5 Books to Begin Middle School

It’s hard to believe that school will be starting very soon. I don’t know about you, but the summer has flown by! We’ve spent a lot of time in Michigan and we’ve had the oportunity to renew old friendships and spend lots of time with family and friends. We’ve tried to enjoy every minute and we’re tired, but very happy!

I know there are a lot of anxious kids out there who are ready to begin school. Maybe it’s a new school because of a move, maybe it’s new because it’s middle school or maybe it’s just a new grade. No matter the situation, it’s always reassuring to know that whatever you’re worried about or whatever you’re feeling, you’re not alone. These books do that! Your tween may identify with Tessa’s fear about starting a new school, with Macy’s concern about moving and having a new family, with Abbie Wu’s feeling that she’s “totally freaking out” or with Lucia and Elyse’s feelings when their best friends turn to someone new. The books are about courage, acceptance of differences and kindness. They are perfect for kids as they begin middle school, but will also be great for 4th and 5th graders. I hope your kids will find a new favorite that will give them just the courage they might need to begin a new school year.

Bubblesmiddle school

By Abby Cooper

  • Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book – all opinions are my own.

Sophie has been in mourning for four months, because four months ago she is certain she caused her mom to break up with her long time boyfriend, as well as lose her job. As a result, her mom either sits on the couch reading boring magazines or cries in her room, instead of sharing lots of adventures with Sophie as they’ve always done And now Sophie has a new problem. She sees speech bubbles, just like those in cartoons, above people’s heads. She can tell what everyone is thinking!

Here are some of the many reasons that this book is definitely a 5 star review!

 

♥Sophie’s strength and courage to share about the speech bubbles with her mom and her friends

♥Sophie’s courage to talk to her counselor about her life

♥Sophie’s courage to creatively tackle her problems.

♥Sophie relationships with the adults in the story

♥Sophie’s friendship with her two best friends

Bubbles shows upper elementary and middle schoolers that struggling with friendships and self confidence, is very normal and it’s okay to be sad once in awhile. As Sophie said “…a sad thought every so often didn’t mean a sad life.  …And as long as I have my friends and family with me…I’d never have to deal with any of these things alone.”

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street

By Lindsay Currie

Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network and @lindsayncurrie for providing me with the review copy of this book – all opinions are my own. It will be released 10/10/17.

This is a story about ghosts, friendship, family and Chicago that I couldn’t stop reading! It is based upon a true story from Graceland Cemetery in Chicago and at first was really scary (at least for someone who NEVER reads ghost stories!). In fact I told my husband one evening that I had to stop reading or I’d never sleep! However, the mystery, the characters, the friendships and the great story had me quickly picking it up the next day. As more of the characters were revealed, and the more I learned about the ghost of the  little girl who was haunting Tessa (the strong, brave, resourceful and likeable main character) the more I wanted to quickly finish the book.  I know this is going to be a perfect story for all of those kids who ask for a scary book! And there are definitely a LOT of those kids in every library. But more importantly, this is a great choice for kids who are coping with middle school friendships, acceptance of a not so normal family or quirky friends.  5 stars for sure!

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess

By Shari Green

Thank you to @Kidlit Exchange for telling me about this great new title!

Macy, who has been deaf since she had meningitis when she was four, is facing many challenges as she finishes up sixth grade. Her mom is getting married, they are preparing to move in with her new stepfather and his six year old twin girls, she isn’t speaking to her best friend, her mom is insisting she help with both the wedding AND her elderly neighbor’s moving preparations and she has a final sixth grade genealogy assignment to finish.  Shari Green tells Macy’s story in free verse, which I wasn’t sure I would like, but it turned out to be the perfect literary device. I loved reading about the relationship that unfolded between Macy and her neighbor, Iris, The Rainbow Goddess, as Macy helped her prepare to move into an assisted living facility. I loved this poignant book as Macy faced her challenges, and with Iris’s help, began to understand that “Hearts are waiting, worrying, hurting – in need of a message you can send.”

This is Shari Green’s second middle grade book. Now I can’t wait to read her first one, Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles!

Frazzled: Everyday disasters and impending doommiddle school

By Booki Vivat

When I was an elementary school librarian, I often heard the question “what book is like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Big Nate?” Well I wish Frazzled, Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom was available a few years ago, because it would have been flying off the shelves! Frazzled is not a graphic novel, but is filled with illustrations on every page, which makes it into a very inviting book for even reluctant middle grade readers. Frazzled tells Abbie Wu’s story about starting middle school and how she is “totally freaking out.” She is the middle child in her family and she isn’t brilliant and cool like her older brother or cute and adorable like her little sister. She is just Abbie who is struggling to find “her thing.” Will it be drama club like her best friend Maxine who has wanted to be an actress since third grade, or possibly the coding club like her friend Logan who has always been a whiz with puzzles? Or maybe cooking, or dance or sports? The trouble is is that Abbie is terrible at all of these and couldn’t be less interested. This book will both entertain your middle grader, as well as reassure anyone who is dreading the transition to middle school. In the end, Abbie decides maybe she’s not “100% doomed!” and you find yourself hoping that September 26th comes very quickly so that you can read the next installment about Abbie Wu!

Moon Shadowmiddle school

By Erin Downing

This fantasy is all about Lucia who was born during a lunar eclipse. As the story opens, it is her thirteenth birthday and the night of the next lunar eclipse. Her mother insists that this will be a very special evening for Lucia, but all Lucia cares about is trying to get her best friend back, trying to be friends with the boy next door again and learning to cope with her parents’ divorce. However, something very mysterious happens to Lucia. As the moon passes through the shadow of the earth and Lucia falls asleep, Lucia’s shadow appears. It turns out Lucia’s shadow only makes itself known while Lucia sleeps, but the shadow’s behavior is very different from Lucia. Lucia’s shadow has a lot more confidence and courage than Lucia, which leads to some interesting situations. This story was intriguing and I didn’t want to stop reading! Although, older kids would fly through this, I recommend it to anyone looking for a magical, mystical book for their next read.

