Number the Stars (2011) Lowry, Louis
Through the eyes of fictional 10-year-old Annemarie, whose family conceals her Jewish best friend, Ellen, this incredible moment of courage and conviction is given a personal quality for tween readers. Younger readers can learn about this inspiring moment of resistance and defiance. Grade 2-5.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond (2011) Spear, Elizabeth
This Newbery Medal-winning novel will get kids thinking about society’s tendency — in both the past and the present — to fear and hate the different. Grade 4-8.
Ella Enchanted (2012) Levine, Gail
Gail Carson Levine’s examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor. Grade 4-7.
Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles) (2015) Wrede. Patricia, C.
Princess Cimorene, the daughter of a very proper king, runs away to live with a very powerful dragon, Kazul. Grade 4-7.
Coraline (2009) Gaiman, Neil
The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring….In Coraline’s family’s new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close, the fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own. Only it’s different. Grade 3-7.
The Red Pencil (2014) Pinkey, Andrea Davis
Life in peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey– on foot– to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind–and all kinds of possibilities.
Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal (2014) Engle, Margarita
From the young silver people” whose back-breaking labor built the Canal to the denizens of the endangered rainforest itself, this is the story of one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, as only Newbery Honor-winning author Margarita Engle could tell it. Grade 7.
Inside Out & Back Again (2011) Lai, Thanhha
Inspiring, educational immigrant story told in free verse. Grade 5-7.
If I Ever Get Out Of Here (2013) Gansworth, Eric
A frank and funny portrait of the transformative friendship between a Native American boy and an Air Force kid. Grade 4-7.
Esperanza Rising (2000) Ryan, Pam Munoz
Esperanza Rising is an award-winning work of historical fiction that chronicles the life a Mexican migrant farmworker in the 1930s.