Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

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Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option…until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.

Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Innovation, Perseverance

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 4.6

AR Point .5

Word Count 1297

Boxes for Katje

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After World War II there is little left in Katje’s town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. Then one spring morning when the tulips bloom “thick and bright,” Postman Kleinhoonte pedals his bicycle down Katje’s street to deliver a mysterious box – a box from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has been sent by Rosie, an American girl from Mayfield, Indiana. Her package is part of a goodwill effort to help the people of Europe. What’s inside so delights Katje that she sends off a letter of thanks – beginning an exchange that swells with so many surprises that the girls, as well as their townspeople, will never be the same.

This inspiring story, with strikingly original art, is based on the author’s mother’s childhood and will show young readers that they, too, can make a difference.

Empathy, Kindness

Fiction

AR Reading Level 3.5

AR Point .5

Word Count 1585

Leah’s Pony

Leah’s pony was swift and strong. Together they would cross through cornfields and over pastures, chasing cattle as they galloped under summer skies. Then came the year the corn grew no taller than a man’s thumb. Locusts blackened the sky. The earth turned to dust. Gone were the cornfields and pastures where Leah and her pony once rode. It was the beginning of the great drought. Now Leah’s papa faced losing the family farm. Set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, this deeply felt story, vividly portrayed through stunning oil paintings, tells of one child and what she would sacrifice for love of her family.

Courage, Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Empathy, and Kindness

Fiction

AR Reading Level 3.3

AR Point .5

Word Count 1333

Snowflake Bentley

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From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley’s enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist’s vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature.

Innovation, Leadership, Optimism, Patience, and Perseverance

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 4.4

AR Point .5

Word Count 979

Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing

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Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. She knew how many miles it was to the moon (and how many back). She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world.

Soon math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She hand wrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Apollo 8. Apollo 9. Apollo 10. Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed.

Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Responsibility, Initiative, Innovation, Leadership

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 3.7

AR Point .5

Word Count 722

Sky High: George Ferris’s Big Wheel

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This fascinating story describes the invention of the first Ferris wheel—an engineering marvel. The 1893 World’s Fair organizers wanted something big to draw people to Chicago . . . something that would rival the Eiffel Tower. George Ferris, an American engineer, had the idea for an observation wheel that passengers could ride on. People disagreed! They said it would never work. But it was a huge success, with thirty-six cars that could hold over 2,100 riders! That’s some big wheel! Ferris wheel lovers can thank George Ferris for never giving up his dream.

Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Creativity, Initiative, Innovation

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 3.0

AR Point .5

Word Count 761

Eat My Dust! Henry Ford’s First Race

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It’s 1901 and Henry Ford wants to build a car that everyone can own. But first he needs the money to produce it. How will he get it? He enters a car race, of course! Readers will love this fast-paced, fact-based story!

Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Initiative, Innovation

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 2.3

AR Point .5

Word Count 752

Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse: Harry to the Rescue!

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Tucker may be an ordinary gray mouse, but he seems to have the characteristics of a pack rat. His home is filled with things that people drop, including quite a collection of coins. One day he sees a penny fall in the shoe shine store and off Tucker goes to retrieve it. Alas, the lights go out, the door slams shut, and he is trapped. Harry sees the dilemma and tries an easy rescue and while doing so learns that the shop will be closed for two weeks. What will Tucker do? Yes, Harry can feed him, but Tucker feels that he will die of boredom. The very clever Harry finds a most satisfactory way to help his friend escape. It is a delightful story with equally engaging illustrations that are full of humor and detail.

Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Initiative, Cleverness, Effort, Kindness

Fiction

AR Reading Level 2.7

AR Point .5

Word Count 873

Saving the Liberty Bell

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Some tall tales are actually true. This is a grand one, told with rightful pride by a boy who was there in the city of Philadelphia in 1777 and was lucky enough to play a role in the American Revolution.
John Jacob Mickley, eleven years old, and his father were in the city when the Great Bell began ringing Brong! Brong! BRONG! from atop the State House to warn the citizens: “Redcoats! The Redcoats are coming!”
And come the British did — with their muskets and their cannons and their will to keep the colonies for their king. Looting they came and stealing any metal they could get their hands on to melt down for the making of more weapons. And the prize above all? The Great Bell itself — metal for many a cannon!
But these clever Patriots had other plans for keeping the Bell safe from the British.

 

Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Initiative, Perseverance, Responsibility, Teamwork

Fiction

AR Reading Level 4.0

AR Point .5

Word Count 1660

Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story

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When Penguin finds a lost pinecone one day, an unlikely friendship blooms. But Grandpa reminds Penguin that pinecones can’t live in the snow they belong in the warm forest far away. Though he will miss his friend, Penguin returns Pinecone to his home, dreaming of the day they can reunite. And when he finally returns to the forest to check on his friend, Penguin discovers that love only grows over time.

Kindness

Fiction

AR Reading Level 1.2

AR Point .5

Word Count 212