Looking for an exciting new read? Look no further! Our staff in Youth Services have picked out their favorite books of the year so far.


Looking for more recommendations? Fill out our form to get a custom list of reads or a Book Bundle for pickup.



    Youth Services Assistant Librarian Stefanie 

Bring home a fun new project! Sign up from our Library Calendar and pick up a kit at the Youth Services desk or through our Parking Lot Pickup service between April 12-23.


Toddler & PreK: Flower Pot Painting

Paint a flower pot, plant some seeds, then watch as they grow! Register for the May Toddler & PreK Take-and-Make Kit here.




Show us what you created! Send us pictures at youthservices@balibrary.org



Grades K-2: Beaded Wind Chime

String colored beads and then enjoy watching your chime blow in the breeze. Register for the May Grades K-2 Take-and-Make Kit here.

Your Kit Contains:

  • 96 beads 24 colors, 4 of each color
  • 6 colorful jumbo craft sticks
  • 1 Tacky glue stick
  • 4 twenty inch pieces of string
  • 1 plastic container with 5 jewelry clasp


1. Glue the craft sticks into two triangles. Place and glue the two triangles on top of each other to form a star.


2. Tie a string around one of the jewelry clasps.


3. Start and end with a large bead on each string. Start stringing smaller beads in desired pattern, (repeat four times).



4. Thread three strands, one through each hole on the star. Put the fourth strand up through the middle and gather all four strand ends together.  The star will sit on the big beads, adjust the strands until it is hanging evenly.


5. Tie all four strands on the circular jewelry clasp.


6. Hang and enjoy!


Show us what you created! Send us pictures at youthservices@balibrary.org



Grades 3-8: Sharpie Art Coasters

Use permanent markers and rubbing alcohol to create a blended-ink masterpiece where you can set your drink. Register for the May Grades 3-8 Take-and-Make Kit here.

Your kit contains:

  • 2 ceramic tiles
  • 3 Sharpie pens
  • 1 pipette 
  • 1 strip of black felt 
  • 1 container of rubbing alcohol
  • 1 empty cup

1. Color a coaster with the Sharpies. Don’t stress about getting this perfect—the end result will look very different!

2. Place the coaster in a shallow plastic or foil container, resting on the empty plastic cup.

3. Carefully use the pipette to drip a small amount of rubbing alcohol over the coaster. You can gently tip the coaster so the liquid moves and the colors start to bleed and blend.

4. Let dry completely (about 1-2 hours).

5. Cut the felt into small squares, remove the backing, and stick on the underside of your coaster.


Show us what you created! Send us pictures at youthservices@balibrary.org.


No Jedi mind tricks necessary -- these are the books you’re looking for.

The following titles are available at the Barrington Area Library.

Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy Stories

Various writers; illustrations by Brian Rood

Your little Star Wars historian can read great stories by Elizabeth Schaefer, Ivan Cohen, Rebecca L. Schmidt, and others, brought to life by long-time franchise illustrator Brian Rood. From a tense podrace to a deadly duel with the villainous Count Dooku, experience the prequel trilogy in this kid-friendly format.


The Clone Wars: Ahsoka in Action!

Written by Jon Richards

Anakin’s padawan, Ahsoka Tano, springs into action against the deadly droids of the Trade Federation. Meet other great Clone Wars-era characters in this Level 1 beginning reader.


Star Wars: Jedi Academy

Written and illustrated by Jeffrey Brown

Star Wars and Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans alike will enjoy this silly retelling of the Star Wars saga… with a twist! Follow Jedi trainee Roan’s wacky misadventures through school -- lightsaber duels, baking soda volcano disasters, and awkward slow dances await.

First in a series.


I Am a Princess

Written by Courtney B. Carbone

Illustrated by Heather Martinez

Fans of Little Golden Books will adore this picture book retelling of the Original Trilogy from the perspective of Leia Organa, Princess of Alderaan. Follow Leia’s journey from the Tantive IV to her adventures aboard the Millennium Falcon.



Are You Scared, Darth Vader?

Written and illustrated by Adam Rex

Witches? Ha! Ghosts? Don’t make me laugh. Darth Vader isn’t scared of anything!



