A Boy and a Jaguar

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A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz
Grades 2-4
Rating: ♦♦♦♦
This powerful autobiography explores Alan Rabinowitz’s experience growing up as a stutterer–except when he talked to animals. After going  on to travel to the jungles of Belize to study and eventually speaks with the prime minister about the plight of the jaguars.

You Are (Not) Small

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You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant
Grades PreK-2
Rating: ♦♦♦♦
A pair of bearlike creatures argue about who is bigger until a new twosome arrive on the scene and put things in perspective. Readers explore big vs. small, but can also delve into themes of bullying, racism, and point of view in this entertaining story told with just a few words on each page.

Summer Wheels

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Summer Wheels by Eve Bunting
Grade 3-6
Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
One of my favorite fifth graders asked me to post about this oldie but goodie. How could I say no, especially since it’s one of my all time favorites?
Best friends, Lawrence and Brady, are having the time of their lives spending their summer days riding bikes and showing off their stunts. That is until a rough-looking boy comes on the scene.
This important story addresses poverty and mentorship with subtlety and nuance.

Finding Serendipity

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Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks
Grades 5-8
Rating: ♦♦♦♦
We loved Tuesday McGillycuddy and her dog Baxterr in this delightful and charming fantasy. When Tuesday’s mother, Serendipity Smith–author of the beloved Vivienne Small series–goes missing Tuesday and Baxterr set off to find her. They end up in an enchanted land where stories come to life and encounter many adventures on their journey to The End.

Boats for Papa

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Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley
Grade K-3
Rating ♦♦♦♦♦
Who knew that just a few hundred words could rip my heart completely out of my chest? I struggled to get through this one without shedding a tear. With carefully chosen prose and beautiful illustrations, Jessixa Bagley weaves a subtle tale of grappling with loss. While this story is accessible for young children, the underlying message may get lost until kids are a bit older (2nd or 3rd grade).

The Case for Loving

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The Case for Loving by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls
Grades 2-4
Rating: ♦♦♦♦
Based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who wed legally in Washington D.C., but were arrested after returning home to Virginia. The couple took their case all the way to the Supreme Court and won.

Emmanuel’s Dream

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Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls
Grades 2-4
Rating: ♦♦♦♦
A powerful story about perseverance in the face of adversity, Emmanuel’s Dream tells the story of a West African boy growing up with one deformed leg. Emmanuel defied expectations throughout his life and eventually inspired his nation by riding four hundred across Ghana spreading his message that disability does not mean inability.

Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco

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Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco by Judith Robbins Rose
Grades 5-8
Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
The notion of mirror and window books has been one that we have been thinking about frequently as we choose books to share with our boys. Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco was a window book for us but may be a mirror book for many. Either way, this powerful read brings us into Jacinta’s world as the American-born daughter of illegal immigrants. Exploring themes of poverty, trust/distrust, and self-discovery, we highly recommend it for middle-grade readers.