Symbols and Traditions: Books to Celebrate Ramadan and Understand Islamic Culture

The holy month of Ramadan begins at sundown Saturday, April 2, lasting until the evening of Monday, May 2 or Tuesday, May 3, depending on the sighting of the moon over Mecca. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until after dark. Ramadan has great spiritual significance in Islam and is a time for prayer, contemplating one’s blessings, and doing good deeds for others. The month culminates in Eid al-Fitr, a joyous feast to break the fast. The fiction and nonfiction books below will educate all young readers about the diversity of ways that Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan and broaden their understandings of the culture and traditions of Islam.

Ali, S. K. (ed.) and Aisha Saeed (ed.)
Illustrated by: Sara Alfageeh
Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices. 2020 (Middle Grade Fiction Anthology).
This collection of short stories showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid! Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas and simmering pistachio kheer, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. This anthology also includes a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.
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Faruqi, Reem
Illustrated by: Lea Lyon
Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story. 2015 (Picture Book).
Lailah is in a new school in a new country, thousands of miles from her old home, and missing her old friends. When Ramadan begins, she is excited that she is finally old enough to participate in the fasting but worried that her classmates won’t understand why she doesn’t join them in the lunchroom. Lailah solves her problem with help from the school librarian and her teacher and in doing so learns that she can make new friends who respect her beliefs. This gentle, moving story from Reem Faruqi comes to life in Lea Lyon’s vibrant illustrations. Lyon uses decorative arabesque borders on intermittent spreads to contrast the ordered patterns of Islamic observances with the unbounded rhythms of American school days.
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Jalali, Reza
Illustrated by: Anne Sibley O’Brien
Moon Watchers: Shirin’s Ramadan Miracle. 2010 (Picture Book).
Shirin and her dad, looking through the tall trees in their backyard in Maine, search for a glimpse of the new moon, the sign that the month of Ramadan has begun. Ramadan is a time when Muslims around the world pray, fast, and pay special attention to doing good deeds. Shirin is nine and thinks she should be able to fast like her older brother Ali, but her parents feel she is still too young to go without food and water all day. When Shirin catches Ali sneaking food after school, she wonders: Should she tattle or is this an opportunity for a good deed? Shirin feels left out when the others break their fasts to have their own meals after dark and in the early morning, before it is light again. But then her grandmother tells a story that shows her a way she can feel more a part of Ramadan and the traditions and closeness her family enjoys during this special month of the year. Her good deeds lead to a surprise for everyone!
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Khan, Ausma Zehanat
Ramadan: The Holy Month of Fasting. 2018 (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
Throughout the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day and break the fast together as a family each night. Ramadan provides the opportunity to focus on positive thoughts and actions. It is a time to become more grateful for the blessings people often take for granted and be reminded of the importance of helping others. Ramadan: The Holy Month of Fasting explores the richness and diversity of the Islamic tradition by focusing on an event of great spiritual significance and beauty in the lives of Muslims. Rich with personal stories and stunning photographs, Ramadan demystifies the traditions and emphasizes the importance of diversity in a world where Islamophobia is on the rise. This is part of the nonfiction Orca Origins series for middle grade readers.
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Khan, Hena
Illustrated by: Mehrdokht Amini
Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes. 2018 (Picture Book).
From a crescent moon to a square garden to an octagonal fountain, this breathtaking picture book celebrates the shapes and traditions of the Muslim world. Sure to inspire questions and observations about world religions and cultures, Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets is a simple and delightful book to read aloud in a classroom or at story hour.
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Khan, Hena
Illustrated by: Mehrdokht Amini
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors. 2012 (Picture Book).
Magnificently capturing the colorful world of Islam for the youngest readers, this vivid and informative picture book celebrates Islam’s beauty and traditions. From a red prayer rug to a blue hijab, everyday colors are given special meaning as young readers learn about clothing, food, and other important elements of Islamic culture, with a young Muslim girl as a guide.
Q. SE. K5272g and available online

Khan, Hena
Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel
Under My Hijab. 2019 (Picture Book).
Grandma’s hijab clasps under her chin. Auntie pins hers up with a whimsical brooch. Jenna puts a sun hat over hers when she hikes. Iman wears a sports hijab for tae kwon do. As a young girl observes the women in her life and how each covers her hair a different way, she dreams of the possibilities in her own future and how she might express her personality through her hijab. Under My Hijab provides a friendly introduction to hijabs for all readers and celebrates the many Muslim women and girls who choose to wear them.
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Manglik, Gauri and Sadaf Siddique
Muslims in Story: Expanding Multicultural Understanding through Children’s and Young Adult Literature. 2018 (Professional Development Book).
Islamophobia is a long-standing, deeply entrenched global issue. One of the key causes of Islamophobia is ignorance, often fueled by negative portrayals of Muslims in media and popular culture. Countering Islamophobia through stories is a timely and proactive approach to facilitating systemic change, by fostering friendships and empathy through literature about the diversity of Muslim experiences. Exposing children in their formative years to positive stories about Muslims can go a long way to creating a multicultural understanding and cementing ideas of respect and acceptance. Several chapters centering on themed book lists relating to Muslims or Islamic culture, complete with discussion starters and ideas for further topic engagement, are a helpful programming and collection development tool. This book will equip librarians or educators to share Muslim children’s books about various themes with all young patrons.
BP67.U6 M36 2018 [SSHEL Stacks]

Mir, Saira
Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel
Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time. 2019 (Biography Anthology).
Discover the true stories of nineteen unstoppable Muslim women of the twenty-first century who have risen above challenges, doubts, and sometimes outright hostility to blaze trails in a wide range of fields. Whether it was the culinary arts, fashion, sports, government, science, entertainment, education, or activism, these women never took “no” for an answer or allowed themselves to be silenced. Instead, they worked to rise above and not only achieve their dreams, but become influential leaders. Through short, information-rich biographies and vibrant illustrations, Muslim Girls Rise introduces young readers to the diverse and important contributions Muslim women have made.
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Saeed, Aisha and Becky Albertalli
Yes, No, Maybe So. 2020 (Young Adult Fiction).
This young adult novel is told in alternating chapters between characters Jamie Goldberg and Maya Rehman, both seventeen years old. Jamie is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate, but only behind the scenes. He would never choose to knock on doors to canvas for votes… until he meets Maya. Maya Rehman is having the worst Ramadan ever. Her friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip was canceled, and she just learned her parents are separating. Her mom keeps pushing her to spend her time political canvassing with an awkward guy she barely knows. Passionate about both local activism and one another, Jamie and Maya are a charming and driven team. Yes, No, Maybe So beautifully captures interfaith love in contemporary America.
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Painters & Pop-Art & Poets… Oh My! Picture Book Biographies of Women Artists

We all learned about art and artists in school: prehistoric cave paintings, the immortal works of Shakespeare, those famous Impressionist painters. Maybe some of us were lucky enough to also study contemporary art, to get a sense of the people who made a splash artistically in recent decades. Yet, how many of the artist names that readily come to mind are women? There are popular and prolific artists like Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, or Dorothea Lange. Still, many lesser-known women artists have created artworks just as stunning. The books below highlight women artists: sculptors, painters, an architect, a poet, a performer, and even an illustrator of children’s books! This list consists entirely of picture book biographies—some short, some long, all beautifully illustrated. Get ready to be inspired to create something new during Women’s History Month.

