Guides

National Poetry Month 2021

Celebrate with these inspiring books. There’s something for everyone!
Click here for a new poetry guide featuring discussion questions and further reading.

16 Words

16 Words By Lisa Rogers; illustrated by Chuck Groenink

This simple nonfiction picture book about the beloved American poet William Carlos Williams is also about how being mindful can result in the creation of a great poem like "The Red Wheelbarrow"--which is only sixteen words long.

"Look out the window. What do you see? If you are Dr. William Carlos Williams, you see a wheelbarrow. A drizzle of rain. Chickens scratching in the damp earth." The wheelbarrow belongs to Thaddeus Marshall, a street vendor, who every day goes to work selling vegetables on the streets of Rutherford, New Jersey. That simple action inspires poet and doctor Williams to pick up some of his own tools--a pen and paper--and write his most famous poem.

In this lovely picture book, young listeners will see how paying attention to the simplest everyday things can inspire the greatest art, as they learn about a great American poet.

The Dancing Pancake

The Dancing Pancake By Eileen Spinelli; illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

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The grand opening of the Dancing Pancake isn't the only new thing in Bindi's life: new friends, a new apartment, maybe even a cute new crush? But there are other changes, like her dad's move to a new city, that have left Bindi confused and wondering: What will happen to my family? Will this new life ever feel normal? Among the unlikely bunch of regulars who form a makeshift community at the diner, Bindi will try to figure out how to be a new version of herself, one pancake and one silly elephant joke (her uncle's specialty) at a time.

 

With plenty of surprises, milk shakes, fake spiders, and real feelings, readers are sure to flip for the sweet mix of humor and heart in The Dancing Pancake.

Let's Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out!

Let's Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out! By Patricia C. McKissack; illustrated by Brian Pinkney

From Newbery Honor winner Patricia C. McKissack and two-time Caldecott Honor winner Brian Pinkney comes an extraordinary must-have collection of classic playtime favorites.

This very special book is sure to become a treasured keepsake for African American families and will inspire joy in all who read it.

Parents and grandparents will delight in sharing this exuberant book with the children in their lives. Here is a songbook, a storybook, a poetry collection, and much more, all rolled into one. Find a partner for hand claps such as “Eenie, Meenie, Sassafreeny,” or form a circle for games like “Little Sally Walker.” Gather as a family to sing well-loved songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Oh, Freedom,” or to read aloud the poetry of such African American luminaries as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. And snuggle down to enjoy classic stories retold by the author, including Aesop’s fables and tales featuring Br’er Rabbit and Anansi the Spider.

That Is My Dream!

That Is My Dream! By Langston Hughes; illustrated by Daniel Miyares

“Dream Variation,” one of Langston Hughes's most celebrated poems, about the dream of a world free of discrimination and racial prejudice, is now a picture book stunningly illustrated by Daniel Miyares, the acclaimed creator of Float.

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done….

Langston Hughes's inspiring and timeless message of pride, joy, and the dream of a better life is brilliantly and beautifully interpreted in Daniel Miyares's gorgeous artwork.
 
Follow one African-American boy through the course of his day as the harsh reality of segregation and racial prejudice comes into vivid focus. But the boy dreams of a different life—one full of freedom, hope, and wild possibility, where he can fling his arms wide in the face of the sun.

Hughes's powerful vision, brought joyously to life by Daniel Miyares, is as relevant—and necessary—today as when it was first written.

Izzy Kline Has Butterflies

Izzy Kline Has Butterflies By Beth Ain

So many moments, both big and small, make up a year. Beth Ain chronicles them all in this heartwarming novel in verse, perfect for back to school--no matter what that looks like!
 
It's a new school year, and Izzy Kline is having some feelings. There are plenty of reasons for the butterflies in her stomach to flap their wings. There’s a new girl in her class who might be a new best friend. The whole grade is performing Free to Be . . . You and Me—and Izzy really wants a starring role. And new changes at home are making Izzy feel like her family is falling apart. First-day jitters, new friends, an audition . . . How many butterfly problems can one kid take?

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary By Laura Shovan

An award-winning, big-hearted time capsule of one class’s poems during a transformative school year. A great pick for fans of Margarita Engle and Eileen Spinelli.

Eighteen kids,
one year of poems,
one school set to close.
Two yellow bulldozers
crouched outside,
ready to eat the building
in one greedy gulp.

