Shalom Readers (for children)
The following titles have been carefully selected for children by educational professionals. New titles are added every year. Titles in bold are the new books added for this year. Grade categories are only a guide. Children may choose from any level according to their interests and abilities. Books noted with an * are out of print and unavailable as a reward choice. They may, however, be checked out from the Central Plains Shalom Readers Library at our office in Freeman if they are not available in your church, school or public libraries. Please note that a $15.00 fee will be charged for each book that is borrowed from the SR library and not returned. This fee will be used to purchase replacement books.
Click here to download the 2021-22 new children's book list.
Click here to download the 2021-22 children's book list (books from 2000-2021)
Click here to download the children's list of "oldies but goodies" (out of print and pre-2000 books)
These books are still good and available in used bookstores, libraries or personal collections.
Click here to download the complete children's book list.
Books which are out of print (*) can often be found online.
Shalom Readers (for adults)
Books will be added to the adult Shalom Readers list each month.
Click here to view the adult book list.
Please note: Central Plains Mennonite Conference does not wholly endorse the contents of each recommended Shalom Readers book, but offers these books as a starting point for deeper thought, conversation and discernment.
Shalom Readers Children's Book List (2000-2021)
Preschool thru Grade 2
A Crocodile for Aminata: A Story from Burkina Faso by Carol Shenk Bornman. Trafford Publishing, 2004. The people in Animata’s village work together to build a dam and eliminate their long walks to get fresh water.
Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier. Atheneum, c2001. A young girl’s dream of attending school in her small Ugandan village is fulfilled after her family is given an income-producing goat. Based on a true story about the work of Heifer Project.
Best of All by Max Lucado. Illustrated by Sergio Martinez. Crossway Books Good News Publishers 2003. In a village where everyone has been carved from wood, an uppity Miss Bess Stovall claims her maple “ancestree” is
superior until the day a shunned willow fellow saves her life.
Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse. Illustrated by Wendy Watson. Scholastic, Inc. c2004. The cats in Krasinski Square once belonged to someone…And so did a young girl, whose family has been destroyed by war. Even as she and her sister struggle to survive amid the war’s chaos, they risk their lives on a plan to help those still trapped behind Warsaw’s infamous Ghetto wall.
Cheyenne Again by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Irving Toddy c. 1995, 2002 by HMH Books for Young Readers. A boy named Young Bull is taken from his parents and sent to boarding school, where he struggles to hold on to his Cheyenne heritage even as he must learn the white man’s ways.
Cookies:bite-size life lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Jane Dyer. HarperCollins, 2006. Cookies
is a new kind of dictionary, one that defines mysteries such as “fair” and “unfair” and what it really means to “cooperate.”
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown, Little Brown & Company, c2009. Liam can be spotted on each page as he teaches himself to garden and his city becomes more vibrantly colorful.
Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners by Laurie Keller. Henry Holt, 2007. Mr. Rabbit worries about getting along with his new neighbors, who are otters, until he is reminded of the Golden Rule.
Each Kindness-by Jacqueline Woodson, ill. by E. B. Lewis, Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012. Chloe realizes she missed out on the opportunity for a friendship with new girl Maya.
Effie’s Image by N. L. Sharp; ill. by Dorothia Rohner. Prairieland Press, 2005. Through the love and acceptance of children, an elderly woman finds new meaning for her life.
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson. Chronicle Books, 2000. Hoping that the enemy pie which his father makes will help him get rid of his enemy, a young boy finds that instead it helps him make a new friend.
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Williams. Eerdmans, c2007. Two young Afghani girls living in a refugee camp in Pakistan share a precious pair of sandals brought by relief workers.
Good Rosie by Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by Harry Bliss. Candlewick, c2018. Rosie learns to make friends in the comic book panels of this book.
Henry and the Kite Dragon by Bruce Edward Hall; illustrated by William Low. Philomel Books, 2004. In a story based on real events in New York’s Chinatown in the 1920's, children from Little Italy keep demolishing Grandfather Chin’s magnificent kites. After Henry Chu and his friends discover why, the children negotiate a satisfying resolution for their problem.
