Malawi.
Shea, Pegi Deitz (2003) The Carpet Boy’s Gift. Illus. Leane Morin. Tilbury. Picture Book. This picture book tells the story of Nadeem, a young boy sold to a carpet maker so his family can live. He thinks his hard work is paying off the debt, but every time Nadeem gets close to working off his family’s debt, his master penalizes him and the debt amount goes back up. In the course of the story, Nadeem meets Iqbal Masih who opens his eyes to new possibilities. There are great child labor resources at the end of the book.
Shelton, Paula Young & Colon, Raul (2009) Child of the Civil Rights movement. Schwartz & Wade. Picture Book. Paula, the daughter of Andrew Young, a civil rights activist, tells her story of growing up surrounded by her father and other civil rights leaders. As she listens to the struggles of African Americans, she becomes an activist herself by joining her family in their historic march from Selma to Montgomery.
Shiga, Jason (2010) Meanwhile, pick any path: 3,856 story possibilities. Amulet. ChapterBook. This is a create-your-own-adventure book. At every turn the reader must choose. Each choice leads to a different story version. The goal, of course, is to save the world. Your initial choice is among three amazing objects: a mind-reading device, a time-travel machine, or the Killitron 3000. Readers must make their own choice to let the adventure begin. But they should also be forewarned: Disaster is not out of the question!!
Shin, Sun Yung (2004) Cooper’s lesson. Illus. Kim Cogan. Trans. Min Paek. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. Told in both Korean and English, this is the story of a biracial youth who just wants to belong. When Cooper goes to school the children call him “half and half.” When he goes to the Korean grocery he feels he is being laughed at. In frustration he breaks the law by shoplifting and ends up having to spend time working for Mr. Lee, the Korean grocer. Over time he comes to understand what it means to fit in.
Silverstein, Shel (1964) The giving tree. Harper & Row. Picture Book. This is the story of a tree that “loved a little boy.” The tree was happy when the boy would eat her apples and swing from her branches. But as the boy grew older, he wanted money to buy things, so the tree told him to sell her apples. When he wanted to build a house, the tree offered up her branches. And when he wanted a boat, the trunk was ideal. The tree was happy to give right up until the end when there was little left of her except a stump for him (now an old man) to use as a chair. While many readers find this a lovely tale, there are those who feel the book should have been titled “The Greedy Boy.”
Sisulu, Elinor Batezat (1996) The day Gogo went to vote. Illus. Sharon Wilson. Little Brown. Picture Book. This story of the historic 1994 election in South Africa is told through the eyes of young Thembi. Gogo, Thembi's grandmother, is determined to cast a ballot in the first election in which native people are allowed to vote. Even though she has not been out of the family's yard for years, the elderly Gogo makes the long journey to the balloting place accompanied by her granddaughter and assisted by numerous community members. Thembi sees how much voting means to Gogo, the oldest voter in the township.
Skármeta, Antonio (2000) The composition. Illus. Alfonso Ruano. Groundwood. Picture Book. Pedro, a third grader, loves playing soccer with his friends. His parents listen to a "noisy" distant radio station every night to get news, which is annoying to Pedro. Although he has heard his parents talking about a dictatorship, the gravity of the situation he's living in doesn't touch Pedro until his friend Daniel's father is taken away by army troops. Soon after, a military captain comes to Pedro's classroom and has the students write on the topic "what my family does at night." Even though the book deals with a very serious subject, Skármeta allows readers to experience tyranny from a child's perspective
Smith, Frank Dabba (2000) My secret camera: Life in the Lodz ghetto. Photographs by Mendel Grossman. Gulliver. Picture Book. Mendel Grossman's life story is told in the afterword; the book itself consists of the photographs he secretly took showing life in the Lodz ghetto in Poland under Nazi rule. The book serves as a painful reminder of the results of hate, prejudice and, to some extent, America’s initial indifference and unwillingness to act.
Sollman, Carolyn (1994) Through the cracks. Davis Publications. Picture Book. Through the Cracks tells the story of what happens when curriculum offerings like art and music are cut back or eliminated. The text argues that educators need to provide children with the experience of learning through an integrated approach using multiple means of communication if they are not going to slip through the cracks of our educational system.
Spalding, Julian (2010) The best art you’ve never seen: 101 hidden treasures from around the world. Penguin. Nonfiction. Written by an art expert and museum director, this book goes to less traveled corners of the world to find beautiful and unusual works of art that are largely unseen or have failed to receive the acclaim they deserve. The book shows 101 treasures and gives a brief history of each one.
Spiegelman, Art (1986) Maus: A survivor’s tale: My father bleeds history. Turtleback. Sophisticated Graphic Novel. This graphic novel portrays the holocaust in comic book form. The Jews are mice, the Germans cats, the Poles pigs, the French frogs, and the Americans dogs. Although it is not easy or pleasant to read, Maus compels readers to imagine the action and fill in the blanks as they examine the holocaust in pictograph form.
Spinelli, Eileen (1996) Somebody loves you, Mr. Hatch. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. Feeling loved can change one’s outlook on life. Mr. Hatch leads a mundane existence working in a shoestring factory and eating mustard sandwiches for lunch. But then a box arrives on his doorstep with a note that says, “Someone loves you.” By the time Mr. Hatch discovers that the box was delivered to him by mistake, he has already reached out to others in the community and feels like he belongs there for the first time.
