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Violence: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about violence?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to violence. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about violence.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about violence, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Matilda to popular sellers like The Cruel Prince to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Day War Came.

We hope this list of kids books about violence can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Top 10 Books About Violence

#1
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The Day War Came
Written by Nicola Davies & illustrated by Rebecca Cobb
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Imagine if, on an ordinary day, after a morning of studying tadpoles and drawing birds at school, war came to your town and turned it to rubble. Imagine if you lost everything and everyone, and you had to make a dangerous journey all alone. Imagine that there was no welcome at the end, and no room for you to even take a seat at school. And then a child, just like you, gave you something ordinary but so very, very precious. In lyrical, deeply affecting language, Nicola Davies’s text combines with Rebecca Cobb’s expressive illustrations to evoke the experience of a child who sees war take away all that she knows.

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#2
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Caleb and Kit
Written by Beth Vrabel
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From award-winning author Beth Vrabel comes a powerfully moving story about a magical friendship, coping with disability, and the pains of growing up and growing apart. Twelve-year-old Caleb is shorter, frailer, and more protected than most kids his age. That’s because he has cystic fibrosis, a diagnosis meaning lungs that fill with mucus and a shortened lifespan. Caleb tries not to let his disorder define him, but it can be hard with an overprotective mom and a perfect big brother. Then Caleb meets Kit–a vibrant, independent, and free girl–and his world changes instantly. Kit reads Caleb’s palm and tells him they are destined to become friends. She calls birds down from the sky and turns every day into an adventure. Her magic is contagious, making Caleb question the rules and order in his life. But being Kit’s friend means embracing deception and danger, and soon Caleb will have to decide if his friendship with Kit is really what’s best for him–or her. This new paperback edition includes a Q&A with the author as well as a sneak peek at Beth Vrabel’s next middle grade novel, The Humiliations of Pipi McGee.

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#3
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Smoky Night
Written by Eve Bunting & illustrated by David Diaz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Eve Bunting’s heartfelt story and David Diaz’s dramatic illustrations create a compelling child’s-eye view of urban violence. A young boy and his mother are forced to flee their apartment during a night of rioting in Los Angeles. Fires and looting force neighbors—who have always avoided one another—to come together in the face of danger and concern for their missing pets. David Diaz was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his bold acrylic paint and photo-collage illustrations.

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#4
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Novalee and the Spider Secret
Written by Lori Ann Stephens
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

“My secret sits at the back of my throat like a balled-up spider. I don’t like it there. Who would? Spider secrets are the worst. For a whole year, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get this one out, but I’m afraid if I move, that secret might stretch out its legs and crawl down my throat, all the way to my stomach where I’ll never be able to reach it.” Novalee starts the fourth grade determined to not just make friends but to change herself from boring Nova into super Nova. Her mom finds her grandfather’s violin, and Nova decides to take lessons. It seems to work as Nova finds acceptance for her growing skill. But her world soon tumbles out of control when her violin teacher does something that threatens her universe: he kisses her. She makes an unlikely friendship with a fellow outcast, Toby, who helps her find the courage, voice, and persistence to confront the spider secret.

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#5
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Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice
Written by & illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A Little Free Library Action Book Club Selection<br /><br /> National Parenting Product Award Winner (NAPPA)<br /><br /><i>Emma and Josh heard that something happened in their town. A Black man was shot by the police.</i><br /><br /><i>”Why did the police shoot that man?”</i><br /><br /><i>”Can police go to jail?”</i><br /><br /><i>Something Happened in Our Town</i> follows two families – one White, one Black – as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.<br /><br /> Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues.<br /><br /> Free, downloadable educator materials (including discussion questions) are available at www.apa.org.<br /><br /> From the Note to Parents and Caregivers: <br /><br /><i>There are many benefits of beginning to discuss racial bias and injustice with young children of all races and ethnicities: </i><ul><li><i>Research has shown that children even as young as three years of age notice and comment on differences in skin color.</i></li></ul><ul><li><i>Humans of all ages tend to ascribe positive qualities to the group that they belong to and negative qualities to other groups.</i></li></ul><ul><li><i>Despite some parents’ attempts to protect their children from frightening media content, children often become aware of incidents of community violence, including police shootings.</i></li></ul><ul><li><i>Parents who don’t proactively talk about racial issues with their children are inadvertently teaching their children that race is a taboo topic. Parents who want to raise children to accept individuals from diverse cultures need to counter negative attitudes that their children develop from exposure to the negative racial stereotypes that persist in our society.</i></li></ul>

