Anyone Can Be A Scientist: Celebrating Citizen Science Month

April 2021 is Citizen Science Month! What is citizen science? Citizen science connects scientists and everyday people to help accelerate research and discovery. Essentially, citizen science is scientific research anyone can conduct in order to help real-life scientists. This could be from finding local ways to make a difference in protecting endangered species, to safeguarding water sources, to preventing disease, and more! Science needs more eyes, ears, and perspectives than any scientist possesses. Citizen science is an invitation to everyone to participate in real science on topics they care about. This month, we’ve put together a list of children’s books that shed light on how curious, motivated children can make a difference in science, as well a few resources to help with your citizen science curiosities and projects! Learn more about citizen science and how you can celebrate in April here:

Stemple, Heidi E.Y.
Illustrated by: Clover Robin
Counting Birds: The Idea That Helped Save Our Feathered Friends. 2018 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
What can you do to help endangered animals and make a positive change in our environment? Get counting! In this picture book, kids are introduced to the idea of bird counts and bird watches. Along the way they will learn about Frank Chapman, who used his bird knowledge to initiate the first annual bird count. Bird counting helps professional researchers collect data, share expertise, and spread valuable information to help all kinds of birds around the world. Counting Birds introduces kids to a whole feathered world that will fascinate and inspire them to get involved and become citizen scientists.
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Brown, Peter
The Curious Garden. 2009 (Picture Book).
While out exploring one day, Liam discovers a struggling garden — the only plant life in the city. Liam decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. With environmental themes and a garden that has a personality of its own, this picture book will teach children to protect nature and maybe even inspire them to create their own little garden.
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Burns, Loree Griffin
Illustrated by: Ellen Harasimowicz
Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard. 2012 (Children’s Nonfiction).
Anyone can get involved in gathering data for ongoing, actual scientific studies such as the Audubon Bird Count and FrogWatch USA! Just get out into a field, urban park, or your own backyard. This book will teach kids to put their nose to a monarch pupa or listen for raucous frog calls, to tally woodpeckers or sweep the grass for ladybugs, and much more. Citizen Scientists explains how kids can make a real, substantial difference in the world of science.
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Cousteau, Phillipe and Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by: Meilo So
Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles. 2016 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
Meet Viv, who has a new home and a new school by the sea. Inspired by her teacher, Viv and her classmates are looking for a problem to solve, and Viv soon discovers the body of a baby turtle facing away from the sea during a visit to the beach. She then does some research, and Viv figures out the lights from the beach houses are putting the turtles in danger and confusing their natural instincts. With her classmates’ help, Viv works to get the message out to the community to turn off lights at night to save the turtles. This picture book of environmental action, community, and friendship takes children on a journey of activism and how kids can help using science.
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Forrest, Time and Jen Hamel
Bug Camp: Where Every Day’s an Adventure. 2016 (Middle Grade).
This book is a culmination of the authors’ decades of experience with bug camps, creating a resource filled with games, experiments, cool facts, and stories. Discover insect mouth parts that chew, siphon, pierce, and absorb and antennae that smell and hear. Learn how to identify crickets and katydids from their songs and how to find firefly signals and honeybee waggle dances. Collect caterpillars and watch them morph into butterflies and moths. Go on scavenger hunts to find cool predators, prey, and parasites. Conduct experiments and collect citizen science data. With hundreds of insect photos from around the world and millions of real insects in every neighborhood, kids will be able to become scientist themselves from their own backyard.
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Forrester, Anna
Illustrated by: Susan Detwiler
Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story. 2017 (Picture Book).
Jojo is prepping for an exciting night: it’s time for the bat count! Bats have always been a welcome presence during the summers in the family barn. But over the years, the numbers have dwindled as many bats in the area caught white-nose syndrome. Jojo and her family count the bats and send the numbers to scientists who study bats, to see if the bat population can recover. On a summer evening, the family quietly makes their way to the lawn to watch the sky and count the visitors to their farm. Follow Jojo and her family as they participate in their own citizen science project!
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Kamkwamba, William
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. 2015 (Nonfiction Middle Grade).
When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba’s tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season’s crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. Near starvation and forced to drop out of school, William began to explore science books in his small village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family’s life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and bicycle parts, William’s windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.
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Note: This story is also available as a nonfiction picture book for younger readers under the same title. Q. SB. K156b

Sidman, Joyce
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science. 2018 (Middle Grade Biography).
Bugs, of all kinds, were considered to be “born of mud” and to be “beasts of the devil.” Why would anyone, let alone a girl, want to study and observe them? One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. With quotes and illustrations from Maria Merian herself, this story tells the tale of one of the first female entomologists, and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.
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Looking for a citizen science project in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, or Ohio? Check out the annual bee spotting project that typically occurs in early June each year. BeeSpotter is a web-based portal at the University of Illinois for learning about honey bees and bumble bees and for contributing data to a nationwide effort to collect baseline information on population status of these insects.
This is an official government website designed to accelerate the use of citizen science across the U.S. government. Here, you can view current projects and utilize citizen science toolkits that provide five basic process steps for planning, designing, and carrying out a citizen science project to help federal employees. These toolkits also have case studies, models, and other resources, including success stories and some of the challenges that developers faced in designing and carrying out citizen science projects.

Common Sense Education: Real-World Science Resources for Students
It’s important for students to see how science works out in the real world, beyond the limits of classrooms and textbooks, and Common Sense Education has put together a list of websites and apps to help with this. Some of the tools on the list get students observing the behavior of animals on a webcam, listening to and analyzing the sounds of whales, watching the stars in the sky, and identifying plant or animal species — executing citizen science projects of their own.

SciGirls: Citizen Science Fun for All! (PBS)
This helpful tool can aid in picking projects for you and your little one to do. With user-friendly drop-down menus, you can pick an activity, topic, and use keywords to search through the SciStarter database and pick a citizen science project to fill your kids’ day.


