Best Selling Books for middle grade for business

You probably can guess what I’ve been doing lately — reading piles of picture books! This month’s selection explodes with many can’t-miss treasures to add to your libraries and classrooms.

Because there are so many new books, I organized the list by topic.

Enjoy!

Identity / Antiracism / Inclusion


I Am Every Good Thing
by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
BLACK BOY JOY
Get up and cheer for this exuberant celebration of a young boy’s infinite possibilities…and many ways of being which are illustrated in bright colors and painty textures. Not only is this beautiful picture of black male joy, but it’s also a masterpiece of culture, writing, and art! Incidentally, if you want to teach children about metaphors — this is the book to read. “I’m the BOOM-BAP– BOOM-BOOM-BAP when the bass line thumps and the kick drum jumps. I’m the perfect beat, the perfect rhyme, keeping everything on point and always on time — but you already knew that.” AMAZING WRITING and an important topic. I adore everything about this book.


Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon
by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow
BULLYING / SPEAKING UP
If you don’t adore Molly Lou Melon already, run to read this new book (and grab her other book, too!) Because Molly Lou Melon IS THE BEST! She’s responsible, loving, kind, tells the truth, and speaks up for what’s right, like stopping a classmate who teases a new student. The illustrations are absolutely perfect and filled with tons of nuanced details that add depth and humor to the story.

Antiracist Baby Picture Book
by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
RACISM / ANTIRACISM / INCLUSION / DIVERSITY
Now a picture book as well as a board book, introduce your children to 9 ways to be antiracist, a person who actively works to recognize and stand against racism. From “1 Open your eyes to all skin colors” to “9 Believe we shall overcome racism,” this book is filled with guiding principals and rhyming kid-friendly explanations plus colorful, playful artwork. “Antiracist Baby is always learning, changing, and growing. Antiracist Baby stays curious about all people and isn’t all-knowing.”  Use this important book as a springboard for learning and discussion.

Welcome to Bobville: City of Bobs
by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Bob Staake
DIVERSITY / IDENTITY / TOLERANCE
Everyone in Bobville is named Bob. They think the same things and do the same things until one day, one of the Bobs decided to name himself Bruce. And order different clothes! Well, the Bobs do not like this one bit so they kick Bruce out of their town. But Bruce doesn’t mind because he gets to meet all sorts of unique and wonderful people who are NOT named Bob! It’s a humorous story with an important message of celebrating diversity in the world and being true to yourself.

Advocacy


I Am One: A Book of Action
by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
ACTIVISM
Learn how one person can make a difference with one seed, step, brick, word, and voice. Simple, doable wisdom shows readers specific actions they can take. “I can use my One soft voice to start a friendship.” And, “I can light One candle to start leading the way.” Because ONE action can start a chain reaction in a movement or a social change. As usual, Reynold’s beautiful illustrations illuminate the text’s message perfectly. An inspiring must-read book for all children!


Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea
by Meena Harris, illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez
ADVOCACY
Based on a true story, read how sisters Kamala and Maya dreamed up a playground for their empty courtyard and rallied their community to help make it happen — from donations to bake sales and a lot of hard work. These sisters made their big idea happen! It’s an inspiring story of how we can dream big and make those dreams happen.


Time to Roar
by Olivia A. Cole, illustrations by Jessica Gibson
ADVOCACY
Sasha tells the other animals in her forest that they need to stop the yellow construction vehicles from cutting down the forest. Initially, the friends want to do quiet things like singing or thumbing but nothing stops the machines until bear ROARS. So many applications for this book’s message, right!?

Immigration / Refugees


The Day Saida Arrived
by Susana Gomez Redondo and Sonja Wimmer, illustrated Lawrence Schimel
IMMIGRATION / FRIENDSHIP / LANGUAGE
Lyrical and descriptive, two girls, one who is an immigrant, develop a friendship based on kindness even though they don’t speak the same language.With a finger, I drew a welcome for her, warm and soft, like long scarves and fluffy pillows.” When Saida arrived, the friends teach each other new words and build a friendship.


The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story
by Thao Lam
REFUGEES / #OWNVOICES
Cut-paper collage art in black, white, and pink depicts the wordless journey of a family’s escape from Vietnam, beginning with the girl’s life in war-torn Vietnam where they travel by boat towards safety. In a parallel story, a group of ants escapes onto a paper boat on the same river. Both experience bad weather, thirst, and hunger before finally arriving somewhere new. Masterfully illustrated and conceived, this book will prompt discussion and build an understanding of the hardships of migration.

