It seems only fitting that my MAY children’s book picks are coming a little late this month. Our Dotters family has one new member, and he showed up right about the time I would normally post this blog. Clyde is here! He’s already pretty pro at alphabetizing so don’t be surprised if you find him helping me keep the books organized, the coffee brewing, and the recommendations flowing from now on.
I’ve got two fantastic picture book suggestions and one of my favorite middle grade novels for you this month.
Jasmine Warga's Other Words for Home is a beautiful middle grade novel in verse. Jude, a smart, brave, vibrant girl from Syria moves with her mother to her uncle's home in Cincinnati, leaving her father and brother behind - both in dangerous and uncertain situations. While she navigates a new school, a new family, and a new culture, she is constantly pulled to her memories of home and concern for her family in Syria - a place misunderstood by her American classmates. As she begins to enjoy some of the freedoms that her new home provides - like trying out for her school play - she worries that she’ll lose her connection to her home. I loved the bravery of this book. Warga writes a strong, female, Muslim protagonist and beautifully confronts the complexities of the hijab in Muslim culture, as well as Islamophobia. Vital reading for children and parents - even better when read together.
This is such a cool book. If your child loves to learn, this is the perfect book for them - or, let's be honest, for you. This book is both informative and just plain fun to look at. The illustrations are simply stunning. It would be easy to stare at each page for hours. Socha and Grajkowski include an extensive look at trees: prehistoric trees, parts of the tree, animals that live in trees, a history of all the things made with different kinds of wood, and so much more. This is a beautiful book to add to your collection - and so fun to read, your kids may not even realize that they're learning, too.
Susan Choi’s new children’s book, Camp Tiger, blew me away. A boy, his mom and dad and older brother, head out on their annual end of summer camping trip. The little boy has had a bittersweet summer; he is starting first grade in the fall and isn’t sure if he feels ready to leave his kindergarten class. When the family arrives at their favorite camping spot, they find an unexpected visitor: a tiger - and he can talk. The little boy is the first to embrace the tiger’s presence, climbing right into a tent with him and inviting him along on all of their adventures. They have a magical weekend, enjoying the unexpected delights of their favorite place with a new friend. When they leave, the little boy feels more ready to begin his new journey in first grade. This is a lovely book about the joys of summer and the fear that often accompanies the unexpected. Choi reminds us that while the unknown can be scary, it can also be magical.