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#6
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The President Sang Amazing Grace
Written by Zoe Mulford & illustrated by Jeff Scher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Lyrical account of the day President Obama sang with a grieving nation following the 2015 shooting in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina When nine people were killed in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, the nation grieved as one, and when President Barack Obama sang “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, it was acknowledged as one of the most powerful moments of his presidency. Singer/songwriter Zoe Mulford was so moved that she wrote the song “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” which was then illustrated by filmmaker and painter Jeff Scher for a video that has been viewed countless times. This book presents the lyrics to the song, Scher’s paintings, excerpts from Obama’s eulogy, biographies of those who were killed, historical context, and sheet music.

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#7
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Fighting Words
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-

A candid and fierce middle grade novel about sisterhood and sexual abuse, by Newbery Honor winner and #1 New York Times best seller Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

Ten-tear-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom’s boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run <i>fast,</i> Della had Suki. Suki is Della’s own wolf–her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della’s world turns so far upside down, it feels like it’s shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she’s been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it’s time to be loud.

In this powerful novel that explodes the stigma around child sexual abuse and leavens an intense tale with compassion and humor, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley tells a story about two sisters, linked by love and trauma, who must find their own voices before they can find their way back to each other.

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#8
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Hey, Dog
Written by Tony Johnston & illustrated by Jonathan Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A boy cares for, feeds, and helps an abused stray dog to learn to trust humans again.

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#9
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The Invisible Boy
Written by Alyssa Hollingsworth & illustrated by Deborah Lee
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

If no one sees him, does he exist? This superhero-inspired adventure story explores friendship and what it means to be truly brave.

Nadia looks for adventure in the pages of her Superman comic books, until a mysterious boy saves her dog from drowning during a storm and then disappears. Now she finds herself in the role of Lois Lane, hunting down the scoop of the Invisible Boy. Suddenly she’s in a real-life adventure that’s far more dangerous than anything in her comic books.

The Invisible Boy is a mystery and an adventure story, as well as a story about child labor trafficking. Like Katherine Applegate, author of Crenshaw and Wishtree, Alyssa Hollingsworth takes a difficult subject matter and makes it accessible for middle-grade readers.

Featuring illustrations by Deborah Lee

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#10
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Let's Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect: Teach children about body ownership, respect, feelings, choices and recognizing bullying behaviors
Written by Jayneen Sanders & illustrated by Sarah Jennings
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-10

Teaching young children about body boundaries, both theirs and others, is crucial to a child's growing sense of self, their confidence and how they should expect to be treated by others. A child growing up knowing they have a right to their own personal space, gives that child ownership and choices as to what happens to them and to their body. It is equally important a child understands, from a very young age, they need to respect another person's body boundary and ask for their consent when entering their personal space. This book explores these concepts with children in a child-friendly and easily-understood manner, providing familiar scenarios for children to engage with and discuss. It is important that the reader and the child take the time required to unpack each scenario and explore what they mean both to the character in the book, who may not be respecting someone's body boundary, and to the character who is being disrespected. It is through these vital discussions that children will learn the meaning of body boundaries, consent and respect. Learning these key social skills through such stories as 'Let's Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect' and role-modelling by significant adults can, importantly, carry forward into a child's teenage years and adult life.

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Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Violence and...

