Category Archives: non-fiction

A Ticket Around the World

Encouraging kids to travel and be aware of the larger world around them is a really important thing. Natalie Diaz and Melissa Owens did a fabulous job introducing kids to 12 different countries plus the United States in their book A Ticket Around the World.

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We’ve had this book sitting on our shelves for a while, but recently my younger daughter took it out and started looking at it. She was really excited when she got to the page about France because it had a picture of the Louvre Pyramid which that had been studying in math. But for the next week, she would pick up the book, read some, put it down, pick it up, read some, etc. It worked as a great way to slowly take a look at a variety of countries. Continue reading →

Let’s Hear it for the Girls! Picture Book Biographies of Amazing Women

May is Women’s History month, so I wanted to get at least one post out with great books about great women. There really are so many to choose from that it can be hard, but the amazing thing is that people are putting out spectacular nonfiction picture books that are a great way to get young readers excited about making a difference in the world, following their dreams, and understanding that there are so many different talents out there.

women bios Continue reading →

Bravo to the Bees!

As spring starts to head our way, we notice the important changes. The temperatures begin to warm, plants that had gone dormant during the winter months are beginning to sprout new growth, and in many places a yellow pollen covers the ground for a few weeks. While most people appreciate the colorful flowers and greenery of spring, we take for granted that all of this happens. One player that is especially important in the annual cycle is the bee. Bravo to the Bees!

It is a proven fact that we need bees. Without bees, we wouldn’t have the variety of fruits and vegetables that we are used to. Bees are important in the chain of life of flowers and vegetables, let alone in the production of honey. But over industrialized lifestyles are killing off bees. Since knowledge is power, there are fortunately a number of books trying to show the next generation, and their parents, just how important bees are and what we can do to help them. Continue reading →

Inspiring the Next Generation of Exploration

Teachers and parents are all hoping onto the STEAM bandwagon. Seems like people have gotten the message that if we want to be world leaders, we have to raise creative thinkers and innovators. In years past, tinkering and creating were things all kids had to do to keep themselves occupied, but in our fast-paced world, all of the technology that has been created is keeping today’s kids from creating their own. There is a wealth of great books out there, but today I’m going to focus on three new books from National Geographic Kids to encourage our future creators.

* Thank you to Media Masters Publicity and National Geographic Kids for providing me with review copies of these books. All opinions are my own.

astronautJennifer Swanson has created an amazing mashup of information in her new book Astronaut/Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact. While we often think of space and sea exploration as being incredibly different, the reality is that much of the experiences people face in these two fields are similar. Both deep space and the deep ocean are filled with mystery and only accessible to people who have gone through years of training and research in order to get there. From gravity/buoyancy issues, darkness, pressure, and temperature, sea and space are a lot more similar than we might think. This book goes through a wide range of information hoping to encourage young minds in both of these fields of study. Additionally, at the end of each chapter there is an experiment to help make sense of the heady topics that have been discussed. Kids often learn about space and oceans in school, but seeing the two together in this light was very effective. Continue reading →

Tiny Stitches

tiny stitches cover

Since being published in 2016, the book Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas, by Gwendolyn Hooks, has garnered a lot of praise. This book is special because it tells the important story of Vivien Thomas – both his amazing contribution to the medical world and the struggles that he had to face in being a black man who wanted to study medicine.

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Vivien Thomas grew up in Nashville in a time where African-Americans and whites were highly segregated. Thomas dreamed of being a doctor from a young age, but couldn’t afford medical school, especially after the stock market crash of 1929. Fortunately, he was able to get a job with Dr. Alfred Blalock at Vanderbilt University. The all white school would never have admitted him as a student, but he did manage to get the job. There was kickback because he was black, and he would later discover that his official job title and pay were as a janitor rather than a medical research technician, but he also found kind mentors along the way who saw his amazing potential. Continue reading →

Inventors and Inventions

Have you ever wondered who invented the BandAid? What about the Slinky? We hear all about big inventions and their inventors, but what about those smaller, everyday items? There are so many stories out there about items that we take for granted, but someone had to come up with the concept first. And who knows, you might be the one to come up with the next big thing! So for this week’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge, I decided to take a look at a few books about inventors and their inventions.

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boo boosI honestly never really thought about how we got Band-Aids. Actually, I probably think more about how crazy it is that so many children go through a phase where they feel the need to cover their bodies in them. Or was that just my child? Barry Wittenstein took kids’ love  of Band-Aids and wrote The Boo-Boos That Changed The World: A True Story about an Accidental Invention (Really!) to introduce us to the process of how and why they came to be. Wittenstein gives us a comical look at why Earle Dickson created the Band-Aid (for his accident prone wife) and how it took some alterations and a whole lot of time for them to become the household name that we now know them as. Continue reading →

Multicultural Nonfiction Picture Books

Today is the Nonfiction Picture Book linkup hosted by KidLitFrenzy. It is also a week of celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day.  So I wanted to put together a list of some of my favorite nonfiction picture books that touch on multicultural topics. Be sure to check back on Saturday, January 27th when the link-up for all of the reviews for MCBD goes live on this site as well as all of the co-hosts.

