K-6 Elementary Reading Lists

Download our new Recommended Reading List for Preschool and Elementary Students. These fiction and non-fiction picture books enable young children to explore “big questions” about religion, belief and identity.

Tanenbaum staff are always available to help you find additional resources or to answer questions – we also welcome your suggestions for additions to our reading lists. Contact us at [email protected]!

For additional books, browse our elementary reading lists by topic. Click on the title of any book to purchase it at

Families & Communities

Home & Immigration

Friendship & Belonging

Holidays & Traditions

Religion & the Environment

Families & Communities

All Are Welcome, Alexandra Penfold
Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms.

Amazing Grace, Mary Hoffman
Grace, an African-American girl, loves to act out stories. When classmates tell her she can’t play Peter Pan because she’s a black girl, her family tells her she can do anything she puts her mind to.

Baseball Saved Us, Ken Mochizuki
A Japanese-America boy’s experiences in an internment camp during World War II. Also available in Spanish.

Black is Brown is Tan, Black Arnold Adoff
The first children’s book to feature an interracial family, written in verse.

Boundless Grace, Mary Hoffman
Grace’s parents divorced when she was very young, and her father now lives in Gambia with his wife and children. Grace feels very strange when she goes to visit him, but learns that families are what you make them.

Dear Juno, Soyung Pak
Juno discovers that communication and love can transcend the language barrier he has with his grandmother.

Families, Susan Kuklin
Interviews of 15 different families, each unique and from a different background.

Family Pictures and In My Family, Carmen Lomas Garza
Beautifully rendered paintings capture the artist’s memories of her childhood in a rural Mexican community in Texas.

Grandfather Counts, Andrea Cheng & Ange Zhang
Characters discover that communication and feelings can transcend language barriers.

Grandmother’s Dreamcatcher, Becky Ray McCain
When Kimmy’s parents leave her with her grandmother for a week, Kimmy has nightmares – until her grandmother shows her how to make a dreamcatcher.

Heroes, Ken Mochizuki
When a Japanese-American boy’s friends say that “Japs” can’t be war heros, his father and uncle help him dispel this.

Honoring Our Ancestors, Ed. Harriet Rohmer
Famous artists paint their ancestors, including family members, historical inspirations and role models.

How My Family Lives in America, Susan Kuklin
Three children whose parent(s) are from other countries talk about their lives in America.

I Love My Hair, Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
Keyana, an African-American girl, connects with her mother and grandmother through her hair.

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes, Rose Lewis
Based on the author’s own experience, this heartfelt story follows a woman on her journey to adopt a baby girl from China.

In My Momma’s Kitchen, Jerdine Nolan
Loving vignettes of an African-American family.

Keeping Quilt, Patrica Polacco
A story of a quilt that has been handed down to the author by her Russian Jewish great-grandmother. Also available in Spanish.

The Kingfisher Book of Children’s Poetry, Ed. Belinda Hollyer

Something Beautiful, Sharon Dennis Wyeth
An African-American girl initially only sees the ugliness of her neighborhood, until she talks to her neighbors.

Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, Bebe Moore Campbell
The story of a girl whose mother is battling depression.

The Subway Sparrow, Leyla Torres
Characters discover that communication can transcend language barriers, as people from different cultures cooperate to solve a problem. Also available in Spanish.

Tar Beach, Faith Ringgold
Quilt paintings illustrate a Depression-era girl’s imaginative foray to heights from which she can see and therefore claim her world.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats, Patrica Polacco
Trisha, a Jewish girl, helps her Christian neighbors celebrate Christmas with an act of sharing when they become ill.

Welcoming Babies, Margy Burns Knight
Family around the world celebrate the birth of babies in different ways.

Working Cotton, Sherley Anne Williams
The story of a migrant family working on cotton plantations from the point of view of a young girl, Shelan.

When This World Was New, D.H. Figueredo
Danilito is nervous about his first day at school in a new country, but his family helps him adjust.

When You Were Born, Diana Hutts Aston
As family, friends, and neighbors gather to share in the joy of a new baby, they each emerge changed.

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Home & Immigration

97 Orchard Street, New York, New York, Arlene Alda, and Linda Granfield
A book by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum about this historic building and the people who lived there.

