What are students are reading
All Are Welcome
We’re exited to announce that our September Book of the Month is “All Are Welcome,” by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman. “All Are Welcome” not only serves as an excellent welcome back to school but its celebration of diversity and community embodies everything Spark represents. Our first book of the school year always feels significant. Not only does it serve as an introduction of the Spark Foundation to a whole new group of students, but it serves as an indication of our organization’s values. With the help of our many contributors, the Spark Foundation is happy to have the opportunity to donate a copy to every first grade student at Monroe Elementary.”
Eyes that Speak to the Stars
A young boy comes to recognize his own power and ability to change the future. When a friend at school creates a hurtful drawing, the boy turns to his family for comfort. He realizes that his eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars, shine like sunlit rays, and glimpse trails of light from those who came before—in fact, his eyes are like his father’s, his agong’s, and his little brother’s, and they are visionary.
Born on the Water
Our February Book of the Month, the 1619 Project: “Born on the Water,” by Nikole Hannah-Jones tells the all too familiar story of a young black girl tasked with learning about her heritage, only to realize that she can’t learn much on her own due to the horrors of slavery. It is only when her grandmother sits the family down to talk about life in Africa before the slave trade, the middle passage, slavery, and emancipation that she is able to understand who she is and the heritage that came before her.
My two border towns
Early one Saturday morning, a boy prepares for a trip to The Other Side/El Otro Lado. It's close--just down the street from his school--and it's a twin of where he lives. To get there, his father drives their truck along the Rio Grande and over a bridge, where they're greeted by a giant statue of an eagle. Their outings always include a meal at their favorite restaurant, a visit with Tío Mateo at his jewelry store, a cold treat from the paletero, and a pharmacy pickup. On their final and most important stop, they check in with friends seeking asylum and drop off much-needed supplies.
When her gym class must face the school rock-climbing wall, Tanisha is discouraged. Her muscles are weak, and she knows she'll never reach the top like Cayla.
But maybe strength is about more than just muscles.
With help from her family, Tanisha learns that by showing up, speaking up, and not giving up, she can be strong, too. And that people are the strongest when they work together and trust each other.
Award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller has reunited with illustrator Jen Hill for Be Strong, another unforgettable story sure to inspire kids and adults alike.
Fauja Singh Keeps Going
Every step forward is a victory.
Fauja Singh was born determined. He was also born with legs that wouldn't allow him to play cricket with his friends or carry him to school miles from his village in Punjab. But that didn't stop him. Working on his family's farm, Fauja grew stronger to meet his own full potential.
He never stopped striving. At the age of 81, after a lifetime of making his body, mind, and heart stronger, Fauja decided to run his first marathon. He went on to break records all around the world and became the first person over 100 to complete the grueling long-distance race.
With exuberant text by Simran Jeet Singh and exhilarating illustrations by Baljinder Kaur, the true story of Fauja Singh reminds us that it's both where we start and how we finish that make our journeys unforgettable.
Dictionary For A Better
How can we make the world a better place? This inspiring resource for middle-grade readers is organized as a dictionary; each entry presents a word related to creating a better world, such as ally, empathy, or respect. For each word, there is a poem, a quote from an inspiring person, a personal anecdote from the authors, and a "try it" prompt for an activity.
This second poetic collaboration from Irene Latham and Charles Waters builds upon themes of diversity and inclusiveness from their previous book Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. Illustrations from Iranian-British artist Mehrdokht Amini offer readers a rich visual experience.
Nino Wrestles The World
The first spread of this appealing title says it all. With the simple text “Niño!” (Kid!), readers see a boy playing with his toys, including a lucha libre wrestling ring with masked wrestler toys. One by one, Niño faces and defeats his formidable opponents: The Mummy of Guanajuato, the stone Olmec Head, La Llorona, the Alien, and the devil-like El Chamuco. But when his little sisters wake up from their naps, he faces his biggest challenge yet: Las Hermanitas. Everything about this book is well integrated and thought out: The endpapers are decorated with baseball-card-style information on each of Niño's opponents, including phonetic spellings of their Spanish names. Spanish words and phrases appear throughout, but they are easily understood in context. An author's note gives some background information about lucha libre and its popularity in Mexico. This is a near-perfect book, and absolutely essential for any collection.
When Stars Are Scattered
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.
Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It's an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York TimesBestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.
NBA champion and cultural icon LeBron James pens a slam-dunk picture book inspired by his foundation’s I PROMISE program that motivates children everywhere to always #StriveForGreatness.
Just a kid from Akron, Ohio, who is dedicated to uplifting youth everywhere, LeBron James knows the key to a better future is to excel in school, do your best, and keep your family close. I Promise is a lively and inspiring picture book that reminds us that tomorrow’s success starts with the promises we make to ourselves and our community today.
Federico and the Wolf
With his red hoodie on and his bicycle basket full of food, Federico is ready to visit Abuelo. But on the way, he meets a hungry wolf. And now his grandfather bears a striking resemblance to el lobo.
Fortunately, Federico is quick and clever—and just happens to be carrying a spicy surprise! Federico drives the wolf away, and he and Abuelo celebrate with a special salsa. Recipe included."
Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back.
He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.