Burgess, Matthew
Illustrated by: Kara Kramer
Make Meatballs Sing: The Life & Art of Corita Kent. 2021.
Deeply influenced by her religious beliefs and fired up by the social justice causes of her day, Corita Kent lived a remarkable life as a nun, educator, designer, artist, and activist. This story from well-known author Matthew Burgess, vibrantly illustrated by artist Kara Kramer, draws readers into the life of a singular woman whose work and commitment invite us all to seek joy in the everyday, to observe the world with open eyes, and to question and see beyond the existing framework of society. This beautiful biography, made in close collaboration with the Corita Art Center, includes reproductions of Corita’s works, a chronology, and author and illustrator notes.
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Churnin, Nancy
Illustrated by: Felicia Marshall
Beautiful Shades of Brown: The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring. 2020.
Growing up in the late 19th century, Laura Wheeler Waring didn’t see any artists who looked like her. She didn’t see any paintings of people who looked like her, either. So when she was offered a commission to paint portraits of accomplished African Americans, she jumped at the chance. Writers, singers, political activists, and thinkers all posed for her. Now her portraits hang in Washington, D.C.’s National Portrait Gallery, where children of all races can admire the beautiful shades of brown she captured.
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D’Aquino, Andrea
A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa. 2019.
Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was an influential and award-winning sculptor, a beloved figure in the Bay Area art world, and a devoted activist who advocated tirelessly for arts education. This lushly illustrated book by collage artist Andrea D’Aquino brings Asawa’s creative journey to life, detailing the influence of her childhood in a farming family, and her education at Black Mountain College where she pursued an experimental course of education with leading avant-garde artists and thinkers such as Anni and Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. Delightful and substantial, this engaging title for young art lovers includes a page of teaching tools for parents and educators.
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Harvey, Jeanne Walker
Illustrated by: Dow Phumiruk
Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines. 2017.
As a child, Maya Lin loved to study the spaces around her. She explored the forest in her backyard, observing woodland creatures, and used her house as a model to build tiny towns out of paper and scraps. The daughter of a clay artist and a poet, Maya grew up with art and learned to think with her hands as well as her mind. From her first experiments with light and lines to the height of her success nationwide, this is the story of an inspiring American artist: the visionary artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
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Maclear, Kyo
It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way. 2019.
Gyo Fujikawa’s iconic children’s books are beloved all over the world. Now it’s time for Gyo’s story to be told—a story of artistic talent that refused to be constrained by rules or expectations. Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo learned from her relatives the ways in which both women and Japanese people lacked opportunity. Her teachers and family believed in her and sent her to art school and later Japan, where her talent flourished. But while Gyo’s career grew and led her to work for Walt Disney Studios, World War II began, and with it, her family’s internment. But Gyo never stopped fighting—for herself, her vision, her family, and her readers—and later wrote and illustrated an early children’s book to feature children of different races interacting together.
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Markel, Michelle
Illustrated by: Amanda Hall
Out of This World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington. 2019.
Ever since she was a little girl, Leonora Carrington loved to draw on walls, in books, on paper—and she loved the fantastic tales her grandmother told that took her to worlds that shimmered beyond this one, where legends became real. Leonora’s parents wanted her to become a proper English lady, but there was only one thing she wanted, even if it was unsuitable: to become an artist. In London, she discovered a group of artists called surrealists, who were stunning the world with their mysterious creations. This was the kind of art she had to make. From life in Paris creating art alongside Max Ernst to Mexico, where she met Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Leonora’s life became intertwined with the powerful events and people that shaped the twentieth century. Out of This World is the fascinating and stunningly illustrated story of Leonora Carrington, a girl who made art out of her imagination and created some of the most enigmatic and startling works of the last eighty years.
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Powell, Patricia Hruby
Illustrated by: Christian Robinson
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker. 2014.
In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.
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Scott, Joyce and Brie Spangler
Illustrated by: Melissa Sweet
Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott. 2021.
An introduction to the life and art of Judith Scott, a renowned sculpture artist. Judith Scott was born with Down syndrome. She was deaf, and never learned to speak. She was also a talented artist. Judith was institutionalized until her sister Joyce reunited with her and enrolled her in an art class. Judith went on to become an artist of renown with her work displayed in museums and galleries around the world. Poignantly told by Joyce Scott in collaboration with Brie Spangler and beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet, Unbound is inspiring and warm, showing us that we can soar beyond our perceived limitations and accomplish something extraordinary.
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Sikander, Shahzia and Amy Novesky
Illustrated by: Hanna Barczyk
Roots and Wings: How Shahzia Sikander Became an Artist. 2021.
Growing up in Lahore, Pakistan, Shahzia flew kites, ate fruit from jamun trees, and devoured Russian fairy tales, American Westerns, and Bollywood films. She also read poetry in Urdu, her own language, and learned the slow and detailed painting technique of Indo-Persian miniatures. And when she moved far from home to study art, she brought her roots with her. Roots and Wings is a deeply personal story about how an artist grows. It is based on the childhood of Shahzia Sikander, one of the most exciting and celebrated mixed-media artists working today.
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Slade, Suzanne
Illustrated by: Cozbi A. Cabrera
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. 2020.
Before Gwendolyn Brooks became the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, she was a little girl who dared to dream. Gwendolyn grew up surrounded by fine poetry. From an early age, she memorized the poems her father read to her and soon began to pen her own. Gwendolyn found inspiration all around her: in the colorful clouds overhead; in the people in her neighborhood; in loss, loneliness, and love. This picture book biography shares Gwendolyn’s journey as she creates a beloved body of work and shows readers how her dream became her exquisite future.
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Legacies: Honoring the Lives of Legendary Children’s Book Creators

If you were a reader as a child, this post will be intensely nostalgic. The children’s literature community tragically lost numerous beloved authors and illustrators in the past year. It is difficult to fathom the full impact these artists had on the development of literature for young people. These creators managed to accomplish both widespread popularity and critical acclaim in the sphere of children’s literature. Some we lost way too soon, like Floyd Cooper at 65 and Steve Jenkins at 69. Beverly Cleary, the cherished author of the Ramona Quimby series, was with us until the impressive age of 104.

Eloise Greenfield, Jerry Pinkney, and Floyd Cooper will be remembered for their exceptional contributions to children’s literature representing African American experiences. Among their bodies of work, they garnered an astonishing 18 individual recognitions from the Coretta Scott King Award committees. Just last week, Floyd Cooper’s illustrations in Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre posthumously earned him his first Caldecott Honor from the 2022 American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards.

The featured books below are a wide range of works, from hilarious read-alouds to unflinching historical nonfiction, by these children’s literature virtuosos. All that is left to say is thank you.

Norton Juster, June 2, 1929 — March 8, 2021
Beverly Cleary, April 12, 1916 — March 25, 2021
Eric Carle, June 25, 1929 — May 23, 2021
Lois Ehlert, November 9, 1934 — May 25, 2021
Floyd Cooper, January 8, 1956 — July 15, 2021
Eloise Greenfield, May 17, 1929 —August 5, 2021
Gary Paulsen, May 17, 1939 — October 13, 2021
Jerry Pinkney, December 22, 1939 — October 20, 2021
Mitsumasa Anno, March 20, 1926 — December 24, 2021
Steve Jenkins, March 31, 1952 — January 11, 2022

