Published: 2017
Theme: Values, Humor, Science
Best for: 9 and up

“Now that I have proved that Earth does exist,” said Sputnik, “I have to prove that it should exist. Every planet has to have a reason…Useless planets are being shrunk all over the sky…” This book has a wonderful mix of good science, deep thought (Why are we here?) and sensitivity to the difficulty of aging…

Published: 2016
Theme: Science and Heart
Best for: 9 and up

“You’d think that going to your mum’s funeral on Tuesday would get you the rest of the week off, but not according to my dad. “We need to get back to normal,” he says when I try to protest.” This children’s book is a terrific merging of heart and mind, sincere feelings and contemporary science…

Published: 2017
Theme: Resisting Prejudice
Best for: 10 and up

“I’d been taught that our Bamarre were lucky to be ruled by us. Otherwise they would have been conquered by others, who would have killed them all. With us, they were safe and had duties and food.” A great and timely fantasy children’s book exploring the injustice of nations dominating nations, and the ill consequences of prejudice…

Published: 2003
Theme: Survival
Best for: 9 and up

“Until now, except for occasional gut-wrenching pangs of homesickness and loneliness, I had by and large managed to keep my spirits up. But not anymore. My beacon stayed obstinately damp.” I was immediately struck with the clarity, simplicity, and beauty of the writing, and wondered how the tale would unfold…

Published: 2009
Theme: Norse Myth
Best for: 9 to 10

“He clambered onto the bear’s back, holding his crutch with his left hand and clutching the bear’s fur with his right. The bear stood up slowly, making sure the boy was on, then set off at a fast lope…” It’s wonderful to see contemporary authors make good use of imagination and the wealth of possibilities from the Norse stories…

Published: 2017
Theme: WWII Resistance and Courage
Best for: 9 to 12

“A few days later, I was one my way to meet Katrin for school when the German office cornered me at the end of the path. “Where’s the dog, Fraulein?” Meme and I should have decided to what to say to him…” It seems important for children to know that resistance is not just for history, or adults, but is something that even young people can participate in.

Published: 1955, republished 1960
Theme: Fairy and Other Tales
Best for: 7 to 12

“The Goldfish stopped jumping, because his joy had been damped by doubt. “How can the world be more than I can see?’ he asked the Ship. ‘If I am really in the world, I ought to be able to see it all…'” Each tale in this children’s book is a literary work, complete with sometimes difficult language, almost always a moral, and something to think about…

Published: 2015
Theme: Puzzles and Books
Best for: 10 to 13

“Garrison Griswold here to welcome you to the wonderful world of Book Scavenger. We are a community of book lovers, puzzle lovers, and treasure hunters. Are you, too?” This is a very well-written children’s book, which combines literary information, puzzles, and a bit of a mystery to solve…

Published: 2016
Theme: Heroes and Villains
Best for: boys age 10 and up

“My name is Danny Daley, but no one calls me “Danny” anymore. These days, I’m know as “Stink.’ Before you laugh, let me tell you how I got that nickname, because it’s not what you might think.” Three cheers for a children’s book series called Guys Read, a fabulous way to grab the attention of middle-school boys.

Published: 2012
Theme: Healing Relationships
Best for: 10 and up

“I felt like I was speaking a part in some out-of-date play. Who in the world calls their grandmother “Grandmother?” But “Grandma” didn’t seem to fit.” This children’s book is about relationships – between parents, children, grandparents, and friends, showing the way that misunderstandings can create distance, and communication can create love and warmth.

Published: 2014
Theme: Be yourself
Best for: 10 – 12

“Sometimes I wonder if I was born into the wrong family. Being onstage makes me nervous, and I’m not a fan of working backstage either.” There are two themes interwoven here: responsible science, and finding your own way…

Published: 2017
Theme: Words as Weapons
Best for: 10 and up

“It was that moment. That terrible, blood-freezing, ashy-mouthed moment when you suddenly realize that sixty eyeballs are fixed on you, deciding what to do about you, where you fit in.” Bullies, abusive words, cliques, middle school – a realistic look at what our children may face, unless we change our cultural norms and say no to bullying.

