2019-20 Summer Reading

Grades K-1 | Grades 2-3 | Grades 4-5 | Middle School List | High School List

The Guilderland Recommended Reading web page has been created to present current, relevant and high-interest literature to foster reading for pleasure in children and young adults. The page contains an extensive list of titles in a variety of genres to appeal to a wide audience at all levels. In addition, we have included brief descriptions of the books as provided by the publisher. Some titles for our older students may contain mature content and we recommend using reviews to make informed decisions when selecting books.

It is our goal to provide parents and students with ample resources that can be used to sustain development of skills and a life-long love for reading. Teachers look forward to learning more about their students reading journeys. We encourage all students to jot down reading reflections or maintain a reading journal for sharing with their friends and classmates.

Suggested titles for students in Kindergarten & Grade 1

Non-fiction titles

Gravel, Elise. The fly. 

Introduces the reader to flies, including several of the different species, how they live and reproduce, and their important role in the Earth’s ecosystems.

Kaiser, Lisbeth. Maya Angelou.

Looks at the life of African-American writer, performer, and teacher, Maya Angelou.

McAnulty, Stacy. Earth! : My First 4.54 billion years.

The Earth introduces readers to key moments in the planet’s life, from its formation over four billion years ago to the present, including the Earth’s position in the solar system, its layers, and when plants and animals began to inhabit the planet.

Sayre, April Pulley. Bloom boom!

A latest entry in the series that includes Raindrops Roll shares introductory flower profiles and combines vibrant photography with simple verses to celebrate the vibrancy and science behind the flowers that bloom in the spring.

White, Dianne. Who eats orange?

A unique exploration of different animals’ favorite foods and what color those foods are.

Williams, Bonnie. The scoop on ice cream!

Chill out with the fascinating history behind ice cream, the first in a fact-tastic Level 3 Ready-to-Read nonfiction series about the history of fun stuff! A special section at the back of the book includes relevant info on subjects like geography and science, and there’s even a fun quiz so you can test yourself to see what you’ve learned!

Fiction titles

Agee, Jon. The wall in the middle of the book.

A knight who feels secure on his side of the wall that divides his book discovers that his side is not as safe as he thought, and the other side is not as threatening.

Annable, Graham. Peter & Ernesto : A tale of two sloths.

Peter and Ernesto are sloths and the best of friends, but while Peter is content in their tree and never wants to leave, Ernesto wants to see the sky from everywhere on Earth, in their separation they grow closer, homebody Peter expands his horizons and Ernesto learn the importance of home. Graphic novel.

Blackall, Sophie. Hello lighthouse.

Explores the life of one lighthouse as it beams its message out to sea through shifting seasons, changeable weather, and the tenure of its final keeper. 2019 Caldecott Medal winner.

Bright, Rachel. The Koala who could.

Kevin is a koala who clings to his tree, and never comes down to play with the other animals–until one day his tree falls down, and Kevin learns that the ground is not as scary as he believed.

Broach, Elise. My pet wants a pet.

A boy’s mother, reluctant to allow him even one pet, is increasingly unhappy as each pet wants a pet of its own.

Covell, David. Run wild.

A celebration of the joy of being outdoors features a child who abandons his digital device in favor of joining a friend outside.

Doerrfeld, Cori. The rabbit listened.

When Taylor’s block castle is destroyed, all the animals think they know just what to do, but only the rabbit quietly listens to how Taylor is feeling.

Lin, Grace. A big mooncake for Little Star.

Reimagines the cycles of the moon as a mother bakes a big moon cookie and, despite Mama’s request to wait, Little Star begins nibbling at it every night.

Mack, Jeff. Mr. Monkey bakes a cake.

Mr. Monkey bakes a cake and enters it in a contest, but nothing goes as planned.

Martinez-Neal, Juana. Alma and how she got her name.

When Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela asks her father why she has so many names, she hears the story of her name and learns about her grandparents.

Meisel, Paul. See me dig.

A group of dogs that love to dig have a fun-filled day of making mischief, in this easy-to-read story.

Morales, Yuyi. Dreamers.

An illustrated picture book autobiography in which award-winning author Yuyi Morales tells her own immigration story.

Penfold, Alexandra. All are welcome.

Illustrations and simple, rhyming text introduce a school where diversity is celebrated and songs, stories, and talents are shared.

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. Don’t blink!

A page turns every time you blink, bringing you closer to the end of the book–and bedtime.

Tabor, Corey R. Fox the tiger.

Fun-loving, mischievous Fox wishes he were a tiger. Tigers are big and fast and sneaky. So he decides to become one!