Paulsen, Gary
Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood. 2021 (Middle Grade).
This middle grade memoir gives readers a new perspective on the origins of Gary Paulsen’s popular books. His name is synonymous with high-stakes wilderness survival stories. Now, Paulsen portrays a series of life-altering moments from his turbulent childhood as his own original survival story. If not for his summer escape from a shockingly neglectful Chicago upbringing to a North Woods homestead at age five, there never would have been a Hatchet. Without the encouragement of the librarian who handed him his first book at age thirteen, he may never have become a reader. And without his desperate teenage enlistment in the Army, he would not have discovered his true calling as a storyteller.
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Pinkney, Jerry
The Little Mermaid. 2020 (Picture Book).
In this captivating reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic, Caldecott medalist and bestselling artist Jerry Pinkney conjures a poignant friendship story and an epic tale of redemption. Melody, the littlest sea princess, is not content just to sing in the choir of mermaids like her sisters. She is an explorer who wonders about what lies above the water’s surface . . . especially the young girl she has spied from a distance. To meet her requires a terrible sacrifice: she trades her beautiful voice for a potion that gives her legs, so that she may live on land instead. It seems like a dream come true at first. But when trouble stirs beneath the ocean, Melody faces another impossible choice — stay with her friend or reclaim her true identity and save her family. Legendary artist Jerry Pinkney’s singular reinvention of this tale about love and sacrifice empowers young, twenty-first century girls with the strong message that “you should never give up your voice . . . for anyone.”
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Weatherford, Carole Boston
Illustrated by: Floyd Cooper
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre. 2021 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
On May 31 and June 1, 1921, an armed mob looted homes and businesses as Black families fled the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The police did nothing to protect Greenwood, and as many as three hundred African Americans were killed, most buried in unmarked graves. Thousands were left homeless. No official investigation occurred until seventy-five years later. Unspeakable helps young readers understand the events of the Tulsa race massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation’s history. An illustrator’s note reveals that Floyd’s own grandfather was a survivor of the 1921 massacre. Floyd drew upon memories of his grandfather’s account in his artwork.
*Available online

Greenfield, Eloise
Illustrated by: Daniel Minter
The Women Who Caught the Babies: A Story of African American Midwives. 2019 (Illustrated Poetry Book).
This story highlights important aspects of the training and work of African American midwives and the ways in which they have helped, and continue to help, so many families by “catching” their babies at birth. The blend of Eloise Greenfield’s poetry and Daniel Minter’s art evokes heartfelt appreciation of the abilities of African American midwives over the course of time. The poem “Africa to America” begins the poetic journey. The poem “The Women” both heralds the poetry/art pairing and concludes it with a note of gratitude. Also included is a piece titled “Miss Rovenia Mayo,” which pays tribute to the midwife who caught newborn Eloise.
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Jenkins, Steve
The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest – and Most Surprising – Animals on Earth. 2013 (Illustrated Informational Book).
Animals smooth and spiky, fast and slow, hop and waddle through the two hundred plus pages of the Caldecott Honor artist Steve Jenkins’s impressive nonfiction offering. Sections such as “Animal Senses,” “Animal Extremes,” and “The Story of Life” burst with fascinating facts and infographics that will have trivia buffs breathlessly asking, “Do you know a termite queen can produce up to 30,000 eggs a day?” Jenkins’s color-rich cut- and torn-paper artwork is as strikingly vivid as ever. The book highlights facts about over three hundred animals and offers a brief overview of the history of life on Earth. Dance with a blue-footed booby or stare down an eyelash viper. But mind your step — in the animal world, the name of the game is survival.
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Anno, Mitsumasa
Anno’s Counting Book. 1975 (Picture Book).
Every child is a natural mathematician, according to Mitsumasa Anno. Children are constantly comparing and classifying things and events they observe around them. As they try to bring sense and order into what they observe, they are actually performing basic mathematical feats. Gentle watercolor pictures show a landscape changing through the various times of day and the turning seasons, months and years, and the activities of the people and animals who come to live there. But the seemingly simple plan of the book is deceptive: look more carefully and you will see one-to-one correspondences; groups and sets; scales and tabulations; changes over time periods; and many other mathematical relationships as they occur in natural, everyday living. The reader is subtly led to see and understand the real meaning of numbers. Look at this book and look again. Each time you do so, you will find another application of a natural mathematical concept that you had not noticed before.
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Ehlert, Lois
Planting a Rainbow. 1988 (Picture Book).
In this perennial classic by Caldecott Honor–winning author Lois Ehlert, little ones learn the colors of the rainbow as they watch plants grow in a beautifully vibrant garden. Through brilliant, textured cut paper collages, the story follows the progress of a mother and daughter in their backyard as they plant bulbs, seeds, and seedlings and nurture their growth into flowers. Bold, spare text and dazzling illustrations will inspire readers to take a closer look at the natural world and maybe even start a garden of their own.
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Carle, Eric
The Nonsense Show. 2015 (Picture Book).
Ducks growing out of bananas? A mouse catching a cat? What’s wrong with this book? Yes, there’s something strange, something funny and even downright preposterous on every page of this book. But it’s not a mistake – it’s nonsense! And it’s also surrealism. Nonsense lies at the heart of many beloved nursery rhymes. Children readily accept odd statements like “the cow jumped over the moon” and “the dish ran away with the spoon.” This fanciful bending of reality is also basic to surrealism. In this book, nonsense and surrealism combine to spark creativity and imagination. What’s true? What’s impossible? What’s absolutely absurd? The Nonsense Show will make children laugh and think, preparing them for a lifetime of loving both words and art.
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Juster, Norton
The Phantom Tollbooth. 1961 (Middle Grade).
This beloved story – first published more than fifty years ago – introduces readers to Milo and his adventures in the Lands Beyond. For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. . . .
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Cleary, Beverly
Beezus and Ramona. 1955 (Middle Grade).
Nine-year-old Beezus Quimby has her hands full with her little sister, Ramona. Sure, other people have little sisters that bother them sometimes, but is there anyone in the world like Ramona? Whether she’s taking one bite out of every apple in a box or secretly inviting 15 other 4-year-olds to the house for a party, Ramona is always making trouble – and getting all the attention. Every big sister can relate to the trials and tribulations Beezus must endure. Old enough to be expected to take responsibility for her little sister, yet young enough to be mortified by every embarrassing plight the precocious preschooler gets them into, Beezus is constantly struggling with her mixed-up feelings about the exasperating Ramona. This is the first in the Ramona series and the only book written from the perspective of Ramona’s big sister, Beezus.
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New Year, New Series

What better way to start the new year than with a new (to you) series to tackle? There’s no better goal for a new year that starting and finishing a series. We’ve put together a list of completed series that you can start and possibly finish this new year! You’ll find duologies and trilogies and quartets and sagas and oct…ologies? Octets? Really long series, let’s just say that.

Deutsch, Stacia
The Friendship Code. 2017 (Middle Grade).
Loops, variables, input/output — Lucy can’t wait to get started with the new coding club at school. Finally, an after-school activity that she’s really interested in! But Lucy’s excitement turns to disappointment when she’s put into a work group with girls she barely knows. All she wanted to do was make an app that she believes will help someone very special to her. Suddenly, Lucy begins to get cryptic coding messages and needs some help translating them. She soon discovers that coding — and friendship — takes time, dedication, and some laughs. The Friendship Code is the first in a four book series, with the others (in order) being: Team BFF: Race to Finish!; Lights, Music, Code!; and Spotlight on Coding Club!
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Hale, Shannon
Real Friends. 2017 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel Memoir).
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top…even if it means bullying others. Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group — or out? Real Friends is the first in a three book series, with the others (in order) being: Best Friends and Friends Forever.
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Ifueko, Jordan
Raybearer. 2020 (Teen).
Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn — but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? Raybearer is the first in a two book series, with the second being Redemptor.
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Maas, Sarah J.
Throne of Glass. 2012 (Teen).
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. But then, one of the other contestants turns up dead…quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. Throne of Glass is the first book in a series of seven books and one collection of novellas. In order after Throne of Glass: Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Tower of Dawn, and Kingdom of Ash. The collection of novellas, The Assassin’s Blade, can be read any time before Queen of Shadows.
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Mbalia, Kwame
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky. 2019 (Middle Grade).
Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s journal. Tristan chases after it, and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has Black American gods John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is the first in a trilogy, with the others (in order) being: Tristan Strong Destroys the World and Tristan Strong Keeps Punching.
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Rothman, Scott
Attack of the Underwear Dragon. 2020 (Picture Book).
Cole’s wish comes true when he becomes an Assistant Knight to Sir Percival, his favorite Knight of King Arthur’s Round Table. Cole learns how to ride a horse, swing a sword, cheer for Sir Percival when he goes to battle, and bandage his boo-boos when the battle is over. Cole loves practicing every skill a Knight-in-Training must master, and he is determined to be granted knighthood. And Sir Percival is a great knight in every way — the perfect to train Cole — except for one thing: he is terrified that an Underwear Dragon will come and destroy the kingdom. And when the unthinkable happens, Cole is the only knight left standing (and just an assistant knight at that!). Cole must use all of his newly acquired skills to battle the fearsome dragon and avoid a catastrophe. Attack of the Underwear Dragon is the first in a two book series, with the second being Return of the Underwear Dragon.
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Rubin, Adam
Dragons Love Tacos. 2012 (Picture Book).
Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teen tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa…oh, boy. You’re in red-hot trouble. Dragons Love Tacos is the first in a two book series, with the second being Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel.
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Schwab, Victoria
This Savage Song. 2016 (Teen)
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city — a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent — but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt, the pair must flee for their lives. This Savage Song is the first in a two book series, with the second being Our Dark Duet.
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West, Kasie
Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss. 2019 (Teen).
Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part. But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donovan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her. As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on is Donovan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction. Fame, Fate and the First Kiss is the second book in a three book series, with the first being Love, Life and the List and the third being Moment of Truth.
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Yang, Kelly
Front Desk. 2018 (Middle Grade).
Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in empty rooms for free, The Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams? Front Desk is the first book in a three books series, with the others (in order) being: Three Keys and Room to Dream.
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Dark Academia: Where School Isn’t Exactly What It Seems

