Theme: Civil Rights Movement
Best for: 8 and up
“Lawson taught us how to protect each other, how to survive. But the hardest part to learn–to truly understand, deep in your heart– was how to find love for your attacker.” This excellent trilogy of graphic novel is a first-hand account by John Lewis of the civil rights movement as he lived it…
Best for: 5 to 8
“John loved to tell the chicks the Good News. When he fed and watered them, he spoke about the value of hard work and patience…” The illustrations alone could make this an important book, but the subject matter is what we really want to read…
Theme: Biography, Equality
Best for: 6 and up
“Boys were expected to grow up, go out in the world, and do big things. Girls? Girls were expected to find husbands.” This very appealing illustrated children’s book is perfect because it can spark important family conversations about justice…
Theme: Historical Fiction
Best for: 9 – 12
“The title ‘Joint Reign’ is a foolishment and emphasizes what I have always contended: that men are more fortunate than women. Joint reign! It is I who inspects, examines, weighs and wrings her brain …” Coming on the heels of an historic election, it is interesting to go back in history and understand more about the obstacles women faced hundreds of years ago.
Theme: Dealing with Obstacles
Best for: 5 to 8
“Ming Lo and his wife lived in a house at the bottom of a large mountain. They loved their house, but they did not love the mountain.” This story reads like a classic Chinese folktale. It’s filled with lovely Asian artwork, and it offers a simple life lesson…
Theme: Historical Fiction Biography
Best for: 9 to 12
“He passes the hammer to me, and I heft it in my hands. It fits my palm perfectly, and it feels good…It seems to be speaking to me, begging to be used, ready to be of service.” So many themes in one book – father/son, developing a written language, Native American struggle. Yet it all holds together beautifully.
Theme: Math Biography
Best for: 6 to 9
“You can call me Blockhead. Everyone else does. One day when I was just a boy, Maestro wrote out a math problem and gave us ten minutes to solve it. I solved it in two seconds.” If you have any young children who love numbers, this is definitely a children’s book they should read – a superb biography about Fibonacci.
Theme: Live your dream
Best for: 8 and up
“He peeked out… and saw that the wind had also possessed his mittens. They looked like ghostly hands waving good-bye in the Chilean sky. Where were they headed? Whose hands would they cover next? ..’Where is the storehouse of lost and found?'” As I put this exquisite children’s book down, I wiped my eyes, and marveled at the quick journey I had just taken into the heart and mind of Pablo Neruda…
Theme: Native American lifestyle
Best for: 9 and up classrooms
“I believe that in many instances where the white settlers had trouble with the Indians it all started because the Indians were just curious to know what in the world the white settlers were doing, and not be because they …even knew they were doing any damage.” This nonfiction children’s book is simple and informative, giving a full and loving picture of a culture that tragically has disappeared.
Theme: Emily Dickinson
Best for: 7 to 9
“She needs our eyes to see these things for her, for –playful as she is with us– she isn’t part of the world’s hubbub anymore. She is getting old!” This poetic children’s book is a wonderful addition to bringing Emily Dickinson to young people, depicting her playful nature with children.
Theme: Perseverance through obstacles
Best for: 7 to 10
“Just as Su Shih’s writing followed the laws of nature, do did his rulings, where were just and as brilliant as the sun. He was guided by the ancient Chinese book of wisdom, the Tao Te Ching…” It’s an interesting challenge to create a historical fiction children’s book that young children would be able to take in…
Best for: 5 to 8
“Each day something new and surprising dripped out of Daozi’s brush. His straight lines splintered into trees. His hooks caught fish. His dots burst into eyes, then pigs and monkeys. From a stroke, a horse’s tail flew by.” This children’s book is exquisite from beginning to end, from front cover to back cover. The story is an imaginative version of the life of the great Chinese artist Wu Daozi…
Best for: 5 – 8
“Suddenly he knew there were mysteries in the word, hidden and silent, unknown and unseen. He wanted, more than anything, to understand those mysteries.” Here’s a treasure – an authentic story about Albert Einstein, written with very young children in mind, accompanied by absolutely magical illustrations. I am so in love with this one…
Theme: 13th Century Life
Best for: girls 12 and older
“I am commanded to write an account of my days: I am bit by fleas and plagued by family. That is all there is to say.” It’s not often that I read a somewhat serious children’s book that makes me laugh out loud. This book certainly does that, due to the main character, a sharp, funny, sarcastic, and somewhat willful 13th century teenager.
Theme: Kindness and Survival
Best for: children over 10
“The heart is like an apartment,” Madame Marie tells me. “Every day you must clean it and make it cheerful…If you make your apartment extra nice, God will come to visit you too.” Here is a breathtakingly beautiful children’s book about a breathtakingly horrendous episode in history: the Holocaust…
Best for: girls 9 and older
“There was a soft chorus of ayes, and the three other Marys dropped to their knees and vowed as well to follow me through tumult and repose and never to marry until I have so done. Did any person have a luckier charm than these four steadfast friends?” This is one of many in a series called The Royal Diaries. What an absolutely fabulous way to learn history. Reading a diary is always fun, and even more so when it chronicles history…
Best for: ages 9 and up
A historically accurate illustrated children’s book about Eratosthenes, a Greek librarian, and mathematician at heart, who figures out how to measure the earth using only a shadow, and some geometry…