Tried and True Favorites

In this modern classic, 10-year-old Kenny and his family head south from their home in Flint, Michigan to visit Grandma in Birmingham—right as the church bombings are about to happen. This award-winning middle grade novel has both humor and depth, and LeVar Burton excels at highlighting the funny and the tragic with his excellent narration.
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I probably wasn't old enough to appreciate this instant classic when I first read it as a child, but that didn't stop me. (Thank goodness.) 10-year-old Milo comes home from school one day to find a tollbooth sitting in his bedroom. Since he doesn’t have anything better to do, he pays the toll and drives through–and embarks on a strange journey into a fanciful world where he encounters all sorts of strange characters. A satisfying and delightfully nerdy book that will engage both kids and adults, albeit on different levels.
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Forget everything you've heard about this being an "important" book, and if you're not the poetry type, pretend you don't know this is a memoir-in-verse. All you need to know is this story is fantastic. Woodson tells the story of her childhood, moving with her family (or part of it) from South Carolina to New York City and back again, sharing her observations through a young girl's eyes with a writer's sensibility. If you don't think it's for you, read the first two pages—and then decide. National Book Award winner.
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A novel in verse, read by the author. A heads up to the kids who think they aren't poetry types: when read aloud, this story doesn't sound "poetic." It just sounds awesome. This coming-of-age story revolves around two twin boys, both basketball stars, raised by an ex-NBA star, and the plot features plenty of action on and off the court. Poetry doesn't waste words, which heightens the reader's emotional experience as the characters deal with the regular pains of growing up and the not-so-regular family issues. A Newbery Award winner.
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