A current popular trend in literature is the sub-genre of “dark academia.” The definition itself is a little vague — some describe it as an aesthetic, with images of students wearing tweed blazers during fall, walking around an old academic institution; others suggest that dark academia books are ones that feature an academic setting (often high school, boarding school, or college) and some kind of dark twist; and others say it focuses on the pursuit of knowledge and the exploration of mortality and death. Some say it’s all three of those things! It’s a sub-genre that is not limited to a specific genre; it’s been included in realistic fiction, fantasy, horror, dystopian, and much more.

For this month, we’ve put together a list of books that fall in many genres, all with a dark academia twist. You’ll find realistic fiction, fantasy, horror, urban fantasy, dystopian, and even a picture book!

Àbíké-Íyímídé, Faridah
Ace of Spades. 2021 (Teen).
Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Ace, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power. Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high school game…
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Chainani, Soman
The School for Good and Evil. 2013 (Middle Grade).
The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before and have happened every year since. At first, it seemed random, but a pattern was soon clear: one was always good, and one was always a bit of an outcast. This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life; with her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Agatha, meanwhile, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil. But their fortunes are reversed when Sophie ends up in the School for Evil and Agatha in the School for Good. It seems wrong to both — unnatural — but what if this mistake is the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are?
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Deonn, Tracy
Legendborn. 2020 (Teen).
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC-Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape — until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus. She then learns about a secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt creatures down. When a teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” fails to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw and learned, Bree’s own unique magic is unlocked — and so is a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. To find out the truth, Bree recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn, and the two search for the society’s secrets. But they find out a magical war is coming, and Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether or not she should use her magic to take the society down or join the fight.
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Douglass, Ryan
The Taking of Jake Livingston. 2021 (Teen).
Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse (and definitely more complicated), Jake can see the dead. In fact, he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again. But then Jake meets Sawyer: a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, Sawyer has plans for his afterlife — plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game — one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.
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James, Riley
Story Thieves. 2015 (Middle Grade).
Life is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores. But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen: his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany’s half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character. Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makers her a deal — all she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite Kiel Gnomenfoot series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father. Or it might just destroy the Kiel Gnomenfoot series, reveal Bethany’s secret to the entire world, and force Owen to live out Kiel Gnomentfoot’s final (very final) adventure.
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Johnson, Maureen
The Hand on the Wall. 2020 (Teen).
Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph…She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century. At least, she thinks she has. The three deaths in the present; the deaths in the past; the missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers. Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm — and a murderer.
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Lee, Victoria
A Lesson in Vengeance. 2021 (Teen).
Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School. Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students — girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds. Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. Before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.
[On order as of November 2021]

Power, Rory
Wilder Girls. 2019 (Teen).
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her. It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the school’s fence.
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Talley, Robin
As I Descended. 2016 (Teen).
Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple — even if no one knows it but them. Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Archeron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word. But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock her attendance at Stanford — and four more years in a shared dorm with Lily. But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
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Yolen, Jane
Monster Academy. 2018 (Picture Book).
Where do monsters go to school? Monster Academy! And anything can happen when your teacher is Miss Mummy. Come along with Principal Frank N. Stein into a bright, energetic classroom where the class pet is a big purple boa constrictor, recess is in a swamp, and class bats help build a Creepy Castle in the Monster Maker’s Lab. When Tornado Jo, a new student, roars into class, a storm is brewing. Who could ever guess that her new best friend will be a vampire, and she’ll help him find his missing fang?
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National Native American Heritage Month

Every year in November the nation celebrates Native American Heritage Month — also commonly referred to as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. It’s a month to celebrate and understand the great contributions of Native Americans, as well as to rejoice in the diverse and rich cultures, histories, and traditions of Native American people. Celebrations spread awareness by educating the nation on the various challenges Native Americans face — in the past and today’s present. Many communities will put together events and exhibits to celebrate Native American Heritage Month; check local community centers, libraries, and museums to see if they have any fun activities to participate in and learn more about Native American Heritage.

We’ve put together a list of books that celebrate the past and present of Native American and Indigenous peoples. This is by no means a list that encompasses the entirety of Native American experiences, cultures, and traditions, but rather a small sampling of what the S-Collection has to offer. We’ve made sure that each book represented includes main characters who are Native American and Indigenous and that each book is by a Native American and Indigenous individual.

Boulley, Angeline
Firekeeper’s Daughter. 2021 (Teen).
As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother. Her only bright spot is meeting Jamie — but Daunis feels he’s hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation. Daunis agrees to go undercover, secretly pushing her own investigation. But the deceptions and death keep piling up, and Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community.
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Bruchac, Joseph
Two Roads. 2018 (Middle Grade).
It’s 1932, and twelve-year-old Cal Black and his pop have been riding the rails for years after losing their farm in the Great Depression. Cal likes being a knight of the road with Pop, even if they’re broke. But then Pop has to go to Washington, D.C. and Cal can’t go with him. So Pop tells Cal something he never knew before: Pop is actually a Creek Indian, which means Cal is too. And Pop has decided to send Cal to a government boarding school for Native Americans in Oklahoma called the Challagi School. At school, the other Creek boys quickly take Cal under their wings. Even in the harsh, miserable conditions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, he begins to learn about his people’s history, heritage, language, and customs. And most of all, he learns how to find strength in a group of friends who have nothing beyond each other.
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Dupuis, Jenny Kay and Kathy Kacer
Illustrated by: Gillian Newland
I Am Not a Number. 2016 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school, she’s confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school — who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene’s parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when her parents disobey the law? Based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother.
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Kalluk, Celina
Sweetest Kulu. 2016 (Picture Book).
This bedtime poem written by an internationally acclaimed Inuit throat singer describes the gifts bestowed upon a newborn baby by all the animals of the arctic. As they visit, the animals and the land itself endow little Kulu with a set of qualities: from Arctic Char who gives tenderness, to the Caribou who gives patience and a sense of direction, to the Snow Bunting who gives Arctic cotton seeds and flowers. Together, all the gifts show that the Earth is made up of all living things, and those living things are connected in many ways.
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Leatherdale, Mary Beth and Lisa Charleyboy
#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women. 2017 (Nonfiction Teen).
This collection presents an eclectic combination of poems, essays, interviews and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.
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Little Badger, Darcie
Elatsoe. 2020 (Teen).
Elatsoe lives in a slightly strange America — one that’s been shaped dramatically by magic, monsters, knowledge, and the Indigenous legends of its people. Elatsoe can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Now her beloved cousin has just been murdered in a town that wants no prying eyes, but Elatsoe is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect façade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and Elatsoe will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family.
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Maillard, Kevin Noble
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. 2019 (Picture Book).
An ode to fry bread and Native American culture, this picture book expresses the deep meaningfulness and cultural importance of traditional foods and the way such foods are not just a thing, but rather continue to grow and have a life of their own as traditions are carried on. Fry bread brings families together, is shared by many, and is a celebration of old and new.
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Quigley, Dawn
Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend. 2021 (Chapter Book).
Hello/Boozhoo — meet Jo Jo Makoons: a spirited seven-year-old who moves through the world a little differently than anyone else on her Ojibwe reservation. It always seems like her mom, her kokum (grandma), and her teacher have a lot to learn — about how good Jo Jo is at cleaning up, what makes a good rhyme, and what it means to be friendly. Even though Jo Jo loves her #1 best friend Mimi (who is a cat), she’s worried that she needs to figure out how to make more friends. Because Fern, Jo Jo’s best friend at school, may not want to be friends anymore…
[This book is on order as of November 2021 and should be available to check out soon!]

