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  • A Place Where Hurricanes Happen

    By: Renee Watson and Shadra Strickland
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Natural and man-made disasters are becoming more commonplace in children’s lives, and this touching free-verse picture book provides a straightforward account of Hurricane Katrina. In alternating voices, four friends describe their lives before, during, and after the storm and how, even though the world can change in a heartbeat, people define the character of their community and offer one another comfort and hope even in the darkest hours. Adrienne, Keesha, Michael, and Tommy have been friends for forever. They live on the same street, a street in New Orleans where everyone knows everybody. They play together all day long, every chance they get. It’s always been that way. But then people start talking about a storm headed straight for New Orleans. The kids must part ways, since each family deals with Hurricane Katrina in a different manner. And suddenly everything that felt like home is gone. Renee Watson’s lyrical free verse is perfectly matched in Shadra Strickland’s vivid mixed media art. Together they celebrate the spirit and resiliency of New Orleans, especially its children. –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • A Sweet Smell of Roses

    By: Angela Johson and Eric Velasques
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    There’s a sweet, sweet smell in the air as two young girls sneak out of their house, down the street, and across town to where men and women are gathered, ready to march for freedom and justice. Inspired by countless children and young adults who took a stand, two Coretta Scott King honorees offer a heart-lifting glimpse of children’s roles in the civil rights movement. –From the website at Simon & Schuster

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  • Across the Alley

    By: Richard Michelson and E.B. Lewis
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Abe and Willie live across the alley from each other. Willie is black and Abe is Jewish, and during the day, they don’t talk. But at night they open their windows and are best friends. Willie shows Abe how to throw a real big-league slider, and Abe gives Willie his violin to try out. Then one night, Abe’s grandfather catches themÑwill Abe and Willie have the courage to cross the alley and reveal their friendship during the day? –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Ada Twist, Scientist

    By: Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, a character of color, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. What would you do with a problem like this? Not afraid of failure, Ada embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble! Inspired by real-life makers such as Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, Ada Twist, Scientist champions girl power and women scientists, and brings welcome diversity to picture books about girls in science. Touching on themes of never giving up and problem solving, Ada comes to learn that her questions might not always lead to answers, but rather to more questions. She may never find the source of the stink, but with a supportive family and the space to figure it out, she’ll be able to feed her curiosity in the ways a young scientist should. –From Harry N. Abrams

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Through the eyes of one little girl, All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South. Since then, the observance of June 19 as African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. This stunning picture book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of important dates, and a glossary of relevant terms. –From the website at Simon & Schuster

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  • Amazing Grace

    By: Mary Hoffman
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Grace loves stories, whether they’re from books, movies, or the kind her grandmother tells. When her school decides to perform Peter Pan, Grace longs to play the lead, but her classmates point out that Peter was a boy. Besides, he wasn’t black. With the support of her family, Grace learns that she can be anything she wants to be, and the results are amazing! —from the Scholastic website

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3

    A young boy wakes. He has forgotten to say his prayers. Outside his window, a beautiful harvest moon illuminates the city around him and its many inhabitants. As the moon slowly makes its way across the heavens, the boy offers a simple prayer for the homeless, the hungry, and others. Critically acclaimed author Tonya Bolden teams up with award‑winning illustrator Eric Velasquez to create a richly painted and emotionally complex book that celebrates prayer and kindness while recognizing the diversity of the world around us. –from Abrams.

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  • Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend

    By: Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud and John Holyfield
    Recommended for grade(s): 3, 4

    Sitting on a bench waiting for his mother, Alex spies a mule chomping on greens in someone’s garden, and he can’t help but ask about it.””Ol Belle?” says Miz Pettway next to him. “She can have all the collards she wants. She’s earned it.” And so begins the tale of a simple mule in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, who played a singular part in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. When African-Americans in a poor community– inspired by a visit from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.– defied local authorities who were trying to stop them from registering to vote, many got around a long detour on mule-drawn wagons. Later, after Dr. King’s assassination, two mules from Gee’s Bend pulled the farm wagon bearing his casket through the streets of Atlanta. As Alex looks into the eyes of gentle Belle, he begins to understand a powerful time in history in a very personal way. –From the website at Candlewick Press

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  • Bigmama’s

    By: Donald Crews
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Four African American children travel with their mother, and when the train arrives in Cottondale, Florida, the summer at Bigmama’s house begins! Donald Crews brilliantly evokes the sights, sounds, and emotions of a memorable childhood experience. —from the HarperCollins website

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  • Bird

    By: Zetta Elliott
    Recommended for grade(s): 3, 4

    As Bird struggles to understand the death of his beloved grandfather and his older brother’s drug addiction, he escapes into his art. Drawing is an outlet for Bird’s emotions and imagination, and provides a path to making sense of his world. In time, with the help of his grandfather’s friend, Bird finds his own special somethin’ and wings to fly. —from the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Birdsong

