Early Elementary Books

Theme: Things My Parents Do Not Know

A Birthday Basket for Tia - (ISBN: 978-0689813283)

by Pat Mora

Cecilia breaks out on her own to think of a birthday gift for a special aunt. While her mother cooks and bakes for the birthday party, she gathers “memories” in a basket, putting in small items that remind her of each important event she shared with her aunt. What other ideas do you have for celebrating a birthday on a way that might be different from what your parents do?

My Big Lie - (ISBN: 978-0590521611)

by Bill Cosby

When a young man does something his parents do not know about or approve of, his punishment is to consider the classic story, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” While he is copying the story, he realizes that his parents deserve to know the truth. He sees parallels between the boy in the story and himself. If you have ever lied to your parents or made a fuss over something that was not important, take a look at the folk tale.

Papa's Mark - (ISBN: 978-0823416509)

by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert

Life is changing for African Americans, and Simms’ father wants to be among the first to exercise his new right to vote. He could just use an X for his signature, but he wants to write his own name. Simms proudly helps his father learn to write.

The Name Jar - (ISBN: 978-0440417996)

by Yangsook Choi

Unhei has just come to the U.S. from Korea, and the American students want her to choose an American name out of a jar full of slips of paper. Unhei’s mother reminds her that the Korean way to get a name is to consult a name master. How does Unhei resolve the problem and still make members of her family and her class proud?

The Woods - (ISBN: 978-0811875479)

by Paul Hoppe

When he cannot sleep, a young boy bravely goes into the woods. His parents do not even know he is gone. He encounters a scary bear who turns out to be more lonely than scary. What do you think happens when together encounter two giants?

A Very Special Sister - (ISBN: 978-0930323967)

by Dorothy Hoffman Levi

It’s a Book - (ISBN: 978-1596436060)

by Lane Smith

My Diary from Here to There/Mi diario de aqui hasta alla - (ISBN: 978-0892392308)

by Amada Irma Perez

The Worst Day of My Life - (ISBN: 978-0590521901)

by Bill Cosby

Activities for this Theme

The next time you get together with friends, change your name for the day. Draw a new name out of a jar of names. See if changing your name changes the way you feel and act!


Try collecting a birthday “basket” like Cecilia did in A Birthday Basket for Tia. Fill a simple basket or gift bag with items that remind you of special events that you did together.


Read the classic tale, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”