Tamaki, Jillian. They say blue.

A young girl describes where she finds colors in both the world around her and beyond what she can see.

Woodson, Jacqueline. The day you begin.

Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself but later, he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider.


Tedd Arnold, Doreen Cronin, Matt de la Peña, Kevin Henkes, Yuyi Morales, Peter Reynolds, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Susan Verde, Melanie Watt, Mo Willems.

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Suggested titles for students in Grades 2 & 3

Non-Fiction Titles

Arnold, Tedd. Fly Guy presents : why, Fly Guy? : a BIG question & answer book.

Buzz and Fly Guy answer a range of science based questions from “Why do I have to brush my teeth?” and “Why do cats climb trees if they can’t get down” to “Why do elephants have trunks?”.

Beaty, Andrea. Rosie Revere’s big project book for bold engineers.

Activity book featuring Rosie Revere provides projects to inspire would-be engineers, including designing a better bicycle, building a simple catapult, constructing a solar oven, and more.

Clinton, Chelsea. She persisted : 13 American women who changed the world.

Profiles the lives of thirteen American women who have left their mark on U.S. history, including Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Margaret Chase Smith, and Oprah Winfrey.

Lamothe, Matt. This is how we do it : one day in the lives of seven kids from around the world.

Follows the daily lives of seven children from around the world, including such places as Japan, India, Uganda, and Italy, and discusses how schools, meals, and play can be different or similar in different places in the world.

Markle, Sandra. What if you had animal eyes!?

Text and illustrations depict how a child would look and behave with the eyes of various animals.

McElligott, Matthew.  Mad Scientist Academy : The space disaster.

In graphic novel format, Dr. Cosmic’s class of monsters looks at gravity, comets, and the Solar system.

Messner, Kate. The brilliant deep : rebuilding the world’s coral reefs : the story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation.

A nonfiction picture book that examines the ongoing efforts to save and rebuild the world’s coral reefs.

Milner, Charlotte. The bee book.

Introduction to the secret world of bees revealing their natures as industrious, social and highly productive workers whose pollinating behaviors are an essential part of the growth cycle and human food supplies, in an early reference that also explains what everyday kids can do to help declining bee populations.

Singer, Marilyn. Every month is a new year : celebrations around the world.

A collection of original poems about New Year celebrations throughout the year and around the world. Includes an introduction about worldwide New Year celebrations plus a map, information about calendars, New Year greetings in many languages, additional factual information about the celebrations, and author’s sources.

Valdez, Patricia, author. Joan Procter, dragon doctor : the woman who loved reptiles.

Looks at the inspiring story of Joan Procter, a pioneering female scientist who loved reptiles.

Fiction Titles

Fiction titles

 Butler, Dori Hillestad. King & Kayla and the case of the lost tooth.

Kayla places her tooth in a Tooth Fairy pillow, but it disappears before the Tooth Fairy has a chance to visit–can her dog King help Kayla find the missing tooth?.

Bates, Amy June. The big umbrella.

A spacious umbrella welcomes anyone and everyone who needs shelter from the rain.

Campoy, F. Isabel. Maybe something beautiful.

Mira lives in a gray and hopeless urban community until a muralist arrives and, along with his paints and brushes, brings color, joy, and togetherness to Mira and her neighbors.

DiCamillo, Kate. Good Rosie!

When Rosie’s owner takes her to the dog park, two dogs bound over and want to play, but she doesn’t know what to do to make friends with them.

Flintham, Thomas. Game over, Super Rabbit Boy!

When King Viking and his evil robot army attack Animal Town, and kidnap Singing Dog, it is up to Super Rabbit Boy, with some help from Sunny and his video game console, to save the day..

Kirby, Stan. Captain Awesome gets crushed.

Captain Awesome (otherwise known as Eugene McGillicudy) faces his latest challenge–making it through Valentine’s Day at school while trying to find out the identity of his secret admirer.

Kuipers, Alice. Polly Diamond and the magic book.

Polly loves words, writing, and telling stories, so when she finds a fancy book on her doorstep labeled “Special Delivery from the Writing and Spelling Department for Polly Diamond” she is thrilled; and when she finds that anything she writes in it actually happens she is really excited–but Polly soon realizes that she has to be very careful what she writes because that kind of power can be dangerous.

Lê, Minh. Drawn together.

A boy and his grandfather cross a language and cultural barrier using their shared love of art, storytelling, and fantasy.

Luciani, Brigitte. Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox.

Having lost their home, a fox and her daughter move in with a badger and his three children, but when the youngsters throw a big party hoping to prove that they are incompatible, their plan backfires.