Books About Violence and Abuse

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Caleb and Kit
Written by Beth Vrabel
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From award-winning author Beth Vrabel comes a powerfully moving story about a magical friendship, coping with disability, and the pains of growing up and growing apart. Twelve-year-old Caleb is shorter, frailer, and more protected than most kids his age. That’s because he has cystic fibrosis, a diagnosis meaning lungs that fill with mucus and a shortened lifespan. Caleb tries not to let his disorder define him, but it can be hard with an overprotective mom and a perfect big brother. Then Caleb meets Kit–a vibrant, independent, and free girl–and his world changes instantly. Kit reads Caleb’s palm and tells him they are destined to become friends. She calls birds down from the sky and turns every day into an adventure. Her magic is contagious, making Caleb question the rules and order in his life. But being Kit’s friend means embracing deception and danger, and soon Caleb will have to decide if his friendship with Kit is really what’s best for him–or her. This new paperback edition includes a Q&A with the author as well as a sneak peek at Beth Vrabel’s next middle grade novel, The Humiliations of Pipi McGee.

Buy book
$7.99
Bookshop
$6.79
Amazon
$7.99
Used $-1.91
Prices as of Apr 22
Add to list
Novalee and the Spider Secret
Written by Lori Ann Stephens
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

“My secret sits at the back of my throat like a balled-up spider. I don’t like it there. Who would? Spider secrets are the worst. For a whole year, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get this one out, but I’m afraid if I move, that secret might stretch out its legs and crawl down my throat, all the way to my stomach where I’ll never be able to reach it.” Novalee starts the fourth grade determined to not just make friends but to change herself from boring Nova into super Nova. Her mom finds her grandfather’s violin, and Nova decides to take lessons. It seems to work as Nova finds acceptance for her growing skill. But her world soon tumbles out of control when her violin teacher does something that threatens her universe: he kisses her. She makes an unlikely friendship with a fellow outcast, Toby, who helps her find the courage, voice, and persistence to confront the spider secret.

Buy book
$11.95
Bookshop
$10.16
Amazon
$9.22
Used $3.50
Prices as of Apr 22
Add to list
Fighting Words
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-

A candid and fierce middle grade novel about sisterhood and sexual abuse, by Newbery Honor winner and #1 New York Times best seller Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

Ten-tear-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom’s boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run <i>fast,</i> Della had Suki. Suki is Della’s own wolf–her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della’s world turns so far upside down, it feels like it’s shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she’s been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it’s time to be loud.

In this powerful novel that explodes the stigma around child sexual abuse and leavens an intense tale with compassion and humor, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley tells a story about two sisters, linked by love and trauma, who must find their own voices before they can find their way back to each other.

Buy book
$17.99
Bookshop
$15.29
Amazon
$14.62
Used $14.28
Prices as of Apr 22
Honorable Mentions
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  1. Hey, Dog - A boy cares for, feeds, and helps an abused stray dog to learn to trust humans again.

  2. The Invisible Boy - If no one sees him, does he exist? This superhero-inspired adventure story explores friendship and what it means to be truly brave. Nadia looks for adventure in the pages of her Superman comic books, until a mysterious boy saves her dog from drowning during a storm and then disappears. Now she finds herself in the role of Lois Lane, hunting down the scoop of the Invisible Boy. Suddenly she’s in a real-life adventure that’s far more dangerous than anything in her comic books. The Invisible Boy is a mystery and an adventure story, as well as a story about child labor trafficking. Like Katherine Applegate, author of Crenshaw and Wishtree, Alyssa Hollingsworth takes a difficult subject matter and makes it accessible for middle-grade readers. Featuring illustrations by Deborah Lee

