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ILLINOIS STATE LIBRARY


Adult New Reader Book Club Collection Titles and Descriptions

Titles are arranged by Grade Level.

The Barrio Kings by William Kowalski

The Barrio Kings tells the story of a young gang member who grows up in a rough neighborhood. After his brother is killed, he decides to try to make more of himself. The book recounts the challenges Rosario Gomez faces as he works toward getting his GED and taking care of his family.
Grade Level: 2-3
Themes: ESL, gang life, adult education
Presentation: Rapid read

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

This is a story based on the author’s life as a young Hispanic girl who faces challenges as she grows up in a Latino section of Chicago. Esperanza’s story is told in a series of brief, poetic vignettes. Audio CD included.
Grade Level: 2-3
Themes: Immigration, Hispanic culture, writing, poetry
Presentation: Short vignettes

The Way It Works by William Kowalski

Walter Davis is a young, ambitious college graduate who happens to be homeless. He believes that by living in his car for a short while, he will be able to find a job and set his life on the path to success. Unfortunately, a budding relationship with a young lady is disrupted by bad luck as he tries to hide the fact that he is homeless. He uses intelligence and ambition to turn around his situation.
Grade Level: 2-3
Themes: African American, homelessness, entrepreneurship
Presentation: Rapid read

Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

This memoir tells the story of a woman who entered the foster care system as a four year old and the challenges she endured in her numerous placements. Her final placement was with a wonderful couple who demonstrated to her that she was both loveable and promising. Read it to find out what the three little words are. Audio CD included.
Grade Level: 5-6
Themes: Adoption, foster care, child abuse
Presentation: Chapter book

Of Beetles & Angels by Mawi Asgedom

Of Beetles & Angles tells the true story of a young Eritrean boy who emigrates from Sudan with his mother, sister and brother to join his father in the U.S. The book tells the amazing story of his family’s adjustment moving from a Sudanese refugee camp to suburban Chicago and ultimately to Harvard University.
Grade Level: 7-8
Themes: Immigration, helping others, refugees, writing, memoirs
Presentation: Chapter book

An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff

This book is based on the true story of a young, homeless boy and a female executive in New York City. A chance meeting on the streets allowed for a life changing relationship to develop for both Laura and Maurice. The story tells how their chance meeting led to a thirty year friendship and transformed each of them. Audio CD included.
Grade Level: 7-8
Themes: urban life, homelessness, African-American, poverty
Presentation: Chapter book

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

This book tells the story of a group of young Japanese women who were brought to San Francisco as picture brides in the early 1900’s. The first person account of their arrival in the U.S., meeting their husbands, their work, their children, provides a stark look at their transition to a new land and a new life. Audio CD included.
Grade Level: 8-9
Themes: Immigration, ESL, motherhood, spirituality, Asian culture and history
Presentation: Chapter book

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

Two boys named Wes Moore, are born within twelve months of each other and grow up blocks from each other in Baltimore. Although they don’t know one another, their lives have numerous similarities as well as differences. This book explores how circumstances and decisions impact lives. Audio CD included.
Grade Level: 8-9
Themes: African American, urban life, trials, crime, substance abuse
Presentation: Chapter book

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

As a young girl, Hattie flees Georgia for Philadelphia as part of the Great Migration in the 1920’s. Hattie has eleven children and a grandchild who make up the twelve tribes; a chapter for each one. She raises her children to prepare them for the difficulties she is sure they will encounter in life, as she has. The story is deep and moving and demonstrates strength, forgiveness and redemption. Audio CD included.
Grade Level: 8-9
Themes: African American, infidelity, drug abuse, death, hardship, poverty, social reform
Presentation: Chapter book, each chapter stands alone