Books For Children

Books For Children

ALTA members, their families, and their students recommend the following books. Most are available from AMAZON.com. Purchase a book, or read other book reviews, by clicking on either the hypertext or the book jacket link. When you make a purchase through an ALTAread.org link, you help support the operation of our website.

Children's Books for Reading and Listening

Because of Winn-Dixie

Because of Winn-Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn-Dixie, a big, ugly, happy dog, 10-year-old Opal learns 10 things about her long-gone mother from her preacher father. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal makes new friends among the somewhat unusual residents of her new hometown, Naomi, Florida. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal begins to find her place in the world and let go of some of the sadness left by her mother's abandonment seven years earlier. With her newly adopted, goofy pooch at her side, Opal explores her bittersweet world and learns to listen to other people's lives. This warm and winning book hosts an unforgettable cast of characters, including a librarian who fought off a bear with a copy of War and Peace, an ex-con pet-store clerk who plays sweet music to his animal charges, and the neighborhood "witch," a nearly blind woman who sees with her heart. Part Frankie (The Member of the Wedding), part Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird), Opal brings her own unique and wonderful voice to a story of friendship, loneliness, and acceptance. Opal's down-home charm and dead-on honesty will earn her friends and fans far beyond the confines of Naomi, Florida. (Ages 9 and older) --Emilie Coulter

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How Dyslexic Benny Became A Star

How Dyslexic Benny Became A Star: A Story of Hope for Dyslexic Children & Their Parents

by Joe Griffith

A fifth-grader who is frustrated and humiliated because he can't read as well as his classmates becomes a star on the football field, and when he is diagnosed with dyslexia, he finds that he has a whole team of people ready to help.

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Love That Dog

Love That Dog

by Sharon Creech

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech is about a boy who doesn't like poetry. "I don't want to because boys don't write poetry. Girls do." This book is written in journal format and shows how Jack changes his mind about poetry and learns to like it. He is inspired by his teacher, famous authors/poets and the love he has for his dog. As he begins to write poetry he is not too sure of himself because his words don't rhyme. After reading poems by famous authors he realizes they don't have to rhyme and becomes more confident and allows the teacher to post his poems on the bulletin board. At first his poems are anonymous then as he becomes more confident he adds his name and receives many compliments from his classmates.
My students love this book. I love this book. They love the format - very few words on the pages. They love Jack's complaining about writing poetry in his journal. They love reading the real poems that Jack mentions in his journal (most are in the back of the book). I loved the gentle way the teacher developed Jack's talents. I think Love That Dog is a real treasure. KMM

Get it at Amazon.com.


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The Harry Potter Book Series

by J.K. Rowling, Mary Grandpre (Illustrator)

The Harry Potter stories are original, magical, fantastic and plain fun. After his parents died in a freakish accident, the world's worst family - the Dursley's, adopted Harry. It's a good thing he is a wizard! When the letter arrives, by delivery owl, of course, for Harry to begin his wizarding education at Hogwarts Academy, well . . . strange and wonderful things begin. Harry Potter books can be purchased individually or as a gift set. You might also need to purchase Harry's schoolbooks. Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Book 1
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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Book 2
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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Book 3
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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Book 4
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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5
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Reach for the Moon

By Samatha Abeel

The poetry and essays are written by a young teen-aged girl with learning disabilities, including math disability and problems managing the mechanics of writing.

Get it at Amazon.com.


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Books About Children with Learning Differences

All Kinds of Minds

by Melvine Levine

This is a book for children as well as for parents. It helps a child and his parents to deal with the sting that goes along with being learning different. Children with learning or social disabilities often suffer tremendous loss of self-esteem. This book, written from the perspective of 5 elementary students who share a class at their neighborhood school, enables a young reader to gain insight and understanding of their "kind of mind" as they come to terms with either attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, language disorder, social or motor skills deficits. Honestly and sensitively written, each child discovers the unique strengths which enable him or her to overcome the difficulties caused by having a "different" kind of mind.

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Different Is Not Bad. Different Is the World

By Sally L. Smith

A book with charming illustrations that makes the point that each person has value and a talent or skill to offer. Designed for elementary-age children, it can inspire teens and adults as well.

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Zipper: The Kid with ADHD

By Caroline Janover

The story tells of 11-year-old Zack, nicknamed Zipper because he moves up and down so much, coping with parents, peers, and finding and losing a good friend all while dealing with attentional problems.

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What Do You Mean I Have a Learning Disability

By Kathleen M. Dwyer

A boy has trouble in school, is embrassed often by his mistakes, and thinks he is dumb. He gets tested, has special teaching, and finally gets his first "A" on a test. A captivating part of this book is the wonderful photographs to illustrate the text on each page.

