Reviews by Janet Robertson, Chair, Read Across America Committee & Tiffany Hasker
by Kathryn Otoshi
One is an award winning book about colors and numbers in which Red bullies Blue, and although the other colors do not like what they see, they don’t speak up. Then Number One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up together against Red. This simple, but beautiful book has a powerful and uplifting message about bullying and standing up for ourselves and others. One is basic for preschoolers, but contains a message that resonates with children of all ages…maybe even adults!
by Francisco Jiménez
It is Francisco's first year at school in an English speaking classroom. He only knows a little bit of English which limits his understanding of what his teacher says to the class. During the school day, he is intrigued by a caterpillar that sits in a jar next to his desk, and decides to devote all of his energy into learning how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. This story addresses the struggles ELL learners face while they are learning a new language. It also shows how imaginative children can be and how we can incorporate what they are interested in into the curriculum.
Words with Wings
by Nikki Grimes
Poetry is the perfect format for this short story about a girl with a vivid imagination. Gabriella is heartbroken when her parents split up and she is forced to move away from her old neighborhood and best friend. She starts at a new school, where she has trouble concentrating, but her teacher soon recognizes her special qualities and comes up with an inspired idea to encourage Gabby and the other kids in the class to use their imaginations. Perfect for reading aloud, Words with Wings takes the fears and hopes of one child and spins them into a story for children of all ages.
Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle
by Summer Brenner
Brenner’s place-based novels for young readers are full of landmarks local kids know and character types they have been exposed to. Through a kind of magical time-travel, the two children who are the heroes of the tale are transported to different stages of the history of the city of Richmond starting with the Native people who lived there first, through the early settlement and World War II era. Finally it foresees a hopeful future that the children themselves can create. A wonderful, readable tale for all age groups. (Brenner’s latest novel, “Oakland Tales,” is equally as interesting and is currently being used in Oakland classrooms. Get companion curriculum at cta.org/careads).
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World
by Malala Yousafzai
Winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, young Malala Yousafzai’s bravery has ignited a ground swell of support around the world for girls’ right to education. The Young Readers version is gripping and occasionally hard to read, given the violent subject matter, but it is told in a voice that is easy for young people to latch on to. Though some young readers may not know much about Pakistan or the Taliban, Malala gently explains some very complex situations in a way that's easy to follow. This book details Malala's life before the shooting, her recovery, and her new life in Britain, inviting young readers to count their blessings and think about other people in the world who would love to enjoy some of the liberties we often take for granted.