CDF Freedom Schools scholars read high-quality, culturally relevant fiction, non-fiction, and reference books. Each child takes home at least one brand new book each week. The books below are part of our “read aloud” curriculum, which encourages children and adults to share the joy of reading together. Take some time to explore the list, pick up a couple of these books and share the joy of reading with a child in your life.
By Pat Mora
“Whether we are collecting words, reading favorite books in the library, celebrating holidays, writing poems, sharing secrets, or singing a jazzy duet, words and books can take us on wonderful adventures and bring us joy. Poet Pat Mora has brought together a collection of her poems that celebrates engaging with words and books in all these ways and more. Vivid illustrations by Raul Colon bring the poems to life and interpret the magic of the language with captivating images in a style influenced by Mexican muralists. Together the poems and illustrations are sure to inspire creative wordplay in readers of all ages.”
By Yuyi Morales
“In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed.
She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams… and her stories. Caldecott Honor artist and six-time Pura Belpré winner Yuyi Morales’s gorgeous picture book Dreamers is about making a home in a new place. Yuyi and her son Kelly’s passage was not easy, and Yuyi spoke no English whatsoever at the time. But together, they found an unexpected, unbelievable place: the public library. There, book by book, they untangled the language of this strange new land, and learned to make their home within it.
Dreamers is a celebration of what migrants bring with them when they leave their homes. It’s a story about family. And it’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own gifts wherever we roam. Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.”
The First Music
By Dylan Pritchett
“Inspired by the sounds and rhythms of the west African forest, Dylan Pritchett weaves a tale that reveals the music we all have inside us. In the beginning, each animal makes his own sound—everyone, that is, except the frogs, who seem more comfortable listening than performing. But when Elephant stumbles on a log, he accidentally creates an intriguing, unfamiliar sound that engages everyone’s attention. What follows might be called the first jam session, with each animal contributing his or her unique sound to the rhythm to create an engaging, harmonious, sweet sound: the first music. Erin Bennett Banks’ bold and vibrant oil paintings capture not only the density of the African forest and the personalities of its inhabitants but also bring this cumulative tale to a satisfying crescendo.”
Free at Last!: Stories and Songs of Emancipation
By Doreen Rappaport
“In the dark of night, a mother risks her life to search for her four children, stolen by her former master. A wife refuses to hand her husband over to an angry white-hooded mob, despite the wailing of her babies—and the foot stomping on her pregnant belly. A woman calmly takes her seat in a first-class coach and is ordered to leave: ‘I’m a lady. All ladies sit here,’ argues journalist Ida B. Wells before she is carried from the car, seat and all.
These are some of the vignettes presented in Free at Last!, interwoven with spirituals, work songs, blues lyrics, poems, and a compelling narrative recounting the experience of black Americans in the South from the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 through the dawn of the Civil Rights era in 1954.
Drawing from true accounts, Doreen Rappaport writes of hopes for equality dashed by new legal injustices and of a climate of fear and uncertainty fueled by intimidation, lynchings, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. But she tells also of the courageous struggle to re-create family and community life, achieve economic independence, explore creative expression, and eventually mount a successful legal challenge against segregation. Masterfully matched by Shane W. Evans’ bold, emotion-filled paintings, this is an invaluable resource for teachers, parents, librarians, students, and everyone else who values what it means to be truly free.”
Giant Steps to Change the World
By Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee
“’On some days your dreams may seem too far away to realize… Listen to the whispers of those that came before…’
People throughout history have taken giant steps toward improving the world—but even the smallest step makes a difference. A wonderful and inspiring gift, Giant Steps to Change the World encourages readers to follow in the footsteps of those who came before, to reject fears of inadequacy, and to ponder what they can contribute to society.”
I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children
By Marian Wright Edelman
“Marian Wright Edelman has drawn from a variety of cultures and peoples to compile these timeless stories, poems, songs, quotations, and folktales that speak to all children to let them know that they can make a difference in today’s world.”
Mixed: A Colorful Story
By Arree Chung
“In the beginning, there were three colors…
All special in their own ways, all living in harmony—until one day, a Red says, ‘Reds are the best ‘ and starts a color kerfuffle. When the colors decide to separate, is there anything that can change their minds?
A Yellow, a Blue, and a never-before-seen color might just save the day in this inspiring book about color, tolerance, and embracing differences.”
Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights
By Rob Sanders
“Protesting. Standing up for what’s right. Uniting around the common good—kids have questions about all of these things they see and hear about each day. Through sparse and lyrical writing, Rob Sanders introduces abstract concepts like ‘fighting for what you believe in’ and turns them into something actionable. Jared Schorr’s bold, bright illustrations bring the resistance to life making it clear that one person can make a difference and that together, we can accomplish anything.”
Read! Read! Read!
By Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
“From that thrilling moment when a child first learns to decipher words, to the excitement that follows in reading everything from road signs to field guides to internet articles to stories, these poems celebrate reading. They also explore what reading does—how it opens minds, can make you kind, and allows you to explore the whole world. Ryan O’Rourke’s rich artwork beautifully captures the imagination and playfulness in these poems by noted author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.”
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices
By Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson
“What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? With 96 lavishly designed pages of original art and prose, fifty diverse creators lend voice to young activists.
Featuring poems, letters, personal essays, art, and other works from such industry leaders as Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming), Jason Reynolds (All American Boys), Kwame Alexander (The Crossover), Andrea Pippins (I Love My Hair), Sharon Draper (Out of My Mind), Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer), and Ellen Oh (cofounder of We Need Diverse Books), as well as artists Ekua Holmes, Rafael Lopez, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, and more, this anthology empowers the nation’s youth to listen, learn, and build a better tomorrow.”
What Do You Do With a Chance
By Kobi Yamada
“In this story, a child is visited by his first chance and unsure what to do with it, so he lets it go. Later on, when a new chance arrives, he reaches for it, but this time he misses and falls. Embarrassed and afraid, he begins ignoring each new chance that comes by, even though he still wants to take them. Then one day he realizes that he doesn’t need to be brave all the time, just at the right time, to find out what amazing things can happen when he takes a chance.
The final addition to the award-winning What Do You Do With…? picture book series created by New York Times best-selling author Kobi Yamada and illustrator by Mae Besom, What Do You Do With a Chance? inspires children of all ages and parents alike to find the courage to go for the opportunities that come their way. Because you never know when a chance, once taken, might be the one to change everything.
All descriptions from the publishers.
Support the Road to Freedom:
Unlock children’s unlimited potential
$5 / month will provide a home library of high-quality, culturally relevant books for one CDF Freedom Schools scholar
$12 / month will provide 6 weeks of nutritious meals for one CDF Freedom Schools scholar
$18 / month will send a child to CDF Freedom Schools for one week