Throughout the school year, there is so much to celebrate and learn, from exploring different cultures and perspectives to uncovering the real truth behind our history to gaining a greater understanding of our planet and ourselves. If you’re looking for a way to plan your classroom reading calendar, check out these fantastic finds from our friends at Random House Children’s Books. From hilarious and heartwarming tales to suspenseful and spellbinding sagas, you’re sure to find something inspiring for every month of the curriculum.
September: Back to School
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Join the call for a better world with this New York Times bestselling picture book about a school where diversity and inclusion are celebrated. Perfect for back to school—no matter what that looks like! Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: All Are Welcome at Penguin Random House
Dear Student by Elly Swartz
When Autumn becomes the secret voice of the advice column in her middle school newspaper, she is faced with a dilemma: Can she give fair advice to everyone, including her friends, while keeping her identity a secret?
Buy it: Dear Student at Penguin Random House
In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner
This is a poignant coming-of-age novel about two best friends whose friendship is tested when they get the opportunity to leave their impoverished small town for an elite prep school. A great pick for fans of Looking for Alaska, In the Wild Light was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, Buzzfeed, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Chicago Public Library.
Buy it: In the Wild Light at Penguin Random House
October: Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month
Cantora by Melisa Fernández Nitsche
Sing out! With a stunning, graphic style and melodious text, this picture book tells the story of Latin American icon Mercedes Sosa and how she became the voice of a people from exile to triumph. Discover more books in Spanish.
Buy it: Cantora at Penguin Random House
Iveliz Explains It All by Andrea Beatriz Arango
In this timely and moving novel in verse, a preteen girl navigates seventh grade while facing mental health challenges. A hopeful, poetic story about learning to advocate for the help and understanding you deserve, this book is a Newbery Honor award winner. Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: Iveliz Explains It All at Penguin Random House
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
A “stunning” (as proclaimed by actor and activist America Ferrera) YA novel about a teenager coming to terms with losing her sister and finding herself amid the pressures, expectations, and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican American home—from the author of Crying in the Bathroom. Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at Penguin Random House
November: Native American Heritage Month
Remember by Joy Harjo and Michaela Goade
U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s iconic poem “Remember,” illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Michaela Goade, invites young readers to pause and reflect on the wonder of the world around them, and to remember the importance of their place in it. Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: Remember at Penguin Random House
Race to the Truth: Colonization and the Wampanoag Story by Linda Coombs
Until now, you’ve only heard one side of the story: about the “discovery” of America by Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrims, and the Colonists. Here’s the true story of America from the Indigenous perspective. Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: Race to the Truth: Colonization at Penguin Random House
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
A Young Readers Edition of the New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist about one of history’s most ruthless and shocking crimes, the Reign of Terror against the Osage people.
Buy it: Killers of the Flower Moon at Penguin Random House
December: Winter Break Reads
Charlotte and the Nutcracker by Charlotte Nebres
A reimagined and modern take on the holiday favorite, this picture book weaves together the classic Christmas tale of The Nutcracker and the true-life story of 12-year-old ballerina Charlotte Nebres, the first Black girl to play Marie in the New York City Ballet’s production.
Buy it: Charlotte and the Nutcracker at Penguin Random House
Holler of the Fireflies by David Barclay Moore
A boy from the ‘hood in Brooklyn travels to a STEM camp in an Appalachian holler for one epic, life-changing summer in this brilliant novel from the award-winning author of The Stars Beneath Our Feet. Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: Holler of the Fireflies at Penguin Random House
Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto
A laugh-out-loud YA rom-com about a girl who’s whisked from LA to her mother’s native Indonesia to get back to her roots and finds herself fake-dating the son of one of the wealthiest families there. From the bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties and The Obsession.
Buy it: Well, That Was Unexpected at Penguin Random House
January: New Year Reads
How To Solve a Problem by Ashima Shiraishi
From Ashima Shiraishi, one of the world’s youngest and most skilled climbers, comes a true story of strength and perseverance—in rock climbing and in life. Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: How To Solve a Problem at Penguin Random House
The Book of Dares by Ted Bunch and Anna Marie Johnson Teague
Packed with 100 inspiring, creative, fun challenges for boys, this project from violence-prevention organization A Call to Men answers parents’ cries for building healthy manhood, respect, and emotional awareness in their sons.
Buy it: The Book of Dares at Penguin Random House
Maybe an Artist by Liz Montague
A heartfelt and funny graphic novel memoir from one of the first Black female cartoonists to be published in the New Yorker, when she was just 22 years old.
Buy it: Maybe an Artist at Penguin Random House
February: Black History Month
Harlem at Four by Dr. Michael Datcher
A stunning picture book comprising two incredible stories—the first part chronicles the adventures of a 4-year-old Black girl named Harlem, while the second part describes the history of Harlem the neighborhood. From a New York Times bestselling author and a critically acclaimed illustrator.
Buy it: Harlem at Four at Penguin Random House
Eb & Flow by Kelly J. Baptist
A 10-day suspension has tweens De’Kari and Ebony seeing the world with a fresh perspective. Don’t miss this poignant novel in verse from the award-winning author of Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero.
Buy it: Eb & Flow at Penguin Random House
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
In this young adult adaptation of the Oprah Book Club selection and New York Times bestselling nonfiction work, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson explores the unspoken hierarchies that divide us across lines of race and class. Revealing and timely, this work will speak to young people who are engaged more than ever with the world around them, as well as to anyone who believes in a more just existence for all. Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: Caste at Penguin Random House
March: Women’s History Month
Sisters in Science by Linda Elovitz Marshall
Discover the fascinating true story of Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie and her sister Bronia, two trailblazing women who worked together and made a legendary impact on chemistry and health care as we know it.
