The California Reads Committee offers teacher-approved quarterly book recommendations for multiple age groups. View all recommendations for Grades 3-5.
By Ernesto Cisneros
Efrén Nava’s Amá is his Superwoman – or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family, making sure Efrén and his younger siblings Max and Mía feel safe and loved.
But Efrén worries about his parents; although he’s American-born, his parents are undocumented. His worst nightmare comes true one day when Amá doesn’t return from work and is deported across the border to Tijuana, México.
Now more than ever, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to help take care of and try to reunite his family.
Publish Date: March 31st, 2020
INDIAN NO MORE
By Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorell
Regina Petit’s family has always been Umpqua and living on the Grand Ronde reservation is all ten-year-old Regina has ever known. Her biggest worry is that Sasquatch may exist out in the forest. But when the federal government signs a bill into law that says Regina’s tribe no longer exists, Regina becomes “Indian no more” overnight–even though she was given a number by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that counted her as Indian, even though she lives with her tribe and practices tribal customs, and even though her ancestors were Indian for countless generations.
With no good jobs available in Oregon, Regina’s father signs the family up for the Indian Relocation program and moves them to Los Angeles. Regina finds a whole new world in her neighborhood on 58th Place. She’s never met kids of other races, and they’ve never met a real Indian. For the first time in her life, Regina comes face to face with the viciousness of racism, personally and toward her new friends.
Meanwhile, her father believes that if he works hard, their family will be treated just like white Americans. But it’s not that easy. It’s 1957 during the Civil Rights Era. The family struggles without their tribal community and land. At least Regina has her grandmother, Chich, and her stories. At least they are all together.
In this moving middle-grade novel drawing upon Umpqua author Charlene Willing McManis’s own tribal history, Regina must find out: Who is Regina Petit? Is she Indian? Is she American? And will she and her family ever be okay?
Publish Date: September 24th, 2019
SHAKING THINGS UP: 14 YOUNG WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
By Susan Hood
“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” —Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian
Fresh, accessible, and inspiring, Shaking Things Up introduces fourteen revolutionary young women—each paired with a noteworthy female artist—to the next generation of activists, trailblazers, and rabble-rousers. From the award-winning author of Ada’s Violin, Susan Hood, this is a poetic and visual picture book that celebrates persistent women throughout history.
Among the powerful pairings: Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall takes on heroic World War II spies Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne; Selina Alko is matched with the brave Malala Yousafzai; New York Times bestselling illustrator Emily Winfield Martin is paired with the inventor of the controversial one-piece bathing suit, Annette Kellerman; and Shadra Strickland introduces America’s first known female firefighter, Molly Williams.
While women make up over half of the U.S. population, they face discrimination, have less representation in government and other fields, and struggle every day for their human rights. It is more important now than ever to raise a generation of girls who, in the face of adversity, persevere. This book was written, illustrated, edited, and designed by women.
Includes a foreword by a prominent female activist, an author’s note, a timeline, and additional resources.
This book features: Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland, and Melissa Sweet.
Publish Date: January 23rd, 2018
THE TEACHERS MARCH! : How Selma’s Teachers Changed History
By Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, Illustrator: Charly Palmer
Demonstrating the power of protest and standing up for a just cause, here is an exciting tribute to the educators who participated in the 1965 Selma Teachers’ March, featuring evocative illustrations and eyewitness testimonies.
Reverend F.D. Reese was a leader of the Voting Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. As a teacher and principal, he recognized that his colleagues were viewed with great respect in the city. Could he convince them to risk their jobs–and perhaps their lives–by organizing a teachers-only march to the county courthouse to demand their right to vote? On January 22, 1965, the black teachers left their classrooms and did just that, with Reverend Reese leading the way. Noted nonfiction authors Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace conducted the last interviews with Reverend Reese before his death in 2018 and interviewed several teachers and their family members to tell this important story.
Publish Date: September 29th, 2020
So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom
By Gary D. Schmidt, illustrator: Daniel Minter
From celebrated author Gary D. Schmidt comes a picture book biography of a giant in the struggle for civil rights, perfectly pitched for readers today.
Sojourner Truth was born into slavery but possessed a mind and a vision that knew no bounds. So Tall Within traces her life from her painful childhood through her remarkable emancipation to her incredible leadership in the movement for rights for both women and African Americans. Her story is told with lyricism and pathos by Gary D. Schmidt, one of the most celebrated writers for children in the twenty-first century, and brought to life by award winning and fine artist Daniel Minter. This combination of talent is just right for introducing this legendary figure to a new generation of children.
