Thursday, June 30, 2022

7 Days of Books for Children, Day 5 STEM and Historical NF

Here we are on Day 5 of #7DaysOfBooks with STEM/STEAM-related topics and historical nonfiction. 

I grouped these two categories together because they often are inter-related. Discoveries in science happen over time and our knowledge builds on all that has come before. Plus, if we want to know where we are heading in the future with scientific discoveries and where our values and priorities might lie with new technologies, then we need to have a clear understanding of where we've come from. 

Interest in the sciences, math and technology runs deep through my family roots--at least as far as I can tell. My great-grandfather ran a train-engine repair shop as a superintendent on one of the railroad lines in Pennsylvania. My father is an electrical engineer whose early career involved getting photographic transmissions from space. 

The arts are often linked with science as well. Not only was STEM was broadened to STEAM, many early naturalists were creatives and made detailed illustrations of the plant and animal specimens that they studied and collected in the field. On that end my mother has been a creative for as long as I've known her. I grew up in a house where the walls were decorated in painted designs rather than wall paper, and pottery pieces were part of every room's decor since she was and still is a potter. She also gardens, and holds a keen understanding of how things grow--which is its own kind of science--and then brings the harvest in to make the most savory of dishes.

Roots. Our History. Our understanding of the world and how things are connected. It's all intertwined. Or, at the very least, they're connected for today's post.

A Penny's Worth
, written by Kimberly Wilson, illustrated by Mark Hoffman (Page Street Kids 2022)

This story is worth every cent and more. Packed with fun puns and word play, Penny's journey to find her self-worth in a world of other more valuable currencies comes to life with the energetic illustrations. The cast of charismatic characters, along with sprinklings of money math, educational back matter, and layers of social-emotional learning make this a perfect book for every family and classroom. I imagine this one will see many repeated readings.

A Dinosaur Named Ruth 
written by Julia Lyons, illustrated by Alexandra Bye (Simon & Schuster 2021).

When a young girl finds dinosaur bones and fossils on her ranch in South Dakota, her curiosity is sparked about where they came from. Determined to one day discover what kinds of animals the fossils belong to, Ruth doesn't give up on trying to get experts to look at her findings. Students will be inspired to make observations about nature and learn about interactions between organisms and their environment in their own backyard. The lyrical and engaging text, vibrant illustrations, and interesting story line make this book a perfect introduction to changes in habitats over time, conducting research, and following one's dream.

The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project written by Lynne Marie, illustrated by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022).

When the class at Fairy Tale Elementary are given an assignment to build toss rockets in order to see which rocket will fly the furthest, everyone is excited except Bibi Wolf. Despite trying to hold back her competitors, Bibi's big bad breath actually helps the rocket of one pig fly the furthest. This story is a fun introduction for any STEM building project in the classroom. The back matter even includes instructions for making toss rockets. 

Jack Horner, Dinosaur Hunter, written by Sophia Gholz, illustrated by Dave Shephard (Sleeping Bear Press 2021).

The study of scientific topics and the nature of discovery come alive in this comic-style picture book about the world-renowned paleontologist, Jack Horner, who discovered the first dinosaur egg fossils and consulted on the Jurassic Park dinosaur movies (among many other things). Although he had severe dyslexia, Jack Horner didn't let trouble with reading stop him from pursuing what he wanted to do. Plus, he loved hands-on science, and the illustrations in this book do a superb job of bringing the scientific experiments that interested Jack to life. I highly recommend this book for its engaging and interesting text and fast-paced story-telling.

Kid Scientist. Marine Biologists on a Dive
written by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Mia Powell (Albert Whitman 2022). 

Because this book shows how large marine organisms are studied, it pairs wonderfully with CRAB BALLET (shared on Nature and Animals Day 2 post), which focuses on inter-tidal ocean life, and THE BRILLIANT DEEP, which focuses on restoring ocean reef habitats. The straight-forward text shows science-in-action as five friends take to the ocean with different tasks. Incorporating many parts of the scientific method, the illustrations and text are engaging enough to plant the seeds for developing an appreciation for life found in our underwater ocean world. I predict much curiosity will be sparked among young readers.