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The Don't Give up Kid and Learning Differences

By Jeanne Gehret

An appealing story about a boy who experiences being a figure of fun because of his school learning troubles. With appropriate help, he is challenged and meets success in school and out-of-school.

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The Worst Speller in Junior High

By Caroline Janover

Katie, aged 14, meets typical junior high (or middle school) problems as she copes with her bad spelling.

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Josh: A Boy with Dyslexia

By Caroline Janover

Josh is an elementary-aged boy who confronts difficulties and wins battles as he copes with his learning disability.

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My Name is Brain Brian

By Jeanne Betancourt

Sixth-grade Brian is helped to cope with his learning disability by a sensitive teacher. He also learns the meaning of friendship.

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Adam Zigzag

By Barbara Barrie

This is a story about a teen-aged boy with dyslexia and his coping with family, teachers, and peers.

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How Dyslexic Benny Became a Star: A Story of Hope for Dyslexic Children and Their Parents

By Joe Griffith

The title character, Benny, is a fifth-grader who feels stupid because he cannot read. He has become a loner over the past two years because the nieghborhood kids are not interested in playing with hime. This is a poignant story to add to the library of those about children and teens with dyslexia. Such books may offer encouragement and hope to others in similar situations. They are also good stories for children without dyslexia so they can understand the travails experienced by their peers.

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"What's Wrong with Me?" Learning Disabilities at Home and at School

by Regina Cicci

Regina Cicci explains mild to moderate learning disabilities, offering suggestions for teaching in the classroom, clinic, and tutoring session, and ideas for parents. She discusses the preschool years and diagnosis of learning disabilities. Ms Cicci explains spoken language, reading, and writing disorders, and addresses emotional and behavioral issues. This book includes advice directed towards middle and high school students with learning disabilities.

Get it at Amazon.com.


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Poetry for Children

Love That Dog

By Sharon Creech

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech is about a boy who doesn't like poetry. "I don't want to because boys don't write poetry. Girls do." This book is written in journal format and shows how Jack changes his mind about poetry and learns to like it. He is inspired by his teacher, famous authors/poets and the love he has for his dog. As he begins to write poetry he is not too sure of himself because his words don't rhyme. After reading poems by famous authors he realizes they don't have to rhyme and becomes more confident and allows the teacher to post his poems on the bulletin board. At first his poems are anonymous then as he becomes more confident he adds his name and receives many compliments from his classmates.
My students love this book. I love this book. They love the format - very few words on the pages. They love Jack's complaining about writing poetry in his journal. They love reading the real poems that Jack mentions in his journal (most are in the back of the book). I loved the gentle way the teacher developed Jack's talents. I think Love That Dog is a real treasure.
KMM

Get it at Amazon.com.


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Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures on Color

By Mary O'Neil, John Wallner (Illustrator)

Originally published in 1961, it doesn't matter how long this sweet little book of poems has been around, children (and adults) love it. They love its images and feelings. They love its sound. Reissued in 1989, with the current John Wallner illustrations, it remains a classic. John Wallners illustrations add more rich visual images to the "shapes and feelings without end" of the color images the poet's words provide. I must say, though, if you can get your hands on the original edition, I like those plainer, starker, illustrations better. This collection of poems about the colors of the spectrum becomes especially useful when teaching the concepts of metaphor and simile: "the purple feeling's a definite pout".

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The New Kid On the Block

Jack Prelutsky, James Stevenson (Illustrator)

Published in 1984, this book of 100 poems remains one of the best. The title poem gives a little lesson on pre-conceived ideas. Another good poem is, "Homework! Oh, Homework!" an enthusiastic recitation of which is required when the homework grumbles start.

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Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast

By Jack Prelutsky, Arnold Lobel (Illustrator)

Clever rhyme and catchy rhythm are the essence of this book of 14 dinosaur poems. Jack Prelutsky entices the reader's rhythm to "plod" along with Diplodocus and to "hurry off to dinner" with Allosaurus. Seismasaurus provides a good introduction to the use of synonyms and works well when teaching adjectives and the use of the predicate adjective. Seismosaursus was enormous, stupendous, prodigious, tremendous, gigantic, colossal, titanic and, yes, "a monumental fossil". In addition to the poems, factual information about these dinosaurs is provided with wonderful Lobel illustrations. Supposedly written with the pre-school set in mind (some of the poems are pretty gory for little ones), it still works well into the elementary and intermediate grades.

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A Light in the Attic; Where the Sidewalk Ends; The Giving Tree; Falling Up

By Shel Silverstein

What would poetry reading with children be without Shel Silverstein? There's a bit of hilarity, and lots of truth, for every occasion within those pages. When it's time for everyone to be quiet, what better way than to be eaten by a boa constrictor, "upmmmmmmmmmmffffffffff.!"

