Many schools in the Omaha area deal with budget challenges. A great way to support your child’s classroom is to donate books to their classroom or school libraries.
Here are 13 grade-specific books featuring relevant, important and diverse themes that you can donate to your child’s classroom this holiday season.
Kindergarten through second grade:
1. "Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: The Case of the Stinky Stench" by Josh Funk. This fun, read-aloud book will delight young audiences and teachers alike. Funk’s recurring characters, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, are back to solve a case. They must find the stinky stench in time or everyone will be sauced. Funk’s book teaches empathy, teamwork and critical thinking skills.
2. "Dragons Love Tacos" by Adam Rubin. Dragons love tacos. They love all kind of tacos — chicken tacos, beef tacos, big tacos and tiny tacos. They love the crunchy taco shell, the juicy tomatoes, the crispy lettuce and the mild cheese. But whatever you do, DO NOT FEED THEM SPICY SALSA! Dragons hate spicy salsa. This book helps teach kids the importance of following instructions, as well as cause and effect.
3. "Spoon" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. A spoon longs to be something he is not. He laments how his friends — knife, fork and chopsticks — have it so much better than him. However, his mom reminds him just how lucky he is and all the amazing qualities he possesses. This book celebrates differences and teaches self love.
4. "We Don’t Eat Our Classmates" by Ryan T. Higgins. This hilarious, colorful and clever book will be a classroom favorite. Penelope, a dinosaur, begins school and must learn how to be a good friend. Working on empathy and the “golden rule” are at the forefront of this tale.
Third and fourth grade:
1. "Rosie Revere, Engineer" by Andrea Beaty. Rosie Revere is a brilliant inventor of gadgets and gizmos who dreams of becoming a great engineer. Kids will embark on adventures of personal creativity and invention with Rosie in this book. It'll inspire young readers while teaching problem-solving and creative-thinking skills. A great STEAM addition to any class library.
2. "How to Code a Sandcastle" by Josh Funk. Author Josh Funk partners with the computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code to create "How to Code a Sandcastle." Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but things keep getting in the way! So Pearl decides she’s going to use computer code to get the job done! This book introduces kids to real coding concepts like conditionals, sequences and loops.
3. "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle. This classic science fiction story is a must for the classroom. It helps kids think about the power of individuality, friendship and bravery. My fourth grade teacher read "A Wrinkle in Time" to our class every day after lunch and I couldn’t wait for siblings Meg and Charles Wallace Murry and schoolmate Calvin O'Keefe's adventure.
4. "Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things" by Lenore Look. Second-grader Alvin has anxiety, which often makes things scarier than they appear. Luckily, Alvin has a loving family who is very supportive as he faces difficulties. In this book, he learns to deal with some of his worries — with help. Great for helping to talk about mental health in the classroom or for students who may want to identify with an endearing character.
Fifth and sixth grade:
1. "Fish in a Tree" by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Ally has a secret — she never quite learned how to read. But now she has a new teacher who seems determined to help her find the best path to learning. It’s an incredible, sensitive account of a girl's struggle with dyslexia and her inspirational progress. The book helps kids understand there are many ways in which different people learn and the many ways we can define intelligence. It also highlights the significance a teacher can make in a child’s life.
2. "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio. This book is amazing. Ten-year-old Auggie has a facial abnormality. After years of being homeschooled, he goes to public school for the first time. Here, Auggie has to cope with a range of reactions to his appearance, as well as typical middle school drama. Although the situation is upsetting, the book is uplifting and inspiring. In an age where we need to continue to talk about the effects of bullying, "Wonder" is a must for any classroom.
3. "Towers Falling" by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Fifteen years after 9/11, fifth-grader Deja Barnes learns about the attack on the World Trade Center. While the focus is on the events of the day itself and making a personal connection to history, it also addresses issues such as immigration, homelessness and community. This book does deal with difficult subject matter that may cause distress, but it gives parents and educators a way to deal with scary events through literature and stories.
4. "Star-Crossed" by Barbara Dee. Twelve-year-old Maddie must overcome her nerves as she fills in for Romeo in the class play because her crush is playing Juliet opposite her. A great book for school or classroom libraries in need of accessible LGBTQ+ stories. For educators of younger kids looking for LGBTQ+ literature, "Worm Loves Worm" is a great pick.
5. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" by J.K. Rowling. Adventure, creativity, teamwork, consequences, friendship — this book has it all. My personal favorite children’s book, I couldn’t wait to introduce my own children to Harry, Hermione and Ron. Kids will adore this novel for generations to come.
Have any other great ideas? Share them with us in the comments!
Shea Saladee lives in Papillion with her husband, Brent, and their three children. She works as an instructor at the University of Nebraska Omaha.