Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

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Gender Queer
Author: Maia Kobabe
Published: May 28, 2019 by Oni Press

Goodreads Summary: In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

Ricki’s Review: It has taken me a long time to acquire this book. I was on hold for ONE copy that the library had, and there were 126 people ahead of me. That’s the joy in public banning of books—they sell really well. I am always glad that the authors are making money off of the ridiculousness of book banning. Not surprisingly, the book is banned because it is a powerful story. Kobabe beautifully depicts eir memoir in a way that captivates readers. I am better for having read this book. It allowed me to feel as if I was living Kobabe’s story alongside em. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation:
PEN America’s Report
ALA’s Statistics
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English’s Intellectual Freedom Center

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did this memoir make you feel? What did you learn?
  • What is the role of gender in the book?
  • How do the images enhance your understanding of the story?
  • Why might people ban the book?

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Love is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement by Sandra Neil Wallace, Illustrated by Bryan Collier

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Love is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement
Author: Sandra Neil Wallace
Illustrator: Bryan Collier
Published January 10th, 2023 by Simon & Schuster

Summary: Diane grew up in the southside of Chicago in the 1940s. As a university student, she visited the Tennessee State Fair in 1959. Shocked to see a bathroom sign that read , Diane learned that segregation in the South went beyond schools—it was part of daily life. She decided to fight back, not with anger or violence, but with strong words of truth and action.

Finding a group of like-minded students, including student preacher John Lewis, Diane took command of the Nashville Movement. They sat at the lunch counters where only white people were allowed and got arrested, day after day. Leading thousands of marchers to the courthouse, Diane convinced the mayor to integrate lunch counters. Then, she took on the Freedom Rides to integrate bus travel, garnering support from Martin Luther King Jr. and then the president himself—John F. Kennedy.

Praise: 

*”A poignant and powerful portrayal of the life and work of an unsung civil rights activist….Wallace’s text lends buoyancy to the narrative, making it a memorable read-aloud.” — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

*”Wallace’s emotive second-person text condenses Nash’s extensive activism into an inspiring meditation on love as the heart of justice, while Collier’s watercolor and collage illustrations bring artful dimension to Nash’s nonviolent resistance.” — Pubishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

*“During the 1960s, Diane Nash was one of the most influential and effective leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, yet most people don’t know who she is.” Wallace’s latest picture-book collaboration with Collier seeks to correct that ….the book opens with images of Nash’s parents cradling her as a baby and then of Nash, as a small child, being hugged by her grandmother, highlighting the love that encouraged her activism.” — The Horn Book — STARRED REVIEW

“This picture-book biography honors Diane Nash, a significant figure in the civil rights movement…. Written in direct but poetic phrases… A fitting portrayal of Diane Nash, a civil rights leader who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2022.” — Booklist

About the Creators: 

Sandra Neil Wallace writes about people who break barriers and change the world. She is the author of several award-winning books for children, including Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery, illustrated by Bryan Collier, which received the Orbis Pictus Book Award and was an ALA Notable Book. A former ESPN reporter and the first woman to host an NHL broadcast, she is the recipient of the Outstanding Women of New Hampshire Award and creates change as cofounder of The Daily Good, a nonprofit bringing twenty thousand free, culturally diverse foods to college students each year through its Global Foods Pantries. Visit Sandra at SandraNeilWallace.com.

Bryan Collier is a beloved illustrator known for his unique style combining watercolor and detailed collage. He is a four-time Caldecott Honor recipient for Trombone ShortyDave the PotterMartin’s Big Words, and Rosa. His books have won many other awards as well, including six Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards. His recent books include By and By, ThurgoodThe Five O’Clock Band, and Between the Lines. He lives in New York with his family.

Review: Sandra Neil Wallace’s biography of Diane Nash is a force of book filled with a powerful story which will inspire whomever reads it and illustrations that are pieces of art on each page. Diane Nash is a name that not as many people know, but she should be included in all of the historical discussions surrounding the Civil Rights Movement; this book will help get her name to a new generation.

I particularly liked the way that Wallace highlighted particular words throughout the book purposefully to capture the emotions or actions of that time in Nash’s life. The choice of words would lead to such fantastic conversations about both author’s purpose and descriptive language. Additionally, the text is written in 2nd person which is not often found in nonfiction historical picture books, so it is great exposure to that point of view.

Curriculum Guide: 

Flagged Passages: 

Book Trailer:

Read This If You Love: Learning about activists, the Civil Rights Movement, and strong women who make a difference

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**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**

Piece by Piece: How I Built My Life (No Instructions Required) by David Aguilar & Ferran Aguilar, Translated by by Lawrence Schimel

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Piece by Piece: How I Built My Life (No Instructions Required)
Author: David Aguilar & Farran Aguilar
Translator: Lawrence Schimel
Published October 25, 2022 by Amazon Crossing Kids

Summary: The heartfelt and funny memoir of a boy who built himself a prosthetic arm out of the world-famous toy bricks.

David Aguilar was born missing part of one arm, a small detail that seemed to define his life and limit people’s ideas of who he was and who he could be. But in this funny and heartfelt memoir, David proves that he can throw out the rulebook and people’s expectations and maybe even make a difference in the world—and all with a sense of humor. At only nine years old, David built his first prosthesis from LEGO bricks, and since then he hasn’t stopped creating and thinking about how his inventions, born from a passion for building things, could fuel change and help others.

With a voice full of humor and heart, David tells his powerful story, of family and friendship, of heartbreak and loss, and ultimately of triumph and success, as he continues to dream big and build a life and a better world—piece by piece.

Praise: 

“Humorous and uplifting…While readers needn’t be LEGO fans to admire David’s ingenuity, fellow builders may be inspired to dream up their own inventions.” Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will cheer for Aguilar and relate to him as he shares conversational stories about growing up, playing sports, and struggling with school. Family is at the heart of his story, and the endless support and advocacy of his parents, in particular, make this a sweet and uplifting story. Young readers will identify with this creative young person and will question society’s definition of “normal.” School Library Journal

About the Authors:

David Aguilar and his father, Ferran Aguilar, are from Andorra, in Europe. David was born missing part of one arm. At the age of nine, he designed his first prosthesis with LEGO bricks, and in high school he built the next generation, which he named the MK-1. David’s father encouraged him to make a video about his prosthesis and the huge role that LEGOs played in his life, and posted it on social media, where it went viral and changed both of their lives. In addition to telling his story in this book, David is also the protagonist of the Spanish documentary Mr. Hand Solo, which won the award for best documentary at the Boston Science Fiction Film festival. David is currently developing his own brand, Hand Solo, which will aim to benefit various organizations for the disabled and fight against the stigma of “diff-ability,” as he calls it. Follow David and Ferran on Twitter @Handsolooficial and @AguilarFerran.

Lawrence Schimel is a bilingual author who writes in both Spanish and English, with more than one hundred books to his credit. He is also a prolific literary translator, into English and into Spanish. His translated books include Wanda Gág’s Millions of Cats; George Takei’s graphic novel They Called Us Enemy; and Some Days, written and illustrated by María Wernicke; among many others. He lives in Madrid, Spain. Follow him on Twitter @lawrenceschimel.

Review: This memoir about David’s early life growing up with one arm and overcoming everything that others, and sometimes himself, thought he couldn’t do is not only a great read, but it is hilarious too. It is an extra plus that this book was a memoir, written by David, as it gave true insight and his voice was a pleasure!

As you read, you will enter into David’s family and get to know all who love him and help him navigate our able bodied-centered world. He tells his story with grace and humor. The anecdotes of his life add a deeper connection from reader to David and by the end you truly feel like you know him.

On top of that, David is a fantastic engineer, inventor, and imagineer! Anyone reading will be so fascinated with what he builds and accomplishes,

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book will be a great addition to any memoir text set or lit circle set. It also will find its place in public, school, and classroom libraries.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Who in David’s younger life do you think best helped him see that he was not at a disadvantage in life?
  • If David didn’t want a prosthetic arm, why did he build one out of LEGO?
  • What does David’s story teach you about assumptions of people?
  • How do you think David’s humor and positive outlook on life helped him navigate life and succeed as he has?
  • Why do you think David decided to co-write this book with his dad?
  • Of David’s accomplishments, which do you find the most impressive?
  • Why do you think David decided to tell his story?

Flagged Passages: 

LACES

One day, many years later, as I was leaving school, one of my classmates saw me fiddling with the car keys.

“You drive?” he asked me, surprised.

“Um . . .” I was caught unaware, because what was so strange about my driving? “Yeah, of course, tío. I repeated a year. I’m eighteen already. I got my license over the break.”

More than clarifying things, I seemed to confuse him even more. He wrinkled his brow so much I thought his forehead might cave in. Only then did I begin to realize
what was going through his head.

It wasn’t long before he verbalized it: “But . . . how do you drive?” His gaze indicated my missing arm.

I smiled. By then I already had an answer for everything. “With my hand, of course!” I said, raising my left arm.

“But how do you shift gears?”

I smiled even more. “With my mouth!”

He was flabbergasted, and I got into the car. I turned on the ignition and pulled out, leaving him there with his mouth open. Did he really not know that automatic cars
exist, without any need to shift gears? But no, I knew, as I had known my whole life, that what was really difficult to know—and especially to understand—is how someone
who is not like you can do the same things you can.

I know this very well, believe me, because this was exactly my parents’ challenge. And also mine. It was for a long time. I don’t blame people or myself. Speaking clearly, what happens is that there is no one to blame: there is just ignorance, and prejudices, and loneliness. Dark nights, entire afternoons filled with worry. How would David get
ahead? What would become of him?

Read This If You Love: Memoirs

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**

Speak Up, Speak Out! The Extraordinary Life of “Fighting Shirley Chisholm” by Tonya Bolden, Forward by Stacey Abrams

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Speak Up, Speak Out! The Extraordinary Life of “Fighting Shirley Chisholm”
Author: Tonya Bolden
Forward by: Stacey Abrams
Published January 4th, 2022 by National Geographic Kids

Summary: From award-winning author Tonya Bolden comes a biography of the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Black woman to run for president with a major political party: Shirley Chisholm.

Before there was Barack Obama, before there was Kamala Harris, there was Fighting Shirley Chisholm. A daughter of Barbadian immigrants, Chisholm developed her political chops in Brooklyn in the 1950s and went on to become the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. This “pepper pot,” as she was known, was not afraid to speak up for what she thought was right. While fighting for a better life for her constituents in New York’s 12th Congressional District, Chisholm routinely fought against sexism and racism in her own life and defied the norms of the time. As the first Black woman in the House and the first Black woman to seek the presidential nomination from a major political party, Shirley Chisholm laid the groundwork for those who would come after her.