Trapped in the Death Star!

Written by Michael Siglain

Art by Pilot Studio

Oh, no! Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie are trapped in the Galactic Empire’s terrifying superweapon, the Death Star! Can they use their bravery -- and wits -- to escape?

Level 2.


The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear!

Written by Tom Angleberger

Illustrated by Andie Tong

What started as a simple cat-sitting job has turned into a real headache for everyone’s favorite fuzzball! Join Chewbacca as he fights off strange monsters, uncovers hidden treasure, and rescues his best pal Han Solo.


Guardians of the Whills

By Greg Rucka

When the Empire destroys the Jedi Temple on Jedha, best friends Baze and Chirrut must band together to save their people. This book for upper elementary readers serves as a prequel to Star Wars: Rogue One.



The Galaxy Needs You

Written by Caitlin Kennedy

Illustrated by Eda Kaban

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from -- you have it in you to be a hero! Follow Rey as she gears up to save the galaxy from the First Order in this companion to the Sequel Trilogy.



BB-8 on the Run

Written by Drew Daywalt

Illustrated by Matt Myers

Poor BB-8! He’s been separated from his best buddy, hotshot pilot Poe, and now he’s stuck on Jakku! Will our little droid find his way home?


Adventures in Wild Space, Book 1: The Snare

By Cavan Scott

First in a series. After Milo and Lina’s parents are abducted by the Empire, the kids set out on an epic adventure to rescue them. Explore the farthest edges of the galaxy in this amazing series!

Tip: Want personalized reading suggestions? Fill out this form and you’ll receive a customized list direct to your inbox!

  Youth Services Librarian Chris 


Want to make a tasty snack? Looking to hone your cooking skills? Trying to earn a Michelin star for your world-famous kitchen? Grab one of these cookbooks off the shelf and find some inspiration.

The following cookbooks, and others, are available at the Barrington Area Library.



MasterChef Junior Cookbook: Bold Recipes and Essential Techniques to Inspire Young Cooks

Inspired by the hit cooking competition, the MasterChef Junior Cookbook features exciting, ambitious -- but approachable recipes. This cookbook doesn’t just inspire, it teaches: kids will gain essential skills for everyday use, as well as become more confident and comfortable as they move from dish to dish. Covers a wide variety of dishes, from salads to marshmallow cupcakes.



The Cookbook for Kids: Great Recipes for Kids Who Love to Cook

Lisa Atwood

Featuring over 60 kid-friendly recipes, The Cookbook for Kids certainly lives up to its name. Young chefs can prepare their own lunches, serve themselves a delicious breakfast, craft some snacks for a lazy afternoon, or (of course) whip up a tasty dessert. Recipes are arranged in an approachable format and include tips and tricks to help the cook develop good habits.



The Vegetarian Cookbook

Easy and inviting for vegetarians and omnivores alike, The Vegetarian Cookbook introduces kids to delicious plant-based recipes. Learn how to make meatless treats like avocado toast, veggie quesadillas, falafel, sweet potato lasagna… just make sure to finish it off with a delicious key lime pie or beet brownie!



The Multicultural Cookbook for Students

Lois Sinaiko Webb and Lindsay Grace Roten

Kids can broaden their culinary -- and cultural -- boundaries with this wonderful cookbook. Take a trip around the world, discovering recipes from Tunisia, Madagascar, Indonesia, Vietnam, New Zealand, and many, many other countries and cultures. In addition to the recipe(s), kids will learn about the culture and food philosophies of each represented country. Recipes vary in difficulty, from easy to advanced.



The Gross Cookbook: Awesome Recipes for (Deceptively) Disgusting Treats Kids Can Make

Susanna Tee

Sure, these recipes don’t look or sound appetizing, but that’s half the fun! Your family’s mouths will water when you serve them some chewy cockroaches, wasp crackers, and chewy caterpillars. Or, if they’re feeling picky, whip up some deep fried rattlesnake or human brain! These hilarious, nauseating -- and delicious -- dishes will entertain cook and patron alike.


