The Box Turtle
by Vanessa Roeder
Terrance the turtle was born without a shell, so he uses a cardboard box instead. Terrance loves his box. It keeps him dry on soggy days and safe from snooping strangers, and it is big enough to cozy up with a friend. But when another turtle points out that Terrance's shell is, well, weird, he begins to wonder whether there might be a better shell out there . . .
Eventually, and through much trial and error, Terrance learns that there is nothing wrong with being different — especially when it comes to being yourself.
Little Owl Lost/Un poco perdido
by Chris Haughton
Uh-oh! Little Owl has fallen from his nest, and his mommy is nowhere to be seen! With the earnest help of his new friend Squirrel, Little Owl goes in search of animals that fit his description of Mommy Owl. But while some are big (like a bear) or have pointy ears (like a bunny), none of them have all the features that make up his mommy. A cast of adorable forest critters will engage little readers right up to the story's comforting conclusion.
Primary (Kindergarten–Grade 2)
Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon
by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow
Molly Lou Melon's mother taught her to use her big voice for good — to speak up for what's right, for those who can't, and even when it's hard. So she does.
When school starts and a bully begins teasing everyone, including a new student, Molly Lou knows just what to do.
From standing up for a friend to admitting when you've made a mistake, Molly Lou shows us how speaking up is always the right choice.
Where Are You From?/¿De dónde eres?
by Yamile Saied Méndez, illustrated by Jaime Kim
When a girl is asked where she is from — where she is really from — none of her answers seem to be the right one.
Unsure about how to reply, she turns to her loving abuelo for help. He doesn't give her the response she expects. She gets an even better one.
Where am I from?
You are from hurricanes and dark storms and from a tiny singing frog that calls the island people home when the sun goes to sleep . . .
With themes of self-acceptance, identity, and home, this powerful, lyrical picture book will resonate with readers young and old from all backgrounds and of all colors — especially anyone who ever felt that they didn't belong.
Intermediate (Grades 3–5)
From the Desk of Zoe Washington
by Janae Marks
Zoe Washington isn't sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she has never met, had not heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who has been in prison for a terrible crime?
A crime he says he never committed.
Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family.
When Marcus tells Zoe he is innocent, and her grandmother agrees, Zoe begins to learn about inequality in the criminal justice system, and she sets out to find the alibi witness who can prove his innocence.
My Name Is Tani . . . and I Believe in Miracles: The Amazing True Story of One Boy's Journey from Refugee to Chess Champion
by Tanitoluwa Adewumi
At eight years old, Tani Adewumi, a refugee, won the 2019 New York State Chess Championship after playing the game for only a year — and while homeless.
Tani and his family fled Boko Haram's reign of terror in Nigeria to come to the United States, where they lived in a New York City homeless shelter while waiting to be granted religious asylum. Tani began attending a public elementary school and decided he wanted to join the chess program, but it required a fee. Tani's mother reached out to the coach, who offered Tani a scholarship — and a year later, the young immigrant became a chess champion.
Middle School (Grades 6–8)
We Dream of Space
by Erin Entrada Kelly
Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties.
Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade on Main Street and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn't understand. And Bird, his twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA's first female shuttle commander but feels like she's disappearing.
The Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the Challenger approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project — they are separated into spacecraft crews and must create and complete a mission. When the fated day finally arrives, it changes all their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways.
Told in three alternating points of view, We Dream of Space is an unforgettable and thematically rich novel for middle-grade readers.
by Jerry Craft
When Drew and Jordan return to Riverdale Academy Day School for eighth grade, it is still hard for them to understand how they fit in among the sea of wealthy white students. This time, we get to spend more time with Drew as we see him navigate his friendship with ultra-wealthy Liam and deal with microaggressions and racial stereotyping from his classmates and teachers alike. This outstanding sequel to New Kid is sure to start important conversations about race, class, identity, friendship, bullying, and more, all while still making readers laugh with Drew and Jordan's hilarious banter.
High School (Grades 9–12)
Say Her Name (Poems to Empower)
by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Loveis Wise
Inspired by the #SayHerName campaign that was launched by the African American Policy Forum, these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists insisting that Black Lives Matter. Elliott engages poets from the past two centuries to create a chorus of voices celebrating the creativity, resilience, and courage of Black women and girls.
This provocative collection will move every reader to reflect, respond, and act.
. . . Y no se lo tragó la tierra/. . . And the Earth Did Not Devour Him
by Tomás Rivera
"I tell you, God could care less about the poor. Tell me, why must we live here like this? What have we done to deserve this? You're so good and yet you suffer so much," a young boy tells his mother in Tomás Rivera's classic novel about the migrant worker experience.
In this new edition of a powerful novel made up of short vignettes, Rivera writes hauntingly about alienation, love and betrayal, man and nature, death and resurrection, and the search for community.
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.