 

These are just five of my most recent favorites that will help your fourth grader, your fifth grader or your middle schooler find the courage to face the challenges of a new school year. Do you have any more to add to the list? Please let us know in the comments. Finally, I wish you and your family a great start to the new school year!




Red Canoe Reader is on Nerdy Book Club!

I’m so excited to share my big news! I have a post on Nerdy Book Club Blog!  It is titled TEN BOOKS TO HELP YOUR CHILD BECOME MORE COMPASSIONATE.  It describes ten books about compassion, kindness, acceptance of differences, empathy and caring. Hopefully, some of these title might lead your children to, as R.J. Palacio describes in her middle grade novel, Wonder, “choose kind”.

I would love for you to pop over and read my post! Then, while you’re there, explore The Nerdy Book Club. You’ll find lots of titles to add to your kids’ TBR lists, interesting information about children’s book authors and some books to use in your classrooms. I have gained so much from reading the articles on this website, and I’m very honored to be posting on it today! And finally, I’d really appreciate it, if you would both, “like” the post and share the post on Facebook or Twitter! Thank you for all of your support!

 

 




5 Middle Grade Books to add to Your Summer Reading List

School’s out! The kids are thrilled and hopefully you are, as well. After all, you have a little more down time, a few less lunches to make and more time to enjoy your children. Personally, I am loving the warmer weather, the sunshine (finally!), the lush green trees, the flowers and the freedom to walk out the door without a jacket. I’m spending a lot more time reading books, both children’s and adult, rather than reading the internet (although I’m not sure why!), trying new recipes and basically enjoying life. I guess there’s just something about the open windows and summer breezes that energizes me. My reading has led me to five middle grade chapter books that I want to share with you. I hope your kids will enjoy them as much as I did! You might even want to add them to your TBR list, too!

middle grade books: harlem charade by Natasha Tarpley middle grade

Are you looking for a good mystery for your middle grade reader that will pull them into the story from the first page? This might be the one! Harlem Charade, set in the diverse streets of Harlem, has  many twists and turns. The main characters, Elvin, Alex and Jin, who are each struggling with problems at home,  work together to solve the mystery behind the attack on Elvin’s grandfather. Could the attack be a part of the councilman’s plan to shut down the local family businesses and force everyone to move out to make room for Harlem World? The story helps the reader understand both the meaning of, and the repercussions of gentrification, as the kids work together to solve the mystery and save their neighborhood. This is an action packed story that keeps the reader guessing until the end. I highly recommend it!

MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS: short  BY holly goldberg sloan

middle grade

I was looking forward to reading the new book by the author of one of my favorite middle grade reads from the past few years, Counting by 7s, and I wasn’t disappointed. Julia is struggling with several obstacles as she begins summer vacation. She’s the smallest in her class, by far, her best friends are gone for the summer, and she is mourning the loss of her beloved dog, Ramon, her closest friend and buddy, who  suddenly curled up and died unexpectedly of a heart attack. To give Julia something to focus on, her mom registers her and her little brother to appear in the community production of The Wizard of Oz. Of course, much to her horror, Julia is cast as a Munchkin.

I immediately identified with Julia’s grief, which she tries to keep inside, because I have lost so many dogs through the years, and it’s very difficult. And I had the opposite problem about size – I was always the tallest in my class, which is equally horrifying! So I was pulled in from page 1!

I especially loved Julia’s relationships that develop with the adults in the story: her neighbor, Mrs. Chang, the director of the play, her parents and her fellow actors. They showed her so much respect, support and understanding throughout the summer, which helped Julia deal with her grief and improve her self confidence.

MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS: one hundred spaghetti strings BY jen nailsmiddle grade

This book certainly pulled at my “mom heart strings”! I wanted to hug Steffy and Nina and protect them from the unfairness of their world. They have been happily living with their aunt Gina since their mom’s traumatic brain injury in an auto accident and their dad’s subsequent abandonment, which is almost as long as they can remember. But now their dad is coming home and their beloved aunt is moving out. This poignant tale tells the story of how each of the girls deal with the situation, Steffy by cooking and Nina by dancing, how they are forced to grow up far too early and how they learn that sometimes you need to rewrite your family’s recipe, even though it may be far different than you hoped.

MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS: a rambler steals home BY carter higgins

middle gradeDerby, her brother and her dad lead a vagabond life. They travel the country hauling their rambler to ball parks and fairgrounds selling hamburgers and fries. But every summer, they can’t resist returning to Ridge Creek, Virginia, for the Rockskippers season, a minor league baseball team.. They’ve been spending every summer there as long as Derby can remember, and their many friends always look forward to their return. I admired Derby’s strength as she tells the story of missing her mom who walked out years ago, her determination to find a way to help her dearest friend in Ridge Creek and her struggle to understand what home truly means.  As her dear friend, June, tells her, “Your home has wheels, but your heart has roots right here.” This is really a winner!

MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS: the summer i saved the world in 65 days 

BY michele weber hurwitzmiddle grade

I don’t usually post things twice, but I think this book warrants breaking that rule! I’m hoping a lot of people who didn’t see it last summer, or may have forgotten, will see it today. Now that school is out for your kids, or very nearly so, the search for a special book begins. This would be a great one to read first!

Nina is spending her summer between middle school and high school pretty much on her own. Her parents, both lawyers, go to work early and return late, her older brother is always busy, her best friend has discovered boys and only wants to talk about clothes and makeup and Nina’s beloved grandma has died. So Nina spends a lot of her day in her room looking at all of the houses in her cul-de-sac. On the first day of summer she watches her next door neighbor, Mrs. Chung, who lives by herself, struggling to plant her garden full of marigolds as she always does, even though she has a broken leg. After Mrs. Chung gives up and goes inside, Nina remembers something her favorite teacher told the class on the last day of school. He said, “It is very often the ordinary things that go unnoticed that make a difference.” At that moment, Nina comes up with a plan that will change her summer and change her neighbors’ summers, as well. Nina decides to do something unnoticed every day for the 65 days of summer and see if she can really make a difference. This is an inspiring story for a beginning of summer middle grade book for kids going into fourth grade and older. Maybe we could all decide to do something ordinary and unnoticed for someone for one day or for 65 days this summer and see if it makes a difference. I’ll bet it does!