Mental Wellness: Shining a Light on Mental Health

March 2 is Teen Mental Wellness Day, a day dedicated to shining a light on mental health struggles for teens and to remove the stigma mental health often has, so we highlight books for children and young adults that face mental health head on. Whether it is a child facing it themselves or someone in their life that struggles with it, these books cover a wide range of mental health obstacles: from anxiety to depression to PTSD to OCD and more. Trigger warnings will be listed at the beginning of each entry where needed. These books do not encompass the entirety of mental health issues people face, but rather a small sampling.

We also compiled a list of professional resources for anyone to access. If you are a child or young adult or you know of a child/young adult struggling with mental health, we hope these resources help, whether through reaching out for help, learning more about mental illness and how to cope with it, or connecting with similar youth.


Gephart, Donna
Lily and Dunkin. 2016 (Middle Grade).
Trigger Warning: not taking medication
Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl, but being a girl isn’t easy when you look like a boy, especially when you’re in the eighth grade. Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he’s also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. This dual narrative follows both young people as they struggle mentally through their challenges, but they get to do it together.
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Hall, Michael
Red: A Crayon’s Story. 2015 (Picture Book).
Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red by drawing strawberries; his mother tries to help him be red by sending him on a playdate with a yellow classmate to draw a nice orange together; and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries. A brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what he’s known all along. This picture book on identity crises is about being true to your inner self and following your own path, despite the obstacles that may come your way.
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Holmes, Margaret
A Terrible Thing Happened. 2000 (Picture Book).
Sherman Smith saw the most terrible thing happen. At first, he tries to forget about it. But soon something inside him started to bother him. He felt nervous, sometimes his stomach hurt, he had bad dreams, and he started to feel angry and do mean things, which gets him in trouble. Then he met Ms. Maple, who helped him talk about the terrible thing that he had tried to forget. This illustrated story is for children who have witnessed any kind of violent or traumatic episode and may be experiencing some PTSD from the event, whether that be physical abuse, school or gang violence, accidents, homicide, suicide, or natural disasters.
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Hopkins, Ellen
Impulse. 2007 (Teen).
Trigger Warnings: suicide, cutting, addiction, depression
Three lives converge at the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted suicide. Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets have been bottling up and the only way to release them is through cutting. Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills. And Conner outwardly has the perfect life, but dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, and himself. In one instant, all three decided enough was enough — and tried to end it all. This verse novel traverses the demons these individuals face and the strength they need to find to face their second chance.
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Keller, Tae
The Science of Breakable Things. 2018 (Middle Grade).
Trigger Warning: parent with depression
Natalie Napoli’s botanist mother is suffering from depression, not getting out of bed most days. When Mr. Neely, Natalie’s science teacher, suggests that Natalie enter an egg drop competition, Natalie doesn’t want to at first. Not until she realizes that she could use the prize money to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids—flowers that survive against impossible odds. Natalie thinks the flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. Alongside broken friendships and new friendships, science projects, and enthusiastic teachers, Natalie learns that depression is not a choice.
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Khorram, Adib
Darius the Great is Not Okay. 2018 (Teen).
Trigger Warning: clinical depression
Darius Kellner doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough. He speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. And he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. So it’s pretty overwhelming taking his first-ever trip to Iran. But in Iran, he gets to know his ailing but formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he also gets to meet Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab. And as Sohrab calls him Darioush, the original Persian version of his name, Darius has never felt more like himself. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.
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Oshiro, Mark
Anger is a Gift. 2018 (Teen).
Trigger Warnings: loss of a parent, panic attacks, racism, violence, police brutality, murder
Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’s father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks. Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school: new rules, random locker searches, constant intimidation, and the Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. So the students decide to fight back by organizing and pushing back against the administration. When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must decide if he should give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.
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Rooks, Jo
Hector’s Favorite Place. 2018 (Picture Book).
Hector loves his home — it’s comfy, snuggly, and safe. But sometimes Hector relies on the safety of his home too much. He’s invited to play outside with his friends, but he worries about the potential problems he might encounter. And soon, Hector realizes that his worries are keeping him from enjoying himself, so he needs to learn to be brave and try new things. This picture book about anxiety and worries encourages kids to step outside their comfort zone.
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Stokes, Paula
Girl Against the Universe. 2016 (Teen).
Trigger Warnings: PTSD, anxiety, OCD, compulsions, agoraphobia
Sixteen-year-old Maguire knows the universe is against her. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen around her. Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or the time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash, and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. Despite what her therapist tells her, Maguire thinks it’s best to hide out in her room, far away from anyone she might accidentally hurt. But then she meets Jordy, and Maguire knows the best thing she can do for him is to stay away. However, it turns out staying away might be harder than she thought.
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Swartz, Elly D.
Finding Perfect. 2016 (Middle Grade).
Trigger Warnings: OCD, compulsions
To Molly Nathans, perfect is the number four, the tip of a newly sharpened number two pencil, a crisp white pad of paper, and her neatly aligned glass animal figurines. What’s not perfect is Molly’s mother leaving the family to take a faraway job with the promise to return in one year. Molly knows that promises are often broken, so she hatches a plan to bring her mother home: win the Lakeville Middle School Slam Poetry Contest, where the winner is honored at a fancy banquet with tablecloths. Molly is sure her mother would never miss it. But as time goes on, writing and reciting slam poetry becomes harder. Actually, everything becomes harder as new habits appear, and counting, cleaning, and organizing are not enough to keep Molly’s world from spinning out of control.
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Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM)
SAHM has a comprehensive list of mental health resources for adolescents and young adults, offering online resources, apps and tech services, mental health resource institutes, mental health medication guides, and helplines. These resources are aimed specifically for adolescent and young adults.
This organization is available to inform individuals about their mental health. They aim to take the best available scientific evidence in mental health and make it easy to understand and accessible to everyone. Materials provided are in a variety of mediums including videos, animations, brochures, e-books, face-to-face training programs, and online training programs. The materials are specifically designed to meet the needs of children, youth, young adults, families, educators, community agencies, and healthcare providers.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness. They work to educate, advocate, listen, and lead to improve the lives of people with mental illness and their loved ones. There are resources on their website for individuals suffering from mental illness—for adults, children, youth, teens, and young adults—as well as for family members and caregivers who may need help in understanding/helping loved ones with mental illness. NAMI currently has extended helpline hours; call the NAMI helpline at 800-950-6264 M-F 10 am – 8 pm ET or in a crisis text “NAMI” to 741741 for 24/7, confidential, free crisis counseling.