Publish Date: September 25, 2018
By Kelly Yang
Winner of the Asian / Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature!
Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.
Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.
Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.
Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all the Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape from Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?
Publish Date: May 29, 2018
Del exitoso autor en ventas según el New York Times y ganador del Premio Pulitzer, Junot Díaz, nos llega su primer álbum ilustrado acerca de la magia de los recuerdos y el poder infinito de la imaginación, ¡ahora en español!
Todos los niños en la escuela de Lola venían de otra parte. Era una escuela de lugares lejanos.
Así que cuando la maestra de Lola pide a sus alumnos que hagan un dibujo del lugar del que emigraron sus familias, todos los niños se entusiasman. Todos, menos Lola. Ella no recuerda la Isla: se fue cuando era apenas un bebé. Pero con la ayuda de su familia y de sus amigos, todos ellos con sus recuerdos —felices, maravillosos, tristes, aterradores—, la imaginación de Lola la lleva en un extraordinario viaje de regreso a la Isla. Cuando finalmente se acerca al corazón de la historia de su familia, Lola llega a entender el sentido de las palabras de su abuela: «Que no recuerdes un lugar, no significa que no sea parte de ti.
Publish Date: March 13, 2018 | Activities
STELLA Diaz HAS Something To SAY
By Angela Dominguez
In her first middle-grade novel, award-winning picture book author and illustrator Angela Dominguez tells a heartwarming story based on her own experiences growing up Mexican American.
Stella Diaz loves marine animals, especially her betta fish, Pancho. But Stella Diaz is not a betta fish. Betta fish like to be alone, while Stella loves spending time with her mom and brother and her best friend Jenny. Trouble is, Jenny is in another class this year, and Stella feels very lonely.
When a new boy arrives in Stella’s class, she really wants to be his friend, but sometimes Stella accidentally speaks Spanish instead of English and pronounces words wrong, which makes her turn roja. Plus, she has to speak in front of her whole class for a big presentation at school! But she better gets over her fears soon, because Stella Díaz has something to say!
Publish Date: January 16, 2018
Turning Pages: My Life Story
By Sonia Sotomayor, Illustrator: Lulu Delacre
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor tells her own story for young readers for the very first time!
As the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor has inspired young people around the world to reach for their dreams. But what inspired her? For young Sonia, the answer was books! They were her mirrors, her maps, her friends, and her teachers. They helped her to connect with her family in New York and in Puerto Rico, to deal with her diabetes diagnosis, to cope with her father’s death, to uncover the secrets of the world, and to dream of a future for herself in which anything was possible.
In Turning Pages, Justice Sotomayor shares that love of books with a new generation of readers, and inspires them to read and puzzle and dream for themselves. Accompanied by Lulu Delacre’s vibrant art, this story of the Justice’s life shows readers that the world is full of promise and possibility–all they need to do is turn the page.
Publish Date: 2018
Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle
By Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp
Beauty the bald eagle made world news after she was shot in the beak, rescued, and received a 3D-printed prosthetic beak. Beauty and the Beak tells this true, heart lifting story—from Beauty’s life in the wild, through her injury and rescue, into the months of engineering her prosthetic beak, to the moment she takes the first drink of water, by herself, with her new beak.
Publish Date: August 27, 2017
By Hena Khan
A Washington Post Best Children’s Book of 2017
“For inspiring empathy in young readers, you can’t get better than this book.” —R. J. Palacio, author of #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder
“Amina’s anxieties are entirely relatable, but it’s her sweet-hearted nature that makes her such a winning protagonist.” —Entertainment Weekly
A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this “compassionate, timely novel” (Booklist, starred review) from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.
Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.
Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.
Publish Date: March 14, 2017
By Jason Chin
Rivers wind through earth, cutting down and eroding the soil for millions of years, creating a cavity in the ground 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and more than a mile deep known as the Grand Canyon.
Home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals that have lived and evolved within its walls for millennia, the Grand Canyon is much more than just a hole in the ground. Follow a father and daughter as they make their way through the cavernous wonder, discovering life both present and past.
Weave in and out of time as perfectly placed die cuts show you that a fossil today was a creature much long ago, perhaps in a completely different environment. Complete with a spectacular double gatefold, an intricate map and extensive back matter.