Spinelli, Jerry (1997) Wringer. HarperCollins. Chapter Book. If you grow up as a boy in our society, you might be expected to take, unflinchingly, "The Treatment" on your birthday, participate in hunting at a particular age, and be unpleasant to girls even if they were, a year earlier, your best friends. While these behaviors might delight your peer group, amuse your father, puzzle your mother, annoy your female friends, and emotionally traumatize you, they are "what men do." Palmer LaRue is going to be ten and is going through his own rite of passage in a town that annually holds a pigeon shoot. In this town it is the ten-year-old boys who are charged with wringing the necks of all the wounded pigeons that do not die outright. Wringer invites conversations about the forces that operate in society to position boys in certain ways and not others.
Spinelli, Jerry (2000) Stargirl. Knopf. Chapter Book. "She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to the corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew" (back cover). Who is she? Stargirl. Or at least that is what she calls herself today. She is new to town and new to Mica High. She is as strange as her pet rat and as mysterious as her name. The students are fascinated, but even the ones who love her urge her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal.
Spinelli, Jerry (2003) Milkweed. Knopf. Chapter Book. By telling the story through the eyes and voice of Misha, a child who is struggling to understand the world during the time of the Holocaust, Spinelli invites readers to share Misha’s innocence as they, too, discover the horrors of this period in history. Milkweed lays bare the worst in people as well as the best. Misha is both charming and resilient.
Springer, Jane (1997) Listen to Us: The world's working children. Groundwood. Sophisticated Chapter Book. Listen to Us explores the difficult questions that surround child labor, including globalization, consumerism, and attitudes toward girls and women. Child activists and workers also speak for themselves in this volume. For example, 10-year-old Nirmala is a Nepalese carpet weaver; 16-year-old Christine is a Canadian sex worker; and 18-year-old Naftal was kidnapped to be a soldier in the Mozambique National Resistance when he was 12 years old. This book leaves readers with critical questions about the economic and social systems that support the exploitation of children and what might be done to help them.
Stamaty, Mark Alan (2004) Alia’s mission: Saving the books of Iraq. Knopf. Graphic Novel. This is the story of an Iraqi librarian’s courageous fight to save the 30,000 books of the Basra Central Library before they are destroyed by war. The novel provides a new perspective on war as it celebrates the importance of books and their relationship to freedom.
Stanley, Jerry (1997) Digger: The tragic fate of the California Indians from the missions to the gold rush. Crown Publishers. Chapter Book. Stanley has created a well researched, highly readable portrait of the destruction of many of the Native American "tribelets" that inhabited what is now California at the time of the first Spanish, and then American, occupation. Sprinkled throughout the volume are maps, original photographs, drawings and quotes from an interview with Ishi, a Yahi man believed to the last Californian Indian to live according to the customs of his people.
Steig, William (1969) Sylvester and the magic pebble. Aladdin. Picture Book. Sylvester, an unassuming donkey, finds a magic pebble that makes all of his wishes come true. When he encounters a mean looking lion he wishes he were a rock, but in mineral form he can no longer hold the pebble and thus cannot wish himself back to being a donkey. While he and his family fret, Sylvester has to wait-- but good things do happen in the end.
Steig, William (1982). Dr. De Soto. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Picture Book. Dr. De Soto and his assistant, Mrs. De Soto, are dentists. As mice, they treat all animals except “cats and other dangerous animals.” One day Mr. Fox shows up and begs their help. They give in, but are foxy enough to out-fox Mr. Fox when he comes back for his gold replacement tooth.
Steptoe, John (1997) Creativity. Illus. E.B. Lewis. Clarion Books. Picture Book. Charlie is surprised to learn that Hector, the new kid, is Puerto Rican. After all, both boys have the same brown skin and the same black hair, though Hector's is straight and Charlie's is curly. What separates them is their language. In exploring these issues, Charlie begins to see difference as "creative" rather than problematic. Although the book focuses on surface issues such as having the "right" shoes and tee-shirt to fit into the group, bigger issues await discussion: how different languages can camouflage a common culture; how pop-cultures are created to sell merchandise and define who is "in" and who is "out"; how language and issues of multiculturalism are related to power in our society.
Stine, R. L. (1995) Goosebumps (63 Book Series). Scholastic. Easy Chapter Books. This is a very popular science-fiction series for older elementary and middle school readers. Each book contains a complete story with enough twists and turns to keep the most reluctant readers interested. Goosebumps books have been so popular that R. L. Stine is now listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having sold more books than any other author.
Strasser, Todd (2002) Give a boy a gun. Simon Pulse. Young Adult. In an attempt to understand the psychology of a school shooting, Todd Strasser has put together a narrative that consists of short, related statements from students, parents, school administrators, and even the shooters themselves. Running along the foot of many of the pages are media reports and statistics on gun usage in the United States and elsewhere. Issues addressed include gun control, bullying, and how social cliques within schools alienate students.
