Girl & Grown-up Book Club: Uma Krishnaswami, Nicole Panteleakos, Jasmine Warga

Happy New Year, and thank you for being a part of our Book Club program! It makes me happy to know that so many girls and their grown-ups across the country (and even around the world!) are reading books about girls and leadership, and carving out precious time to prioritize connection with community and loved ones.

This month, those are the themes we’ll focus on: connection and community. Each of our January titles features a character who yearns to make connections, and to create a feeling of home and family, something that each of us needs. Some of us find those feelings amongst our families and communities of birth. Others of us forge bonds outside of those original groups with people who feel like family.

As you and your girls read these stories of family, community, and connection, it might be nice to think about the people who make up your family, or your inner circle of dear ones. Who are the people you count on the most, the people who you know will always be there for you? Once you identify who those people are, don’t forget to tell them (and show them!) how important they are to you by making time for them and showing up for them when they need your support.

Not a member yet? Sign up for our Girl & Grown-up Book Club. It’s FREE! Get toolkits with meeting guides and discussion questions for all previous years delivered right to your inbox, instantly. Toolkits for this year’s books will be emailed each month.

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About this Month’s Selections

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2nd/3rd Grades

Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami

Buy or borrow a copy of this book and read it before your next book club meeting.

About the book

Nine-year-old Yasmin loves books, and she loves visiting Book Uncle’s rickety bookstand every day. When the mayor announces plans to shut the stand down, Yasmin decides she must take action. She knows she won’t be able to change the mayor’s mind on her own. If she wants to save this resource for her town, she’s going to have to inspire her whole community to care.

Book Uncle and Me was named a South Asia Book Award Honor Book, and received placements on “Best of” lists including the 2017 Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year and Kirkus’ Best Middle Grade Books of 2016.

About the author

Uma Krishnaswami was born in India and now lives in British Columbia. She has written many books for children, including The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic, and Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh. Krishnaswami is on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. To learn more about her, visit her website.


4th/5th Grades

Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos

Buy or borrow a copy of this book and read it before your next book club meeting.

About the book

There are two reasons Nova is counting down the days until the space shuttle Challenger launches into space. First, she is obsessed with everything having to do with space travel and, second, her sister Bridget promised she’d return to watch the launch with Nova. Bridget is the only person who has ever understood Nova, who saw past her disability to the bright, curious person within.

As the days pass, Nova becomes afraid that Bridget might never return. And something even more unsettling begins to take place: her new foster family starts to feel like home. Can there be a home without her beloved Bridget?

Planet Earth is Blue earned starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and School Library Journal, and placement on the Kirkus’ and New York Public Library’s lists of Best Middle Grade Books of 2019.

About the author

Planet Earth is Blue is Nicole Panteleakos’ debut novel. Her second middle grade novel is slated for publication in 2020. She is currently working toward her MFA in Children’s Literature at Hollins University. For more information, visit her website.


6th/7th/8th Grades

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Buy or borrow a copy of this book and read it before your next book club meeting.

About the book

When political unrest makes home too dangerous, Jude and her mother leave Syria to live with relatives in America. At first, Jude misses her dad and brother, her friends, and all the familiar comforts of home. Most of all, she misses not feeling so different all the time.

Little by little, she finds people with whom she can be herself. And this new place starts to feel a little like home, even if she has to redefine what home means.

Other Words for Home received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and The Horn Book, as well as many honors and placements on “Best of” lists.

About the author

Jasmine Warga is the other of two previous novels for young people. Her fourth – The Shape of Thunder – is slated for publication in 2021. Warga lives in Chicago with her family. Find out more about her and her work at her website.


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