Sorrell, Traci
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. 2018 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
The word otsaliheliga (oh-ja-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. This picture book is a look at modern Native American life, as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
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Young, Brian
Healer of the Water Monster. 2021 (Middle Grade).
When Nathan goes to visit his grandma, Nali, at her mobile summer home on the Navajo reservation, he knows he’s in for a pretty uneventful summer. Still, he loves spending time with Nali and his uncle Jet — though it’s clear when Jet arrives that he brings his problems with him. One night, while lost in the nearby desert, Nathan finds something extraordinary: a Holy Being from the Navajo Creation Story — a Water Monster — in need of help. Now Nathan must summon all his courage to save his new friend. With the help of other Navajo Holy Beings, Nathan is determined to save the Water Monster, and to help Uncle Jet heal from his own pain.
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Take a Break from the Screen: Books Based on Video Games

Video games are an incredibly popular form of entertainment for people of all ages, with many benefits to playing including problem-solving skills, creativity enhancement, mental health improvement, and better social skills. Too much screen time is still a concern, however. What better way to remedy that for video game lovers than to introduce books based on video and role-playing games? We’ve put together a list of books that are: written by some favorite YouTube gamers, inspired by some favorite video games, give the history of video games, and even one that has some video game elements to combine reading with technology.

Cube Kid
Tales of an 8-Bit Kitten: Lost in the Nether. 2017 (Middle Grade).
Eeebs isn’t a very disciplined kitten. His mom warned him not to play in the forest, but he didn’t listen. That’s how he found himself in the Nether — a bizarre world inhabited by scary creatures. In the company of a Ghast, almost cheerful witch, Eeebs develops supernatural powers. But will those supernatural abilities be enough to stop the army of EnderStar, a rogue enderman set on dominating the Overworld? In this unofficial Minecraft adventure, Eeebs must fulfill an ancient prophecy and become the champion of the Nether to save his home.
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DanTDM
Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crystal. 2016 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
After a day of experiments, Trayaurus and DanTDM are about to call it a night when a strange-looking crystal plummets to earth, breaking into five pieces that scatter far and wide. DanTDM and Trayaurus recover one of the shards and quickly realize they are in possession of an object more powerful than anything they’ve ever known. This graphic novel comes from one of YouTube’s most popular creators, DanTDM, and reimagines the Minecraft-style worlds and characters he’s created, giving a new medium for his followers to enjoy as these crystals are manipulated and used for evil.
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Díaz Rivas, Miguel
FGTeeV Presents Into the Game! 2020 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
The FGTeeV family gamers have played hundreds of games together. Which is why Moomy decides to make a new game called My Pet Fish. Just one problem: the game is super boring. And one other problem: Moomy and Duddy accidentally got sucked into it — and now they’re trapped! It’s up to the kids — Lexi, Chase, and Shawn — to jump into the gaming console and rescue their parents. But first, they have to battle their way through their favorite games until they find the one their parents are stuck in. This graphic novel by a popular family of gamers on YouTube teaches respecting each individual as gamers as well as working together as a family.
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Hinojosa, Stacy
Guardians of the Taiga. 2018 (Middle Grade).
Stacy was raised by wolves. She’s never needed humans to survive and, from what she sees of humans, they’re dangerous and unpredictable. For as long as she can remember, Stacy’s pack of six, powerful, playful wolves have been her only family. Together, Stacy’s pack patrols the forest to keep other animals safe, relying on her wits and each wolf’s unique abilities to accomplish risky rescue missions. But as the forest changes and new dangers begin lurking, are Stacy and the wolves prepared for the perils that await them? Creator of the popular YouTube series Dogcraft, StacyPlays has created an illustrated fantasy series inspired by Minecraft.
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Julianelle, Patrick
A Hole New World. 2018 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
When Pat and Jen stumble into a hidden hole while playing hide-and-seek, they find that they’re trapped in a dangerous underworld and that their good friend, Bomby, has been kidnapped! Now it’s up to the daring duo and their “friend” Carter to battle the zombies, find the castle, and get back home before it’s too late. Can Pat and Jen find Bomby and flee the underworld before they get zombified by the evilest villain of them all — Evil Jen? Inspired by Minecraft, this graphic novel from popular YouTube creator PopularMMOs combines their YouTube creations with Minecraft thrill.
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King, Zach
My Magical Life. 2017 (Middle Grade).
Everyone in Zack King’s family has a magical power. His father can turn back time, his sister can turn invisible, and his mother can transform any object into something else. And Zach…well, he hasn’t found his magical power yet, and his family is growing worried that he’s been “skipped.” So his parents decide to stop homeschooling him in magical arts and send him instead to a regular middle school with regular kids. To Zach, it’s the worst news ever. But Zach quickly learns that going to regular school with regular kids isn’t all that bad. And just when Zach least expects it, he discovers a pair of magical snapbacks that might just be the magical thing he’s been looking for his whole life. The only problem? The school bully, Tricia Stands, who is determined to make sure Zach doesn’t get more popular than she is. Award-winning digital media star Zach King not only brings you a graphic novel, but one that comes complete with a code for a free downloadable app that brings Zach’s vibrant world to fully animated, three-dimensional life.
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Kirby, Matthew
Last Descendants. 2016 (Teen).
Nothing in Owen’s life has been right since his father died in prison, accused of a crime Owen is certain he didn’t commit. Monroe, the IT guy at school, might finally bring Owen the means to clear is father’s name by letting him use an Animus — a device that lets users explore the genetic memories buried within their DNA. The experience brings Owen more than he bargained for. During a simulation, Owen uncovers the existence of an ancient and powerful relic long considered legend: the Trident of Eden. Now two secret organizations will stop at nothing to take possession of this artifact — the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. It soon becomes clear to Owen that the only way to save himself is to find the Trident first. Under the guidance of Monroe, Owen and a group of other teenagers go into a memory they all share within their DNA, where they’ll find themselves tested on the gritty streets of 1863 New York — and their experiences in the past will have far-reaching consequences in the present. This is the first book in an Assassin’s Creed series for fans of the video games to read and expand the video game world!
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Kostick, Conor
Epic. 2004 (Teen).
Generations ago, violence was banned on New Earth. Society is governed and conflicts are resolved in the arena of a fantasy computer game, Epic. Everyone plays. If you win, you have the chance to go to university, get more supplies for your community, and fulfill your dreams; if you lose, your life both in and out of the game is worth nothing. When Erik, seeking revenge for the unjust treatment of his parents, dares to subvert the rules of Epic, he and his friends find themselves up against the ultimate masters of the game: the Committee. If Erik and his friends win, they may have the key to destroying Epic’s tyranny over New Earth. But if they lose… With its setting of a fantasy MMPORG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), this novel is an early example of a LitRPG (Literary Role-Playing Game).
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O’Donnell, Tom
Homerooms and Hall Passes. 2019 (Middle Grade).
In the mystical realm of Bríandalör, every day the brave and the bold delve into hidden temples or forgotten dungeons, battling vile monsters and evil wizards to loot their treasure hoards for sweet, sweet magic items. But in their free time, our heroes — Thromdurr the mighty barbarian, Devis the shifty thief, Vela the noble paladin, Sorrowshade the Gloom Elf assassin, and Albiorix the (good!) wizard — need to relax and unwind. That’s when they meet up once a week to play Homerooms and Hall Passes: a role-playing game where they assume the characters of average American eighth graders. But when the five young adventurers are magically transported into their H&H game by an ancient curse, they must band together to survive their toughest challenge yet: middle school. This upside-down Dungeons & Dragons-inspired novel has these main characters realizing that maybe passing algebra and navigating the cafeteria social scene may be even harder than battling ogres.
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Polinsky, Paige V.
Pokémon Designer: Satoshi Tajiri. 2017 (Children’s Biography).
Follow the story of Satoshi Tajiri as he founds Game Freak magazine which turned into Game Freak video game development company and the creation of the Pokémon video games, trading cards, television series, and Pokémon Go! Sidebars, historic photos, and a glossary enhance readers’ understanding, with additional features that include a table of contents, an index, a timeline, and fun facts — all laid out to show the history of the Pokémon franchise.
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White, Jon
2019 Game On!: The Only Gaming Annual You Need! 2018 (Teen Nonfiction).
Learn all about the hottest games, how they were developed, and how to beat them in this annual gaming guide. Game On! is the most comprehensive guide to all the best games, tech, and YouTube stars; and features some of the year’s greatest moments, including exclusive interviews with YouTube legends, top streamers, and game developers. This complete guide is packed with information on all the latest gaming hardware, tech, and essential mobile games. It also including the best gaming secrets, stats, tips, and tricks to help unlock achievements and trophies on games.
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20th Anniversary of 9/11