Do your kids have some books to suggest? Please let us all know in the comments.

Happy Summer!

 




Kids’ Books to Remember and Some Links For Your Week

I’ve had a wonderful week, even though the Chicago area weather insists upon being gray and gloomy! I spent time with both of my sisters, two of my nieces and some good friends, and finally finished my week by celebrating our son’s birthday. What could be better than that? As a result, I haven’t spent as much time at the library or reading articles on the internet. However, I have lots to share with you today, especially some kids’ books to remember!

kids’ books to remember: read aloud

kids' books to rememberA Bear Called Paddington by Micheal Bond

Socks by Beverly Cleary

Marvin Redpost by Louis Sachar

KIDS’ BOOKS TO REMEMBER: picture bookskids' books to remember

Best Friends for Francis by Russell Hoban

Elmer and the Hippos by David McKee

A book about cooperation and kindness.

Dear Mrs. LaRue by Mark Teague

KIDS’ BOOKS TO REMEMBER: chapter bookskids' books to remember

Matt Christopher Sports Series by Matt Christopher

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob buyea

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

links for mom and dad

ALA Children’s Book Awards

The ALA announced the latest Caldecott, Coretta Scott King and Newberry winners, as well as some other awards.

Maya Angelou

One of my favorite bloggers shares a children’s book by Maya Angelou.

favorite fantasy books for tweens and teens

If your older kids are looking for some new fantasy series, this link might help.

spread a little kindness 

This blog shares more titles to help your kids learn kindness, understanding and appreciation of our differences.

posts you may have missed on red canoe reader

friendship books for kids
kindness picture books for kids

Thank you for inviting Red Canoe Reader into your inbox this week. What titles have you found on your library visits that have become family favorites? Please let us know in the comments below and have a great week!

 

 




25 Picture Books for Holiday Gifts

Are you beginning to panic, just a little bit? It’s less than three weeks until Christmas and you don’t even have ideas for everyone! I’m here to help! Here is a list of some of the best picture books for holiday gifts, no matter what age the recipient might be.

picture books for holiday gifts: friendship

PICTURE BOOKS FOR HOLIDAY Gifts

It Came in the Mail By Ben Clayton

This picture book is about a very unique and caring friendship between a little boy and his mailbox. Liam really wants mail, but he never receives a thing. Then, one day he had an idea! Maybe if he wrote a letter, the recipient would write back.

Max and Marla by Alexandra Boiger

Max and Marla are great friends, even though Marla is an owl. Their dream is to be winter Olympians! This story tells the tale of their perseverance and teamwork as they work together to overcome the many obstacles they encounter as they struggle to achieve their goal. In the end, they realize the real prize they have earned is their friendship!

PICTURE BOOKS FOR HOLIDAY Gifts

 

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

This little boy and his elephant show everyone the true meaning of friendship. Friends “help each other, lift each other over cracks, brave the scary things with you, and never leave anyone behind.” May our kiddos find friends, as well as be one.

PICTURE BOOKS FOR HOLIDAY Gifts

 

Be a Friend  by Salina Yoon. The story of Dennis and Joy, how they express themselves and the friendship that follows will encourage your children to reach out to others and to “be a friend.”

 The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend by Dan Seekle, won the Caldecott Medal for best picture book of the year in 2014 and is truly a gem. Beekle was born on the island of imaginary friends and was awaiting his turn to be imagined by child, but his turn never seemed to come. So he did the unthinkable he sailed through some very scary waters to the real world. It turned out to be such a strange place and he struggled to find something familiar. When he stumbled upon a playground filled with children he felt much happier, but he still didn’t find his child. When he had just about given up hope, his child found him, and together they found that the world seemed to feel a little less strange! Not surprisingly, the illustrations are amazing, extremely colorful and somehow very comforting. Especially at the end when Beekle’s child finds lots of friends – real and imaginary. This is definitely a book that deserves a special place on your bookshelf!

picture books for holiday gifts: kindness

PICTURE BOOKS FOR HOLIDAY GiftsSidewalk Flowers by JonAmo Lawson and Sydney Smith. A little girl walks through a gray city with her distracted father and picks flowers along the way. The flowers become gifts to those she encounters, and in the process transforms the city and it’s inhabitants. May your children find beauty in their world and share it with others.

My Heart Will Not Sit Down by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Ann Tanksley. Kedi, although she and everyone else in her African village have very little, is inspired to help the children of New York City during the depression, because her heart “will not sit down.” Perhaps Kedi’s story will inspire your little ones’ hearts “to not sit down”, so that they will want to help those around them in a way that they can.

Seeds of Freedom, The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama, by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B. Lewis.We can work together peacefully to make big changes. “It starts with one person; that could be you.”

Good People Everywhere, by Lynea Gillen and illustrated by Kristina Swarner. “Today millions and millions of people will do very good things. And so will you. I wonder what you will do?”

picture book giftsThe Three Questions is a beautifully written and illustrated story by Jon J. Muth and is based on Leo Tolstoy’s short story, The Three Questions. Tolstoy’s story was written for adults, and in this version, Mr. Muth tells the story with kindness and warmth so that children can understand Tolstoy’s ideas.

Boxes for Katje by Candace Flemming. 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.

kindness books Because Amelia Smiled, by David Ezra Stein. It’s a delightful story about the magic of a little girl’s smile and how that magic traveled the world.  This is an enchanting story which describes how one little girl’s act of kindness can change lives.

A Girl with a Cape, by Amy Logan. Amy was inspired to write this book after becoming very concerned about adults lack of kindness and courtesy toward others. She is a big believer that children model adult behavior, so this was very distressing to her. She was also concerned about the bullying that was occurring in schools and increasing every year. Out of this concern, came the idea for her book. It explains how a child’s small acts of caring and kind words, and an adult’s response and praise for those acts can add up to make a real difference.

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham. This book is great for a read aloud and gives the kids the opportunity to create a conversation for each page. The story describes a little boy’s kindness and his parents support as he helps a bird with a broken wing.

picture book giftsEach Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. This book is a beautiful illustration of the impact that kindness can make in the world when a little girl learns that “each kindness makes the world a little bit better.”

