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Great Reads from Great Librarians
The Undefeated by
Publication Date: 2019-04-02
From Susan Proulx-Herron: "It is an amazing poem to share with students as a part of Black History Month."
Winner of the 2020 Caldecott Medal A 2020 Newbery Honor Book Winner of the 2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award 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.
Freedom over Me by
Publication Date: 2016-09-13
From Deanna Reilly: "We use this book when teaching 6th graders about the history of slavery in the United States. Beautiful artwork and free verse poetry."
Newbery Honor Book Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away. Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as...a lantern. You, an object. An object to sell. In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN'T be bought or sold--dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his "workers", Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person's life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about--their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you've seen.
Swirl by Swirl by
Publication Date: 2011-10-04
From LaRae Schmidt: "I love this book because it introduces kids to all the spirals in nature, so it is a science & math ( with Fibonacci spiral) in one lesson!" A Caldecott medalist and a Newbery Honor-winning poet celebrate the beauty and value of spirals.What makes the tiny snail shell so beautiful? Why does that shape occur in nature over and over again--in rushing rivers, in a flower bud, even inside your ear? With simplicity and grace, Joyce Sidman's poetry paired with Beth Krommes's scratchboard illustrations not only reveal the many spirals in nature--from fiddleheads to elephant tusks, from crashing waves to spiraling galaxies--but also celebrate the beauty and usefulness of this fascinating shape.
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by
Publication Date: 2017-03-14
From Tammy Magathan: "I absolutely loved the style of writing and imagery."
The 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Honoree's New York Times best-selling ode to poets who have sparked a sense of wonder. Out of gratitude for the poet's art form, Newbery Award-winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors' hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.
Everything Comes Next by
Publication Date: 2020-09-29
From Elizabeth Messina: "Naomi Shihab Nye is the Poetry's Foundation's Young People's Poet Laureate. Her poems are beautiful, whimsical, and thought provoking. The introduction to the book states that Naomi has a way of noticing things that are overlooked. That is the best way to describe her poetry. Several times, I thought to myself, what a wonderful way to express that moment, experience, or idea. I never thought of it that way! Her poems are very accessible to all ages and rich in metaphors. I think it would be interesting to hear different generations explain what they get from her poetry. Her poems touch on all manner of topics from quiet, childhood moments and school to immigration and war. It's a worthwhile collection to have. They are perfect for poems to get tucked in your pocket and carry with you."
Beloved and acclaimed poet Naomi Shihab Nye is the current Young People's Poet Laureate, serving until August 2021. This celebratory book collects in one volume her most popular and accessible poems from the past forty years. Featuring new, never-before-published poems, an introduction by bestselling poet and author Edward Hirsch, as well as a foreword and writing tips by the poet, and stunning artwork by bestselling artist Rafael López, Everything Comes Next is essential for poetry readers, classroom teachers, and library collections. Everything Comes Next is a treasure chest of Naomi Shihab Nye's most beloved poems. From favorites such as "Famous" and "A Valentine for Ernest Mann," to the widely shared "Kindness" and "Gate A-4," this collection celebrates her term as Young People's Poet Laureate. The book is an introduction to the poet's work for new readers as well as a comprehensive edition for classroom and family sharing. Writing prompts and tips by the award-winning poet make this an outstanding choice for aspiring poets of all ages.
Feel the Beat: Dance Poems That Zing from Salsa to Swing by
Publication Date: 2017-03-07
Recommended by Tammy Magathan.
An irresistible book of poems about dancing that mimic the rhythms of social dances from cha-cha to two-step, by the acclaimed author of Mirror Mirror. Marilyn Singer has crafted a vibrant collection of poems celebrating all forms of social dance from samba and salsa to tango and hip-hop. The rhythm of each poem mimics the beat of the dances' steps. Together with Kristi Valiant's dynamic illustrations, the poems create a window to all the ways dance enters our lives and exists throughout many cultures. This ingenious collection will inspire readers to get up and move!
Wet Cement by
Publication Date: 2016-03-08
Recommended by Elizabeth Messina.
Who says words need to be concrete? This collection shapes poems in surprising and delightful ways. Concrete poetry is a perennially popular poetic form because they are fun to look at. But by using the arrangement of the words on the page to convey the meaning of the poem, concrete or shape poems are also easy to write! From the author of the incredibly inventiveLemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word comes another clever collection that shows kids how to look at words and poetry in a whole new way.