Mass, Wendy. Stealing the sword!

At the flea market nine-and-a-half-year-old Chase and his younger sister Ava acquire an old suitcase filled with rows of carefully packed strange objects, and when they handle one of the objects (a dragon-headed doorknob) they find themselves in King Arthur’s castle, on a mission to save the King–and pursued by a strange man whom they first saw at the flea market, who is after their suitcase.

Sell, Chad. The cardboard kingdom.

This graphic novel follows the adventures of a group of neighborhood children who make costumes from cardboard and use their imagination to create adventures with knights, robots, and monsters.

Staake, Bob.The Book of Gold.

Isaac isn’t interested in much, but when a mysterious shopkeeper tells him about a legendary book that holds the answers to every question ever asked, he embarks on a lifelong search for the Book of Gold.

Verde, Susan. I am peace : a book of mindfulness.

A child starts to get carried away with worry and rushing thoughts before taking a breath, steadying, observing thoughts, feeling kindness, feeling thankful, and experiencing the world.

Vere, Ed. How to be a lion.

When Leonard the lion and his friend Marianne, a duck, are confronted by a pack of lion bullies, they find a creative way to stand up for themselves.

Viorst, Judith. Lulu is getting a sister : (Who WANTS her? Who NEEDS her?).

Lulu is sent to Camp Sisterhood to learn how to be a big sister, but she makes it her mission to be the worst sister-in-training in camp history.

Winkler, Henry. You can’t drink a meatball through a straw.

Hank is nothing like his cousin Judith Ann. She’s perfect. He’s not. She’s a great chef. He’s not. When someone drops out of Judith Ann’s cooking competition, Hank has the chance to show her that he can cook as well as she can, if not better. At least he hopes so! Or does he?


Katherine Applegate, Betty Birney, Andrea Cheng, Kate DiCamillo, Dan Gutman, Abby Klein, Steve Jenkins, Megan McDonald, Kadir Nelson, Sara Pennypacker, Cynthia Rylant.

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Suggested titles for students in Grades 4 & 5

Non-fiction titles

Brown, Dinah. Who is Malala Yousafzai?

Chronicles the life of the young Pakistani student who advocates for women’s rights and education, survived an assassination attempt, and in 2014 became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize-winner in history..

Dorling Kindersley, Inc. What’s weird on Earth.

Geography, history, STEM concepts, sociology, reading, technology, and more come together in this exciting and educational atlas that presents the world’s weirdest facts visually on maps.

McCarthy, Meghan. All that trash : the story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and our problem with stuff.

The true story of a garbage barge that didn’t have a place to dock– and was one of events that led to the recycling movement.

Mosca, Julia Finley. The girl who thought in pictures : the story of Dr. Temple Grandin.

A brief rhyming account of the childhood and work of Temple Grandin, an animal scientist who lives with high-functioning autism.

Motum, Markus. Curiosity : the story of a mars rover.

An illustrated nonfiction book about the search for life on Mars told from the unique perspective of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, focusing on its engineering aspects.

Roy, Jennifer. Jars of hope : how one woman helped save 2,500 children during the Holocaust.

Tells Irena Sendler’s story of saving 2,500 children during the Holocaust.

Thimmesh, Catherine, author. Camp Panda : helping cubs return to the wild.

Discusses the groundbreaking efforts in China to reintroduce the giant panda to its native habitat, and how similar techniques can be used to help other endangered species back from the brink of extinction.

Ziter, Rachel. Coding in scratch for beginners : 4D an augmented reading experience.

Provides an introduction to coding in Scratch, including step-by-step instructions that will make Scratch second nature in no time. Includes embedded links for added online instructional videos that can be accessed with the Capstone 4D app or code inside book.

Fiction titles

Arnold, Elana K. Bat and the waiting game.

In this story of friendship and change, Bat, an unforgettable boy on the autism spectrum, struggles when his older sister, Janie, gets a part in the school play and can’t watch him after school.

Beasley, Kate. Lions & liars.

Fifth-grader Frederick is sent to a disciplinary camp where he and his terrifying troop mates have just started forging a friendship when they learn a Category 5 hurricane is headed their way.

Brown, Peter. The wild robot escapes.

After being captured by the Recons and returned to civilization for reprogramming, Roz the robot is sent to Hilltop Farm where she befriends her owner’s family and animals, but pines for her son, Brightbill.

Clements, Andrew. The Losers Club.

