Monthly Featured Book

If you are looking for books to read aloud, read together or discuss in your family, we are here to help. Books Matter is ADL’s collection of picture books, chapter books and young adult literature that address issues of identity, diversity, bias, bullying and hate.

Each month, our Monthly Featured Book comes with two discussion guides: one for the classroom and one for the home. Our parent/family discussion guides include conversation starters, talking points, related books and additional resources.


May 2022: Watercress

Watercress book cover

Driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl's parents stop suddenly when they spot watercress growing wild in a ditch by the side of the road. Grabbing an old paper bag and some rusty scissors, the whole family wades into the muck to collect as much of the muddy, snail covered watercress as they can. At first, she's embarrassed. Why can't her family get food from the grocery store? But when her mother shares a story of her family's time in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged. Together, they make a new memory of watercress.

AUTHOR(S): Andrea Wang

ILLUSTRATOR(S): Jason Chin

AGE GROUP: 4-8


Previous Monthly Featured Books

April 2022

Red, White, and Whole

Reha feels torn between two worlds: school, where she’s the only Indian American student, and home, with her family’s traditions and holidays. But Reha’s parents don’t understand why she’s conflicted—they only notice when Reha doesn’t meet their strict expectations. (Ages 8-12)

March 2022

February 2022

January 2022

December 2021

November 2021

October 2021

September 2021

July 2021

June 2021

Too Bright to See

A ghost is haunting Bug's eerie old house in rural Vermont...and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they're trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light--Bug is transgender. (Ages 9-12)

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P!

Jilly thinks she's figured out how life works. But when her sister, Emma, is born deaf, she realizes how much she still has to learn. The world is going to treat Jilly, who is white and hearing, differently from Emma, just as it will treat them both differently from their cousins who are Black. (Ages 8-12)

December 2020

November 2020

October 2020

September 2020

July 2020

The Undefeated

This book/poem is a love letter to Black life in the U.S. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. (Ages 6-9)

June 2020

Hurricane Child

Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline, who lives on Water Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, has had her share of bad luck lately. But when a new student arrives, Caroline believes her luck is turning around.  (Ages 8-12)

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

New Kid

Instead of sending Jordan to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. (Ages 8-12)

February 2020

Sulwe

Sulwe is darker than everyone in her family and wishes she was “beautiful and bright” like her sister and mother. This picture book creates a whimsical and poignant story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty. (Ages 4-8)

January 2020

Harbor Me

It all starts when six young people have to meet for a weekly chat--by themselves, with no adults to listen in. In the room they call the ARTT Room (short for "A Room to Talk"), they discover it's safe to talk about what's bothering them. (Ages 10 and up)

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

June 2019

May 2019

Front Desk

It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao and go for her dreams? (Ages 8-12)

April 2019

March 2019

Under My Hijab

As a young girl observes six very different women in her life who each wear the hijab in a unique way, she dreams of the rich possibilities of her own future, and how she will express her own personality through her hijab. (Ages 4-8)

February 2019

January 2019

December 2018

November 2018

October 2018

Hello, Universe

A disaster leads Kaori, Gen and Valencia on an epic quest to find missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, bullying behavior is put in its place and friendship blooms. (Ages 8-12)

September 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

Amazing Places

This collection of original poems brings together fourteen selections that celebrate through poetic imagery some of the amazingly diverse people and places in our nation. (Ages 7-10)

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

June 2017

The Best Man

The book recounts Archer Magill's span from first grade to sixth, navigating family ties, school, bullying, homophobia, death and marriage. (Ages 9-12)

May 2017

Amina’s Voice

While Amina, a Pakistani American middle school student, grapples with questions of friendship and identity, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized. She ultimately uses her voice to help bring a diverse community together. (Ages 8-12)

April 2017

The Journey

This book is told from the perspective of a young child and explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leave their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war. (Ages 6-10)

March 2017

February 2017

Firebird

In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl whose confidence is fragile and who questions her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached. (Ages 5-8)

January 2017

Towers Falling

When her fifth grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Deja sets off on a journey of discovery. (Ages 8-12)

December 2016

November 2016

October 2016

September 2016

August 2016

June 2016

George

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl. (Ages 8-12)

May 2016

Juna's Jar

Determined to find her friend Hector who unexpectedly moved away, Juna turns to her special kimchi jar for help each night, plunging into the depths of the ocean in search of her friend. (Ages 5-8)

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

March: Book One

Book One of this graphic novel trilogy spans Congressman John Lewis' youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins. (Ages 12 and up)

January 2016

December 2015

Rules

Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life, which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. (Ages 8-12)

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

Gaby, Lost and Found

When Gaby Ramirez Howard starts volunteering at the local animal shelter, she takes special pride in writing adoption advertisements. Gaby is in need of a forever home herself because her mother recently was deported to Honduras. (Ages 8-12)

August 2015

Maddi's Fridge

Best friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, and play in the same park, but while Sofia’s fridge at home is full of nutritious food, the fridge at Maddi’s house is empty. (Ages 4-8)

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

El Deafo

The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. (Ages 8-12)

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

The Year of the Rat

The Year of the Rat brings many changes for Pacy: her best friend moves away, she deals with the prejudice directed toward a new student from China and she learns to face some of her own flaws. (Ages 8-12)

December 2014

Jeremy's Dreidel

At the dreidel-making workshop, Jeremy's friends think he is molding a secret code on his clay dreidel but he is making a special gift for his father, who is blind. (Ages 4-8)

November 2014

Shin-chi's Canoe

When Shi-shi-etko and Shin-chi arrive at the Indian Residential School, Shi-shi-etko reminds her younger brother that they can only use their English names and that they are not allowed to speak to each other. (Ages 6-10)

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

Each Kindness

Chloe doesn't know why she turns away from the new girl when Maya tries to befriend her and every time Maya asks if she can play with Chloe and the other girls, the answer is always no. (Ages 4-8)

July 2014

Jacob's New Dress

This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don’t identify with traditional gender roles and can spark discussions of gender, identity and self-confidence. (Ages 4-8)

June 2014

Same Sun Here

Narrated in two voices, Meena and River bridge the miles between them, creating a friendship that inspires bravery and defeats cultural misconceptions. (Ages 9-12)

May 2014

April 2014

Wonder

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that has prevented him from attending a mainstream school--until now. (Ages 9-12)

March 2014