Tip: Want personalized reading suggestions? Fill out this form and you’ll receive a customized list direct to your inbox!

  Youth Services Librarian Chris 


Did you know? April is Arab American Heritage Month in Illinois. Arab Americans are people in the U.S. who have ancestors from an Arab nation, one of 22 countries throughout Northern Africa and Western Asia. Read one of these books to celebrate and learn from the perspectives of Arab or Arab American people.


Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane

Recommended for ages 3-6

Lalla lives in the Muslim country of Mauritania, and more than anything, she wants to wear a malafa, the colorful cloth Mauritanian women, like her mama and big sister, wear to cover their heads and clothes in public. But it is not until Lalla realizes that a malafa is not just worn to show a woman's beauty and mystery or to honor tradition - a malafa for faith - that Lalla's mother agrees to slip a long cloth as blue as the ink in the Koran over Lalla's head, under her arm, and round and round her body. Then together, they pray.


Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi

Recommended for ages 5-9

Now that she is ten, Lailah is delighted that she can fast during the month of Ramadan like her family and her friends in Abu Dhabi, but finding a way to explain to her teacher and classmates in Atlanta is a challenge until she gets some good advice from the librarian, Mrs. Carman.

  Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron

Recommended for ages 5-8

All Salma wants is to make her mama smile again. Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad. A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up, but Salma doesn't know the recipe, or what to call the vegetables in English, or where to find the right spices! Luckily, the staff and other newcomers at the Welcome Center are happy to lend a hand--and a sprinkle of sumac. With creativity, determination, and charm, Salma brings her new friends together to show Mama that even though things aren't perfect, there is cause for hope and celebration.


The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter

Recommended for ages 6-10

In the spring of 2003, Alia Muhammad Baker was the city of Basra's real-life librarian. She was the keeper of cherished books and her library was a haven for community gatherings. But with war imminent in Basra, Iraq, what could this lone woman do to save her precious books?

This true story of one librarian's remarkable bravery reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge knows no boundaries.


Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Recommended for ages 8-12

Farah and her best friend, Allie Liu, are getting excited to turn in their applications to the Magnet Academy, where they both hope to attend sixth grade. But when new girl Dana Denver shows up, Farah's world is turned upside down. As Dana starts bullying Farah's little brother, Samir, Farah begins to second-guess her choice to leave him behind at Harbortown Elementary/Middle School. Determined to handle it on her own, Farah comes up with a plan--a plan that involves lying to those closest to her. Will her lies catch up with her, or can Farah find a way to defeat the bully and rock fifth grade?


Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Recommended for ages 9-13

Jude never thought she'd be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven't quite prepared her for starting school in the US--and her new label of "Middle Eastern," an identity she's never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises--there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.


City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda

Recommended for ages 9-13

Thirteen-year-old Iraqi American Sik wants a simple life going to school and helping at his parents' deli in the evenings. But all that is blown to smithereens when Nergal comes looking for him, thinking that Sik holds the secret to eternal life. Turns out Sik is immortal but doesn't know it, and that's about to get him and the entire city into deep, deep trouble. Sik's not in this alone. He's got Belet, the adopted daughter of Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, on his side, and a former hero named Gilgamesh, who has taken up gardening in Central Park. Now all they have to do is retrieve the Flower of Immortality to save Manhattan from being wiped out by disease. To succeed, they'll have to conquer sly demons, treacherous gods, and their own darkest nightmares.


Want more reading lists delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our e-newsletters to discover the newest and best books for kids.

Youth Services Librarian Allison 

Thank you to everyone who created a piece of our patchwork murals to celebrate Earth Day! Just like the Earth and all its inhabitants, these individual artworks are diverse, lively, colorful, and surprising. Yet when we step back, we see a unified world, connected and dependent on all its pieces. 

Stop by the Library to see more of these Earth artworks, created by kids in our community.

Youth Services Librarian Allison 


Bring home a fun new project! Sign up from our Library Calendar and pick up a kit at the Youth Services desk or through our Parking Lot Pickup service between April 12-23.


Toddler & PreK: Make a Puppet

 Create a unique puppet of your own. Register for the April Toddler & PreK Take-and-Make Kit here.




