Building empathy with JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS

By Shaughnessy Miller | June 5 2018 | Community & School Reads Kids: Fiction General

Bibliotherapy, or the therapeutic use of literature, can support students as they develop empathy and a deeper understanding of themselves and each other. Reading engaging and timely books in one classroom, one school, or one entire community can help educators in their mission to build a culture free from stigma and bias.

JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS by Melissa Sarno is a moving debut novel with themes of homelessness and disability that Kirkus Reviews calls “troubling, affecting, and ultimately uplifting.” Readers meet Cora, who is a middle schooler, a big sister, and homeless. Her mother is trying to hold the family together after her father’s death, and Cora must look after her sister, Adare, who their mother insists is just different. Quick to smile, Adare hates wearing shoes, rarely speaks, and appears untroubled by the question Cora can’t help but ask: How will she find a place to call home?

After their room at the shelter is ransacked, Cora’s mother looks to an old friend for help, and Cora finally finds what she has been looking for: Ailanthus altissima, the “tree of heaven,” which can grow in even the worst conditions. It sets her on a path to discover a deeper truth about where she belongs.

Laura Barbour, a school counselor, has developed the “Building Empathy with Books” Guide, complete with journal activities, games, and discussion questions to get the conversation started. JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS is featured, along with other books that explore such important themes as neurodiversity, cultural diversity, gender identity, mental health, homelessness, poverty, grief, trauma, domestic violence, and bullying.

 

Other books to build empathy:

  • AUGGIE & ME by R. J. Palacio
  • BEAUTIFUL BLUE WORLD by Suzanne LaFleur
  • BECAUSE OF MR. TERUPT by Rob Buyea
  • GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead
  • LEMONS by Melissa Savage
  • LILY AND DUNKIN by Donna Gephart
  • PAPERBOY by Vince Vawter
  • THE HOUSE THAT LOU BUILT by Mae Respicio
  • THE MISCALCULATIONS OF LIGHTNING GIRL by Stacy McAnulty
  • THE PERFECT SCORE by Rob Buyea
  • THE SECRET LIFE OF LINCOLN JONES by Wendelin Van Draanen
  • WONDER by R. J. Palacio
978-1-5247-2008-7
Juvenile Fiction - Family - General (See Also Headings Under Social Themes)
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Homelessness & Poverty
Juvenile Fiction - Nature & The Natural World - General
Can you still have a home if you don't have a house? In the spirit of The Truth About Jellyfish and Fish in a Tree comes a stunning debut about a family struggling to find something lasting when everything feels so fleeting.
$16.99 US | $22.99 CAN
Jun 05, 2018
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover
240 Pages
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Age 8-12 years
Grades 3-7
World

978-1-101-93485-2
Juvenile Fiction - School & Education
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Special Needs
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Bullying
All three Wonder Stories together in print for the first time!
$16.99 US | $19.99 CAN
Aug 18, 2015
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover
320 Pages
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Age 8-12 years
Grades 3-7
US, Canada, Open Mkt

978-0-385-73882-8
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Friendship
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Emotions & Feelings
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Debut author Rob Buyea has written an insightful and kid-friendly middle-grade novel in which seven fifth-graders narrate how a new teacher--and a nearly fatal accident--changes their lives. Will appeal to boys and girls, as well as reluctant readers.
$16.99 US | $19.99 CAN
Oct 12, 2010
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover
288 Pages
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age 8-12 years
Grades 3-7
World

978-0-385-74317-4
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Friendship
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Emotions & Feelings
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Peer Pressure
Love, friendship, betrayal, and Valentine's Day all take on new meanings in this captivating and intriguing novel by Newbery Medal author Rebecca Stead.
$16.99 US | $19.99 CAN
Aug 04, 2015
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover
304 Pages
Wendy Lamb Books
Age 10 and up
Grade 5 & Up
US, Canada, Open Mkt

978-1-5247-0012-6
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Friendship
Juvenile Fiction - Family - General (See Also Headings Under Social Themes)
Juvenile Fiction - Action & Adventure - General
A charming, voice-driven novel filled with adventure, about a girl who needs to rebuild her life with her estranged grandfather, and the quirky neighbor she befriends as they go on a search for Bigfoot.
$16.99 US | $22.99 CAN
May 02, 2017
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover
320 Pages
Crown Books for Young Readers
Age 8-12 years
Grades 3-7
US, Canada, Open Mkt

978-0-553-53674-4
Juvenile Fiction - LGBT
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Adolescence
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Friendship
Award-winning author Donna Gephart crafts a compelling dual narrative about two remarkable young people. Lily and Dunkin's powerful story will shred your heart, then stitch it back together with kindness, humor, bravery, and love.
$16.99 US | $21.99 CAN
May 03, 2016
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover
352 Pages
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age 10 and up
Grade 5 & Up
US, Canada, Open Mkt

978-0-385-74244-3
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Juvenile Fiction - Family - Parents
Juvenile Fiction - Historical - United States - 20th Century
One summer changes the world for a boy who stutters.
$16.99 US | $19.99 CAN
May 14, 2013
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover
240 Pages
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age 10 and up
Grade 5 & Up
World

978-1-5247-1794-0
Juvenile Fiction - Family - General (See Also Headings Under Social Themes)
Juvenile Fiction - Girls & Women
Juvenile Fiction - Science & Technology
A coming-of-age story that explores culture and family, forgiveness and friendship, and what makes a true home. Perfect for fans of Wendy Mass and Joan Bauer.
$16.99 US | $22.99 CAN
Jun 12, 2018
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover
240 Pages
Wendy Lamb Books
Age 8-12 years
Grades 3-7
World

978-1-5247-6757-0
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Friendship
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - New Experience
Juvenile Fiction - Animals - Dogs
A lightning strike gave her a super power...but even a super genius can't solve the problem of middle school. This smart and funny novel is perfect for fans of The Fourteenth Goldfish, Rain Reign, and Counting by Sevens.
$16.99 US | $22.99 CAN
May 01, 2018
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover
304 Pages
Random House Books for Young Readers
Age 8-12 years
Grades 3-7
World

978-1-101-93825-6
Juvenile Fiction - School & Education
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Friendship
Juvenile Fiction - Family - Parents
From the beloved author of Because of Mr. Terupt and its sequels comes The Perfect Score, a middle-grade school story with a very special cast of unforgettable kids who discover that getting the perfect score--both on the test and in life--is perhaps not so perfect after all.
$16.99 US | $22.99 CAN
Oct 03, 2017
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover
368 Pages
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age 9-12 years
Grades 4-7
World

978-0-375-86902-0
Juvenile Fiction - School & Education
Juvenile Fiction - Health & Daily Living - Diseases, Illnesses & Injuries
Juvenile Fiction - Social Themes - Special Needs
An emotional and beautiful novel about being the new kid.
$16.99 US | $21.99 CAN
Feb 14, 2012
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover
320 Pages
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Age 8-12 years
Grades 3-7
US, Canada, Open Mkt