  3. Let's Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect: Teach children about body ownership, respect, feelings, choices and recognizing bullying behaviors - Teaching young children about body boundaries, both theirs and others, is crucial to a child's growing sense of self, their confidence and how they should expect to be treated by others. A child growing up knowing they have a right to their own personal space, gives that child ownership and choices as to what happens to them and to their body. It is equally important a child understands, from a very young age, they need to respect another person's body boundary and ask for their consent when entering their personal space. This book explores these concepts with children in a child-friendly and easily-understood manner, providing familiar scenarios for children to engage with and discuss. It is important that the reader and the child take the time required to unpack each scenario and explore what they mean both to the character in the book, who may not be respecting someone's body boundary, and to the character who is being disrespected. It is through these vital discussions that children will learn the meaning of body boundaries, consent and respect. Learning these key social skills through such stories as 'Let's Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect' and role-modelling by significant adults can, importantly, carry forward into a child's teenage years and adult life.

  4. The War That Saved My Life - A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.

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Books About Violence and Social Themes

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The Day War Came
Written by Nicola Davies & illustrated by Rebecca Cobb
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Imagine if, on an ordinary day, after a morning of studying tadpoles and drawing birds at school, war came to your town and turned it to rubble. Imagine if you lost everything and everyone, and you had to make a dangerous journey all alone. Imagine that there was no welcome at the end, and no room for you to even take a seat at school. And then a child, just like you, gave you something ordinary but so very, very precious. In lyrical, deeply affecting language, Nicola Davies’s text combines with Rebecca Cobb’s expressive illustrations to evoke the experience of a child who sees war take away all that she knows.

Buy book
$16.99
Bookshop
$14.44
Amazon
$13.29
Used $2.41
Prices as of Apr 22
Add to list
Smoky Night
Written by Eve Bunting & illustrated by David Diaz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Eve Bunting’s heartfelt story and David Diaz’s dramatic illustrations create a compelling child’s-eye view of urban violence. A young boy and his mother are forced to flee their apartment during a night of rioting in Los Angeles. Fires and looting force neighbors—who have always avoided one another—to come together in the face of danger and concern for their missing pets. David Diaz was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his bold acrylic paint and photo-collage illustrations.

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The Hawk and the Dove
Written & illustrated by Paul Kor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The hawk is sad. He is tired of war. So, he changes his face and puts on gloves. Whoosh! He has become a gentle dove. And all around him, the world is at peace. No more canon blasts. No more bombs. Planes turn into butterflies. Soldiers’ guns sprout dazzling flowers. Everyone is joyful as a blanket of calm envelops the world. However, though happy now, the dove still worries. Will it last?

The late Paul Kor, an internationally acclaimed Israeli author-illustrator, sought to create a miracle with this book borne out of his own brutal experiences of war. With its striking illustrations, the simple but powerful story offers a hopeful message of peace in a time of uncertainty. Clever paper cuts allow readers to play an active role in the transformations with every turn of the page, thus encouraging children to recognize they have the power to affect change, including when it comes to choosing peace over war in the future. This book provides an accessible look at the concepts of war and peace and would make a terrific discussion starter on the subject. It could also be a model for an art lesson on papercutting. A note at the end of the book details the inspiration behind the story and the book’s creation, accompanied by photographs.

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. Cedric and the Dragon - Prince Cedric is slow to walk, has a tough time with reading and math, and fails miserably at dragon slaying school. But with kindness and bravery, and his love for hugs, Cedric saves the kingdom. This cheerful picture book teaches kids that there are many ways to solve a problem and reinforces the idea that everyone has something special to offer.

  2. Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story - From the critically acclaimed author of <i>Anything But Typical </i>comes a touching look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers. <p/>Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day–until a plane struck the World Trade Center. <p/>But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he hates and the grandmother he loves. Will’s father is gone, too, killed in a car accident that has left the family reeling. Naheed has never before felt uncomfortable about being Muslim, but at her new school she’s getting funny looks because of the head scarf she wears. Aimee is starting a new school in a new city and missing her mom, who has to fly to New York on business. <p/>These four don’t know one another, but their lives are about to intersect in ways they never could have imagined. Award-winning author Nora Raleigh Baskin weaves together their stories into an unforgettable novel about that seemingly perfect September day–the day our world changed forever.