Tal, Eve (2005) Double crossing. Cinco Puntos. Chapter Book. Rich in historical detail about challenges like separation from family, the ocean voyage, and inspection at Ellis Island, this book tells the story of Ukrainian Jews and their journey to America through the eyes of 12-year-old Raizel. The bigger story, however, is one of assimilation and how, in this instance, an Orthodox Jew had to give up not only his religion but also his name.
Tal, Eve (2007) A new boy. Illus. Ora Shwartz. Mike & Honey Press. Picture Book. Eve Tal tells the story of immigrants as they encounter a new country, a new language, make new friends, and start a new life. The pictures and story in this book invite readers to look closely and to think deeply about what it means to be an immigrant in a new country.
Tan, Shaun (2006) The arrival. Scholastic. Graphic Novel. Through sepia colored pictures, Tan tells the story of immigrants as they encounter a new country, a new language, new friends, and a new life. Strong visual metaphors invite readers to look closely and to think deeply about what it means to be an immigrant in a new country.
Teevee, Ningeokuluk (2009) Alego. Groundwood. Picture Book. Alego, an Inuit girl, goes with her grandmother to collect clams. Along the way she discovers tide pools brimming with life and things to draw and paint. The text is printed in both Inuktitut and English with an Inuktitut glossary of the names of the various sea creatures mentioned at the end of the book.
Telgemeier, Raina (2010) Smile. Graphix. Graphic Novel. Smile is the story of an 11-year-old girl who gets her two front teeth knocked out and how she manages to get her smile back.
TenNapel, Doug (2010) Ghostopolis. Graphix. Graphic Novel. Middle School/Young Adult. Garth Hale not only thinks about death more than other teenagers but he also has an incurable disease. When he submits to a washed up ghost wrangler, Garth is accidently zapped into the afterlife where he meets fantastic creatures as well as some family members he never expected to encounter. Before the old ghost wrangler can bring him back, Garth learns much about himself and what is truly important in life.
Thomas, Pat (2001). I miss you: A first look at death. Illus. Leslie Harker. Barron’s Educational Series. Picture Book. The death of a close friend or grandparent is a difficult time for young children. This book helps children understand that death is a natural part of life and that grief and a sense of loss are normal feelings.
Thomas, Rob (1997) Slave Day. Simon & Schuster. Sophisticated Chapter Book. This book explores how dominant systems of meaning position people and groups in certain ways. Through short, first person narratives, the reader is able to follow the thoughts and actions of seven students and a teacher as they live through "Slave Day," an annual tradition at Robert E. Lee High School. Although the official purpose for the activity is to raise money for student activities, it is challenged by Keene, an African American student who sees it as racist and demeaning.
Thomas, Valerie, & Paul, Korky (1990) Winnie the witch. HarperCollins. Picture Book. Winnie the Witch has a black house and a black cat, Wilbur, with green eyes. When Wilbur closes his eyes Winnie can’t see him and so she trips over him. Being a witch she changes his color which embarrasses Wilbur and makes Winnie feel bad. Her final solution is to change the color of her house rather than to change Wilbur. This is a great book to talk about why schools need to adapt to children rather than expect children to adapt to schools.
Thomas, Velma Maia (2001) No man can hinder me: The journey from slavery to emancipation through song. Crown Publishers. Young Adult Book with CD. Using words, images, and songs, this book explores the emotional journey African Americans have taken from slavery to freedom. The CD contains 18 spirituals and the text contains historical photographs and loads of information.
Thompson, Colin, & Lissiat, Amy (2007) The short and incredibly happy life of Riley. Kane Miller. Picture Book. While overly pedantic, this is the story of Riley, a rat who has never experienced anything but happiness, while his human friends have experienced everything but happiness. Realizing that rats have a better life than humans is moderately sad, but the answer is very simply, “You just have to be happy with a lot less.” While a bit preachy, the text makes a great read aloud and opens up conversations about consumerism and questions the throw away society in which we live.
Thompson Walker, Karen (2012) The age of miracles: A novel. Random House. Middle School/Young Adult. What would happen if the earth’s rotation suddenly slowed down and continued to get slower and slower as time went on? This is the question that Karen Thompson Walker explores in The age of miracles. While the book is a coming of age story told by Julie, age 10, it also asks teens to consider if it is worth coming of age at all in a world that might end at any minute.
Tillage, Leon Walter (1997) Leon's story. Illus. Susan Roth. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Chapter Book. Remembering his childhood as the son of a sharecropper in North Carolina, Tillage describes his personal experiences of segregation, racial violence and the economic disenfranchisement of blacks in the south as he was growing up. Leon’s Story is part of the American Heritage Oral History collection.
Tran, Truong (2003) Going home, coming home/Ve nam, tham que huong. Illus. Ann Phong. Children’s Book Press. Picture Book. This bilingual picture book tells the story of a young Vietnamese American girl visiting Vietnam for the first time. While everything is strange and not like her home in America, she also begins to feel more comfortable as she discovers her grandmother and her roots. Biculturalism, she discovers, means knowing twice as much.