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson. In this story a little boy learns how to turn a “best enemy” into a best friend with his dad’s help.

picture books for holiday gifts: Ones you don’t want to miss

Waiting by Kevin Henkes. This tells the story of some toys who are happily waiting on a windowsill. They are all waiting for marvelous things, but they are very happy to patiently wait until something amazing happens! This is a Caldecott Honor Book and I certainly understand why. The pastel illustrations draw you into this charming story and leave you with a warm and cozy feeling.

picture books for holiday giftsWhen 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.

Night Gardener by Terry Fan and Eric Fan. A wonderful new picture book that has received starred reviews in Kirkus, School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly. It has amazing illustrations and is a charming story about the magic of how a young boy brings a small town together.

picture books for holiday giftsWhat to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen. Have you ever searched for the perfect gifts for your little one for the holidays, and then when all of the presents were opened and the wrapping paper scattered everywhere, all they really want to do is play with the boxes? Especially, if they are really large boxes? To the character in this story, a box can become anything, and provide hours or even days of entertainment, when he lets his imagination go. It’s muted illustrations and imaginative text will make you want to rush out, find a box and sail away to some far off destination!

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena. This book won almost more awards than you can count. In addition to the 2016 Newbery Medal, it also won a 2016 Caldecott Honor Book Award,  a 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book Award,  a New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book Award of 2015 and a Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2015. It tells the story of a boy and his grandma’s bus ride through the city on a Sunday after church. Grandma’s appreciation of everyone and everything they encounter helps CJ to find the beauty in the world that he never thought about before.

picture books for holiday giftsFinding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsey Mattick. From the amazing end papers, through the family photo album at the end of the book, the story and the illustrations in this year’s Caldecott Winner, tell the story of the little bear who inspired the Winnie the Pooh books, It was written as a true story for the author’s son about his great great grandfather and his bear who became Winnie in the A.A. Milne books. I think this is going to be my new “go-to” gift! This is one to keep!

picture books for holiday giftsAsk Me by Bernard Waber. The illustrations in this book by Suzy Lee captivated me when I first saw it on the book store shelf. The golds, oranges, and reds are so alive and so happy. Ask Me is a heartwarming story about a walk that a father and daughter take through the park and woods. We learn that this is just an ordinary walk on an ordinary day, but each of them are delighted to be with one another, to be outside and to be enjoying and observing everything around them. The little girl keeps up a running narrative telling her dad to ask her lots of questions about everything from ice cream cones to lightening bugs. This continues until Daddy tucks her in with a good night kiss.

picture books for holiday giftsI Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. This is a charming story that would be a perfect graduation or baby gift. The narrator wishes the children many things from “I wish you more ups than downs,” to “I wish you more stories than stars.” And each wish is accompanied by a darling picture which perfectly illustrates the wish.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket. It tells the story of Laszlo who is afraid of the dark. It would be a great read aloud with your child who might be feeling the same way. It brings up lots of thoughts and ideas about the dark and why we need it. A wonderful bonus for this book, are the illustrations by Jon Klassen. You may recognize his style from another very popular book during the last year, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.

picture books for holiday giftsFamilies, Families, Families! By Suzanne Lang and Max Lang. This is a heartwarming book that will help all children understand that families don’t have to be just like their family. In fact, it doesn’t matter who makes up a family, but what actually matters is “if you love each other, then you are a family.” The delightful illustrations of all kinds of animal families march through the pages of this book. The story will bring lots of giggles, as it offers opportunities for discussions about their friends, and how their families might be different than their own. Hopefully, these conversations will lead to acceptance, understanding and kindness toward others. I am a strong believer that our little ones can lead us to this end, if we give them the guidance. This book is a great place to begin!

PICTURE BOOKS FOR HOLIDAY GIVINGThe Journey by Francesca Sanna. Our world is struggling with the refugee crisis and our children are hearing about it. Unfortunately, during the past year in our own country, many unkind things have been said about refugees, which might leave our kids with a poor understanding of what it really means to be a family who must flee their country to save their lives. Journey helps children learn what it truly feels like to be forced to travel to an unknown country to insure their safety and to not be frightened any more. This book is based upon many refuge stories the author heard at a refugee center in Italy. She made a collage of these personal tales to create this touching book.

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 happy 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.

picture books for holiday giftsThis is Sadie by Sara O’Leary. The charming illustrations of this book pulled me in and then the story captivated me. As you can tell, I love this book! It describes all of the places and all of the things a child can do with imagination. It’s tells about the childhood that we dream about, and wish for all of our children. It’s definitely on my baby gift list!

 

 

 

This list is a lot longer than I planned, but 2016 has been a great year for picture books, and I don’t want you to miss any as you search for the perfect books for the little ones on your list! What picture books are you giving for holiday gifts this year? Please let us know in the comments below!

On the blog:

36 Chapter Book Gifts for Kids
Midsummer Reading Ideas for Your Kids
New Picture Books for All Ages
Friendship Books for Kids



14 Books to Help your Child be More Compassionate

It’s been a rough week and a rough year in our country. No matter, which side you are on, you can’t help but be concerned about what has been said during the past year and how our kids have been exposed to it. Even if we do our best to protect them from the media, they go to school or to sports or to art classes and they hear things we wish they hadn’t. They ask questions, just as we are, about what happens now? If they are older, they may even be anxious. You may be asking, as I am, how can we help them? How can we help our country?

Then I remembered one of my favorite quotes from Fred Rogers.

 “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 

‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers

After much thought, I realized that the answer, for me, is that I can continue doing what I’ve been doing. I can help you find some children’s books about compassion, kindness and caring to share with your kiddos that might answer their questions, and will definitely lead to some discussions about how they can become helpers. I can assist you in finding some books that will help to instill the values in our children that the world needs to create change, such as the values of kindness, respect, acceptance of differences, compassion and empathy. By doing this, I will try to be one of the helpers, just as Fred Rogers said.

 We don’t know what will happen next, which is always a little scary, but I have faith in the American people, that we will “choose kind”. By working together, we can help our children grow up to be one of the helpers.