How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer. Gallup Press, 2009. A little boy named Felix learns that being kind to others not only helps them, but him as well.
If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson c. 2015 Balzer & Bray. With spare text and breathtaking oil paintings, this story demonstrates not only the process of planting and growing for young children but also how a seed of kindness can bear sweet fruit.
In the Trunk of Grandma’s Car: the Story of Edna Ruth Byler and Ten Thousand Villages by Donna J. Stoltzfus. Masthof Press, 2014. (Available at Mastof Press.com) The true story of Edna Ruth Byler and her trip to Puerto Rico in 1946, where she met women who struggled to find employment so they could feed their families. Her humble efforts to help the women by selling their hand-crafted items grew to become Ten Thousand Villages, a fair-trade company that markets hand crafted items from all around the world.
Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig; illustrated by Patrice Barton. Random House Children’s Books, c.2013. Brian Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoet. Schwartz & Wade c 2018. A single act of kindness leads to a community of upstanders in this wordless picture book.
The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Wallace. M. Cavendish Children, c2006. Minna does a lot of thinking about her project to do something kind, make a picture about what she did, and share it with her classmates, but finally comes up with an idea that spreads to the whole school.
Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi. Illustrated by Lea Lyon. Tilbury House Publishers, 2015. Lailah is excited to finally be old enough to fast for Ramadan but worried that her new classmates in her new school and new country won’t understand why she is doing it.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena; illustrated by Christian Robinson. Putman’s c2015. A young boy, CJ, rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things.
Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and the Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. Dial, 2009. Tells the story of Dr. Greg Mortenson's promise to build a school in a remote Himalayan village after the villagers saved his life.
Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt; illustrated by Vin Vogel. Flashlight Press, 2014. Maddi’s fridge is almost empty, while Sophia’s is full of food. How can Sophia help her friend Maddi without breaking her promise not to tell anyone?
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no Combina by Monica Brown; illustrated by Sara Palacius. Lee and Low, 2011. Marisol McDonald, a biracial, nonconformist, soccer-playing pirate-princess with brown skin and red hair, celebrates her uniqueness.
Migrant by Maxine Trottier. Groundwood Books, c2011. Anna belongs to a group of Mennonites who moved to Mexico in the 1920s, but still migrate to Canada annually to labor in the fields. She wonders what it would be like to be a tree with deep roots as opposed to a feather in the wind.
On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole. Greenwillow Books, 2007. Upon moving to a new house, a young girl and her parents encourage wildflowers to grow and birds and animals to stay in their yard, which soon has the whole suburban street living up to its name.
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting. Clarion, 2006. What does it feel like to be different and alone? We learn that each person has something unique to contribute to the good of all.
One Smile by Cynthia McKinley; illustrated by Mary Gregg Byrne. Illumination 2002. When a child smiles at a stranger, she sets off a chain of kindness that eventually comes full circle.
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson. GP Putnam's Sons, 2001. Two girls are forbidden to play with each other on the other side of the fence. They become friends anyway while sitting on the fence and talking.
A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno. Purple House Press, 2002. (Reissue from 1981) A child’s delight in a new pair of shoes is the same all over the world, whether the shoes are patent leather sandals, deerskin moccasins, or wooden clogs.
The Peace Book by Todd Parr. Little Brown, 2004. Each page shows a different definition of peace.
Peace Week in Miss Fox’s Class by Eileen Spinelli. Albert Whitman & Company, 2009. For “Peace Week”, the animals in Miss Fox’s class find ways to be peaceful instead of squabbling with each other.
Say Something by Peggy Moss; ill. by Lea Lyon. Tilbury House, 2004. A child who never says anything when other children are being teased or bullied finds herself in their position one day when jokes are made at her expense and no one speaks up.
Say Something-by Peter H. Reynolds, Orchard Books, 2019. Encourages children (people) to find their voices and use them to make the world a better place.
The Seagoing Cowboy by Peggy Reiff Miller, Illustrated by Claire Ewart. Brethren Press, 2016. Tells the story of young men who cared for farm animals as they traveled to Europe where the animals were then given to European families after the war.