Your kit contains:

1 glue stick

1 bag of feathers

1 brown bag filled with 4 googly eyes

2 foam sheets

2 colored goody bags

3 or 4 crayons

Not included: Scissors



1. Lay a colored goody bag on its smooth side. Keep the bottom flap facing up. (Point the opening toward you).




2. The flap will be the mouth of the puppet. Have your child draw or decorate the puppet as they please.

Scissors are not provided in your kit. However, please feel free to utilize your own scissors. If appropriate, have your child cut out shapes or different designs. You may also choose to cut out different shapes and designs for your child if they are unable to do so themselves.



3. Have your child use the glue stick to glue the googly eyes, feathers and foam shapes to their puppet.


4. Once the puppet has dried, your child may use their puppet! Have them slide their hand into the opening and curl their fingers up and under the flap. They can extend and curl their fingers to make the puppet “talk.”




Optional talking points to consider: Use this activity as an opportunity to practice color recognition; ask your child to find the “blue feather”. Cut out different shapes from the foam paper and have your child identify the shapes. Have your child create patterns with the shapes you have cut out. Talk about different body parts and have your child locate theirs as well as their puppets.




There are enough materials to make two puppets! (You may also use the brown bag that the googly eyes came in to create a third puppet!)


Show us what you created! Send us pictures at youthservices@balibrary.org



Grades K-2: Glue and Chalk Art

Experiment with glue and chalk pastels to create a colorful work of art. Register for the April Grades K-2 Take-and-Make Kit here.


Your Kit Contains:

5 sheets of white construction paper

5 sheets of black construction paper

1 pencil

1 bottle of school glue

1 bag of chalk pastels




1. Open the box and empty out your supplies.

2. Select either a white or black piece of paper for your first creation.

3. Trace out your design with pencil – bold designs like flowers and leaves lend themselves nicely to this technique.



4. Trace your pencil lines in glue. Try not to touch the tip of the glue bottle directly to the paper. Instead just lay a continuous line of glue.



5. Wait for glue to completely dry. This will take time – be patient!



6. Time to add color! Use your chalk pastels to color both the inside and outside of your design. Use your fingertip to blend some of the colors together.




7. Enjoy your finished art piece!



Concepts to explore:

Positive and negative space – the inside of your design is the positive space and rest of the paper is negative space. How can you choose colors to show the differences between those two elements?

Warm and cool colors – colors like reds, oranges and yellows are warm, while blues, purples and greens are cool. How can you blend your pastels to create more warm or more cool shades?


Show us what you created! Send us pictures at youthservices@balibrary.org



Grades 3-8: DIY Magnetic Poetry Kit 

 Create your own magnetic words set and use it to write poetry. Register for the April Grades 3-8 Take-and-Make Kit here.


Your kit contains:

  • 1 8x10 magnetic adhesive sheet
  • 1 printed sheet of words
  • 1 tin box
  • Extra magnetic sheet/blank paper


You will also need:

  • Scissors
  • Pencil (for tracing)
  • Pen




1. Lay the full sheet of paper with the words on it face up and lay your magnetic sheet on top. Trace the shape of the magnetic sheet onto the piece of paper, making sure that all of the words will fit onto the magnetic sheet. Cut the paper where you traced, just trimming the excess.





 2. Once you’ve trimmed the sheet of words, carefully peel the cover off of the magnetic sheet, so that the adhesive is facing up.




3. Place your sheet of words onto the adhesive very slowly, starting from the top, and working your way down, making the paper fit as smoothly as possible onto the magnetic sheet. Be careful not to stick it on all at once. This part is a little tricky, so feel free to ask a grown up for help!

4. Once your words are fully stuck to the adhesive, smooth it over with your fingers a few times to make sure it’s sticking really well.

5. Do you notice any blank spaces? Feel free to write your own words in those spaces, or trace some rectangular shapes to fill in words later. I recommend doing this part before you start cutting, to make the process a little easier.



6. Now you’re ready to cut! Begin cutting your words out. I recommend cutting the page into strips, and then trimming the individual words from there. Place your words into your tin box as you cut them out.