Made an example of by a strict principal who forbids reading in classes that require attentive participation, Alec starts a club of one, intending to devote whatever time he can to his favorite books, before he is unexpectedly joined by a crush and an ex-best friend turned bully. By the award-winning author of Frindle.

Cline-Ransome, Lesa. Finding Langston.

Discovering a book of Langston Hughes’ poetry in the library helps Langston cope with the loss of his mother, relocating from Alabama to Chicago as part of the Great Migration, and being bullied.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. The journey of little Charlie.

When his poor sharecropper father is killed in an accident and leaves the family in debt, twelve-year-old Little Charlie agrees to accompany fearsome plantation overseer Cap’n Buck north in pursuit of people who have stolen from him. Cap’n Buck tells Little Charlie that his father’s debt will be cleared when the fugitives are captured, which seems like a good deal until Little Charlie comes face-to-face with the people he is chasing.

Hiranandani, Veera. The night diary.

Shy twelve-year-old Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to find her voice and make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary.

Hollingsworth, Alyssa. The eleventh trade.

Determined to recover his grandfather’s stolen Afghan musical instrument, a penniless young refugee finds the instrument selling for a high price at a music store and negotiates a series of trades in the hope of collecting enough money to buy it back.

Holm, Jennifer L. The third mushroom.

When thirteen-year-old Ellie’s Grandpa Melvin, a world-renowned scientist in the body of a fourteen-year-old boy, comes for an extended visit, he teaches her that experimenting–and failing–is part of life.

Johnson, Varian. The Parker inheritance.

Spending the summer in Lambert, South Carolina, Candice discovers the letter that sent her grandmother on a treasure hunt, and with her new friend Brandon, sets off to expose the injustice once committed against a local African American family.

Medina, Meg. Merci Suarez changes gears.

Merci Suarez begins the sixth grade and knows things will change, but she did not count on her grandfather acting strangely, not fitting in at her private school, and dealing with Edna Santos’ jealousy. 2019 Newbery Medal winner.

O’Connor, Barbara. Wish.

A story about a girl who, with the help of the dog of her dreams, discovers that family doesn’t always have to be related–they are simply people who love you for who you are.

Thummler, Brenna. Sheets.

Marjorie Glatt feels like a ghost. A practical thirteen-year-old in charge of the family laundry business, her daily routine features unforgiving customers, unbearable P.E. classes, and the fastidious Mr. Saubertuck who is committed to destroying everything she’s worked for.

Varnes, Allison. Property of the rebel librarian.

Twelve-year-old June Harper, shocked when her parents go on a campaign to clear the Dogwood Middle School library of objectionable books, starts a secret banned books library in an empty locker.

Yang, Kelly. Front desk.

Recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, ten-year-old Mia Tang’s parents take a job managing a rundown motel in Southern California, even though the owner, Mr. Yao is a nasty skinflint who exploits them; while her mother (who was an engineer in China) does the cleaning, Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and other recent immigrants–not to mention being only one of two Chinese in her fifth grade class, the other being Mr. Yao’s son, Jason.

Kuhlmann, Torben. Edison : the mystery of the missing mouse treasure.

Presents the wordless story of two unlikely mouse friends who build an undersea vessel and travel to the ocean floor to search for a missing treasure, only to discover something even more amazing.


Katherine Applegate, Mac Barnett, Sharon Creech, Christopher Paul Curtis, Dan Gutman, Lisa Graff, Haddix, Margaret Peterson, Grace Lin, Wendy Mass, Rick Riordan, Raina Telgemeier.

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Suggested titles for students in Middle School


Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina 355 p.

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school.

Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes 275 p.

June Harper is a good kid. She follows the rules, plays flute in advanced band, and spends her spare time reading. Nobody would ever call her a rebel . . . until her parents take strict parenting to a whole new level.

It starts with one book deemed “inappropriate” by June’s parents. What follows is a massive book ban at Dogwood Middle School, and suddenly everything June loves–the librarian, books, an author visit–is gone. All seems hopeless. Then June discovers a Little Free Library on her walk to school. When her classmates realize she has access to contraband, she becomes the (secret) most popular girl in school. A risky reading movement begins at Dogwood, which could destroy June–or gain enough power to protect the one thing she cares most about: the freedom to read!

Equal parts fun and empowering, this novel explores censorship, freedom of speech, and activism. For any kid who doesn’t believe one person can effect change…and for all the kids who already know they can!

Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt 217 p.

Carter Jones is astonished early one morning when he finds a real English butler, bowler hat and all, on the doorstep–one who stays to help the Jones family, which is a little bit broken. In addition to figuring out middle school, Carter has to adjust to the unwelcome presence of this new know-it-all adult in his life and navigate the butler’s notions of decorum. And ultimately, when his burden of grief and anger from the past can no longer be ignored, Carter learns that a burden becomes lighter when it is shared.  Sparkling with humor, this insightful and compassionate story will resonate with readers who have confronted secrets of their own.

Sweep: the story of a girl and her monster by Jonathan Auxier 344 p.

A chimney sweep disappears from a London rooftop, leaving six-year-old Nan Sparrow alone, save for a hat and a lump of mysteriously ever-warm charcoal-her char. To survive, Nan joins a gang of “climbing boys” owned by the abusive Wilkie Crudd. By age 11, she is the finest sweep of them all, but following a brutal chimney fire, she discovers that her char has become a golem, which she names Charlie, and that he has saved her life. As the two hide from Crudd, Nan grows to love Charlie and his particular brand of magic, and she learns that golems are, by nature, ephemeral: if Charlie can flame up, he can almost certainly flame out. A cast of fully fleshed (and sooted) characters contribute texture and community, and Auxier mixes moments of triumph and pure delight with dark, Dickensian themes (child labor, sickness, poverty). Told in two allusive sections-“Innocence” and “Experience,” after Blake’s volume-that pivot between Nan’s past and present, this dazzling, warmhearted novel contemplates selflessness and saving, deep love and what makes a monster.

Rebound by Kwame Alexander

Very popular prequel to: The crossover, winner of the Newbery award.  In the summer of 1988, twelve-year-old Chuck Bell is sent to stay with his grandparents, where he discovers jazz and basketball and learns more about his family’s past. Written in free verse.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang 286 p.

Recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, ten-year-old Mia Tang’s parents take a job managing a rundown motel in Southern California, even though the owner, Mr. Yao is a nasty skinflint who exploits them; while her mother (who was an engineer in China) does the cleaning, Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and other recent immigrants–not to mention being only one of two Chinese in her fifth grade class, the other being Mr. Yao’s son, Jason.

Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood 314 p.

In the tradition of The War That Saved My Life and Stella By Starlight, this poignant novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II.

With Nazis bombing London every night, it’s time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he’s one of the lucky ones–one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada.

Life aboard the luxury ship is grand–nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum’s glare. And after five days at sea, the ship’s officers announce that they’re out of danger. They’re wrong. Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They’ve been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive?

Award-winning author Susan Hood brings this little-known World War II story to life in a riveting novel of courage, hope, and compassion. Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive.

Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth by Sheila O’Connor 348 p.

Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, one young girl is determined to save her brother from the draft–and gets help from an unlikely source–in this middle-grade tale, perfect for fans of The Wednesday Wars. When eleven-year-old Reenie Kelly’s mother passes away, she and her brothers are shipped off to live with their grandmother. Adjusting to life in her parents’ Midwestern hometown isn’t easy, but once Reenie takes up a paper route with her older brother Dare, she has something she can look forward to. As they introduce themselves to every home on their route, Reenie’s stumped by just one–the house belonging to Mr. Marsworth, the town recluse. When he doesn’t answer his doorbell, Reenie begins to leave him letters. Slowly, the two become pen pals, striking up the most unlikely of friendships.

Through their letters, Reenie tells of her older brother Billy, who might enlist to fight in the Vietnam War. Reenie is desperate to stop him, and when Mr. Marsworth hears this, he knows he can’t stand idly by. As a staunch pacifist, Mr. Marsworth offers to help Reenie. Together, they concoct a plan to keep Billy home, though Reenie doesn’t know Mr. Marsworth’s dedication to her cause goes far beyond his antiwar beliefs.

In this heartwarming piece of historical fiction, critically acclaimed author Sheila O’Connor delivers a tale of devotion, sacrifice, and family.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo 227 p.

When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana’s and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.) Sequel to Raymie Nightingale.

Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani 264 p.

It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.

Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together.

Told through Nisha’s letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl’s search for home, for her own identity…and for a hopeful future. 2019 Newbery Honor.

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolizter 295 p.

Two popular writers team up for a Where’d You Go, Bernadette–esque tale for the middle-school set. An entire country lies between anxious New Yorker Avery Bloom and adventurous Bett Devlin, but there’s something powerful connecting them: their dads are in love. At first horrified at the prospect of becoming—gulp—sisters, the two surprise themselves by bonding at a summer sleepaway camp while their dads motorcycle their way across China. But when their dads’ relationship sours, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get them back together. Even if the target readership eschews email these days, they’ll be hard-pressed not to be laughing out loud at the witty, clever email and letter repartee among the girls, their dads, and the rest of the supporting cast. Though the story lacks the emotional depth of more true-to-life novels dealing with blended families, such as Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick’s Naomis Too (2018), its escalating stakes and Parent Trap–like setup is sure to appeal to both authors’ fan bases. Alternately heartwarming and hilarious.