I have compiled a list of some childrens books about compassion and caring that I think might be just right for now. Many thanks to Pernille Rip for sharing some of the titles on Instagram, and for inspiring not only the kids in her classroom, but the readers of her blog. She inspired me to write this post about children’s stories about compassion.

Helping Books for Now

compassionate children's books

Seeds of Freedom, The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama, by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

We can work together peacefully to make big changes. “It starts with one person; that could be you.”

Good People Everywhere, by Lynea Gillen and illustrated by Kristina Swarner.

“Today millions and millions of people will do very good things. And so will you. I wonder what you will do?”

Courage by Bernard Waber

“Courage is what we give to each other.” Something we all need to become a helper.

compassionate children's books

Guess How Much I love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram

To help reassure our little ones, even if they are sensing our anxiety, that they are loved “right up to the moon – and back.”

Arthur’s Perfect Christmas by Marc Brown

Arthur learns that his friends may celebrate the holidays differently, but they all find joy.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

This charming story will help your little ones understand about apologies and how important they are in a caring world.

compassionate children's books

What a Wonderful World by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele, illustrated by Ashley Bryan

This beautifully illustrated version of the song made famous by Louis Armstrong, reassures children that there is beauty and kindness in our world.

Love Will See You Through by Angela Farris Watkins, PhD, illustrated by Sally Were Comport

This is Martin Luther King Jr.’s six guiding beliefs, as told by his niece. “Uncle Martin was a man of peace. Love was his way of life. … His life was proof that love will see you through.”

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

This little boy and his elephant show everyone the true meaning of friendship. Friends “help each other, lift each other over cracks, brave the scary things with you, and never leave anyone behind.” May our kiddos find friends, as well as be one.

compassionate children's books

My Heart Will Not Sit Down by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Ann Tanksley

Kedi, although she and everyone else in her African village have very little, is inspired to help the children of New York City during the depression, because her heart “will not sit down.” Perhaps Kedi’s story will inspire your little ones’ hearts “to not sit down”, so that they will want to help those around them in a way that they can.

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson and Sydney Smith

A little girl walks through a gray city with her distracted father and picks flowers along the way. The flowers become gifts to those she encounters, and in the process transforms the city and it’s inhabitants. May your children find beauty in their world and share it with others.

Abe Lincoln’s Dream by Lane Smith

Abraham Lincoln is restless. He wasn’t finished with everything he dreamed of doing for the country in 1865. A little girl takes his ghost on a tour of the country to reassure him that the country is united, however the people of the country still “fuss’n fight with his fellow man. We’re still working on that one,” she replies. This illustrates the fact that our leaders want to do their very best for our country.

compassionate children's booksBe a Friend by Salina Yoon

The story of Dennis and Joy, how they express themselves and the friendship that follows will encourage your children to reach out to others and to “be a friend.”

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato

This delightful story celebrates love even though “we’ll change how it’s done”, says worm. It will help your children understand that love is love!

It’s now been a few days since the election and everyone is relaxing a bit. I hope, as questions arise in your families in the days and weeks to come, these “helping books” will lead you to some answers. I also hope you’ll share your ideas about helping books in the comments below. What are your favorites? I’d love to hear about them!

For more books about kindness and compassion, please link to my previous post:

Kindness Picture Books for Kids

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Friendship Books for Kids

I saw this quote on Facebook recently, and I thought it was so true. ” We need to care less about whether our children are academically gifted and more about whether they sit with the lonely kid in the cafeteria.”  I had been struggling with finding a theme for this post, and then after reading this and looking through my stack of library books, I realized so many of the ones I want to share with you are about friendship. As the new school year begins, perhaps you’ll want to share some of these with your kids, no matter what their age, to start some conversations about friendship and kindness.

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

friendship

Trent is starting middle school and he’s heard the stories about it being such a rough time. However, after his experience in fifth grade he is hoping that it’s a big improvement and he can make a fresh start! You see, Trent accidently hit his friend with a hockey puck during a casual pickup game, and his friend died. So now, Trent is quite certain everyone in town hates him. He’s never invited over to join the baseball games in the park or to go over to a neighbor’s to play. That could be because he can’t forgive himself. Then after Trent stands up for a girl in the park, Fallon, who is being teased and bullied because of her severe scar, they slowly become friends, but it’s not easy. As you read this book, you’ll find your heart breaking a bit for both of the kids, but you’ll also find yourself feeling very proud of how they tackle their problems.

 AR 4.5, Lexia 700                             Friendship, bullying, grief, middle grade chapter book

See you next year by Andrew Larsen and todd stewart

frienship

See You Next Year by Andrew Larson and Todd Stewart reminds me so much of our summer vacations each year as I was growing up. Instead of the beach, we went to a lake cottage, but my family established many traditions during that annual trip, just as the main character in this story does. And just like the little girl in the story, we were happy that nothing changed. Our days were long and lazy with lots of outside time, just as hers are.  But this year something does change. She makes a friend! It turns out that it’s nice to have someone to build sandcastles with you, to play in the waves with you and to write postcards with you on a rainy day. Reluctantly, on Saturday her family tells her new friend “see you next year” and heads for home. But on Monday when the mail arrives there’s a surprise for the little girl. . .  The muted illustrations in the story will make you reminisce about those lazy beach days with your family, and perfectly illustrate this sweet story. If you’re looking for a book to share with your little one that will lead to conversations about your families summer traditions and friendship, this is a great choice.

Friendship, beach vacations, traditions, picture book

Max and Marla by Alexandra Boiger

friendship

Max and Marla are great friends, even though Marla is an owl. Their dream is to be winter Olympians! This story tells the tale of their perseverance and teamwork as they work together to overcome the many obstacles they encounter as they struggle to achieve their goal. In the end, they realize the real prize they have earned is their friendship! The charming water color and ink illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to this endearing story about true friends.