Center for Parent Information & Resources
This Center, under the U.S. Department of Education, has a comprehensive list of resources for parents with children suffering from mental illness. It includes fact sheets, information for a crisis situation, a comprehensive list of resources, information on finding mental health services, and organizations that help with specific disorders.


Celebrating Love Found in Unlikely Friendships

February is the month most known for Valentine’s Day, celebrating romantic love between partners. However, there are many other different kinds of love that should always be celebrated, in particular, the love between friends. This month, we’re highlighting books with friendships that you don’t expect to work but instead do; from ghosts and humans to an assassin and a prince, these unlikely matches will help you in celebrating the diverse range of love that friendships represent.

Barclay, Eric
Sheep Dog and Sheep Sheep. 2019 (Picture Book).
Sheep is an expert at two things: dancing and watching the other sheep. But then one day, she meets a new hairy friend who claims to also watch sheep. Sheep knows that can’t be right since she’s the pro! So, Sheep decides to get everything Sheep Dog needs to get the job done, but each time she leaves, something almost happens to Sheep — only for Sheep Dog to save the day. Even with Sheep Dog doing Sheep’s job better than she can do it, this picture book on friendship shows that even the best watchers must look out for each other.
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Barnett, Mac
Illustrated by: Christian Robinson
Leo: A Ghost Story. 2015 (Picture Book).
You would like being friends with Leo: he likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can’t even see him — because Leo is a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo’s efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it’s time to see the world; but his town has changed considerably since Leo became a ghost. And then Leo meets Jane — a kid with a large imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends, and where the adventures of Sir Leo the Ghost and King Jane the Human begin.
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Kelly, Erin Entrada
Hello, Universe. 2017 (Middle Grade).
Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family; Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart and brave but secretly lonely and loves everything about nature; Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around; and Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. These four are not friends — at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. The disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Friendship blooms between the very different kids as they perform the rescue and put a bully in his place.
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Gaiman, Neil.
Illustrated by: Jill Schwarz
Cinnamon. 2017 (Picture Book).
A long time ago in India, there lived a princess named Cinnamon. Cinnamon had pearls for eyes that were incapable of sight; and Cinnamon had been mute her whole life. In an effort to help, her mother and father offered many riches to anyone who could get Cinnamon to speak. Numerous teachers tried everything they could think of, but nothing worked, and Cinnamon still did not speak. Until one day, a tiger came to the palace, armed with knowledge of the world. And the tiger talked. Cinnamon’s parents put Cinnamon and the tiger together, and the tiger taught the sheltered Cinnamon about some of the things she had been missing. A friendship sparked as this talking tiger got Cinnamon to utter her first words.
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Maas, Sarah J.
Throne of Glass. 2012 (Teen).
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian and his Captain of the Guard Chaol Westfall offer Celaena her freedom on one condition: she must act as Prince Dorian’s champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years, and then be granted her freedom. Through training, the contests, pretending to be someone she’s not for court life, and contestants being murdered, the assassin, the prince, and the Captain of the Guard work together to face it all — and friendships form amid the harrowing events.
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Mead, Richelle
Bloodlines. 2011 (Teen).
Sydney Sage is an alchemist, a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. She helps to protect vampire secrets — and human lives. Even if they’re protecting their secrets, the alchemists hate vampires, and the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists. And now with her allegiances in question, her future is on the line. In order to show her loyalty lies with the alchemists rather than the vampires, Sydney is sent on a mission: she must act as protector to vampire Jill, who’s forced into hiding from mortal danger. Sydney has to pose as Jill’s roommate and sister at a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants, or needs, is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires, and now she has to live with one. As threats and distractions abound, Sydney must work very hard to stay separate from Jill and her guardians to show that she can do her job — but it’s much harder than she thinks when friendship begins to bloom between her and the vampire.
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Perez, Celia C.
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers. 2019 (Middle Grade).
Ofelia Castilla (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) all receive a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion. Unable to pass up the promise of adventure and mischief, they meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it’s certainly not love at first sight for all of them. But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts troop, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice and independence, the girls discover they can be their unique, individual selves while supporting one another, and finding the sisterhood they didn’t know they needed amidst their fight for justice.
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Schwab, Victoria
City of Ghosts. 2018 (Middle Grade).
Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectors, a ghost-hunting team with a new show that sends them around the world to find proof of the supernatural. But Cass herself can really see ghosts, and her best friend Jacob just happens to be one. The Inspectors head to the ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland for their show, and Cassidy and Jacob come along. There, Cassidy is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them as friendly as Jacob. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an in-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cassidy isn’t so sure — especially when the only friend she has is a ghost himself. However, she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in this world, and Cassidy must use her powers in an epic fight through the worlds of the living and the dead in order to save herself.
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Schwab, Victoria
This Savage Song. 2016 (Teen).
Kate Harker and August Flynn are heirs to a divided city, where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection from them. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own human father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent — but he’s a monster, one who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music from his violin. When August gets the chance to be normal by keeping an eye on Kate, attending the school that she does, he jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt, the pair must flee for their lives. As they wade through the city of humans and monsters and corruption and peril, the human that wants to be a monster and the monster that wants to be human form a friendship that could help save their lives.
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Tahir, Sabaa
A Torch Against the Night. 2016 (Teen).
In this second book in the An Ember in the Ashes quartet, Elias and Laia are running for their lives. Elias was once a Mask, a soldier trained to kill and keep the order of the Empire; Laia was once a slave, working for The Commandant, the most terrifying Mask of all. The two have fled Blackcliff, the school that trains Masks like Elias, and are now fugitives of the Empire. And Helene Akiva is chasing after them. Once best friends, Helene and Elias are now enemies, but it’s hard to let go of those ties when Helene is tasked with killing him. And Elias and Laia, two people from very different backgrounds and who should be enemies, are slowly forming a friendship as they try to survive the soldiers and Masks sent after them. Old friendships and new friendships and complications for both abound in this sequel.


