5th and 6th Grade

Princess Princess Ever After – Katie O’Neil

A sweet and positive, award-winning fairytale in which two princesses meet and embark on an adventure to overcome their own personal obstacles.

The Crossover – Kwame Alexander

Combining beautiful prose with poetry that jumps off the page, this is the award-winning story of twin 13-year basketball players Jordan and Josh Bell. Using basketball as a metaphor for life, Alexander imparts life lessons to adolescents in a non threatening way that has readers reaching for his books.

The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum – Candace Fleming

Candace Fleming tells the incredible story of the man behind the Greatest Show on Earth, and his lasting legacy on American culture, with historical posters and photos augmented by Fenwick’s artwork.

Stargazing – Jen Wang

Stargazing is a heartwarming middle-grade graphic novel in the spirit of Real Friends and El Deafo, from New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Jen Wang.

Wang draws on her childhood to paint a deeply personal yet wholly relatable friendship story that’s at turns joyful, heart-wrenching, and full of hope.

Prairie Lotus – Linda Sue Park

Prairie Lotus is about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. Hanna, a half-Asian girl in a small town in America’s heartland, lives in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, and the townspeople’s prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story.

We Are Power: How Nonviolent Activism Changes the World – Todd Hasak-Lowy

We Are Power brings to light the incredible individuals who used nonviolent activism to change the world. Through key international movements as well as people such as Gandhi, Alice Paul, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and Václav Havel, this book discusses how nonviolent movements have succeeded in a variety of ways, in all sorts of places, and always in the face of overwhelming odds.

This Was Our Pact – Ryan Andrews

It’s the night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival, when the town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river. Legend has it that after drifting out of sight, they’ll soar off to the Milky Way and turn into brilliant stars. This year, Ben and his classmates are determined to find out where those lanterns really go. They’ve made a pact with two simple rules: No one turns for home. No one looks back.

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora – Pablo Cartaya

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is about identity: where we come from and the choices we make about who we want to become. As Arturo learns more about his Cuban American family’s past, he grows more confident of his own voice and becomes a key voice in his family and community’s discussion of how the neighborhood may change and grow.

Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon – Steve Sheinkin

Perfect for middle grade readers and history enthusiasts, New York Times bestselling author Steve Sheinkin presents the fascinating and frightening true story of the creation behind the most destructive force that birthed the arms race and the Cold War.

Pashmina – Nidhi Chanani

In this feminist graphic novel, a young woman searches for the truths of her past with the help of a long-lost aunt; Shakti, the Divine Mother Goddess; and a mysterious shawl.

What Lane? – Torrey Maldonado

Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn’t think it’s his lane, but he goes. As a mixed kid, he feels like he’s living in two worlds with different rules–and he’s been noticing that strangers treat him differently than his White friends. The author does a masterful job showing a young boy coming of age in a racially split world, trying to blaze a way to be his best self.

Brown Girl Dreaming – Jacqueline Woodson

The acclaimed author tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

When Stars Are Scattered – Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Heartbreak and hope exist together in this remarkable graphic novel about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.

Count Me In – Varsha Bajaj

Compassionate, humorous and relatablem this story celebrates resilience, the power of community, and even the benefits of social media during a time when hate crimes against the Indian Diaspora are on the rise. Karina’s message, that we are stronger together, easily resonates.

The Way Things Work Now – David Macaulay

Famously packed with information on the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi, this extraordinary and humorous book both guides readers through the fundamental principles of machines, and shows how the developments of the past are building the world of tomorrow.

All Summer Long – Hope Larson

That feeling of lazy freedom and inevitable change is captured in the story of 13-year-old Bina during her first summer break away from her best friend, Austin, who is off to soccer camp for a month.

Before the Ever After – Jacqueline Woodson

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone’s hero – a charming, talented pro football star. But lately his dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ’s mom explains it’s because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can’t remember it.

The Complete Story of Sadako SasakiSue DiCicco, Masahiro Sasaki

Sadako Sasaki, a young girl of 12, develops leukemia caused by exposure to the atom bomb dropped on her city of Hiroshima at the end of WWII. While in the hospital, Sadako learns to fold origami cranes and believes that folding the cranes might lead to the granting of a wish. A loving and compassionate child, Sadako’s life inspires her classmates to create a memorial in her honor, to remember all the children impacted by war.

The Witch Boy – Molly Ostertag

In 13-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted…and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

The Canyon’s Edge – Dusti Bowling

Hatchet meets Long Way Down in this heartfelt and gripping novel in verse about a young girl’s struggle for survival after a climbing trip with her father goes terribly wrong.

The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural – Patricia McKissack

With an extraordinary gift for suspense, McKissack brings us ten original spine-tingling tales inspired by African-American history and the mystery of that eerie half-hour before nightfall – the dark thirty.

Séance Tea Party – Reimena Yee

After watching her circle of friends seemingly fade away, Lora is determined to still have fun on her own, so when a tea party leads Lora to discovering Alexa, the ghost that haunts her house, they soon become best friends.  **series**

Closer to Nowhere – Ellen Hopkins

For the most part, Hannah’s life is just how she wants it, but when her cousin Cal moves in with her family, everything changes. Told in verse from the alternating perspectives of Hannah and Cal, this is a story of two cousins who are more alike than they realize and the family they both want to save.

The True West: Real Stories About Black Cowboys, Women Sharpshooters, Native American Rodeo Stars, Pioneering Vaqueros, Celebrity Showmen, And Unsung Heroes In The Wild West – Mifflin Lowe

Though many readers know about cowboys, they may not know that a lot of them were actually Black, Latinx or Native American, and many of them were also women. This book tells the true stories of unsung heroes and resets the notions of the Wild West.