Publish Date: February 21, 2017
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
By Javaka Steptoe
Winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award
Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat’s own introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean–and definitely not inside the lines–to be beautiful.
Publish Date: October 25, 2016
The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones
By Wendelin Van Draanen
Award-winning author Wendelin Van Draanen gives us a fresh and funny story about a boy learning to become the brave hero of his own life. Perfect for fans of Counting by 7s and The Fourteenth Goldfish.
My secret life is filled with psychic vampires, wheelchair zombies, chain-rattlin’ ghosts, and a one-eyed cat. But they’re nothing compared to my real-life stalker: a sixth-grade girl named Kandi Kain…Lincoln Jones is always working on the latest story he’s got going in his notebook. Those stories are his refuge. A place where the hero always prevails and the bad guy goes to jail. Real life is messy and complicated, so Lincoln sticks to fiction and keeps to himself. Which works fine until a nosy girl at his new school starts prying into his private business. She wants to know what he’s writing, where he disappears to after school, and why he never talks to anybody. . . .
The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones is a terrifically funny and poignant story about a boy finding the courage to get to know the real characters all around him—and to let them know him.
Publish Date: October 25, 2016
Joelito’s Big Decision
By Ann Berlak, illustrator: Daniel Camacho
Every Friday evening 9-year-old Joelito goes with his family to MacMann’s for a juicy burger. But this Friday is different. This time, Joelito’s best friend Brandon is standing in a crowd outside the fast food restaurant protesting the low pay his parents earn there. Will Joelito cross the picket line for a tasty burger? Find out in Joelito’s Big Decision (La gran decisión de Joelito), in English & Spanish.
Publish Date: 2015
Love Twelve Miles Long
By Glenda Armand, illustrator: Colin Bootman
It’s late at night, and Frederick’s mother has traveled twelve miles to visit him. When Frederick asks Mama how she can walk so far, Mama recounts her journey mile by mile. Every step of the way is special, as it brings them closer together; and Mama passes the time by remembering, listening, praying, singing, and more. Set on a plantation in 1820s Maryland, this story based on the life of young Frederick Douglass shows the power of his mother’s love. The faith she has in her son puts him on a path to escape enslavement and to become a champion of human rights, an influential writer and speaker, and an unforgettable leader. Expressive, candlelit paintings illuminate the bond between parent and child in this heartfelt story. Love Twelve Miles Long will resonate with children of all backgrounds who cherish the tender moments they share with those they love.
Publish Date: November, 2015
Mystery of the Giant Masks of Sanxingdui
By Icy Smith, illustrator: Gayle Garner Roski
The mysterious and ancient city of Sanxingdui is famous for its astonishing bronze-casting technology. Villagers come from faraway lands to admire the bronze masks and trade for the highly prized bronze wares. However, Sanxingdui faces danger when its people hear rumors of a foreign invasion. The chief s daughter, Min, and her newly initiated warrior brother, Wei, lead the villagers to flee their homeland. Where do they go? And what do they do with their sacred bronze masks and statues?
Publish Date: February 16, 2015
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage
By Selina Alko, Illustrator: Sean Qualls
For most children these days it would come as a great shock to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own. That was the year that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia.
This is the story of one brave family: Mildred Loving, Richard Perry Loving, and their three children. It is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love, and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested (in dramatic fashion) for violating that state’s laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to get the message that their parents’ love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court – and won!
Publish Date: January 27, 2015
The Cat Who Chose to Dream
By Loriene Honda, illustrator: Jimmy Tstomu Mirikitani
Follow Jimmy the Cat’s inspirational journey as he uses his imagination to empower himself and survive trauma while in a prison camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. Before feelings of hopelessness can overcome him, he turns to his imagination and creativity to transport him to places where he no longer feels frightened and restrained-instead feeling self-empowered and free. He reminds himself that, others may have the power to shackle my body, but I always hold the power to free my mind. Featuring Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani’s drawings, this book brings hope and inspiration to anyone who has experienced difficult situations beyond their control. A special foreword written by George Takei.
Publish Date: 2014
This is the Rope
By Jacqueline Woodson
The story of one family’s journey north during the Great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family’s history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto a car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother.
