One of my favorite parts of my job is managing our WITSummer Books initiative. Each spring, WITS gives each student in our volunteer-powered programs four brand-new books as a gift to celebrate their time in WITS. This year, I worked closely with the program team to select a unique set of books for each program based on the students’ interests. In addition to selecting books we think our students will love, WITS is committed to promoting books by BIPOC authors and illustrators. Below are a few titles we are especially excited to share with our students.
3rd-4th Grade Books
Looking for a Jumbie by Tracey Baptiste and illustrated by Amer Ren is a charming picture book about a little girl named Nya. Nya goes looking for jumbies – spirits from Caribbean mythology – and meets many creatures who offer help along the way. Baptiste is known for her middle grade novel “The Jumbies” which is featured in “Ghost Stories for All Ages.”
Did you know that around the world, scientists and engineers have designed bridges and tunnels so that wildlife can safely cross roads and highways? Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals by Katy S. Duffield, illustrated by Mike Orodán is a stunning illustrated nonfiction book that readers of all ages will enjoy. Daphne Robinson shares tips for sharing nonfiction with young readers here.
El Toro and Friends: Training Day by Raúl the Third has something for everyone: action, friendship, and humor! Including comic-book style pages and a mix of English y Español, this book is sure to draw in all kinds of young readers.
Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson has been called a modern Ramona Quimby. Protagonist Ryan navigates fourth grade, friends, and family with energy and heart.
Books for Fourth Graders & Up
Young chefs and graphic novel fans alike will love Measuring Up by Lile LaMotte, illustrated Ann Xu. With the support of her parents, A-má (grandmother), and new friends in the US, Cici learns about cooking and herself.
Fans of “Front Desk” and “One Crazy Summer” will love The Dream Weaver by debut author Reina Luz Alegre. Will 12-year-old Zoey be able to keep her family together and save her grandfather’s bowling alley?
Our WITS students showed special interest in nonfiction and social justice this year. Many of them will receive Resist: 40 Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up Against Tyranny and Injustice by Veronica Chambers in their summer books bags. The profiles span from 1492-2018 and highlight people from many backgrounds. For more biography suggestions, check out “Celebrating Black History with Eight Biographies” and “Biographies of Rad Women” on the WITS blog.
Sharing Diverse Stories All Year
I hope you read some of these titles yourself, or better yet, share them with a young person in your life. At WITS, we believe everyone should be able to see themselves and the world through books. Please consider donating to our WITSummer Books fundraiser this year and share the joy of reading.