Extensively researched and reviewed by experts, this inspiring biography traces Chisholm’s journey from her childhood in a small flat in Brooklyn where she read books with her sisters to Brooklyn College where she got her first taste of politics. Readers will cheer Chisholm on to victory from the campaign trail to the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol, where she fought for fair wages, equal rights, and an end to the Vietnam War. And while the presidential campaign trail in 1972 did not end in victory, Shirley Chisholm shows us how you can change a country when you speak up and speak out.

Praise: “The strength of Bolden’s skill as a researcher is evident; chapter by chapter, she provides succinct but critical context around the motivations and movements of Chisholm’s political career. A foreword by Stacey Abrams helps establish that Chisholm’s legacy is one of political innovation as someone who forged a path for others to follow. This informative book has an engaging narrative structure. The use of repetition and inclusion of memorable pearls of wisdom attributed to Chisholm add a poetic tone. An insightful and focused profile of a political trailblazer.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This lively, detailed look at Chisholm’s personal and political life shines in its portrayal of a strong woman who never backed down; Bolden’s accessible text is great for report writers covering the groundbreaking Chisholm and the momentous time she lived in.” —Booklist

About the Author: Tonya Bolden has authored, edited and co-authored more than 40 books. Her work has garnered numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Honor, the James Madison Book Award, the NCSS Carter G. Woodson Honor, the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C.’s Nonfiction Award, the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, the Virginia Library Association Jefferson Cup Award and the Cleveland Public Library Sugarman Award.  Lauded for her skilled storytelling, impeccable research and lively text, Tonya lives New York City. 

Review: Tonya Bolden’s biography of Shirley Chisholm is a perfect mix of historical remembrance as well as narrative structure to pull the reader in. You follow Shirley’s life as she goes against all odds and fights her way through politics, all while never losing her morals or remembrance of where she came from. As someone who knew of Chisholm but not specifics and boy, is she phenomenal! I highly recommend reading this book to learn more about this pioneer of civil and feminist rights.

Also, I read this book at the right time for me. As a Floridian going through an election, a reminder of hope is always needed. And Shirley Chisholm, her fight and success, and resilience shows that there have always been times to fight and there are always others that need to fight more.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This biography will be perfect for updating nonfiction sections of libraries. Additionally, it would be a wonderful book club choice or lit circle choice when focusing on HERstory or true history.

Extra resources:

School Library Journal, January 25, 2022: Speaking Up and Speaking Out with Tonya Bolden on Shirley Chisholm (Q&A) by Betsy Bird

YA Books Central, February 15, 2022: YABC Interview with Tonya Bolden about Speak Up, Speak Out! (Feb. 2022) (Author Interview) by Beth Edwards

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did Shirley Chisholm deal with the racism and sexism she faced during her career?
  • What does Chisholm’s visit to Wallace tell us about her? Why did it make other Black politicians furious?
  • In what ways did she never let down Bed-Stuy? Why did some people feel she did?
  • How did Chisholm’s bid for the presidential nomination break barriers?
  • Why was Chisholm unhappy by the committee she was put on in Congress?
  • What major causes did Chisholm support? How did she do so throughout her career?
  • Great lesson plan on Shirley Chisholm found:

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Narrative biographies

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**Thank you to Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review!**

Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head by Jeanne Walker Harvey, Illustrated by Diana Toledano

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Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head
Author: Jeanne Walker Harvey
Illustrator: Diana Toledano
Published September 20th, 2022 by Beach Lane Books

Summary: Discover the true story of how a shy miner’s daughter became one of the most legendary costume designers in Hollywood in this inspiring nonfiction picture book biography.

As a child in the small mining town of Searchlight, Nevada, Edith Head (1897 – 1981) had few friends and spent most of her time dressing up her toys and pets and even wild animals using fabric scraps. She always knew she wanted to move somewhere full of people and excitement. She set her sights on Hollywood and talked her way into a job sketching costumes for a movie studio.

Did she have formal training? Did she know how to draw or sew costumes? No. But that didn’t stop her!

Strong and determined, Edith taught herself how to sew and tirelessly worked her way up until she was dressing some of the biggest stars of the day. These included Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Ginger Rogers, and Elizabeth Taylor. She made costumes for films like Sabrina and Rear Window and TV shows like Bewitched. She also designed costumes for many of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, including To Catch a ThiefNotorious, and The Trouble With Harry. She became the first woman to head a major Hollywood movie studio costume department and went on to win eight Academy Awards for best costume design—and she defined the style of an era.

By ultimately becoming one of Hollywood’s most sought-after designers, Edith Head proved that with tenacity, anything is possible. This insightful behind-the-scenes look at the iconic figure is a must-have for cinephiles, history buffs, and fashionistas alike.

FUN FACT! Edith served as the inspiration for the iconic character Edna Mode in the Pixar film The Incredibles! With her classic hairstyle and glasses, Edith will be recognizable as the inspiration for Edna to the observant reader.

Praise:

* “Together, the art and storytelling capture Head’s belief in the transformative magic of costumes, which will certainly strike a chord with dress-up enthusiasts.” — ALA Booklist (STARRED review)

“Toledano’s mixed-media artwork… combined with starry-eyed prose, the result is a glamorous life story with a Hollywood ending.” — Publishers Weekly

About the Creators: 

Jeanne Walker Harvey studied literature and psychology at Stanford University and has worn many job hats, ranging from being a roller coaster ride operator to an attorney, a middle school language arts teacher, and a long-time docent for school groups at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She is the author of several books for young readers, including the picture book biographies Dressing up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith HeadAblaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas, and Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines. Jeanne lives in Northern California. Visit her online at JeanneHarvey.com.