7. It’s time to get creative! Now you can use your words to write some poetry. Place them on your fridge, a magnetic board, a cookie sheet, or anything else you can find that is magnetic. Think of some more words you could add? You have been given an extra piece of magnet and blank paper to personalize your kits.


Some ideas for how to use your DIY Magnetic Poetry Kit:

  • Check out a book on poetry to go along with your Take and Make Kit for inspiration!
  • Write a poem with your family and/or friends. Take turns adding a word each until you’re satisfied.
  • Make it into a game! Give each person participating a specific number of words (like 10 or 15). See what you all can come up with!


Show us what you created! Send us pictures at youthservices@balibrary.org.

Youth Services Librarian Allison 


There’s nothing cuter than two animals that are best friends. Here are eight books about true animal friendships that will tug at your heart and make you go, “Awww!”


Looking for more recommendations? Fill out our form to get a custom list of reads or a Book Bundle for pickup.

  Youth Services Librarian Ann 


Check out one of these books that celebrate math-minded kids and might even teach your reader a new mathematical concept.

Want more reading lists delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our e-newsletters to discover the newest and best books for kids.

Youth Services Librarian Allison 


Bring home a fun new project! Sign up from our Library Calendar and pick up a kit at the Youth Services desk or through our Parking Lot Pickup service between March 8-19.


Toddler & PreK: Ping Pong Ball Painting

Use ping pong balls to create a unique work of art. Register for the March Toddler & PreK Take-and-Make Kit here.



Your kit contains:

·         4 containers of different colored paint

·         4 ping pong balls

·         10 sheets of cardstock




1.      Remove all the items from the box.

2.      Place one sheet of cardstock into the bottom of the box.

3.      Open the paint containers.

4.      Dip each of the ping pong balls into a different color of paint.

5.      Place them on top of the cardstock in the box.

6.      Leave the box open and move the box back and forth to roll the ping pong balls across the cardstock. Watch the paint as it streaks across your cardstock.

7.      Remove the ping pong balls.

8.      Take the piece of cardstock out of the box and admire your art work!

9.      Rinse and dry the ping pong balls to make another work of art!


Talking points to consider and alternate ways to create art:

·         Talk to your child about the different colors of paint. Have them identify each one individually.

·         Talk about the new colors created as the original colors mix together.

·         Use only one, two, or three of the ping pong balls with different colors and talk about how the art looks different with less or more colors.

·         Instead of leaving the box open, close the box with the ping pong balls and paint inside and give it a good shake! Compare the art you make with the rolling technique vs. the shaking technique.


Show us what you created! Send us pictures at youthservices@balibrary.org


Grades K-2: Light-Up Lines

Create a picture that glows. Register for the February Grades K-2 Take-and-Make Kit here.


Your kit contains:

1 length of electroluminescent wire with battery pack

1 sheet of black paper

Clear tape

Black masking tape


You will also need:

Scissors (optional, to help cut tape)

A dark space

A camera



1.      Roll out the black paper and tape to your workspace.

2.      Lay out the wire on the black paper, using tape to keep it in place.

3.      You can “draw” an image or just random patterns.

4.      Use the clear tape to allow the light to shine through. If you want to stop and start your line (for example, for letters or separate images), you can use the masking tape to “black out” the line. 


5.      When you’re done, turn on your wire, turn out the lights, and see your creation pop! You can take a picture from above.



6.      Carefully peel off the tape and create something new!


Questions to explore:

How is using a wire to create an image different from using a pencil or marker?

Can you write your name or initials with the wire? In print or cursive?

How does your creation change when the room is dark?

What other household objects could you use in this artwork?

If you take a picture, experiment with where you stand and how you hold the camera. Can you change the way the picture looks by tilting the camera? Can you change how much of the artwork you see by zooming in or out?

Taping to the paper creates a flat image (or two-dimensional). Can you also create a sculpture that stands up (three-dimensional) with the wire? How?


Show us what you created! Send us pictures at youthservices@balibrary.org


Grades 3-8:  Cloud Slime

Create a cloud made of slime for a fun sensory experience. Register for the March Grades 3-8 Take-and-Make Kit here.


