It was a lot harder than you’d think to find mystery books for kids with characters of color. I want to thank my Instagram followers for their help in putting this list together:
West Meadows Detectives: The Case of the Snack Snatcher series by Liam O’Donnell
Myron is on the autism spectrum which makes him a great detective because his observations are based on fact and logic rather than emotion. When snacks go missing from his school cafeteria, it would seem that Sarah “Smasher” McGintley might be the culprit, but Myron and his classmates (which include children of color) from Resource Room 15 search for evidence in unlikely places until they find out what really is going on.
Liam O’Donnell communicates a subtle message to readers that kids with special needs also have special talents in this series for newly independent readers. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Are there any schools that you wished you could have attended? How about any of these schools in children’s books? From quirky schools to ones that specialize in something unusual, here’s a list of schools to consider.
How about you? What are your favorite schools (quirky or otherwise) in children’s books? Please share!
10. School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari
This is the kind of school you’d send your kids if they had debilitating phobias to conquer. Even if my kids weren’t terrified of something, I’d have them read this very funny series. [chapter book, ages 10 and up]
If you are afraid of the dark, I have a list of picture books you might relate to.
9. Yoko and Friends series by Rosemary Wells
I’d do a lot to get my kids into Mrs. Jenkins’ class at Hilltop School. She embodies the perfect teacher for any kind of child. The class itself seems like a typical group of kids: girl bullies, mean kids, messy kids, smart kids, shy kids, body image conscious kids and even a kid that brings sushi for lunch. This picture book series also feels like “every school” because I get a deja vu feeling when I read it. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
If you are starting school and want multicultural picture books to feel more comfortable, here’s my list: Multicultural Starting School Picture Books.
Our American Girl collection was passed onto another family with younger girls and you can tell that they are deeply loved!
My girls were never really into dolls including Polly Pocket or Barbie but they loved American Girl Dolls and requested them for Christmas. They especially loved the accessories that were designed around the doll sets but I loved the books.
And, in fact, it was the book sets that held our attention long after the excitement of a new doll wore off. As the years progressed, my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, solely requested American Girl Doll books. We read about Kit during the Great Depression, Josefina and the challenges of life on a rancho, Kaya on the plains, Addy’s life as a slave, and Felicity during the American Revolution. We read the contemporary books too, with Julie and Ivy. After she finished them all, she moved onto the American Girl Doll mysteries which she loved.
How am I defining a Willy Wonka-Like chapter book? You probably don’t need an explanation but here I go anyway:
- A wacky figure-head behind this adventure
- A competition between kids (though adults can be involved) OR
- A mystery that has to be solved through riddles and puzzles
Yep. That’s I came up with this list. What am I missing? Please help me out! Thank you!
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
12-year-old Emily’s move to San Francisco is softened by the fact that Garrison Griswold, publisher of an online sensation called Book Scavenger, lives there. This hunt combines books and puzzle solving into a competitive scavenger race. It’s all for fun and bragging rights, but then Emily finds an odd book with her new friend James that just might be a clue to how Griswold wound up in a coma. Is this the end of the Book Scavenger game?
Readers can solve the puzzles in the book OR go on a book scavenger of their own. Yes, it’s a real thing! [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 3rd Grade is my top post for 2015! It all happened when I went to Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy dinner hosted by publisher Charlesbridge and met Colby Sharp, a co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club blog. I was already a huge fan of this group blog.
Colby had just switched from teaching 4th grade to 3rd grade and we talked about our favorite read alouds for 3rd grade. It turns out our top three were identical and in the same order. My son was in 3rd grade at the time and his teacher coordinated her read alouds with the other two teachers in that grade. She too, had a made a grade switch that year like Colby, but from 5th to 3rd.
I tracked the read alouds all year and it was year of wonderful books. I then built lists for all elementary school grades, making sure not to repeat books from list to list.
There you have it! My Top 5 Post Countdown for 2015! Happy New Year’s Eve! Thank you all so much for reading my blog. I wish you a joyous New Year and hope to see you in 2016!
I’m excited to be judging first round Cybils this year in the categories of Easy Readers and Early Chapter Books. There were over 50 entrants for Early Chapter Books this year and we just finished picking the short list. Now, round 2 judges will take over to pick the final winners — 1 in each category!