Friendship, teamwork, perseverance, picture book 

Waylon! One Awesome thing by sara Pennypacker

waylon friendship
 

friendship end papers
The end papers: full of ideas for the Waylon’s next awesome thing

Ms. Pennypacker, the author of the middle grade Clementine series and the big favorite from the past year, Pax, has written a delightful book about a new fourth grader, Waylon, who is aspiring to be a great science hero, as well as struggling to become the peacemaker, both at home and at school. You see, Arlo Brody, the largest boy in the fourth grade, is dividing the class into two groups. While part of Waylon yearns to be chosen for Arlo’s group, another part of him wants to join his friends in the other group. When Arlo actually picks Waylon, because of his resourcefulness and wacky ideas,  Waylon is torn. His friends are in the opposing group and can’t believe that Waylon has deserted them! At home, Waylon is struggling to bring his family back together. They always did everything together, but since his sister, Neon, who just turned 14, is wearing all black and only says “What’s the point?” in response to anything and everything, and wants nothing to do with her family, they are drifting apart.

Waylon is determined to make peace in both his class and  his family. It turns out that even though he feels his world is exploding, all he needs is “one awesome thing” to make everything right again! That “one awesome thing” turns out to be Waylon’s friendship, kindness, empathy and perseverance, which brings everyone together again.

This book would be a great read aloud with your child or to a class. It is a great discussion starter about class cliques and groups, bullying, friendship, empathy and kindness. At home, it’s also a book that might help your younger kids gain a better understanding about their older siblings and the struggles they are dealing with in their lives.

P.S. Be sure and notice the endpapers. They are priceless!

Kindness, friendship, family issues, bullying, class cliques, middle grade chapter book                          Lexia 650 AR 4.0

It came in the mail by Ben Clanton

friendship

This picture book is about a very unique and caring friendship between a little boy and his mailbox. Liam really wants mail, but he never receives a thing. Then, one day he had an idea! Maybe if he wrote a letter, the recipient would write back. There was just one problem – he didn’t have anyone to write to. So he decides to write a letter to his mailbox. As soon as he puts the letter into the box, it begins to rattle and shake and suddenly a fire breathing dragon appears, with a tag saying “For Liam”! Liam loved the dragon, so he wrote a thank you note. Not only did he thank the mailbox for his new dragon, but he also asked for more mail. And, my did he receive mail! So many wild and crazy creatures kept arriving that he soon had no more room! Then another idea came to Liam. Maybe his friends were wishing for mail too. He could send mail to every friend he knew! This will bring lots of giggles, but it’s also a great story to provoke a conversation about Liam’s thoughtfulness toward his friends.

Friendship, kindness, humor

 

Here’s another post about kindness and friendship that you might want to check out.

Kindness Picture Books For Kids

These are just a few books about friendship. There are so many! What are your favorites? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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Midsummer Reading Ideas for Your Kids

How did it get to be the middle of July?  We’ve had a whirlwind summer, hosting our niece’s wedding shower, several trips to Michigan and then finally attending our niece’s wedding last weekend. It was a very special day and such a fun wedding. We were able to reconnect with many old friends and spend some extra time with family. It all meant so much to us, but by Sunday, we were exhausted!

As for what’s happening here in Naperville, our town’s summer sports are over and the park district activities are winding down. The streets are much quieter, because so many families are on vacation.After all, school starts again in just three weeks! However, there’s still time to get some summer reading done before the middle of August rolls around. Now that I am finally recovered after our big weekend, I want to share some wonderful books with you for your midsummer reading pleasure! I’ve found these books by connecting with my many Instagram friends, through many trips to our local library, through reading reviews and following publisher’s announcements. It’s always so much fun to track these books down and read them myself. I think I have some memorable ones for you!

chapter books for midsummer reading

midsummer reading chapter book

I am sure many of you are as concerned and upset as I am about what has been happening in our country this summer. As I learned about yet another act of violence, I was reading this book and I realized this is a perfect title to add to my list of Kindness books that I wrote about in the spring. In The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz, Nina is spending her summer between middle school and high school pretty much on her own. Her parents, both lawyers, go to work early and return late, her older brother is always busy, her best friend has discovered boys and only wants to talk about clothes and makeup and her beloved grandma has died. So Nina spends a lot of her day in her room looking at all of the houses in her cul-de-sac. On the first day of summer she watches her next door neighbor, Mrs. Chung who lives by herself, struggling to plant her garden full of marigolds as she always does, even though she has a broken leg. After Mrs. Chung gives up and goes inside, Nina remembers something her favorite teacher told the class on the last day of school. He said, “It is very often the ordinary things that go unnoticed that make a difference.” At that moment, Nina comes up with a plan that will change her summer and change her neighbors’ summers, as well. Nina decides to do something unnoticed every day for the 65 days of summer and see if she can really make a difference. This is an inspiring story that I wish I’d found earlier, because it would make a good beginning of summer read aloud. However, the principle idea holds true in any season of the year. And maybe that’s what we all need to do right now. We need to decide to do something ordinary and unnoticed for someone and see if it makes a difference. I’ll bet it does!

Kindness, caring, middle school

midsummer reading chapter book

In the thing about jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, we are introduced to Suzy Swanson. Suzy notices many things about the world that others don’t even realize exist, and she can quote scientific fact after fact to anyone who will listen. So to Suzy, the fact that her lifetime best friend has drowned while on a beach vacation, makes no sense at all. Especially, since the last time she saw Franny, Suzy had played a terrible trick on her. And now Suzy would never be able to apologize. As a result, Suzy has decided never to talk again.

The story follows Suzy through seventh grade and describes her struggle to understand about Franny and to find a way to live with her grief. Suzy insists that Franny couldn’t have drowned, she was much too good of a swimmer, so Suzy sets out to find a reason. And along the way, she discovers that there are still people out there who love her and want to help her to find a way to forgive herself.

Grief, healing, friendship, middle school

midsummer reading chapter bookThe Tale of Rescue by Michael J. Rosen, is a perfect book for the dog lovers in your life who might be looking for an exciting story, but are interested in reading something that is a bit shorter than the average chapter book. This selection received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

The Tale of Rescue tells the story of a cattle dog and how he rescued a Florida family caught in a blizzard the the Appalachian Mountains. The book is full of suspense and adventure, and offers proof of a dog’s tremendous will and why a dog is truly man’s best friend.

