Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by a group of the same name on Goodreads, where a prompt is shared each week inviting participants to share their top 5 books that fit the prompt. This week’s prompt is “Young Reads.” Since “young” is a very broad category, I’ve tried to cover a variety of interpretations by including books that range from picture books to middle grade fiction.
1. Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani
Cats of all shapes and sizes scamper, stretch and yawn across the pages of this adorable counting book. And every now and then, they find themselves in the purrfect fluffy stack!
This book is adorable, simple, and fun. Five stars for the youngest readers (or listeners)!
2. Isabel and her Colores Go To School by Alexandra Alessanti
English, with its blustery blues and whites, just feels wrong to Isabel. She prefers the warm oranges and pinks of Spanish. As she prepares for class at a new school, she knows she’s going to have to learn–and she would rather not! Her first day is uncomfortable, until she discovers there’s more than one way to communicate with friends. This is a universal story about feeling new and making new friends.
This is a book that I read for the bilingual unit of my children’s lit class last year, but I would gladly hand it to any young reader regardless of context. It’s a good story for anyone who is starting something new, especially school, or who is dealing with moving. It’s also a gentle nudge for children who don’t struggle with being new or different. The dual languages are used appropriately and make the point of the story somewhat more tangible, while the art conveys the message in yet another way. Highly recommended for approximately kindergarten or first graders, as long as you aren’t looking for something fast-paced to snag a short attention span. This book is better suited for those who are quick to engage in a story or are ready to sit still for a few minutes.
3. Happy Birthday, Kit (Kit #4) by Valerie Tripp
Kit’s tenth birthday is approaching, but the chances of having a celebration are pretty slim. There’s no time to plan a party and no money either, since Dad still doesn’t have a job. When Aunt Millie comes for a visit, Kit finds new reasons to hope. With her thriftiness and good ideas, Aunt Millie seems to be able to do anything — but usually in the most unexpected way!
I loved this book as a child, in part because of the dog which finds its way into Kit’s life in this book. This series made thriftiness seem fun, and despite the fact that it is set during the Great Depression, I liked reading about others who wore hand-me-downs. It was good for me to read about people who were in harder financial times than I was, and the lessons from this series continue to be useful just as the story remains enjoyable.
4. The Landry News by Andrew Clements
The bad news is that Cara Landry is the new kid at Denton Elementary School. The worse news is that her teacher, Mr. Larson, would rather read the paper and drink coffee than teach his students anything. So Cara decides to give Mr. Larson something else to read — her own newspaper, The Landry News.
Before she knows it, the whole fifth-grade class is in on the project. But then the principal finds a copy of The Landry News, with unexpected results. Tomorrow’s headline: Will Cara’s newspaper cost Mr. Larson his job?
Andrew Clements’ books struck all the right notes in my childhood, except that I discovered this author about the time that my reading comprehension level edged out of the elementary school library and toward the YA section. I think this book was on one of the school-wide reading lists, because a lot of students in my grade read it at about the same time (somewhere around fourth grade, I think.). It’s fun and well worth the read.
The year is 1968. After spending the first half of summer vacation driving her Italian family crazy with her fake southern accent, 10-year old A.J. finds a soul mate on the other side of the island to divert her attention. She is intrigued to learn that Danny shares her same burning desire to know God and realizes that few people her age think as deeply as the two of them do. However, the depth of their newfound faith and friendship is soon tested when Danny’s father betrays his wife. Set in a simpler time, Saving Sailor is a heartwarming tale of how hearts can change and relationships can be restored with God’s help.
One random thing that stands out about this book in my memory: this is the first time that I remember reading about Catholic characters. I grew up on a strong diet of generically Christian fiction (and nonfiction), but I can count on one hand the number I remember being specific enough about the characters’ faith to identify a denomination or tradition. That really isn’t what this book is about though; it’s a coming-of-age story about a childhood summer, with all the fun and drama that is bound to come. Recommended for young readers who are ready for something a little bit deeper than most children’s fiction tends to be, but who are not quite ready for the content of young adult books.
What books would be at the top of your list for this topic?
Until the next chapter,