Trottier, Maxine (2011) Migrant. Illus. Isabelle Arsenault. Groundwood Books. Picture Book. With her fair skin and her German ancestry, Anna does not look like the typical child of migrant workers. As the child of migrant Mexican Mennonites, Anna sometimes feels like a rabbit living in other people’s burrows, sometimes like a goose migrating from north to south, sometimes like a kitten nestled up with her sisters in bed at night. What she most wants to feel like is a tree with deep, unmovable roots. This is a great book companion for Amelia’s Road.
Trueman, Terry (2001) Stuck in neutral. Harper Collins. Chapter Book. Shawn is a 14 year-old with cerebral palsy. Since he cannot communicate, he has been diagnosed as profoundly developmentally disabled. His age-mates make fun of him and his family members either resent what he has done to the family or feel sorry for him. The book leaves both adults and children feeling rather stunned. One cannot help but believe that everyone who experiences this book will interact with handicapped people differently and alter the language they use when interacting with them. Several critical issues are raised including: What is normal? Who gets to decide?
Tsuchiya, Yukio (1951/1997) Faithful elephants: A true story of animals, people, & war. Illus. Ted Lewin. Houghton Mifflin. Picture Book. Narrated by the zookeeper, this is a perspective on war that is usually not seen nor thought about. What happens to zoos in times of war? What if the animals should get out? One alternative the Japanese faced was to get rid of all the animals. Killing off two faithful elephants proved harder than you might think.
Tullet, Herve (2011) Press here. Chronicle. Picture Book. This beginning reading/participation book asks young readers to follow directions by pressing a yellow dot initially, and various combinations of dots later on in the book. Like magic, actions create changes only to be discovered when the next page is turned. The dots multiply, change directions, and grow in size as pages are shaken, the book is tilted, and dots are pressed. Wonderfully imaginative.
Twain, Mark (1948) The adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Grosset & Dunlap. ChapterBook. Because of its frequent use of the “N-word,” this classic of American literature is often banned by school districts across the country. The narrative itself tells of Huck’s travels and continual brushes with danger as he and a slave named Jim travel the Mississippi River. Placed in historical context, many of the passages which some see as offensive can now be read as appeals on the part of Mark Twain for broader racial understanding.
Tweit, Susan (1997) City foxes. Photography by Wendy Shattil. Alaska Northwest Books.Picture Book. Award-winning wildlife photographer Wendy Shattil records the touching, true story of an urban fox family as the kits grow up in a grassy cemetery. This beautiful, breathtaking photographic essay positions foxes as more noble animals than they are usually portrayed as in children’s literature.
Tyler, Michael (2005) The skin you live in. Illus. David Lee Csicsko. Chicago Children’sMuseum. Picture Book. In nursery rhyme verse this book discusses diversity by talking about skin color and how the skin you live in makes you both unique and different.
Uhlberg, Myron (2011) A storm called Katrina (Illus. Colin Bootman). Peachtree. Picture Book. Louis Daniel is a 10-year old boy and he hates it when his Mama treats him like a baby. But when Hurricane Katrina hits, he only has time to grab his coronet as he becomes increasingly dependent on his family for survival. As conditions worsen and his family members lose contact with each other, Louis Daniel brings his family together by playing his trusty horn. Some reviewers suggest that this is one of the few books that is appropriate to share with young children on the topic of Hurricane Katrina.
Van Camp, Richard (1998) What's the most beautiful thing you know about horses? Illus. George Littlechild. Children's Book Press. Picture Book. Richard Van Camp, the author, decides to ask his friends and family a question, "What's the most beautiful thing you know about horses?" The array of perspectives offered to Van Camp in response to his question sets up the possibility for a number of conversations to take place regarding stereotypes, ethnic differences, biracial issues, language and power, animal rights and cultural perspectives.
Viorst, Judith (1987) Alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad day. Illus. Ray Cruz. Antheneum. Picture Book. Alexander could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair. He tripped over his skateboard and dropped his sweater in the sink. There was kissing on TV and lima beans for supper. Some days, Alexander finds out, are like that-- even in Australia.
Walker, Alice (1992) The color purple. Houghton Mifflin. Sophisticated Chapter Book. Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is abused by her father and determines to protect her sister from the same fate. Her abuse continues through her married life until she learns that “Mister” has been keeping her sister’s letters from her. With rage and with the friendship of Shug, she finally pushes aside her past and finds a new awakening self.
Wallace, Jason (2012) Out of shadows. Holliday House. Intermediate/Young Adult. Set in Zimbabwe just after the war for independence, Robert Jacklin, a high school student, needs to decide with whom he is to be aligned – the white colonialist or the Zimbabwe blacks. Robert’s father works in the British Embassy and enrolls Robert in a private school that has been newly integrated. The turmoil in the country is reflected in the school, including racist insults, bullying and violence. There is no neutral ground. Based on the author’s own lived-through experience, this is a book about global politics, guilt, survival, and ultimately, responsibility.
Walter, Virginia (1998) Making Up Megaboy. Graphics Katrina Roeckelein. DK Publishing. Sophisticated Picture Book. In this remarkable book, Virginia Walter weaves together popular culture, ethnic tensions, youth violence, and strained interpersonal relationships into an extremely disturbing, realistic, and well-crafted tale. On his 13th birthday, Robbie Jones walks into Mr. Koh's convenience store, pulls out his father's gun, then shoots and kills the elderly Korean proprietor. The story is presented from the voices of community members as they try to figure out why this horrible killing happened. We hear his disbelieving mother, a glib TV news reporter, Robbie's disapproving father, a Vietnam vet, the local barber, his classmates, the girl he had a crush on, Robbie's teacher, his best friend, a correctional officer, and many more. This book reads like a TV drama and because of the disturbing content and treatment, it is best used as a read aloud followed by a class discussion.