Don’t Let the Aliens Intimidate You: Celebrating Science Fiction

January 2nd is National Science Fiction Day, and we wanted to celebrate by giving you a list of science fiction children’s books to try! Oftentimes, science fiction is a genre that intimidates people with its imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and even extraterrestrial life. It’s a genre that can be difficult to define, with its wide range of concepts and themes. However, we’ve picked a few children’s books that we think would be a great start in dipping your toes into the science fiction genre if you’ve been too intimidated, or, if you’re a science fiction lover, here’s some to add to your list!

Barnett, Mac
Oh no! How My Science Project Destroyed the World. 2010 (Picture Book).
It’s a terrible thing when a giant robot starts destroying your city; it’s even worse when it’s your fault. This picture book opens up in the middle of the action, as our heroine faces the retreating back of a mechanical robot on the rampage — a robot she built. We soon learn that after winning the science fair with her giant robot, our main character watches as her robot gets loose in the city and creates havoc, making her question all of the features that she should have included and ones that she definitely shouldn’t have — like that laser eye. Now it’s up to her to stop it.
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Holm, Jennifer
The Fourteenth Goldfish. 2014 (Middle Grade).
Ellie is an eleven-year-old who is not a fan of change; she’s missing fifth grade, her old best friend, and even her dearly departed goldfish. But then a strange boy shows up one day — a bossy, cranky boy that oddly looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Now this bossy, cranky boy who’s just like her grandpa has to attend middle school with Ellie. This middle grade novel slips in a lot of information about important scientists and life-changing scientific discoveries alongside light and funny interactions and moments.
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Kaufman, Amie and Jay Kristoff
Gemina. 2016 (Teen).
Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life, but nobody said it might actually kill her. Hanna is the pampered daughter of the station caption; Nik is the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. While the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring station, an elite intergalactic strike team invades the station, throwing the two together to defend their home. Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival amidst alien predators and a malfunctioning wormhole — the fate of everyone on their space station (and possibly the known universe) is in their hands. This second book in a series (the first being Illuminae) is told through a dossier of hacked documents, including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, video transcripts, pictures, and more.
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Meyer, Marissa
Cinder. 2012 (Teen).
This futuristic Cinderella retelling takes place in New Beijing, a city that’s crowded by humans, androids, and a deadly plague ravaging the population. Cinder is a gifted mechanic — and a cyborg. As a cyborg, Cinder doesn’t have the same rights as a normal person, and her stepmother goes out of her way to remind Cinder of this whenever she can — even while Cinder tries to hide her cyborg status from the world. But her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, and she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle. Cinder is the first book in a Disney series, The Lunar Chronicles, of retellings of familiar stories set in a science fiction world.
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O’Hart, Sinéad
The Starspun Web. 2019 (Middle Grade).
Tess has lived at Miss Ackerbee’s orphanage all her life, with her friends and pet tarantula, Violet. But one day, a mysterious man named Mr. Cleat shows up and whisks Tess away to live with him. Before Tess leaves, Miss Ackerbee gives her a strange lens and makes an even stranger admission: that Tess can travel to parallel worlds and has been able to do so since she was found as a baby. Now Tess must learn to navigate her newfound abilities alongside her new life with Mr. Cleat and his nefarious housekeeper, all while trying to keep her abilities secret and making sure the lens doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
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Sanderson, Brandon
Skyward. 2018 (Teen).
Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly under attack by mysterious alien starfighters. The population is hidden under the earth, the only ones visiting the surface being pilots trained to fight against the aliens attacking them. Spensa, a teenage girl whose father once was a pilot, wants nothing more than to follow in her father’s footsteps and be accepted into flight school. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes her dream might be possible — assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school where everyone seems to hate her because of what her father did, and persuade the strange ship to help her because this ship appears to have a soul.
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Schusterman, Neal
Scythe. 2016 (Teen).
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. No death. Humanity has conquered all those things. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life — and they are commanded to do so in order to keep the size of the population under control. All manners of life are now controlled by the Thunderhead, a conscious Artificial Intelligence that handles all food and wealth distribution, medical care, and anything else required for living on Earth. Citra and Rowan are chosen to be apprentices to scythes — a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking a life, knowing that the consequence could mean losing their own.
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Siegel, Mark
The Sand Warrior. 2017 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
Star Wars meets Avatar: The Last Airbender in this science fiction graphic novel, where the Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. Three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves than meets the eye: Oona Lee, the clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine; An Tzu, a boy from the poorest slums, has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations; and Jax Amboy is the star athlete who is beloved by the entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends? These three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest across the universe.
S.741.5973 Si1561fwsa

Underwood, Deborah
Illustrated by: Meg Hunt
Interstellar Cinderella. 2015 (Picture Book)
Cinderella’s passion is working on spaceships and fixing things. She doesn’t want to marry the prince — she wants to be his mechanic. Living with her cruel stepmother and stepsisters, she acts as the household mechanic, with her best friend being a robot mouse. When everyone is invited to the Prince’s Royal Space Parade, Cinderella’s stepmother forbids her to go. With a little help from her fairy godrobot, Cinderella is going to the parade — but when the Prince’s ship has mechanical trouble, Cinderella will have to zoom to the rescue. After leaving her screwdriver, the Prince frantically searches for the great mechanic, and he sets up a test to see who can fix his rocket.
Q. S.398.2 Un25i

Van Camp, Katie
Illustrated by: Lincoln Agnew
Harry and Horsie. 2009 (Picture Book).
With the moon shining through the window onto his new Super Duper Bubble Blooper, Harry finds it hard to sleep. He instead decides to sneak out of bed with his best friend, Horsie, and play with the toy, firing the bubble gun around his room. Before long, bubbles of all sizes are filling Harry’s room, but those bubbles then start to swallow up all Harry’s toys, floating them out the window towards space! The bubbles take his toy train, his cars, his planes, his shoes; but then the bubbles take Horsie, and Harry doesn’t hesitate in jumping on his toy rocket ship and racing to rescue his best friend.


