Promote Literacy and Love of Reading
Elevate the love of reading by downloading these California Reads resources for your students.
California Reads 2023-24 Recommendations:
Author & Illustrator: Shane W. Evans
On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place–more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation’s capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, advocating racial harmony. Many words have been written about that day, but few so delicate and powerful as those presented here by award-winning author and illustrator Shane W. Evans. When combined with his simple yet compelling illustrations, the thrill of the day is brought to life for even the youngest reader to experience.
Publish Date: January 12th, 2016
Have You Ever Seen a Flower?
Author & Illustrator: Shawn Harris
Have You Ever Seen a Flower? is a beautiful exploration of perception, the environment, and humanity.
This enchanting picture book explores the relationship between childhood and nature. In this simple yet profound story, one child experiences a flower with all five senses—from its color to its fragrance to the entire universe it evokes—revealing how a single flower can expand one’s perspective in incredible ways.
Publish Date: May 4th, 2021
A Big Mooncake for Little Star
Author & Illustrator: Grace Lin
A gorgeous picture book that tells a whimsical origin story of the phases of the moon, from award-winning, bestselling author-illustrator Grace Lin
Pat, pat, pat…
Little Star’s soft feet tiptoed to the Big Mooncake.
Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble?
Publish Date: August 28th, 2018
Your Name is a Song
By Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow,
Illustrator: Luisa Uribe
Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class. Your Name is a Song is a celebration to remind all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.
Publish Date: July 7th, 2020
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing
By Kay Haring, Illustrator: Robert Neubecker
Iconic pop artist Keith Haring comes to life for young readers in this picture book biography lovingly written by his sister
This one-of-a-kind book explores the life and art of Keith Haring from his childhood through his meteoric rise to fame. It sheds light on this important artist’s great humanity, his concern for children, and his disregard for the establishment art world. Reproductions of Keith’s signature artwork appear in scenes boldly rendered by Robert Neubecker. This is a story to inspire, and a book for Keith Haring fans of all ages to treasure.
Publish Date: February 14th, 2017
A is for Ambitious
By Meena Harris, Illustrator: Marissa Valdez
The awesome, bold, charming, and decidedly ambitious new picture book by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Ambitious Girl, Meena Harris, is also a must-have ABC book.
The #1 bestselling team behind Ambitious Girl is back to take AG on a new adventure. A is for ambitious—and so much more in this fun and empowering picture book that reclaims words often used to undermine girls and women from A to Z. When they’re ready to take on the world, ambitious readers will have the vocabulary to do so.
This book offers ambitious children everywhere inspiration as they pursue their goals and dreams. With a powerful message for us all, this is a perfect read aloud for showing children the power of words.
Publish Date: April 5th, 2022
Martin & Anne: The Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank
By Nancy Churnin, Illustrator: Yevgenia Nayberg
Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr. were born the same year a world apart. Both faced ugly prejudices and violence, which both answered with words of love and faith in humanity. This is the story of their parallel journeys to find hope in darkness and to follow their dreams.
Publish Date: March 5th, 2019
By Kwame Alexander, Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
The Newbery Award-winning author of THE CROSSOVER pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree.
Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.
Publish Date: April 2nd, 2019
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman
By Kathleen Krull, Illustrator: David Díaz
This award-winning true story of Black Olympic runner Wilma Rudolph, who overcame childhood polio and eventually went on to win three gold medals, is illustrated by Caldecott medal–winning artist David Diaz.
Before Wilma Rudolph was five years old, polio had paralyzed her left leg. Everyone said she would never walk again. But Wilma refused to believe it. Not only would she walk again, she vowed, she’d run. And she did run—all the way to the Olympics, where she became the first American woman to earn three gold medals in a single Olympiad. This dramatic and inspiring true story is illustrated in bold watercolor and acrylic paintings.
Publish Date: March 1st, 2022
A First Time for Everything
Author & Illustrator: Dan Santat
A middle grade graphic memoir based on bestselling author and Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat’s awkward middle school years and the trip to Europe that changed his life.
Dan’s always been a good kid. The kind of kid who listens to his teachers, helps his mom with grocery shopping, and stays out of trouble. But being a good kid doesn’t stop him from being bullied and feeling like he’s invisible, which is why Dan has low expectations when his parents send him on a class trip to Europe.
At first, he’s right. He’s stuck with the same girls from his middle school who love to make fun of him, and he doesn’t know why his teacher insisted he come on this trip. But as he travels through France, Germany, Switzerland, and England, a series of first experiences begin to change him—first Fanta, first fondue, first time stealing a bike from German punk rockers… and first love.
Publish Date: February 28th, 2023
Every day, children in migration are detained at the US-Mexico border. They are scared, alone, and their lives are in limbo. Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz shares the stories of 61 these children, from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Mexico, ranging in age from five to seventeen—in their own words from actual sworn testimonies. Befitting the spirit of the project, the book is in English on one side; then flip it over, and there’s a complete Spanish version.
Publish Date: April 13th, 2021
The Best at It
By Maulik Pancholy
Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at and become the BEST at it.
Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge…. But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?
Publish Date: October 6th, 2020
Ain’t Burned All the Bright
By Jason Reynolds, Illustrator: Jason Griffin
Prepare yourself for something unlike anything: A smash-up of art and text for teens that viscerally captures what it is to be Black. In America. Right Now. Written by #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jason Reynolds.
Jason Reynolds and his best bud, Jason Griffin, had a mind-meld. And they decided to tackle it, in one fell swoop, in about ten sentences, and 300 pages of art, this piece, this contemplation-manifesto-fierce-vulnerable-gorgeous-terrifying-WhatIsWrongWithHumans-hope-filled-hopeful-searing-Eye-Poppingly-Illustrated-tender-heartbreaking-how-The-HECK-did-They-Come-UP-with-This project about oxygen. And all of the symbolism attached to that word, especially NOW.
Publish Date: January 11th, 2022
A Pho Love Story
By Loan Le
“Will leave readers swooning.” —PopSugar
When Dimple Met Rishi meets Ugly Delicious in this funny, smart romantic comedy, in which two Vietnamese American teens fall in love and must navigate their newfound relationship amid their families’ age-old feud about their competing, neighboring restaurants.
If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee. Not ideal.
If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant.
Publish Date: December 28th, 2021
From Little Tokyo, with Love
By Sarah Kuhn
One of PEOPLE Magazine’s Best Books of Summer!
“I absolutely adored this funny, fierce, big-hearted book.”
—Morgan Matson, New York Times bestselling author of Save the Date
Celebrated author Sarah Kuhn reinvents the modern fairy tale in this intensely personal yet hilarious novel of a girl whose search for a storybook ending takes her to unexpected places in both her beloved LA neighborhood and her own guarded heart.
If Rika’s life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale—being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts’ business—she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills and red-hot temper, she doesn’t quite fit the princess mold.
Publish Date: May 11th, 2021