My Brother Charlie

Peete, Holly Robinson and Ryan Elizabeth Peete. My Brother Charlie. New York: Scholastic Press, 2010.

A heartwarming story about a brother with autism. In an afterword by the authors, the mother and twin sister of an autistic boy tell more about their own real-life experiences. Illustrated by acclaimed illustrator Shane W. Evans, this picture book is highly recommended for children 5 to 12 years old.

More books about autism

My Brother’s Secret

Smith, Dan. My Brother’s Secret. New York: Chicken House, 2015.

Set in 1941 Germany, this story depicts the changes that happen when twelve-year-old Karl realizes that life is not so simple. After his father is killed on the Eastern Front and his family goes to live with his grandparents, he starts to see life differently. Is Hitler really a hero? Are the Nazis noble soldiers? Is his older brother Stefan’s decision to join an underground movement courageous? Does he himself have the courage to stand up against everything he has been taught at school? This novel by an award-winning British writer is recommended for readers 12 years old and up.

P.S. Every novel published by Chicken House is worth checking out. Every story is well-written and memorable for its hope in the face of hardships. 

More about Dan Smith and his stories

More stories about World War 2

The Crossroads

Dear Reader,

In the news, you hear about people illegally crossing the border from Mexico into the United States. You hear about people illegally entering Europe to escape from war in Afghanistan and Syria. You hear adults give their opinions about what should be done. You may even have your own opinion about people fleeing their home and escaping to other countries. 

But what is it like to be one of those people on the run? What is it like to be an undocumented teenager trying to survive in a new country?

Diaz, Alexandra. The Crossroads. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018.

Twelve-year-old Jaime and fifteen-year-old Angela are cousins from Guatemala living in a trailer in New Mexico. Jaime’s older brother works on a ranch and the two younger cousins go to school. But how can you feel like you belong when you can’t understand English? How can you feel safe when you don’t want anyone to know that you are in the country illegally? How can you rest when you are worried about your relatives back home?

This skillfully written story is full of plot twists and real life dilemmas will give you a new perspective on the problems of modern migration. The novel is long – 303 pages – but it is not difficult to read. There is lots of conversation, and the sentences are quite simple. I think you are ready to read a story about what it is like to be independent when you are only 12 years old. 

Ms R. 

More stories of migration

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Brave Like My Brother

Dear Reader,

How wonderful to see you looking for more serious novels. Short humorous stories are fine to read once in awhile, but you are now at an age – in grade six – where you are ready to consider more mature topics. You already know that life is not always fun. Not always easy. And you are ready to read stories that depict characters in circumstances that call for courage.

But I know that you cannot yet read quickly enough to enjoy a long book with small print. So what novels can you read that are more than simply entertainment? Here’s one just for you! 

Nobleman, Marc Tyler. Brave Like My Brother. New York: Scholastic Press, 2016.

Only 100 pages long, this story is printed in a large font with lots of space between the lines and large margins. And each chapter is only 4 pages long. Actually, each chapter is a letter. Yes, a letter. It is a series of letters. The first and the last one are from Charlie, writing to his older brother, Joe, a soldier sent to England during World War II. All the others in between are from Joe, writing to tell of his experiences during the days leading up to D-Day, the Allied invasion of France.  It will not take you long to read this novel of courage in the face of bullying and fear.

And when you are finished, think about these questions: What did you learn about history from reading this story? How is being a soldier different than you expected? How do Joe and Charlie and their parents and their grandmother all show courage during the war?

pleased that you are growing into a thoughtful reader,
Ms. R.

More stories of World War II 

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Not so far away…

Erlings, Fridrick. Boy on the Edge. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2014, c2012.
Henry stutters. He can’t read and he doesn’t walk properly. He has no friends and his mother can’t manage his anger. So he’s sent to a farm for homeless boys, run by an angry morose minister.  How can any goodness come out of this situation? This 219-page novel of the search for escape and the discovery of quiet peace is recommended for thoughtful readers 13 years old and up.

More stories set in Europe

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