Aekyung’s Dream, Min Paek
Aekyung, a young Korean girl, struggles to adjust to life the United States. This book is bilingual (English-Korean).

Annushka’s Voyage, Edith Tarbescu
Annushka’s voyage, with her sister, from Russia to the United States.

Amelia’s Road, Linda Jacobs
Amelia’s parents are migrant farmworkers who must move every few months. Amelia has no place to call home until she finds a special place of her own.

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, Amy Lee-Rai
A story about a Japanese-American girl in an internment camp during WWII.

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky, Faith Ringgold
A story about the underground railroad for young children.

Closet Ghosts, Uma Krishnaswami
The story of Anu and how she drives away the ghosts she encounters in her new house with laughter and a little help.

The Color of Home, Mary Hoffman
A story about Hassan, a refugee from Somalia, and his first day at school. Though Hassan doesn’t speak English, he finds a way to share his story and makes friends in their new home.

Coming to America: A Muslim Family’s Story, Bernard Wolf

Coming to America: The Story of Immigration, Betsy Maestro
An overview of the history of immigration in the United States for children.

Dia and the Story Cloth, Dia Cha, Chiie Thao Cha, and Nhia Thao Cha
Using a traditional Hmong story cloth, the author retells the experiences of her family as refugees fleeing violence in their homeland of Laos.

Encounter, Jane Yolen
The story of Columbus’ encounter with the Taino, told from the perspective of a young Taino boy.

Ellis Island: Doorway to Freedom, Steven Kroll
Addresses the experiences of immigrants at Ellis Island.

Fly Away Home, Eve Bunting
A story about a boy and his father who live in an airport while his father searches for a job and their bond with each other and the other people who live there.

Follow the Drinking Gourd, Jeanette Winters
A story about the underground railroad for young children.

Gleam and Glow, Eve Bunting
The story of a family of refugees fleeing violence in their homes. When they return to scenes of destruction, they find the two goldfish that they were forced to leave behind alive and thriving.

Grandfather’s Journey, Allen Say
Following his grandfather’s footsteps, the narrator explores themes of home and belonging between Japan and California.

Houses and Home, Ann Morris
A look at houses and homes around the world.

How Many Days to America? A Thanksgiving Story, Eve Bunting, and Beth Peck
A story about refugees who are forced to leave their homes due to war. Though the protagonists often don’t speak English, they find a way to share their stories and make friends in their new home.

If Your Name Was Changed at Ellis Island, Ellen Levine and Wayne Parmenter
The experiences of immigrants at Ellis Island.

I Hate English!, Ellen Levine and Steve Bjorkman
Mei Mei, a young girl from Hong Kong is having trouble adjusting to a new language in the United States.

Immigrants: A Library of Congress Book, Martin W. Sandler

In the Time of the Drums, Kim L. Siegelson
Gullah legend of an Ibo woman who was brought to America as a slave and who escapes along with others back to Africa.

Island Of Hope: The Journey To America And The Ellis Island Experience, Martin Sandler
The experiences of immigrants at Ellis Island.

I Was Dreaming to Come to America, Veronica Lawlor
The voices of immigrants from Ellis Island.

A Kurdish Family, Karen O’Connor

Letters to Grandma Grace, Victoria Francis
A story of a refugee family in Africa, told through letters from the children to their Grandma Grace.

The Lost Children, Sibylla Martin
Ibuka is separated from her family when fleeing her home and comes to find herself, along with her younger brother, at a center for lost children.

Marianthe’s Story: Spoken Words, Painted Memories, Aliki
A story about Marianthe, whose family is forced to leave their homes due to war. Though Marianthe doesn’t speak English, she finds a way to share their stories and make friends in her new home.

My Brother is a Soldier, Clare MG Kemp
A child soldier returns to his village in Africa and faces problems in trying to reintegrate and lead a normal life.

My Name is Celia, Monica Brown
The life of Celia Cruz.

My Name is Yoon, Helen Recorvits
Yoon is struggling to adjust from life in Korea to living life in the United States, thinking her name looks happier in Korean than in English. As she comes to understand her new life, she realizes that however her name is spelled she is still Yoon.