Sensing Peace-by Suzana E. Yoder, ill. by Rachel Hoffman-Bayles, Herald Press, 2010. Children are encouraged to see what peace looks, sounds, feels, smells, and tastes like in their everyday moments.
Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad by James Rumford. Roaring Book Press, 2008. As bombs and missiles fall on Baghdad in 2003, a young boy uses the art of calligraphy to distance himself from the horror of war.
The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler. Chicago Children’s Museum, 2005. A rhyming verse that looks at human diversity by focusing on skin.
Snow in Jerusalem by Deborah da Costa. Albert Whitman & Company 2001. Although they live in different quarters in Jerusalem, a Jewish boy and a Muslim boy are surprised to discover they have been caring for the same stray cat.
This Little Light of Mine ill. by E. B. Lewis. Simon and Schuster, 2005. An illustrated version of the traditional song about letting one's light shine. Illustrations show how one boy becomes a shining light in his own neighborhood.
Too Many Carrots by Katy Hudson. Capstone c2016. Rabbit has lots of carrots, and he attempts to take them with him when he moves in with friends – until he realizes that the best thing to do is share his carrots with all his friends.
Walk in Peace by Ingrid Hess. Herald Press, 2009. This book depicts children from all over the world engaged in various activities, each ending with a prayer for God’s protection and a reminder to walk in peace.
Wake Up, Bertha Bear by Chad Mason. Down East Books, 2006. The animals of the forest hatch a plan to help a lost cub who has become separated from his mother.
Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter. Harcourt, 2008. Tells the story of Wangari Maathai, a Nobel Prize-winning environmentalist who, shocked to see entire forests being cut down in her native country of Kenya, decides to take action, beginning with the planting of nine seedlings in her own backyard.
We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow; illustrated by Bob Staake. Golden Books, 2010. Two young families in two very different parts of the world plant a tree. As the trees flourish, so do the families...while trees all over the world help clean the air, enrich the soil, and give fruit and shade.
We Share One World by Jane Hoffelt; illustrated by Marty Husted. Illumination 2006. A young boy dreams of world peace as he realizes that people everywhere are really the same.
What Does It Mean To Be Global by Rana DiOrio; illustrated by Chris Hill. Source Books Little Pickle Press c. 2009 - Can you say "hello" in nine languages? You can! Join children from around the world as they play, sing, and travel, trying all types of food and experiencing other traditions. Living respectfully and peacefully with one another, they celebrate diversity, see how their actions affect another person's experience, and come to understand that being global means being a citizen of the world.
What Does Peace Feel Like? by V. Radunsky. Atheneum, 2004. Portrays what peace looks, sounds, tastes, smells, and feels like to children around the world.
When Charlie Met Emma by Amy Webb. Illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard. Beaming Books, 2019. Charlie and Emma, a girl in a wheelchair, meet at the playground and discover differences are great.
When God Made You-by Matthew Paul Turner, ill. by David Catrow, Convergent Books, 2017. “God was thinking of you long before your debut.”
The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren, illustrator Fabio Santomauro, c. 2014 by Kar-Ben Publishing. The dramatic story of Anett and her parents living in a small Danish fishing village who, during the Holocaust, shelter a Jewish family in their cellar until they can be ferried to safety in Sweden.
Grade 3 thru 5
Abby Takes a Stand by Patricia McKissack; ill. by Gordan C. James. Viking, 2005. A grandmother recalls for her grandchildren what happened in 1960 in Nashville, Tennessee, when at the age of ten she passed out flyers while her cousin and other adults held peaceful protests to end segregation.
Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood; illustrated by Sally Wern Comport. Simon & Shuster Books for Young Readers, c2016. The true story of an orchestra made up of children who play instruments made of recycled trash.
Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea. Delacorte Press, 2010. Seven fifth-graders at Snow Hill School in Connecticut relate how their lives are changed for the better by “rookie teacher” Mr. Terupt.
The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods. Penguin, c2015. A biracial girl finally gets to meet the African American side of her family.
Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan by Mary Williams. Lee and Low Books, Inc. 2005. A young boy unites with thousands of other orphaned boys to walk to safety to a refugee camp in another country after war destroys their villages in southern Sudan. Based on actual events.
The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco. Philomel, 2000. During the Nazi occupation of France, a French girl discovers that a young Jewish girl has been hiding in her cellar.
Dad, Jackie, and Me by Myron Uhlberg. Peachtree, 2005. In Brooklyn, New York, in 1947, a boy learns about discrimination and tolerance as he and his deaf father share their enthusiasm over baseball and the Dodgers' first baseman, Jackie Robinson.
El Deafo by Cece Bell. Harry N. Abrams, c2014. In this graphic novel, the author recounts her experiences with hearing loss at a young age, including a bulky hearing aid, learning how to lip read, and determining her “superpower.”
Erika’s Story-by Ruth Vander Zee, ill. by Roberto Innocenti, Creative Editions, 2003. A Jewish woman tells how as an infant, her mother spared her from the horrors of the holocaust.
Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home by Michelle Mulder. Orca Book Publishers c2014 - In the developed world, if you want a drink of water you just turn on a tap or open a bottle. But for millions of families worldwide, finding clean water is a daily challenge, and kids are often the ones responsible for carrying water to their homes. Every Last Drop looks at why the world’s water resources are at risk and how communities around the world are finding innovative ways to quench their thirst and water their crops. Maybe you’re not ready to drink fog, as they do in Chile, or use water made from treated sewage, but you can get a low-flush toilet, plant a tree, protect a wetland or just take shorter showers. Every last drop counts!
Extra Credit by Andrew Clements. Atheneum, c2009. Three young middle-school-age children, Abby, Amira, and Sadeed, exchange letters back and forth between the prairies of Illinois and the mountains of Afghanistan and begin to bridge a gap across cultural and religious divides.
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy; illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. Peachtree, 2009. Presents an illustrated tale of a gift of fourteen cows given by the Masai people of Kenya to the U.S. as a gesture of comfort and friendship in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Full Cicada Moon by Mailyn Hilton. Puffin Books, 2017. In 1969 females were discouraged from an interest in science. That, and Mimi’s mixed race, make it difficult for her to find her place in mostly white Vermont in this novel in verse.
The Goat Lady by Jane Bregoli. Tilbury House, 2004. Tells the story of an elderly French‑Canadian woman who lived in Massachusetts and raised goats to provide milk for people who needed it. Heifer Project benefited from her generosity.
Gleam and Glow by Eve Bunting. Harcourt Press, 2001. When Viktor's family has to flee their home, he puts his pet goldfish in their backyard pond hoping they will somehow survive until he can return to care for them.
Goin' Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack: Atheneum 2001. A young girl visits a special place where all are welcome, regardless of their skin color.
If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World's People by David J. Smith; illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong. Kids Can Press, 2002. Imagine the world as a village of just 100 people. This book tells us who we are, where we live, what languages we speak, and what religions we practice.
The Jacket by Andrew Clements. Simon and Schuster, 2002. Sixth‑grader Phil comes to an awareness of his own racial prejudice after he sees Daniel, an African‑American boy, wearing his brother's one‑of‑a‑kind jacket and leaps to the conclusion that Daniel has stolen the coat.
Jake Drake, Bully Buster by Andrew Clements; illustrated by Amanda Harvey. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2001. Jake faces the challenge of cooperating with the school bully on a class project.
The Kid Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews. Thomas Nelson, c2014. Based on true stories, this book shows how ordinary kids can grow up and change the world.
The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies. Houghton Mifflin, 2007. When a brother and sister set up competing lemonade stands, they see how arguments can escalate beyond anyone’s intent.
The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going. Putnam’s, c2005. Gabriel, a white boy who is being bullied, and Frita, an African-American girl facing prejudice, decide to overcome their many fears together as they enter fifth grade in Georgia in 1976.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. Clarion, 2010. When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan.
Making Waves, Fifty Stories About Sharing Love and Changing the World-by Judy Clemons, ill. by David Leonard. Herald Press, 2020. This book is a showcase of 50 heroes who have stood up for what’s right to make the world a better place.
