By Ellen Werner, Program Director
Each May, WITS celebrates our students by giving them brand new books: these are our WITSummer Books. The WITS staff selects the books with WITS students’ interests, abilities, and backgrounds in mind. To ensure that students receive books that are close to their reading and interest level, WITS gives different book sets comprising of different formats and genres to pre-kindergarten-first graders, second-third graders, fourth-fifth graders, and sixth-eighth graders. Wondering what WITSummer books students will be receiving at the end of this school year? Read this article to find out!
WITSummer Books for pre-kindergarten-first graders are a mix of short books with just a few words on each page that students might be able to read independently, and longer picture books with more complex stories that are more suited, initially, to being read aloud to students. A nonfiction animal book, a favorite character (Pete the Cat), and two bilingual books are included in this set of WITSummer Books. Bilingual, in this instance, means that students or their family members could read the entire book in English, Spanish, or both. The final book for our Pre-K to 1st graders is the lovely read-aloud “Pecan Pie Baby” by Jacqueline Woodson, a sweet, relatable story of a little girl who is not excited to share her mom with a new sibling.
The WITS staff is confident that the WITSummer Books for second and third graders are going to be a big hit this year! Illustrated chapter books are books that are long enough to be divided into chapters but have illustrations on almost every page. These books are favorites of students at this age and are included in this set of WITSummer Books. These books are an effective bridge from picture books and early readers to full-fledged chapter books. This year’s selections are “The Gumazing Gum Girl” and “A Running Back Can’t Always Rush.” Both are fast-paced and include a lot of simple dialogue and humor to keep students interested. In addition to those illustrated chapter books, students will receive two nonfiction titles and a graphic novel.
Action! Adventure! Horror! The fourth-fifth grade WITSummer Books pack has it all. In fourth and fifth grade, students’ taste in books start to become more established, so books with very diverse subjects are included. For nonfiction, students will receive an informational book about ancient Egypt and a biography of Venus and Serena Williams – WITS’ staff is thrilled to include this biography about contemporary women of color! The fiction selections are a graphic novel about a basketball team, the classic “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” and a longer middle grade novel called “Moving Target,” by Cuban-American author Christina Diaz Gonzalez.
The WITSummer Books selections for sixth-eighth graders will include four longer chapter books with an international focus this year. This year’s nonfiction titles are both memoirs about young people. “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is the true story of a boy who brought wind power to his village in Malawi, and “A Game for Swallows” is a graphic novel depicting the story of a girl’s experience living in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war. Students will also receive a novel called “Fire in the Streets” set in Chicago in 1968, and one of the most acclaimed graphic novels of the year: “Brave” by Svetlana Chmakova. In each title, our students will be able to see some of themselves, as well as experience a window into the lives of others.