What 2020 Did Right: Diverse Books for Read a New Book Month

2020 has been a difficult year in many ways, but one thing that went right was the diverse books that were published. As December is National Read a New Book Month, there’s no better way to celebrate the end of this challenging year than by putting a spotlight on the new diverse voices that were put on our shelves this year. From race to neurodiversity to LGBTQ+ representation and more, this list explores how far we’ve come as a society while also shedding light on how far we still have to go in accepting and allowing for equality. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but rather a small taste of diversity being recognized in modern literature for youth.

Albertalli, Becky and Aisha Saeed
Yes, No, Maybe So. 2020 (Teen).
Jamie is volunteering for his local state senate candidate, happy to work behind the scenes. But when he needs to start knocking on doors to ask people for their votes, Jamie chokes. Maya is having the worst Ramadan ever — she’s unable to hang out with her best friend, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing. Jamie and Maya go door to door together, mastering local activism and navigating a cross-cultural romance. This young adult novel has a Muslim main character and explains the importance of activism and voting.
S. Al146ye

Brantley-Newton, Vanessa.
Just Like Me. 2020 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
This picture book is a collection of poetry filled with mini-stories about girls of all kinds: girls who feel happy, sad, scared, powerful; girls who love their bodies and girls who don’t; country girls, city girls; girls who love their mother and girls who wish they had a father. Black girls, brown girls, Asian girls, white girls, biracial girls, and more fill these pages, celebrating and encouraging and empowering all girls.
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Duncan, Alice Faye
Just Like a Mama. 2020 (Picture Book).
Carol Olivia Clementine lives with Mama Rose, but in the midst of their happy home, Carol Olivia Clementine misses her mother and father. While Mama Rose teaches Carol Olivia Clementine how to ride a bike, clean her room, and tell time, Carol Olivia Clementine learns to embrace the love that is present and Mama Rose becomes her “home.” And Carol Olivia Clementine concludes that she loves Mama Rose “just like a mama.” This picture book takes a deep look at the life of a caregiver who opens their arms and home to a child that is not their own.
Q. SE. D9124ju

Hudson, Chery and Erin K. Robinson
Brave, Black, First: 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World. 2020 (Middle Grade Biography).
Published in partnership with curators from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, this illustrated biography compilation captures the iconic moments of fifty African American women whose heroism and bravery rewrote the American story for the better. From Rosa Parks who sat for equality to Michelle Obama who transformed the White House, this book sheds light on fearless, bold African American women who changed the game.
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Jamieson, Victoria and Omar Mohamed
When Stars Are Scattered. 2020 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother’s needs make life hard at the camp. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future, but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Told by a Somali refugee who lived the story, this graphic novel is an intimate, important look at the day-to-day life of a refugee.
S.741.5973 J243wh

Johnson, George M.
All Boys Aren’t Blue. 2020 (Teen Nonfiction).
In a series of personal essays, George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at the age of five, to flea marketing with his grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys. This book is a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color; it covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy.
SB. J632al

Kapit, Sarah
Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! 2020 (Middle Grade).
Vivy Cohen wants to play baseball. Ever since her hero — Major League pitcher VJ Capello — taught her how to throw a knuckleball at a family fun day for kids with autism, she’s been perfecting her pitch, and now she knows she’s ready to play on a real team. When her social skills teacher makes her write a letter to someone she knows, she writes to VJ and tells him everything about how much she wants to pitch, and how her mom says she can’t because she’s a girl and because she has autism. And then two amazing things happen: Vivy meets a Little League coach who invites her to join his team and VJ starts writing back. Vivy Cohen won’t let autism stop her from play baseball in this epistolary middle grade novel.
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Lindstrom, Caroel
Illustrated by: Michaela Goade
We Are Water Protectors. 2020 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people’s water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource. Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, this picture book issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption.
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Stamper, Phil
The Gravity of Us. 2020 (Teen).
Cal is used to sharing his life online as a seventeen-year-old successful social media journalist with half a million followers. But he’s thrust into a media circus when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, moving from Brooklyn to Houston. Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon amidst the chaos, another “Astrokid,” and Cal finds himself falling head over heels — fast. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him. This LGBTQ+ young adult novel explores the thrill of first love and the overwhelming feeling of self-doubt.
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Stead, Rebecca
The List of Things That Will Not Change. 2020 (Middle Grade).
After her parents’ divorce, Bea’s life became different in many ways, but she can always look back at the list she keeps in her green notebook to remember the things that will stay the same. The first and most important: Mom and Dad will always love Bea, and each other. When Bea’s Dad tells her that he and his boyfriend, Jesse, are getting married, Bea is thrilled; she loves Jesse, and when he and her dad get married, she’ll finally have what she’s always wanted — a sister. As the wedding day approaches, Bea will learn that making a new family brings questions, surprises, and joy in this middle grade novel celebrating queer parents and shining a light on childhood mental illness.
S. St311li


Shop Small: Books About Small Businesses for Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is November 28th this year and it could be the most important Small Business Saturday yet. With the ongoing pandemic and threat of Coronavirus — the quarantine and restrictions that have been put into place for months now — small businesses have been suffering; reports show they are closing by the thousands, partially and permanently. Small Business Saturday is a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities, and this year it’s vital to show that support. For November, we thought we’d celebrate small businesses by highlighting some books for children and teens that have small businesses at their core. Remember to shop small, especially as the holiday season begins to approach!

Brown, Calef
Pirateria: The Wonderful Plunderful Pirate Emporium. 2012 (Picture Book).
When pirates need superior wares and treasure for life at sea, they head on down to Pirateria. This is a story about a pirate emporium, where you can find treasure chests, peg legs, planks, eye patches, head rags, vests, pantaloons, satchels, gem pouches, and doubloons — all at prices that can’t be beat. This picture book will take you on a rhyming journey through Pirateria — a small business that’s there for all your pirate needs.

