KidsPost Summer Book Club: ‘Make a Difference’

© Hannah Agosta/Hannah Agosta for The Washington Post

By Christina Barron, The Washington Post

If you doubt the power of one, take a look at Greta Thunberg. Last fall the Swedish teenager began skipping school to sit outside her country’s parliament building. Her message: Lawmakers aren’t doing enough to combat climate change. People in Sweden’s capital began to notice. Then those in other European countries. Greta gave a TED talk. More than 2 million people watched it. What Greta started has become the Youth Strike4Climate, with kids and teens in 125 countries demanding action.

Global warming is just one issue kids have found they can press for change. There are also youths who speak out about homelessness, bullying, gun violence, mental health and many other issues. So we at KidsPost hope that even more kids will think about ways they can “Make a Difference,” which is this year’s Summer Book Club theme. We’ve picked eight books in which kids engage, in ways big and small, to better the world. We’ll reveal a bit more about each book Wednesdays beginning June 12. We hope you will read along and realize that even global movements can start with just one.

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June 12

Ruby in the Sky

By Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo.

Ages 8 to 12.

Is it wrong to keep your personal life private? Twelve-year-old Ruby doesn’t want anyone to know why her mother was arrested and what happened to her father. That changes after Abigail, a quirky neighbor, and Ahmad, a Syrian refugee, come into her life. Learning about Ahmad and Abigail’s problems — including bullying and discrimination — challenges Ruby to confront her own. When rumors begin to spread about Ruby, does she remain silent or let go of her fears?

June 19

The Bridge Home

By Padma Venkatraman.

Ages 10 to 14.

Runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive in the Indian city of Chennai, and it isn’t what they expected. The girls must rely on each other to survive. That is, until they meet two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul. As a team, they scour the city for food and shelter while making the most of a terrible situation. When they face a crisis, the kids must decide whether they should ask for help or navigate the situation on their own.

June 26


By Pete Hautman.

Ages 8 to 12.

Best friends Stuey and Elly Rose share a birthday and a love of the woods near their homes. When playing in their favorite spot deep in the woods, Stuey tells Elly Rose a story — a secret he has learned about his great-grandfather and hers. Something unexpected happens, and Stuey must figure out how to repair the damage that occurred long ago but has worked its way into present day.

July 3

Where the Watermelons Grow

By Cindy Baldwin.

Ages 8 to 12.

Della’s mama has been sick before. She has an illness that causes her to hear voices that aren’t there. But this summer, her mama seems worse. With Daddy working hard to save the family farm from the effects of drought, Della believes that she needs to fix what’s wrong with Mama. The cure, she thinks, is the Bee Lady’s magic honey. As Della begins to learn that cures aren’t easy to come by, she realizes that Mama isn’t the only one who needs healing.

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July 10

Spy Runner

By Eugene Yelchin.

Ages 8 to 12.

The Russian man who’s renting Jake McCauley’s attic is hiding something. The 12-year-old is sure of it. Mr. Shubin’s suspicious behavior spurs Jake to find out more about his new guest. This ad­ven­ture set in the 1950s — during the Cold War — follows Jake on a mysterious path like that of his favorite Communist-fighting comic book hero, Spy Runner. Jake is determined to discover what Mr. Shubin is up to, no matter what obstacles he faces.

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July 17

Planet Earth Is Blue

By Nicole Panteleakos.

Ages 8 to 12.

Nova loves astronomy, a passion she shares with big sister Bridget. The space shuttle Challenger is days from launching, and Bridget has promised to watch it on TV with Nova. But Bridget left their last foster home, and Nova is with a new family. Nova, who is autistic and doesn’t use words, hopes that Bridget — the only one who truly understands her — will find her way to Nova in time for liftoff.

July 24

How High the Moon

By Karyn Parsons.

Ages 9 to 12.

In 1944, life in small-town South Carolina has its charms. Twelve-year-old Ella spends days playing and fishing with her best friend and her cousin. But Ella’s life is also complicated. The African American is bullied for her skin tone, her mom lives far away, and her father is a mystery. A trip up north opens her eyes to her family’s past and racial issues that soon hit close to home.

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July 31

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

By David Barclay Moore.

Ages 10 to 14.

Christmas has 12-year-old Lolly feeling lost. His older brother was killed by a drug-dealing crew, and members of another crew in their New York neighborhood are pressuring Lolly and his best friend to join. A gift of two garbage bags full of Legos provides an alternative to seeking revenge for his brother. Lolly can create a world of his own. His troubles don’t go away, however. So Lolly has to figure out how to move forward when both the plastic and the real worlds come with no instructions.


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The Summer Book Club is open to kids ages 6 to 14. Children may read some or all of the books on our list. The books are available at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Northwest Washington and at Hooray for Books in Alexandria, Virginia. Most are also available at libraries in the Washington area.

To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, a parent needs to fill out our form at or send the child’s first and last names, age and address to KidsPost Summer Book Club, The Washington Post, 1301 K Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. (Immediate family members of Washington Post employees are not eligible to join.)

The first 500 kids to register will receive a slap watch in one of a variety of colors. Prizes will be sent out beginning in July.

KidsPost will publish a list of the club’s members at the end of the summer. Parents who do not want their child’s name published should inform us of that when they sign up.



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