Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

Theme: Communities and People

An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio - (ISBN: 978-0140380682)

by Judith Ortiz Cofer

Read about a very different kind of community told in the tales of 12 young people growing up in a barrio in New Jersey. Originally from Puerto Rico, the young men and women portrayed in this book live with a mix of American culture, challenges, and the controls of Puerto Rican traditions and older family members.

Our House - (ISBN: 978-0439745086)

by Pam Conrad

The lives of six children growing up in identical houses in the planned community of Levittown are revealed through their stories as they grow up through 60 years from 1940 until the date of original publication. From the children’s stories come a sense of history, community, and human growth.

So You Want to Be President? - (ISBN: 978-0399234071)

by Judith St. George

Find out lots of interesting information about our past presidents in this fun presentation that has the message that everyone is different! From old to young, huge to miniature-sized, presidents have had a variety of backgrounds, hobbies, looks, successes etc. With interesting facts and quotations, this book is something children who normally don’t even like history won’t be able to put down.

The Journal of Augustus Pelletier: The Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804 - (ISBN: 978-0590684897)

by Kathryn Lasky

In a fictionalized account of a diary written by the youngest member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, young Augustus at age 14 sets out to explore and “name” America. A young boy with mixed parentage, half native American and half French, Augustus Pelletier gains confidence and maturity as he proves himself a capable member of the famous Corps of Discovery.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers - (ISBN: 978-0761317913)

by Mordicai Gerstein

How did Philippe Petit manage to get a cord between the two famous trade towers in NY City and succeed in walking between them? In this beautifully illustrated and well-written version of his actual walk, children will let their imaginations soar as they follow his progress across the wire. This book is beyond equal in its celebration of one man with a unique dream and the courage to follow through on it. The final image shows two imaginary towers as they now exist in memory.

The Midwife’s Apprentice - (ISBN: 978-0064406307)

by Karen Cushman

A small, struggling girl becomes a midwife’s helper in order to survive life during the Middle Ages. Despite failures in her new “career” and other continuing challenges, the heroine grows and begins to appreciate life with greater confidence and sensitivity. Enjoy this life story which is greatly evocative of the medieval era.

Standing in the Light: The Captive Diary of Catharine Carey Logan - (ISBN: 0590134620)

by Mary Pope Osborne

The Journal Of Brian Doyle: Greenhorn on an Alaskan Whaling Ship - (ISBN: 978-0439078146)

by Jim Murphy

The Slave Dancer - (ISBN: 978-0689845055)

by Paula Fox

Activities for this Theme

Try other titles in the "My Name is America" series about young men exploring different careers and writing about them in this series involving historical America.

For similar books about young women, try the "Dear America" series.

Take your family to free state and national historical museums so they can see for themselves the wide variety of careers past young men and women have aspired to.

Look at your local library for books or magazine commemorating major anniversaries in your community. Enjoy comparing the pictures from then and now.