Published: 2006
Theme: Adventure
Best for: 11 and up

“This adventure really began on early spring morning when I was fourteen years old. I remember it all so clearly, from the moment I stepped out into the still dark yard and went to unlock the stable door.” Written like a page out of the Celtic past, the adventures of two young lads searching for their dad on a lost island is exquisitely crafted…

Published: 2016
Theme: Child Labor, Doing Good
Best for: 12 and up

“The sounds of the sewing machines that masked the constant grumbling of my belly would surely mask the sound of ripping paper. The guard now had his head tilted back, his eyes shut…” This recently-published children’s book takes on child labor directly and dramatically, and how one person can make a difference for others.

Published: 2005
Theme: Norse Myth
Best for: 8 to 11

“I had never been in the Great Hall of Asgard before. Even from outside, it was the most amazing building I had ever seen, vaster and grander than I could have imagined possible…” This children’s book is very easy to get through, and would make a nice complement to the third graders after they work with the original Norse myth…

Published: 1982
Theme: Overcoming Bullies
Best for: 8 to 10

“Dreams,” he said, “is very mysterious things. They is floating around in the air like little wispy bubbles. And all the time they is searching for sleeping people.” If you are in need of a cheerful happy ending story, as a children’s book BFG is perfect…

Published: 1939
Theme: Historical Fiction Biography
Best for: 8 – 11

“All of these ill-informed scribblers seemed astonished at Ben’s great fund of information, at his brilliant decisions, at his seeming knowledge of all that went on about him. I could have told them, It was ME.” A biography like this is perhaps the best way to bring history to children without bringing tears of boredom..

Published: 2012
Theme: WWII- Japanese Internment
Best for: ages 10 to 12

“Gila River was where I would turn thirteen, and live with my mama and my sister, while waiting for my papa to be brought bak from Fort Lincoln, North Dakota, where the FBI had sent him…” This historical fiction children’s book adds yet another new piece of history and humanness to the story of the internment of Japanese citizens after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Published: 1989
Theme: Heroism
Best for: 10 – 13

“…The dream for you all, young and old, must be to create an ideal of human decency, and not a narrow-minded and prejudiced one. That is the great gift our country hungers for…” This children’s book is first and foremost about the courage of ordinary people to do the right thing, even in the worst of times…

Published: 2011
Theme: Greek and Roman Myths
Best for: 9- 12

“Humans have always loved telling stories, and to use them we tell words. Sometimes, however, the words themselves have stories to tell.” This children’s book is a delightful collection of brief stories from Greek and Roman mythology to illustrate the origin of common words and phrases in our vocabulary,

Published: 2013-2016
Theme: Civil Rights Movement
Best for: 8 and up

“Lawson taught us how to protect each other, how to survive. But the hardest part to learn–to truly understand, deep in your heart– was how to find love for your attacker.” This excellent trilogy of graphic novel is a first-hand account by John Lewis of the civil rights movement as he lived it…

Published: 2016
Theme: Adventure and Chinese Tales
Best for: 8 to 12

“When it is time for you to do something, you will do it..Amah’s words echoed, untying and smoothing the knotted string of Pinmei’s voice. She took a deep breath, and, with a whisper, she started the story.” “Storytellers can make time disappear…” and with this wonderful children’s book, the readers can lose themselves in a magical past…

Published: 2013
Theme: Animal Rights
Best for: 9 to 12

“It was not an easy journey. The yetis had to be sealed up inside the lorry until nighttime, when they found a deserted place to stop and they could come out and stretch their legs and get some air.” This children’s book, perhaps one of Ibbotson’s last, takes on animal hunting directly, making it an abominable thing to do!

Published: 1976
Theme: Native American tragedy
Best for: 12 and up

“Misson Santa Barbara, where the Padres were taking us, was near the Island of the Blue Dolphins…Perhaps if I went there, I could find one who would help me reach the island and bring Karana back.” A wonderful work of historical fiction, this children’s book is a sequel to Island of Blue Dolphins, and also offers a chilling look at the treatment of Native Americans by missions.

Published: 2016
Theme: Nurturing Relationships
Best for: 9 to 12

“There are six kinds of teachers in the world. I know because we classified them once during indoor recess…The last kind we simply call the Good Ones…the ones who you don’t want to disappoint.” A beautiful, heart-warming story of three middle-school boys and their relationship to one very extraordinary teacher, who is about to leave them.

Published: 2016
Theme: Children, Poets, and Dogs
Best for: 7 to 10

“I’m a dog. I should tell you that right away. But I grew up with words. A poet named Sylvan found me at the shelter and took me home. He laid down a red rug for me by the fire…” Prepare to have your heart strings plucked by master storyteller MacLachlan, as a dog and two children comfort each other.