Birds of Prey. Terrifying Talons
written and illustrated by Joe Flood (First Second 2022).


Need I say more? This book is part of a nonfiction comic series that includes other titles like CROWS, CATS, and ROCKS & MINERALS. Packed full of information that might be found on the internet or in an encyclopedia, the graphic novel-style and story line will hook kids from page one in a presentation that is so much more interesting and meaningful than an internet search. Readers will learn about eating habits, evolution, and interdependences of raptors to other animals. I highly recommend this book because it's kid-friendly, fun, and educational. 

A True Wonder. The Comic Book Hero Who Changed Everything
, written by Kirsten W. Larson, illustrated by Katy Wu (Clarion Books, 2021). 

This story about the origins of the superhero Wonder Woman shows how she got her place in the comic book industry after the same man who had picked Super Man--an idea that had been rejected by every other syndicate in the business--decided to give a female superhero a chance. As time went on, the business of maintaining the Wonder Woman comic led to employing many other real-life woman wonders. Women like Alice Marble, a former top tennis pro; Joyce Hummel, a co-writer under the name Charles Moulton; and movie director Patty Jenkins. Young readers will see how Wonder Woman isn't only a superhero, she serves as a wonderful role model for equality, justice, peace, and following your dreams.

Listen. How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion, written by Shannon Stocker, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth (Dial Books for Young Readers 2022).

Sometimes, it's the things we're told that we can't do which inspire us the most. Such is the inspiring message of this book, where a young girl going through the heart-breaking and tremendously stressful experience of losing her hearing is determined not to lose the one thing she loves--creating music. This book will not only inspire students to go after their dreams, but also open their eyes (and ears) to the physics of sound. As a science teacher, I love this book not only for its story and beautiful text, but also for the subject. In our state our students begin learning about sound and sound waves in elementary school, which lands LISTEN with an A++++

Unspeakable. The Tulsa Race Massacre
, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Carolrhoda Books 2021). 

An important book that delicately and deliberately handles a troubling and until recently a largely unknown part of American history. While reading I wondered what one event, which was based on decimating a thriving Black community, would look like. The end paper photo on the back cover reveals this, which made what I was feeling all the more raw and real. The final words of the story, which point toward rejecting hatred and violence and instead choosing hope, land the story in a place of longing for peace, equality, and love.

She Caught the Light. Williamina Stevens Fleming: Astronomer
, written by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Julianna Swaney (HarperCollins Children's Books 2021). 

This story shows how a bright and curious girl, whose experiences began with her father's photography business, got on track to becoming an accomplished astronomer due to the gentle nudge and suggestion from the wife of Professor Edward Pickering, for whom she worked as a housekeeper. This story shows how far one can go with a little help from others, and especially since Williamina's journey of classifying stars put her on a path toward connecting with other accomplished female scientists making discoveries in the field of astronomy.

Nothing Stopped Sophie, written by Cheryl Burdoe, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2018).

Even though Sophie Germain grew up during a time of social inequality--when women were not allowed to practice mathematics or sciences, she persevered and kept doing what she loved to do. She focused on becoming self-taught in math, because she loved how it helped find order and balance in the world. In doing so, she was able to solve what had been deemed an unsolvable problem, which was to come up with a mathematical equation for describing/predicting waves for the way sand grains created patterns on a glass plate when exposed to vibrations. However, solving it didn't come easily. She failed two times before finding success, and she was the only person - a woman, no less - to do so. 

There are 3 amazing giveaways for today, so be sure to enter! Follow the guidelines in the Rafflecopter below.

1) A 30-minute zoom Q&A with author Lynne Marie

2) A signed copy of A PENNY'S WORTH from author Kimberly Wilson

3) A PB-manuscript critique or copy of A DINOSAUR NAMED RUTH from author Julia Lyon

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

7 Days of Books for Children, Day 4 Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

Welcome back to #7DaysOfBooks! Today we are spotlighting books that provide avenues for children to develop or deepen their social-emotional learning.