Watt, Key (2006) Alabama moon. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Chapter Book. Moon, a ten-year-old, is the child of a Vietnam veteran who distrusts people and the government. Moon’s life suddenly changes when his father dies and he is put in a local boys’ home. Once there, Moon makes his first real friends and learns what friendship is all about. Much of the story revolves around multiple chases, captures, and escapes that will keep readers engaged. The book allows readers to explore different life styles, personalities, values, and the importance of personal relationships and perspectives.
Watt, Key (2010) Dirt road home. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Young Adult. The book opens with Hal, a 14-year-old, being led in chains to Hellenweiler Boys’ Home. He and his father have an agreement. Daddy is going to stop drinking and Hal is going to keep clean while being incarcerated. Hal, however, finds this almost impossible as reform school life demands taking sides with the gangs that have formed inside. The book provides an inside look at prison life as well as how hard it is to turn one’s life around. There are lots of issues to explore including the inhumanness of institutions, the social forces that operate to position youth in trouble, and how hard it is to change the trajectory of one’s life. This is a stand-alone sequel to Alabama moon (Watt, 2006).
Wattenberg, Jane (2000) Henny Penny. Scholastic. Picture Book. This is a hip, up-dated version of an old folk tale. Henny-Penny and her fine feathered friends are all in a dither. The sky is falling and they must tell the king! “What’s bussin’ cousins?” asks Ducky-Lucky. “Why the scowl, fowl?” gobbles Turkey-Lurkey. You get the drift. Not to be a story spoiler, but Foxy-Loxy loses out again.
Weatherford, Carole Boston (2006). Moses: When Harriet Tubman led her people to freedom (Ills. Kadir Nelson). Hyperion. Picture Book. This book tells the story of Harriet Tubman and her determination to gain freedom from slavery for herself and other African Americans. Readers learn about Tubman’s deep religious convictions and her belief that she was “the Moses” of her people. A brief foreword explains the practice of slavery and a brief after-note details the major events in Harriet Tubman’s life.
Weatherford, Carole Boston (2008) Becoming Billie Holiday. Illus. Floyd Cooper. Wordsong. Chapter Book. Through a sequence of poems, Carole Boston Weatherford chronicles Eleanora Fagan’s metamorphosis into Billie Holiday, possibly the best jazz singer of all time. The stunning art of Floyd Cooper captures the mood and feel of the era.
Weber, Valerie (2006) I come from Afghanistan (This is my story). Weekly Reader. Picture Book. Nine-year-old Bahista introduces readers to her family who moved to the United States from Afghanistan because “of wars in our homeland.” Each page carries a captioned photograph as well as a short informative paragraph. Readers are introduced to Muslim beliefs and the culture of Afghanistan. Colored photos give appealing glimpses into Bahista’s family life.
Weing, Drew (2010) Set to sea. Fantagraphics. Graphic Novel. The central character is a poet who envisions a romantic life at sea. When he gets shanghaied aboard a clipper ship, he finds a sailor’s life is a bit rougher than his romantic fantasies. He helps rebuff a pirate assault, survives a gunshot to the eye, and learns to love a life on the sea-- all the while writing poetry about pirates, bad food, foreign ports and sea funerals.
Weinstein Company (2006) Hoodwinked. This movie is a cross between the traditional Little Red Riding Hood tale and a Bogart film noir flick. The four main characters of the story (Red, the Wolf, Granny and the Woodsman) are interrogated by the police, with each giving his or her own version of the story.
Wells, Rosemary w/ Fernandez, Secundino (2010) My Havana: Memories of a Cuban boyhood. Illus. Peter Ferguson. Cadwick. Easy Chapter Book. A tribute to “Dino” Secundino Fernandez. The story is a window into the early life of an artist. Fernandez sees his world differently, noticing colors, shapes, textures and even the temperatures of buildings. Although he grew to love some of the places he lived, his favorite was Havana and it is the spirit of Havana that permeates his artwork.
Whitehead, Kathy, & Evans, Shane (2008) Art from her heart: Folk artist Clementine Hunter. Penguin. Picture Book. Clementine Hunter, an African American woman born into slavery, never had formal training in art. Instead, she developed her folk art style by attending to her cultural heritage. Her art embodies simplicity, a love of nature, and gives confidence to budding artists that they can do art too. Eleven small reproductions of Hunter’s folk-art are appended.
Whitman, Walt, & Long, Loren (2004) When I heard the learn’d astronomer. Simon & Schuster. Picture Book. Long uses Whitman’s poem to illustrate the difference between an adult’s and a child’s perspective on knowing. Several social issues are raised implicitly, including what it means to learn and whose knowledge counts.
