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Books that Matter -Our Book Picks


All books matter! But there are some books...that really matter. They tell a story, send a message, and paint a picture that is unforgettable and really matters in the world. Whether they are exploring different cultures around the world, exploring topics like adoption or disabilities, or exploring messages like "work hard," books teach us that life is different and wonderful for different people, despite all our diverse experiences. As we read, we learn to be compassionate and aware. So we are ultra-focused on finding books that matter to share with you-- they are essentially just some of our favorite, lesser known books that have been published more recently and are harder to know about! We hope you'll consider adding some of these wonderful books to your home library. 


We have the help of a Children's book author, Galen Longstreth, as we pick and review books to share here!  Galen Longstreth is the author of Yes, Let’s, illustrated by Maris Wicks.  She taught kindergarten in Philadelphia and sold children’s books at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon.  She lives in Philadelphia only a few blocks from the library, one of her favorite places in the world.


Here are some of our book picks!

One Family    

George Shannon and Blanca Gomez


In this unusual counting book, every page starts with the number one. “One is three,” says the third page. “One house of bears. One bowl of pears. One family.” Readers seek and find the bears, pears, and people and count, count, count.  The diverse, happy families shown on each page grow one by one from the scene of a lone woman contentedly snuggling her cat to an apartment full of parents, siblings, cousins, and grandparents. With illustrations full of detailed interiors and busy city streets, it becomes nearly impossible to read this book without compulsively counting every group of objects in view. And who can argue with the concluding sentiment, that we are all one family?


If you are interested in great counting books, try:

  • Bear Counts by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

  • Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton


Buy One Family



Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook

Anne Vittur Kennedy


Get ready to laugh. Ragweed, a scruffy white dog with excess energy, is going to show you the ins and outs of working on a farm.  Over and over, Ragweed tells us what not to do, until we understand that he desperately wants to perform the other animals’ jobs – wake the farmer, lie in the mud, eat grass – and that he ultimately (and hilariously) has no self control.  Beyond the pursuit of such pleasures as chasing sheep and meddling with hens, Ragweed will break all of his own rules for the sake of a dog biscuit. And yet we forgive him his faults as readily as the farmer does, won over by his boundless enthusiasm.


For other great books about dogs on the job, check out:

  • Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman

  • Tuesday Tucks Me In by Luis Carlos Montalvan

Buy Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook

Niño Wrestles the World

Yuyi Morales


Ladies and gentlemen, señoras y señores, get ready for a truly raucous read aloud experience. Niño, sporting a lucha libre wrestling mask and a pair of tighty whities, takes on mummies, aliens, ghosts and more, overcoming each opponent with his brilliant moves.  Zok! The Tickle Tackle.  Whonk! The Doll Decoy. Zzzwap! The Popsicle Slick. Every page of this book bursts with color, movement, humor, and noise, culminating in a match between Niño and the dreaded baby twin sisters (fresh from their nap).  Profiles of each wrestler decorate the endpapers and an author’s note about lucha libre helps give context to Niño’s outstanding performance for those unfamiliar with the sport. ¡Vivan las luchas!


If you’re looking for other high-energy read alouds, don’t miss these:

  • Apes A-Go-Go by Roman Milisic

  • Buddy and the Bunnies in: Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

Buy Nino Wrestles the World

Interstellar Cinderella

Deborah Underwood and Meg Hunt


In this Cinderella story, our young heroine dreams not of finding prince charming but of fixing rocket ships. At the royal parade, Cinderella helps the prince with a repair, and the two of them spend the rest of the evening talking shop.  Readers appreciating Cinderella’s mechanical inclinations and the adventurousness inherent in an outer space setting quickly understand that this story will not end with Cinderella batting her eyelashes at the prince.  Children will love comparing and contrasting this version of the story with others they know, as well as poring over the details of life in space.  And hopefully they will feel empowered to follow their dreams, whatever those might be.


For other stories about people being true to themselves, try:

  • Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino

  • Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

Buy Interstellar Ciinderella

Norman, Speak!

Caroline Adderson and Qin Leng

Published May, 2013


In the first few pages, this picture book seems to tell a simple story about a boy and his dog.  Chosen from an animal shelter, Norman is good-natured, loves to play, and wags his stumpy rump in greeting.  But he won’t listen to a word anyone says.  One day, the boy’s family discovers that Norman understands Chinese.  So what do they do?  They sign up for Chinese lessons.  Now it’s their turn not to understand what the teacher is saying.  Humbled by Norman’s mastery of this difficult language and motivated by their love for him, the family persists until they all understand each other.  Full of surprises, this story asks readers to consider what it means to be smart, how hard it is to learn something new, and the many strengths each individual brings to the world. 


If you are interested in other stories about learning a new language, try these:

  • My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits

  • Yoko Learns to Read by Rosemary Wells


Buy Norman, Speak!


My Granny Went to Market

A Round-the-World Counting Rhyme

by Stella Blackstone and Christopher Corr


One of our favorite counting books gives us the opportunity to travel around the world with Granny on her magic carpet as she collects souvenirs from exotic locations! This story introduces our youngest readers to three important early reading concepts in fun and colorful ways:

  • rhyming!- a building block of learning to read

  • counting!- predict how many souvenirs Granny collects as she travels to each place

  • world outside of our own!- this is a great way to help our little ones learn about other countries and experiences that are different from our own, and inspire them to be travelers like Granny!


Buy My Granny Went to Market

Dragon’s Extraordinary Egg

by Debi Gliori                                      

Published 2014


Read this book the first time to experience the surprise ending.  Then read it again – and again – to relive the coziness of little penguin Bib cuddling close to his mother for a bedtime story, the excitement of the land of ice and snow, where dragons warm themselves on the edges of volcanoes, and the heroic bravery of Little One, who must save herself and help another.  As a story within a story, this book offers double doses of anticipation and suspense and, more importantly, sympathy and tenderness.  A great book to share with a loved one.


If you or your child likes stories within stories, try these other titles:

  • The Bear in the Book by Kate Banks

  • Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier


Buy Dragon's Extraordinary Egg


Bernice Gets Carried Away

by Hannah E. Harrison


Bernice is grumpy.  She’s beyond grumpy. All of the other animals at the birthday party are getting the best pieces of cake, the best bottles of soda, and the best whacks at the piñata. When the balloons appear, Bernice sees her chance. She grabs the whole helium bouquet and is suddenly borne away.  The shock of this experience, the time it affords her to reflect on her behavior, and the new perspective she gains from the sky all help bring Bernice back to earth.  Young readers will love the details of the woodland birthday party and will relate to the circumstances of Bernice’s bad mood. Best of all, everyone will celebrate the kindness and generosity that secures her return.  And what better way to celebrate than a party?


Buy Bernice Gets Carried Away


Last Stop on Market Street    

by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson


One rainy day, CJ and his grandmother travel across town on the bus. CJ is full of curiosity and complaints. Why don’t they have a car? Why can’t the blind man see? And why can’t he have a fancy device like the older boys? Nana encourages CJ to appreciate what he does have, and demonstrates kindness to the other riders. When they step off the bus, Nana points out the beauty beyond the “crumbling sidewalks and broken-down doors,” and when they finally arrive at their destination – revealed on the very last page – CJ is glad he came.  All of us, even adults, need help seeing the positive now and then.  CJ is lucky to have his grandmother and we are lucky to have this book.


If you like Christian Robinson’s illustrations, don’t miss these other wonderful titles:

  • Rain by Linda Ashman

  • The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts

Buy Last Stop of Market Street


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