Books by Theme


Heroes are not just characters in comic books, saving the day. They are real people who make a brave choice in a difficult situation, take a risk and beat the odds, or stand up for what's right when no one else will. Some heroes become famous and change the world for those who come after them. Some heroes change the world for one person. Whether or not you make history, the message in these recommended books for kids ages 0-9 is that we can find acts of courage all around us — even in ourselves.
Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

Bronzeville Boys and Girls

By: Gwendolyn Brooks
Illustrated by: Faith Ringgold
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This collection of poems, first published in 1956, reveals the heroes we see in our everyday lives. Vibrant paintings add a fresh, new dimension and bring the poet's Chicago neighborhood to life.


By: Jonah Winter
Illustrated by: Sean Qualls
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

John Birks Gillespie was an angry child from an abusive home. He was able to overcome huge obstacles when given a trumpet to channel his anger and begin the journey to jazz. 'Dizzy' Gillespie's story is told in swirling images and rhythmic language, telling the story of how music inspired him and how he used his talents to inspire others.

Fly High! The Story of Bessie Coleman

By: Louise Borden, Mary Kay Kroeger, Teresa Flavin
Illustrated by: Teresa Flavin
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Bessie Coleman grew up picking cotton in Texas, but she aimed high — soaring into history as the first African American woman aviator. Her riveting story is told in inviting, rhythmic language and engaging illustration.

Julian, Secret Agent

By: Ann Cameron
Illustrated by: Diane Allison
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Julian narrates the story of how he, his little brother Huey and best friend Gloria become "crimebusters", save a dog named Crumbles, meet the Food Wizard and more. Enjoy the mysterious and silly adventures of three unlikely heroes as they solve everyday problems.

Just Like Josh Gibson

By: Angela Johnson
Illustrated by: Beth Peck
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The year the narrator's grandma was born, Negro League great Josh Gibson hit a baseball so hard it went all the way from Pittsburgh and landed in Philadelphia! No surprise then that Grandmama learns to play baseball just like Josh Gibson. Warm and expressive illustrations depict this nostalgic saga of two heroes — Gibson and Grandmama.

Let It Shine: Three Favorite Spirituals

By: Ashley Bryan
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Three well known spirituals, "This Little Light of Mine," "When the Saints Go Marching In," and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," have been interpreted in vivid, jewel-toned illustrations and presented in a large format for a new generation. A bit of information about the songs' history as well as musical notation for each are included.

Pretty Brown Face

By: Andrea Pinkney
Illustrated by: Brian Pinkney
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Who is that beautiful face in the mirror? Why it is baby, held by a loving daddy. This simple yet appealing book is presented in a format appropriate for the youngest reader to hold.


By: Nikki Giovanni
Illustrated by: Bryan Collier
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Rosa Parks was an ordinary woman who became a hero because she "was not going to give in to that which was wrong." A catalyst for the famous Montgomery Bus boycott in Alabama, she turned the nation's attention to a glaring injustice in our society. Powerful illustrations evoke a time before the Civil Rights era and give the reader a glimpse at a person, her impact, and a period in American history.

The People Could Fly: The Picture Book

By: Virginia Hamilton, Diane Dillon
Illustrated by: Diane Dillon
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

From embossed endpapers to the gentle homage to its author, the tale of flying to freedom and away from slavery is splendidly illustrated in picture book format. This edition is accompanied by a CD with the sonorous voices of its Newbery medal-winning author and James Earl Jones.

Wind Flyers

By: Angela Johnson
Illustrated by: Loren Long
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A young African American boy tells the story of his great-great-uncle, who realized his dream of flying by becoming a Tuskegee Airman during World War II. Richly hued paintings evoke the period, and spare language allows the story to speak for itself.

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"When I say to a parent, "read to a child", I don't want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. " — Mem Fox