According to the Partners in Healing website social-emotional learning involves learning to "understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions." There are five core concepts in emotional learning which are shown in this graphic below.

Children and adults who are competent in managing these areas themselves tend to find more success in home, work, and life (Buffalo County Community Partners).

Readers might find that today's books could be easily placed with other categories, and that is the beauty of children's books. They hold multiple layers, affording multiples levels of engagement. I hope there are some new titles on this list for you to check out and enjoy yourself.

As for giveaways, there are a whopping 5 today! Five! So dig in, check out these books, these authors, and enrich your lives and the lives of your children with some more wonderful reading.

Here is a quote for today's category.

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another." - William James

American Desi written by Jyoti Rajan Gopal, illustrated by Supriya Kelkar (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2022). 

This lyrical, rhyming picture book shows the two sides of a young girl--her Indian heritage and her American one--and her journey to figuring out where she fits or identifies with most. The vibrant illustrations based in a metaphor of numerous depictions of fabrics exude joy and energy along with  a celebration of cultures that can be readily felt from the page. This book can be used to launch into discussion with young readers on self-image, where we each fit, and how we contribute positively in our diverse society. 

The Happiest Kid written by Sarah Bagley Steele, illustrated by Elsa Pui Si and Clarice Yunyi (Yeehoo Press 2022).  

Sally usually wakes up happy and goes through her day as the happiest kid. She's known for it by her parents. But when Sally wakes up seeing a cloud instead of the usual happy sun, she's unsure of how to handle her feelings or how to show them. This story gives kid-friendly insight into how to manage, acknowledge, and cope with sad feelings. 

It is a perfect story time book for home or in the classroom to help kids learn how to verbalize and handle their emotions, as well as recognize different feelings that can be seen in others. A++++

 written and illustrated by Anne Appert (HarperCollins 2021). 

This story is insatiably adorable in all the layers it holds for self-exploration, self-discovery, and self-acceptance. Kids will love going along with Blob's journey as they move from being able to take the shape of any animal that the narrator dreams up for them to taking on the shape of anything that they dream up for their self to ultimately figuring out what they discover is best for Blob. The misunderstanding of the name for Blob/Bob at the beginning is a perfect launching pad for Blob's quest in pushing past all the self-doubt that sets in before wrapping up in a perfect landing. 

Readers will giggle, but the story lends itself to deeper discussions of feelings and identity, as well as treatment of others.

Dancing in Thatha's Footsteps written by Srividhya Venkat, illustrated by Kavita Ramchandran (Yali Books 2021).

When young Varun catches a peek at his sister's dance class while she is learning to master the Indian dance of bharatanatyam, his curiosity is sparked, but he is reluctant to try it because he believes that "boys don't dance." However, as his grandfather Thatha shares more about his background and experience with the dance, Verun soon embraces his desire to enjoy what he wants to do and how to feel. This book is perfect in helping young learners overcome their own insecurities in trying something new.

Brave in the Water written by Stephanie Wildman, illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar (Lawley Enterprises, LLC 2021). 

When Diante is afraid to put his face in the water, his grandmother shares something she is afraid of, which is hanging upside down on the monkey bars. After learning to practice a bit of yoga, Diante is able to apply the breathing techniques he learned to help overcome his fears in the water. This book is a wonderful introduction to the use of controlled breathing to help ease anxiety and manage stressful situations. 

Having coached and taught swimming lessons for a number of years, this was a real fear for many beginning swimmers. Proper breathing was definitely part of the instruction, because breathing is something most kids don't think about--it just happens, so this book is a great introduction for bringing awareness to it.

What if, Pig? written and illustrated by Linzie Hunter (Harper 2021). 

