Books are instrumental in helping children see themselves in the world they live. By providing access to a rich diversity of titles, educators can shed light on challenges specific to children in need and inspire an unending love of reading.
With this outlook, First Book has released its inaugural “First Book Title Raves,” a list of ten newly-published books ranging from board books to young adult fiction reviewed and recommended by educators who serve children in need.
These stories play a critical role to help address the top subjects facing these educators’ students. They also demonstrate that addressing the problem of book deserts — the areas in the United States that are devoid of libraries and bookstores — has to be done with quality, relevant, inclusive books.
First Book Title Raves (listed in alphabetical order by author, with the educator’s review):
The Benefits of Being an Octupus, by Ann Braden
“This title follows the journey of Zoey, a girl raised in poverty and chaos, as she learns to claim space in the world and see herself as worthy. My students and I love it.”—Wendy G
Yasmin the Fashionista, by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly
“Our school has so many Muslim families but the options for representation in literature for early readers is limited. These books were a hit! Parents were asking where to buy copies for their home libraries. Grandparents are positively represented in several of the books as well. The art is FABULOUS.”—Sheila B.
Potato Pants! by Laurie Keller
“If you are looking for a hilarious, laugh out loud perfect read aloud for K-5, this book is potato-ey perfect! Laurie Keller doesn’t disappoint with her humor, word play and fantastic author’s message. I read this aloud 20 times in our school library and the kids ALL loved it!”—Colleen M.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram
“This is a such a tender story that focuses on one young man’s struggle to not only see who he is, but who he is in this world. It is such a touching tale of family, friendship, and how even though we may live worlds apart, there is acceptance and understanding to be had. This is a great book for any student struggling to find where they are in this world.”—Brian M.
Baby 101: Anatomy for Babies, by Jonathan Litton, illustrated by Thomas Elliott
“Great book for moms to read to ages 0-3. Has a lot of great colorful pictures. Great way of explaining to toddlers their anatomy and how it works. AWESOME!”—Patrice A.
The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague, by Julia Finley Mosca, illustrated by Daniel Rieley
“I used the book for the beginning of the year to immerse the students into the minds of great mathematicians. It was exciting for the 4th and 5th graders to listen to a story about a person who had to overcome a lot of obstacles to pursue her dream. It also opened up the minds of my female students to pursue math.”—Erin I.
Lu, by Jason Reynolds
“The Track Series is a popular read in my classroom library. My students have been anxiously awaiting the fourth book. They have devoured it within days of reading it. If you do not have these series in your classroom library, you must get it. My reluctant readers and my engaged readers love it.”—Anna F.
The Wind Called My Name, by Mary Louise Sanchez
“So far my students have loved this book! Having many students of diverse cultures, many of whom are immigrants or first generation born here, it is easy to relate to, and one of the books that they seem not to be able to put down. It is full of history, facts, culture and adventure. I would definitely recommend this book to add to your classroom libraries.”—Joann D.
The Bridge Home, by Padma Venkatraman
“Whether you teach later elementary or middle grades, you need this touching read in your classroom library. A great read for kids who need to find their own sense of family, or who have to ‘adult’ too much, or who are grieving a loss.”—Kristine P.
The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López
“This was the most beautiful book that I have read in years! I believe that this book will hit a chord with every single child that reads it and it will give many the courage that they need to face each day. If you only buy one book all year, this is the one to get!”—Lenna B.
If you’re an educator serving children in need, visit the First Book Marketplace to find more quality books worth raving about, and leave your own review!