But look out, bulldozers.
Ms. Hill’s fifth-grade class
has plans for you.
They’re going to speak up
and work together
to save their school.

Families change and new friendships form as these terrific kids grow up and move on in this whimsical novel-in-verse about finding your voice and making sure others hear it.

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices By Edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

Fifty of the foremost diverse children’s authors and illustrators–including Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson, and Kwame Alexander–share answers to the question, “In this divisive world, what shall we tell our children?” in this beautiful, full-color keepsake collection, published in partnership with Just Us Books.

What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? With 96 lavishly designed pages of original art and prose, fifty diverse creators lend voice to young activists.

Featuring poems, letters, personal essays, art, and other works from such industry leaders as Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming), Jason Reynolds (All American Boys), Kwame Alexander (The Crossover), Andrea Pippins (I Love My Hair), Sharon Draper (Out of My Mind), Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer), Ellen Oh (cofounder of We Need Diverse Books), and artists Ekua Holmes, Rafael Lopez, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, and more, this anthology empowers the nation’s youth to listen, learn, and build a better tomorrow.

Chlorine Sky

Chlorine Sky By Mahogany L. Browne

A novel-in-verse about a young girl coming-of-age and stepping out of the shadow of her former best friend. Perfect for readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Nikki Grimes.

"Mahogany L. Browne's debut YA ia an absolute masterpiece. It will leave you breathless." -Elizabeth Acevedo, New York Times bestselling author of The Poet X

She looks me hard in my eyes
& my knees lock into tree trunks
My eyes don't dance like my heartbeat racing
They stare straight back hot daggers.
I remember things will never be the same.
I remember things.

With gritty and heartbreaking honesty, Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.

Home Is Not a Country

Home Is Not a Country By Safia Elhillo

LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
 
“Nothing short of magic.” —Elizabeth Acevedo, New York Times bestselling author of The Poet X
 
From the  acclaimed poet featured on Forbes Africa’s “30 Under 30” list, this powerful novel-in-verse captures one girl, caught between cultures, on an unexpected journey to face the ephemeral girl she might have been. Woven through with moments of lyrical beauty, this is a tender meditation on family, belonging, and home.
 


my mother meant to name me     for her favorite flower
its sweetness     garlands made     for pretty girls
i imagine her    yasmeen     bright & alive
& i ache to have been born her     instead


Nima wishes she were someone else. She doesn’t feel understood by her mother, who grew up in a different land. She doesn’t feel accepted in her suburban town; yet somehow, she isn't different enough to belong elsewhere. Her best friend, Haitham, is the only person with whom she can truly be herself. Until she can't, and suddenly her only refuge is gone.
 
As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen—the name her parents meant to give her at birth—Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might be more real than Nima knows.  And the life Nima wishes were someone else's. . . is one she will need to fight for with a fierceness she never knew she possessed.
 

The Realm of Possibility

The Realm of Possibility By David Levithan

This collection of linked poems from David Levithan, the author of the New York Times bestseller Every Day and the groundbreaking classic Boy Meets Boy and the co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), will introduce you to a world of unforgettable and emotionally resonant voices.

Here’s what I know about the realm of possibility—
it is always expanding, it is never what you think
it is. Everything around us was once deemed
impossible. From the airplane overhead to
the phones in our pockets to the choir girl
putting her arm around the metalhead.
As hard as it is for us to see sometimes, we all exist
within the realm of possibility. Most of the limits
are of our own world’s devising. And yet,
every day we each do so many things
that were once impossible to us.

Enter The Realm of Possibility and meet a boy whose girlfriend is in love with Holden Caulfield; a girl who loves the boy who wears all black; a boy with the perfect body; and a girl who writes love songs for a girl she can’t have.

These are just a few of the captivating characters readers will get to know in this intensely heartfelt new novel about those ever-changing moments of love and heartbreak that go hand-in-hand with high school. David Levithan plumbs the depths of teenage emotion to create an amazing array of voices that readers won’t forget. So, enter their lives and prepare to welcome the realm of possibility open to us all. Love, joy, and these stories will linger.

The Things She's Seen

The Things She's Seen By Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

"Utterly captivating. Ghost story, murder mystery, haunting Aboriginal fable--The Things She's Seen checks every spooky box you could want." --Paste Magazine

Cosmopolitan called The Things She's Seen one of the best YA books you'll be obsessed with in 2019. Now in paperback, with an updated, more commercial cover, this thriller is poised to break out to an even wider audience.