Jaigirdar, Adiba
The Henna Wars. 2020 (Teen).
A school competition invites students to create their own businesses, and old friends Flávia and Nishat both choose to do henna. Nishat wants to do a henna business because it’s her culture and her grandmother taught her; Flávia decides to do henna because it’s trendy. A crush, coming out to her parents (with less-than-great reactions), sabotage, and school stress makes Nishat’s life more hectic as it gets tangled with Flávia’s as their small businesses go to war. Covering heavy topics such as cultural appropriation and racism, this book helps teens starting their own small businesses to have that conversation, as well as showing what small businesses can mean to individuals.

Lord, Emma
Tweet Cute. 2020 (Teen).
Pepper runs the massive Twitter account for her family’s booming fast-food chain Big League Burgers; Jack starts running the Twitter account for his family’s small deli when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, using the social media profile to try and take down the chain one tweet at a time. Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war, helping Jack’s family’s small business in the process. Little do the two know that, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles on their business accounts, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built. This book takes a look at the struggles small businesses often face, from starting one to keeping one running.

Panetta, Kevin
Illustrated by: Savanna Ganucheau
Bloom. 2019 (Teen Graphic Novel).
Ari used to love working at his family’s bakery, but now that he’s graduated from high school, he’s ready to move to the big city. While interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, a laid-back guy who loves baking. As they work together in the bakery during the busy summer season, Ari begins to appreciate the bakery once again — as well as Hector. This graphic novel highlights the importance of a family business while making you hungry for some baked goods.

Pelley, Kathleen T.
Illustrated by Paige Keiser
Raj the Bookstore Tiger. 2011 (Picture Book).
Being a bookstore tiger is hard work, but Raj is up to the task. He spends his days patrolling the shelves, sitting in laps at story hour, and sleeping in the window displays. Raj is proud of his work, until Snowball comes along — the new cat in the bookstore. Snowball informs Raj that he’s just a marmalade kitty-cat, and times become tough for the bookstore tiger. But Raj and bookstore owner Felicity, with the help of poet William Blake, knows how to fix things with a very special book. This picture book takes you on a journey through a bookstore, showing the importance of independent bookstores and the booksellers and cats that work there.

Polacco, Patricia
Something About Hensley’s. 2006 (Picture Books).
No matter what you need, Hensley’s has it. It’s almost magical the way the manager, Old John, seems to know what the townsfolk need before they do. When Molly and her family moves to town and Molly’s mother can’t afford the treatment for Molly’s asthma, Old John finds a way to give the family exactly what they need. This picture book shows the importance of small businesses and the people who work there — who will do anything they can to get you what you need.

Vivian, Siobhan
Stay Sweet. 2018 (Teen).
Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to the local ice cream stand, Meade Creamery. Founded in 1944 by Molly Meade, the stand was started because Molly wanted to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys went off to war. Since then, the stand has been managed exclusively by local girls, and this summer it’s run by Amelia and her best friend Cate. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia is worried the stand can’t go on. But the arrival of Molly’s grandnephew Grady and his request for Amelia to stay on to help continue the business gives her hope. A story about how small businesses can bring people and a community together for many years.

West, Kasie
Maybe This Time. 2019 (Teen).
Sophie Evans works for the local florist, arranging bouquets and centerpieces for all the events in town — weddings, funerals, barbecues, New Year’s Eve parties. Andrew Hart is the son of a big-time chef, attending the same events that Sophie attends over the course of a year as his father helps the local catering business get back on its feet. While romance brews for Sophie and Andrew as they meet at all the major celebrations in their small town, the small businesses they both work for are at the heart of the story, showing how important those small-town businesses can be in bringing a community together.

And if you have a young one in your life who wants to start their own small business, here are a couple for you:

Berstein, Daryl
Illustrated by: Rob Husberg
Better Than a Lemonade Stand. 2012 (Children’s Nonfiction).
This resource includes more than fifty simple business ideas, complete with tips about supplies, time needed, what to charge, and how to advertise. These ideas show how to start a business with little or no start-up costs, attract and retain customers, develop negotiating skills, and more. Originally written and published when the author was fifteen, this book is a good starting point to help the kid in your life start their own business.

Yamada, Kobi
Illustrated by: Mae Besom
What Do You Do with an Idea? 2014 (Picture Book).
Have you ever had an idea that seemed a little too big? This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. If you have an idea for a business, this book will help in getting you to welcome the idea, give it space to grow, and see what happens to it next.


Read These if You Dare: Banned Books Week

September 27-October 3, 2020 is the annual Banned Books Week event — a celebration of the freedom to read. This event was launched in 1982, responding to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries, and highlighting the value of free and open access to information. You can learn more about banned books, Banned Books Week, and find out how many are celebrating this year’s event by going to the Banned Books Week website.

Check out some children’s books below that have been banned or challenged in recent years — and read them if you dare!

Gino, Alex
George. 2015 (Middle Grade).
George knows people see a boy when they look at her. But she knows she’s not a boy; she knows she’s a girl, and she thinks she’ll have to keep this secret forever. But when her teacher announces the class is going to be doing the play Charlotte’s Web, George is set on playing Charlotte. When the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part because she’s a boy, George and her best friend Kelly come up with a plan so everyone can know who she is, once and for all. This book has been banned for including a transgender child.
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Haack, Daniel
Illustrated by: Stevie Lewis
Prince and Knight. 2018 (Picture Book).
A prince next in line to take the throne, a dragon, and a brave knight — this picture book tells a story of a prince searching for a bride, a dragon threatening the kingdom, and a knight in shining armor brave enough to defeat the dragon. As they work to slay the dragon threatening the kingdom, the prince and knight find true love in each other. This picture has been banned for the same sex relationship developed throughout the book.
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Herthel, Jessica and Jazz Jennings
Illustrated by: Shelagh McNicholas
I am Jazz! 2014 (Picture Book Biography).
Based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, a spokesperson for trankids everywhere, this picture book follows Jazz, who at two years old knew she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. It explores her family’s adjustment period to her transition, her classmates’ behavior towards her, and touches on how important it is to be accepting of and loving people for who they are. This book has been banned for being about a transgender child.
[Q. SE. H44i]

