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Books that mentor

Compiled by librarian Sally Chilson

Sally Chilson, youth services coordinator for Spokane Public Library, has worked in libraries since she was 15. The 39-year-old librarian says characters in books mentor children and teens in many different ways.

In problem novels, characters handle problems, big and small. In her recommended list of books, readers will find kids with abusive parents, kids with body image issues, kids with attention deficit disorder, kids with divorcing parents, kids who have never been to a big town, kids with authoritarian teachers, kids who question their parents’ faith and kids with peanut allergies.

“Kids can read these and realize things aren’t as bad as they thought,” Chilson said.

Cathartic novels allow young people to experience strong emotions in a safe way. “Sometimes you just need to cry,” Chilson said.

In hero novels, young characters emerge as role models. “A lot of these books are about the ‘what ifs’ and kids can get through their (what if) fears by seeing how someone else did it.”

Chilson’s recommends these books that can mentor young people in a variety of ways:

Preschool to Grade 3:

“Do You Love Me?” Joost Elffers

“Go Away, Big Green Monster!” Ed Emberley

“King & King” Linda de Haan

“Wemberly Worried” Kevin Henkes

“Grumpy Bird” Jeremy Tankard

Grades 3 to 6:

“The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy” William Boniface

“Dear Mr. Henshaw” Beverly Cleary

“Frindle” Andrew Clements

“Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key” Jack Gantos

“A Wrinkle In Time” Madeleine L’Engle

“Saffy’s Angel” Hilary McKay

“Anne of Green Gables” Lucy Maud Montgomery

“Word Nerd” Susin Nielsen

“Hatchet” Gary Paulsen

“All-of-a-Kind Family Downtown” Sydney Taylor

“Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy” Wendelin Van Draanen

“Millicent Min Girl Genius” Lisa Yee

Grades 7 to 12:

“The Face on the Milk Carton” Caroline B. Cooney

“Deadline” Chris Crutcher

“Whirligig” Paul Fleischman

“An Abundance of Katherines” John Green

“Godless” Pete Hautman

“Pretty Face” Mary Hogan

“Evil Genius” Catherine Jinks

“Alice, I Think” Susan Juby

“Briana’s Gift” Lurlene McDaniel

“Sexy” Joyce Carol Oates

“Freaky Green Eyes” Joyce Carol Oates

“Finding Daddy” Louise Plummer

“Zen and the Art of Faking It” Jordan Sonnenblick

“When She Hollers” Cynthia Voigt



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