Twitter: @JeanneWHarvey
Pinterest: @JeanneWalkerHarvey
Check out the many resources here at Jeanne Walker Harvey’s website!

Diana Toledano is an illustrator, writer, and educator. She is also a Pisces who loves children’s books, patterns, and dancing her heart out. Originally from Spain, Diana (pronounced the Spanish way: dee-ah-na) grew up in Madrid where she studied art history and illustration. Now she lives in San Francisco with her husband and two fluffy cats. Her mixed media art seeks to capture the magic of the ordinary. Diana’s product designs, picture books, board books, and chapter books have been published and sold all over the world. Diana also teaches workshops for kids and adults. She enjoys doing school visits and speaking at conferences. Learn more at Diana-Toledano.com.

Instagram: @dianatoledano
Facebook: Diana Toledano
Pinterest: Diana Toledano

Review: As a fan of old Hollywood, I recognized Edith Head’s costumes right away. I mean–Grace Kelly in Rear Window, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Tippi Hedren in The Birds, Fred Astaire in Holiday Inn, Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii–anyone?!? And this is just the tip of the iceberg of Head’s designing. She was nominated for an Academy Award THIRTY FIVE times and won EIGHT making her the most awarded woman in the Academy’s history. But yet, she was behind the scenes and not as well known as the actors in front of the camera, so I am so happy to have this picture book biography to bring to light her genius. A self-taught young woman with no experience fighting her way up to being an Oscar winner–yes, please! Harvey does a fantastic job of sharing Edith’s magic from her childhood dreams to her adult reality and Toledano’s illustrations work perfectly for Edith’s style and costumes.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: 

Check out the publisher-provided activity kit for some fun activities to do with the book:

Discussion Questions: 

  • What does Edith’s journey to her dream job teach you about growth mindset?
  • How did Edith’s hobbies as a child help her reach her dreams?
  • Why do you think Edith chose to wear black or other dark, neutral colors when dressing stars?
  • How does a costume designer impact a movie or show?
  • Why do you think Edith was given a second chance after she failed to create costumes for dancers dressed as candy?
  • How do you think Edith grew her confidence overtime so much that she was able to not allow nay-sayers to make her question herself?
  • What are some words in the book that you did not know? What do you think they mean based on context? Check your guess by looking ups its definition.
  • How does the Author’s Note at the end of the book add to the book experience?

Book Trailer: 

The trailer can also be viewed on the author’s website:
https://www.jeanneharvey.com/dressingupthe-stars

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Nonfiction biography picture books, specifically about groundbreaking women, including Harvey’s books on Maya Lin and Alma Thomas

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**Thank you to Alex at Simon & Schuster and Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**

Guest Post: Classroom Uses for Latinitas by Juliet Menendez, Lost in the Antarctic by Tod Olson, On the Horizon by Lois Lowry, and Stamped adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul

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One of the assignments during my Spring Children’s Literature course at UCF was creating a mini-teaching guide for the books we read for book clubs. We started with picture books for practice then students created them in their book clubs each week.

Today, I am happy to share the classroom uses and discussion questions found by my UCF Elementary Education students found for these nonfiction books they read.

Latinitas: Celerating 40 Big Dreamers
Author: Juliet Menendez
Illustrator:
Published

Summary: Dream big with the Latinitas in Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers.

Discover how 40 influential Latinas became the women we celebrate today! In this collection of short biographies from all over Latin America and across the United States, Juliet Menéndez explores the first small steps that set the Latinitas off on their journeys. With gorgeous, hand-painted illustrations, Menéndez shines a spotlight on the power of childhood dreams.

From Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to singer Selena Quintanilla to NASA’s first virtual reality engineer, Evelyn Miralles, this is a book for aspiring artists, scientists, activists, and more. These women followed their dreams–and just might encourage you to follow yours!

The book features Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Juana Azurduy de Padilla, Policarpa Salavarrieta, Rosa Peña de González, Teresa Carreño, Zelia Nuttall, Antonia Navarro, Matilde Hidalgo, Gabriela Mistral, Juana de Ibarbourou, Pura Belpré, Gumercinda Páez, Frida Kahlo, Julia de Burgos, Chavela Vargas, Alicia Alonso, Victoria Santa Cruz, Claribel Alegría, Celia Cruz, Dolores Huerta, Rita Moreno, Maria Auxiliadora da Silva, Mercedes Sosa, Isabel Allende, Susana Torre, Julia Alvarez, Sandra Cisneros, Sonia Sotomayor, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Mercedes Doretti, Sonia Pierre, Justa Canaviri, Evelyn Miralles, Selena Quintanilla, Berta Cáceres, Serena Auñón, Wanda Díaz-Merced, Marta Vieira da Silva, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Laurie Hernandez.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: There are so many ways this book provides an opportunity to be used in the classroom. The book can be used during a history lesson as a resource. The book can also be used on its own for women’s month to learn about all of the Latina women who have made an impact in the world, or this book can also be used for Hispanic Heritage Month. This book could also be a resource if a student is looking to learn more about the women who have impacted their culture or just a Latina woman whose story has caught their attention. This book could also be used for language arts and social studies. This is an excellent book for reading circles, independent reading, or even book clubs. The children can choose a Latina they would like to focus on and write an essay on how they captured their attention or their accomplishments. This book is a quick read with various Latinas that will capture any student’s attention during reading time.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Choose one of the Latinitas highlighted in this book and write about how they inspired you.
  • Juana Azurduy de Padilla is one of the many women who fought for their country’s independence. What are some of the reasons people have fought for a nation’s independence?
  • Pick your favorite subject or topic and find a Latinita that shares that interest. What does she do in that field and how did she get there?
  • Many Latinitas were inspired by other great minds, who inspires you? Why?
  • Where they came from and where they called home heavily impacted the women in this book. How has your identity impacted your life?
  • Compare and contrast two Latinitas from different time periods. What did they have in common? What was different?
  • Explain why the work of an Archeologist, like Zelia Nuttall, is important?
  • Choose one of the Latinitas highlighted in this book and write about how they inspired you.
  • Juana Azurduy de Padilla is one of the many women who fought for their country’s independence. What are some of the reasons people have fought for a nation’s independence?
  • Explain why the work of an Archeologist, like Zelia Nuttall, is important?
  • Pick your favorite subject or topic and find a Latinita that shares that interest. What does she do in that field and how did she get there?
  • Many Latinitas were inspired by other great minds, who inspires you? Why?
  • Where they came from and where they called home heavily impacted the women in this book. How has your identity impacted your life?
  • Compare and contrast two Latinitas from different time periods. What did they have in common? What was different?
  • Compare two women that you read about in this book. Explain any similarities and differences between the two.
  • Write about two examples of Latinitas that had to fight for their education and explain how this was important.