You should also be sure to check out Alyson’s post this week on KidLitFrenzy as she has written about a bunch of brand new nonfiction titles that I haven’t manage to see yet which, many that happen to also be multicultural.

Celebrating Our Diverse World

I started blogging as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day when it started 5 years ago. For the purpose of MCBD, a multicultural book is:

  • Books that contain characters of color, as well as characters that represent a minority point of view.
  • Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions.
  • Books that embrace our world, and offer children new ways to connect to a diverse and richer world.

These books are vitally important to everyone so that we can see ourselves represented and so that we can gain empathy about what others might be experiencing. It is rather hard to walk in someone else’s shoes, but reading stories that touch on experiences outside of our own helps us grow. Now more than ever, we need to understand the people around us and love people for the things that we have in common as well as what makes us all special and unique.

the-youngest-marcher-9781481400701_hrEvery year children learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all of the work that people did to end segregation. Many picture books explain the history beautifully. But in The Youngest Marcher, by Cynthia Levinson, those issues are seen from the eyes of a child. This is the true story of Audrey Faye Hendricks who knew first hand that certain things “were for white folks,” but she also knew that she “intended to go places and do things like anybody else.” She even went to jail as a child for participating in a Children’s March for rights in 1963. This is a great book that shows that children have lots of power to make a difference in this world. Continue reading →

Women in Sports

We talk a lot about allowing children to see themselves in the books that they read. That’s why Multicultural Children’s Book Day was created. There is one area that I don’t see a ton of, but that we slowly see building steam – books that portray women participating in athletics.

Women in Sports(1)

I thought about this concept after checking out a new nonfiction picture book from our local library – Long-Armed Ludy and the First Women’s Olympics. This is an interesting story about Lucile “Ludy” Godbold. She never quite fit in – by the time she went to college in 1917 she was already 6 feet tall and rail thin, but she was always supporting and encouraging those around her. When her track and field coach suggested she try shot put, she found her true calling. It took great amounts of work and determination, but she kept at it. After winning an important track meet she was given a slot on the first Women’s Olympic team (not at the Olympics we know, since women still were not allowed to compete). What stands out is that, just as she had backed all of her teammates, when she couldn’t afford to go to France for the games, the entire school backed her. On August 20, 1922, she became the first female to win the shot put at the Women’s Olympics. This is a story of girl power. It is a story of supporting those around you and believing in yourself. It was a very different time, made evident by the clothing the women wore, but Ludy Godbold loved being an athlete and didn’t let anything stand in her way. (Although I must admit that shot put just makes me think of The Hammer from Matilda) Continue reading →

The World of the Bible – an Archeological Approach

bible stories coverFrom time to time I receive books from National Geographic Kids to review. I’m always super amazed by the imagery they use and some of the books present really amazing information in a very fun way. Of all of the books I have received from them, The World of the Bible: Biblical Stories and the Archaeology Behind Them might be my absolute favorite.

The Bible is an important book, no matter how you look at it. The Old Testament is studied by Jews and Christians alike. What makes this book amazing is that it takes specific passages from the Bible and then looks at them from a historical and archeological viewpoint. Add in that there are amazing photographs and paintings that transport you to a different time.

The description from the publisher reads as follows: “Have you ever wondered about the real location of the Garden of Eden?  Or how Moses could have parted the Red Sea? The World of the Bible takes the reader back to ancient times to revisit classic Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments, learn fascinating facts about biblical history, and explore that same landscape as archaeologists are studying it today. Stories include the Samson and Delilah, Joseph in Egypt, Noah and the Flood, the birth of Jesus, Paul’s conversion, and many more.  Classic paintings and photos of the Middle East today enrich the archaeological explanations. Additionally, this book was reviewed by biblical scholars to ensure the most up-to-date and accurate information and includes profiles of important Bible personalities, analysis and explanation of key archaeological sites and maps of the Middle East to provide context to the stories and sites. Kids won’t just revisit classic Bible stories in this book … they’ll dig deeper into the history behind the tales to learn more about the biblical world.Continue reading →

Learning about Weather from Bel the Weather Girl

With all of the hurricanes swirling around the east coast, my girls and I were curious about weather, so we of course checked our local library. One series that we found does a really amazing job of taking complex weather systems and breaking them down in a way that any child can understand – Bel the Weather Girl.

bel the weather cover

This creative series was written by Belinda Jensen, a meteorologist based in Minnesota. Believing that knowledge is power, Belinda developed a series of engaging and enlightening presentations that reveal the science behind weather, and discovered, just as she hoped, that children aren’t nearly as frightened when they are informed. We managed to get our hands on 4 of the 6 books in the series. They are a great way to educate children about big weather concepts and hopefully help them have less fears about harsh weather patterns. Continue reading →