If you’re like me, you’ve probably been catching up on your reading these past few days. With nowhere to go and a hefty incentive to stay indoors, there’s never been a better time to curl up with a good book. In fact, reading can be a real comfort in moments like these. With the flip of a page we’re suddenly transported to a world of dragons or the surface of Mars. More than that, stories can help us find the courage we need to face down the anxieties of our new normal.
The same is true for our students. With so many homeschool activities now being shared online; it never hurts to take a break from the screen and have kids crack open a book. And if your bookshelf happens to look a little bare? Well, many local libraries have begun providing links to free audiobooks while companies like Audible typically offer free monthly trials to new customers. So this week, consider turning off Netflix and introduce your children to one of these 5 fantastic books for young readers!
*Important Note: Some of the books listed below deal with mature subjects and are not appropriate for all readers. Be sure to review them thoroughly before handing them off to your children!
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (Author) & Laura Freeman (Illustrator)
Reading Level: K – 3rd
Based on the New York Times bestselling book and Academy Award–nominated movie, Hidden Figures introduces junior readers to the extraordinary women who helped NASA take its first steps into space! Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were all very good at math. In fact, they were so good they helped America fly rockets to the moon, and this was during a time when being black and a woman meant your opportunities were very limited. Using this beautifully illustrated book, share the remarkable true story of how four female African American mathematicians overcame prejudice and used STEM to change the world!
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Reading Level: 3rd – 8th
There’s a good chance your students are trying to process a lot of emotions right now. Anger, fear, sadness, even adults can get overwhelmed in circumstances like these. To help them (and you) come to terms with their different feelings, try opening The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This whimsical story follows the titular prince as he journeys to several different planets and comes to understand the meaning of love, grief, friendship, and hope. For such a simple read this book carries many powerful lessons. Young readers certainly won’t regret following along with the Little Prince on his many adventures.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Reading Level: 4th – 7th
“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.” So begins one of the most beloved novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Taking readers on a journey through Middle-earth, Tolkien weaves an incredible tale of dragons and dwarves, wizards and rings, and one small hobbit who alters the course of history. The Hobbit is the perfect novel for those of you dealing with picky readers. Bursting with charm, mystery, and adventure, there are few people who can’t be won over by Tolkien’s signature pros. What’s more, The Hobbit can serve as a steppingstone for introducing young readers to other classic titles. So, do you think your students are ready for an adventure?
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Reading Level:7th – 12th
Winner of the Pura Belpré Narrative Medal for Latino fiction, Stonewall Book Award for LGBT fiction, and a Michael L. Printz Award honor for Young Adult fiction, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe has no shortage of accolades, all of them deserved. The novel follows Aristotle and Dante, two boys who seem to have nothing in common, yet nonetheless forge an unbreakable bond. As their relationship develops, readers are met with a powerful examination on the nature of love, family, trauma, and forgiveness. Though not for the faint of heart, Aristotle and Dante is nonetheless a beautiful story that can help young readers navigate the turbulent waters of life and love.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Reading Level: 7th – 12th
Are you searching for something more STEM-centered to give your reader? Well, look no further than The Martian by Andy Weir. Set in the not-too-distant future, NASA has successfully managed to put a group of astronauts on Mars. However, the mission is scrapped when a sudden dust storm forces them to return to space. Even worse? One astronaut, Mark Watney, is left behind.
Now stranded on Mars and cut off from the rest of his team, Watney must employ all his intellect to survive on the barren landscape. Not only does The Martian handle this narrative with equal parts humor and drama, but it also takes a deep dive into the science of Mars. Watney discusses everything from the chemical makeup of the air to how he can grow potatoes in Martian regolith. Readers won’t simply be entertained by this incredible novel; they’ll walk away with a better understanding of how the study of STEM impacts both our planet and the ones we have yet to reach!