Book recommendations for 3rd grader
November 19, 2014 10:23 AM   Subscribe

I'd like resources on what books are available now that would spark interest for a city-dwelling 3rd grade girl.

I've been reading to a (now) 3rd grader for a little over a year during my lunch hour at work. She is not the biggest fan of books, however (her mother forces her to come to the reading sessions, but nobody reads to her at home as far as I know), and reads pretty badly.

She does respond well to books with a lot of pictures in them (I gave her a "spot the difference" type book, which she loved, and she also really likes easy, children-themed graphic novels, and stories with nice, full-color illustrations). She really likes stories that take place in a city, and that have a diverse group of friends or a black main character.

The program encourages us to buy new books for their library, and also does not object to us giving the books directly to the kids.

I'm trying to get her into chapter books, and she had some initial interest with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books since she saw the movie--but 10 pages in, and she's bored to tears, so I'm planning to switch to something new next week. If I could bring in some brand new options, I think she'd like that.

I need books appropriate for a 9 year old who likes:
- graphic novels, comic strips, lots of full-color illustrations
- stories centered around (ideally) a young black girl (1st choice), black boy (2nd), or other non-white girl (3rd) or boy (4th) where their ethnicity is just treated as normal

and I'd like it if the stories were chapter books, but hey, you can't win them all.

posted by Curiosity Delay to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Has she read the graphic novel series Princeless yet? Two volumes are out so far, I think.
posted by leesh at 10:28 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I haven't read all of these, but here are some suggestions based on a look at this list of kids' books with characters of color:

The Anna Hibiscus series (This is my top recommendation: a full-color early chapter book starring a girl who lives in Africa)
The Lulu series (a chapter book that seems to star an African-American girl)
Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School (a graphic novel that stars a Latino boy)

Good luck!
posted by cider at 10:46 AM on November 19, 2014

These don’t meet your in a city qualification:

I have not read these but found them on this lists: Multicultural Graphic Novels for kids and teens

The Shadow Door
Four friends discover a movie projector that opens a passageway into a world threatened by creatures of shadow, where their only weapon is light.

And from this list: A Mighty Girl

Days Like This
Author J. Torres now casts his eye back to the early '60s, when pop music ruled the airwaves. Days Like This follows the formation of "Tina & the Tiaras," a new girl group, as they rise up the charts and overcome personal obstacles to become stars. This slim graphic novel features stunning art by newcomer Scott Chantler that's reminiscent of the clean lines of vintage graphic design from the period.

I enjoy :01 (first second books) you might look at their middle grades and for kids collection t the bottom of the page there are several with non-human protagonists:
First Second Collection
posted by edbles at 10:51 AM on November 19, 2014

Vera Williams writes gorgeously illustrated books that depict an urban, multicultural, densely social, economically modest world, starring a school-age girl of color. For example Music Music for Everyone or A Chair For My Mother are particularly lovely. These books are probably classified as meant for ages 5-8 because they're picture books, but a 9 year old could still get a lot out of them, and they offer emotionally serious material to discuss, especially A Chair For My Mother. My own children re-read WIlliams' books well past age 8 or 9, even while also reading dense chapter books, because of the richness and realism of their emotional texture.
posted by third rail at 12:20 PM on November 19, 2014

OK, the avid young reader sitting beside me has some suggestions as well. I'd never heard of these, but she says they're perfect.
1. The Sassy books -- a fun series starring a 9 year old African American girl.
2. Anything by Jaqueline Woodson
posted by third rail at 12:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is she bored, or is she saying she's bored because she doesn't understand what she's reading? Sometimes kids will cite boredom when they're aware their reading skills aren't where they'd like them to be.

What about American Girl books?
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:48 PM on November 19, 2014

Yeah, the issue with American GIrl books is that they don't treat ethnicity as "normal." These are books where you can't be a Jewish girl without a menorah in the text, or a Chinese-American girl without a New Year's dragon kite. There are two historical series about an African American girl -- the Addy books are great but they're all about the struggles of leaving slavery, and the Cecille (sp?) series is about a rich Creole girl in Old New Orleans -- not so easily relateable. But the Addy books are actually good books, if the young reader wants to read historical fiction.
posted by third rail at 12:58 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding the Jacqueline Woodson recommendation (and I'd stray into her picture books too).

Also, the Keena Ford series, by Melissa Thomson.
posted by missrachael at 1:07 PM on November 19, 2014

The Captain Underpants books don't have girl main characters, but one of the main characters is black. They're funny and full of pictures and would probably appeal to most 9 year olds.

Vera Williams (mentioned above) has a chapter book called Scooter that my kids enjoyed. The main character is a girl who lives in a city, but she isn't black. I can't remember if any of her friends are.
posted by Redstart at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2014

Christopher Paul Curtis' books.
posted by brujita at 2:58 PM on November 19, 2014

There is a series of books revolving around a girl named Grace. These are mostly picture books, some are longer, but I have only ever read the picture books in the series. The author is Mary Hoffman. In some of the books race is not a factor, other times it is a story point.

Dyamonde Daniel is a chapter book series that I have only skimmed, so I worry about recommending, but wanted to mention as the series meets about all of your criteria.
posted by dawg-proud at 8:26 PM on November 19, 2014

My second grader liked the Nikki & Deja books by Karen English. They are "easy chapter" level, so some but not mostly pictures.

Comics I can recommend are Babymouse and Thea Stilton (unrelated series about mice). The comics aren't about black girls, but they're not about white girls either.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:55 PM on November 19, 2014

Akata Witch and Zarah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor. Both have black female teenage protagonists and are very very good.
posted by Pollfabaire at 9:09 PM on February 9, 2015

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