The following is a list of good children’s books to use in the Pre-K to 12 classroom. Many of the books address the needs for diversity, multiculturalism and multiligualism in the classroom library. You can find even more books at Lee & Low books but here is a selection of my current favorites.
Written by Kwame Alexander
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 320 pp., 978-0-544-57098-6
Eighth grader Nick and his best friend loves soccer. Coby Lee/ is from Singapore, Sorta./ He was born there, like his dad, but/ his mom’s from Ghana,/which is where he learned futbol/ before they moved/ here. What Nick doesn’t like is words—neither the ones in the dictionary that his linguistics professor father wrote (and is making him read) nor the words he learns in his honors English class. But the school’s quirky rapping librarian, Mr. Mac, helps Nick discover both a love of reading and a way to connect with April, the girl of his dreams. Nick’s passion for soccer, and vulnerability when being bullied, having surgery, or facing his parents’ troubled marriage makes for an emotional and riveting sports story.
Written by Joan Bauer
Viking, 2016, 320 pp., 978-0-451-47034-8
Soar will warm the heart of both fans and not so fans of baseball. Soar weaves sports, friendship, tragedy, and love into one heartwarming, page-turning story. Jeremiah lives and breathes baseball. He wants nothing more than to be a professional player, but learning he has a severe heart condition, his dreams are dashed. Soon after he and his single father move to a town that is wild about baseball, the entire community is shaken by the death of a beloved school player. Jeremiah finds himself coaching and bringing baseball back and ends up motivating the entire town. Faced with leaving their new town behind, Jeremiah deals with the possibility of also leaving his heart in the very place that helped to make it stronger.
Snow White: Graphic Novel
Written and Illustrated by Matt Phelan
Candlewick, 2016, 216 pp., 978-0-7636-7233-1
This graphic novel, a take-off of the classic fairy tale of love, betrayal, and family from the red blood on Snow’s mother’s handkerchief to the scarlet of the poisonous apple. It’s the late 20’s, Samantha White, affectionately called Snow White by her ailing mother, is sent off to boarding school. Her grieving father, the King of Wall Street, remarries the dazzling Queen of the Follies. Banished from home by her stepmother, Snow returns a decade later after her father’s mysterious death. Not content with the fortune left to her in her husband’s will, a villain is dispatched to kill off Snow, who gets lost in Hooverville, where she encounters a group of Seven unique young street boys who befriend her, and together they lived…The End.
Yaks, Yak: Word Pairs.
Written by Linda Sue Park
Illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Clarion, 2016, 94 pp., 978-0-544-39101-7
It is hard to pass on building your vocabulary with this inquisitive book where word lovers contemplate the whimsical yakking of Yaks Yak’s use of animal words that double as verbs or work as homographs. Using simple sentences Park tells the story of Yaks yak. (Meaning to yak = to talk). Or Dogs dog dogs. (Meaning to dog = to track or follow.) The original two-page layout enables the reader to make meaning of the play on words. The end pages offer a chart of the word pairs followed by the derivation of the animal’s name as well as the action word. In some cases, the verb refers to the animal’s behavior, such as ape or parrot. In other cases, it’s about plain fun.
Olinguito, from A to Z! Olinguito, de La A ala Z!
Written and Illustrated by Lulu Delacre
Children’s Book Press, 2016, 40 pp., 978-0-89239-327-5
This usual A to Z book written in a lyrical text in both Spanish and English. The book set in the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador in which the author helps a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito. Together they discover a bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as they find the first new mammal species identified in the Americas since 1978. The ABC structure organizes the book feature and provides children with a vehicle to encounter rich vocabulary as they learn about a unique environment. The back matter includes articles about cloud forests and the discovery of the olinguito in 2013, and an extensive glossary of the scientific names of the species pictured.