Quick Things You Need To Know:
- I’m pulling together a list of books for 4th graders for a talk later this week with a public school Early Literacy Program. This is both not my wheelhouse and created in a rush, so it’s not comprehensive.
- We don’t focus on chapter books, but I come across them sometimes during my research on specific topics. So these are those.
Quick & Messy Book List:
- American Born Chinese – So validating! Q found it when I was reading it and loved the chapter on the Monkey King. Because of the internalized racism theme, I refused to read the rest to him until he’s older. I have to admit it’s one of the better English versions of the tale.
- fred korematsu speaks up – Japanese American internments. Beginning starts simple and easier to discuss with 5yo. Each chapter has a simple story, followed by facts & figures & photos from history about the theme of the chapter. first chapter was about being discriminated against at a barber shop and then featured details on discrimination against black, chinese, & irish americans, which made it easier to discuss with our family in particular. ended up losing Quill about 1/2 through the book when we started talking about court rulings and lawyers, which was way over his head and i couldn’t hold his attention. worth reading for the first half, but will be much more effective when he’s older. racism, AAPI, “fred knows this isn’t fair. He has as much right to that haircut as any of his friends. Fred walks out past other barbershops that will not cut his hair and restaurants that will not serve him food. He goes to Oakland’s Chinatown where people who look like Fred are welcome.” AAPI, civil rights, activism, judicial system
- Heart & Soul
- Brown Girl Dreaming – ages 10+
Immigrants & World Cultures
- Anna Hibiscus (first book) – restorative justice, privilege. Couldn’t read to 3 & 5, will try again with just 6-7yo alone w/out R2 climbing all over us.
- In the year of the boar and jackie robinson – validating – bette bao lord – protagonist is 8, seems best for that age. really cute story, mentions some micro-aggressions but overall just a cute story of choosing to assimilate and some metaphors for more advanced readers on combining both chinese and american identities. very few illustrations, but the ones that are there are adorable, witty, and funny. i enjoyed the book and Q could be into it, but lack of adventure and parallel to our lives on top of lack of illustrations make me hesitant to introduce at 5 – I think that would actively turn him off, and would rather wait until he’s old enough to love it.- chinese immigrants, school day, baseball, 7+ wonderful sense of time and place, validating for girls of color, AAPI. takes place in 1947 before we were allowed to gain citizenship – can’t remember if it’s mentioned in the book (probably for the author’s protection) but given the date and the fact that they leave all of her ancestors behind, the author and one of her parents was likely a paper daughter/son. autobiography
- Pashmina – chanani
- Fish In A Tree – the #Flint shirt was a disappointing bait-and-switch by a white author, otherwise this book would have been so perfect.
- This Kid Can Fly
- A Boy Called Bat
Politics, Violence & Conflict
- Child Soldier; When Boys And Girls Are Used In War – Michel Chikwanine. Ages 10-14. Way too violent and horrifying to read at 6, plus we don’t have a strong enough foundation to counter popular narrative of violence in Africa and haven’t discussed the impact of colonizers creating division & poverty. For the topic though, it’s perfect. Hard, heart-breaking read, non-fiction.
- That’s Not Fair – mclaughlin – too advanced for 6 (we read a chapter, he found it a little too boring) but it’s great for maybe…8+? i loved it as a cute and funny way to show kids (simple idea behind) how democracies and legislation, voting, and lawmaking works, and how laws that seem like a good idea can be unfair to others. politics, AAPI
- Stories for boys who dare to be different
- The Good Guys: 50 heroes who changed the world with kindness – Disclose: Got for free from Rabble Books & Games. Text is too dense for 6.5, going to try again later. Both 4.5 & 6.5 enjoy looking at the images and asking me what each dude did.
