BOOK LISTS FOR YOUNG READERS
about mental health
Ruben feels like he is the only kid without a bike. His friend Sergio reminds him that his birthday is coming, but Ruben knows that the kinds of birthday gifts he and Sergio receive are not the same. After all, when Ruben's mom sends him to Sonny's corner store for groceries, sometimes she doesn't have enough money for everything on the list. So when Ruben sees a dollar bill fall out of someone's purse, he picks it up and puts it in his pocket. But when he gets home, he discovers it's not one dollar or even five or ten--it's a hundred-dollar bill, more than enough for a new bike just like Sergio's! But what about the crossed-off groceries? And what about the woman who lost her money?
A Bike Like Sergio's
As a young boy, Bao Phi awoke early, hours before his father's long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. Between hope-filled casts, Bao's father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.
A Different Pond
Cassie Louise Lightfoot, only eight years old and in third grade, dreams of flying as she sleeps on “Tar Beach”, the rooftop of her building. If she can fly, then she can fly over bridges and buildings and claim them for her own. This is important to her because her father, a steel worker, is not allowed in the union because of racism. It makes finding work during the winter difficult for her father, stressing the family financially. But tonight, her family is celebrating with a picnic on the beach with their neighbors.
About coming of age:
The oldest Mariss brother, fourteen-year-old Dewey, attempts to be the "embodiment of responsibility" as he juggles the management of the family's bicycle repair business while sharing the household and farm duties with his siblings after a sudden energy crisis strands their parents far from home.
Twelve-year-old Isobel is unhappy about spending the summer of 1918 at her aunt's home in Hollywood with her mother and sister until her cousin, Ranger, involves the girls in creating the perfect film and, when her father returns from the war, his serious injury becomes their inspiration.
I Don't Know How The Story Ends
The school year is over, and it is summer in Atlanta. The sky is blue, the sun is blazing, and the days brim with possibility. But Leah feels lost. She has been this way since one terrible afternoon a year ago when everything changed. Since that day, her parents have become distant, her friends have fallen away, and Leah's been adrift and alone. Then she meets Jasper, a girl unlike anyone she has ever known. There's something mysterious about Jasper, almost magical. And Jasper, Leah discovers, is also lost. Together, the two girls carve out a place for themselves, a hideaway in the overgrown spaces of Atlanta, away from their parents and their hardships, somewhere only they can find. But as the days of this magical June start to draw to a close, and the darker realities of their lives intrude once more, Leah and Jasper have to decide how real their friendship is, and whether it can be enough to save them both.
My Jasper June
As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends, an abusive father, and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him until he finds an ally in Lil Spicer--a fiery young lady. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon's birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage.
Gary D. Schmidt
Okay For Now
A fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston's childhood with her best friend Carrie, in Eatonville, Florida, as they learn about life, death, and the differences between truth, lies, and pretending. Includes an annotated bibliography of the works of Zora Neale Hurston, a short biography of the author, and information about Eatonville, Florida.
Zora and Me
About mental health:
Eleven-year-old Footer and her friends investigate when a nearby farm is burned, the farmer murdered, and his children disappear, but as they follow the clues, Footer starts having flashbacks and wonders if she is going crazy like her mother, who is back in a mental institution near their Mississippi home.
Footer Davis Probably is Crazy
After their mother dies of typhoid, Verna and her younger sister Carlie move with their father, a psychiatrist, and stern Aunt Maude to an asylum for the mentally ill in early-twentieth-century Michigan, where new ideas in the treatment of mental illness are being proposed, but old prejudices still hold sway.
The Locked Garden
In 1919. Mama is ill. Father has taken a job abroad. Nanny Jane is too busy to pay any attention to Henrietta and the things she sees - or thinks she sees - in the shadows of their new home, Hope House. All alone, with only stories for company, Henry discovers that Hope House is full of strange secrets: a forgotten attic, ghostly figures, mysterious firelight that flickers in the trees beyond the garden. One night she ventures into the darkness of Nightingale Wood. What she finds there will change her whole world...
The Secret of Nightingale Wood
Four years after Alfie Summerfield's father left London to become a soldier in World War I he has not returned but Alfie, now nine, is shining shoes at King's Cross Station when he happens to learn that his father is at a nearby hospital being treated for shell shock.
