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Falling for Books

After a summer of sunshine, fun, and play, kids are back in school and fall is here! This time of year can bring a feeling of renewed energy as we watch trees and plants begin their process of new growth. With that in mind, librarians from across Maricopa County Library District have put together some recommendations of their favorite reads that tackle subjects like empathy-building, being a good friend, and learning from your mistakes. Looking for more? Check out all your library has to offer at


A Friend for Henry  By Jenn Bailey 

This book describes the difficulties and challenges a young child faces when trying to make new friends at school. Readers are invited to celebrate with him as he goes on the journey of making a first new friend.

Why you’ll love it: “This touching tale gently delves into this familiar subject through the lens of a boy on the autism spectrum. The emotions felt during the lows and highs of his search come alive through the book’s illustrations.”

– Aubrey from Northwest Regional Library

The Rabbit Listened By Cori Doerrfeld

Taylor has built the most amazing block castle until a murder of crows knocks it all down. Taylor’s animal friends all want to be helpful and offer solutions to Taylor’s dilemma, like talking, shouting, or maybe knocking down someone else’s amazing creation. But, Taylor isn’t ready to do any of those things. When Rabbit comes along though, they just want to spend time with Taylor until he is ready to talk, shout, and feel all the feelings. 

Why you’ll love it: “This book is such a sweet story about how important just being there can be. Sometimes we want to offer advice or take action, when all our friends really need is someone to be there, ready when they are for listening ears, good advice, or maybe just a good shout.”

– Caroline from Southeast Regional Library


Kick Push: Be Your Epic Self By Frank Morrison 

Epic and his family have moved to a new town and he is trying to find his place, his people, and where he can do the most epic kickflip ever!

Why you’ll love it: “This beautifully illustrated book showcases the amazing artwork of illustrator and now author Frank Morrison. All of the illustrations are hand-painted masterpieces that make this story come alive. Morrison uses language and his illustrations to demonstrate the movement of his main character, Epic, learning to navigate a new world. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this one-of-a-kind story about finding yourself and your community.”

– Dianna from Northwest Regional Library

Lena’s Shoes are Nervous By Keith Calabrese

Today is Lena’s first day of kindergarten and she can’t wait! There’s only one problem . . . her shoes are too nervous to go to school! Lena and her favorite headband must convince her shoes to be brave so they won’t miss the first day of school. 

Why you’ll love it: “This picture book is funny and full of heart! I loved that Lena expressed her own nerves about going to school through her favorite pair of shoes. Lena’s headband convinces her shoes (and Lena herself) that sometimes things that make us a little nervous can turn out to be really great if we’re willing to be brave and give them a try!”

– Caroline from Southeast Regional Library

1st- 3rd GRADE

Little Bat in Night School By Brian Lies 

Little bat is looking forward to his first night of school—but he has a lot of questions, too! At first when he arrives to his classroom he is afraid and doesn’t know what to do. Soon, he finds new friends and learns that night school is perfect fun! 

Why you’ll love it: “A darling story that soothes first-day-of-school jitters, this book displays the importance of friendship and trying new things.”

– Jen from the Southeast Regional Library

A Walk in the Words By Hudson Talbott

As a young boy begins reading complex stories, he finds he struggles with the longer sentences—making him a “slow reader” compared to his classmates. He watches as his peers seemingly leave him behind. However, his curiosity, love of stories, and persistence eventually help him sail through reading these complex books with confidence!  

Why you’ll love it: “Influenced by Talbott’s own struggles, A Walk in the Words uses both text and illustration to help us understand the feelings of an emerging reader with dyslexia. This visual representation will help struggling readers feel seen and foster empathy in those who do not share in this struggle.”

-Jennifer from Library Services

4th- 6th GRADE

Restart By Gordon Korman

After falling off a roof over the summer, Chase Ambrose has amnesia. He gets the chance to learn who he is again through other people’s eyes when the new school year starts. But, he doesn’t like what he learns! He is surprised to find out that he was a bully. 

Why you’ll love it: “Chase gets the chance to confront who he was and change his ways, while finding forgiveness and new friendships. This book is about second chances and having the courage to take them.”

– Jamie McCraw from Asante Library

Too Bright to See By Kyle Lukoff 

Bug knows their house has always been haunted, but it isn’t until Uncle Roderick dies that the ghosts begin to get his attention. With summer break stretched out before him and the beginning of middle school looming, Bug knows that something feels out of place as he tries to navigate his feelings, identity, and his relationships with friends and family.

Why you’ll love it: “A spooky and sweet story about grief, discovering yourself, and learning to trust others.”

 – Jen from the Southeast Regional Library


A Song Below Water By Bethany C. Morrow 

With mermaids, sirens, gargoyles, and people mysteriously being turned into statues, this book will keep you guessing until the very end. Tavia and Effie are both trying to fit into a world that seemingly doesn’t want them to be a part of it. Tavia is a siren trying to find a place for her voice, but since her sister Effie has moved in with her, things have gotten complicated. Effie is being haunted by her past, trying to navigate a new town, and figure out who she is.  

Why you’ll love it: “This is a wonderful book about understanding, compassion, and learning to find your voice.”  

– Dianna from Northwest Regional Library

May the Best Man Win By ZR Ellor 

A trans boy is trying to claim the title of Homecoming King—and his rival for the crown is the football star he broke up with over the summer while transitioning! ZR Ellor’s contemporary YA debut doesn’t hold back as it explores issues of gender identity and life on the spectrum, while not shying away from the ignorance these communities must face. 

Why you’ll love it: “The narrative alternates between the two characters so readers get to feel the experience of each one as they navigate their tumultuous relationship and make it to Homecoming.”

 – Aubrey from Northwest Regional Library



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