Fish in a Tree

Written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

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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.

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Bink & Gollie

By Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee

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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.

The Thing About Jellyfish

By Ali Benjamin

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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.

Serafina’s Promise

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.

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Each Kindness

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.

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Out of My Mind

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.

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Wonder

By R. J. Palacio

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August Pullman, Auggie to his family and friends, was born with a genetic disorder caused him to be physically disfigured.  Previously homeschooled, Auggie starts school at Beecher Prep, and Wonder is the story of his first year there.  This rich story provides the grounds for authentic discussions about friendship, bullying, acceptance, forgiveness, and the strength of the human spirit.  If you enjoyed Wonder already, look into The Julian Chapter or Pluto.