Children’s Book Week Spotlight: More Books for Kids in Elementary School

May 5, 2015
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Happy Children’s Book Week! The 2015 edition of Children’s Book Week launched on Saturday on Free Comic Book Day, and now that kids around the country have gotten a taste of comics, we want to recommend a few more! In this edition of CBLDF’s week-long feature, we have some suggestions for readers in Grades 4-6.

The age groups here are suggested by the publishers of the books, but they can be enjoyed by readers of all ages! Keep in mind that every reader is an individual, so parents are best suited to make decisions about what is appropriate for their own children. Just because a book is labeled with specific ages, that doesn’t mean a younger reader—or even grown up kids!—won’t find something to enjoy.

Let’s take a look…

Amulet by Kazu Kibushiamulet-book-cover-image

Graphix • Suggested for ages 8-12

Amulet is an award-winning graphic novel series about Emily and her brother Navin who, through extenuating circumstances, find themselves battling for the freedom of a parallel world and face mounting dangers with newfound friends. This coming-of-age series continues to win awards. The Young Adult Library services Association named it one of Best Books for Young Adults in 2009. In 2010, it won a Rhode Island Children’s Book Award and was included in a Library Journal list of “Graphic Novels for Reluctant Readers.” In 2011, it received a Young Reader’s Choice Award, and in 2013, it was ranked fourth on Goodreads’ “Best Graphic Novels for Children” list. These books received an Eisner nomination and are currently New York Times bestsellers. There are currently six volumes in the Amulet series.

• Using Graphic Novels in Education: Amulet

Smile by Raina Telgemeiersmilecover

Graphix • Suggested for ages 9-13

In this autobiographical coming-of-age graphic novel memoir, Raina Telgemeier ruminates with humor and honesty on the tumultuous challenges and perils of her teen years: from the trauma of falling one night on her way home from a Girl Scout meeting severely injuring her front teeth, to dealing with boys, earthquakes and the true meaning of friendship.

Smile is a New York Times bestseller; winner of the 2011 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens; winner of the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, 2012; winner of the Maine Student Book Award, 2012; finalist for the Children’s Choice Book Award, 2011; ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2011; Honor Book for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, 2010; Kirkus Best Book of 2010; and the New York Times Editors’ Choice, 2010.

• Using Graphic Novel in Education: Smile

Bone by Jeff Smith250px-Out_from_Boneville_medium

Cartoon Books • Suggested for ages 9+

Bone tells of three creatures known as the Bones, who are outcast from their home village of Boneville and lost in a human land called the Valley. In the Valley, the Bones find themselves surrounded by talking bugs, vicious rat-like monsters, magic, and the occasional dragon. Smith’s epic follows Fone Bone and his two cousins, Smiley and Phoney, as they meet the valley’s denizens, become embroiled in their society, and discover their own heroism in confrontation with the rat creatures and their mystical master, the Lord of Locusts. 

Although considered a modern comics classic that’s delighted millions of readers all over the world, Jeff Smith’s Bone is also one of the most commonly challenged books in American libraries. There are nine books in the Bone series, as well as a prequel Rose. 

• Case Study: Bone

• Texas ACLU Uncovers Multiple Challenges to Comics in 2013-2014

• CBLDF Board Member and Bone Creator Jeff Smith on Banned Books Week

Chiggers by Hope Larson Chiggers

Atheneum Books • Suggested for ages 10-14

Chiggers is graphic novel that takes an honest look at the timeless ritual of summer camp as seen and experienced first-hand by Abby, a young teen attending her last year as a camper at sleep-away camp. Chiggers is a Junior Library Guild Selection and YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens Nominee. It follows Abby from the moment her parents rush her out of the house and drive her through country highways and hills to get her to camp before any other campers arrive and concludes when her parents are the first car in line on the last day of camp to take her home. It’s a story about friendship, fitting in, love, and loyalty, and it interweaves realities and fantasies of summer life.

• Using Graphic Novels in Education: Chiggers

dramacoverDrama by Raina Telgemeier

Graphix • Suggested for ages 9-14

Drama, which is recommended for ages 9-14, is a fictional story about seventh-grader Callie, who, like many kids her age, wrestles with a pesky, snooping little brother while navigating middle school friendships and crushes. The interesting thing about Callie is her passion around being on the Drama Club’s tech crew and interacting with her friends in the club. What makes this book so special though, is its message to young girls. Specifically, what makes Callie happiest is not being cool or popular or even winning “the boy.” Instead, it’s working hard on her set ideas, becoming the best stage manager ever of the Drama Club, and refining her voice, her vision, and her skills within that role.

In April, the American Library Association released its list of the most frequently challenged books in America in 2014, and three graphic novels were listed, including Drama which has been challenged for its “sexually explicit content.” 

• Using Graphic Novels in Education: Drama

• Three Graphic Novels Among ALA’s Ten Most Challenged Books of 2014

• What Do We Know About the Frequently Challenged Comics of 2014?

This list represents just a few of the amazing kids comics waiting to be discovered by younger readers. We’ll be featuring more throughout the week, so keep returning to CBLDF.org for more! If you can’t wait, visit your local library or view the latest edition of Raising a Reader! How Comics & Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Love To Read! for additional resources.

Children’s Book Week (May 4 – 10, 2015), the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading, was established in 1919 and is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year commemorative events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes, and now comic book stores! On May 2, Free Comic Book Day led off the celebration of Children’s Book Week at more than 2,000 comic book specialty stores, which will be giving away millions of free kids comics! To learn more about Children’s Book Week, and how you can join the fun, please visit www.bookweekonline.com. Check out official events from coast to coast at www.bookweekonline.com/official. For a list of comic book shops participating in Children’s Book Week events, visit CBLDF’s website here. To learn more about Free Comic Book Day, please visit www.freecomicbookday.com.

Celebrate the freedom to read comics for all ages and CBLDF’s important First Amendment work by visiting the Rewards Zonemaking a donation, or becoming a member of CBLDF!

Book descriptions courtesy of CBLDF contributor Meryl Jaffe. All images (c) their respective creators.

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