Graphic Novels

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka

In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka’s teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett’s family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett’s life. His father is a mystery — Jarrett doesn’t know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents — two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.

Jarrett goes through his childhood trying to make his non-normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through drawing even as so little is being said to him about what’s going on. Only as a teenager can Jarrett begin to piece together the truth of his family, reckoning with his mother and tracking down his father.

Hey, Kiddo is a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive.

Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge 208 p.

In the World Below, the fay king and queen have stolen a human, named Childe, from the World Above and replaced him with a changeling. When the evil Hawthorne takes over the kingdom, Childe has to get out before he’s killed. Along with his golem, Whick, Childe escapes to the World Above to find Edmund, the fay living with his family. Things take a turn for the worse when Hawthorne sends a terrifying group of soldiers to kill Edmund, and in the ensuing fight, Edmund’s sister, Alexis, finds herself caught up in the drama. Together, the four journey back into the World Below to face off against Hawthorne and her otherworldly army. Aldridge’s lavish, fine-lined, painterly artwork makes great work of the fantasy creatures (though there’s barely any variety in body shape and skin tone), and the detailed backgrounds, both above and below, cultivate a rich sense of place that will be sure to capture the imaginations of readers. The deliciously captivating start to this adventure series will leave readers hungry for more.

Illegal by Eoin Colfer 122 p.

Ebo is alone.His brother, Kwame, has disappeared, and Ebo knows it can only be to attempt the hazardous journey to Europe, and a better life–the same journey their sister set out on months ago.

But Ebo refuses to be left behind in Ghana. He sets out after Kwame and joins him on the quest to reach Europe. Ebo’s epic journey takes him across the Sahara Desert to the dangerous streets of Tripoli, and finally out to the merciless sea. But with every step he holds on to his hope for a new life, and a reunion with his family.

New Kid by Jerry Craft 249 p.

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds–and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?


Code Girls: The True Story of the American Women Who Secretly Broke Codes in World War II (Young Readers Edition) by Liza Mundy 320 p.

More than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II, recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to the nation’s capital to learn the top secret art of code breaking.

Through their work, the “code girls” helped save countless lives and were vital in ending the war. But due to the top secret nature of their accomplishments, these women have never been able to talk about their story–until now.

Through dazzling research and countless interviews with the surviving code girls, Liza Mundy brings their story to life with zeal, grace, and passion. Abridged and adapted for a middle grade audience, Code Girls brings this important story to young readers for the first time, showcasing this vital tale of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.

Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote by Susan Zimet  160 p.

“Women’s rights are human rights.” The words are relevant today, but they could just as easily have been used by Elizabeth Cady Stanton at Seneca Falls in 1848. Or Susan B. Anthony when she was arrested for voting in 1872. Or Alice Paul when she was imprisoned and tortured for peacefully protesting outside of the White House in 1917.

The story of women’s suffrage is epic. For over 70 years, heroic women risked their lives for the cause knowing they likely wouldn’t live to cast a vote. At a time when sexism was inherent in daily life, these women (and a few men) created a movement and fought for it passionately until the vote on the 19th amendment was finally called in 1920. It passed by a single vote. This under-explored history resonates now more than ever, and will remind readers that ordinary citizens and peaceful protest can affect lasting change in this country.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman 120 p.

Explores the extraordinary life and scientific discoveries of Maria Merian, who discovered the truth about metamorphosis and documented the science behind the mystery in this visual biography that features many original paintings by Maria herself.

The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix 175 p.

Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party is gaining strength and becoming more menacing every day. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor upset by the complacency of the German church toward the suffering around it, forms a breakaway church to speak out against the established political and religious authorities. When the Nazis outlaw the church, he escapes as a fugitive. Struggling to reconcile his faith and the teachings of the Bible with the Nazi Party’s evil agenda, Bonhoeffer decides that Hitler must be stopped by any means possible!

In his signature style of interwoven handwritten text and art, John Hendrix tells the true story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor who makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to free the German people from oppression during World War II.

Dog days of history : the incredible story of our best friends by Sarah Albee 111 p.