The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore. Lee & Low, 2011. With alternating verse and prose passages, this book invites readers to discover how Dr. Gordon Sato’s mangrove tree-planting project transformed an impoverished village into a self-sufficient community.
Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport. Jump Sun, 2001. Provides information about King and his crusade for civil rights, as well as a sample of his own powerful words.
Mississippi Morning-by Ruth Vander Zee, ill. by Floyd Cooper, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, reprint 2017. In the midst of the great depression, James William has a hard time grasping the harsh reality of the Klan and their hanging tree, until an unexpected encounter brings the issue even closer to home.
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. Philomel, 2010. Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger’s syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.
Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Polacco. Philomel, 2001. When Mr. Lincoln, the coolest principal in the whole world, discovers that Eugene the school bully knows a lot about birds, he uses this interest to help Eugene overcome his intolerance.
Night Boat to Freedom by Margot Theis Raven. Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. Farrar Straus Giroux Publisher, 2006. Twelve year old Christmas John rows escaping slaves across the river from Kentucky to Ohio, and he dreams of the day he and Granny can also make the trip.
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Simon and Schuster, 2010. Considered by many to be mentally challenged, a brilliant young girl with cerebral palsy discovers a technological device that allows her to speak for the first time in her life. At last she has a voice, but not everyone is ready to hear it.
Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson. Putnam's, 2009. When war directly affects the family, 12-year-old Lonnie ("Locomotion") begins to hope and pray for peace and to grapple with its meaning.
Pax-by Sara Pennypacker, ill. by Jon Klassen, Balzer + Bray, 2019. Peter and Pax have been inseparable since Peter rescued Pax as a kit. Now Peter is forced to return Pax to the wild. What will happen to Pax and to Peter?
Playing War by Kathy Beckwith. Tilbury house, 2005. Four neighborhood boys enjoy dividing into soldiers and enemies to play war, but when Sameer, a new boy in the neighborhood tells of losing his family in a real war, they come to feel differently about the game.
The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau. Pfeifer‑Hamilton, 2000. A generous quiltmaker gives only to the poor, so how will the greedy king get one of her quilts? Through a change of heart, of course!
The Quiltmaker’s Journey by Jeff Brumbeau; ill. by Gail de Marcken. Orchard Books, 2004. Prequel to The Quiltmaker’s Gift. The quiltmaker grows up wealthy and sheltered, but radically changes her life after she discovers the poverty and need outside her town and finds happiness through giving.
Reign, Rain by Ann M Martin, Feiwel & Friends c2014 - Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She's thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose's rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose's “rules” and other things that make her different – not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father. When a storm hits their rural town, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her safe places to search.
Remember: Tthe Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison. Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Photographs from the 1950s bring to life the experiences and emotions of the African‑American students who were at the center of school integration. The author imagines the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the pictures to help us understand this time in history.
Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh. Harry N. Abrams, c2014. Years before the US Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez, an eight-year-old of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, played an instrumental role in a landmark 1946 California desegregation case.
Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Brian Pinkney. Little Brown, 2009. Tells the story of four young men who followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of peaceful protest and dared to sit at the “whites only” Woolworths lunch counter.
Swords to Plowshares: The Creation of John P. Klassen’s MCC Medallion by Lisa Weaver: designed by Allison King; illustrated by Amanda Huston. Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center of Bluffton, Ohio, 2014. (Available at http://bluffton.edu/lionlamb). This book shares the true story of Klassen gathering bullets scattered throughout his village in the Ukraine in the 1920’s and transforming them into a work of art, told through the eyes of young Isaak. Through his artistic gift, Klassen shares a message of transformation: bullets to bread, violence to peace, fear to courage, and despair to hope.
Sylvia & Aki by Winifred Conkling. Tricycle Press 2011. At the start of World War II, Japanese-American third-grader Aki and her family are sent to an internment camp in Poston, Arizona, while Mexican-American third-grader Sylvia’s family leases their Orange County, California, farm and begins a fight to stop school segregation.
Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins and Jamie Hogan. Charlesbridge, c2015. Neel races to find the escaped tiger cub before the poachers.
Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting, illustrator Ronald Himler c. 1996, 2000 HMH Books for Young Readers. Historical fiction. Marianne, heading west in the 1920s with fourteen other children on an Orphan Train, is sure her mother will show up at one of the stations along the way. Stop after stop goes by, and there's no sign of her mother in the crowds that come to look over the children. No one shows any interest in adopting shy, plain Marianne, either. Then the train pulls into its final stop, a town called Somewhere in Iowa, where her new life begins, and hope and faith sustain her.
Treasure Hunt: A Shenandoah Valley Mystery by Eunice Geil Smith. Herald Press, 2006. An old diary hidden in the cellar leads Maggie to learn more about her family’s actions in the Civil War and their decision to be peaceful Mennonites.
Troublemaker by Andrew Clements. Atheneum, 2011. When his older brother gets in serious trouble, sixth grader Clay decides to change his own mischief-making ways, but he cannot seem to shake his reputation as a troublemaker.
We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2008. The story of the Negro Leagues is the story of many players who persisted through incredible discrimination and hardships to play baseball.
Wish Tree by Katherine Applegate, illustrator Charles Santoso c. 2017 Feiwel Friends. Red, an oak tree who is many rings old, is the neighborhood "wishtree"—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. You might say Red has seen it all, until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.
A Wolf at the Gate by Mark Van Steenwyck; illustrated by Joel Hedstrom. Mennonite Worker, 2015. An imaginative retelling of the legend of St. Francis and the Wolf. Red Wolf hates humankind for destroying the forest, but an encounter with a humble beggar teaches her a better way to confront injustice.
The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney. Putnam's, 2004. Told from the point of view of Humphrey, the classroom pet hamster, this story could lead to a discussion of how we all make a contribution to learning if we see the needs of those around us. Humphrey's views underscore the importance of knowing the full story before making judgments, and his presence makes a positive difference in the lives of the people he meets.
The Yellow Star by Carmen Agra Deedy. Peachtree Publishers, 2000. The story of how King Christian of Denmark led his people in civil disobedience by wearing the yellow star so that the occupying Nazi army could not tell who was a Jew and who was not.
Grade 6 thru 8
After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick. Scholastic, 2010. Jeffrey has been cancer-free for five years, but he and his friend Tad still have to cope with the emotional and physical aftermath of childhood cancer.
Aleutian Sparrow by Karen Hesse. McElderry, 2005. An Aleutian Islander recounts her suffering during World War II in American internment camps designed to “protect” the population from the invading Japanese.
Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin. Simon and Shuster, 2009. Jason, a twelve-year-old autistic boy who wants to become a writer, relates what his life is like as he tries to make sense of his world.
Belle Teal by Ann M. Martin. Scholastic, 2001. A young white girl witnesses the integration of her public school in the early 1960's and realizes the importance of reaching out to others, even when it is difficult.
Blue Jasmine by Kashmira Sheth. Hyperion, 2004. When twelve-year-old Seema moves to Iowa City with her parents and younger sister, she leaves friends and family behind in her native India but gradually begins to feel at home in her new country.
Breaking Through by Francisco Jimenez. Houghton Mifflin, 2001. In this sequel to The Circuit, we learn about the prejudice and challenges a migrant family faces as they try to improve their lives and get an education.
Counting by 7’s-Holly Goldberg Sloan, Puffin Books, reprint 2014. Willow Chance is a 12 year old genius, with her own unique obsessions and quirks. She really only connected well with her parents but now that they have both died in a car accident, read this book to see how Willow copes with her grief, finds a new family and triumphs in this baffling world.
Darby by Jonathon Scott Fuqua. Candlewick Press, 2002. Darby stirs up strong emotions in her small South Carolina town when she writes a story for the local newspaper promoting racial equality.
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings, A Memoir by Margarita Engle. Atheneum, 2015. Margarita tells of growing up during a time of hostility between the two countries that are home and the cultures she loves.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. Scholastic, 2000. Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers.