Wiesner, David (2001) The three pigs. Clarion. Picture Book. In this delightful post-modern version of The Three Little Pigs, the story starts out traditionally with the wolf coming upon a house of straw and huffing and puffing and blowing the house down. The story takes an unexpected twist when the wolf also blows the first pig right off the page. Thus begins a refreshing tale of deconstruction, reconstruction, and liberation. When all three pigs get outside of the story, leaving the wolf trapped inside, they start a grand escapade by flying off on a paper airplane made from one of the folded pages of their story. On their adventure, they encounter other book characters, eventually bringing back a dragon they rescued along the way. This story is a great demonstration of how things don't have to be the way they've always been.
Wiesner, David (2010) Art and Max. Clarion. Picture Book. This is the story of two artist lizards: Art is painting a portrait as the book opens; Max is just getting his brushes ready. What follows is a Jackson Pollack-like explosion of color as the two artists work out their differences.
Wild, Margaret (2006) Fox. Illus. Ron Brooks. Kane Miller. Picture Book. This is a story about “Dog” and “Magpie.” Magpie has been wounded and Dog decides to nurse her back to health. Just as their friendship develops, along comes Fox, whom Magpie doesn’t trust. Over time, however, Fox persuades her to leave Dog and experience flying again by riding on Fox’s back. Fox takes Magpie far out into the scorching desert and abandons her, telling her that now she too will know what loneliness really feels like. Despite this act of cruelty, the book ends on a hopeful note as Magpie begins hopping back home.
Wiles, Deborah (2001) Freedom summer. Illus. Jerome Lagarrigue. Atheneum. Picture Book. This is the heartfelt story of two young boys who discover that even though the Civil Rights Act was passed, attitudes and beliefs do not change overnight. Readers are taken back to the summer of 1964 when, for the first time, the town swimming pool and other public places are open to all, regardless of skin color. As friends Joe and John Henry race to be the first ones to swim in water "so clear, you can jump to the bottom and open your eyes and still see," they are confronted head on with the power of discrimination. Rather than integrate, the town elders decided to have the swimming pool filled in with tar.
Willard, Nancy (1983). The Nightgown of the sullen moon (Illus. David McPhail). Harcourt. Picture Book. This book is an imaginative explanation of the lunar cycle: The moon laments that poets have praised her and men have worshiped her, but no one has ever given her what she really wants, “a nightgown such as people on earth wear when they are asleep under warm featherbeds at night” (unpaged).
Willhoite, Michael (1990) Daddy’s roommate. Alyson Wonderland. Picture Book. The story is told from the perspective of a boy whose parents recently divorced. Readers learn that the boy’s father now lives with Frank, another male. It turns out that Frank is a lot like Daddy and the boy ends up happy to have Frank join in the many activities he does with his father.
Williams-Garcia, Rita (2011) One crazy summer. Amistad. Chapter Book. This novel explores the impact of a political movement on individual lives. The book opens in 1968 as three black sisters from Brooklyn are being sent to California to meet their estranged mother. Their father has announced, “The time has come.” Their mother, Cecile, a poet and one of the movers and shakers in the civil rights movement, abandoned them to pursue what she saw as a higher calling. She is not particularly excited about seeing the girls now, either. She demands that they stay out of the kitchen (so as not to disturb her poetry writing) and sends them to the Black Panthers Party Headquarters to get fed. She tells them they can stay out as late as they want as she wants to get some work done in the peace and quiet. Over the course of their four week visit they learn a lot about revolutions, ethnicity, their mother, cultural identify and the relationship of each of these to personal responsibility. In addition to addressing important social issues, this book features some powerful female voices
Williams, Karen Lynn & Mohammed, Khadra (2007) Four feet, two sandals. Illus. Doug Chayka. Eerdmans. Picture Book. For the child who has difficulty sharing, this is a story of how a friendship developed between two young refugees, each of whom found a single sandal. They must learn to share as they wait for their family’s name to be drawn for relocation in a new country.
Wilson, Nancy Hope (1997) Old people, frogs, and Albert. Illus. Marcy D. Ramsey. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Easy Chapter Book. Albert is a fourth grader with more than just a reading problem--he's also very uncomfortable about walking by Pine Manor, a nursing home that he passes on his way to and from school each day. The people who sit on the porch and call out to him are not only old and wrinkled, but also are not in the best of health. When Mr. Spear, his reading tutor and friend, has a stroke and ends up at Pine Manor it's almost too much for Albert to bear. But when he surprises himself by reading a whole book without help and without focusing on the terrifying fact that he is reading, Albert gets the courage to overcome his fear and share his success with the residents of Pine Manor.
Winslow, Vicki (1997) Follow the leader. Delacorte. Chapter Book. Set in 1971 in North Carolina, this is the story of a family that's trying to make a difference. Mrs. Adams remembers segregation laws from her childhood and now votes only for "people who want to make things better for everybody." Mr. Adams hires subcontractors according to their bids and not who they are and refuses to join a segregated country club, even though it would help him with business contacts and he sees it as "the most beautiful golf course this side of Myrtle Beach." Both Mr. and Mrs. Adams support desegregation of the local schools, even though this means that their daughter Amanda will be bused out of their neighborhood to a downtown school. Resistant at first, Amanda eventually comes to appreciate the teachers and students in her new school and realizes that the friend she missed so much at first was not the kind of friend she wanted to keep. Follow the Leader invites conversations about racist attitudes that continue to lurk at or just below the surface in contemporary life.