What is it we love about dogs so much? From ancient times to the present, dogs have guarded us, worked with us, marched off to war with us, and of course, just sat on the couch with us for a cuddle. Throughout the course of human history, this partnership deepened from dogs doing a service into friendship. Dogs have been by our side through it all, and this book tracks our common story from wild wolves in ancient civilizations to modern-day breeds, highlighting famous pooches of the past and present along the way. You’ll chuckle through the ages as you catch up with the wonders of man’s best friend.

Eleanor Roosevelt : fighter for justice : her impact on the civil rights movement, the White House, and the world by Ilene Cooper 184 p.

Eleanor Roosevelt, Fighter for Justice shows young readers how the former First Lady evolved from a poor little rich girl to a protector and advocate for those without a voice. Though now seen as a cultural icon, she was a woman deeply insecure about her looks and her role in the world.

But by recognizing her fears and constantly striving to overcome her prejudices, she used her proximity to presidents and her own power to aid in the fight for Civil Rights and other important causes. This biography gives readers a fresh perspective on her extraordinary life. It includes a timeline, biography, index, and many historic photographs.

In Harm’s Way : JFK, World War II and the heroic rescue of PT 109 by Iain Martin 255 p.

In September 1941, young Jack Kennedy was appointed an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve. After completing training and eager to serve, he volunteered for combat duty in the Pacific and was appointed commander of PT 109.

On August 2, 1943, Kennedy’s PT 109 and two others were on a night mission to ambush an enemy supply convoy when they were surprised by a massive Japanese destroyer. The unsuspecting Americans had only seconds to react as the Japanese captain turned his ship to ram directly into Kennedy’s. PT 109 was cut in half by the collision, killing two of Kennedy’s 12 crewmen and wounding several others in the explosion.

In Harm’s Way tells the gripping story of what happened next as JFK fought to save his surviving crew members who found themselves adrift in enemy waters. Photographs round out the exciting narrative in the first book to cover this adventurous tale for young readers.

Picture Books 

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

A childhood favorite and summer staple, the Super Soaker was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for rockets, inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for an iconic toy.

Lonnie Johnson’s life began alongside a whole mess of brothers and sisters and grew to include a love for rockets, robots, inventions, and creativity. With persistence and a passion for problem solving, he became an engineer and worked for NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

A short, powerful, illustrated book written by beloved novelist Khaled Hosseini in response to the current refugee crisis, Sea Prayer is composed in the form of a letter, from a father to his son, on the eve of their journey. Watching over his sleeping son, the father reflects on the dangerous sea-crossing that lies before them. It is also a vivid portrait of their life in Homs, Syria, before the war, and of that city’s swift transformation from a home into a deadly war zone.

One Fun Day with Lewis Carroll: A celebration of wordplay and a girl named Alice by Kathleen Krull

The wordsmith Lewis Carroll is famed for the freewheeling world of Wonderland in his beloved classics Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. In this gloriously illustrated picture book, Carroll’s childlike love of life is showcased alongside his brilliance at creating and adapting playful words and phrases. Frombrilliganduglificationtofrumiousandchortle, the award-winning author Kathleen Krull uses many of Carroll’s own words to tell the story of a man who wanted to make children laugh and whose legacy continues to entertain and delight.

Drawn Together by Minh Le

When a young Asian American boy visits his Thai-speaking grandfather, despite granddad’s best efforts—a hot dog for dinner, control of the TV remote—the language barrier and the generational divide seem insurmountable. Until, that is, the boy brings out his paper and markers and they’re matched by his grandfather’s sketchbook and paintbrush.

Together, they’re drawn into a vibrant world of boy wizards and mythical Thai warriors, and “all the things we could never say come pouring out.” They discover each other in imaginary battle against a fearsome dragon, before the end of the evening heralds a new beginning for them both. Lê’s poignant and deeply meaningful tale is rocketed into the stratosphere by Santat’s dynamic and playful visuals, imaginatively conceived and action-packed even as they potently evoke the culture they’re drawn from.

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Suggested titles for students in High School


Acevedo, Elizabeth. The Poet X. 361 p.  

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

Arnold,  Elana K. Damsel.  309 p.

Waking up in the arms of Prince Emory, Ama has no memory of him rescuing her from a dragon’s lair, but she soon discovers there is more to the legend of dragons and damsels than anyone knows and she is still in great danger.

Caletti, Deb.  A Heart in the Body in the World. 355 p.

Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and friends, Annabelle, eighteen, runs from Seattle to Washington, D.C., becoming a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to her recent trauma.

Condie, Ally. Last Voyage of Poe Blythe.  338p.  

