Fashion Rebels: Style Icons Who Changed the World Through Fashion by Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia (2016)

A celebration of women throughout history who had confidence in themselves and used style to make a difference.

Recommended grade level: 4 and up

Pages:  176 (for ISBN 9781582704876)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: informational, celebratory

Pace: fast

Topics: fashion, politics, celebrities, women’s rights

Themes: self-expression, confidence, being oneself

Summary: Throughout time, daring women have made fashion choices that have altered the course of history. From Marie Antoinette, who wore a hairstyle as large as her presence, to Coco Chanel, who imagined a world without rib crushing corsets and heavy gowns, to Katharine Hepburn, who walked around the studio in her underwear when studio executives refused to let her wear her then-scandalous jeans, these women were mavericks as well as rebellious icons. Continue reading

Booked by Kwame Alexander (2016)

bookedKwame’s novel-in-verse follows in the tradition of Newbery Award-winner The Crossover.

Recommended grade level: 4-8

Pages:   320 (for ISBN 9780544570986)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, verse, sports, diverse, reluctant readers, African-American protagonist

Tone/Style: cool, lyrical

Continue reading

Crash by Jerry Spinelli (1995)

Crash3A story told from the point of view of a total jerk.

Recommended grade level: 4-8

Pages: 176 (for ISBN 9780440238577)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, humor, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: simple, judgmental (at the beginning)

Pace: fast

Topics: bullying, jocks

Themes: identity, change, family

Summary: Crash Coogan, a seventh-grade football star, has been an aggressive person from the time he was very young; sometimes, he is too aggressive. Continue reading

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur (2009)

loveA touching story of grief and forgiveness.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 262 (for ISBN 9780385737746)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: hurt, hopeful

Pace: moderate

Topics: death of family members, parental abandonment, parent/child relationships, moving, grandmothers, new friends

Themes: grief, feeling unwanted, disappointment, choices, forgiveness

Summary: A beautifully written and deeply moving middle-grade novel with characters to cherish and a story that deals with tragedy and loss in a fresh way. Continue reading

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (2012)

one foThis story about a witty, sarcastic girl who struggles to open herself to love in a foster home is a favorite with upper elementary and middle school readers.

Recommended grade level: 5-8

Pages: 224 (for ISBN 9780399256158)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: snarky, longing

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: foster care, domestic abuse, relationships with foster families

Themes: betrayal by a family member, finding familial love, loss, belonging, forgiveness

Summary: In the wake of heart-breaking betrayal, Carley Connors is thrust into foster care and left on the steps of the Murphys, a happy, bustling family. Continue reading

The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry (2015)

worstThis comedy adventure will have kids cracking up. I booktalked this to 6th and 7th graders, to great success. (Make sure you mention the giant butt kite.)

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 224 (for ISBN 9781484708491)

Genre(s) and keywords: humor, diverse, adventure, reluctant readers, Latinx protagonist

Tone/Style: humorous, self-deprecating

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: field trips, Washington, D.C., terrorism, kidnapping, covert activities

Themes: loyalty to friends

Summary: In this hilarious novel, written in the voice of eighth-grader Wyatt Palmer, Dave Barry takes us on a class trip to Washington, DC. Continue reading