It’s hard to believe that September 11, 2021 marks twenty years since the terrorist attack that rocked the nation. Every year, many who remember that day experience the grief, terror, and heartache all over again. But just as many may not remember that day — or may not have been born yet. Whether you’re someone who remembers the day quite clearly or you’ve only been told about the events, we’ve put together two lists of books for you to read during this monumental anniversary.

This first list includes books that specifically deal with the events of that day, from commemorating heroes to revisiting the actual events. The second list look at how the events of 9/11 affected people for months and years afterward.

September 11 Remembered

Greene, Jacqueline Dembar
The 2001 World Trade Center Attack. 2007. (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
This book for beginning readers details the attacks on the World Trade Center through the harrowing stories of those who braved the tragedy. Kids will meet Captain Jay Jonas and firefighters from Ladder Company 6 in New York, as well as Chief Pitch who teamed up with Jonas to carry trapped victims to safety. The book includes candid, on-the-scene photos and quotes from primary sources, giving first-hand accounts on the terrifying events.
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Kalman, Maira
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey. 2005 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboat of its time, but by 1995, the city didn’t need old fireboats anymore. So, the Harvey retired, until a group of friends decided to save it from the scrap heap. Then, one sunny September day in 2001, something so horrible happened that the whole world shook. And a call came from the fire department, asking if the Harvey could battle the roaring flames.
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Louis, Nancy
Heroes of the Day. 2002 (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
There were many heroes on the tragic day of 9/11, and this book describes the actions of them all. From emergency telephone operators to police officers and firefighters, to trained dogs and individual citizens who helped in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, you’ll get the full picture of the many acts of heroism through full-color photographs, diagrams, maps, and descriptions.
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Rinaldi, Tom
The Red Bandanna. 2017 (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
One Sunday morning before church, when Welles Crowther was a young boy, his father gave him a red handkerchief for his back pocket. Welles kept it with him that day, and just about every day to come. Now, Welles is fresh from college; he’s recently taken a Wall Street job on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center and volunteers for the local fire department. And he’s missing. On the day the Twin Towers fall, Welles’s parents have no idea what’s happened to him. And in the unbearable days that follow, they come to accept that he’ll never be coming home. However, Welles’s mother reads a news account one night and listens to first-hand stories from a group of people who were seriously injured on the 78th floor of the South Tower — and they all talk about the man wearing a red bandanna that saved them.
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Tarshis, Lauren
I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001. 2012 (Middle Grade).
The only thing Lucas loves more than football is his Uncle Benny — his dad’s best friend at the fire department where they both work. Benny taught Lucas everything about football. So when Lucas’s parents decide the sport is too dangerous and he needs to quit, Lucas has to talk to his biggest fan. The next morning, Lucas takes the train to the city instead of the bus to school. It’s a bright, beautiful day in New York. But just as Lucas arrives at his uncle’s firehouse, everything changes.
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September 11 Aftereffects

Deedy, Carmen Agra and Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah
Illustrated by: Thomas Gonzalez
14 Cows for America. 2009 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
In June 2002, a ceremony begins in a village in western Kenya. Hundreds of Maasai surround an American Diplomat to bestow a gift on the American people. The gift is as unsought and unexpected as it is extraordinary. A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw. Tears flow freely as these legendary warriors offer their gift to a grieving people half a world away. Many will be profoundly touched, but for Americans, this selfless gesture will have deeper meaning still. A true story of how many people around the world grieved with America after 9/11.
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Friedman, D. Dina
Playing Dad’s Song. 2006 (Middle Grade).
Gus Moskowitz knows that sixth graders are too old to curl up under a quilt, but that’s the only place he can hide from the school bully, his nagging older sister, and — worst of all — his father’s death. It’s been two years since Gus’s father was killed in the World Trade Center, and Gus can’t figure out how to move on. His mother thinks he needs to do something, so she rents him an oboe and signs him up for lessons with her boss’s elderly father, Mr. M. As Gus’s friendship with Mr. M. develops, so does his passion for classical music, and soon he decides to compose a song of his own — a tribute to his father. But even if Gus can find a way to wrap up his father’s life in a single song, will he ever find the courage to play it?
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Levithan, David
Love is the Higher Law. 2009 (Teen).
The lives of three teens — Claire, Jasper, and Peter — are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore in Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him. Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event that causes loss and grief — but also hope and redemption as they must learn to move forward with their lives.
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Lowitz, Leza
Up From the Sea. 2016 (Teen).
In March 2011, Kai loses nearly everyone and everything he cares about to a tsunami that devastates his coastal Japanese village. When he’s offered a trip to New York to meet kids whose lives were changed by 9/11, Kai realizes he also has a chance to look for his estranged American father. Visiting Ground Zero on its tenth anniversary, Kai learns that the only way to make something good come out of the disaster back home is to return there and help rebuild his own town. Told in verse, this novel explores disasters — natural and man-made — and the ways kids learn to cope.
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Meminger, Neesha
Shine, Coconut Moon. 2009 (Teen).
Seventeen-year-old Samar, a.k.a. Sam, has never known much about her Indian heritage. Her mom has deliberately kept Sam away from her old-fashioned family; it’s never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a boyfriend. But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam’s house, and he turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. When Sam decides she wants to learn more about her family, some boys attack her uncle, shouting, “Go back home, Osama!” and Sam realizes she could be in danger — while also discovering how dangerous ignorance can be.
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Mills, Wendy
All We Have Left. 2016 (Teen).
Two girls, two time periods, one catastrophic event that changed their lives. In the present, sixteen-year-old Jesse is used to living with the echoes of the past. Her older brother died in the September 11th attacks, and her dad has filled their home with anger and grief. When Jesse gets caught up with the wrong crowd, one momentary hate-fueled decision turns her life upside down, and the only way to make amends is to face the past. In 2001 (the past), sixteen-year-old Alia is proud to be Muslim…it’s being a teenager that she finds difficult. After being grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia is determined to show her parents that they must respect her choices. She’l start by confronting her father at his office in downtown Manhattan — putting Alia in a danger she never could have imagined. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers, Alia is trapped inside one of the buildings. In the final hours, she meets a boy who will change everything for her as the flames rage around them.
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Nolan, Janet
Illustrated by: Thomas Gonzalez
Seven and a Half Tons of Steel. 2016 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
There is a ship — a navy ship. It is called the USS New York. It is big like other navy ships, and it sails like other navy ships, but there is something special about the USS New York. Following the events of September 11, 2001, the governor of New York gave the Navy a steel beam that was once inside one of the World Trade Towers. The beam was driven from New York to a foundry in Louisiana. Metal workers heated the beam to a high, high temperature. Chippers and grinders, painters and polishers worked on the beam for months. And then, seven and a half tons of steel, which had once been a beam in the World Trade Center, became a navy ship’s bow.
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New School, New You: Let’s Get Organized