Poe has vowed to annihilate the river raiders who robbed her of everything two years ago. But as she navigates the treacherous waters of the Serpentine and realizes there might be a traitor among her crew, she must also reckon with who she has become, who she wants to be, and the ways love can change and shape you. Even–and especially–when you think all is lost.

Hesse, Monica.  The War Outside. 318 p.

Teens Haruko, a Japanese American, and Margot, a German American, form a life-changing friendship as everything around them starts falling apart in the Crystal City family internment camp during World War II.

Jackson, Tiffany D.  Monday’s Not Coming. 435 p.

Claudia’s friend Monday goes missing and she is the only one who seems to care.

Khorram, Adib.  Darius the Great is Not Okay. 314 p.

Clinically-depressed Darius Kellner, a high school sophomore, travels to Iran to meet his grandparents, but it is their next-door neighbor, Sohrab, who changes his life.

Loy Gilbert, Kelly.  Picture Us in the Light.  368 p.

When Danny Cheng discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined. Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

McCoy, Mary.  I, Claudia.  418 p.

Over the course of her high school years, awkward Claudia McCarthy finds herself unwittingly drawn into the dark side of her school’s student government, with dire consequences.

McCullough, Joy.  Blood Water Paint.  311 p.

In Renaissance Italy, Artemisia Gentileschi endures the subjugation of women that allows her father to take credit for her extraordinary paintings, rape and the ensuing trial, and torture, buoyed by her deceased mother’s stories of strong women of the Bible.

Oshiro, Mark.  Anger is a Gift.  464 p.

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks. Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals in their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration. When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift

Stamper, Vesper.  What the Night Sings: a novel.  266 p.

Liberated from Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in 1945, sixteen-year-old Gerta tries to make a new life for herself, aided by Lev, a fellow survivor, and Michah, who helps Jews reach Palestine.

Thomas, Angie.  The Hate U Give. 444 p.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does-or does not-say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Thomas, Angie. On the Come Up.  464 p.

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.  But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.  Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it–she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.

  • Anderson, Laurie Halse
  • Bruchac, Joseph
  • Cabot, Meg
  • Crutcher, Chris
  • Dessen, Sarah
  • Green, John
  • King, A. S.
  • Levithan, David
  • Reynolds, Jason
  • Sepetys, Ruta
  • Strasser, Todd
  • Thomas, Angie
  • Trueman, Terry
  • Zusak, Markus

Non – Fiction

Anderson, Laurie Halse.  Shout. 304p.

A memoir that shares the author’s life, covering her rape at thirteen, her difficult early childhood, and her experiences surrounding her publication of ‘Speak.

Brown, Don.  The unwanted : stories of the Syrian refugees. 103 p.

Depicts moments of both heartbreaking horror and hope in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.

Fagone, Jason. The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies. 464 p.

In this critically acclaimed national bestseller, Jason Fagone brings to light the extraordinary life of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, an unsung heroine who used her genius to hunt Nazi spies, steal enemy secrets during both world wars, and help invent a powerful new science that shaped the course of history.

Harari, Yuval Noah. 21 Lessons For the 21st Century. 400 p.

In twenty-one accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in.

Hendricks, John.  The Faithful Spy.  175 p.

Uses text and illustrations to tell the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who spoke out against the Nazi regime.

Johnson, Kirk Wallace. The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century. 320 p.

The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man’s relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man’s destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.

Krosoczka, Jarrett.  Hey Kiddo.  254 p.

In graphic novel format author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka discusses growing up in a family grappling with addiction.

Partridge, Elizabeth. Boots On the Ground:  America’s War in Vietnam. 213 p.

An exploration of the Vietnam War from many different perspectives including an American soldiers, a nurse, and a Vietnamese refugee.

Redding, Anna Crowley. Google It: A History of Google. 240 p.

Award-winning investigative reporter Anna Crowley Redding shares an inspiring story of innovation, personal and intellectual bravery, and most importantly, of shooting for the moon in order to change the world.

Westover, Tara.  Educated: a memoir.  334 p.

A memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

Williams, Paige. The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest for Earth’s Ultimate Trophy. 432 p.

The Dinosaur Artist illuminates the history of fossil collecting–a murky, sometimes risky business, populated by eccentrics and obsessives, where the lines between poacher and hunter, collector and smuggler, enthusiast and opportunist, can easily blur.

  • Steve Shenkin
  • Bill Bryson
  • Lawrence Wright
  • Jon Krakauer
  • Malcolm Gladwell
  • Jeanette Walls
  • Yuval Noah
  • Harari Siddartha Mukherjee
  • Elizabeth Kolbert

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