Finding great books can be hard, especially when you have a full schedule. So, where can you find the BEST recommendations? It’s no secret that librarians are a great resource when it comes to discovering fabulous new reads. So, here’s a list of amazing books and why you should have them in your classroom or home library, by your friendly kidlit writer, blogger, and librarian!
Book #1: Four Eyes by ReX oGLE, illustrated by dAVE vALEZA
“An adolescent masterpiece that bravely and honestly expresses the dilemmas of early tween years; from family, to friendships, and everything in between.”
Book details: Middle Grade- Juvenile Graphic Novel, Grades 3-7,
Graphic novels are one of the hottest, fastest selling items in the current literary market- and there’s more than one reason why. Not only are they filled with fun, engaging images to help perk your child’s imagination, they’re often geared to a dialogue filled text that moves quickly from page to page. This fast pace, conversational approach keeps kids interested in reading. They’re especially terrific for kids who are apprehensive to read by nature. So, if you have a child between the ages 8-12 who’s struggling with reading, graphic novels may be the perfect tool for you.
THIS BOOK DEALS WITH:
- Navigating family/friend relationships
- Coming of age
Book #2 Fungus Is Among Us! by Joy Keller, illustrated by Erica Salcedo
“A lively scientific adventure through the outdoors, told in rhyme!“
Book details: Picture Book – Informational Fiction, Grade level 1-2, Reading ages 5-10
Getting kids excited about science at a young age is one of the best ways to educate them about their surroundings. And what better way to grab their interest than by incorporating fun lyrical language, humor, and bright images? If you’re looking for a NON boring romp through science, this book is definitely for you!
THIS BOOK HAS:
- Bright colored, fun illustrations to grab your child’s attention
- Incorporates science and education
- Story told in lyrical rhyme
- Lots of fun facts about mushrooms
Book #3 Anglerfish The Seadevil of the Deep, by Elaine M. Alexander, illustrated by Fiona Fog
“A deep dive into the mysterious life of the anglerfish.”
Book details: Non-Fiction Picture Book, Reading age 4-8, Preschool- 3rd grade
How much do you know about the anglerfish? Probably, not that much. And it’s no surprise why. Anglerfish aren’t a hugely common topic. Why? Well, for starters, they live way down at the bottom of the ocean. So, most of us will never come in contact with one. But, for the few who have, there’s still not much written about them. If you’re curious about learning about this mysterious seadevil of the deep, you won’t want to miss this read.
THIS STORY IS FILLED WITH:
- Fun fish & ocean facts for animal & nature lovers!
- Science & life cycles
- Great vocabulary words and their definitions
- Dramatic, vivid illustrations
Book #4 a gIRL, a raccoon, AND THE mIDNIGHT mOON, BY kAREN rOMANO yOUNG, ILLUSTRATED BY jESSIXA bAGLEY
“A story shrouded in mystery, set in a city library; and a collection of spunky, lovable, and unlikely heroes…”
Book details: Middle Grade, Mystery/Light Fantasy/Fiction, Reading age 10-14, Grade level 5-9
This book was a no brainer for me. My reasons? 1. It’s setting takes place in a library. 2. That title?! I had to know more. 3. Raccoons! and 4. I love Jessixa Bagley. So, those were the beginning reasons as to why I picked this book up. Since the first time I read it, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I’ve purchased a copy for myself, multiple for my library, and a few for friends. If you love stories shrouded in mystery, with a dash of historic justice, sentimental love of libraries, and spunky heroines and unlikely friendships… pick it up today!
Things you’ll find in this book:
- Mysteries & unlikely heroes
- Newly formed friendships
- Spunky, determined characters
- A city library setting
Book #5 cHEF eDNA: Quueen of Southern Cooking, Edna Lewis, by Melvina Noel, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
“A story about following your dreams… perfect for young readers aspiring to become chefs.”