Diverse reads recommendations from middle school librarians:
Publication Date: 2019-09-24
Recommeded by Stephanie Schnabel, Lewis and Clark Middle School
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2019! "Gripping and timely." --People "The YA debut we're most excited for this year." --Entertainment Weekly "A book that knocks you off your feet while dropping the kind of knowledge that'll keep you down for the count. Prepare to BE slain." --Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out Ready Player One meets The Hate U Give in this dynamite debut novel that follows a fierce teen game developer as she battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther-inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for Black gamers. By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the "downfall of the Black man." But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for "anti-white discrimination." Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by
Publication Date: 2020-01-14
Recommended by Nicole Crawford, King Science and Technology Magnet
From debut author Janae Marks comes a captivating story full of heart, as one courageous girl questions assumptions, searches for the truth, and does what she believes is right--even in the face of great opposition. Zoe Washington isn't sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she's never met, hadn't heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who's been in prison for a terrible crime? A crime he says he never committed. Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe's worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she's worthy of auditioning for Food Network's Kids Bake Challenge. But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus's conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn't know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies. "When Marcus tells Zoe he is innocent, and her grandmother agrees, Zoe begins to learn about inequality in the criminal justice system, and she sets out to find the alibi witness who can prove his innocence." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List")
Look Both Ways by
Publication Date: 2019-10-08
Recommended by Lisa Raszler, Bryan Middle School and Doug Keel, Marrs Middle School
From National Book Award finalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds comes a novel told in ten blocks, showing all the different directions kids' walks home can take. This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen. They were all too busy-- Talking about boogers. Stealing pocket change. Skateboarding. Wiping out. Braving up. Executing complicated handshakes. Planning an escape. Making jokes. Lotioning up. Finding comfort. But mostly, too busy walking home. Jason Reynolds conjures ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings, and brilliantly weaves them into one wickedly funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life.
Class Act by
Publication Date: 2020-10-06
Recommeded by Stephanie Schnabel, Lewis and Clark Middle School
New York Times bestselling author Jerry Craft returns with a companion book to New Kid, winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize. This time, it's Jordan's friend Drew who takes center stage in another laugh-out-loud funny, powerful, and important story about being one of the few kids of color in a prestigious private school. Eighth grader Drew Ellis is no stranger to the saying "You have to work twice as hard to be just as good." His grandmother has reminded him his entire life. But what if he works ten times as hard and still isn't afforded the same opportunities that his privileged classmates at the Riverdale Academy Day School take for granted? To make matters worse, Drew begins to feel as if his good friend Liam might be one of those privileged kids. He wants to pretend like everything is fine, but it's hard not to withdraw, and even their mutual friend Jordan doesn't know how to keep the group together. As the pressures mount, will Drew find a way to bridge the divide so he and his friends can truly accept each other? And most important, will he finally be able to accept himself? New Kid, the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal, is now joined by Jerry Craft's powerful Class Act.
New Kid by
Publication Date: 2019-02-05
Recommeded by Stephanie Schnabel, Lewis and Clark Middle School
Winner of the Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Author Award, and Kirkus Prize for Young Readers' Literature! Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang, New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft. Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds--and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself? This middle grade graphic novel is an excellent choice for tween readers, including for summer reading. New Kid is a selection of the Schomburg Center's Black Liberation Reading List. Plus don't miss Jerry Craft's Class Act!
Dear Justyce by
Publication Date: 2020-09-29
Recommeded by Lisa Raszler, Bryan Middle School and Stephanie Schnabel, Lewis and Clark Middle School
The stunning sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Martin. Incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American juvenile justice system. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Angie Thomas. In the highly anticipated sequel to her New York Times bestseller, Nic Stone delivers an unflinching look into the flawed practices and silenced voices in the American juvenile justice system. Vernell LaQuan Banks and Justyce McAllister grew up a block apart in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhood of Wynwood Heights. Years later, though, Justyce walks the illustrious halls of Yale University . . . and Quan sits behind bars at the Fulton Regional Youth Detention Center. Through a series of flashbacks, vignettes, and letters to Justyce--the protagonist of Dear Martin--Quan's story takes form. Troubles at home and misunderstandings at school give rise to police encounters and tough decisions. But then there's a dead cop and a weapon with Quan's prints on it. What leads a bright kid down a road to a murder charge? Not even Quan is sure. "A powerful, raw, must-read told through the lens of a Black boy ensnared by our broken criminal justice system." -Kirkus, Starred Review
Akata Witch by
Publication Date: 2011-04-14
Recommended by Doug Keel, Marrs Middle School
Affectionately dubbed "the Nigerian Harry Potter," Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one's place in the world. Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing--she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too? Ursula K. Le Guin and John Green are Nnedi Okorafor fans. As soon as you start reading Akata Witch, you will be, too!
Some Places More Than Others by
Publication Date: 2019-09-03
Recommended by Nicole Crawford, King Science and Technology Magnet and Lisa Raszler, Bryan Middle School
From New York Times bestselling and multi award-winning author Renee Watson comes a heartwarming and inspiring middle grade novel about finding deep roots and exploring the past, the present, and the places that make us who we are. 'Some of the places I am still getting to know, some of these places I have known all my life. All of these places made me, are making me.' All Amara wants for her birthday is to visit her father's family in New York City Harlem. She can't wait to finally meet her Grandpa Earl and cousins in person, and to stay in the brownstone where her father grew up. Maybe this will help her understand her family and herself in a new way. But New York City is not exactly what Amara thought it would be. It's noisy, crowded, confusing, and her cousins can be mean. Plus her father is too busy working to spend time with her and too angry to fix his relationship with Grandpa Earl. Amara can't help wondering, even if she does discover more about where she came from, will it help her know where she belongs?