Adventure, dogs

picture books for midsummer reading

midsummer reading picture book

In A Perfect Place for Ted by Leila Rudge, introduces us to Ted, who has always been a pet store dog. He longs for somewhere to call home, somewhere that is perfect for him. However, the circus doesn’t like his tricks and the pet pageant doesn’t like his looks. However, when he sees a sign advertising for “A furry friend for Dot. Must enjoy long walks and ball games”, he thinks he might have found his perfect place! This is another ‘perfect’ story for the dog lover in your house!

Fun read aloud, dogs

midsummer reading picture book

The Three Questions is a beautifully written and illustrated story by Jon J. Muth and is based on Leo Tolstoy’s short story, The Three Questions. Tolstoy’s story was written for adults, and in this version, Mr. Muth tells the story with kindness and warmth so that children can understand Tolstoy’s ideas. Jon Muth strives to help children understand that showing compassion for those around them, and for living in and appreciating the moment, is the secret to how a person should live. In fact, a good friend of mine, who is a retired third grade teacher and is one who always cared about her kids and strived to help them grow in kindness during the year, would begin the school year by reading and discussing this story. Maybe that is why so many of her kids were always the caring ones.

Kindness, caring

midsummer picture book                           midsummer reading picture book

One of the most touching books I’ve read recently is The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers. I’m a huge fan of Mr. Jeffers and I always share his books with my kindergarten classes and first graders. This selection tells the story of a little girl who appreciated, and was always amazed, by the world around her. Every page, beginning with the amazing end papers, gently and tenderly shows the little girl and her Grandpa together, whether its telling stories, looking at the stars or wondering about a flower.  These wondrous times continued until one day she found an empty chair, instead of seeing her special grandpa ready to help her understand the curiosities of the world. So the girl decides she must keep her heart in a safe place, in a bottle she wears around her neck. She no longer sees the wonders of the world as she grows up, always with the heavy bottle hanging around her neck. But she knows her heart is safe. This goes on until she meets a little girl who teaches her that maybe it’s safe to let her heart come out, and to let her enjoy the wonders of the world once more.

Grief, healing, grandparents

midsummer reading picture book

The Happiest Tree by Uma Krishnaswami. Meena is excited that her class has written, and is going to perform an updated version of Red Riding Hood. When she eagerly starts working on the sets, she dumps a can of paint. After she receives her part in the play, she immediately falls on stage during rehearsal causing all of the other trees to moan, “Meee – na!”

At dinner that night, she laments about her clumsiness to her parents. Her mother assures her, it’s okay because she’s growing so quickly and her dad insists it’s okay not to be perfect. But Meena still feels miserable. While shopping with her mother the next day, she sees a yoga class for kids going on nearby. After a few classes, she begins to gain some confidence and not topple over. She learns about breathing and relaxing. She even learns how to do the tree pose!

I’m always so glad to find a book about yoga. Because it’s becoming more and more popular, I always had requests for yoga stories. I’d definitely recommend this one!

Yoga, confidence, read aloud 

midsummer reading picture book

The Bell in the Bridge by Ted Kooser tells the story of Charlie. Charlie is visiting his grandparents on the farm for two weeks in the summer while his parents go on vacation. Unfortunately, his grandparents are too busy with cooking, cleaning and driving the tractor to spend any time with Charlie. This meant that he was bored and lonely and the two weeks seemed like a really long time. So Charlie goes fishing, plays along the stream and drops stones from the bridge. When he decides to hit the bridge railing with a large stone, it rings like a church bell and then pretty soon the echo returns to him. He visits the bridge every day, and on one visit, after he hits the bridge railing with the special rock, he not only hears an echo, but also another sound as well. Could it be that there’s someone down stream who is returning his bong? Maybe he’s not really alone? Suddenly his summer becomes a lot more fun!

The warm illustrations enhance this cozy story of a little boy’s solo summer adventure. It makes you wish for the peacefulness of the countryside and the time to go exploring.

Read aloud, Summertime, bridges

 

midsummer reading picture book

When I first checked out Reach for the Stars by Serge Bloch, I thought it would be a perfect graduation gift. It would be, and in fact Amazon includes it on a list with many other graduation picture books, but it’s also a wonderful choice for a read aloud in a classroom to introduce idioms. When this book is shared, it can provoke a discussion not only about life and the obstacles you might encounter along the way, but also about the true meanings of the idioms that are found on every page. From “you won’t always be top dog” to “when you have all your ducks in a row, you’ll fly”, your kiddos will be thinking and asking “just what does that mean?” The simple illustrations are delightful and are great depictions of every thought.

graduation, idioms

image

I found this book at my library just before I left for a vacation in Michigan, which included many trips to the beach. I love Lake Michigan and have so many fond memories of family times during our yearly trips to Manistee to visit my great grandmother every summer. Lake Michigan might not be the ocean, as this book describes, but it has its own wonder, and the cover of this book immediately brought those fun times to mind! This book is written by Alison Lester, one of Australia’s most popular authors, and is the 20th anniversary addition. The soft colors in the cozy illustrations describe the part imaginary and the part real world of a day at the beach. You feel the peacefulness, the joy and the adventure that such a day might include. After rereading it just now, I’m yearning for a day at the beach!

Summer, beaches, read aloud

midsummer reading picture book

Part of my joy of summer, is sitting outside as it’s getting dark and watching the lightening bugs come out. I imagine this grows out of so many favorite memories from my childhood and from my boys’ childhoods. How many nights did I spend outside with my sisters and brother catching fireflies and filling up our glass jars? Our dad, of course had punched holes in each our of the lids so our new little pets could breathe. What was so unusual about these evenings was the fact that I was normally an inside girl who would much rather be curled up reading a book instead of going outdoors, but those summer evenings would lure me outside and I (who would NEVER, EVER touch a bug) would happily catch lightening bugs and fill my jar. I think my kids found just as much joy as I did, when it came to catching fireflies. So many summer nights, they begged to stay up and wait for the lightening bugs to emerge. The only difference was that they had bug boxes, rather than glass jars (of course, they would never have been allowed to run around with a glass jar! Haha!). So when I discovered this new book recently, Among a Thousand Fireflies by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder I was immediately a fan. Ms. Frost’s poem describes how one firefly discovers a very special friend in the midst of thousands of lights one starry summer evening. Her lyrical words are illustrated with Mr. Lieder’s amazing photographs. This is one you don’t want to miss!

