By: Alexis Gomez
Finding books that make younger students excited to read can be challenging. Here is a list of our Top Ten familiar and new and diverse books that will have kids from grades K-6 grades eager to turn the page!
1. If You Take a Mouse to School
By: Laura Numeroff
If you take a mouse to school, he will ask you for your lunch box. When you give him your lunch box, he’ll want a sandwich to go in it. Then he will need a notebook and some pencils. He’ll probably want to share your backpack, too. The Mouse series has been around for years...but its charm never gets old!
2. Hi! Fly Guy
By: Tedd Arnold
A fly goes out looking for something to eat. A boy goes out looking for something to catch for the Amazing Pet Show. Boy and fly meet and a beautiful friendship begins. But flies can’t be pets… or can they? Will they be able to convince others that flies and boys can be friends? Betcha!
3. Your Name is a Song
By: Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. An enchanting book that reminds all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.
4. Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel
By: Nikki Grimes
Dyamonde Daniel may be new in town, but that doesn’t stop her from making a place for herself in a jiffy. With her can-do attitude and awesome brain power, she takes the whole neighborhood by storm. The only thing puzzling her is the other new kid in her class. He’s grouchy—but Dyamonde’s determined to get to the bottom of his attitude and make a friend. An energetic story about friendship!
5. Paletero Man
By: Lucky Diaz (Author) and Micah Player (Illustrator)
Ring! Ring! Ring! Paletas for one! Paletas for all! Run quick and find Paletero José! Follow along with the narrator as he passes through his busy neighborhood in search of the Paletero Man. But when he finally catches up with him, the narrator’s pockets are empty. What happened to his dinero? It will take the help of the entire community to get the tasty treat now. A lively cultural experience!
6. Serafina and the Black Cloak
By: Robert Beatty
A brave and unusual girl named Serafina lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate amidst the splendor of the Gilded Age. Serafina’s father, the estate’s maintenance man, has warned her to keep herself hidden from the fancy folk who live on the floors above. But when children at the estate start disappearing, Serafina and her friend must work together to solve a dark and dangerous mystery. Keep in mind that it might be a bit too dark for the K-4 readers!
7. Indian No More
By: Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorell
Regina Petit’s family has always been Umpqua, and living on the Grand Ronde reservation is all ten-year-old Regina has ever known. But when the federal government signs a bill into law that says Regina’s tribe no longer exists, Regina becomes “Indian no more” overnight—even though she was given a number by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that counted her as Indian, even though she lives with her tribe and practices tribal customs, and even though her ancestors were Indian for countless generations. A wonderful story of survival and pride that will resonate with your 4-6 graders.
8. Esperanza Rising
By: Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza thought she’d always live a privileged life on her family’s ranch in Mexico. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and her Mamá to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. When Mamá gets sick and a strike for better working conditions threatens to uproot their new life, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances—because Mamá’s life, and her own, depend on it. Heartwarming story about injustice, prejudice, and in the end, success!
By: Louis Sachar
Stanley Yelnats is under a curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats’s. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption. (Editor’s note: I’m so excited about this book now that I’m going to send it to my grandson!)
10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
By: J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed closer to his own noble destiny. Harry Potter never gets old and always enchants the reader!
11. BONUS – Three Little Ghouls and The First day of School
By: Sahara Powell, Ambika Rajyagor, and Taylor Days
UCR University Extension alumna Sahara Powell co-authors this story centered around Luna, the high-spirited witch in training, Lycaon, the gentle were-yeti, and Eli, the kind-hearted vampire. Together, the three students venture into the first day of the new school year and learn the power of self-esteem, friendship, and magic!