August is generally the time school starts back up in the US, which means it’s time to get organized. This month we bring you a list of fiction and nonfiction books and resources to help you and/or your child get organized before that very first day, because it could all go downhill from there. These books and resources include organizing your personal spaces, organizing your days, and even organizing your mental well-being. What better time to start fresh than as the school year begins?

In The S-Collection

Berenstain, Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room. 1983 (Picture Book).
The Bear family loves a clean house; they always keep the kitchen, cellar, and yard clean. However, Brother and Sister Bear’s room is a mess, and Mama is ready to throw away all their toys when she finds herself doing the work for Brother and Sister Bear while they argue. But Papa comes to the cubs’ rescue and explains how the messy room isn’t fair to him and Mama, and how it isn’t fair to the cubs themselves. They work together to figure out ways to help keep theirs toys and other items organized. A picture book to help kids see that keeping their spaces organized makes a difference for everyone.
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Covey, Sean
Illustrated by: Stacy Curtis
A Place for Everything. 2010 (Picture Book).
Jumper the rabbit loves playing basketball, but he wore the wrong shoes! When he goes home to change, he can’t find anything in his messy room and misses the game. He wouldn’t have so much trouble if he kept everything in its place. This story tells kids how important it is to keep things organized so they can enjoy all the fun they want to have. A picture book to help kids see that organization can mean getting to participate in all the things they want to enjoy.
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Javernick, Ellen
Illustrated by: Colleen M. Madden
What If Everybody Did That? 2012 (Picture Book).
If you drop just one soda can out the window, it’s no big deal…right? But what if everybody did that? What if everybody broke the rules…and spoke during story time, didn’t wash up, splashed too much at the pool, or didn’t clean their room? Then the world would be a mess. But what if everybody obeyed the rules so that the world would become a better place? A picture book to show kids that everyone needs to do their part in following the rules — including being organized!  SE. J328wedi

LaMothe, Matt
This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World. 2017 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
In Japan, Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda Daphine likes to jump rope. While the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm in their days, and this one world we all share, unites them. This nonfiction picture book looks into the lives of seven real children living in seven very different places: Russia, Uganda, Italy, Peru, Japan, Iran, and India. LaMothe shows their home, their school clothes, their lunches, their dinners, and the ways they help. Reading this book could give the opportunity to expand the worldview of children before they start school, as well as giving them insight into ways other children organize their days.
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Nadeau, Kathleen
Illustrated by: Charles Beyl
Learning to Plan and Be Organized: Executive Function Skills for Kids with AD/HD. 2016 (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
When you are good at planning and organizing, your day just runs smoother. And guess what? These skills can help you reach your goals, too! This book is packed with examples, activities, and fun that’ll help your middle school child: build good habits, develop routines, organize their stuff, get things done, manage their time, plan projects, create reminders for themselves, and more.
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O’Connor, Jane
Illustrated by: Robin Preiss Glasser
Fancy Nancy: Too Many Tutus. 2012 (Picture Book).
Fancy Nancy’s closet is bulging (which is a fancy way of saying it won’t close). Nancy’s mom thinks she should give away some of her tutus, but Nancy knows a fancy girl can never have too many tutus! But when Ms. Glass tells her class that they will have a fancy swap-and-shop at school, will Nancy bring in some tutus to trade? And what happens when she finds the tutu of her dreams? A picture book about the importance of letting go of old things to make way for new in order to stay organized.
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Rath, Tom
How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids. 2009 (Picture Book).
Every moment matters. Each of us has an invisible bucket for positive responses. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful. Yet most children (and many adults) don’t realize the importance of having a full bucket throughout the day. Felix begins to see how every interaction in a day either fills or empties his bucket, and then realizes that everything he says or does to other people fills or empties their buckets as well. This picture book could help a child in organizing their day, their thoughts, and their interactions with people — as well as how they want people to interact with them.
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Romain, Trevor
Illustrated by: Steve Mark
How to Do Homework Without Throwing Up. 2017 (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
Homework can be horrible! But homework isn’t going anywhere, and kids need to learn to do it — without throwing up. This guide gives specific tips for starting, doing, and finishing homework. Kids will learn how to make a homework schedule, when to do the hardest homework, the benefits of doing homework, and more.
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Woodson, Jacqueline
Illustrated by: Rafael López
The Day You Begin. 2018 (Picture Book).
There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. With a message of how brave it is to go forth even when we feel like outsiders, this picture book could be perfect for your little one first starting or beginning at a new school — because organizing feelings and anxieties is just as important as organizing the physical items.

Available Through the Online Catalog

Josel, Leslie
How to Do it Now Because It’s Not Going Away: An Expert Guide to Getting Stuff Done. 2020 (Teen Nonfiction).
Procrastination is especially tough for young adults. Getting started is overwhelming.  It’s hard to get motivated; not knowing how long things take messes up planning; and, there are distractions everywhere. We are all wired to put things off, but we can learn tools and techniques to kick this habit. This book is a friendly guide to help teens get their tasks done, like staying on top of homework, developing a sense of time, managing digital distraction, creating easy routines, and more.

Online Resources for Children, Teens, and Caregivers

Child Mind Institute: Back-to-School Tips for Kids Who Are Struggling
The first day of a new school year always feels like a new start. You’ve got new school supplies, new classes, new teachers, new hopes—and a brand-new chance to screw up. Rae Jacobson shares their struggles in staying organized and on top of things when it comes to school because of their undiagnosed ADHD. Their article covers tips, tricks, and general advice on helping yourself—or your child—stay organized and succeed during school with a child that may have a learning disability.

Family Education: 10 Ways to Help Your Kid Get Organized for the New School Year
Developing good organizational skills is a key ingredient for success in school and in life. Although some people are by nature more organized than others, anyone can put routines and systems in place to help a child “get it together.” The Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities has come up with a list of strategies you can use to help your child get, and keep, their life under control this school year.

Raising Teens Today: 6 Amazing Organization Apps for Teenagers
Chances are, you’ve seen it dozens of times with your teen. They’ll tell you they’re going to their bedroom to study for an exam, finish homework, or connect with other teens about a group project. But when you poke your head in their room, they’re busy scrolling through social media on their phone or computer. Distractions and lack of organization can be among our teens’ greatest challenges when it comes to school, homework, and improving their grades. Raising Teens Today has put together this useful list of organization apps for teenagers to help make a difference in their focus, organization, and grades.