Buy it: Sisters in Science at Penguin Random House
History Smashers: Women’s Right to Vote by Kate Messner
Myths! Lies! Secrets! Smash the stories behind famous moments in history and expose the hidden truth. Perfect for fans of the series I Survived and Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: History Smashers: Women’s Right to Vote at Penguin Random House
Girls Who Green the World by Diana Kapp
Part biography, part guidebook to the contemporary environmental movement, this book is the perfect gift for future and current activists and changemakers. Girls Who Green the World features the inspiring stories of 34 revolutionaries fighting for our future.
Buy it: Girls Who Green the World at Penguin Random House
March: Spring Break Reads
Pizza and Taco: Too Cool for School by Stephen Shaskan
New backpacks? Check! Besties Pizza and Taco are ready to head back to school, but are they ready to meet the cool new kid?
Buy it: Pizza and Taco: Too Cool for School at Penguin Random House
Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick
Take off on an action-packed adventure with Hilo Book 1. Dog Man meets Big Nate in this hilarious New York Times bestselling graphic novel series that kids love.
Buy it: Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth at Penguin Random House
Murtagh by Christopher Paolini
Master storyteller and internationally bestselling author Christopher Paolini returns to the World of Eragon in this stunning epic fantasy set a year after the events of The Inheritance Cycle. Join Dragon Rider—and fan favorite—Murtagh and his dragon as they confront a perilous new enemy.
Buy it: Murtagh at Penguin Random House
April: Earth Day/Month
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss’ beloved story teaches kids to treat the planet with kindness and stand up and speak up for others. Experience the beauty of the Truffula Trees and the danger of taking our Earth for granted in a story that is timely, playful, and hopeful. The book’s final pages teach us that just one small seed, and one small child, can make a difference.
Buy it: The Lorax at Penguin Random House
Unstoppable Us by Yuval Noah Harari
From world-renowned historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari, the bestselling author of Sapiens, comes an exciting illustrated book for middle school readers that looks at the early history of humankind. Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: Unstoppable Us at Penguin Random House
Snowglobe by Soyoung Park
In a world of constant winter, only the citizens of the climate-controlled city of Snowglobe can escape the bitter cold—but this perfect society is hiding dark and dangerous secrets within its frozen heart. A groundbreaking Korean novel translated into English for the first time.
Buy it: Snowglobe at Penguin Random House
April: Arab American Heritage Month
Thanks a Lot by Jaime Kim
Raffi’s beloved song about gratitude is available for the first time in a board book edition that readers will treasure.
Buy it: Thanks a Lot at Penguin Random House
April: Poetry Month
That Is My Dream! by Langston Hughes and 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.
Buy it: That Is My Dream! at Penguin Random House
April: Holocaust Days of Remembrance
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The extraordinary beloved novel about the ability of books to feed the soul even in the darkest of times. Described by The New York Times as “life-changing,” and by USA Today as deserving “a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.” Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: The Book Thief at Penguin Random House
May: Mental Health Awareness Month
Peaceful Like a Panda by Kira Willey
These easy-to-follow exercises help kids calmly and mindfully navigate their day, from sunrise to sunset. With sections dedicated to key activities in a child’s routine—waking up, traveling, learning, playing, eating, and bedtime—kids can learn techniques for managing their bodies, breath, and emotions anywhere, anytime.
Buy it: Peaceful Like a Panda at Penguin Random House
The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead
At a time when everything is changing for Bea and her family, the important things will always stay the same. A soon-to-be classic by the Newbery Award–winning author of When You Reach Me.
Buy it: The List of Things That Will Not Change at Penguin Random House
The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart
A beautifully realistic, relatable story about mental health—anxiety, perfectionism, depression—and the healing powers of art that’s perfect for fans of Girl in Pieces and How It Feels to Float. Whatever you struggle with, you are not alone and you are already enough just the way you are.
Buy it: The Words We Keep at Penguin Random House
May: AANHPI Heritage Month
Everyone Loves Lunchtime but Zia by Jenny Liao
A heartwarming picture book about a Chinese American girl who grows to appreciate the traditional dishes her parents prepare for her and finds a way to share her lunch with her classmates.
Buy it: Everyone Loves Lunchtime but Zia at Penguin Random House
Tiger Daughter by Rebecca Lim
Equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful, Tiger Daughter is an award-winning novel about finding your voice amid the pressures of growing up in an immigrant home told from the perspective of a remarkable young Chinese American girl. Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: Tiger Daughter at Penguin Random House
My Father, the Panda Killer by Jamie Jo Hoang
A poignant coming-of-age story told in two alternating voices: a California teenager railing against the Vietnamese culture, juxtaposed with her father as an 11-year-old boat person on a harrowing and traumatic refugee journey from Vietnam to the United States. Find an educators’ guide to using this book here.
Buy it: My Father, the Panda Killer at Penguin Random House
June: Pride Month
Pink, Blue, and You! by Elise Gravel
Simple, accessible, and direct, this picture book is perfect for kids and parents or teachers to read together, opening the door to conversations about gender stereotypes and everyone’s right to be their true selves.
Buy it: Pink, Blue, and You! at Penguin Random House
Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston by Esme Symes-Smith
In a magical medieval world filled with dragons, shape-shifters, and witches, a 12-year-old nonbinary hopeful knight battles for the heart of their kingdom. A thrilling middle-grade series opener that explores identity and gender amid sword fights and magic and proves anyone can be a hero.
Buy it: Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston at Penguin Random House
Wide Awake Now by David Levithan
From the New York Times bestselling author of Every Day, this is a queer love story set against the backdrop of the 2024 presidential election, in a reimagining of David Levithan’s 2004 novel Wide Awake.
Buy it: Wide Awake Now at Penguin Random House