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Winter Book Recommendations for All Ages

What better way to spend your winter holiday than curling up with a good book? An important part of developing the skills of 21st-century learners involves giving students opportunities to develop empathy and understanding for the perspectives and experiences of others. Reading is a powerful tool for providing windows into other experiences and for spurring conversations and thinking about the systems of power that exist in a global society and our place within these systems. Below you will find our winter reading list of book recommendations for all ages from our very own SCIS librarians: 


Boramy Sun, Early Childhood Librarian & Media Specialist at SCIS Hongqiao

Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell  
Illustrated by Rafael Lopez 
Age 4-7

Based on true events, this book explores how the passion of one little girl for art can inspire her neighbors and expand to the whole city!  The book follows a little girl, Mira, who loves to draw, doodle, color and paint.  In an effort to share the color and drawings that she loves, she gives them to the local shopkeeper, the police officers, and the neighbors down the street.  Finally, she gives one to a local artist – a muralist and Mira connects that she is also an artist.  The two of them start painting the walls around the city and soon the whole neighborhood joins in!  Mira realizes how she could bring color to the whole city through painting murals.  


Dan Zimmerman, Lower School Librarian at SCIS Hongqiao

We Don’t Eat our Classmates 
By Ryan T. Higgins 
Ages 3+ 

Penelope Rex. is excited and nervous about her first day at school.  She desperately wants it to go well.  But when she discovers that all of her classmates are children, she finds it challenging to form meaningful relationships.  Because children are delicious.  Penelope eventually learns about caring and empathy at the hands of Walther, the class goldfish.  This charming story deals with the challenges all children face when transitioning to a new environment with copious humor.  


Michael Kim, Upper School Librarian at SCIS Pudong

Stand up, Yumi Chung 
By Jessica Kim 
Ages 9+ 

A story of family, identity, and personal growth, this novel tells the tale of the Korean-American Yumi Chung as she deals with her hectic social and personal life. One lie spirals down to a complete double life in this story about an aspiring stand-up comedian. On the outside, she is a shy girl, dealing with less-than-friendly social situations. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her big stand-up special. All she needs is courage and the stage. A fun read not only for students but also for the whole family, to foster the discussion of personal desires and family support. 


Ashley Simmons, Upper School Librarian at SCIS Hongqiao

Illegal: A Graphic Novel Telling One Boy’s Epic Journey to Europe 
By Andrew Donkin and Eoin Colfer 
Ages 10+ 

Illegal follows the story of twelve-year-old Ebo who leaves his small African village in order to hopefully reunite with his siblings in Europe, where they all hope to find the opportunity of a better life. The graphic novel format enhances the opportunity for readers to experience both the hardships of Ebo’s journey and the wider experiences of the refugee community. This story is a heart-stoppingly powerful fictional work that is based on extensive research and interviews conducted by the authors. It is a great read for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of the experiences of refugees all over the world.  


The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives 
By Dashka Slater 
Ages 13+ 

On November 14, 2013, eighteen-year-old Sasha Fleishman was riding the bus home from school when she was set on fire by another teen, Richard Thomas. In this book, award-winning journalist Dashka Slater covers the stories of both teens and the events that lead up to and resulted from that day. This book has an engaging format for a non-fiction book, making it approachable for students who may often prefer narrative fiction. More importantly, though, it deals with issues of race, class, gender, crime, and punishment, as readers are taken into the lives of both teens and their experiences in the outcome of these events; Sasha is severely burned, and Richard faces charges for two hate crimes and life in prison. What’s possibly most striking about this book is the empathy readers begin to develop in connection with both teens, raising even more opportunities to consider the social context of the event and what that means for the outcome. 


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