I absolutely love the adorable factor and emotional connection that this story renders. Pig is liked by everyone, but that doesn't mean he's not a worrier. In fact, when Pig wants to throw a party, he worries about all sorts of things that could go wrong. He worries so much, he wants to cancel his party. 9Spoiler: When Mouse holds the party for Pig as a surprise, everyone comes and shares their worries with Pig.) I love how the story comes full circle at the end with Pig describing his friends in the same way they describe him. A+ on this one. 

A Little Space for Me written and illustrated by Jennifer Gray Olson (Roaring Brook Press 2020). This book offers a unique approach to a girl's desire to carve out her own space in her world. However, when her space leaves her feeling alienated from others, she lets them back in and shares her idea of space with them. This story offers an other-worldly introduction to mediation and escaping to the world inside our heads when we need quiet moments to ourselves. 

With the combination of simple text and illustrations, this book is a perfect introduction for kids to understanding their own internal thoughts.

Big and Small and In-Between written by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Daniel Miyares (Chronicle Books 2022). 

This book could easily have been categorized with the nature titles, but I'm putting it in the SEL group because I believe so many discussions could follow between adults and young readers about the feelings that each of the page spreads evoke. 

There are many different kinds of things that can seem big to a child. And equally so, there are many things that can seem small or in-between. Thus, for the deeper meanings that can be seen in the text and illustrations, I believe that this book begs for the readers and listeners to slow down and practice viewing things from different perspectives, which can be both a very grown-up way to look at the world, and also a very innocent way to look at the world. It all comes down to perspective! And for that reason, this book can be enjoyed over and over again in order for readers to deepen their understanding of their responses to the world around them.

Nigel and the Moon written by Antwan Eady, illustrated by Gracey Zhang (Katherine Tegan Books 2022). When Nigel tells his hopes and dreams for the future to the moon, he shares what he thinks he might want to be. An astronaut, a dancer, a superhero. But his doubts set in when he can't find the career of a dancer in the books at school. 

This tender story shows how Nigel comes to push past his uncertainty and share his dreams during Career Week with his friends and parents at school. This book is another wonderful title celebrating self-worth and courage for sharing a little of our hopes with others.

Bear is a Bear written by Johnathan Stutzman, illustrated by Dan Santat (Balzar and Bray 2021).

This imaginative story shows the bond and adventures that a child and her stuffed bear (depicted as a real bear, as considered from the child's perspective) take over the course of her life. This tender story is a wonderful tribute to the beloved toys/stuffed animals that bring comfort and what it means to grow out of them and perhaps rediscover them once again.

For today's giveaways, we have FIVE! 

1) A signed copy of AMERICAN DESI from author Jyoti Rajan Gopal

2) A signed copy of THE HAPPIEST KID and/or a zoom visit to 1 classroom from author Sarah Bagley Steele

3) A signed copy of BLOB from author/illustrator Anne Appert

4) A copy of DANCING IN THATHA'S FOOTSTEPS from author Srividhya Venkat

5) A paperback copy of BRAVE IN THE WATER from author Stephanie Wildman

Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter. You can see all 5 giveaways there with the side arrows. Good luck!

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

7 Days of Books for Children, Day 3 Persistence, Resilience, and Inspirational Titles

Welcome back to Day 3 of #7DaysOfBooks with children's books that share stories of persistence and resilience, and can serve as spring boards for inspiration.

With both new titles and older ones, I hope today's list directs you toward some that you weren't yet aware of but are drawn to sharing with the young readers in your life. 

Perhaps what impresses me most with these titles is that the resilience and inspiration in most of them first found roots in the heart of a child. Hearts made strong with hope, courage, and the belief for a better way of living, or a belief for following one's dream, along with a sense of self-worth. Three ideas that I hope are consistently nurtured by society today rather than being squelched or extinguished.

I'll share two quotes that spoke to me for this category of books. Perhaps you'll share one of your own.

"My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon." - Mazuta Masahide

"I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it." - Maya Angelou

As for giveaways with Day 3, there are 2 that follow below. Happy reading, shopping, and requesting at your libraries!

