Spring has come to the Midwest! We’ve had an amazing weekend that felt more like summer than spring and so far this week, we’ve held on to the warm weather. I was even able to take some of my pictures outside, which seems to be easier with better results. As you all enjoy our great weather, here are some new kids books you that you might want to investigate.
As most of you know, I’m a recently retired elementary school librarian. Throughout the over 20 years in my job, I kept up with book reviews through library magazines and more recently online sources. However, because I was also trying to save some time during the evenings and on the weekends for my husband and family, I missed learning about some books. One of the best parts of my retirement, is that I now have the time to peruse the online sources, social media and literature blogs to learn about new books and authors. It has been so much fun! I spend a part of each day reviewing these sources and making notes about ones I want to try. I’ve become a very frequent visitor to our wonderful public libraries (which amazingly always seems to have the books I am looking for!) to check out these books so I can determine if I agree with the reviews. Most of the time I do! I have found that the quality of the writing, as well as the illustrations, is impressive. Therefore, because of my past experiences, I understand how hard it is for you busy moms, teachers and grandmas to keep up with it all and to find some special books for your kids. Hopefully this list will help! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll recognize some of the titles, but there are lots of new ones as well. Here we go!
new Middle grade kids books
El deafo by Cece Bell
This book won the Newberry Honor this year and after reading it, I think it was an excellent choice. It’s a graphic novel memoir which is very touching, but full of humor. Cece became deaf after contracting meningitis when she was four. She describes her experiences and the reactions of those around her. She just wanted to be accepted and have friends, but it wan’t always easy. It would be a great book to read with your child. It would also be a wonderful choice to share with hearing impaired kids and their friends. I think it helps all of us have empathy and a better understanding of the world of a hearing impaired child.
Hearing impaired, empathy, kindness, graphic novel, humor
Escape from Basters’ Barn by Rebecca Bond
This new kids book will be a winner with fans of Charlotte’s Web. The Story is told from the animals’ perspective and describes their friendship, loyalty and teamwork as they try to solve a life threatening problem in the barn.
Animal story, friendship, loyalty, teamwork, adventure, read aloud for all ages
The wild robot by Peter Brown
This fantasy book is the first chapter book from the award winning picture book author, Peter Brown. Roz, a robot, finds herself alone on a deserted island with no way to get home. Roz is very intelligent, and very adaptable, however, so she quickly learns how to cope with living in the woods by observing the unwelcoming animals on the island. After a while, the island begins to feel like home when Roz and the animals become friends. This novel is both heart warming, and full of action, and is one you won’t want to miss!
Fantasy, adventure, great read aloud for all ages
paper wishes by Lois Sepahban
This historical fiction book is Manami’s diary from 1942 which describes her family’s experiences as they are relocated from their home on Bainbridge Island to a Japanese American camp in the California desert. She is very sad to go, but refuses to give up her dog, as is required. She tries to smuggle Yujiin onto the train that will take them to their new home, but he is taken from her after he is discovered. From her new home, Manami writes letters and draws pictures for Yujinn everyday promising to take good care of him when he returns home.
Historical fiction, World War II, good read aloud for grades 3-5
brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline woodson
This is another Newberry Honor book. It is Ms. Woodson’s autobiography about growing up in South Carolina and New York in the ’60s and ’70s, and is all told in verse. Each poem vividly describes her experiences as she deals with both discrimination and the Jim Crow Laws. However, her love of writing shines through in the poignant verse.