Counting Kindness: Ten Ways to Welcome Refugee Children
by Hollis Kurman, illustrated by Barroux
REFUGEES / KINDNESS
I love the message and the artwork style so much! From one to ten, read about possible experiences of refugee children leaving their homeland (“2 Two hands lifting us to safety“) and traveling to a new home.10 Ten friends making us happy.”  Understandable kid-language synthesizes the gist of being a refugee and the importance of a kind welcome in the new home.

Cultures


Hot Pot Night!
by Vincent Chen
#OWNVOICES / TAIWANESE  and CHINESE CULTURE / COMMUNITY
Lyrical, simple, and repetitive language narrate this story of a young boy who brings his neighbors together with a shared meal. Everyone contributes– ingredients or tools, including a shared hot pot to make a hot pot communal meal. This delicious meal brings freinds together. “Hot pot, hot pot, let’s have a hot pot!

Binny’s Diwali
by Thrity Umrigar, illustrated by Nidhi Chanani
INDIAN CULTURE / HINDU RELIGION
Today, Binny gets to share with her classmates about the holiday, Diwali. At first, she’s nervous, then she finds the words to explain about the Festival of Lights and its colorful fireworks, colorful powdered chalk, the pretty clay lamps, and sweet foods. She shares the sweets with the class. When the day is done, she celebrates her own victory of goodness and light. This lovely, relatable story of shyness to bravery teaches children about an important Hindu holiday. 

Humor

Goblin is annoyed when unicorns move in next door — maybe even jealous. Because unicorns just frolic all day long and they get their own themed birthday party supplies! AND THERE’S SO MUCH GLITTER and so many tea parties…to which they don’t invite Goblin. Unicorns are really the worst! But Goblin’s opinion changes when the unicorns help him escape a dragon. Clearly, dragons are really the worst. Exceptional, inviting artwork!


Mootilda’s Bad Mood
by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call, illustrated by Claudia Ranucci
HUMOR
Get your mouth ready to mooooo through this rhyming, moooody story filled with word-play about a bovine’s bad day. To Mootilda’s surprise, her bad day eventually turns around when she finds the humor in one more thing gone wrong.

Probably a Narwhal
by Shelley Moore Thomas, illustrated by Jenna Harney
HUMOR
When a little girl blames her messy room on a narwhal, the narwhal gets upset and tries to set her straight. Because no, narwhals are not pink or polka-dotted, or have wings, or are the size of elephants. Laugh out loud silliness.

This is a Book of Shapes
by Kenneth Kraegel
SHAPES / HUMOR
The book starts out simply by introducing three basic shapes. Then, it moves into silliness by introducing an emu pushing a pancake wagon down a hill. It continues in this same way, introducing shapes then randomly interjecting something silly (a porpoise reading a book of knock-knock jokes to three silly sea turtles.) From circles to ovals to rhinos wearing jet packs, this book is a delightful, silly adventure that might actually help kids learn shapes!

Friendship


Bunheads
by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey
BALLET / FRIENDSHIP / COOPERATION
You don’t have to love ballet to love the captivating story of pursuing a goal, working hard, and cooperating with a friend. Misty is excited to learn her studio will be dancing the ballet Coppelia and she wants to get the role of Coppelia. As she works hard in practice, she and her friend Cat help each other prepare.  At the auditions, her friend gets the part of Coppelia. Even so, Misty is happy with her part of Swanilda. After the show, Misty and her bunhead friends take a final bow, proud of what they accomplished. Transcendent illustrations!


We Will Rock Our Classmates
by Ryan T. Higgins
FRIENDSHIP / IDENTITY / HUMOR
More than a simple story of friendship, this is a nuanced and humorous story about knowing who you are (more than a label) and being yourself. Penelope is a T.rex but as this story shows, she is kind, caring, creative, a friend, and with her friends at her side, a rock star.

FRIENDSHIP
Truck friends zip and zoom together until they accidentally take different roads and lose each other, getting lost separately. Not only that but it’s getting dark and they’re both tired. But the friends keep searching until they find each other and the way home. Fun & entertaining.


Evelyn Ray is Moving Away
by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
FRIENDSHIP
Evelyn Del Rey is Daniela’s mejor amiga who is moving away. But before she does, the best friends play just like it was any other day — running around their apartment building, pretending an empty cardboard box is a bus, and twirling around until they fall down. They’re sad because today, Evelyn Del Rey moves away. The story ends with teenage Daniela writing a letter about how she’ll only have one first mejor amiga, the wonderful Evelyn Del Rey. Gorgeous collage illustrations!

Hamish Takes the Train
by Daisy Hirst
FRIENDSHIP
A warm-hearted story of friendship! Hamish wonders about riding the train to the city but his friend, Noreen, prefers to stay in the country. He leaves for the city where he makes friends and gets a job on a construction site. But, he misses Noreen so he returns home where they figure out a wonderful way to have the best of both worlds…together.