- Little Leaders
- Bygone Badass Broads
- Bad Girls throughout history
- Rad Women A-Z & Rad Women Worldwide
Not chapter books, but would recommend for older elementary anyway
- On Our Way To Oyster Bay
- Not My Idea
- The Nightlife of Jacuzzi Gaskett
- Voice Of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer
- Dear Baobab
- A Different Pond
- Fannie Never Flinched
- When I was Eight
- The Gender Wheel
- Crazy Horse’s Vision
- Shark Lady
- I Dissent
- Small Things – tregonning
- Her Left Foot
- Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings
- Seeds of Change
- Malala Yousefzai
- Let’s talk about body boundaries, consent & respect – sanders
- Lillian’s Right to Vote
- The Book Itch
- Martin Rising
- Strange Fruit
- The Youngest Marcher & Let The Children March
- My Name Is Truth
- Real Friends – ages 8-12
- orphan island – laurel snyder – grades 3-6 – puberty
- Anne Of Green Gables– ages 11+, acting with grace through unfairness, being misunderstood and judged based on identity
- Illustrated Art of War
- The King And The Sea
STEAM & Environmentalism
- the joy of X – strogatz – tried it, but can’t read a chapter and turn it into a math lesson. just read the kindle book all the way through and keep this in mind when doing math lessons, STEAM, math
- not your typical book about the environment – kelsey
- Zoey & Sassafrass – literally fell asleep while reading this. cool idea but a little redundant in execution (by necessity, because it’s all experiments.)
- Human body theater – wicks – Q was riveted at 5, R2 liked i at 3 but I couldn’t follow all the details. goes over pretty much all of basic human anatomy, digestive, immune, reproductive system. perfect, and Q begged to read it every night. lots of little details, comic book layout was a lot of work to read aloud, but no as bad as many other comic books. I enjoyed reading it myself. great textbook to pick a chapter per week and expand on it with other books, although it’s got so much detail you don’t NEED to get a ton of other books. anatomy
Books I haven’t read yet
I’m either familiar with these authors or these are popular with folks whose opinions I trust. Since chapter books take forever to screen with the kids and most are out of the Earthquake’s age ranges, I’m including them here before I get a chance to read them.
- Dragons In A Bag – Zetta Elliott, grades 3-7
- Unidentified Suburban Object – Mike Jung, age 8-12
- Front Desk – Kelly Yang
- Rick Riordan Presents stories – Riordan boosting #OwnVoices fantasy YA novels on world mythologies
- The One And Only Ivan
- Lola Levine- Brown – a little too wordy and soccer-focused for a 6yo nerd, try again in 2nd or 3rd grade. (ages 8-12), latinx, judaism, ownvoices, latinx, judaism, multiracial, athletes
- Nowhere Boy – marsh – thick ya novel, couldn’t read. first chapter seemed engaging enough about immigrants and refugees, but it’s too long and complicated for 6.
- Piper green and the fairy tree – potter – seems like a fun chapter book, first chapter was cute. I’ll wait until grade 2 before introducing it. whimsy, maine, island life
- Dog Days – English – too advanced to sit through at 5.5, try again at 7+ normalizing Black boys, moving to a new neighborhood
- book uncle and me – krishnaswami – only got a chapter in. it’s well written and i want to read it, Q seemed interested, but we just couldn’t handle this kind of chapter book with R2 climbing all over us, so it will have to wait for later. AAPI, set in India, bibliophiles
- Hello, Ruby – Liukas, really cool chapter book teaching kids the principles of programming. seems too advanced for Q at 5.5, so do more research on it and pick it up again when he’s old enough. cute illustrations. STEAM, girls, coding
- mrs. frisby and the rats of NIMH – too advanced for 5y, no pictures and each chapter is 6-8 pages with highly descriptive text. try again at 7.
- beezus and ramona – cleary – I could push this on Q at 5.5 but right now we have other priorities. wait until 7-8 (in the book, ramona is 4 and beezus is 9). minimal illustrations, but good. sibling rivalry
- Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny – Himmelman – wise stories couched in experiences of a girl bunjitsu bunny. i love this, but we don’t have time for chapter books. get in autumn for age 7+ chapter book, bunnies, martial arts, kickass girls, righteous anger