Historical fiction, Civil Rights Movement, poetry, autobiography, good read aloud for grades 3-5
new picture books
have you seen elephant? by david Barrow
This book is sure to become a favorite that you will reading over and over again. The charming illustrations from this first time author just give you a warm feeling. You might notice that it is all dialogue, with the best line being when the elephant tells the little boy that “I must warn you though. I’m VERY good.” when they begin to play hide and seek together. Your children will soon be emphatically (and probably very loudly) pointing out the elephant in each hiding place, as the dog is doing on each stop along the way, but the little boy just can’t find Elephant. A School Library Journal starred review, which will be enjoyed by all!
preschool – grade 2 read aloud
When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes
The latest book from Kevin Henkes, is beautifully illustrated by his wife, Laura Dronzek (I’m not familiar with her illustrations, but this book definitely makes me want to see more. Actually, I think I’d like for her to decorate my house!). This is a lovely, sweet story that pulls you in through the beautiful and vibrant illustrations covering the end papers and then keeps you turning each page to learn what’s coming next. It made me feel so joyful and cozy, as it engaged all of my senses. It’s a wonderful read aloud for preschool children, which will lead to an understanding of what to expect as Spring emerges all around them.
seasons, preschool – grade 2 read aloud
bear and bunny by daniel pinkwater
This is another book which received a starred review from School Library Journal. That happens to be the best recommendation a book can have, in my opinion! If a book received this, the book was always at the top of my “to be purchased list” for my library. Of course, now, this is really dangerous, because I want to add every starred title to my home library! This is a sweet story about friendship, as the two friends are on their quest through the forest to find the perfect pet. As they consider each possibility, it’s a great opportunity to talk with your child, or with a class, about the reading strategy of comparing and contrasting that occurs in the story as Bear and Bunny come to a conclusion.
read aloud preschool – 2, compare and contrast, friendship
boxes for katje by Candace Fleming
This isn’t a new book, but it’s new to me and I wouldn’t want you to miss it! The historical fiction story is set in Holland immediately after the second World War. Food and clothing were extremely scarce, due to the fact that nothing could be farmed or manufactured during the war. One day, a little girl, Katje, receives a box from America containing socks, soap and chocolate. It caused a huge celebration in Katje’s family, and she sent a thank you note to the little American girl who sent the package.This prompted another box to arrive which was so large that Katje could share the contents with her neighbor. This continued, until the Americans had sent enough food, soap, warm clothing and chocolate for the entire town! And then Katje sends a thank you gift to America. This story will lead to an understanding of conditions after the war, and how the kindness of a few people can help so many.
read aloud for all ages, historical fiction, World War II, empathy, kindness
the first step: how one girl put segregation on trial by susan e. goodman
Sarah Roberts was attending a school in Boston in 1847 that was near her home, had lots of supplies and books and many teachers. Then she is told she can’t attend, because it is a school for white children. Sarah is sent to a a school for African American Children, which is a long distance away and has only one book. Out of concern for Sarah and their anger at the situation, Sarah’s parents go to court and “put segregation on trial.” This story describes the long battle that Sarah’s family and some hard working lawyers fought to achieve integration in Boston schools. Fairness was finally schieved in 1855 when the mayor declared Boston to be the first city with integrated schools. The story continues to describe the journey toward integrating schools in all of the United States, which concluded with the 1954 Supreme Court Decision which declared all schools must be integrated.
Historical fiction, Civil Rights Movement, segregation, read aloud for grades 2-5
a tale of two beasts by fiona robertson
This is a fun story told from two points of view – a little girl on her way home through the woods from Grandma’s house and a strange little beast she finds along the way. First of all, be sure and notice the end papers. They will put a smile on your face before you even begin reading the story. They are also a good discussion starter with your child. Then as you proceed, there are so many details in every illustration for you to find and to point out. It would be a lot of fun to share this story with a child while you are curled up together, or with a class. It would definitely be high on my list for a read aloud with my kindergarten or first grade classes!
Point of view, read aloud preK – grade 2, kindness, friendship
There are so many more books I want to share with you, but I’ll save those for next time. What are some new books you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below.
P.S. One of my favorite bloggers, Modern Mrs. Darcy, recently published a post titled, Twelve Terrific Books for Tween Girls. Be sure and check it out. It has some terrific recommendations!