When Water Makes Mud, A Story of Refugee Children, written by Janie Reinart, illustrated by Morgan Taylor (Blue Whale Press 2021). 

When two young girls arrive at a refugee camp with nothing but their dreams, how many things can made from nothing? In this lyrical, achingly touching, and inspiring story, an older sister makes gifts from nothing--from a stick, a pebble, a bag, cardboard, and mud--in order to see a smile from her little sister. 

The book is dedicated to the thousands of children at the Bidibidi refugee settlement in Uganda. The publisher's profits from the sale of this book are donated to UNICEF, which is a wonderful cause to become part of!

Up and Adam, written by Debbie Zapata, illustrated by Yong Ling Kang (Kids Can Press 2022). 

A boy who sets out to help his community clean up after a storm not only lifts the hearts of his neighbors, but also will lift the hearts of all those who read it at story time. Because this book focuses on tasks that a young child is able to do, it models how even the youngest members of communities can be helpful--especially when that help is based in a shared smile. 

In addition, the authors note on the real Adam, a boy with Down's syndrome, gives room to further the discussion on abilities, as opposed to limitations that might be perceived in disabilities.  

Survivor Tree written by Marcie Colleen, illustrated by Aaron Becker (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2021). 

Stories that come out of the darkest moments in history have the power to resonate and instill an understanding of resilience and strength in ourselves. A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the World Trade Center Memorial site, and I believe that this book sensitively captures the events of 9/11 by sharing the story of the tree that survived it all to become a symbol of hope in a beautiful and powerful way. 

I highly recommend this story to share the idea that we as a people can do hard things. That all beings--are capable of doing hard things, with proper attention and care. As we move forward facing the need for social and environmental change, this book can be part of those stories that help lay the foundation for doing what needs to be done.

Be the Change. A Grandfather Ghandi Story
 written by Arun Ghandi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2016). 

As important now as it was when it was first published, this story's heart pivots on a simple, yet difficult concept--the importance of not being wasteful. Growing up as the grandson of Mahatma Ghandi, a peacemaker known for effecting change without the use of violence, Arun struggled to understand a lesson that his grandfather wanted him to understand--the idea that wastefulness and violence are connected to each other. When Arun throws away the nub of a pencil (a simple example that small children will be able to relate to), eventually after he retrieves it, the connection becomes clear. The difference between passive and physical violence, and how neither can be ignored, is also shown in the story. In a world where conservative use of resources is becoming more important in order to maintain peace and harmony among nations, this book is a must-read and must-share. I'm so grateful for the connection that formed between Arun Ghandi, Bethany Hegedus and Evan Turk in allowing this story to be created. This book is one of many that should be in every elementary classroom and on every family book shelf.

Gibberish written and illustrated by Young Vo (Levine Querido 2022). 

Dat is going to school for the first time in a new country, and everything he hears and reads sounds like gibberish. Feeling alone and embarrassed, he almost gives up, but is lifted to a sense of hope through a patient and caring friend. 

Based on my own experience as a teacher to students from other countries and having discussed their feelings and perceptions about their situation, I love the illustrations, which begin with depictions of Dat's new surroundings as being strangely cartoonish (i.e, different from him). To me, this representation makes sense, because my immigrant students described everything as being strange and weird. Since Young Vo created this story from his own experience, I feel like I've taken first steps on a bridge toward understanding based on his illustrations. With the increasing number of non-English speaking students in schools, this book could help foster empathy, understanding, patience, and acceptance in the school community.

Making a Difference, An Inspirational Book About Kids Changing the World!
Young Change Makers Series written by Stacy C. Bauer, illustrated by Emanuela Ntamack (Hop Off the Press 2022). 

In a world where role models are sought to serve as examples for inspiring children, this book is it. Here, the role models are real kids themselves who have worked toward making a difference for causes they believe in. With kid-friendly text, each spotlighted child includes a fun photo of the "change-maker," some fun facts, inspirational quotes, and the story of what each kid has accomplished. 

