Arts and Education Books

9 recommendations from a Philadelphia children's librarian

I love children’s books — chapter books, graphic novels, middle grade novels and everything in between. For me, the best thing about these books is sharing them with children who might love them, too! Here are some of my favorites, ranging in reading level and style, on the subjects of education, art, dance and theater. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

YasminYasmin the Painter; Yasmin the Singer
By Saadia Faruqi
The easy reader series featuring Yasmin sees her in many roles: in these selections, a painter and a singer. Accompanied by colorful illustrations, these easy reader books are perfect for newly independent readers who imagine themselves as many things. Yasmin doesn’t always get it right, but with the help of family and friends, she always finds her way.

Azaleah LaneThe Dramatic Life of Azaleah Lane
By Nikki Shannon Smith
Azaleah Lane has a fantastic life, even if it’s sometimes filled with drama. Her big sister, Nia, is cast in the school play, which is exciting for the whole family, but what happens when things start going wrong? Luckily, Azaleah is determined to help Nia get ready for her star turn, as well as figure out who’s behind the sabotage.

Geeger The RobotGeeger the Robot Goes to School
By Jarrett Lerner
Education is important, even to robots! Geeger is excited to go to school for the first time, but is school ready for Geeger? Mishaps and misunderstandings seem to happen all day. Can Geeger figure out how to survive until school ends? You’ll cheer for Geeger!

Measuring UpMeasuring Up
By Lily LaMotte
In this graphic novel, Cici is ready to cook. After moving to Seattle from Taiwan, Cici enters a children’s cooking competition to win prize money she’ll use to buy a plane ticket so her A-má can visit. But even though she knows her way around the kitchen, she’s worried because all she knows how to cook is Taiwanese food. Find out if Cici can cook up a winner!

Maya And The RobotMaya and the Robot
By Eve Ewing
Maya’s two best friends are in different classrooms this year — which is so unfair. Then, Maya finds a robot, Ralph, who becomes her new friend. He even helps with chores around the house! Maya is learning so much about how robots work and is determined to win the science fair. Read on to see the amazing things Maya teaches Ralph.

The Sea In WinterThe Sea in Winter
By Christine Day
Maisie has loved ballet for as long as she can remember. It’s been a year since she was hurt and had to have surgery, but she’s determined to dance again. Meanwhile, we follow along as Maisie and her family go on a road trip to learn about their ancestors. Will Maisie push herself too hard and ruin her chance at dancing ballet?

Aven GreenAven Green Sleuthing Machine
By Dusti Bowling
Aven Green is not only ready to tackle a new school year, but also to use her detective skills to solve some mysteries. Aven was born without arms, and she believes that the cells that would have been used to operate her arms have been redirected to her brain, a super power she uses to find clues and figure out what happened to her teacher’s lunch, her grandmother’s dog and more. It’s a fun, engaging story that makes you feel like you’re with Aven, helping her put the pieces together.

Nina SoniNina Soni, Former Best Friend
By Kashmira Sheth
Nina Soni tries to remember everything she needs to do, especially in school, but it can be hard. When she forgets about a school project, she needs to juggle her work, her younger sister’s birthday party and a friendship on the rocks. Don’t give up on Nina, who’s doing her best to focus on the things that really matter.

Claudia And New GirlThe Baby-Sitters Club: Claudia and the New Girl (A Graphic Novel)
By Gabriela Epstein
Claudia has always been proud of her artistic abilities, but she’s intimidated by Ashley, a new artist in her class. The more time Claudia spends with Ashley, the more confident she feels about her own talent, but she also finds herself drifting further away from the Baby-Sitters Club. It’s a real-world struggle for Claudia, who tries to balance her passion for art and her friendships in this graphic novel-version of the classic middle grade series.

Mary Westbrook is a children’s librarian at the Philadelphia Free Library.

Categories: Book Reviews