With only a few months left until the end of the school year, you may be looking for that “just right” end of the year read-aloud for your class to send them off into the summer bursting with book love! There are many amazing new books that I have fallen in love with and hope you do, too! Here are my top ten favorite new books to fill your classroom and your hearts with book joy.
1. A Boy Called Bat – Elana K. Arnold
Bixby Alexander Tam, or Bat, is great at Math and knows more about animals than anyone in his class, but he is not great at making friends. When his mom, a veterinarian, brings home a baby skunk, Bat becomes the best skunk care-taker ever, all while trying to navigate his world. A Boy Called Bat by Elana K Arnold is a charming story for your younger middle grades (Gr. 4-5, possibly gr. 3) I like that this book has a character most likely on the autism spectrum, without the book being about that. The story focuses more on Bat’s love of animals and how this empathy for animals helps him connect to his classmates. This book is tender, heartwarming and funny with an amazing character you and your students will fall in love with. Major warm fuzziness.
2. Orphan Island – Laurel Snyder
This book is not available until the end of May but it is a MUST read! So much to love about this deep, compelling, heartbreaking, and completely one-of-a-kind novel about nine children who live on a mysterious island. I was completely captivated by the writing, the themes, the story – I could not put this book down. So much emotion and pain and beauty. WOW. Perfect read-aloud for grade 5-6 level that will stimulate lots of discussions.
3. See You In the Cosmos – Jack Cheng
A “road trip” novel, narrated by space-obsessed 11 year old Alex through a series of Podcasts. There have been a lot of books written through letters, emails, situation reports – but this is the first I have read that is written in podcasts. Protagonist Alex travels to a large rocket festival with hopes to launch a rocket into space carrying a golden iPod. His a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe is funny and moving.
4. The Ethan I Was Before – Ali Sandish
Gorgeous, Gorgeous, Gorgeous debut middle grade novel. So much emotion in this hauntingly beautiful book – I cried in many places. Ethan is a haunted, broken boy, filled with grief and guilt about an undefined accident that happened to his best friend. This is a book of loss, love, guilt, resilience and forgiveness. It is a multi-layered plot but the story strands all weave together in the end. Fast paced and beautifully written.
5. Short – Holly Goldberg Sloan
Counting By 7’s author Holly Goldberg Sloan’s new book is a endearing novel about a short girl who is cast in her first theater role as a munchkin in a summer production of Wizard of Oz. Julia has such an authentic voice that had me laughing one minute and welling up the next. Loved the realistic “musical production” setting and would be a great connect book for students involved in theater or school productions.
6. Hello Universe – Erin Entrada Kelly
So much to love about this book that takes place almost entirely in a single day with an unusual cast of characters who come together for a strange adventure. I love the diversity of the characters, the combination of reality, adventure and magic, the weaving in of Filipino culture and stories (told by a whimsical grandmother), the charming, witty narrative, the themes of family, friendship and believing in yourself… I could go on and on but just read it!
This book is the perfect way to approach environmental issues with the middle grade audience! (think Hoot by Carl Hiassen). Me and Marvin Gardens is a cleverly written story about a changing world and the changing environment. I believe I found a class discussion could come from almost every page! While filled with important environmental issues, it is also a coming-of-age story as sixth-grade Obe must overcome fear and deal with bullies. Excellent choice for a read-aloud!
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street – Lindsay Currie
Ahhhhhhh! This book is CREE-PY! But Oh, SOOOO good! If you like history, mystery and scary stories – this is for you! As well you will find…Friendship, humor, suspense, emotion, family, heart. So well written.. and oh, and did I mention it was scary????
9. Amina’s Voice – Hena Khan
An excellent story filled with many issues middle grade readers will connect to – changing friendships, parental restrictions, having the courage to try new things and trying to find your own path. I loved how Amina’s culture, faith and experiences being a Pakistani American Muslim are woven into the story in such a natural way. Great writing and memorable characters.
1o. Chester and Gus – Cammie McGovern
Written from the point of view of Chester, a therapy dog in training, as he tries to build a relationship with his human, Gus, who happens to be autistic. This book will make you laugh, cry and want to hug every dog you meet. The power of this dog’s love for Gus will steal your heart. LOVED this book SO much!
Thanks for stopping by! Which book or books have caught your eye?