Becca Lang, early childhood librarian at Monte Cassino
Recommendations for pre-K to kindergarten:
“Chica Chica Boom Boom” by Bill Martin and John Archambault is a wonderful Alphabet romp that always gets the little ones engaged. The song and video of the book are also hits.
“Mean Jean Recess Queen” by Alexis O’Neill is a twist on the common issues of bullying and conflict resolution (which happens in this book without adult intervention). The lyrical language gets the kids’ attention right off the bat.
“Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon” by Patty Lovell is another kindergarten favorite. Molly is a short, awkward little girl, but she doesn’t mind because her grandmother always told her to stand tall and smile big, which she does in this wonderful book.
“The Stray Dog” by Marc Simont is an endearing story about a cute homeless dog. When a family goes for a picnic a cute stray dog appears. The little girl and boy play with him all afternoon. At the end of the day they have to say goodbye, but the little dog stays on their minds and hearts.
Sara Marshall, librarian at Broken Arrow’s Liberty Elementary
Elementary school recommendations:
“Front Desk” by Kelly Yang follows 10-year-old Mia, a Chinese immigrant who desperately wants to embrace her new life in America. Poverty and discrimination make it difficult for her family to survive in their new world. Through resourcefulness, work ethic and friendship, Mia and her family begin to find their way.
Middle-schooler Aven Green has relocated from her hometown in Kansas to a run-down theme park in Arizona in Dusti Bowling’s “Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus.” She must learn how to cope in a new school and solve the mystery of how she came to be at Stagecoach Pass.
“Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere” by Elise Gravel tells the story of a girl who loves learning about animals and conducting science experiments. She encounters a peculiar, smelly new species and gives it a name: olgamus ridiculus. The colorful illustrations, speech bubbles and quirky humor in this story will delight young readers.
Jessalynn McCoin, intermediate librarian at Monte Cassino
Middle school recommendations:
“Wishtree” by Katherine Applegate is the story of Red, an oak tree. Every year, people tie their wishes to her branches, so she thinks she has heard it all until two children wish for a friend. Now, being a tree, Red cannot talk to humans, but she decides she simply must break her vow of silence, and so, the tree speaks.
“Allies” by Alan Gratz is an Intermediate Sequoyah Award Nominee. It all takes place on D-Day and follows characters from medics, to spies, to soldiers, to reporters. “Allies” shows how the world was forever changed on that fateful day.
“Genesis Begins Again” by Alicia D. Williams follows Genesis, who just wants to have a normal life — not worried if her parents are able to pay the rent and not worried about her skin being “too black.” She is willing to try anything to blend in. This is a fabulous coming-of-age story about finding beauty in forgiveness and in the mirror.
Emily Johnson, librarian at Jenks Middle School
Young adult recommendations:
“Dry” by Neal Shusterman takes readers along on an intense fight for survival when the taps go dry in current-day California. What would you do for a drink of water?
In “Truly Devious” by Maureen Johnson, multiple mysteries are at work at Ellington Academy. A cold case from nearly 100 years ago and a current death/murder will satisfy the mystery suspense reader as well as the historical fiction fan. If you like true crime, you’ll love this series starter.
“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi gives readers a history of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow laws and how prominent social and political figures handled race relations. This narrative nonfiction text is informational and engaging.
“Daughter of the Pirate King” by Tricia Levenseller follows Alosa, the captain of an all-female pirate crew tasked with finding a piece of a treasure map. She is cunning, cut-throat, and can best most other pirate crews. This action read ties in a little fantasy with Sirens for adventures on the high seas.
Carmen Applegate, elementary librarian at Monte Cassino
Recommendations for first through fourth grade:
“Sam and Dave Dig a Hole,” written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen, is a hilarious picture book is disguised as a simple quest to find "something spectacular." Kids will love reading it again and again as they notice what the poor characters do not.
The Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo is great for beginning readers. Mercy is a lovable, quirky pig who always manages to earn her tasty treat even after causing much trouble. The format of these books makes them feel like "real" chapter books.
“One Dead Spy” and other titles from Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales is a hilarious and creative graphic novel detailing Nathan Hale's role in the Revolutionary War. Told in a format kids love, this title and others in the series, will keep kids laughing and reading as they learn about history.
“Brown Girl Dreaming,” a poetry memoir for upper elementary by Jacqueline Woodson, is a beautiful account of Woodson's childhood in the Jim Crow era. Woodson writes with such imagery and emotion that readers can't help but relate and understand.
Kathy Buckner, librarian at Broken Arrow’s Vandever Elementary
Elementary school recommendations:
The Bink and Gollie series by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile follows two friends that appear to have nothing in common, yet somehow, they have a wonderful friendship. Each book has several short stories full of rich vocabulary and beautiful illustrations.
The I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis is full of fast-paced adventures set during significant historical events. The books are always about a young person trying to survive the book’s historically important event such as, the Titanic or Pearl Harbor.
In the first book of the Dragons and Marshmallows (Zoey and Sassafras) series by Asia Citro illustrated by Marion Lindsay, Zoey discovers a glowing photo and learns an amazing secret. Each story in the series features a new magical animal with a problem that must be solved using science complete with a glossary of the kid-friendly definitions for scientific terms used.
Bob faces many challenges and obstacles in Katherine Applegate’s “The One and Only Bob.” The biggest is confronting his past. Each character is brought to life and through the story, reminding the reader that all living beings matter and have feelings.