My Diary from Here to There, Amada Irma Perez
A young girl keeps a diary of her journey and experiences in a new country.

A Movie in My Pillow, Jorge Argueta
A beautiful collection of children’s poems from the point of view of a boy who has moved to San Francisco from El Salvador.

Oranges on Golden Mountain, Elizabeth Partridge
In 19th century California, Jo Lee learns to adjust to life in California while his dream spirit travels back to China to be with his family.

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, Deborah Hopkinson
Clara creates a quilt that shows her the way North to freedom from slavery.

Sumi’s First Day of School Ever, Soyung Pak
A story about a young Korean girl on her first day of school.

Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina, Maria Tallchief, and Rosemary Wells
The story of America’s internationally renowned ballerina, who is of Osage Indian and Scots-Irish descent.

Under the Quilt of the Night, Deborah Hopkinson
Simply and beautifully tells the story of a group of former slaves on their journey to freedom on the underground railroad.

When Jessie Came Across the Sea, Amy Hest
The story of Jessie’s journey from Eastern Europe to the United States.

The Whispering Cloth, Pegi Deitz Shea, Anita Riggio, and You Yang
A story about Mai, a young Hmong refugee in a Thai refugee camp. Mai retells her story through a p’andau, a traditional story cloth.

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman, Kathleen Krull
When Wilma Rudolph was a child she suffered from polio, yet she grew up to become the first American woman to win three gold medals at the same Olympics.

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Friendship & Belonging

Cry Baby, Lynn Kramer
A young refugee girl, in a new home after fleeing from war, struggles to make friends because she is seen as different. Through a heroic act she reveals that she is really no different from the other children.

First Day in Grapes, L. King Perez
Chico, coming from a family of migrant farmworkers, is nervous about starting third grade in a new school. With his strong math skills and new friends, however, Chico stands up to bullies and finds his feet in a new place.

Halmoni and the Picnic, Sook Nyul Choi
Yunmi and her friends are worried that Halmoni (Korean for grandmother), who stays at home alone all day and doesn’t speak English, will leave for Korea. They make a plan to make her feel more at home — with mixed results.

Kiki’s Journey, Kristy Orona-Ramirez
A Tiwa Indian girl born in L.A., Kiki feels like she doesn’t belong on her family’s reservation. The story speaks of universal themes of home, family, traditions, and belonging.

My Name is Bilal, Asma Mobin-Uddin
Bilal, a young Muslim boy, having transferred to a new school, tries to fit in. He pretends his name is Bill and ignores the teasing of his sister for wearing a headscarf. With an understanding teacher, Bilal reconnects with his faith and school.

The Name Jar, Yangsook Choi
When Unhei gets teased about her name on her first day at school, she tells her classmates that she doesn’t have a name.

Oliver Button is a Sissy, Tomie DePaola
Oliver Button likes to dance, but his classmates call him a sissy. When Oliver competes in a dance competition, everyone can see that he is a star!

The Other Side, Jacqueline Woodson
A story of friendship across a racial divide. Clover, the young African-American narrator, and Annie, a white girl, live on opposite sides of a fence that segregates town. Together, their friendship crosses the fence of segregation.

Smoky Night, Eve Bunting
An African-American boy and his Korean neighbor discover that they have a lot more in common than they thought during a crisis.

Who Belongs Here?, Margy Burns Knight and Thomas V. Chan
When Nary is told by his classmates to “go back where he came from,” his teacher explains that almost everyone in America comes from somewhere else or has ancestors who come from somewhere else.

Yoko, Rosemary Wells
The story of Yoko, a young Japanese American girl whose classmates make fun of her for eating sushi.

Molly’s Pilgrim, Barbara Cohen
Molly’s mother, a Russian Jewish immigrant, makes a doll of a pilgrim that looks like her. When Molly’s classmates tease her, Molly’s teacher explains that pilgrims came to America to escape religious persecution and that Molly’s mother is a pilgrim too.

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Holidays & Traditions

1620: A New Look at the Mayflower, Catherine O’Neill Grace, Peter Arenstam, John Kemp, Plimoth Plantation

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving, Catherine O’Neill Grace
These books explore these topics with new research and reenactments.