Malima’s Jam
by Svetla Radivoeva
SHARING / COMMUNITY
Malina grows raspberry bushes and makes raspberry jams. Her friendly neighbors always pass by with a lot of encouragement but Malina just gives them a polite nod. Until she realizes that giving away her jam to neighbors gives her a lot in return — a close-knit community of neighbors.

Physical Differences


I Talk Like a River
by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith
STUTTER
“I wake up each morning with the sounds of words all around me. And I can’t say them all.” A boy who stutters expresses the difficulties and loneliness of not speaking easily. In fact, he stays “quiet as a stone” instead of talking. His dad takes him to a river where he reminds his son that his way of talking is like the river that flows and bends around rocks and corners. The boy accepts his dad’s wisdom and the comfort of nature. Epic, stunning imagery plus lyrical prose capture the emotions of the boy’s journey and the healing power of nature.


Awesomely Emma: A Charley and Emma Story
by Amy Webb, illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard
PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES

Self-confident Emma not only loves art, but she knows a lot about it. So she’s thrilled to go on the art museum field trip…until she can’t go in the front door because there’s no ramp for her wheelchair. Later, she feels mad when Charley does things for her like pushes her chair or gets out her stuff without asking. Emma helps Charley understand that it’s HER choice to ask if she wants help. The story ends with the museum’s positive response to the class’s letter asking for accommodations for all kinds of bodies. I love how this story enlightens and educates readers to not just limb differences but respect for others. 

STEM / Shakespeare/ Bedtime +


Flibbertigibbety Words: Young Shakespeare Chases Inspiration
by Donna Guthrie, illustrated by Asa Gilland
SHAKESPEARE / WORDS
Words fly into William’s window one day but when he tries to catch them, the words run away. William chases the words throughout London, passing settings and language from his plays. Luckily, a generous peddler helps William catch his words with a pen and paper. Now when William asks the words to stay with him and they do. He uses the words to tell stories of “leaky ships and far-off lands, kings and witches, roses and love letters. It’s a playful, fun introduction to Shakespeare and a love of language.

Jabari Tries
by Gaia Cornwall
STEM / ENGINEERING / GROWTH MINDSET / EMOTIONS
Jabari is making a flying machine today all by himself with his little sister Nika. When his flying machine crashes and he feels mad and sad, Jabari’s dad gives him good advice: “When I’m frustrated, I gather up all my patience, take a deep breath, and blow away all the mixed feelings inside.” That helps Jabari feel better. He and Nika try again. And, they get the machine to fly high! He and Nika are great engineers! This wonderful STEM story models emotional intelligence and growth mindset.

Peyton Picks the Perfect Pie: A Thanksgiving Celebration
by Jack Bishop, illustrations by Michelle Mee Nutter
PICKY EATERS / THANKSGIVING
From the minds at America’s Test Kitchen Kids comes the story of a picky eater named Peyton. This Thanksgiving, Peyton agrees to try one new food — pie. Each guest arrives and brings a different kind of pie — Boston Cream Pie, whoopie pies, ruffled milk pie, plum galette, Mississippi mud pie, and more — to add to Peyton’s mom’s apple pie. After dinner, Peyton tries her first pie…and asks for seconds! A festive celebration of food and community that shows how trying new foods can help you discover something new and yummy to eat.


Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog
by Lisa Papp
THERAPY DOG
It’s time for Madeline’s fluffy white dog named Star to test his skills as a therapy dog. They visit  the Walker Oats retirement community where he encounters tests of his skills like resisting cookies on the ground and traveling calmly in an elevator. But both Madeline wonders what they can do to help Mr. Humphrey, a man in a wheelchair who doesn’t smile or respond to her questions. Soon, Madeline finds a wonderful way to communicate and build trust– reading out loud, something both Mr. Humphrey and Star enjoy together.

A football game metaphor for going to bed — from huddling to calling plays. Playful, simple, fun.


The Invisible Alphabet
by Joshua David Stein, illustrated by Ron Barrett
ALPHABET
What a unique alphabet book for older kids all about things that you can’t see. For example, E is for erased and M is for Microscopic, Q is for Quiet and S is for Secret. This book will make you think.

Eek! A Noisy Journey from A to Z
by Julie Larios, illustrated by Julie Paschkis
ONOMATOPEIA
A dictionary of onomatopoeia words, follow the story of a mouse with allergies (achoo!), and the cast of animal characters who help him on his adventure to give a daisy to a special friend (yahoo, zzz).
NEW picture books September 2020

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