Finding Anna Bee by Cindy Snider. Herald Press, c2007. Anna Bee and her new friends at Camp Amani Ya Juu discover a mysterious bridge to the past where their adventures teach them first-hand about Christian faith heroes - and about themselves, each other, and the way of peace.
Fish by L. S. Matthews. Delacorte, 2004. Like the guide who looks out for Tiger's family as he leads them to safety, Tiger, a young child, protects a fish rescued before the family flees a war-torn country.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Penguin Random House c2015 very time she lands in a new school, Ally is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of.
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. Delacorte, 2004. Sixteen-year-old Hattie Brooks, who inherits her uncle's homesteading claim in Montana in 1917 while the U. S. is at war, encounters anti-German bias that endangers her new friends.
House Arrest-by K. A. Holt, Chronicle Books, 2016. Timothy is a good kid who did a bad thing and now he’s under house arrest for a whole year. This novel in verse tells about his experiences with his sick younger brother, missing father, overwhelmed mother and how he tries to help and cope.
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick. Young Readers Edition. Little Brown 2014. At the age of fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price for her desire to be educated. Malala has become the global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin. Illustrated by Giovanni Rigano. Sourcebooks Young Readers, 2018. In this graphic novel Ebo travels alone from Ghana on a hazardous journey in an attempt to reunite with his brother and sister and find a better life in Europe.
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion, c2004. In 1911, Turner Buckminster hates his new home of Phippsburg, Maine. Things improve when he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from a nearby poor island community founded by former slaves, which the town fathers - and Turner’s - want to change into a tourist spot
A Mango-shaped Space by Wendy Mass. Little Brown, 2005. Mia lives with synesthesia, an unusual condition she keeps a secret until 8th grade. When her condition makes learning impossibly confusing, she must go to her parents and a doctor for help.
March Forward by Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine by Melba Pattillo Beals. Illustrated by Frank Morrison. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. Long before she was one of the Little Rock Nine, Melba had questions about the rules that kept African Americans separate and unequal from whites.
Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani, Puffin Books, c2019. Twelve year old Nisha writes letters to her deceased mother describing her life as a refugee in 1947 following India’s independence from Britain.
Nowhere Boy-by Katherine Marsh, Square Fish, reprint 2020. Ahmed is struggling alone in Brussels, Belgium as a refugee from Syria. He meets Max from Washington DC, who is in Brussels with his family but struggling in this new culture and school.
Off to War: Voices of Soldiers' Children by Deborah Ellis. Groundwood Books, 2008. A collection of essays in which the children of Canadian and American soldiers who have been sent to war in Iraq share their feelings on their fathers' experiences and the impact they have had on their family.
Out of the Dust by Karen Hess c. 1997, 2005 Scholastic Inc. When Billie Jo is just fourteen she must endure heart-wrenching ordeals, but the quiet strength she displays is as surprising as it is inspiring. Written in free verse, this award-winning story is set in the heart of the Great Depression and chronicles Oklahoma's staggering dust storms, and the environmental--and emotional--turmoil they leave in their path.
Plant a Seed of Peace by Rebecca Seiling. Herald Press, c2007. Forty-three illustrated stories of peacemakers from today and the past that tell of people whose lives point to something beyond themselves - a transforming faith in God.
Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park. Clarion, 2005. Julia, a Korean‑American, and her friend Patrick learn about tolerance, friendship, and patience while working together on a project about silkworms.
Radical Jesus: A Graphic History of Faith edited by Paul Buhle et. al. c. 2013 Herald Press. This is arguably the first modern effort to convey through comic art the meaning of Jesus and his social message, not just in his own time, but also in the Radical Reformation, recent centuries, and in our own time.
Refugee-by Alan Gratz, Scholastic Press, 2017. Josef is a Jewish boy trying to escape with his family from Nazi Germany in the 1930’s, Isabel is trying to escape from Cuba with her family in 1994, and Mahmoud is trying to escape from Syria with his family in 2015. Chapters alternate between the experiences of the three.
Rules by Cynthia Lord. Scholastic 2006. Frustrated by life with an autistic brother, Catherine longs for a normal existence, but her world is further complicated by a friendship with a young paraplegic.
