With titles like Because of Winn Dixie, The Tiger Rising and The Tale of Despereaux on her resume, author Kate DiCamillo knows how to captivate young minds. As the 2014 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Kate travels the country engaging students about the transformative nature of a great book. Her top five books are stories that reflect connectedness and the human experience and are definitely on the must-read list for kids.
An unlikely friendship between the runt of the piglet litter, Wilbur, and Charlotte, the barnyard’s resident spider, makes for a beloved tale of loyalty and the power of friendship. Expect this story to spark meaningful conversation about true friendship, selflessness and other lessons of good character.
August Pullman is a tender-hearted fifth grade boy who wants nothing more than to be normal. Suffering from a facial deformity keeps kids and adults from treating Auggie with a sense of normalcy that he craves. This book will challenge perceptions of “normal” and give kids a sense of empathy and compassion.
The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
Set in Civil Rights-era Birmingham, Christopher Paul Curtis paints a riveting portrait of the African-American experience. Kenny, the 9-year-old narrator tells a tale of his middle class black family’s trip to visit Grandma in Birmingham at a time when racial discord peaks. Expect this book to spark meaningful conversation about family and lessons in diversity.
Young readers will love another tale of unusual friendship and fast-paced adventure. James, an 11-year-old boy living in New York City, befriends Marvin, a beetle who happens to live in the family apartment. The two bond over a shared love of art that soon turns into a mission to recover a famous drawing for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
Second-grader Billy Miller gives a front row seat to elementary school life, including the sometimes volatile nature of sibling relationships, sleepovers gone awry, unusual homework assignments and the like. This book promises a feel-good perspective on growing pains, elementary school woes and how it will always be okay in the end.
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Is your reader not quite ready for chapter books? No problem. The American Library Association considers the following titles to be top-notch picks. View the full list of books here.
An all too familiar tale for those with a fetch-obsessed family dog. Sweet illustrations and sentimental approach to the furriest member of the family will delight young children and adults, alike.
Building Our House by Jonathan Bean
Mom, Dad and the kids embark on the project of a lifetime as they build a new family home from the ground, up. Boys will especially love the charming watercolor illustrations brimming with tools and machinery.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
Imagine opening up the trusty box of crayons to find excuses from your once dependable, waxy companions. Duncan must convince the crayons to find new inspiration and bring paper to life again.
Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber
The perfect read as spring awakens nature, Flight will fascinate outdoorsy youngsters as they view spring through the eyes of a honey bee.
Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Matthew Forsythe
A book that begs not to be read? Crazy critters and punchy illustrations will delight young children who have a knack for enjoying forbidden fun.