Summer, fireflies, read aloud

Finally, I want to share some links with you that you might find helpful when you’re looking for books for your kids, when they’re saying “I don’t know what to read”!

midsummer reading websites

Brightly is a wonderful site that I really enjoy following. You can find wonderful lists of all types of books divided by age, genre, and interests, as well as interesting articles about books and reading by many different authors. I suggest you check it out!

Finally, if you are looking for some new titles for your youngest kiddos, or for baby gifts, School Library Journal, one of the best source for kids’ book recommendations, has assembled a great list of the newest and best board books, Across the Board: The Latest for Small Readers.  

In closing, I wish you many lazy summer days filled with lots of time for midsummer reading adventures! What books will you be reading? What books do you suggest? Let us know in the comments below.

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New Kids Books You Don’t Want to Miss!

 

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

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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
 new kids books

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
new kids books

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

new kids books

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

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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

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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

end papersnew kids books

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

new kids books

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

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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

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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

new kids books

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!

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Kindness Picture Books for Kids

 

When I was an LMC Director, I would have orientations for all of the classes at the beginning of the year. We would go over the behavior expectations for the library, as well as the “how-tos” of finding and checking out books. When it came to my expectations of the kids, I always emphasized the most important of those was kindness. The kindness principles included sharing with one another, being helpful to other kids and being respectful of each other’s feelings. The kids knew that I would tolerate many things in the library, but if I saw an unkind act, that was when there would be a consequence! I stressed that the most important thing they could do each day was to be kind to those around you. The kids who had been at Patterson since kindergarten or first grade (most of them) knew about my feelings, because they had heard and discussed many kindness picture books with me during their storytimes.

During those storytimes, I included a series of kindness picture books. I would often begin the series with Because Amelia Smiled, Lexile 760; AR 3.5. It’s a delightful story about the magic of a little girl’s smile and how that magic traveled the world. Another book with a similar theme is One Smile, AR 3.7. This is an enchanting story which describes how one little girl’s act of kindness can change lives. I would challenge the kids to try smiling at lots of people during the next week and then reporting back during the next storytime about the difference it made with others. Read aloud, kindness, circle story.

kindness books

Then a few years ago a friend told me about a local author and her new book, A Girl with a Cape, by Amy Logan. Amy was inspired to write this book after becoming very concerned about adults lack of kindness and courtesy toward others. She is a big believer that children model adult behavior, so this was very distressing to her. She was also concerned about the bullying that was occurring in schools and increasing every year. Out of this concern, came the idea for her book. A Girl with a Cape is now one of my favorite examples of kindness picture books. It explains how a child’s little acts of caring and kind words, and an adult’s response and praise for those acts can add up to make a real difference. It’s also an excellent example of cause and effect. Kindness, cause and effect, read aloud.       

kindness picture books

 

Kindness picture books

I have compiled a list of kindness picture books that are great read alouds for all ages for home or for the classroom. Therefore, this list is directed at both parents and teachers.  These books can prompt many discussions about kindness in the world, kindness at school and kindness at home and how it can begin with them, as well as discussions about bullying. I have included categories for each book in italics at the end of the summary to help you find the books that support your needs. Also, Lexile and AR levels, are listed, if available, but please remember these don’t apply to wordless picture books. Finally, I found all of these books in my public library and I hope you can do the same. However, I’ve included links for purchasing the books, if you would like to do that. 

kindness picture book

A Home for BirdLexile 360; AR 2.2, by Philip C. Stead. Vernon, the toad, finds a silent bird while foraging in the forest. The bird is sad and Vernon is determined to help him find his home. They travel great distances and visit many places before finding Bird’s home. Because Bird never speaks, there are lots of opportunities during the story to discuss what Bird is thinking and feeling. Feelings, read aloud, kindness. 

kindness picture books

How Kind by Mary Murphy, AR 1.1. A kind deed in the barnyard inspires a chain of kindness among the animals. pre-K, circle story, kindness. 

The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, Lexile 540; AR 3.1. The story begins with the retelling of the fable of The Lion and the Mouse, which leads to the class making an acts of kindness quilt after realizing what they do every day can be an act of kindness.

kindness picture books

The Monster’s Monster by Patrick McDonnell, Lexile 610; AR 3.5. The giant monster teaches the three little monsters by example about gratitude.  Read aloud, bullying, kindness, gratitude.

kindness picture books

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, Lexile 640; AR 3.4. This book is a beautiful illustration of the impact that kindness can make in the world when a little girl learns that “each kindness makes the world a little bit better.” Read aloud, kindness, bullying.

Kindness picture books

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham. This book is great for a read aloud and gives the kids the opportunity to create a conversation for each page. The story describes a little boy’s kindness and his parents support as he helps a bird with a broken wing. Read aloud, wordless picture book, kindness.

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley. This is a wordless picture book which will help an adult to initiate a conversation with a child about kindness. Wordless picture book, kindness.

Little Bird by Germano Zullo. This is another wordless picture book that is a very unusual story about generosity and kindness. It gives lots of opportunities for discussion due to the minimal amount of text and wonderful, expressive illustrations. Wordless picture book, kindness.

kindness picture books

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, Lexile 330; AR 3.2. In this story a little boy learns how to turn a “best enemy” into a best friend with his dad’s help. Read aloud, kindness, bullying.

Ben Rides On by Matt Davies, Lexile 730; AR 3.6. Ben’s act of kindness to a bully brings big rewards. This also includes a good bike safety message. Read aloud, bullying, kindness, bike safety.

Finally, a book I recently found while researching for this post, is Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen. This is a very simple, beautifully illustrated picture book with a soothing message to children that there are truly good people everywhere in their lives. Pre-K, kindness, read aloud, gratitude.

These are just a few of the wonderful kindness picture books. What are your favorites? What can I add to the list? Please let me know in the comments below.

On the blog: 14 Books to Help Your Child Be More Compassionate