Books that celebrate diversity for 4th graders
by: Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by: Peter Sis - (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2012) 384 pages.
Sensitive, shy Naftali spends most of his childhood in Chile reading, writing, and daydreaming. Moved by the beauty of his natural environment and the injustices he witnesses, Naftali defies the wishes of his cruel, authoritarian father to become the poet Pablo Neruda. This book weaves biography, poetry, and magical realism to tell the emotional story of the poet’s early life.
Perfect for: Creative kids and dreamers.
Find The Dreamer at your local library.
One Crazy Summer
by: Rita Williams-Garcia - (Amistad, 2010) 218 pages.
Delphine, 11, and her two younger sisters don’t know what to expect when their dad puts them on plane to visit their mother, who abandoned the family years ago. It is 1968 and their mother is active in Oakland’s Black Power movement. The girls hope to visit Disneyland, but instead, their mother sends them to a camp run by the Black Panthers. As the summer wears on, the sisters learn about themselves, their mother, and their country during a pivotal moment in African American history. Delphine both blames and longs for her mother, and in the end these two strong characters find a measure of reconciliation. If this is your child’s first exposure to historical fiction, she may be hooked.
Perfect for: A glimpse of 1968 Oakland from a child’s point of view.
Find One Crazy Summer at your local library.
Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities
by: Mike Jung, illustrated by: Mike Maihack - (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2012) 320 pages.
In Vincent Wu’s world, superheroes are real. He’s obsessed with Captain Stupendous. But even Vincent can admit something’s off with his hero. Turns out, Captain Stupendous is actually his crush, Polly Winnicott-Lee. She recently gained Captain Stupendous’ powers in a fluke accident. Now, it’s up to Vincent and his friends to train Polly so she can defeat Captain Stupendous’ nemesis, Professor Mayhem.
Perfect for: Superhero and graphic novel fans.
Find Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities at your local library.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by: Grace Lin - (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011) 304 pages.
Minli lives with her family in the valley of the Fruitless Mountain. In the evenings, her father tells folktales, including one about the Old Man on the Moon, who holds everyone’s destiny. Inspired by her father’s tales, Minli decides to go on a journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him to change her family’s fortune. Along the way, Minli encounters magical creatures and makes new friends who accompany her on her adventure. Themes from Chinese folklore fuel this beautifully illustrated story.
Perfect for: Children who dream of mystical lands and epic journeys.
Find Where the Mountain Meets the Moon at your local library.
by: Anne Ursu, illustrated by: Erin McGuire - (Walden Pond Press, 2011) 336 pages.
Hazel and Jack are kindred spirits — and they also used to be best friends. One day, 11-year-old Jack disappears into the forest with a mysterious woman made of ice. It’s up to Hazel to rescue Jack, and so her quest begins — though Jack may not wish to be saved. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, this story combines modern coming-of-age themes with the mystical elements of a fairy tale.
Perfect for: Kids who seem all grown up one day, and young again the next.
Find Breadcrumbs at your local library.
by: Ann M. Martin - (Feiwel & Friends, 2014) 240 pages.
Rose adores prime numbers. Homonyms, too. And she relies upon routine. She’s a tad obsessed, actually, which is a symptom of her high-functioning autism. At school, Rose struggles to connect with the rest of her classmates. Rose’s closest companion is a stray dog she befriends and shelters. (She names her new dog Rain — a homonym for Reign!) When Rain is lost during a storm one night, Rose must abandon personal rules and routine to find her beloved Rain.
Perfect for: Understanding the black-and-white perspective of a girl who struggles when rules — or routines — change.
Find Rain Reign at your local library.
Harlem: A Poem
by: Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by: Christopher Myers - (Scholastic Press, 1997) 32 pages.
New York’s Harlem neighborhood is vividly brought to life in this Caldecott Honor Book, illustrated with vibrant pictures — by the author’s son.
Perfect for: Poetry lovers and city slickers.
Find Harlem at your local library.
by: Cynthia Lord - (Scholastic Press, 2006) 224 pages.
A touching story about a 12-year-old girl who longs for a “normal” life that, with an autistic brother, seems nearly impossible. As the protagonist regularly accompanies her younger brother to his occupational therapy sessions, she befriends a disabled boy. This is a great one to read aloud to your kids. Find Rules at your local library.
by: Alma Flor Ada - (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013) 160 pages.
When Amalia’s best friend moves away, Amalia is so upset she can’t say goodbye. Her Abuelita comforts her, but when her grandmother dies suddenly, Amalia must cope with two big losses and two missed chances to say goodbye to a loved one. Elements of Mexican culture and tradition, including recipes for Abuelita’s favorite desserts, make this story of adolescence and loss come to life.
Perfect for: Kids who are devoted to their friends and family.
Find Love, Amalia at your local library.