All Together Now: Kindness, friendship and unity

Published 11:36 am Tuesday, June 20, 2023

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This year’s Summer Learning theme across the country is “All Together Now,” which celebrates kindness, friendship, and unity! Here are some books for children and teens recommended by the Association for Library Service to Children, as well as Read With Jenna Jr. in partnership with the Collaborative Summer Library Program.



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Big by Vashti Harrison

This deeply moving story traces a child’s journey to self-love and shows the power of words to both hurt and heal. With spare text and exquisite illustrations, this emotional exploration of being big in a world that prizes small is a tender portrayal of how you can stand out and feel invisible at the same time.


The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson

It’s getting hot outside, hot enough to turn on the hydrants and run through the water—and that means it’s finally summer in the city! Released from school and reveling in their freedom, the kids on one Brooklyn block take advantage of everything summertime has to offer: Freedom from morning till night to go out to meet their friends and make the streets their playground, jumping double Dutch, playing tag and hide-and-seek, building forts, chasing ice cream trucks and best of all, believing anything is possible.




Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea by Dav Pilkey

Piggy has returned, and his newest plot is his most diabolical yet. What other new villains are on the horizon? Where are they all coming from? And who will step forward to save the city when scoundrels sabotage our Supa Buddies? With themes of friendship and doing good, this graphic novel is packed with action and hilarity. 


Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she’s found her safe space—her swimming pool—where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to starfish in real life by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.



Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Perry Firekeeper-Birch has always known who she is—the laidback twin, the troublemaker, the best fisher on Sugar Island. But as the rising number of missing Indigenous women starts circling closer to home, as her family becomes embroiled in a high-profile murder investigation, and as greedy grave robbers seek to profit off of what belongs to her Anishinaabe tribe, Perry begins to question everything. 


Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith

On October 16, 1968, during the medal ceremony at the Mexico City Olympics, Tommie Smith, the gold medal winner in the 200-meter sprint, and John Carlos, the bronze medal winner, stood on the podium in black socks and raised their black-gloved fists to protest racial injustice inflicted upon African Americans. Both men were forced to leave the Olympics, received death threats, and faced ostracism and continuing economic hardships. In his first-ever memoir for young readers, Tommie Smith looks back on his childhood growing up in rural Texas through to his stellar athletic career, culminating in his historic victory and Olympic podium protest.


Jen Pace Dickenson is the Youth Services Librarian for Polk County Public Libraries. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit or call (828) 894-8721.