  3. The Red Pencil - “Amira, look at me,” Muma insists.She collects both my hands in hers.”The Janjaweed attack without warning.If ever they come– run.” Finally, Amira is twelve. Old enough to wear a toob, old enough for new responsibilities. And maybe old enough to go to school in Nyala– Amira’s one true dream. But life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey– on foot– to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind– and all kinds of possibilities. New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney’s powerful verse and Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist Shane W. Evans’s breathtaking illustrations combine to tell an inspiring tale of one girl’s triumph against all odds.

  4. Stars in the Darkness - In the imagination of a young inner-city boy, police sirens sound like howling wolves, streetlights look like stars, and shots fired by neighborhood gangs sound like those stars cracking the darkness. But when his older brother joins a gang, he can no longer pretend. With the help of his mother, he comes up with a plan to save his brother and unite his neighbors in a stand for peace. The realistic yet uplifting words of best-selling author Barbara M. Joosse combine with powerful illustrations by award-winning artist R. Gregory Christie in this hope-filled story. One young boy’s courage can make a difference.

Books About Violence and Death

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The President Sang Amazing Grace
Written by Zoe Mulford & illustrated by Jeff Scher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Lyrical account of the day President Obama sang with a grieving nation following the 2015 shooting in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina When nine people were killed in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, the nation grieved as one, and when President Barack Obama sang “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, it was acknowledged as one of the most powerful moments of his presidency. Singer/songwriter Zoe Mulford was so moved that she wrote the song “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” which was then illustrated by filmmaker and painter Jeff Scher for a video that has been viewed countless times. This book presents the lyrics to the song, Scher’s paintings, excerpts from Obama’s eulogy, biographies of those who were killed, historical context, and sheet music.

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The Canyon's Edge
Written by Dusti Bowling
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13
Hatchet meets Long Way Down in this heartfelt and gripping novel in verse about a young girl's struggle for survival after a climbing trip with her father goes terribly wrong.
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Death by Airship
Written & illustrated by Arthur Slade
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Prince Conn will never be king. And that’s just fine with him. He’s ninth in line for the pirate throne and is quite happy to sail the skies in his airship with his crew of cheery misfits, plundering as they go. But one by one his siblings are being murdered, in tragic fires, violent cannon attacks or mysterious poisonings. Soon all fingers are pointing toward Conn as the mastermind. To prove his innocence, Conn must make his way to Skull Island, navigating his airship through a gauntlet of villains, explosions and betrayals. Can he reach his father’s kingdom before it’s too late? Or will he suffer the same fate as the rest of his family?

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. Midnight at the Barclay Hotel - Hunting ghosts and solving the case before checkout? All in a weekend's work.

  2. COOP Knows the Scoop - The whole town is talking about what's buried beneath the playground...

  3. Belly Up - 12 year old Theodore Teddy Roosevelt Fitzroy has got a murder on his hands and trouble on his tail. Henry, the hippopatamus at the brand-new nationally known FunJungle, has gone belly up. Even though it’s claimed he died of natural causes, Teddy smells something fishy and it sure ain’t the polar bear’s lunch. Dealing with the zoo’s top brass proves to be nothing but a waste of time. They want to see any trace of Henry’s death disappear like yesterday’s paper. So Teddy sets out to find the truth. With the help of Summer McCraken, a fiesty girl with secrets of her own, the two narrow down their prime suspects. Is it Martin Del Gato, FunJungle’s head of operations who hates kids and hates animals even more? Or J.J McCraken, the owner of FunJungle and and hates animals even more? Or J.J McCraken, the owner of FunJungle and Summer’s father, who has more concern for the dough he’s raking in than the animals in the zoo? As their investigation goes on, Teddy gets squeezed on all sides to quit asking questions or Henry won’t be the only animal in the zoo to turn up dead. The deeper Teddy and Summer get, they had better make sure they want to know what they want to know because when it comes to hippo homicide, the truth can’t be kept in a cage!