Scholastic: 5 Ways to Develop Your Child’s Organizational Skills
Instilling a sense of organization in your child may sound like a hefty task. However, by infusing daily routines with fun — from making homework time cozier to celebrating special days in a planner — your child can learn how to keep things organized. Scholastic has put together a list of five activities you can do with your child to help them become more organized as you approach the school year.

Teens Helping Teens
Teen Line is a non-profit, community-based organization that provides emotional support to youth. It’s their mission to provide peer-based education and support before problems become a crisis by utilizing a national hotline, community outreach, and online support. In order for teens to organize their physical lives, they need to be in touch with and talk about their mental health.

Understood: Supporting your kids’ mental health as they go back to school
Going back to school comes with a lot of extra stress this coming August, and kids may be struggling to manage their feelings about the pandemic. They may be worried about things like getting sick or falling behind in school. Whatever is on their mind, keep track of what you’re seeing and help them get the emotional support they need. The Understood team offers a list of resources for educators and caregivers on what to watch out for, how to handle it, and helping kids cope with the upcoming school year.

The Washington Post: A pediatrician’s advice on teaching kids to be organized — at any age
Despite well-planned family trips, weeks of camp, playdates and child-care arrangements, summer is built upon the comforts of gentle chaos. But now it’s time to refocus because school’s approaching. Whit Honea interviews developmental-behavioral pediatrician and author Damon Korb on the best ways to help parents and children take a more organized approach to the new school year.

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Animal Companions: Happy 50th Birthday Koko the Gorilla

Koko, a western lowland gorilla, took the world by storm during her lifetime as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication. She became an international celebrity, with a vocabulary of more than 1,000 signs and the ability to understand 2,000 spoken English words before her death in 2018. But perhaps more famously, Koko the gorilla showed empathy that was astonishing. Koko adored cats, and even ended up having her own, a cat Koko name All Ball that she loved and played with and held and babied. Sadly, All Ball passed away, and Koko mourned, whimpering and signing the word for “sad.” But it wasn’t just animals Koko felt a connection to; one human she bonded with was comedian Robin Williams, whom she also mourned after hearing about his passing. You can learn more about Koko’s life here: https://time.com/5318391/koko-gorilla-dead/

On July 4, 2021, Koko would have turned 50, and to celebrate and remember the empathetic and loving gorilla, we are highlighting some animal companions in children’s literature that are important to and caring towards main characters — who frankly couldn’t manage life without them. From cats and dogs to flamefoxes and dragons and so much more (both alive and ghostly), this small list is filled with interspecies bonds and the support animals can supply for their humans.


Abe, Julie
Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch. 2020 (Middle Grade).
Eva Evergreen is determined to earn the rank of Novice Witch before she turns thirteen. If she doesn’t, she’ll lose her magic forever. It’s normally a simple test, but Eva only has a pinch of magic. She summons heads of cabbages instead of flowers and gets sunburns instead of the rain she calls for. And to make matters worse, whenever she overuses her magic, she falls asleep. When she lands in Auteri, the residents expect a powerful witch, not a semi-magical girl. Eva, along with Ember, her flamefox companion, who’s loyal, mischievous, and a bit of a troublemaker, must come up with a plan to aid Auteri and prove Eva’s worth.
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Beaton, Kate
The Princess and the Pony. 2015 (Picture Book).
Princess Pinecone knows exactly what she wants for her birthday this year: a big horse, a strong horse, a horse fit for a warrior princess. But Princess Pinecone gets a pony that’s a little…different. One that’s a bit too small, a bit too round — and one that happens to have an unfortunate and embarrassing problem when it gets too excited. Princess Pinecone is determined though and works hard to turn her pony into warrior material by training the pony for battle. The bond along the way makes Princess Pinecone realize that she may have gotten the perfect pony after all.
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DiTerlizzi, Angela
Illustrated by: Brendan Wenzel
Some Pets. 2016 (Picture Book).
Come one, come all, to the pet show! With dogs and cats, horses and chickens, hamsters and chinchillas — and many, many more — this book celebrates animal companions of all shapes and sizes. See who will be taking home the coveted Best in Show ribbon as you’re introduced to all sorts of pets: some that sit, some that stay, some that fetch and even some that play. What kind of pet is the perfect companion for you?
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Little Badger, Darcie
Elatsoe. 2020 (Teen).
Elatsoe lives in a slightly stranger America, one that still has homework and best friends and pistachio ice cream but has instead been shaped dramatically by magic and monsters and knowledge and legends. Elatsoe can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. Along with her ghost dog Kirby, who died of old age but Elatsoe brought back so she’d never have to miss him, Elatsoe works to uncover the gruesome secrets behind the murder and protect her family.
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Lacy, Josh
The Dragonsitter. 2012 (Children’s).
It had sounded so easy: Edward was going to look after Uncle Morton’s unusual pet for a week while he went on holiday. But Uncle Morton didn’t leave any instructions, and soon the fridge is empty, the curtains are blazing, and the postman is fleeing down the garden path. Written in epistolary form as Eddie sends emails to his (unresponsive) uncle, this chapter book explores ways in which some pets (especially unusual ones) may be a handful, and how humans can learn to corral their companions.
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Maas, Sarah J.
Throne of Glass. 2012 (Teen).
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince and given an opportunity: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin in exchange for her freedom. Celaena’s opponents are thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire and she must beat them all in order to gain her freedom. This book is the first in a fantasy series with many different animal companions that play important roles to the story and the humans they travel alongside: Fleetfoot the excitable dog; Abraxos the wyvern that seems to act more like a lovable dog than the fierce beast he is; Farasha the horse whose name means butterfly but acts the complete opposite; and many more.
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Martin, Ann M.
Rain Reign. 2014 (Middle Grade).
Rose Howard has Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose’s father brought home, and now Rose and Rain are practically inseparable, often home alone together, as Rose’s father spends most evenings away. Just as a storm hits, Rain goes missing. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.
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McQuinn, Anna
Illustrated by: Rosalind Beardshaw
Lola Gets a Cat. 2017 (Picture Book).
Lola wants a cat, but Mommy says taking care of a pet is a lot of work. So Lola does her homework. She finds books about cats and pet care at the library, and she and Mommy learn as much as they can, taking what they learn and practicing all of it on one of Lola’s stuffed kitties they pretend is real. When the time comes, Lola is allowed to pick out her new friend at an animal shelter. With patience and care, her kitten settles in at home. A picture book about the importance of understanding how to properly take care of an animal companion.
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Pau Preto, Nicki
Heart of Flames. 2020 (Teen).
This is the second book in a trilogy that follows four animages, people with magic that allows them to communicate with animals: Veronyca, who has finally become a Phoenix Rider, but instead of training wants to fly and defend the villages of Pyra; Tristan, a newly promoted Master Phoenix Rider with very different ideas on protecting their people and the empire compared to his father the commander; Sev, an animage in hiding who’s spying on the empire but is having difficulty maintaining his cover; and Val, Veronyka’s sister who’s determined to regain the empire she lost sixteen years ago, even if it means starting the war herself. Controlling families, webs of lies unraveling, and secrets being revealed abound in this series that begins with Crown of Feathers — with phoenixes, little birds, and other animals helping the animages along the way.
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Reynolds, Aaron
The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter. 2020 (Middle Grade).
Rex Dexter has a dream: to have a dog. Any pooch would be preferable, but a chocolate Labrador is the pinnacle, the dream of all dreams. So when Rex’s parents surprise him with a box on his birthday, a box with holes and adorable scratchy noises coming from inside, Rex is excited, ecstatic, and can’t wait to open the box. Only to find a chicken. One hour and fourteen minutes later, the chicken is dead, Rex is cursed, and wild animals are haunting Rex’s room. Rex’s uninvited guests are a chatty, messy bunch, and they need Rex to solve their mysterious deadly departures from the Middling Falls Zoo before it happens again.
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