Your kit contains:

  • 5 plastic cups
  • 1 bottle of Elmer’s glue
  • 1 plastic bottle of liquid starch
  • 2 bottles of food coloring
  • 2 popsicle sticks
  • Instant snow

In addition to these items, you will need a ¼ cup measuring cup, and a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon.

  1. Pour ¼ cup of the glue into a plastic cup.
  2. Pour some of the liquid starch into one of the plastic cups.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of liquid starch to the cup with the glue.
  4. Stir well with Popsicle stick.
  5. Add food coloring and stir well.
  6. Your should start to see your slime clump together.
  7. Put the slime on a surface that is okay to get messy, such as a plastic plate or bowl.
  8. Knead the slime together, pulling it back and forth and folding it over itself.
  9. Continue to add small amounts of liquid starch to your slime, and knead the slime. Your slime should start to feel less sticky and gooey. The more starch you add, the less sticky the slime will be. However, make sure to add the starch slowly because too much starch will make your slime rubbery.  
  10. Once you are happy with your slime, pour the instant snow into one of the plastic cups.
  11. Add 2.5 tablespoons of water to the instant snow and stir.
  12. Knead the instant snow into your slime. You may have extra snow.

Check out the video below to see a visual!


Show us what you created! Send us pictures at youthservices@balibrary.org.

Youth Services Librarian Allison 


Have you completely exhausted your Disney+ options? Watched Frozen and How To Train Your Dragon more times than you can count? The Library is here to shake up your family movie nights! Consider one of these foreign films for something a little different.

Kiki’s Delivery Service 

Available on Blu-Ray and DVD

A plucky young witch-in-training sets out to discover her talent in a new city, accompanied by a sarcastic kitty named Jiji. Japan’s Studio Ghibli films are always my first stop when families are looking for something different. Their gentle stories and sweet characters make them great for families with preschoolers, but they are visually and narratively interesting to keep older kids and adults enchanted, too. Plus the English dubbing is excellent - no subtitles required.




The Secret of Kells 

Available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming through kanopy

A boy learning the art of illumination (illustrating sacred texts) finds a mysterious child-like spirit in the forests surrounding the medieval monastery and a mystery involving an ancient book. I fell in love with the vibrant animation style, unusual setting, and stirring music in this Irish film.



The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

Available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming through hoopla

A pig, rabbit, and duck take on the task of delivering a bitty baby to her home after Stork hurts his wing. A fox plots to raise stolen eggs into delicious chickens, with hilarious consequences. And all the barnyard animals, smashing a plastic Santa decoration, fear they’ve killed the real Father Christmas and decide they must take on the gift delivery themselves. Adapted from French comic books, these stories are delightful. The dialogue is smart and funny, and the artwork (especially the big googly eyes) works perfectly with the light and silly story lines.


Marona’s Fantastic Tale

Available on Blu-Ray or DVD

The often tragic story of one sweet dog, shuffled between three different owners, who all abandon her for different reasons. Created in France, this film has much to offer, though probably only for families with older kids. (Content includes occasional crude language, scenes of smoking, and animal abuse/neglect.) The animation is gorgeous and strange, the English dubbing is fantastic, and the story is deeply affecting. Make sure you have the tissue box handy - you’re going to need every last one.



Available for streaming through hoopla and kanopy

A boy who loves stargazing can’t sleep one night when he sees the stars are disappearing. In his search for answers, he discovers that there’s a secret world of whisperers, dream writers, dew sprinklers, and countless other jobs to make sure nights proceed as intended. This Spanish film offers a unique and charming story with unusual character design and animation (you’ll either love it or hate it!).


Did you know? The Barrington Area Library offers cardholders free streaming videos through our hoopla and kanopy apps. Check them out!

Youth Services Librarian Allison 

Honor Black History Month by reading one of these powerful historical fiction books, many that center young African American perspectives, to turn back time and experience the Civil Rights Movement. These books are good choices for readers 9-13.