  4. Lock and Key: The Final Step - The New York Times bestselling author of the Peter and the Starcatchers and Kingdom Keepers series, Ridley Pearson, brings us the thrilling conclusion to the Lock and Key trilogy. Before James Moriarty and his sister Moria enrolled in Baskerville Academy, they were inseparable—as close to best friends as a brother and sister could be. But since setting foot on the boarding school’s campus, James has been different. At Baskerville, he’s become cunning, deceptive, ruthless, sometimes reckless. And now that his roommate Sherlock Holmes has been expelled, there’s no one left to help Moira figure out what’s going on with her brother or to uncover the connection between a recent string of deaths. To Moria, it seems obvious that someone has it out for the Moriarty family. First their father and then their family driver and now their legal guardian—clearly something is afoot. But to get the answers they need, they’ll first have to deal with an incriminating photograph, secret safe houses, and powerful enemies. It’s a highly original and satisfying take on the Sherlock Holmes series as only master of suspense Ridley Pearson could envision.

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Books About Violence and Prejudice And Racism

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Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice
Written by & illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A Little Free Library Action Book Club Selection<br /><br /> National Parenting Product Award Winner (NAPPA)<br /><br /><i>Emma and Josh heard that something happened in their town. A Black man was shot by the police.</i><br /><br /><i>”Why did the police shoot that man?”</i><br /><br /><i>”Can police go to jail?”</i><br /><br /><i>Something Happened in Our Town</i> follows two families – one White, one Black – as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.<br /><br /> Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues.<br /><br /> Free, downloadable educator materials (including discussion questions) are available at www.apa.org.<br /><br /> From the Note to Parents and Caregivers: <br /><br /><i>There are many benefits of beginning to discuss racial bias and injustice with young children of all races and ethnicities: </i><ul><li><i>Research has shown that children even as young as three years of age notice and comment on differences in skin color.</i></li></ul><ul><li><i>Humans of all ages tend to ascribe positive qualities to the group that they belong to and negative qualities to other groups.</i></li></ul><ul><li><i>Despite some parents’ attempts to protect their children from frightening media content, children often become aware of incidents of community violence, including police shootings.</i></li></ul><ul><li><i>Parents who don’t proactively talk about racial issues with their children are inadvertently teaching their children that race is a taboo topic. Parents who want to raise children to accept individuals from diverse cultures need to counter negative attitudes that their children develop from exposure to the negative racial stereotypes that persist in our society.</i></li></ul>

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Ghost Boys
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.
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Dreamland Burning
Written by Jennifer Latham
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 14-99

A compelling dual-narrated novel that asks, how far have we really come with race relations in the last 100 years? Now in paperback. When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal, century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past… and the present. Nearly 100 years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against African Americans and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns. Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, this “unflinching, superbly written story” (Kirkus) brings the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 to blazing life, raising important questions about the complex state of U.S. race relations.

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  1. The Cruel Prince - An instant New York Times bestseller! By #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, the first book in a stunning new series about a mortal girl who finds herself caught in a web of royal faerie intrigue. Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe. Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

  2. Count Me In - An uplifting story, told through the alternating voices of two middle-schoolers, in which a community rallies to reject racism.

  3. Blended - Eleven-year-old Isabella’s blended family is more divided than ever in this thoughtful story about divorce and racial identity from the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind, Sharon M. Draper. Eleven-year-old Isabella’s parents are divorced, so she has to switch lives every week: One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves. Because of this, Isabella has always felt pulled between two worlds. And now that her parents are divorced, it seems their fights are even worse, and they’re always about HER. Isabella feels even more stuck in the middle, split and divided between them than ever. And she’s is beginning to realize that being split between Mom and Dad is more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities. Her dad is black, her mom is white, and strangers are always commenting: “You’re so exotic!” “You look so unusual.” “But what are you really?” She knows what they’re really saying: “You don’t look like your parents.” “You’re different.” “What race are you really?” And when her parents, who both get engaged at the same time, get in their biggest fight ever, Isabella doesn’t just feel divided, she feels ripped in two. What does it mean to be half white or half black? To belong to half mom and half dad? And if you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole? It seems like nothing can bring Isabella’s family together again—until the worst happens. Isabella and Darren are stopped by the police. A cell phone is mistaken for a gun. And shots are fired.