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Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

By Paul Fleischman, Eric Beddows (Illustrator)

Joyful Noise, winner of the 1989 Newbury Award, is a children's book of poetry about insects that was designed for two readers to enjoy together by alternately reading from the verse written in two columns on the pages. The poems are carefully constructed to be read by two different voices, aloud. If you read with a bug-loving child, this is a book for you. One student enjoys reading and rereading the selections about the courtship of two book mites and a single day in the life of a mayfly. "Why do you like this book, Megan?" "I like bugs and these poems sound good." Charming large scale soft-pencil illustrations enhance the comical, easy-to-read text.

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Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices

by Paul Fleischman, Beppe Giacobbe (Illustrator)

My students and I have loved Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices so I can't wait to try reading with four voices. These poems may be best used with children 10 and older. The color coordinated lines to read will take some getting used to.
KMM

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Wynken, Blynken, & Nod: The Poem

By Eugene Field, Johanna Westerman (Illustrator)

This classic poem is rhythmic and soothing. It appears in a beautifully illustrated new-ish edition with very detailed watercolor pictures that young children enjoy looking at and discussing. In keeping with the repeated readings develop fluency knowledge; this book is one you will read again and again.

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Casey At The Bat

Ernest Lawrence Thayer, Christopher Bing (Illustrator)

I read a lot of poetry with my students, because poetry demands rereading; and rereading works to develop fluency. This Caldecott Medal book is a real winner. The Mudville nine come alive again in this 100 year-old favorite. Bing's ingenious illustrations contain reproductions of old programs, tickets and ads -- scrapbook style. They feel like a trip through a museum. Because there is so much to see, this is a book for repeated enjoyment. There is much too much on each page to enjoy both the poem and the illustrations at the first reading. There are lessons to be learned here about winning and losing. There is also a heck of a lot of baseball lore and history packed into those illustrations. I have an older version of this poem, illustrated by Keith Bendis, with totally different watercolor illustrations, which the children love; so I was a little reluctant to introduce my new book. I shouldn't have been; the third grade baseball-loving student loved the Christopher Bing edition even more than the Bendis one. So much so, that I gave my new book to him. Booklist suggests ages 5-8, but I loved this book and I'm significantly older than that. KM

Get it at Amazon.com.


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The Gingham Dog and The Calico Cat

Eugene Field, Janet Street (Illustrator)

I read a 1990 edition of the famous poem "The Duel" by Eugene Field. Lovely illustrations set the scene in an antique toyshop where the gingham dog and the calico cat sit on a table in the window. The storyteller is an adorable teddy bear who admonishes, "Now mind, I'm only telling you what the Old Dutch Clock declares is true." It is true. This is a wonderful poem for younger children. You might as well look for a hardcover edition, it will be reread often. If you have trouble finding this lovely work, check the used book stores or used books on amazon.com.

Get it at Amazon.com.


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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost, Susan Jeffers (Illustrator)

There are several editions of Robert Frost's well-known poem available; but this one takes on new life with its wonderful illustrations by Susan Jeffers. The poem--long appreciated for its strong rhythm and evocative images--leaves readers wondering: Where was he going, at night, in the snow? My students insist that the man is Santa Claus. Ms Jeffers DID paint him with a long, white beard! I think of him as a country doctor. What about you? Susan Jeffers captures the silent beauty of a snowy night adding only touches of color to her gray on white color scheme, which includes beautifully camouflaged snowshoe rabbits, ermines, and other northern woodland creatures. You can really feel "the sweep of easy wind and downy flake" in those pages. It has been recommended for ages 4-7; but I believe a person of any age will enjoy this lovely book. KM

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Paul Revere's Ride

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ted Rand (Illustrator), Lucia Monfried (Editor)

Doesn't everyone love this narrative poem? It tells the story of the first battle in the War for American Independence. "Listen my children and you shall hear" "t'was the eighteenth of April in '75 (1775, that is)". I read the words "and the fate of a nation was riding that night" and still get choked up. The historical inaccuracies in the poem are addressed in a two-page appendix. This is definitely a choice for the "I hate history" crowd. The Ted Rand illustrations are strong and detailed and add character and depth to the Longfellow's words. In one illustration, the reader looks down from the top of "the belfry arch of The Old North Church" to see the Somerset lying in Boston Harbor with "each mast and spar across the moon like a prison bar". I really like this poem. I really like this edition.

Get it at Amazon.com.


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Reach for the Moon

By Samatha Abeel

The poetry and essays are written by a teen-aged girl with learning disabilities, including math disability and problems managing the mechanics of writing.

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