Autumn Equinox: Celebrating the Harvest

Summer Solstice

Winter Solstice

The Spring Equinox: Celebrating the Greening of the Earth, Ellen Jackson
Beautifully illustrated books detailing seasonal celebrations by cultures around the world in different historical eras.

All Kinds of Beliefs, Emma Damon
An engaging pop-up book for children that provides a broad overview of the world’s major religions. The book is Bilingual (Chinese and English).

Celebrate! It’s Cinco De Mayo / Celebremos Es El Cinco De Mayo, Janice Levy
A very simple history of the holiday is interspersed with the story of a young boy celebrating Cinco de Mayo with his family.

Celebrating the Great Mother: A Handbook of Earth-Honoring Activities for Parents and Children, Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw
A guidebook of the history and activities of earth-based spirituality, with a focus on family togetherness. The book runs the course of the year through earth-centered festivals.

Children Just Like Me, Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley
A look into the lives of children around the world.

Children Just Like Me: Celebrations! Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley
A look into the different cultural and religious celebrations in the lives of children across the world, organized by seasons.

Everybody Bakes Bread and
Everybody Cooks Rice, Norah Dooley
A girl visits several families in her neighborhood and enjoys different kinds of bread and rice.

Festivals Together, Sue Fitzjohn, Minda Weston, Judy Large
A resource guide to the many multi-faith celebrations around the world. The book includes a variety of stories, histories, recipes, and activities.

Harvest, Polly Goodman
A look at the harvest festivals around the world.

I See the Rhythm
A book about music in African-American communities, including spirituals, Blues, and Jazz.

Kids Around the World Celebrate!: The Best Feasts and Festivals from Many Lands, Lynda Jones
Although cultures around the world have their own unique feasts and festivals, we all share many of the same reasons to celebrate. Learn about the many ways people from around the globe celebrate their special days, and join in the fun!

My First Kwanzaa Book, Deborah M. Newton Chocolate
Introduces young children to the joyous celebration of this original African-American holiday.

Now We Can Have a Wedding, Judy Cox

Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving, Joseph Bruchac
The story of Squanto, the last member of the Patuxet people and the story of the first Thanksgiving.

Wake Up, World!, Beatrice Hollyer
A look into the lives of children around the world. Teachers’ Notes & Activity Book also available.

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Religion and the Environment

50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth, Andrews and McMeel
Explains how specific things in a child’s environment are connected to the rest of the world, how using them affects everything around it.

Between Earth and Sky, Joseph Bruchac and Thomas Locker
Describes eight sacred Native American places with an emphasis on the interconnectedness of nature.

Brother Eagle, Sister Sky, Chief Seattle
Chief Seattle’s declaration of the unity of all things and the importance of taking care of nature, this illustrated book demonstrates the part we play in the world through the eyes of Native American culture.

Global Change, Theodore Snow
Describes the causes, effects, and some solutions to global change.

Global Warming, Jennifer Tesar
Describes the gradual warming of our planet, its causes and effects and ways in which we can all help.

Going Green: A Kid’s Handbook to Saving the Planet, John Elkington, Julia Hailes, Douglass Hill, Joel Makower
Activities, long and short-term projects, background and history on environmental issues.

In a Nutshell, Joseph Anthony
Demonstrates the interconnectedness of life through the life of a nutshell.

Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children, Michael Caduto, Joseph Bruachac
A selection of traditional tales from various Indian peoples, each accompanied by instructions for related activities dealing with aspects of the environment.

Recycling, Rohda Donald
Speaks to the necessity of recycling and teaches the different ways in which it can be done.

Save the Earth, Betty Miles
A useful guide to environmental problems relating to land, atmosphere, water, energy, plants, and animals, and people (including population issues, poverty and hunger, and income distribution). Provides background and activities.

Shrinking Forests, Jennifer Tesar
Explores the crucial role of the forest ecosystem and how its invaluable resources are endangered by pollution, development, and lack of careful conservation.

Taking Care of the Earth: Kids in Action, Laurence Pringle
Presents earth-saving activities appropriate for young students, with an emphasis on making a difference in helping the Earth’s environment.