Book details: Youth Picture Book Biography, Ages 4-8, Grades Preschool-3rd
For illustration alone… I don’t know how you couldn’t LOVE this story. But, looking beyond the brilliance of the artwork – and it is brilliant- this book is a beautiful ode to the life of Edna Lewis.
THIS STORY FEATURES:
- Biography of Edna Lewis’s life
- Food and cooking
- History & traditions
- Beautiful illustrations
Book #6 Mara Hears in Style, by Terri Clemmons, illustrated by Lucy Rogers
“An inclusive picture book that represents a young child with a hearing impairment.”
Book details: Picture Book, ages 4-8
There’s no way I could NOT be excited about sharing this book. And not just because the author is none other than one of my *amazing* critique partners, Terri Clemmons! But, this book is deeply special to me, as someone who has deaf family members. Growing up, it’s hard to remember seeing stories told from the perspective of children with disabilities- least of all with beautiful illustrations like this! Having inclusive stories in the classroom and in libraries is SO important for children to be able to see themselves in books. While we’re on the topic of inclusive children’s literature, that brings me to my next highly recommended read…
**This book is scheduled to release on February 27th of 2024, but is available for pre-order now. Keep your eyes peeled for the March Feature Interview. I’ll be interviewing the author about her books, writing journey, and tips on how to keep busy and stay sane as a kidlit writer. **
THIS BOOK FEATURES:
- Children with disabilities, hearing impairments
- Building new friendships at school
- Inclusive perspective & diverse characters
- Lovely illustrations
Book #7 ADHD AND ME, by Chelsea DiCicco
“A neurodiverse story about appreciating your differences for what they are… gifts.”
Book details: Picture Book, ages 4-8
Being on the neurodivergent spectrum with A.D.H.D. I of course love seeing literature on the shelves that embrace learning differences in kids across all spectrums. This book is an excellent resource for classrooms and family discussion for a multitude of different reasons. One thing I love about this story is that it’s told from the perspective of a neurodiverse eight-year-old girl. Throughout the story, she expresses the thoughts and feelings she experiences inside her mind, as well as what she observes of others and how they feel – recognizing not just her own set of challenges, but those of her peers, teachers, and family members.
Something that makes this book an especially great resource for classrooms is the added bonus material, author’s note, and resources available at the end of the book, designed for parents and educators, that discusses how to help your child have a successful support system. And don’t forget the extra free educational downloads, like the coinciding lesson plan, coloring sheets, spot the difference pages, and much more on the author’s website, under teacher corner. (Yes, that’s MY website!)
THIS BOOK HIGHLIGHTS
- Building empathy & understanding toward yourself & others
- Neurodiverse characters, ADHD & AUTISM SPECTRUM
- Caring for physical, emotional, and mental health
- Family relationships & friendships
Book #8 Me And Marvin Gardens, by Amy Sarig King
“An imaginative, eco-friendly story for nature and animal lovers; with a nice nod to history and science.”
Book details: Middle Grade Fiction, Reading age 8-11, Grade level 3-7
This was such an interesting read. New species discovered. Love of science and history of land, heritage, and rocks. Lots of perspectives shown between family relationships and growth of friendship. Truly a wonderful adolescent coming of age story for boys. (Overall, a great read for everyone!)
I loved hearing Obe’s story about his Devlin family farm and getting to enjoy the creek with him. I especially enjoyed being a part of his friendship with Annie. And I thought the author did an AMAZING job of weaving history into this story and adding just the perfect touch of world building. The tender scenes on the school bus and out in nature were just the cherry on the cupcake of this for me. It was so refreshing to see so many angles of perspectives from different families and how each person deals with loss, embarrassment, and shame differently. Just a really powerful story to make you think about more than just yourself… but the bigger part you can play in making a positive difference.
This book would be especially wonderful for classrooms for it’s exploration of science and history.
THIS BOOK DEALS WITH:
- Ecosystems, planet health & recycling
- Family relationships
- Friendships & bullying
- Science & history