  4. Tusk Tusk - Once, elephants came in two colours: black or white. They loved all other creatures - but each set wanted to destroy the other. Peace-loving elephants ran and hid in the deepest jungle while battle commenced. The war-mongers succeeded: for a long time it seemed that there were no elephants in the world at all, not of any colour. But then the descendants of the peace-loving ones emerged from the jungle, and by now they were all grey. ‘This book was one of my favourites as a kid, I simply relished in the gloriousness of a load of elephants battling it out in a bizarre forest. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I recognised the importance of the message that lay (not so subtly) underneath.’ OLIVER JEFFERS

Books About Violence and Family

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Every Missing Piece
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
A stunning voice-driven novel about grief, family, and putting the pieces back together for "fans of Rebecca Stead and Erin Entrada Kelly" (BCCB) and "readers who enjoyed The Thing About Jellyfish (Booklist).
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Long Way Down
Written by Jason Reynolds
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 13-17
A Newbery Honor Book
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The Big Bad Wolf in My House
Written by Valérie Fontaine, & illustrated by Nathalie Dion
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A young girl describes what it's like when her mom's new friend comes to stay -- a moving story about domestic violence that ends on a hopeful note.

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  1. Ghost - A National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature.
    Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read.

  2. Mockingbird - Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.

  3. Curiosity House: The Fearsome Firebird - In this third book in the exceptional Curiosity House mystery series by bestselling author Lauren Oliver and mysterious recluse H. C. Chester, four children must uncover the evil Nicholas Rattigan’s newest dastardly scheme, wage war with a rival freak show, and deal with a spy who may have infiltrated their happy home. Sam, Philippa, Thomas, and Max have just started to recover from their capture and subsequent escape from Rattigan. But the children’s lives don’t stay quiet for long. A slew of bank robberies is terrorizing the city. And when Professor Farnum, the ringmaster of the museum’s now immensely popular flea circus, is charged with murder, the search for the real killer uncovers a plot much bigger than any individual crime—a plot that can only be the work of Nicholas Rattigan. This is the third book in the series and contains even more exciting marvels, such as: A nefarious spy within the museum A very unfortunate flea circus The heavenly Georgie Rawls, from the original cast of Last Chance A beautiful and mysterious tattooed lady It continues not to have: A comprehensive review of the top ten toothbrushes A heaping bowl of sugarless cereal A long and boring family vacation A handmade, scratchy wool sweater Learn more about the series online at www.thecuriosityhouse.com

  4. The House in Poplar Wood - Haunted Mansion meets Stranger Things ★ “A smart, thrilling mystery” -Publishers Weekly, starred review ★ “Magical elements, evocative, intelligent writing, and ever-ratcheting suspense.”-Kirkus Reviews, starred review “The foreboding atmosphere perfectly matches the dark mystery and high stakes confronting the middle-schoolers.” –Booklist For as long as the Vickery twins can remember, Lee and his mother have served Memory, while Felix and his father assist Death. This is the Agreement. But one Halloween, Gretchen Whipple smashes her way into their lives. Her bargain is simple: If the twins help her solve the murder of local girl Essie Hasting, she’ll help them break the Agreement. The more the three investigate, however, the more they realize that something’s gone terribly wrong in their town. Death is on the loose, and if history repeats itself, Essie’s might not be the last murder in Poplar Wood. Simultaneously heartwarming and delightfully spooky, The House in Poplar Wood is a story about a boy’s desire to be free, a girl’s desire to make a difference, and a family’s desire to be together again.