Winter, Jeanette (2009) Nasreen’s secret school: A true story from Afghanistan. Beach Lane. Picture Book. Based on a true story from Afghanistan, this book affirms both the life changing power of education and the healing power of love. Young Nasreen has not spoken a word to anyone since her parents disappeared. In despair, her grandmother risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. With a devoted teacher and a new friend, Nasreen is drawn out of her shell of sadness.
Winter, Jonah (2002) Frida. Illus. Ana Juan. Scholastic. Picture Book. A biography of Frida Kahlo, artist Diego Rivera’s bride, which tells her life story and how after each tragedy – polio and then a bus accident – art allowed her to regain hope. This book is offered in both English and Spanish editions.
Winthrop, Elizabeth (2001) Dumpy La Rue (Illus. Betsy Lewin). Holt. Picture Book. Dumpy La Rue wanted to dance, but was told first that “pigs don’t dance” and second that “boys don’t dance.” But he was a pig who knew what he wanted to do and he refused to let others talk him out it. After watching how gracefully Dumpy La Rue danced, the other barnyard animals decided to join in. The message is that we should never let body image limit what we think we can do.
Wolf, Bernard (2003) Coming to America: A Muslim family’s story. Lee & Low. Picture Book. Wolf portrays the Mahmoud family as individuals rather than as stereotypical representations. Differences in religion do not equate with differences in fundamental human values. Readers are likely to walk away thinking of the Mahmouds as neighbors rather than as strangers or terrorists.
Wolff, Virginia Euwer (1998) Bat 6. Scholastic. Chapter Book. WWII has just endedand the Oregon towns of Barlow and Bear Creek are gearing up for the annual softball game between sixth grade girls from each town. Both teams have great new players. Shazam has come to live with her grandmother because her father was killed at Pearl Harbor. Aki is a Japanese American girl who has just returned home with her family after years in an internment camp. From the perspectives of 21 different characters, we hear first of the excitement and preparation leading up to the game, and then how the game is cut short after a terrible incident of racial violence when Shazam strikes Aki in the head forcefully and intentionally, causing serious injury. What follows is the town's struggle to make sense of what happened that day--a search that brings many to question their acceptance of the war's racism and violence, and their own complicity and silence.
Wood, Audrey (1984) The napping house. Illus. Don Wood. Harcourt. Picture Book. What happens when a wakeful flea joins a snoring granny, a dreaming child, a dozing dog, a snoozing cat and a slumbering mouse? One thing is for sure: It no longer is a napping house. This witty, rhythmic, repetitive text will delight young readers as they track the various critters as they make their way in and out of bed.
Wood, Audrey (1998) Quick as a cricket. Illus. Don Wood. Child’s Play International. Picture Book. “I’m as quick as a cricket, I’m as slow as a snail. I’m as small as an ant, I’m as large as a whale.” Young readers will love the singsong phrasing of this text as well as the implicit invitation to mimic a whole host of different animals. This book celebrates difference and how all our different traits contribute to make each of us unique.
Woods, Brenda (2004) Emako blue. Putnam. Young Adult. When Emako’s brother is released from prison, Emako becomes the victim of a drive-by shooting. Told in the stark, contemporary voices of Emako’s friends, Emako Blue tells the story of youth caught up in a world of violence despite their talents and plans to make something of themselves.
Woodson, Jacqueline (1995) From the notebooks of Melanin Sun. Scholastic. Chapter Book. Melanin Sun is a 14-year-old African American boy who has definite ideas about what is normal and what isn’t. When his mother announces that she is in love with a white woman, Melanin knows that his life is going to become more difficult. The taunts he receives at school, as well as the neighbor’s gossip he overhears, hurt him deeply. He starts working through these issues by using his private notebook to express unspoken feelings and ends up rethinking racism, homophobia, and what it means to be normal.
Woodson, Jacqueline (1997) The house you pass on the way. Delacourt. Chapter Book. Staggerlee is shunned by her African American peers because her mother is white. To add to her problems, Staggerlee fears she may be gay. This is a great book for starting conversations about how it feels to be different from the crowd.
Woodson, Jacqueline (2001) The other side. Illus. E. B. Lewis. Putnam. Picture Book. This gentle story of friendship in the midst of racial tension is told from the perspective of an African American child. When a white family moves in next door, her mother warns her to stay away from them. “She said it wasn’t safe.” These words stop white readers in their track and challenge them to consider how they might be part of the problem in race relations. Readers are left with the hope that children might ultimately be able to point the way for their parents to achieve a more caring and safe world.
Woodson, Jacqueline (2002) Visiting day. Illus. James Ransome. Scholastic. Picture Book. Feelings of hope and family togetherness pervade this story of visiting day. Grandma cooks fried children as everyone else primps and preens to get ready. While daddy may be “doing a little time” the story focuses on family togetherness.
