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April 2023 Selections

April is National Poetry Month!


A little boy looking toward the right and a little girl smiling at usHey Black Child

by Useni Eugene Perkins, illustrations by Bryan Collier

Hey Black Child
Do you know who you are
Do you know you can be
What you want to be
If you try to be
What you CAN BE

This lyrical poem celebrates Black children and seeks to inspire all young people to dream big and achieve their goals.


A huge moon, with a calf hovering above it, rising over an apartment buildingThe Neighborhood Mother Goose

by Nina Crews

Nina Crews has added her own remarkable, jazzy style of illustration to a collection of forty-one favorite Mother Goose rhymes. Whether it is Jack jumping over a candlestick (atop a cupcake), Georgie Porgie kissing the girls (at the playground), or a fine lady riding a white horse (on the carousel), this exuberant treasury is sure to be read and enjoyed over and over again.


Primary (Kindergarten–Grade 2)

A little girl holding a small purse as she walks up stepsShaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World

by Susan Hood, illustrations by Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora,  Julie Morstad,  Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin K. Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland, and Melissa Sweet

Shaking Things Up  introduces fourteen revolutionary young women — each paired with a noteworthy female artist — to the next generation of activists, trailblazers, and rabble-rousers. This is a poetic and visual celebration of persistent women throughout history.


A boy, horrified, and his dragon that is holding a huge stack of books that is falling overDo NOT Bring Your Dragon to the Library

by Julie Gassman, illustrations by Andy Elkerton

Have you ever thought about bringing your dragon to the library? Don't do it! You might have the best intentions, but that dragon will cause nothing but trouble. Using rhyming text and a diverse cast of characters, this charming picture book will provide some important — and some not-so-important — library etiquette in a very entertaining way.


Intermediate (Grades 3–5)

Waves of the ocean with a bird flying aboveThe Door of No Return

by Kwame Alexander

In his village in Upper Kwanta, eleven-year-old Kofi loves his family, playing oware  with his grandfather and swimming in the river Offin. He is warned, though, to never go to the river at night.

One fateful night, the unthinkable happens, and in a flash, Kofi's world turns upside down. Kofi soon ends up in a fight for his life, and what happens next will send him on a harrowing journey across land and sea and away from everything he loves.


Cuban poet and political activist José Martí standing in front of a Cuban flag and raising a document of libertyMartí's Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad

by Emma Otheguy, illustrations by Beatriz Vidal

A bilingual biography of Jose Martí, who dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty, the abolishment of slavery, political independence for Cuba, and intellectual freedom. Written in verse with excerpts from Martí's seminal work Versos sencillos.


Middle School (Grades 6–8)

Anna, wearing a scarf that looks like piano keys, with the shadow of her former self, Zhanna, fleeing as Nazi planes fly overheadAlias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis

by Susan Hood with Greg Dawson

She wouldn't be Zhanna. She'd use an alias. A for Anna. A for alive.  When the Germans invade Ukraine, Zhanna, a young Jewish girl, must leave behind her friends, her freedom, and her promising musical future at the world's top conservatory. With no time to say goodbye, Zhanna, her sister Frina, and their entire family are removed from their home by the Nazis and forced on a long, cold, death march. When a guard turns a blind eye, Zhanna flees with nothing more than her musical talent, her beloved sheet music, and her father's final plea: "I don't care what you do. Just live."

An incredible, true story in verse about sisterhood, survival, and music.


Reyna faces the empty space between the walls of a canyonThe Distance Between Us: A Memoir (Young Readers Edition)

by Reyna Grande

When her parents make the dangerous trek across the Mexican border in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced to live with their stern grandmother as they wait for their parents to build the foundation of a new life.

But when things don't go quite as planned, Reyna finds herself preparing for her own journey to "El Otro Lado" to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years: her long-absent father.


High School (Grades 9–12)

Alicia, looking both defensive and fierce, surrounded by snakes, stars, and fireDear Medusa

by Olivia A. Cole

Sixteen-year-old Alicia Rivers has a reputation that precedes her. But there is more to her story than the whispers that follow her throughout the hallways at school — whispers that splinter into a million different insults that really mean "a girl who has had sex." But what her classmates don't know is that Alicia was sexually abused by a popular teacher, and that trauma has rewritten every cell in her body into someone she doesn't recognize.

When mysterious letters left in her locker hint at another victim, Alicia struggles to keep up the walls that she has built around her trauma.


The words "Red Hot Salsa" and images of stars, wedding rings, a key, a woman, candles, chilis, a helping hand, hearts, and moneyRed Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States

edited by Lori Marie Carlson

The poets collected here illuminate the difficulty of straddling cultures, languages, and identities. The poets celebrate food, family, love, and triumph. In English, Spanish, and poetic jumbles of both, they tell us who they are, where they are, and what their hopes are for the future.


Books in Spanish

Arturo Schomburg carrying a big stack of books toward the librarySchomburg: El hombre que creó una biblioteca, edición en español (ages 8–12)

de Carole Boston Weatherford, ilustraciones de Eric Velasquez

Entre los eruditos, poetas, autores y artistas del Renacimiento de Harlem, se alzaba la figura de un afropuertorriqueño llamado Arturo Schomburg. La pasión de su vida era coleccionar libros, cartas, música y arte de África y su diáspora, y dar a conocer al mundo los logros de los descendientes de África. Cuando su colección creció tanto que amenazaba con desbordarse dentro de su casa, recurrió a la Biblioteca Pública de Nueva York.


To access the books on our monthly MPS Reads book lists, visit your school library or local library, or go online to OverDrive* and log in with your MPS student ID number.

*Some titles are not available through OverDrive.

To access the books on our monthly MPS Reads book lists, visit your school library or local library, or go online to OverDrive* and log in with your MPS student ID number.

*Some titles are not available through OverDrive.

Suggest a book

If you would like to recommend a book title, please fill out this form:


Reading Curriculum Specialist:

Tanya D. Evans
Phone: 414-475-8110

© Milwaukee Public Schools 2023
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