The Shepherd’s Grand-daughter by Anne Laurel Carter. Groundwood Books, 2008. Amani, whose lifelong dream is to be a shepherd like her beloved grandfather, Seedo, is devastated to discover that the Israelis are going to build a settlement on the family homestead in Palestine. But while her uncle and brother prepare to take a militant stance, help comes from unexpected sources.
Silver People: Voices From the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle. Houghton Mifflin, c2014. Fourteen-year-old Mateo and other Caribbean islanders face discrimination, segregation, and harsh working conditions when American recruiters lure them to the Panamanian rain forest in 1906 to build the great canal.
Six Million Paper Clips: The Making Of A Children's Holocaust Memorial by Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand and Peter W. Schroeder. Kar-Ben Copies Ltd. c2004 describes the efforts of middle school students from the rural Tennessee town of Whitwell to create a Holocaust memorial, based on a collection of millions of paper clips intended to represent all of the victims exterminated by the Nazis.
So B. It by Sarah Weeks. Laura Geringer Books, 2004. After spending her life with her mentally disabled mother and being helped by their next-door neighbor’s loving attention, twelve-year-old Heidi sets out on a cross-country trip to find out who she is.
Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown. Shadow Mountain, c2018. Two new friends learn to trust each other and discover what matters most while dealing with their own challenges.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Scholastic c2000. A teen with a colorful personality, Stargirl, suddenly finds herself shunned because of her refusal to conform.
Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Little Brown, c 2013. In 1870, Reconstruction brings big changes to the Louisiana sugar plantation where a spunky girl named Sugar has always lived. Here is a story of unlikely friendships and how they can change our lives forever.
Thin Wood Walls by David Patneaude. Houghton Mifflin, 2004. When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Joe Hanada and his family face growing prejudice, eventually being torn away from their home and sent to a relocation camp in California, even as his older brother joins the U.S. Army to fight in the war
Threads by Ami Polonsky. Chicken House c2009. To Whom It May Concern: Please, we need help! The day twelve-year-old Clara finds a desperate note in a purse in Bellman's department store, she is still reeling from the death of her adopted sister, Lola. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, thirteen-year-old Yuming has lost hope that the note she stashed in the purse will ever be found. She may be stuck sewing in the pale pink factory outside of Beijing forever. Clara grows more and more convinced that she was meant to find Yuming's note. Lola would have wanted her to do something about it. But how can Clara talk her parents, who are also in mourning, into going on a trip to China? Finally, the time comes when Yuming weighs the options, measures the risk, and attempts a daring escape.
Three Cups of Tea: Young Reader's Edition by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Dial, 2009. Adapts for young readers Greg Mortenson's book in which he recounts the experiences he had while trying to help impoverished villages in Pakistan's Himalaya build schools for their children.
Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion, 2008. Fourteen-year-old Henry, wishing to honor his brother Franklin’s dying wish, sets out to hike Maine’s Mount Katahdin with his best friend and dog, but fate adds another companion – the Cambodian refugee accused of fatally injuring Franklin – and reveals troubles that predate the accident.
Under the Same Sky by Cynthia DeFelice. Farrar Straus & Girous, 2003. While trying to earn money, a teen‑aged boy becomes involved with the Mexicans who work on his family's farm. A thought provoking book on the role and rights of migrant workers in the U.S.
The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman. Clarion Books 2004. Tells the life story of singer Marian Anderson, describing her famous 1939 Lincoln Memorial performance.
White Rose by Kip. Versify, c2019. This is the true story of a young nonviolent resister to Nazis during World War II, told in poetry form.
With the Might of Angels: The Diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson Hadley, Virginia 1954 by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Scholastic, 2011. Dear America Series. In the year 1955 in the state of Virginia, twelve-year-old Dawnie Rae, a tomboy who excels at baseball and at her studies, becomes the first African American student to attend the all-white Prettyman Coburn school, turning her world upside down.
The Witness by Karen Hesse. Scholastic Press, 2001. In a series of poems, people in a small Vermont town tell their story of how the KKK came and went.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Knopf 2012. Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a middle school, which entails enduring the taunts and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.