The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

An unforgettable family on a road-trip during one of the most important times in the civil rights movement. When the Watson family - ten-year-old Kenny, Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron - sets out on a trip south to visit Grandma in Birmingham, Alabama, they don't realize that they're heading toward one of the darkest moments in America's history. The Watsons' journey reminds us that even in the hardest times, laughter and family can help us get through anything.



Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd

Thirteen-year-old Billie Sims doesn't think her hometown of Anniston, Alabama, should be segregated, but few of the town's residents share her opinion. When Billie learns that the Freedom Riders, a group of peace activists riding interstate buses to protest segregation, will be traveling through Anniston on their way to Montgomery, she thinks that maybe change is finally coming and her quiet little town will shed itself of its antiquated views. But what starts as a series of angry grumbles soon turns to brutality as Anniston residents show just how deep their racism runs. The Freedom Riders will resume their ride to Montgomery, and Billie is now faced with a choice: stand idly by in silence or take a stand for what she believes in. Through her own decisions and actions and a few unlikely friendships, Billie is about to come to grips with the deep-seated prejudice of those she once thought she knew, and with her own inherent racism that she didn't even know she had.


The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

The Time: 1968. The Place: Chicago. For thirteen-year-old Sam it's not easy being the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older (and best friend), Stick, begins to drift away from him for no apparent reason. And then it happens: Sam finds something that changes everything forever. Sam has always had faith in his father, but when he finds literature about the Black Panthers under Stick's bed, he's not sure who to believe: his father or his best friend. Suddenly, nothing feels certain anymore. Sam wants to believe that his father is right: you can effect change without using violence. But as time goes on, Sam grows weary of standing by and watching as his friends and family suffer at the hands of racism in their own community. Sam begins to explore the Panthers with Stick, but soon he's involved in something far more serious--and more dangerous--than he could have ever predicted. Sam is faced with a difficult decision. Will he follow his father or his brother? His mind or his heart? The rock or the river?


Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

Loretta, Roly, and Aggie B., members of the Little family, each present the vivid story of their young lives, spanning three generations. Their separate stories -- beginning in a cotton field in 1927 and ending at the presidential election of 1968 -- come together to create one unforgettable journey. Through an evocative mix of fictional first-person narratives, spoken-word poems, folk myths, gospel rhythms and blues influences, Loretta Little Looks Back weaves an immersive tapestry that illuminates the dignity of sharecroppers in the rural South. Inspired by storytelling's oral tradition, stirring vignettes are presented in a series of theatrical monologues that paint a gripping, multidimensional portrait of America's struggle for civil rights as seen through the eyes of the children who lived it. The novel's unique format invites us to walk in their shoes. Each encounters an unexpected mystical gift, passed down from one family member to the next, that ignites their experience of what it means to reach for freedom.



Betty Before X by Ilyahsah Shabazz

In Detroit, 1945, eleven-year-old Betty's house doesn't quite feel like home. She believes her mother loves her, but she can't shake the feeling that her mother doesn't want her. Church helps those worries fade, if only for a little while. The singing, the preaching, the speeches from guest activists like Paul Robeson and Thurgood Marshall stir African Americans in her community to stand up for their rights. Betty quickly finds confidence and purpose in volunteering for the Housewives League, an organization that supports black-owned businesses. Soon, the American civil rights icon we now know as Dr. Betty Shabazz is born. Collaborating with novelist Renée Watson, Ilyasah Shabazz illuminates four poignant years in her mother's childhood, painting a beautiful and inspiring portrait of a girl overcoming the challenges of self-acceptance and belonging that will resonate with young readers today.


Revolution by Deborah Wiles

It's 1964, and Sunny's town is being invaded. Or at least that's what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They're calling it Freedom Summer. Meanwhile, Sunny can't help but feel like her house is being invaded, too. She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe. And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool--where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.


One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She's had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. But when the sisters arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile is nothing like they imagined. While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer.


Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson, the acclaimed author of Red at the Bone, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child's soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson's eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.


For more books and resources on exploring racism and anti-racism with children, see our “Let’s Talk About Racism” blog post from the summer of 2020.

Youth Services Librarian Allison