Woodson, Jacqueline (2003) Locomotion. Putnam. Chapter Book. Lonnie is an active child whose life in a foster home with Miss Edna is sometimes difficult since she enjoys peace and quiet. With help from his teacher, Lonnie finds poetry to be the perfect outlet for telling his life story and getting a handle on his feelings. Sixty poems tell Lonnie’s sad but hopeful story.
Woodson, Jacqueline (2004) Behind You. Putnam. Chapter Book. Despite the fact that Jeremiah is dead -- killed by New York City police bullets at age 15 -- he looks over friends left behind, including his white girlfriend, Ellie, and his divorced parents as they struggle with racism, love, death, and grief. In some ways this novel is a little too realistic, having few answers and giving readers only glimmers of hope.
Woodson, Jacqueline (2006) I hadn’t meant to tell you this. Putnam. Sophisticated Chapter Book. This is a gritty tale about incest, friendship, and when it is best to break a confidence even through you promised not to tell. Marie, the 8th grade narrator, lives in an all-black suburb. Lena, the new girl at school, despite being considered white trash, has one thing in common with Marie. They both have lost their mother. Thus begins a friendship and bonding that supports both girls as they face life.
Woodson, Jacqueline (2007) Our Gracie aunt. Illus. Jon J. Muth. Hyperion. Picture Book. When Beebee’s and Johnson’s mother goes missing, a social worker appears and takes them to an aunt they have never met. Their Aunt Gracie loves them and provides a good home-- even as they try to understand how their mother might love them but not, at this moment, be able to care for them.
Woodson, Jacqueline (2008) After Tupac and D Foster. Puffin. Chapter Book/Middle School. A friend’s departure and a hero’s death change the lives of two eleven-year-old girls living in Queens, New York. When D Foster wanders onto the block, her arrival open up the girls’ eyes to a larger world. Suddenly they are aware of new possibilities as well as new tragedies such as the shooting of Tupac Shakur, a local hip-hop artist who has made it big. Foster’s sudden departure leaves the girls stunned as well as seeking what they call “The Big Purpose” in life. A sensitive story capturing how short-lived events at even a very young age can affect one’s life outlook and trajectory.
Wray, John (2010) Lowboy. Picador. Young Adult. Will Heller, a.k.a. Lowboy, is a paranoid schizophrenic who is off his medications and on the lam. While pursued by his mother and a local detective, Lowboy lives on the subway in the underground of the city and worries about problems as huge as global warming. While global warming is handled subtly and a subtext in the novel, what becomes apparent is that even those truly considered on the outside may have things to contribute.
Wyeth, Sharon Dennis (1998) Something beautiful. Illus. Chris K. Soentpiet. Doubleday. Picture Book. This book offers an opportunity to take a critical look at the places people inhabit, as well as initiate discussions around the multiple meanings of the word "beautiful." The young girl in this book pursues a quest for beauty in her inner city neighborhood. She initially is discouraged by the blighted areas around her, including the letters "DIE" on her own front door and the trash that is strewn around the yard. But she soon discovers that beauty can be found in a beautiful tasting fish sandwich or the beautiful sound of a baby's laugh or simply the beauty inside each individual.
Yang, Belle (2004) Hannah is my name. Candlewick. Picture Book. Belle Yang draws on her own experience of coming to America from Taiwan at age seven to tell this story of what it means to be an immigrant without proper papers. The tension in this story revolves around the family members getting green cards.
Yashima, Taro (1976) Crow boy. Perfection Learning. Picture Book. Chibi, a shy, small boy is both belittled and ignored by his classmates until, in his last year of elementary school, a wise and sensitive teacher draws him out. His classmates come to realize how much he knows and how much they could have learned from him had they tried to befriend him earlier. While this book is not unproblematic in that the children end up calling him “Crow Boy,” a name that still positions Chibi in particular ways, it does open up the possibility to talk about both the positive and negative effects of nicknames.
Yin (2003) Coolies. Illus. Chris Soentpiet. Puffin. Picture Book. The Chinese laborers brought over to build America’s railroads across the West in 1865 lived hard lives and were subjected to racist attitudes. The stark realities of this period are brought to life by Shek and his brother Little Wong as they try to stay alive and save enough money to bring their mother and little brothers to America.
Yolen, Jane. (1996) Encounter. Illus. David Shannon. Houghton Miffin. Picture Book. When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492, what he discovered were the Taino natives. Told from a young Taino boy’s point of view, this is the story of how the boy tried to warn his people against welcoming the strangers who seemed more interested in golden ornaments than friendship. Years later, the boy, now an old man, looks back at the destruction of his people and their culture by colonizers.
Zee, Ruth Vander (2008) Always with you (Illus. Ronald Himler). Eerdmans Books. Picture Book. “Kim, come to me. Don’t be afraid. I will always be with you.” These are the words Kim’s mother utters as she dies on the day their Vietnam village isbombed. Alone and afraid, Kim is rescued by American soldiers who bring her to an orphanage run by Ong and Ba Jones. There, among the companionship of other orphans, Kim finds the strength and courage to survive.
Zimmerman, Frederick (2007) Cool maps for curious kids #2: Afghanistan, an unauthorized tour of The land of a thousand suns and The kite runner. Nimble. Picture Atlas. The author’s hope is that readers who have read The kite runner and The land of a thousand suns will want to see the landscapes where these stories took place.