Stay Where You Are & Then Leave
When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren't there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time. With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations. But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is.
Where the Watermelons Grow
Twelve-year--old Lowen Grover, a budding comic-book artist, is still reeling from the shooting death of his friend Abe when he stumbles across an article about a former mill town giving away homes for just one dollar. It not only seems like the perfect escape from Flintlock and all of the awful memories associated with the city, but an opportunity for his mum to run her very own business. Fortunately, his family is willing to give it a try. But is the Dollar Program too good to be true? The homes are in horrible shape, and the locals are less than welcoming. Will Millville and the dollar house be the answer to the Grovers' troubles? Or will they find they've traded one set of problems for another? From the author of Small as an Elephant and Paper Things comes a heart-tugging novel about guilt and grief, family and friendship, and, above all, community.
The Dollar Kids
Ten-year-old Rupert Brown comes from an ordinary family. They live in a small house in the poorest section of Steelville, Ohio, and have little money or food. So when Rupert inadvertently finds himself spending Christmas at Turgid Rivers' house--the richest boy in town--he is blown away to discover a whole other world, including all the food he can eat and wonderful prizes that he wins when the family plays games, prizes he hope to take home to his family so they can have Christmas presents for the very first time. But this windfall is short-lived when Rupert loses it all in one last game and goes home empty-handed. Each member of the Rivers family feels guilty about what happened, and unbeknownst to one another tries to make it up to Rupert in their own unique way, taking him on one unlikely adventure after another.
Indigo is a boy with a dream. He spends his mornings in a refrigerator box, his afternoons shoveling snow, and his nights in the basement of a homeless shelter. But during every free moment, he draws and dreams of becoming a famous artist. His best friend Jade looks after him, but she is arrested for shoplifting and he's left all alone. With his box of pencils under his arm, he sets out on a quest to search for Jade and discovers a whole new world ... full of the art he loves. His journey brings him friendship, family, and the courage to hold onto his dreams.
The Boy Who Painted the World
Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again. Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?
Living in the family car in their small North Carolina town after their father leaves them virtually penniless, Georgina, desperate to improve their situation and unwilling to accept her overworked mother's calls for patience, persuades her younger brother to help her in an elaborate scheme to get money by stealing a dog and then claiming the reward that the owners are bound to offer.
How to Steal a Dog: A Novel
Twelve-and-three-quarter-year-old Felix Knutsson has a knack for trivia. His favorite game show is Who, What, Where, When; he even named his gerbil after the host. Felix's mom, Astrid, is loving but can't seem to hold on to a job. So when they get evicted from their latest shabby apartment, they have to move into a van. Astrid swears him to secrecy; he can't tell anyone about their living arrangement, not even Dylan and Winnie, his best friends at his new school. If he does, she warns him, he'll be taken away from her and put in foster care. As their circumstances go from bad to worse, Felix gets a chance to audition for a junior edition of Who, What, Where, When, and he's determined to earn a spot on the show. Winning the cash prize could make everything okay again. But things don't turn out the way he expects... Susin Nielsen deftly combines humor, heartbreak, and hope in this moving story about people who slip through the cracks in society, and about the power of friendship and community to make all the difference.
No Fixed Address
Piper's life is turned upside down when her family moves into a shelter in a whole new city. She misses her house, her friends, and her privacy--and she hates being labeled the homeless girl at her new school. But while Hope House offers her new challenges, it also brings new friendships, like the girls in Firefly Girls Troop 423 and a sweet street dog named Baby. So when Baby's person goes missing, Piper knows she has to help. But helping means finding the courage to trust herself and her new friends, no matter what anyone says about them--before Baby gets taken away for good. Told in alternating perspectives, this classic and heartfelt animal tale proclaims the importance of hope, the power of story, and the true meaning of home.
Carmel Fishkill was unceremoniously pushed into a world that refuses to offer her security, stability, love. At age thirteen, she begins to fight back. Carmel Fishkill becomes Fishkill Carmel, who deflects her tormenters with a strong left hook and conceals her secrets from teachers and social workers.