Books by Theme

Making a Difference

Meet Charlotte, Soo, Horton, and the other characters in this booklist recommended for kids ages 0-9. Whether they care about someone, have the courage it takes to act, or stand up for what they believe in, the characters in these books all have something in common — they've made a difference.

Charlotte's Web

By: E.B. White
Illustrated by: Garth Williams
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The classic story of friendship and how a spider named Charlotte saves Wilbur, a small pig, from certain death with words in a web is now more than 50 years old. Nonetheless, it remains as fresh as the day it was first written.

Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas

By: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by: Sucie Stevenson
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Henry and Mudge visit Henry's Great Grandpa Bill in his home with all the other old grandpas, bringing slobbery kisses, great joy, and lots of energy. Together, the Great Grandpas along with Henry and his dad go swimming and lean on Mudge — literally — when they get tired proving that even a big, wet dog can make a difference!

My Freedom Trip

By: Ginger Park, Frances Park
Illustrated by: Leonard Jenkins
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

To escape the coming conflict, young Soo leaves North Korea without her mother. Though her mother plans to join Soo and her father, the Korean War begins and Soo has only memories of her mother’s bravery. Darkly hued illustrations combine with the lyrical narrative in this story based on the authors’ own family.

Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship

By: Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, Paula Kahumbu
Illustrated by: Peter Greste
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When a tsunami orphans a young hippopotamus, a group of concerned Malidi (on the east coast of Kenya) villagers figure out how to capture the 600 pound baby thus beginning his new life in an animal sanctuary with a new and unlikely companion — a 130 year old tortoise named Mzee. Full color photographs and straightforward text are used in this inspiring, appealing and true story told first by a young girl and her father.

Rhymes for Annie Rose

By: Shirley Hughes
Genre: Fiction, Poetry
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

In rhymes that are meant to be shared aloud, Annie and her brother, Alfie, share the everyday pleasures of childhood presented in playful language and true-to-life illustrations. The siblings joyfully make a huge difference to each other and their family in everyday activities.

Something Beautiful

By: Sharon Wyeth
Illustrated by: Chris K. Soentpiet
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A young girl learns to find beauty in her sometimes gritty urban neighborhood, showing how the way one sees makes a difference that affects others. Luminous watercolors detail the child, her neighborhood, and suggest what she sees around her.

The Story of Johnny Appleseed

By: Aliki
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Myths and Legends
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Once, long ago, a young man named John Chapman traveled the United States. Not only did he like being with his own thoughts, he liked apples and so helped plant apple trees wherever he traveled gaining a nickname and planting seeds for an orchard of stories. Johnny Appleseed comes alive in simple but expressive illustrations showing how one person can change the look of a country.

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Rachael Walker
"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan