Rafael, a sixth grader, discovers that a new boy, Kevin, has been stealing his lunch. Every day, Kevin steals a lunch from another student. But instead of trying to fight Kevin, Rafael decides to take his mother’s advice: “Use your mouth before your fists.” Rafael asks Kevin about his life and finds out he is from Jacinto Valley, which was devastated by fires. Although Kevin doesn’t want to talk about his situation, Rafael discovers that Kevin and his family are living in a motel room. Rafael then arranges to pack a second lunch for Kevin.
This is a great book to introduce upper-elementary kids to concepts of empathy and caring. However, at first I was confused by the format of The Lunch Thief. It is a picture book, yet the drawings show kids who are about 11 or 12. The book is written for kids ages 8-12. I thought, do kids of that age read picture books?
Well, apparently there is a place for picture books in upper elementary grades. Check out this page: Teaching with Picture Books, which suggests that picture books can be appropriate for upper elementary grades as a way to quickly introduce concepts in a non-threatening way, and to create a focus for learning.
I have included this book on my boys list.