Hoffman, Sarah and Ian Hoffman
Illustrated by: Chris Case
Jacob’s New Dress. 2014 (Picture Book).
Jacob loves playing dress up, when he can be anything he wants to be. When Jacob wants to wear a dress to school, he’s met with some pushback from classmates, his teacher, and his parents. But Jacob works hard to convince everyone that he can be who he wants to be and wear his dress to preschool. This book has been banned because of the gender-nonconforming and transgender character.
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Pitman, Gayle.
Illustrated by: Kristyna Litten
This Day in June. 2014 (Picture Book).
The tale of a pride parade and all the people you can meet there, this picture book is bursting with color and is told in verse form. The end of the book has a reading guide that explains each verse and how it relates to LGBTQ history. It also includes a resource guide at the back for parents wanting to talk about LGBTQ issues and topics with their children. This book has been banned because of the LGBTQ content.
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McGinnis, Mindy.
Heroine. 2019 (Teen).
This is the story of Mickey, a senior in high school whose promising future in softball has colleges offering her scholarships left and right. But that future comes to a standstill after a car crash shatters Mickey’s hip. Mickey, however, is still determined, working hard to heal quickly for softball tryouts — all with the help of some painkillers that take the pain away and make her feel good. Pressures heighten, needs increase, and the painkillers become more than just a way to heal. This book has been challenged because of the detailed scenes of drug abuse.
[S. M1759he]

Mead, Richelle
Vampire Academy. 2007 (Teen).
The first of a six book series following Rose Hathaway, a guardian to a magical race of mortal vampires against the soulless and vicious immortal vampires. Rose’s journey is filled with action, adventure, friendship, romance, duty, magic, and sass as she goes through her last year of guardian training with the goal of being the guardian for her best friend Lissa. This book has been banned for content including vampires, magic, and sexual content.
[S. M4613v]

Tamaki, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
This One Summer. 2014 (Teen Graphic Novel).
With stunning artwork, this graphic novel follows Rose as she heads back to her summer lake house — a getaway and refuge for her and her friend Windy. But this summer is different, with Rose’s parents constantly fighting and new problems cropping up as Rose and Windy seek distraction. This piece explores secrets and sorrow and growing on the cusp of teen-hood. This graphic novel has been banned because it includes LGBTQ characters, drug use, and profanity.
[S.741.5971 T15t]

Telgemeier, Raina.
Colorist: Gurihiru
Grown. 2012 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
Callie loves theater, and while trying out for her middle school’s musical would be a blast, she can’t really sing. Instead, Callie’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew and she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway. But she’s met with resistance when she doesn’t know anything about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together. And of course, more drama than just onstage occurs when actors are chosen and two cute brothers enter the picture! This graphic novel has been banned for being sexually explicit and for LGBTQ content.
[S.741.5973 T271d]

Twiss, Jull
Illustrated by: E.G. Keller and Charlotte Pence
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. 2018 (Picture Book).
Marlon Bundo is a lonely bunny who lives with his grandpa, Mike Pence—the Vice President of the United States. This is the story of a very special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny. It explores issues of same sex marriage and democracy while weaving a tale of tolerance and advocacy. This book has been banned because of the LGBTQ content.
[Q. SE. B8826da]

And as an added bonus, if you would like to know more about book banning and how it can either help or hurt, check out the following book all about book banning in a high school:

Connis, Dave.
Suggested Reading. 2019 (Teen).
Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” list. The books have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises, and students caught with the contraband will be punished. Clara herself has been impacted by many of the stories on this list and decides she’s going to rebel by starting an underground library, supplying the banned books to her classmates out of her locker. But Clara is faced with conflicting feelings and grief when one of the books she loves is connected to tragedy, making her wonder if it’s better to ban these books than let others read them.
[S. C76282su]


Every Day Is Earth Day

This year, April 22nd marked the 50th Earth Day. The Earth Day Network’s mission is “To build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and planet.” However, every day can be Earth Day when we care about how our actions affect the planet we live on. Find below several inspirational and educational children’s resources focused on climate change. Learn what we can do to celebrate and save our planet Earth.

For more information on Earth Day, visit the official website:

If you’re interested in finding more books about climate change, search the catalog using keywords such as “juvenile fiction” for fiction books, “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books, and an additional term such as “climate change,” “global warming,” or “environmental science.”

Bennett, Jeffrey O.
A Global Warming Science Primer. 2016 (Non-fiction).
Following a Question and Answer format, this book dives deep into the science behind global warming and seeks to debunk some skeptic arguments. Included sections are, “The Basic Science,” “The Skeptic Debate,” “The Expected Consequences,” “The Solution,” and “A Letter to Your Grandchildren.” This book is great for older readers who want to get a better understanding of how global warming occurs.
[S.363.73874 B4394g]

Cole, Joanna
The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge. 2010 (Non-fiction).
In classic Magic School Bus style, Ms. Frizzle and her class explore how global warming is affecting the planet and learn about a large number of ways to take action.
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Collard III, Sneed B.
Hopping Ahead of Climate Change: Snowshoe Hares, Science, and Survival. 2016 (Non-fiction).
Many animals have coats that change color with the seasons in order to better camouflage themselves from predators or prey. With a focus on snowshoe hares, this book seeks to answer what happens when the changing climate disrupts this process.
[Q. S.599.328 C684h]

Eriksson, Ann
Dive in! Exploring our Connection with the Ocean. 2018 (Non-fiction).
As humans, the ocean is incredibly important to us, yet we treat it poorly. This digestible book provides action plans for the individual hoping to help improve the health of the ocean.
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Guiberson, Brenda Z.
Earth: Feeling the Heat. 2010 (Picture Book).
This beautifully illustrated book focuses on specific animals from all over the globe, detailing their particular struggles with climate change that may inevitably lead to their endangerment or extinction. Each page asks, “Who can help?” Readers are left with a list of small changes they can make to reduce energy use, and a prompt to think of even more.
[S.577.276 B94e]