This book also could serve as an idea-board for community-based classroom projects. I highly recommend it for all ages--for both independent reading and story times, because each spotlight is short, easy to read, and supported with colorful graphics.

I Color Myself Different written by Colin Kaepernick, illustrated by Eric Wilkerson (Scholastic, Inc 2022). 

Told in the first person from Colin's point of view, he shares his experience of having to explain why his hand-drawn family picture shows him as the only one with brown skin. This story does a wonderful way of sharing Colin's story of adoption, while Colin's voice effuses with self-confidence and self-love for how he looks and how he feels as a person, (which is unique and different from everyone else--they way we hope all kids feel). 

This book would be a great introduction to share in the classroom for those days when students are guided through sharing a little of who they are in pictures and/or words. Like the other titles here, I highly recommend it.

Freedom Bird. A Tale of Hope and Courage
 written by Jerdine Nolan, illustrated by James E Ransome (Simon & Schuster 2020). 

This historical fiction story about two children born into slavery and who find their way to freedom is told through the embedded metaphor of getting help from a large, injured, and mysterious heron-like bird that they help to protect and heal. With roots in the tradition of American black folktales, this lyrical and emotionally powerful story is a good one for sharing insight on the effect of slavery on children, families, community, and a nation.

Float written and illustrated by Daniel Miyares (Simon & Schuster 2015). 

This wordless picture book is about a boy who builds a paper boat from newspaper. In the rainy day adventure they take, resilience and imagination rise from disappointment and apparent disaster in order to create a new and different adventure to be enjoyed. The use of limited colors of grays, white, yellow, pale red and pale blue bring the reader into a world of belief where anything is possible, even when faced with obstacles.

The Oldest Student. How Mary Walker Learned to Read,
 written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora (Anne Schwartz Books 2020). 

This book could have been placed in the history or nonfiction categories, but I'm placing it with these other inspiring titles because I am blown away with profound admiration for Mary Walker's achievements. Born into slavery, and having survived it, as well as endured the hardships she faced after emancipation--Mary Walker was the epitome of hard work, selflessness, love, and determination. Author Rita Hubbard's narrative and Oge Mora's illustrations weave together a wonderful tale that I hope all young learners will be motivated and empowered by for whatever personal struggles they face in their own lives.

Exquisite. The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
, written by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera (Abrams Books for Young Readers 2020). 

This Robert Sibert Honor Book tells the story of the first black woman to win the Pulitzer prize for poetry. What I love about this book is the powerful message it shares in the importance of following your passion and not giving up on your dreams, made especially impactful since Gwendolyn started writing poetry when she was seven years old and saw her first poems published in a local newspaper when she was eleven. What a wonderful and inspiring story to share with young readers! 

It begs reconsideration of the oft-asked question, What do you want to be when you grow up? Because honestly, why put off going for one's dreams, when really, the roots can start growing deep while young?

Emmanuel's Dream. The true story of Emanuel Ofosu Yeboah written by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Schwartz & Wade 2015). 

There is so much to admire in this true story of a boy who not only was born with one good leg and one deformed one, but who also was raised by a single mother and by age 13 had to start working to support his family after his mother became ill. Overcoming all odds stacked against him, Emmanuel went on to bike around his country--traveling over 400 miles with only one good leg--in order to show that being disabled does not make a person unable

A powerful and inspirational addition for any book collection  that shows change can start with just one person.

And now for the giveaways! They are awesome!

Follow the Rafflecopter to make your entries. You'll see both giveaways with the side-arrows in the copter.

1) A 20-minute zoom Q&A about writing or 1 classroom visit with author Janie Reinart

2) A 20-minute zoom Q&A about writing or 1 classroom with author Debbie Zapata

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Monday, June 27, 2022

7 Days of Books for Children, Day 2 Books about Nature and Animals

Welcome back to #7DaysOfBooks! 

I grew up in what was once a very rural part of southern New Hampshire, and while it still holds quite a bit of its woods, lakes, wetlands, and hiking trails, much of the "wildness" I grew up running around in is now paved and developed. I'm not saying that's wrong, but what I'm most appreciative of from my youth was my access to nature right out the front door. 

