For this issue, Valerie Koehler, owner of the Blue Willow Bookshop, hand picks books to help young readers understand and cope with storms, tragedy, and change.
Courage For Beginners by Karen Harrington
(Little Brown For Young Readers, March 2015)
Starting middle school is tough enough. When Mysti Murphy’s best friend pulls away, her father has to be hospitalized, and she has a family secret, life gets even harder. The struggles she faces are all too real to kids, who will learn life lessons from this story of a girl dealing with hardship and learning to have hope for the future.
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
(Feiwel and Friends, September 2017)
Red is an oak tree who has been around for years. She’s also a wishing tree, so on the first day of May each year, neighbors tie their wishes — some silly, some heartfelt, some selfish — on Red’s branches in the hopes that they will come true. When a new family moves in, not everyone welcomes them, and Red’s role as a wishtree is more important than ever. A beautiful, timely and timeless story for grades 4 and up.
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
(Little Brown Books for Young Readers, February 2012)
Twelve-year-old Lanesha lives in New Orleans with her beloved grandma, who she calls Mama Ya Ya. Mama Ya Ya has the gift of sight and foresees Hurricane Katrina’s arrival. This story of Lanesha’s journey through the hurricane combines magical realism with gripping realistic fiction. An enjoyable book for grades 5 and up or for families to read aloud.
Learning To Swear In America by Katie Kennedy
(Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books, July 2017)
Yuri is a teen prodigy from Russia brought to America to work with top scientists who are trying to figure out a way to keep an asteroid headed to Earth from destroying life as we know it. While he tries to convince these older scientists that his plan will work, he meets Dovie, a typical American teenager who seems oblivious to the impending disaster and helps to teach him about life in America and maybe about what makes a life worth living. This book will make you laugh while it breaks your heart, but in a good way.
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
(Simon & Schuster Books, March 2015)
An asteroid may or may not be headed directly for Earth. This potential cataclysmic event causes relationships to change. The popular kids mix with the geeks, family bonds change, and the population of Seattle becomes unhinged. What would happen to society if we thought we were all doomed?
House In The Woods by Inga Moore
(Candlewick, November 2011)
Two little Pigs lose their home to an accident caused by Bear and Moose. It’s up to the community of friends to help rebuild their home. It’s a reminder that despite the stress we’re under, by working together we can rebuild our neighborhood.
Let’s Investigate With Nate: The Water Cycle
PBS host and mechanical engineer Nate Ball escorts four children through an investigation of the water cycle. The kids ask questions that enable him to explain the water cycle in more detail and in language they can understand. Complete with a glossary as well as a hands-on experiment, this is a great way for curious children in grades 1 and up to learn more about this aspect of science.
This House, Once by Deborah Freedman
(Simon & Schuster Books February 2017)
A gentle story for young children to understand what parts of our natural world we use to build our homes. From the majestic oak that is now your front door to the stones that make the foundation, it’s a beautiful ode to what makes a house a home.
When The Sky Breaks by Simon Winchester
(Penguin Books For Young Readers January 2017)
New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester explains a variety of weather phenomena, from hurricanes to climate change. Complete with gorgeous photographs and clear explanations, this book is geared for those middle school students in grades 6 and up who want to learn more about how weather affects our lives.
Courage by Bernard Waber
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2002)
A bestseller for years, this simple picture book explores all kinds of bravery, from small daily trials to the big ones facing us. We need courage and we need to explain courage.
Feelings by Sarah Jennings
(Macmillan Books, May 2017)
This is a perfect book to share with your younger children whenever they need to process feelings, be they happy or sad. Each page spread focuses on one emotion, explaining what it means to feel that way and how to act when you feel that way. A good resource for many times in your life.
Flood by Alvaro F. Villa
(Capstone Books, February 2013)
A wordless picture book that allows you tell your own story about a family with a lovely home who is forced to leave it because of rising water. You can feel the concern and the worry in the illustrations. It’s important to tell your stories.