Recommended For: 

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Lost in the Antarctic: The Doomed Voyage of the Endurance
Author: Tod Olson
Published January 1st, 2019 by Scholastic

Summary: There wasn’t a thing Ernest Shackleton could do. He stood on the ice-bound Weddell Sea, watching the giant blocks of frozen saltwater squeeze his ship to death. The ship’s name seemed ironic now: the Endurance. But she had lasted nine months in this condition, stuck on the ice in the frigid Antarctic winter. So had Shackleton and his crew of 28 men, trying to become the first expedition ever to cross the entire continent.

Now, in October 1915, as he watched his ship break into pieces, Shackleton gave up on that goal. He ordered his men to abandon ship. From here on, their new goal would be to focus on only one thing: survival.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would make a great book club where students sit in groups and discuss their thoughts about the reading. This would also make an exceptional classroom library book because this could introduce students to survival based books that they may not have a lot of access to and may discover an interest in. This may also make them interested in Narrative Nonfiction that they may not have realized existed before.

This book could be interdisciplinary with science for the climate in the Antarctic and harsh conditions, along with social studies for a nonfiction historic event. Social studies with geography can also be involved as well.

Discussion Questions: 

  • On what day did The Endurance ship slip past the rotting whale carcasses into the South Atlantic?
  • Do you think Shackleton was a good captain for this voyage? Why or why not?
  • How do the images impact the story being told in the story? Do these images give you additional information? Explain how the images impact how you read the story.
  •  Do you think that the cold weather made it more difficult for Shackleton along his crew to survive? What if the weather was hotter, do you think they could’ve survived more easily?
  • Do you think there was a specific action that led to the doom of the voyage? Why do you think this?
  • If you could bring one person with you on this voyage who would you bring and why?
  • What would you do to stay positive in this scenario? Use specific instances from the story in your response.
  • What roles would you assign to each of your classmates on this voyage?
  • How long do you think you and your class would survive in the antarctic? What would be important to think about, based on what you read in the story, when considering how long your survival would be and what you would need.

Recommended For: 

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On the Horizon
Author: Lois Lowry
Published April 7th, 2020 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Summary: From Lois Lowry comes an account of the lives lost in two of WWII’s most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. With black-and-white illustrations by Kenard Pak.

Lois Lowry looks back at history through a personal lens as she draws from her own memories as a child in Hawaii and Japan, as well as from historical research, in this work in verse for young readers.

On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.  Composed of poems about individual sailors who lost their lives on the Arizona and about the citizens of Hiroshima who experienced unfathomable horror.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be useful in the classroom to teach about two major historical events that happened. Additionally this book can be used to teach students about citizenship, understanding, and cause and effect.

Students could also use the events in the book to create a newspaper because this gives the students a chance to interview people from the book that went through major historical events and offers a range of perspectives for students to look from.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do you think these events affected her?
  • Why do you think Lois Lowry decided to write about this event?
  • What connections can you make to the events of Horoshima and Pearl Harbor and your life?
  • Why do you think the author chose to write in poems?
  • Writing prompt: What would your feelings have been if you experienced the wars of Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor?
  • Why do you think the author chose the title “On the Horizon?”
  • What do you think Lois Lowry was trying to accomplish by giving different peoples perspectives?
  • How do you think the events of the war made Lois feel during and after the war?
  • What were your feelings when reading about the stories of sailors that lost their lives?

Recommended For: 

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Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You
Authors: Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
Adapted by: Sonja Cherry-Paul
Published May 11th, 2021 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary: This chapter book edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller by luminaries Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds is an essential introduction to the history of racism and antiracism in America

RACE. Uh-oh. The R-word. 
But actually talking about race is one of the most important things to learn how to do.

Adapted from the groundbreaking bestseller Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, this book takes readers on a journey from present to past and back again. Kids will discover where racist ideas came from, identify how they impact America today, and meet those who have fought racism with antiracism. Along the way, they’ll learn how to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The book could be incorporated in classrooms as an introduction to a study. This book discusses an ongoing topic that is still controversial today. With a book like this, it opens up a door for students to discuss whether the author made valid points and how we could contribute his theories in today’s society.

The book is told in mostly chronological order when speaking about the evolution of racism throughout history. So the students could draw out a timeline and write the dates and facts they see throughout the story while they read. For this particular book it would be easier for them to do them in pairs.