My hopes for children today are that they find ways to connect with the natural world around them--that their curiosity about the wind, the rain, the soil, the plants, the wildlife, our pets, and everything that is beautiful or could be restored to what it once was, is piqued each day. 

For that reason, I'm constantly inspired by the books that allow for this type of connection. Books that provide reminders or introductions to all the various aspects of nature in our world today. Given our planet's changing climate and the peril that many wildlife and plant populations face, fostering connections between nature and today's youth is more important than ever. One surefire way to do that is through children's books. Another way is through pets and their proper care.

I hope you'll find the wide-range of today's books as important and timely as I do. From events that occur only every decade, to service animals that can save lives, to a mama bear tucking her young cub in for a long winter's sleep, each one of these different aspects of nature is profoundly insightful in the appreciation that can be gained. 

Toward that end, I share three quotes.

"If you truly love nature, you find beauty everywhere." - Laura Ingalls Wilder

"To forget how to dig the earth and tend to the soil is to forget ourselves." - Mahatma Ghandi 

"We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." - Native American proverb

With out further ado, here is today's list. I look forward to seeing what you share for your own favorites in this category. 

Remember to support local libraries and request these titles to be added to their collection. 

The Rafflecopter with 4 opportunities for giveaways follows below.

Happy reading!

Wake, Sleepy One
written by Lisa Kerr, illustrated by Lisa Powell Braun (West Margin Books 2022).   I absolutely love this book. The lyrical prose and beautiful refrain that changes slightly on each illustrated page spread in order to match each stage of this yellow poppy's life cycle is exquisite. The extra facts about the flowers on each spread expertly deliver information that young readers will be able to understand. Although the super bloom happens with the yellow poppy in California, this story packs a global reach with flowering plants found most everywhere. Young readers might even go on to discover "super bloom events" in their own regions. Be sure to find yourself a copy. It's a wonderful addition to any collection.

I'm a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog written by Michel Babay, illustrated by Ela Smietanka (Albert Whitman 2021).  

Told from the perspective of a dog that is going through training in order to help his girl, Annie, stay safe from gluten, this story is absolutely engaging and packed full of interesting details. I had no idea that gluten can be found in so many different kinds of foods, and I'm gluten-sensitive, so even as an adult I learned something! Young readers will be opened up to how much work goes into training service animals, especially dogs that can be easily distracted. I imagine that this story will even bring the training of a family pet and how much work it involves into perspective. The illustrations created by Ela's Smietanka are bright, cheerful, and full of playful energy, which makes re-reading this book a joy.

A perfect book for any kid that likes dogs, pets, and has ever been curious about what service animals can do (or what it takes to be one), Babay's and Smietanka's story earns an A+++!

This is the Boat That Ben Built written by Jen Lynn Bailey, illustrated by Maggie Zeng (Pajama Press 2022).  

Based on the classic nursery rhyme, this delightful story is a perfect introduction to animals that can be found in river systems of northern biomes. As a science teacher I especially love the back matter that dips into details of ecosystems, touching on both living and nonliving components. The illustrations are downright colorful and fun and will most certainly please kids during story time. This book is a great one to check out.

Out of the Blue written by Elizabeth Shreeve, illustrated by Fran Preston-Gannon (Candlewick Press 2021).

As a teacher of earth science, one of the things (among many) that I am most impressed with in this book is Shreeve's ability to tell the complex story of how life began on earth in a clear and engaging way that young readers will understand and enjoy listening to.

I grew up loving the both the ocean and the land for all the wonderous life forms that are found among the different habitats, and this book bridges the amazing connections between both worlds. With bright and colorful illustrations that complement the text, this book is perfect for all ages. I highly recommend it.

The Crab Ballet 
written by Rene LaTulippe, illustrated by Cecile Metzger (Cameron Kids 2022). 