There were some standout Early Chapter Books that had diversity in the mix and I wanted to highlight the best Early Chapter Books I’ve read so far. How about you? What Early Chapter Books are you loving? Please share!
New Great Early Chapter Books with Diversity Characters
I’m not sure why but Early Chapter Book are like newborn clothes; they are either GIRL or BOY. What happened to gender neutral? My favorite book out of all these Early Chapter Book is Lulu and the Hamster in the Night but I can’t imagine a boy picking up this book and reading it. This genre of books felt a little girl audience heavy as well. I’m not sure if this is a new trend or just a fluke.
Lulu and the Hamster in the Night by Hilary McKay
It’s interesting that there were quite a few animal adoption themed Early Chapter Books this year but this is exactly the kind of Easy Chapter book that I wish there were more of. Lulu and Mellie just happen to be girls of color but that’s not the point. Their adventure as rescue pet adopters is perfectly pitched. I’m really impressed with this series — last year, another Lulu book made the short list.
The plot is a classic sit-com; the girls stay at their grandmother’s house but with their rescue hamster but as she doesn’t allow furry animals, they have to hide the hamster during their weekend stay. The hamster, of course, gets out and has to be rescued. What makes this book sing is the pacing of this very sweet story that is wonderfully descriptive without ever dragging the plot down. I hope this one gets a win this year! [easy chapter book, ages 6 and up]
I spent more time in my kids’ 5th grade classroom because I was the parent coordinator for our PTO Creative Arts and Sciences. I know that there are always shifts in curriculum due to Common Core but leeway, as well, for teachers to cover what they typically have done in the past. My kids studied these topics in 5th grade:
- Native American (we brought in Native American Art program that compared the turtle creation myth using artwork from Native American tribes across the U.S.A.)
- Colonial America (we brought in a program where a husband and wife role played colonists in the 1800s with a table of antiques from that period)
- American Revolution (we took a field trip to The Freedom Trail that included a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party; we live near Boston)
- Pre-Civil War/Slavery (I noticed the slavery unit included a book display of picture books on slavery and my kids talked about Henry’s Freedom Box at home)
- World War II/Holocaust (Our 5th grade teachers touched on the Holocaust without getting two graphic. My daughter read Number the Stars and the classroom read aloud was The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark and The Cats in Krasinski Square)
I’d love to get your suggestions for books that support 5th Grade Common Core. Thanks for sharing!
p.s. Here are all the books in this series:
Diversity Picture Books for 5th Grade
Native American Picture Books for 5th Grade
Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back by Joseph Bruchac and Jonathan London, illustrated by Thomas Locker
In many Native American cultures, there a legend of how the world was created on the back of a giant sea turtle. Joseph Bruchac’s picture book goes further and describes how each of the thirteen moons of the year hold a story, reflected in the scales of the shell of a turtle. He tells these stories, reflecting different Native American tribes and the rhythms of nature, in lyrical free verse poetry. [poetry picture book, ages 6 and up]
Encounter by Jane Yolen, illustrated by David Shannon
This is the perspective from a young Taino boy on San Salvador when Christopher Columbus comes to the New World. Columbus carried away ten young Taino men and women back to Spain as slaves and their island was later colonized by the Spanish, changing their culture forever. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
My 5th grade son is assigned more reading homework than my 8th grade daughter. He is supposed to read 30 minutes a day; my daughter just 2 hours a week. At my son’s Curriculum Night, his teacher explained that reading just 20 minutes a day dramatically increases a child’s vocabulary. Hence, she assigns them 30 minutes a night.
From Educator’s Briefing
It’s not easy to get kids reading. My son will always choose screens over books so it’s helpful to assigned reading. I think it’s also important to making reading pleasurable so it becomes a lifelong habit. I choose a shortlist of books carefully for my son that he then selects from.
I also read out loud to my son every night. Reading aloud has the same benefit as independent reading but with an added incentive. I get to quiz my son as he reads, just to make sure he’s paying attention. Usually, I ask him about a vocabulary word in the book. One easy way is to give him a pair of opposites and have him pick the word meaning.
I hope your son can find books from my son’s list. Tell him that my son recommends them! It’s more convincing when it’s a peer recommendation so I have my son reviewing his book list.
PickyKidPix helped me organize my children’s books a few years ago. We made a special sticker designation for our collection of Roald Dahl books. She loved Dahl when she was in third grade and she read nearly exclusively from his books for that entire year. Read more…