What makes a 5-Star Book?
Considering that I leave all of my reviews on Goodreads, I’m going to go with their interpretation of a 5-star book; one that is AMAZING! I try and reserve this ultimate rating for books that:
- I would identify as a heart-print book: one that will likely stay with me long after having read the book because of how it spoke to my heart as a reader.
- Made me feel all the feels. These are those books that hit you hard in your emotions. They can be straight up sad books or mixed emotions books that feel like a roller coaster ride. A thriller, a page-turner, a stay up and read it all night sort of book.
- Inspired me and dared me to dream big dreams, causing me to believe that anything is possible and that dreams really can come true.
- One that employed a use of creativity and imagination, unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Whether it be the story itself or the art, or even a combination of the two that allowed me space to celebrate the beauty and or brilliance of their craft.
- Edified me in some way. Taught me something new. Gave me an experience unlike any other. Made me want to do better. One that increased my knowledge and awareness. Or empowered me and spurred me on to use my voice to make a difference in the world around me.
Now you have it. Five reasons why I might give a book a 5-star rating…and here are the books I’ve given 5 stars to so far this year (January-March).
My 5-Star Kidlit of 2019
The Roots of Rap
by Carole Boston Weatherford
The Roots of Rap, 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop is an incredible work of art with a value that far exceeds its humble price tag. Each page is a brilliant expression of the creativity and passion that is rap music and hip-hop culture. Paying tribute to poetry, street rhymes and phat beats; storytelling in its many artistic forms. From breakdancing and boom boxes, to deejays and block parties; brothers with funky-fresh rhymes and queens rocking the mic. This is an ode to hip-hop that is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in the picture book format. Read the full review here.
by Nikki Grimes
This book was inspired by Psalm 121 and Nikki Grimes utilizes a form of poetry called the golden shovel. As it is explained at the end of the book, “You take lines from an existing poem or, as in this book, from a psalm, and create a new poem using the words from the original.” Instructions on how to write your own are included as well. I can’t wait to make one of my own and to make them with my students too as we get into National Poetry Month in April. While this book is recommended for ages 6-10, it would make a nice gift for every classroom up through middle school and beyond. I borrowed this book from the public library but now plan to buy it. One for myself and one to give away. Read my full review here.
by Anika Aldamuy Denise
Planting Stories follows “la vida y el legado of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City.” She traveled from San Juan, Puerto Rico to New York (in 1921) for her sister’s wedding but soon called the city home as it was “alive with hope and possibility.” Carrying the stories Abuela would tell of home in her heart, she shared them and planted each one like seeds in fertile ground. She was a storyteller who became a published author and puppeteer. Read my full review here.
Other Words for Home
by Jasmine Warga
Other Words for Home gives the reader a window into immigration and what it feels like to long for home while trying at the same time to make a new home in America. It includes a glossary of Arabic words and an author’s note at the end of the book. Jasmine Warga has created a masterful middle grade debut; one that belongs in every classroom and library. It is well suited for upper elementary and middle school, and would likely also be a book that high school students would be interested in reading. I now count this among some of my other favorite novels in verse like The Poet X (Elizabeth Acevedo), Long Way Down (Jason Reynolds), and The Crossover (Kwame Alexander & Mary Rand Hess). Read my full review here.