Discussion Questions: 

  • In the book what actions lead to the civil war?
  • How did literature play a big role with how African American as slaves were viewed by society back then?
  • After reading the book, what part of American History did you learn that you hadn’t previously known?
  • What is the author’s motive for writing this book?
  • Can you name one person in the book that contributed to the author’s point? Why?
  • Who is Nat Turner and what was his role?
  • Why do you think this author mentioned, “This is not a history book?”
  • What form of media such as movies or TV shows  make you rethink about the content of racism after reading this book?
  • Who did the author name as the “world’s first racist person” early in the book?
  • What was the curse theory, and how did it have an effect on the justification of slavery?

Recommended For: 

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Student Voices: Favorite Reads from Derrick T., Gavin Z., Kyan V., Leticia R., and Reed R.

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Favorite Reads

Ten Favorite Fantasy Series by Derrick T., 7th grade

The Fantasy Genre, defined by Britanica.com as “imaginative fiction dependent for effect on strangeness of setting (such as other worlds or times) and of characters (such as supernatural or unnatural beings)”, is my favorite genre of books. I enjoy when an author immerses you in a completely different world, sometimes literally, and these are some of my favorite series in this genre.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the Olympians]: A Series Review – greenish bookshelf

Percy finds out he is the son of the ancient Greek god Poseidon! He and his fellow half-bloods (half mortal, half god) go on many quests to save the world from evil mythological creatures.

Curse Workers by Holly Black

Book Review: The Curse Workers Series by Holly Black - The Night Bookmobile

In a world where workers can “curse” someone with a touch, Cassel is the only person in his family without the gift. But something strange is happening, and Cassel must unravel the conspiracy around his life, and the life of someone whose death is his fault.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) (Artemis Fowl, 1): Colfer, Eoin:  9781368036986: Amazon.com: Books

Artemis Fowl is not just a genius, he makes other geniuses seem inept by comparison. And he just discovered a whole world underneath our feet: one full of magic.

Magisterium by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Magisterium Series 5-Book Set: Holly Black, Cassandra Clare: Books:  Amazon.com

Everyone wants to be a magician. Except for Call. His dad has warned him about the danger of magic his whole life, and how he MUST not get into the mages school, the Magisterium. But Call fails at failing, and now must face the dangers of his new school.

Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan

The Ranger's Apprentice Series (Complete 12 Book Set) : John Flanagan:  0680474137794: Books - Amazon

Will is an orphan. At his choosing ceremony where he picks his profession, he is denied by all the craftmasters. Except one named Halt.  He is a mysterious ranger, a group of skilled archers who are rumored to dabble in sorcery, and will teach Will how to be a ranger. But being a ranger comes with many risks. Will Will survive?

The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo

Home - Leigh Bardugo | Author

Alina has never been special. But one day when her friend is in mortal danger, she discovers a new ability that might patch the literal tear in her country. But not everything is as it seems, she soon finds herself in the middle of an evil scheme that’s been in place for over 500 years.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini Collection The Inheritance Cycle Series 4 Books Set  Eldest | eBay

When Eragon finds a blue stone in the forest, he thinks it might mean a little money for his family. He certainly doesn’t think it will be a dragon egg! But after Saphira hatches he is dragged into a plot to save the kingdom from the evil king.

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series 1 - 6 Books Collection  Set by Michael Scott (Alchemyst, Magician, Sorceress, Necromancer, Warlock  & Enchantress): Michael Scott, The Enchantress By Michael Scott  978-0552562577,

Sophie and Josh live normal lives until they discover that Nicholas Flamel is Josh’s boss. And now they are in danger, and Josh and Sophie are magicians! The three of them then go on to stop the Dark Elders from taking over the world.

Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson

Kingdom Keepers Book Review – R.E. KLINZING

When Finn falls asleep, he becomes a hologram at Disney World! He and the other kingdom keepers must protect the parks from the evil overtakers.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Why Harry Potter Books are Great for School-Aged Readers - Speech Therapy  Centres of Canada

Harry Potter lives with his mean aunt, uncle, and cousin. On his eleventh birthday, a literal giant tells him he is a wizard. Throughout the series he, along with new friends, has to fight his parents murderer, the evil wizard Lord Voldemort.

Top Six Sports Books for Kids by Kyan V., 7th grade

These days, there are many sportsbooks to choose from. It can be hard to choose because of a great deal of different genres and sports. This blog post lists my top 6 favorite sportsbooks, fiction, and nonfiction, for kids. Remember the list is not in order! I have read these books and highly recommend them, especially if you love sports!

Pele, The King of Soccer by Eddy Simon and illustrated by Vincent Brascglia

Pelé: The King of Soccer: Simon, Eddy, Brascaglia, Vincent: 9781626727557:  Amazon.com: Books

This book is a perfectly illustrated graphic novel that captures Pele’s crazy life from a young boy to a world champion. It dives into Pele’s childhood and how he became what he is today. I love this book because it proves to everyone that you can come from nothing and still be one of the best soccer players to ever live. I highly recommend this graphic novel.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The Crossover (The Crossover Series): Alexander, Kwame, Anyabwile, Dawud:  9780544107717: Amazon.com: Books

This book is exceptionally unique because of how it is structured. It’s composed of lots of short stanzas. In a way, it’s almost like a 200-page poem. This book is amazing because it shows how one can change their life with their actions. This book is not only teaching you about basketball, but also life lessons for the future.

