Celebration: There Are Books for All of Us

I could say all kinds of things about the US election results. I feel all kinds of things. Fear. Shock. Worry. Pressure. Responsibility. While Trump truly is #notmypresident, a border does not separate us from humanity. I am devastated and afraid about what is happening in America for all of us. For those experiencing all of the horrible discrimination, hatred and fear in the U.S. right now and for the influence America has on the world. I worry for the American children who are worried. For the children and their families who have experienced discrimination and see it getting worse. I worry for our Canadian children who feel their own fear. What about here? Can that hate come here? Is it here already? How safe are we?

Safety feels turned on its head. Hatred feels like it got a green light. It’s early days. He’s not even the President. People are talking about feeling afraid to walk outside.

To quote Aaron Sorkin:  “Hate was given hope.”

Everything is wrong with that.

I am a mother. I am a teacher. I am a person who has spent her life advocating for children.

I am horrified.

Fear can freeze us. We need to release ourselves. Begin doing something to make a change.

Sometimes, this means something completely new. Yes, do those things. Speak up when before you didn’t. Don’t ignore what you might have in the past. Engage in the hard conversations. Be uncomfortable.

Sometimes, it is to repeat what we know. Don’t stop what you already do to make a difference. Continue. It is now even more important.

This is what I celebrate today. That despite my fear, I am not turning in circles helplessly. I know where to start.

It is in my classroom full of books.

I can walk back into my classroom Monday morning and talk about books. I can book talk. Read aloud. Provide hours every week for independent reading time.

Words reassure. They challenge our thinking. They shake things up. They soothe us and make us question the world that we know.

I celebrate that I am a reader. I know my books. I think in lists. I can reach out literally and find that book for that child. “Here is a book for you,” “There are books here for all of us.” “Read this. It’s a story you should know.”

I can offer this gift endlessly.

Stories do their magic thing. They touch us where we are most human. They remind us to think deeply. To feel in mighty ways.

Our children need this. Time and space to grapple with their questions and their worries. Stories to let them see the most in themselves and in others.

Our guidance.

A room full of books.

This I can do.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.


So often I focus on picture books as the place to begin. My students are always immersed in picture books. Please immerse yours!

Today my recommendations focus on chapter books for our intermediate students. Middle Grade novels. These are the titles I want to see in the hands of my Grade 4 and 5 readers and are actually on my shelves (or soon will be). I have read every one and recommend each of them. All of these books remind us, we have no time for judgement. We must make room for kind. We are all so very different and that’s what makes our world.

Read. Share. Talk. Over and over and over again.

Listed in no organized order. I just started typing.

George by Alex Gino


Ghost by Jason Reynolds


As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

As Brave as You

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks  and Gita Varadarajan


Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood


The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly


Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Blackbird Fly

Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Nine, Ten- A September 11th Story

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily and Dunkin

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Full Cicada Moon

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

Listen, Slowly

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai


 Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish In A Tree

 Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate


 Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper

Stella by Starlight

 Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

Gracefully Grayson

 The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War That Saved my Life 2

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Better Nate than Ever

Revolution by Deborah Wiles


El Deafo by CeCe Bell

El Deafo

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

brown girl dreaming

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

the red pencil

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be

Crow by Barbara Wright


Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin


Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco 

Beholding Bee

The Misfits by James Howe

The Misfits

The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata 


Wonder by R.J.Palacio

wonder 12 for 2012

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

lions-of-little-rock 12 for 2012

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan


The Real Boy written by Anne Ursu

cover.The Real Boy - Front Jacket - 2-13

Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai


For many more titles, visit the We Need Diverse Books site. They are many resources and book lists featured there.


Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That We Need Diverse Books logo

The definition of diverse books on the We Need Diverse Books site is one that I always refer to:

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

From the Mission Statement on the We Need Diverse Books site.

Issue yourself or your students The Reading Without Walls Challenge from Gene Luen Yang who is America’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Number 1 seems particularly meaningful now: Read about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.


19 thoughts on “Celebration: There Are Books for All of Us

  1. I just wrote about reading as part of what we can do in my Poetry Friday post, Carrie, to learn about others we don’t know well, to learn that we are all together, with differences we can respect and gain sympathy for. Great list, thoughtful words! Thank you!

  2. Thanks for this book list. And for continuing to celebrate putting books in the hands of the students. So many titles I love in your list. And still some I need to read. Love the idea of challenging our students with The Reading Without Walls Challenge.

  3. Thank you for your post. It’s nice to have a Canadian ally 🙂 I share your range of feelings, from despair to resolve. Although the majority of my students are secondary, not primary targets, of the worst of this election’s rhetoric, they are hurt and confused. As librarian, I leave the in-depth processing to the classroom teachers but nonetheless there were pop-up conversations. The ironies and hypocrisies of the campaign were not lost on our ten-year-olds, the ridicule of entire populations not lost on our 2nd and 3rd graders.

    As others have said this is a wonderful list, many of which I’ve read, most of which our library owns, and several I’ll add to my list. One that I would add to your list is Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.

  4. YES – it’s all too easy to sit here smugly in Canada and wag our fingers at our American neighbours, but the reality is that we can all do our part to spread love, compassion, empathy and understanding in our communities, no matter where we live. Thank you for this post.

  5. If this election can happen here in the US, it can happen anywhere. The tide has already started to turn that way in many countries around the world. That makes this week’s blog ever more important.

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