Nothing's been the same for Beth Teller since the day she died.

Her dad is drowning in grief. He's also the only one who has been able to see and hear her since the accident. But now they've got a mystery to solve, a mystery that will hopefully remind her detective father that he needs to reconnect with the living. The case takes them to a remote Australian town, where there's been a suspicious fire. All that remains are an unidentifiable body and an unreliable witness found wandering nearby. This witness speaks in riddles. Isobel Catching has a story to tell, and it's a tale to haunt your dreams--but does it even connect to the case at hand?

As Beth and her father unravel the mystery, they find a shocking and heartbreaking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town.

Summer Reading 2021

Thank you educators! You brought passion and enthusiasm to your students this year despite many challenges. We know reading is essential and enjoyable, and we’re thrilled to share our recommendations for teachers, librarians, and independent summer reading. If you have any questions, book recommendations, or summer reading ideas to share, email us at slmarket@randomhouse.com.

Picture Books

Chapter Books

Middle Grade

Young Adult

Additional Resources

Author Read-Aloud Videos

2020 Round Up

2020 is in the books – woohoo! We can’t tell you how grateful we are to you for all that you’ve done during this year full of challenges and changes. Since so much happened this year, we figured you might want one easy stop to access many of our events and resources. Here’s a look at what we’ve done this year, in case you missed anything!

Browse Our Book Collections and Download Digital Galleys

Our 2020 Superstars

Stream Author Read Alouds and Download Chapter Samplers

Book Buzzes! Find Classroom Library Favorites for the Virtual World

Webinar Series

Click the images below to clicking to view the recorded conversations.

Check Out Our Resource Hub!

If you are putting together plans for teaching remotely or homeschooling your children and are looking for resources, visit the pages below for discussion guides, activities, and more available for FREE to download.

Elementary Resources

Middle School Resources

High School Resources

A Message About Story Times and Read-Aloud Videos

In these uncertain and unsettling times, many of you are wondering how we can collectively continue to share our books and stories with students and readers everywhere. As a company, we are heartened by the role that books and reading can play to help connect us when we are physically apart. As you may know, our teams at Penguin Random House have been working quickly to enable virtual learning environments and livestreamed story times for educators, librarians, and booksellers, as well as our authors and illustrators. Today, we are pleased to share our plans for the open license we designed as an immediate measure to directly connect our books with students and readers while protecting the long term value of our authors’ and illustrators’ intellectual property. You’ll find all the details here.

Thank you for your shared commitment to storytelling and reading, and to our collective belief in the power of books to connect us—especially during times like these.

Fresh Voices Q&A Series

Welcome to Fresh Voices! In this new series, we are excited to share with you authors whose books capture a unique aspect of the human experience. Enjoy these Q&As!

Author Essays

Throughout the year, many Random House Children’s Books authors have shared some thoughts on their books, inspirations, and tips for educators with us. Discover all of their essays here!

Property of the Rebel Librarian

Property of the Rebel Librarian

Property of the Rebel Librarian By Allison Varnes

Celebrate the freedom to read with this timely, empowering middle-grade debut in the spirit of The View from Saturday or Frindle.

June Harper is a good kid. She follows the rules, plays flute in band, and spends her spare time reading. Nobody would ever call her a rebel . . . until her parents take strict parenting to a whole new level.

It starts with one book deemed "inappropriate" by June's parents. What follows is a massive book ban at Dogwood Middle School, and suddenly everything June loves--the librarian, books, an author visit--is gone. All seems hopeless. Then June discovers a Little Free Library on her walk to school. When her classmates realize she has access to contraband, she (secretly) becomes the most popular girl in school. A risky reading movement begins at Dogwood, which could destroy June--or gain enough power to protect the one thing she cares most about: the freedom to read!

Equal parts fun and empowering, this novel explores censorship, freedom of speech, and activism. For any kid who doesn't believe one person can effect change . . . and for all the kids who already know they can!

"[A] funny and fast read." --School Library Journal

Download a banned books reading checklist!

Meet the author!

Family Tree Activities

The family you're from and the family you find

These books and activities are for teaching a family tree unit and will enable students to think more deeply about family, friends, and their community.

Picture Books

Middle Grade

Random House Teachers and Librarians