New Kid – Jerry Craft

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.

More to the Story – Hena Khan

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes a new story inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic, Little Women, featuring four sisters from a modern American Muslim family living in Georgia.

Irena’s Children: A True Story of Courage (Young Readers Edition) – Tilar Mazzeo

Tilar Mazzeo tells the incredible story of this courageous and brave woman who risked her life to save innocent children from the Holocaust–a truly heroic tale of survival, resilience, and redemption.

Go With the Flow – Lily Williams, Karen Schneemann

Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha are fed up. Hazelton High never has enough tampons. Or pads. Or adults who will listen. Sick of an administration that puts football before female health, the girls confront a world that shrugs―or worse, squirms―at the thought of a menstruation revolution. They band together to make a change.

Roll With It – Jamie Sumner

Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. It surprises people because they see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: one day she’s going to be a professional baker. But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid—she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many, until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends.

The Port Chicago 50 – Steve Sheinkin

This is the true story of a massive explosion that killed hundreds of sailors at the segregated navy base in Port Chicago, California, during World War II. Sheinkin’s account looks deeply at the prejudice and racial injustice that are not often addressed in wartime histories.

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust – Loïc Dauvillier

In this gentle, poetic graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive. It ends on a tender note, with Dounia and her mother rediscovering each other as World War II ends, and a young girl in present-day France becoming closer to her grandmother who can finally tell her story.

Ghost Boys – Jewell Parker Rhodes

12-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. 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.

Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History – Kate Schatz

Writer Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl tell fresh, engaging, and inspiring tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing well researched and riveting biographies with powerful and expressive cut-paper portraits. Featuring an array of diverse figures from Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica), this visually arresting book is a compelling addition to history.

Snapdragon – Kat Leyh

Kat Leyh’s Snapdragon is a magical realist graphic novel about a young girl who befriends her town’s witch and discovers the strange magic within herself.

Maybe He Just Likes You – Barbara Dee

Dee explores the subject of #MeToo for the middle grade audience in this heart-wrenching—and ultimately uplifting—novel about experiencing harassment and unwanted attention from classmates.

It’s Trevor Noah: Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Adapted for Young Readers) – Trevor Noah

Noah shares his story of growing up in South Africa, with a Black South African mother and a White European father at a time when it was against the law for a mixed-race child like him to exist. But he did exist, and from the beginning, the often-misbehaved Trevor used his smarts and humor to navigate a harsh life under a racist government.

Lightfall: The Girl & The Galdurian – Tim Probert

For fans of Amulet and Star Wars. Bea and Cad, two unlikely friends get swept up in an epic quest to save their world from falling into eternal darkness.  **series**

From the Desk of Zoe Washington – Janae Marks

After receiving a letter from her incarcerated father, whom she’s never met, 12-year-old Zoe sets out to prove his innocence.

Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier – Jim Ottaviani

In this poignant graphic novel, Ottaviani and illustrator Maris Wicks capture the great humor and incredible drive of Mary Cleave, Valentina Tereshkova, and the first women in space.

Fake Blood – Whitney Gardner

It’s the beginning of the new school year and AJ feels like everyone is changing but him. He hasn’t grown or had any exciting summer adventures like his best friends have. He even has the same crush he’s harbored for years. So AJ decides to take matters into his own hands. But how could a girl like Nia Winters ever like plain vanilla AJ when she only has eyes for vampires? When AJ and Nia are paired up for a group project on Transylvania, it may be AJ’s chance to win over Nia’s affection by dressing up like the vamp of her dreams. And soon enough he’s got more of Nia’s attention than he bargained for when he learns she’s a slayer.

I Can Make This Promise – Christine Day

Inspired by her family’s history—Day tells the story of a girl who uncovers her family’s secrets—and finds her own Native American identity. All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers. Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her.

The Eagle Huntress: The True Story of the Girl Who Soared Beyond Expectations

In this compelling memoir, eagle hunter Aisholpan Nurgaiv’s story and fresh, sincere voice are not only inspiring but truly magnificent: with the support of her father, she captured and trained her own golden eagle and won the Ölgii eagle festival. She was the only girl to compete. Filled with stunning photographs, this is a striking tale of determination – of a girl who defied expectations and achieved what others declared impossible.

The Arrival – Shaun Tan

In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He’s leaving home to build a better future for his family. Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant’s experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. While the reader experiences the main character’s isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy.

The Best at It – Maulik Pancholy

The start of 7th grade is making Rahul Kapoor feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: find one thing you’re really good at, and become the BEST at it. Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?

The Sea Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas – María Garcia Esperón

Originally published in Mexico, this beautiful illustrated collection gathers stories from Argentina up to Alaska, retelling the stories from indigenous and Native cultures.

Dress Coded – Carrie Firestone

In this debut friendship story, an eighth grader starts a podcast to protest the unfair dress code enforcement at her middle school and sparks a rebellion.

Planet Earth Is Blue – Nicole Panteleakos

12-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. Nova and her big sister, Bridget share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together but Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home. But every day, she’s counting down to the launch, and to the moment when she’ll see Bridget again. Because Bridget said, “No matter what, I’ll be there. I promise.”

Free Lunch – Rex Ogle

Free Lunch is the story of Rex’s efforts to navigate his first semester of sixth grade—who to sit with, not being able to join the football team, Halloween in a handmade costume, classmates and a teacher who take one look at him and decide he’s trouble—all while wearing secondhand clothes and being hungry. Unsparing and realistic, this is a story of hardship threaded with hope and moments of grace. Rex’s voice is compelling and authentic in this true, timely, and essential work that illuminates the lived experience of poverty in America.