Year in Sports 2022 by James Buckley Jr.

Scholastic Year in Sports 2022: Buckley Jr., James: 9781338770254:  Amazon.com: Books

A new book in this series comes out every year. They are action packed, full with statistics and fun facts about every sport you can name. This is one of those books you can read for hours at a tie and read the whole thing 5 times and it would still be interesting.

The Football Fanbook by Gary Gramling

The Football Fanbook (A Sports Illustrated Kids Book): Everything You Need  to Become a Gridiron Know-It-All - Kindle edition by Gramling, Gary, The  Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids. Children Kindle eBooks @

This book is all about football. Everything you could think of about football. This book has fun facts, formations, playbooks, records, strategies, comparisons, and more. I love this book because you can discover so many new things about the amazing sport of football. By the way, there is also a Baseball Fanbook as well.

The United States of Sports by Bill Syken

The United States of Sports: An Atlas of Teams, Stats, Stars, and Facts for  Every State in America (A Sports Illustrated Kids Book): The Editors of  Sports Illustrated Kids, Syken, Bill: 9781547800001:

This book goes state by state and shows you where their sports teams are located, statistics, rivalries, fan favorites, mascots, and the state’s trophy shelf. It also includes college teams. This book goes through all 50 states. I love this book because you can learn about other states, and dive deep into your state’s sports programs.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Ghost (1) (Track): Reynolds, Jason: 9781481450157: Amazon.com: Books

This book is good because everyone can relate to it in one way or another. Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw is trying to overcome some difficult challenges in his childhood. With the help of his mentor, Coach Brody he overcomes these difficulties through running track at an elite level.

Thank you for reading my top 6 sports books for kids. I highly recommend reading all of these books! Some of them are so underrated. See you next time — bye!

My Favorite Book Series by Gavin Z., 8th grade

Randoms by David Liss

Randoms (3 book series) Kindle Edition

Very interesting and unique. I haven’t read many books that include leveling systems and skill trees like a video game.

The Last Dragon Chronicles by Chris D’Lacey

Chris d'Lacey on Twitter: "Nice cover refresh for The Last Dragon  Chronicles. Hrrr! https://t.co/98t75vtRY2" / Twitter

These books focus on dragons but what’s most interesting is the clay dragons that come to life in this series.

Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland

Wings of Fire: The Complete Collection Series Set (Book 1-15) NEW Paperback  2022 | eBay

Takes place in a different world with 3 moons. They tell the story from the dragons perspective, and interestingly treat humans as “pets.”

The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer

The Land of Stories Complete Hardcover Gift Set: Colfer, Chris:  9780316556828: Amazon.com: Books

In this series, a pair of twins travel across the fairy tale world and meet many childhood favorites like Jack and the Beanstalk or Cinderella. 

A Tale of Magic series by Chris Colfer

A Tale of Magic... Collection by Christopher Colfer | Little, Brown Books  for Young Readers

Taking place in the same world as the Land of Stories, this series happens before that series. Kind of like a prequel but still has really interesting new characters that didn’t appear in the land of stories. 

Favorite Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels by Leticia R., 6th grade

Dawn and the Impossible Three

Dawn and the Impossible Three: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #5):  Full-Color Edition (5) (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix): Martin, Ann M.,  Galligan, Gale: 9781338067118: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: Dawn Schafer is the newest member of The Baby-sitters Club. While she’s still adjusting to life in Stoneybrook after moving from sunny California, she’s eager to accept her frst big job. But taking care of the three Barrett kids would be too much for any baby-sitter.

My opinion: I really enjoyed reading this book. I could really relate to the book! I have felt what Dawn has felt where she was new and was just trying to find a friend. It was really fun reading this book! And I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys graphic novels, and drama books.

Boy-Crazy Stacey

Boy-Crazy Stacey: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #7) (7) (The  Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels): Martin, Ann M., Galligan, Gale:  9781338304510: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: Stacey and Mary Anne are baby-sitting for the Pike family for two weeks at the New Jersey shore. Things are great in Sea City: There’s a gorgeous house right on the beach, a boardwalk, plenty of sun and sand… and the cutest boy Stacey has ever seen!

My opinion: I loved reading this book because I felt how Mary Anne felt, shes feels like she has so much things to do and so much responsibility and I have felt that way as well. Being stressed constantly could even ruin friendships and relationships.

Claudia and the New Girl

Claudia and the New Girl: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #9) (9)  (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix): Martin, Ann M., Epstein, Gabriela:  9781338304572: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: The Baby-sitters are sick of Ashley, and they think Claudia’s a traitor. Claudia’s got to decide: either the Baby-sitter’s Club or the new girl – one of them has got to go.

My opinion: I enjoyed this book because I could relate to it and learn from it. When I started reading this book, I liked it, but after I got to the middle, I realized that it was trying to show the reader a life lesson; it was that you can always have more than one friend.

Logan Likes Marry Anne

Logan Likes Mary Anne!: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #8) (8) (The  Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels): Martin, Ann M., Galligan, Gale:  9781338304541: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: It’s the first day of a new school year, and while Mary Anne doesn’t know what to expect from the eighth grade, she’s looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. One thing she definitely doesn’t expect is to meet Logan Bruno, who just moved to Stoneybrook.

My opinion: I thought that this book was so realistic because everyone goes through this when they go into a new school or any new place everyone feels scared and doesn’t know what to expect. And I think that is a very good book anyone could relate to.

