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Circle These Books

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Give them a check, a thumbs up, or grab a pencil and “Circle These Books” as top picks in Clover’s book bag. With the start of another school year, your bee buddy not only totes academic texts between her wings, she packs stories for sublime reading pleasure. Load up on her August Picks! You’ll be happy you did!

The Community Literacy Foundation, with support from its sponsors, provides these books to 37 school and public libraries in Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and surrounding communities. Learn more at

Youngest Read

Imagine a world of solitude, of never stepping out of your comfort zone to get to know other people, of staying stuck, fenced in by the fear of extending yourself.

“The Circles All Around Us,” by Brad Montague, imagines a much different scenario—a world where the circle that begins with just you gradually expands into an ever-changing, growing spot initially inhabited by a few, then by others, “… a happier circle as more loved ones come to stay.”

After immediate and extended family, focus on acquaintances in the neighborhood and those in math and science class too. It’s chancy though, what if they don’t fit with you “… it can get harder the more we share.”

But take a dare, expand your horizons, and show others you care. Being inclusive has merits as you’ll see in this simple, powerful book with feel-good illustrations by Brad and Kristi Montague.

Middle Read

A conundrum comes to light in “Let Liberty Rise!: How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save the Statue of Liberty,” by Chana Stiefel, a fascinating historical tale about the impact the slightest contributions made to a gargantuan project.

When the Statue of Liberty, weighing as much as 40 elephants, was sent from France to the United States in 1885, it had two legs to stand on, but not a base to keep it from going face down. Liberty was a gift from France; it was America’s responsibility to have a base built for the big gal but funds for the project “dried up.”

Thanks to newspaper man Joseph Pulitzer, a campaign was launched to support the grand dame by raising $100,000. Those who contributed would have their name printed in “The New York World.” While many gave much, the outpouring of meager coins donated by school children, classes pooling their pennies to support the cause, added up.

True-life examples of students who contributed add to the homespun appeal of this crowd-pleaser, decorated with patriotic illustrations by Chuck Groenink.

Oldest Read

Though Melody uses a wheelchair and can’t speak, her words “trapped inside her,” the plucky fifth grader is whip-smart. Her uplifting life comes to light in “Out of My Mind,” a much-loved novel by Sharon Draper that offers page turning at its best.

Melody was born with cerebral palsy. Though her mother knows there’s nothing wrong with her daughter’s mind, medical tests don’t validate her stand. Dr. Hugely tells her that Melody will “… never be able to walk on her own or speak a single sentence,” and urges her to put Melody in a nursing home.

Instead, her mom enrolls her in Spaulding Street Elementary School. Frustration is Melody’s sidekick—she’s smarter than her teachers realize, but there’s no way for her to communicate what she knows and how quickly she can learn. That begins to change with “inclusion classes,” a caring teacher, supportive parents and an opportunity she never could have foreseen.

Melody’s fortitude and spirit are admirable as she grows in confidence and meets challenges at home and school. Her story will enlighten and inspire readers of all ages. This fall, we’ll learn more about Melody when Draper’s much-anticipated sequel, “Out of My Heart” is published.

Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2021, Community Literacy Foundation. Reprinted with permission.

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