    By: Julie Flett
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    A tender, luminous portrait of art, nature, and connecting across generations. When a young girl moves from the country to a small town, she feels lonely and out of place. But soon she meets an elderly woman next door, who shares her love of arts and crafts. Can the girl navigate the changing seasons and failing health of her new friend? Acclaimed author and artist Julie Flett’s textured images of birds, flowers, art, and landscapes bring vibrancy and warmth to this powerful story, which highlights the fulfillment of intergenerational relationships and shared passions.  –From Greystone

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  • Blue sky

    By: Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    In this book, a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. —from the website at Hachette

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  • Catching The Moon

    By: Crystal Hubbard
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    If there was anything in the world better than playing baseball, Marcenia Lyle didn’t know what it was. As a young girl in the 1930s, she chased down fly balls and stole bases, and dreamed of one day playing professional ball. Catching the Moon is the story of the girl who grew up to become the first woman to play for an all-male professional baseball team. Readers everywhere will be inspired by her courage to dream and determination to succeed. —from the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Chicken Sunday

    By: Patricia Polacco
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    After being initiated into a neighbor’s family by a solemn backyard ceremony, a young Russian American girl and her aa brothers’ determine to buy their gramma Eula a beautiful Easter hat. But their good intentions are misunderstood, until they discover just the right way to pay for the hat that Eula’s had her eye on. A loving family story woven from the author’s childhood. –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Christmas Tapestry

    By: Patricia Polacco
    Recommended for grade(s): 3, 4

    When a leak ruins the sacristy wall in his father’s church, Jonathan Jefferson Weeks thinks Christmas Eve service will be ruined. Luckily he and his father find a beautiful tapestry, perfect for covering the damaged wall and giving the church a festive look! But then, an old Jewish woman recognizes the beautiful cloth. Her discovery leads to a real miracle on Christmas Eve. –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    Martha Tom, a young Choctaw girl, knows better than to cross the river, but one day—in search of blackberries—she disobeys her mother and finds herself on the other side. Thus begins the story about seven slaves who cross the big river to freedom, led by a Choctaw angel walking on water! American Indian Youth Literature Award —From Cinco Puntos

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  • Dad, Jackie, and Me

    By: Myron Uhlberg
    Recommended for grade(s): 4

    It is the summer of 1947 and a highly charged baseball season is underway in New York. Jackie Robinson is the new first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers-and the first black player in Major League Baseball. A young boy shares the excitement of Robinson’s rookie season with his deaf father. Each day he listens eagerly to the Brooklyn Dodgers games on the radio. When his father arrives home from work, the boy uses sign language to tell him about the Dodgers. His father begins to keep a scrapbook, clipping photos and articles about Jackie. Finally one day the father delivers some big news: they are going to Ebbets Field to watch Jackie play in person! Author Myron Uhlberg offers a nostalgic look back at 1947, and pays tribute to Jackie Robinson, the legendary athlete and hero who brought a father and son-and an entire New York community-together for one magical summer. Illustrator Colin Bootman’s realistic, full-color illustrations capture the details of the period and the excitement of an entire city as Robinson helps the Dodgers win the long-awaited pennant. — From Peachtree Publishers

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  • Dancing in the Wings

    By: Debbie Allen
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Sassy wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy’s persistence, she just might be able to win him over. —from the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Each Kindness

    By: Jacqueline Woodson
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.  Coretta Scott King Honor Book 2013.   –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Elizabeti’s School

    By: Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    It’s the first day of school and Elizabeti can hardly wait. She puts on her new uniform and feels her shiny shoes. School must surely be a very special place! Shortly after arriving at school, however, Elizabeti begins to miss her family. But soon Elizabeti is making friends and learning her lessons. Best of all, she shares her experiences with her family that evening — and can apply what she has learned right away. —from the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Ellen’s Broom

    By: Kelly Starling Lyons
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    A young girl learns a new meaning for freedom during the time of Reconstruction. Ellen always knew the broom resting above the hearth was special. Before it was legal for her mother and father to officially be married, the broom was what made them a family anyway. But now all former slaves who had already been married in their hearts could register as lawful husband and wife. When Ellen and her family make the long trip to the courthouse dressed in their best, she brings the broom her parents had jumped so many years before. Even though freedom has come, Ellen knows the old traditions are important too. After Mama and Papa’s names are recorded in the register, Ellen nearly bursts with pride as her parents jump the broom once again. Ellen is a wonderfully endearing character whose love for her family is brought to life in Daniel Minter’s rich and eye-catching block print illustrations. Coretta Scott King Honor Book 2013. — From Putnam Publishing Group

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  • Flossie and the Fox

    By: Patricia McKissack and Rachel Isadora
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    A wily fox, notorious for stealing eggs, meets his match when he encounters a bold little girl in the woods who insists upon proof that he is a fox before she will be frightened. —from the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles

    By: Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson and Meilo So
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Acclaimed activist Philippe Cousteau and renowned author Deborah Hopkinson team up to offer a story of the powerful difference young people can make in the world. Meet Viv, who has a new home and a new school by the sea, and follow her as she finds her way in a new place and helps bring together a whole community to save the sea turtles of the South Carolina coast. –From Chronicle Books

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3

    There were signs all throughout town telling eight-year-old Connie where she could and could not go. But when Connie sees four young men take a stand for equal rights at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, she realizes that things may soon change. This event sparks a movement throughout her town and region. And while Connie is too young to march or give a speech, she helps her brother and sister make signs for the cause. Changes are coming to Connie’s town, but Connie just wants to sit at the lunch counter and eat a banana split like everyone else. —from the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Freedom School, Yes!

    By: Amy Littlesugar
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Jolie has a lot to be scared about since the new Freedom School teacher, Annie, came to town. Bricks thrown through windows in the dead of night, notes filled with hate, and now a fire has burnt down the church where Annie was supposed to start teaching tomorrow! Without the church, how can she possibly teach Jolie and the other townspeople about black poets and artists, historians and inventors? Unless the people themselves fight back. This triumphant story is based on the 1964 Mississippi Freedom School Summer Project. —from the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Gettin’ Through Thursday

    By: Melrose Cooper
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    André dreads Thursdays. Thursday is the day before Mama gets paid at work each week — it’s the day when money is tight and spirits are low for André and his older brother and sister. As report card day approaches, André anticipates making the honor roll, and Mama said she’d throw a royal party for just such an event. But report card day falls on the worst possible day of the week — a Thursday. André’s predicament — and the loving solution that his family offers — will strike a chord with readers of all backgrounds. —from the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Goin’ Someplace Special

    By: Patricia McKissack
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    There’s a place in this 1950s southern town where all are welcome, no matter what their skin color…and ‘Tricia Ann knows exactly how to get there. To her, it’s someplace special and she’s bursting to go by herself. ‘Tricia Ann hurries to catch the bus heading downtown. But unlike the white passengers, she must sit in the back behind the Jim Crow sign and wonder why life’s so unfair. Still, for each hurtful sign seen and painful comment heard, there’s a friend around the corner reminding ‘Tricia Ann that she’s not alone. Coretta Scott King Award Winner 2002.  —from the website of Simon & Schuster

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  • Going North

    By: Janice Harrington
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Leaving behind Big Mama, loving relatives, and the familiar red soil and cotton fields of Alabama, Jessie and her family are going north to Nebraska. But traveling through the segregated South is difficult for an African American family in the 1960s. With most public places reserved for “whites only, ” where will they stop to get gas and food? —from the Scholastic website

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  • H.O.R.S.E.

    By: Christopher Myers
    Recommended for grade(s): 3, 4

    One day at the basketball court, two kids, a familiar challenge—H.O.R.S.E.? But this isn’t your grandmother’s game of hoops. Not when a layup from the other side of the court, standing on one foot, with your eyes closed is just the warm-up. Around the neighborhood, around the world, off Saturn’s rings . . . the pair goes back and forth. The game is as much about skill as it is about imagination. A slam dunk from award-winning author and illustrator Christopher Myers, H.O.R.S.E. is a celebration of the sport of basketball, the art of trash-talking, and the idea that what’s possible is bounded only by what you can dream. Coretta Scott King Honor Book 2013. –from Egmont.

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  • Henry’s Freedom Box

    By: Ellen Levine
    Recommended for grade(s): 4

    A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. Caldecott Award Honoree 2008 —from the Scholastic website

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  • I Have Heard of a Land

    By: Joyce Carol Thomas
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    I have heard of a land / Where the imagination has no fences / Where what is dreamed one night / Is accomplished the next day. In the late 1880s, signs went up all around America – land was free in the Oklahoma territory. And it was free to everyone: Whites, Blacks, men and women alike. All one needed to stake a claim was hope and courage, strength and perseverance. Thousands of pioneers, many of them African-Americans newly freed from slavery, headed west to carve out a new life in the Oklahoma soil. Drawing upon her own family history, National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Thomas has crafted an unforgettable anthem to these brave and determined people from America’s past. — From J. Cotler

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  • J.T.

    By: Jane Wagner
    Recommended for grade(s): 3, 4

    To the guys on the block, J. T. is the kid who stole the radio out of the red convertible before they could get to it. His neighbor, Mrs. Morris, declares him a first-class nuisance. His mother is bewildered — “He’s just gone bad, that’s all…. Stealin’ and lyin’ and I don’t know what all.” But all the sensitivity, responsibility, and care of which ten-year-old J. T. Gamble is capable emerges when he finds an old, one-eyed, badly hurt alley cat. J. T. takes on a new dimension as he lavishes all the love he is unable to express to people around him on the battered cat he has found in the junk-filled empty lot. —from the website at Penguin Random House

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