Kristy’s Great Idea

Kristy's Great Idea: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #1) (Revised  edition): Full-Color Edition (1) (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix):  Telgemeier, Raina, Martin, Ann M., Telgemeier, Raina: 0000545813875:  Amazon.com: Books

Summary: Kristy thinks the Baby-sitters Club is a great idea. She and her friends Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne all love taking care of kids. A club will give them the chance to have lots of fun—and make tons of money.

My opinion: I thought this book was super fun because it was explaining how things started and showed the reader the very beginning of things. I think that everybody should read this book first not because its the first book but because it’s descriptive of how things started.

Ten Favorite History Books I’ve Read by Reed R., 7th grade

Today I will be talking about my top ten favorite history books I’ve read. I’m a big fan of history books, and I have read many. I’m into wars and past conflicts. My favorite types of historic books are biographies and expeditions.

George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War by Thomas B. Allen

George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and  Won the Revolutionary War: Thomas B. Allen: 9781426300417 -  Christianbook.com

I love this book because it emphasizes the tough times within the Revolutionary War. I also like how this book talks about the spy work the United States did on Britain. That was one of the ways the United States won the war. I also like how this book talks about how a good leader George Washington was, like how courageous and brave he was. He was also very confident.

Bound by Ice: A True North Pole Survival Story by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace

Bound by Ice: A True North Pole Survival Story: Wallace, Sandra Neil,  Wallace, Rich: 9781629794280: Amazon.com: Books

The reason I chose this book is because I wanted to learn more about the North Pole expeditions. One of the main reasons I like this book is because it gives detail about the crew members’ lives aboard the expedition and how they chose to take the expedition. I like this book because it puts into perspective how we didn’t know what was at the top of our planet and this expedition helps the world learn more about the north pole. It’s amazing how brave these men were because the food they ate was disgusting. It was so cold that all the sled dogs died. When you think about it today the only ships that really go up to the north pole are those big icebreakers that have thick metal hulls and these guys were doing it in a wooden boat. 

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin

Lincoln's Grave Robbers: Sheinkin, Steve: 9780545405720: Amazon.com: Books

No one talks about how Lincoln’s grave was robbed, and I feel that there should be more known about it. I like how it shows the backstory to the grave robbers and why they’re robbing the grave. I like how they introduce the Secret Service because this was around the time that the Secret Service was first getting started and this was one of their big investigations. I like how this book makes the investigation intense like it’s coming down to the wire. 

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

Amazon.com: Chasing Lincoln's Killer: 9780439903547: Swanson, James L.:  Books

I love the way the book keeps the chasing aspect through the whole book. I also like the way it feels the climax is going on the whole time in the book, like it never ends until the end. I find it so interesting how John Wilkes Booth was a famous actor and a “good guy” and was so friendly and everything, and how trusting society was back then, like how the president didn’t have very much security and how they just had a little dinky wood fence that would be in someone’s backyard but now there’s a huge metal fence.

The Great Fire by Jim Murphy

Another event that I’m fascinated about is the Chicago fire. It amazes me how Chicago was one of the most developing cities in the midwest and then all of a sudden it just turns into smoldering ashes. I like how the author uses first hand accounts to tell the story and the people that were in the event’s experience. Most of the books that I’ve read about tragic events usually don’t talk about how the city came back but in this book it talks about the people of Chicago and how they powered through. This book really shows how coming together can cause things to get better. 

Ski Soldier: A World War II Biography by Louise Borden

Ski Soldier: A World War II Biography: Borden, Louise: 9781629796741:  Amazon.com: Books

This is probably one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. I’m kinda biased because I love to ski, and I love the snow in general. I have always been into special ops military books and the idea that not many people know about what’s going on. This book is all of that. I like how the book emphasizes the secret operations in the alps and how they were behind enemy lines. Around this time the invention of camouflage was just starting to be used in the military. They used the camouflage in the alps and within their platoon. 

Black and White Airmen: Their True History by John Fleischman

Black And White Airmen: Their True History: Fleischman, John:  9780618562978: Amazon.com: Books

I like how in some of the most racist times in our country’s history the airmen came together to fight in the war. I like how we came together as a country and fought in Europe, for people’s freedom. Its pretty amazing how brave the airmen were because they were practically flying a tin can at 15,000 ft. I like how this book follows both of the characters’ paths in their life and when they meet. 

All Quiet on the Western Front (All Quiet on the Western Front/The Road Back #1) by Erich Maria Remarque

Amazon.com: All Quiet on the Western Front: A Novel: 9780449213940: Erich  Maria Remarque, A W. Wheen: Books

There aren’t very many books I’ve seen that are about the German school boys POV. I think this book is eye opening for me but the things described in this book are unbelievable. These boys go into WWI and see all of the terrible things that are happening. I think if you want to see more of the gorey side of WWI this is the book for you. One of the reasons I chose this book is because I think WWI needs to be more talked about. 

True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson by Kostya Kennedy

True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson: Kennedy, Kostya: 9781250274045:  Amazon.com: Books

I am a baseball fan, and this book is a biography about Jackie Robinson and how he overcame the challenge of African American people not being allowed to play baseball. I like how this book emphasizes his legacy even after his death in 1972. I also like how this book included the death threats and letters written to him about how if he played baseball bad things would happen.

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy

This is one of my favorite books of all time. This book includes all the little details about the people that got its illness and the super disgusting practices they used at the time. I like how the author uses first hand accounts to portray the yellow fever. I wish we would talk more about the yellow fever in school and just in general as it is one of the most important events in our history that is just forgotten.


Thank you so much to my student voices today and for sharing their favorite reads!