Newly Added Books, Ages 8-12

To see all recommended children’s books, Click here >

Books are arranged by age appropriateness.

The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander, 2019 (Ages 7-11)

Acclaimed author Kwame Alexander teamed up with equally acclaimed illustrator Kadir Nelson to create this 2020 winner of a Caldecott Medal and Newberry Honor Award, written in free verse. Best when read and shared aloud, “Alexander’s poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson’s detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations…An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow.”—Kirkus, starred review

Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate, 2017 (Ages 8-12)

From the award-winning author of The One and Only Ivan comes this unusual story, told from the point of view of Red, a very old oak tree and home to many neighborhood animals. Red is known to humans as the Wishtree– people tie their wishes to it each spring. But when a Muslim family moves into town, some of the messages turn hurtful. Trees have deep roots and this story gives us the insight into the roots of a community and what they do to help their own.

New Kid, by Jerry Craft, 2019 (Ages 8-12)

This graphic novel tells the story of Jordan Banks, who experiences culture shock when his parents enroll him at an elite private school with very little diversity. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself? The book won the 2020 Newbery Medal (a first for a graphic novel), a Coretta Scott King Award, and a Kirkus Award. The sequel, Class Act (2019), is also recommended.

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness, by Anastasia Higginbotham, 2020 (ages 8-12) added

Think of this book as a conversation starter about race and racism, especially for white children who are not likely to experience racism directly. “An honest explanation about how power and privilege factor into the lives of white children, at the expense of other groups, and how they can help seek justice.”—The New York Times

 

The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World, by Katie Smith Milway 2017 (Ages 8-12)

Separated from his family when they were forced to flee their home, a young East African boy named Deo lives alone in the Lukole refugee camp in Tanzania. Based on a true story, Katie Smith Milway’s inspiring tale shows how a desperate situation can be improved by finding common ground through play.

Song for a Whale, by Lynne Kelly, 2019 (Ages 8-12)

An award-winning story of a deaf girl’s connection to a whale whose song can’t be heard by his species, and the journey she takes to help him. Twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius, but she’s the only deaf person in her school so people often treat her like she’s not very smart. When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. She’s determined to invent a way to “sing” to him, but how will she play her song for him when he’s 3000 miles away “This finely crafted novel affectingly illuminates issues of loneliness, belonging, and the power of communication.” —Publishers Weekly

Other Words for Home, by Jasmine Warga, 2019 (Ages 10- 13)

This Newberry Honor Award winner, written in free verse, tells the story of Jude, a young teen-age Syrian refugee in Cincinnati. “Through Jude’s eyes readers see firsthand what it is to leave behind one’s beloved home and family as many refugees do every single day. Young readers will laugh with Jude, cry with her, and root for her every step of the way. A beautiful, powerful, and necessary book.” (Aisha Saeed, New York Times bestselling author of Amal Unbound.)

The Bridge Home, by Padma Venkatraman, 2019 (Ages 10-12)

Four homeless, but determined, children in India make a life for themselves in in this stirring novel that touches themes of extreme poverty, and caste, and resilience. “The individual children and their tightknit relationship are portrayed with conviction and finesse. Written in the form of a letter from Viji to her sister, the affecting narrative transports readers to a faraway setting that becomes vivid and real. While the young characters face unusually difficult challenges, together they find the courage they need to move forward. The author of A Time to Dance, Venkatraman offers an absorbing novel of love, loss, and resilience.”— Booklist, starred review