Books About Violence and History

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Hector: A Boy, a Protest, and the Photograph That Changed Apartheid
Written by Adrienne Wright
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

On June 16, 1976, Hector Pieterson, an ordinary boy, lost his life after getting caught up in what was supposed to be a peaceful protest. Black South African students were marching against a new law requiring that they be taught half of their subjects in Afrikaans, the language of the White government. The story's events unfold from the perspectives of Hector, his sister, and the photographer who captured their photo in the chaos. This book can serve as a pertinent tool for adults discussing global history and race relations with children. Its graphic novel style and mixed media art portray the vibrancy and grit of Hector's daily life and untimely death.

Heartbreaking yet relevant, this powerful story gives voice to an ordinary boy and sheds light on events that helped lead to the end of apartheid.

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Before the Devil Breaks You
Written by Libba Bray
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 15-99

The Diviners are back in this thrilling and eerie third installment by #1 New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray. New York City.1927.Lights are bright.Jazz is king.Parties are wild.And the dead are coming… After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows. With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves. Heart-pounding action and terrifying moments will leave you breathless in the third book of the four-book Diviners series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray.

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Strange Fruit
Written by Gary Golio & illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-12

The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called “”Strange Fruit.”” In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn’t either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever.

Discover how two outsiders–Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants–combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.””The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called “”Strange Fruit.”” In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn’t either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever.

Discover how two outsiders–Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants–combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.

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  1. Premeditated Myrtle - A 2021 Edgar Award Nominee, Best Juvenile

  2. Mexique: A Refugee Story from the Spanish Civil War - On May 27, 1937, over four hundred children sailed for Morelia, Mexico, fleeing the violence of the Spanish Civil War. Home was no longer safe, and Mexico was welcoming refugees by the thousands. Each child packed a suitcase and boarded the Mexique, expecting to return home in a few months. This was just a short trip, an extra-long summer vacation, they thought. But the war did not end in a few months, and the children stayed, waiting and wondering, in Mexico. When the war finally ended, a dictator--the Fascist Francisco Franco--ruled Spain. Home was even more dangerous than before.

  3. Night on Fire - Thirteen-year-old Billie Simms doesn’t think her hometown of Anniston, Alabama, should be segregated, but few of the town’s residents share her opinion. As equality spreads across the country and the Civil Rights Movement gathers momentum, Billie can’t help but feel stuck—and helpless—in a stubborn town too set in its ways to realize that the world is passing it by. So when Billie learns that the Freedom Riders, a group of peace activists riding interstate buses to protest segregation, will be traveling through Anniston on their way to Montgomery, she thinks that maybe change is finally coming and her quiet little town will shed itself of its antiquated views. But what starts as a series of angry grumbles soon turns to brutality as Anniston residents show just how deep their racism runs. The Freedom Riders will resume their ride to Montgomery, and Billie is now faced with a choice: stand idly by in silence or take a stand for what she believes in. Through her own decisions and actions and a few unlikely friendships, Billie is about to come to grips with the deep-seated prejudice of those she once thought she knew, and with her own inherent racism that she didn’t even know she had.

  4. Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party -

    Nine-year-old Ling is very comfortable in her life; her parents are both dedicated surgeons in the best hospital in Wuhan. But when Comrade Li, one of Mao's political officers, moves into a room in their apartment, Ling begins to witness the gradual disintegration of her world. In an atmosphere of increasing mistrust, Ling fears for the safety of her neighbors and, soon, for herself and family. Over the course of four years, Ling manages to grow and blossom, even as she suffers more horrors than many people face in a lifetime.

    Drawing from her childhood experience, Ying Chang Compestine brings hope and humor to this compelling story for all ages about a girl fighting to survive during the Cultural Revolution in China.

    "Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party" is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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