This rhyming story introduces children to the rhythm and movements of ballet terms, along with some French ones, within a beautifully illustrated and almost surreal inter-tidal performance of a crustacean community. The soft colors of Metzger's illustrations are a perfect match for the "quiet" world that can be seen along the shoreline at low tide. Yet, although quiet, I know from experience that the tide pool ecosystems that can be explored at low tide are full of activity and life, just like this book! It's a wonderful way to bring arts into the exploration and enjoyment of the natural world.

Before the World Wakes written by Estelle Laure, illustrated by Paola Zakimi (Two Lions 2022).

This story about a special time shared between brother and sister who discover gentle moments of nature and themselves in the moments just before dawn will pull readers in with its gentle text, especially with metaphors like: Then the sky goes the color of a wish. It's just for us

What I love most about this book is the message of a special moment that shared between siblings. Reading this book is perfect way to spark conversation about what might be happening outdoors while the world is sleeping or what is going on in the moments just before waking up. 

Slow Down, Tumbleweed! written by Haven Iverson, illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr. (Sounds True 2021).

What I love in this story about a tumbleweed who bounces from place to place on the wind is its many layers. Not only does it introduce young readers to different habitats and animals found within them, but it ultimately holds a message about the importance of slowing down to enjoy the quiet moments of nature around oneself. For that, this book seems like a perfect companion for Before the World Wakes. Set on the wide expanses of the western or southwestern United States, Slow Down Tumbleweed will draw readers in to gain an inherent appreciation of nature. 

Wildfire! written and illustrated by Ashley Wolff (Beach Lane Books 2021). 

When wildfire ignites in the forest, how do animals and humans respond? This story shows a forest and fire team's response to combatting wildfire, as well as the actions that different types of wildlife take to avoid harm. 

As alarming as the wildfires have been in the western United States from long-term drought, and also personally knowing a young woman who is a part of one of those fire-fighting forest crews, I found this book to be both informative and reassuring. It's a great introduction for discussion about forest ecology and management with young readers.

Over and Under the Canyon,
 written by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (Chronicle Books 2021). 

Inspired by a trip taken by the author to Anza-Brego Desert State Park in Southern California, I found that the landscape, animals, and experiences shared for the young reader reflect my own memories of Southern Utah. Kids will delight in seeing the different types of animals that are highlighted in the illustrations and some of their interactions that can be found in the desert, both during that day and at night. 

Overall, this book is a beautiful addition to the Over/Under series, which provides a peek into different types of habitats.

Winter Lullaby written by Dianne White, illustrated by Ramona Kaulitski (Candlewick 2021). 

A baby bear questions why he must go to bed as he observes a series of animals in the forest around him, while mama bear explains how each of those animals is prepping to sleep through winter. Before long, both mama and baby are tucked in their own den. This seamlessly rhyming and lyrical text will soothe any young reader into the sweetest of dreams, while introducing them to woodland animals in winter.

One Tomato. A Garden Counting Boo
k, written by Rebecca Mullin, illustrated by Anne Mullin (Rubber Ducky Press 2021). 

The colors and wonders of nature can capture even the youngest readers, which makes this board book a perfect introduction for what can be see in a backyard or patio garden, as well as what they might find on their plate at snack time or meal time. The bright illustrations and clear, rhyming text will captivate the youngest future readers. 

Snail Crossing 
written and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor (Balzar & Bray 2020). 

All that stands between snail and a yummy patch of cabbage is a road. How hard can it be for one snail to get to the other side? This endearing story about goals and new friends who find unexpected ways to arrive at new destinations--all told from the perspective of a snail's eye view--makes it quite unique and fun for young readers.

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance at one of 4 giveaways! All 4 giveaways are included in the Rafflecopter if you use the arrow at the top to scroll through.

1) A signed copy of WAKE, SLEEPY ONE from author Lisa Kerr

2) A free critique of a picture book manuscript (non-rhyming) from author Michal Babay

3) A free critique of a picture book manuscript from author Jen Lynn Bailey 

4) A signed copy of OUT OF THE BLUE from author Elizabeth Shreeve

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