Written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Ally is smart enough to fool teacher after teacher in school after school. They see her as a troublemaker because it is easier for her to cause trouble then be seen as stupid. One day Mr. Daniels, a new teacher, starts teaching her, and he won’t let her escape work anymore. He discovers the secret that she has kept from so many. Letters don’t hold still for her. Ally’s secret of being dumb is finally going to come out, but through it all, she might finally realize that great minds don’t think alike.
Written by Sharon M. Draper
Stella lives with her parents and her little brother, Jojo, in a segregated North Carolina town in the early 1930’s. Her home is filled with love and, other than struggling to write, she is happy with her life of chores and school. One night everything changes as Stella and Jojo see a burning cross surrounded by KKK members across the pond from their house. Her family and neighborhood are no longer safe when her father tries to register to vote, but love and community prove to be a stronger force than hate. This story is a beautiful tribute to Sharon Draper’s grandmother who had the courage to keep writing by starlight after she was forced to stop going to school to help on her family farm.
By Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
Bink and Gollie look very different and think differently, too, but they are the best of friends. In this book, they rollerskate into a colorful sock adventure, set off on an expedition, and find a home for an aquatic friend. I highly recommend this series for any K-3rd grader who enjoyed Elephant and Piggie or Frog and Toad books.
By Ali Benjamin
Suzy’s life is turned upside down when her former best friend, Franny, drowns in the ocean while on a family vacation. They had been best friends since they met in swim class (5 years old), and they never thought that anything could change that. However, as they entered middle school Franny changed and Suzy didn’t, and they drifted apart. Franny became part of the popular crowd and became embarrassed by Suzy’s quirky behavior. Franny’s sudden death leaves Suzy regretting her last treatment of Franny and searching to make sense of a good swimmer drowning. She dives into the study of the Irukandji jellyfish, sure that this was the true villain in this story.
By Chanda Hahn
Kira Lier begins this book living on the streets and fighting to survive, but she has no idea the greater danger that is beneath her cardboard box home. She is abducted and brought into the Underland where monsters and Greek gods still dwell getting their entertainment through a new form of gladiator games. This book is the first part of Kira’s fight for freedom. In this underground prison, how can she survive and who can she trust?
I would recommend this YA book for a reader that enjoyed the Percy Jackson series.
By Ann E. Burg
Serafina dreams of going to school like her friend, Nadia, but never ending chores and the need to help her Maman makes it feel impossible. After meeting Dr. Antoinette Solaine, Serafina promises her friend Julie-Marie that she is going find a way to go to school and become a doctor. After a major earthquake, Serafina’s whole life is turned upside down, but she has not let go of her dream to be a doctor and change her world.
By Jacqueline Woodson
Chloe will not talk to or include the new girl, Maya. Maya doesn’t wear new clothes or look like Chloe’s friends. One day, the teacher talks to the class about how important each act of kindness is and how it has a ripple effect into people’s lives. Chloe wants to make things right, but she never has her chance. This is a beautiful story that reminds us all that each action we take or don’t take affects those around us.
By Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Do you want to learn how to build a nest, catch your dinner, or battle a mountain sheep? This book gives step-by-step directions on everything from sewing a nest like a tailor bird to repelling insects like a Capuchin to swallowing a pig whole like a python. I think this is a creative way to expand kids’ animal knowledge, and I think that many students will enjoy learning from it.
By Sharon M. Draper
Melody is not like other 5th grade students. She cannot feed herself, dress herself, or speak, but that doesn’t mean that she has nothing to offer her classmates and nothing to teach. As a result of cerebral palsy, she has not physically developed the same as her peers, and for many years, only her parents believe that she is mentally capable. With the introduction of a new Medi-Talker (that Melody names Elvira), Melody begins to communicate and show the world her amazing abilities. I highly recommend this book for any 5th-8th graders, as it tackles issues of friendship, fitting in, differences, and struggles beautifully.
By Katherine Rundell
Feo and her mother, Marina, teach wolves that have been domesticated and abandoned by the Russian aristocracy to live in the wild and to distrust humans. Some people want the wolves to be killed instead of trained by the wilders. Feo must decide how far she will go to protect her mother, 3 wolves, and ultimately the people of Russia. If you like historical fiction, you will love this beautiful story of love, courage, and loyalty.