Ghost Boys by
Publication Date: 2019-09-10
Recommended by Kellie Mihovk, Beveridge Middle School and Doug Keel, Marrs Middle School
A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes. Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better. Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that's been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing. Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father's actions. Once again Jewell Parker Rhodes deftly weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today's world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.
Long Way Down by
Publication Date: 2020-10-13
Recommended by Caroline Poston, Morton Middle School
Jason Reynolds's Newbery Honor, Printz Honor, and Coretta Scott King Honor-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling novel Long Way Down is now a gripping, galvanizing graphic novel, with haunting artwork by Danica Novgorodoff. Will's older brother, Shawn, has been shot. Dead. Will feels a sadness so great, he can't explain it. But in his neighborhood, there are THE RULES: No. 1: Crying. Don't. No matter what. No. 2: Snitching Don't. No matter what. No. 3: Revenge Do. No matter what. But bullets miss. You can get the wrong guy. And there's always someone else who knows to follow the rules...
We Are Not Free by
Publication Date: 2020-09-01
Recommended by Jennifer Kawecki, School Librarian, Omaha Central High School. "We Are Not Free, is told from the perspectives of fourteen friends who are placed in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Because of the many narrators and the different modes of writing (letters, poems, first-person narration, etc.) I became immersed the collective fears, disbelief, tensions, and reactions to racism and war the characters felt. The stories are heartbreaking, beautiful, and powerful. This is a valuable read."
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST From New York Times best-selling and acclaimed author Traci Chee comes "We Are Not Free," the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II. Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco. Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted. Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps. In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by
Publication Date: 2020-03-10
Recommended by Angie Ralph, School Librarian, Benson HIgh School. "This conversational look at the history of slavery and the impact it has on our current society is excellent. It is easier to digest and understand than its root, Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram Kendi."
A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism--and antiracism--in America This is NOT a history book. This is a book about the here and now. A book to help us better understand why we are where we are. A book about race. The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited. Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas--and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives. Download the free educator guide here: https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Stamped-Educator-Guide.pdf
Patron Saints of Nothing by
Publication Date: 2019-06-18
Recommended by Colleen Nieland, School Librarian, Omaha Northwest High School. "This book explores a teen's struggle to come to terms with his dual identity (American and Filipino). It addresses turmoil within families, immigration, belief systems, the war on drugs in the Phillipines, but it also shows the redeeming power of love and the importance of understanding through varying perspectives."
A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin's murder. Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story. Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth -- and the part he played in it. As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.
The Hate U Give by
Publication Date: 2017-02-28
Recommended by Cory McCune, School Librarian, Burke High School. "I really enjoyed this book as it gave me a new perspective from which to think about things that are happening in our world today. It put me in the shoes of a character who is probably very similar to many of our students and allowed me to understand where she was coming from."
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does--or does not--say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. And don't miss On the Come Up, Angie Thomas's powerful follow-up to The Hate U Give.
Punching the Air by
Publication Date: 2020-09-01
Recommended by Colleen Nieland, School Librarian, Omaha Northwest High School. "A story about a 16-year old boy incarcerated for throwing a punch. This book provides a glimpse into our criminal justice system and makes you think even more of the racial injustices that some of our students face on the daily."
The story that I thought was my life didn't start on the day I was born. Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he's seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. "Boys just being boys" turns out to be true only when those boys are white." The story that I think will be my life starts today Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal's bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn't commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.
And a bonus picture book from the wonderful Deb Nichols:
The World Needs More Purple People by
Publication Date: 2020-06-02
Recommended by Deb Nichols, School Librarian, Blackburn High School and Teen Literacy Center. "Purple is a magic color, made when red and blue work together!" Now you might think this a political book but it is not (easily could be though). This is a guide for how to be the best YOU that anyone can be. Listening, laughing, working together to fix what needs fixing. In just 5 easy steps! Come on you can be a PURPLE Person too!
What is a purple person? Great question. I mean, really great! Because purple people always ask really great questions. They bring their family, friends, and communities together, and they speak up for what's right. They are kind and hardworking, and they love to laugh (especially at Grandpa's funny noises)! A purple person is an everyday superhero! How do you become one? That's the fun part! Penny Purple will lead you through the steps. Get ready to be silly, exercise your curiosity, use your voice, and be inspired. Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart have created a hilarious and joyous read-aloud that offers a wonderful message about embracing the things that bring us together as humans. This book will inspire a whole generation to paint the world purple!
Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).
Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).