Winter is here! No matter how many layers you are putting on, the cold breeze just comes right through you. Since coat weather is here, you might find yourself spending more time indoors. What better way to enjoy it than with a good book? City Year encourages reading for our students as it enhances their ability to imagine and allows for a new perspective. Each book can be another adventure. Looking for a good book to curl up with? Below are a few that the City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Members recommending for our students. 

Seasonal Favorites for Early Elementary

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The Mitten

by Jan Brett (Grade K-2 Level)

“This was one of my favorites as a child. I loved the detailed illustrations and fun story line with all the animals. It always made me excited for the winter and the first snow. It is also a great example of literary elements like a story arc and a story climax.”

-Recommended by City Year Staff, Jamie Rothman. 

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The Shortest Day: Celebrating The Winter Solstice

by Wendy Pfeffer (Grade K-4 Level) 

"This book provides some facts on what the winter solstice is and detailed illustrations that shows what happens to the sun. But beyond the brilliant illustrations, I love how the author goes through different cultures throughout history during the winter solstice. It’s a simple concept, yet it provides different anthropological perspective to multi culture book, and has different activities for students at the end of the book."

-Recommended by City Year Brand co-op, Elle Khor.

Coming of Age Tales for Middle Schoolers

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Hurt Go Happy

by Ginny Rorby (Grade 5 Level)

"Thirteen-year-old Joey Willis became deaf seven years ago after an unfortunate incident of child abuse. She now lives with her mother and stepfather, and their neighbor is Dr. Charles Mansell, who has taught his pet chimpanzee to use sign language. This book was so important to the development of my appreciation for animals. Before reading this book in 8th grade, I was not thinking about animal testing nor about the similarities we as humans have with animals. This heartwarming book opened my eyes to the world of animal rights."

-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member,

Jillian Roth serving at Kensington Creative and Performance Arts Team.

The House of Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros (Grade 6 Level)

"A coming-of-age classic, this book explores a year of a twelve-year old Latina girl's life in Chicago. She goes through many challenges, joys, and developments in a new family home, throughout it all, she tells the story of her life that looks very similar to some of our students. Known all over the world, the book is easy to identify with and teaches many valuable lessons. It features an incredibly well-rounded female character who is not limited by one single narrative. Cisneros creates a character that I could connect to in her realness, regardless of whether I went through all the same events as she has."

-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member,

Luke Pasko serving at Warren G. Harding Middle School Team. 

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One Crazy Summer

by Rita Williams-Garcia (Grade 4-7 Level)

"While on winter break, take a break from the cold, to read a heartwarming story about 3 young sisters from Brooklyn. These sisters embark on a summer journey of finding ones self and the mending of relationships. During this summer the girls are emerged into the Black Power movement and interact with the Black Panther Party and begin to question and or find their identity as little black girls in America. I recommend this book because of its humor, it's historical references and its efforts to restore families and relationships."

-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps member,

Erica Hawkins serving at Duckrey School Team.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning

by Lemony Snicket (Grade 6-8 Level)

"The first of 13 books in the hugely popular series, Series of Unfortunate Events is a hilarious and exciting adventure that follows the exploits of three of the craftiest character in youth literature- Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire. With ludicrous characters (including the conniving Cout Olaf), hysterical dialogue and a plot that twist and turns, readers of all ages will soon be looking for the next one. For me, the best part of the book (and the series) is the narration. Lemony Snicket's cynical and dry narrator contrasts comically with the absurd antics of the story he is telling. This playfully dark tone makes it a great read for the colder months, not to mention students will want to catch up before the new Netflix series debuts in January."

-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps member,

Joseph Mcgee serving at the Civic Engagement Team.

Social Topics for High Schoolers

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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race

by Beverly Daniel Tatum (Grade 8-12 Level)

"This book is an interesting and very though provoking when it comes to the issue of race in America and American schools. I particularly took an interest in this book to understand the idea of self-segregation and what that means when having meaningful discussions on race. This book can bring meaningful insight to many CY members because we do work in schools and communities that have chosen self-segregation. This book can help to open up the conversation as to what’s the next step."

-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps member,

Erica Hawkins serving at Duckrey School Team.

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Into The Wild 

by Jon Krakaue (Grade 9-12 Level)

"Into The Wild captures the essence of the bitter cold, survival instincts, and adventure.  Chris McCandless is a modern day Thoreau searching for his meaning among the wilderness after isolating himself from the capitalist society in which we live.  I liked Into The Wild because it caused me to question the way in which I want to live my life. Too often society perpetuates accetable paths of life (go to college, get a job, get married, etc.), while Chris McCandless offered an alternative to this way of living all while searching for something beyond mere satisfaction from material goods."

-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member, 

Ian Peltier serving at Thomas Edison High School Team.

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston (Grade 11-12 Level)

"Their Eyes Were Watching God was published in 1937, and during that time there were not many black female main characters like Janie in novels. She has a care free, lust for life type of attitude that was inspiring to me as young black individual. Also, Zora Neale Hurston's writing is so captivating and always makes you want more."

-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps member,

Omari Colson serving at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School.



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