Newbery Honor–winning author Jacqueline Woodson and Coretta Scott King Award–winning illustrator James Ransome use the rope to frame a thoughtful and moving story as readers follow the little girl’s journey. During the time of the Great Migration, millions of African American families relocated from the South, seeking better opportunities. With grace and poignancy, Woodson’s lilting storytelling and Ransome’s masterful oil paintings of country and city life tell a rich story of a family adapting to change as they hold on to the past and embrace the future.
Publish Date: 2013
Barbed Wire Baseball: How One Man Brought Hope to the Japanese Internment Camps of WWII
By Marissa Moss, illustrator: Yuko Shimizu
A true story set in a Japanese-American internment camp in World War II. As a young boy, Kenichi Zenimura (Zeni) wanted to be a baseball player, even though everyone told him he was too small. He grew up to become a successful athlete, playing with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. But when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Zeni and his family were sent to one of several internment camps established in the U.S. for people of Japanese ancestry. Zeni brought the game of baseball to the camp, along with a sense of hope, and became known as the “Father of Japanese-American Baseball.”
Publish Date: April 9, 2013
By Michelle Markel, illustrator: Melissa Sweet
From acclaimed author Michelle Markel and Caldecott Honor artist Melissa Sweet comes this true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history. This picture book biography includes a bibliography and an author’s note on the garment industry. It follows the plight of immigrants in America in the early 1900s, tackling topics like activism and the U.S. garment industry, with hand stitching and fabric incorporated throughout the art.
When Clara arrived in America, she couldn’t speak English. She didn’t know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor, that she was expected to grow up fast.
But that didn’t stop Clara. She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support her family by sewing in a shirtwaist factory. Clara never quit, and she never accepted that girls should be treated poorly and paid little. Fed up with the mistreatment of her fellow laborers, Clara led the largest walkout of women workers the country had seen.
From her short time in America, Clara learned that everyone deserved a fair chance. That you had to stand together and fight for what you wanted. And, most importantly, that you could do anything you put your mind to. Supports the Common Core State Standards.
Publish Date: January 22, 2013
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.
Publish Date: 2013
When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop
By Laban Carrick, illustrator: Theodore Taylor
Before there was hip hop, there was DJ Kool Herc. On a hot day at the end of summer in 1973 Cindy Campbell threw a back-to-school party at a park in the South Bronx. Her brother, Clive Campbell, spun the records. He had a new way of playing the music to make the breaks―the musical interludes between verses―longer for dancing. He called himself DJ Kool Herc and this is When the Beat Was Born. From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill’s book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ, how kids in gangs stopped fighting in order to breakdance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.
Publish Date: 2013
The inspiring and timely story of Sonia Sotomayor, who rose up from a childhood of poverty and prejudice to become the first Latino to be nominated to the US Supreme Court.
Before Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor took her seat in our nation’s highest court, she was just a little girl in the South Bronx. Justice Sotomayor didn’t have a lot growing up, but she had what she needed — her mother’s love, a will to learn, and her own determination. With bravery she became the person she wanted to be. With hard work she succeeded. With little sunlight and only a modest plot from which to grow, Justice Sotomayor bloomed for the whole world to see.
Publish Date: 2009
Hank Zipzer Series
By Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, illustrator: Tim Heitz
Inspired by the true life experiences of Henry Winkler, whose undiagnosed dyslexia made him a classic childhood underachiever, the Hank Zipzer series is about the high-spirited and funny adventures of a boy with learning differences.
It’s science project time in Ms. Adolf’s class. This is good news and bad news for Hank-he loves science, but he hates the report part. So Hank turns to TV to take his mind off things. But when the program directory scrolls by too quickly for Hank to know what’s on, he decides to take apart the cable box to try to slow down the crawl. Great! Now Hank has found the perfect science project! But what he wasn’t counting on was his sister’s pet iguana laying eighteen eggs in the disassembled cable box. How is Hank going to get out of this one?
Publish Date: February 10, 2004
By Jon Scieszka, illustrator: Lane Smith
Did you ever wake up to one of those days where everything is a problem? You have 10 things to do, but only 30 minutes until your bus leaves. Is there enough time? You have 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. Can you make 1 good outfit? Then you start to wonder: Why does everything have to be such a problem? Why do 2 apples always have to be added to 5 oranges? Why do 4 kids always have to divide 12 marbles? Why can’t you just keep 10 cookies without someone taking 3 away? Why? Because you’re the victim of a Math Curse. That’s why. But don’t despair. This is one girl’s story of how that curse can be broken.
Publish Date: October 1, 1995