Knowles, Laura
The Coral Kingdom. 2018 (Picture Book).
With beautiful illustrations, this simple rhyming exploration of the coral reefs fosters an appreciation of one of our most delicate ecosystems. Included is additional information on coral bleaching, as well as tips for helping to save the coral reefs.
[Q. SE. K762co]

Oram, Hiawyn
Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing. 2018 (Picture Book).
Greenbackboy wants Snowboy to help him chop down all the trees in the forest and catch all the fish in the ocean in order to acquire KA-CHING. Snowboy is less sure that this plan will work, since trees give us the air we breathe, and the sea is dead without fish. Will Snowboy be able to convince Greenbackboy about what is right? Highlighting the power of the individual voice, this imaginative story is full of hope.
[Q. SE. Or13sn]

Pasquet, Jacques
My Wounded Island. 2017 (Picture Book).
In this story centered on the lives of the Iñupiat people living on a small northern island, a little girl chronicles her fears of the rising sea that will soon swallow the island on which she and her people live. Especially poignant is her grandfather’s worry that once they are displaced, their entire culture will be lost.
[SE. P265m:E]

Swanson, Jennifer
Geoengineering Earth’s Climate: Resetting the Thermostat. 2018 (Non-fiction).
With the changing climate, many possible solutions involving interfering with Earth’s systems have been suggested to counteract the change. This book dives in to the pros and cons of several of these suggestions which include reforestation, space mirrors, and carbon capture.
[S.551.68 Sw247g]

Williams, Lily
If Polar Bears Disappeared. 2018 (Non-fiction)
Follow the chain reaction of what could happen if polar bears go extinct due to the melting of arctic ice. The cute illustrations do not mask the gravity of entire ecosystems being destroyed, however the story does end on a hopeful note, citing that it is not too late for change.
[Q. S.577.09113 W6739if]


Activism and Upstanders in Children’s Literature

Injustice is rampant in the world, but as history has shown, there are often brave people who choose to fight it. Activists are people who fight for change, while upstanders are those who act in support of a person or a cause. Activists and upstanders have made real change happen, and continue to do so today. Check out the inspiring stories below to learn how anyone can make a difference.

Atkins, Laura and Stan Yogi
Fred Korematsu Speaks Up. 2017 (Biography).
When American citizens of Japanese descent were forced into prison camps in the United States during World War II, Fred Korematsu knew that he must resist. After being caught and jailed, he sued and took his case all the way to the Supreme Court. This biography tells the story of this brave civil rights activist, whose fight against discrimination holds many parallels to the world today.
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Brimner, Larry Dane
Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961. 2018 (Non-Fiction).
In May of 1961, thirteen peaceful protesters boarded some buses and traveled into the South. Their mission was to make known the continued practice of segregation in the South, despite its illegality. The farther they traveled, the more violence they faced, but these determined activists continued on. This important piece of history is illustrated here with large, impactful photographs.
[S.323.1196 B77tw]

Levy, Debbie
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark. 2016 (Picture Book Biography)
As a Jewish woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has felt the sting of prejudice throughout her entire life. However, she has never let the opinions of others stop her from choosing her own path and helping marginalized people. Constantly disagreeing and dissenting with injustice, she fought her way to the top and is now the oldest justice on the Supreme Court after years of service. This fascinating biography chronicles the life of a fierce upstander.
[Q. SB. G493le]

Nielsen, Jennifer A.
Resistance. 2018 (Middle Grade Novel).
Based on actual World War II events, this intense historical fiction novel does not shy away from describing atrocities faced by Jewish people in Poland. Tough-as-nails Chaya Lindner, a Jewish teen, works as a courier, smuggling food, papers, and people in and out of the ghettos in an effort to do as much good as she can for her people. After an ill-fated mission, her resistance group is lost and Chaya joins the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. Knowing the whole time that she is unlikely to survive, Chaya works to prove to the Nazis that she and her people will not go down without a fight.
[S. N5544re]

Pitman, Gayle E.
The Stonewall Riots. 2019 (Non-Fiction).
This book details the history of the LGBTQ+ community before, during, and after the Stonewall Riots of 1969. A pivotal point in American history, the riots were a sometimes-violent reaction to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City. Fed up with continuous raids and angry at their unequal status, the patrons of the club fought back, and the Stonewall Riots lasted for six days. This engaging book for older readers includes interviews with witnesses and people who were involved, photos, newspaper clippings, and more.
[S.306.76 G683st]

Prévot, Franck
Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees. 2015 (Picture Book Biography)
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai was an environmental and political activist. Through nonviolence and reforestation, she empowered women, fought poverty, and advocated for democracy in her native country of Kenya. This action-packed biography details the life of this incredibly brave person, from her multiple arrests to the millions of trees she succeeded in planting.

Ramée, Lisa Moore
A Good Kind of Trouble. 2019 (Middle Grade Novel).
Like many kids starting middle school, Shayla must navigate changing friendships, body insecurities, crushes (including being on the receiving end of unwanted crushes), and more. But Shayla’s world is changed even more when news spreads about a Black man shot by a white police officer. At first, Shayla is hesitant to be involved in the national reaction, but after joining a protest, she begins wearing a black armband to school to support Black Lives Matter. When it becomes clear that not everyone appreciates the armband, Shayla is forced to make a choice. This novel is a thoughtful and accessible introduction to activism generally and the Black Lives Matter movement specifically.
[S. R1451go]

Roberts, Justin
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade. 2014 (Picture Book).
No one ever notices small Sally McCabe, but Sally notices everything. She sees the kite in the tree, the keys on the janitor’s ring, and the everyday bullying that happens around her. Eventually, Sally realizes that she has had enough of the spreading meanness, and she decides to take a stand. Sally’s decision proves that even the smallest of voices can make a big difference.
[SE. R5428s]

Yousafzai, Malala
Malala’s Magic Pencil. 2017 (Picture Book Biography).
Older readers may be familiar with the story of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who stood up for girls’ education and was shot point blank by the Taliban. In this picture book adaptation, her inspirational life is made accessible to younger readers.
[SB. Y82y2]

Watson, Renée
Watch Us Rise. 2019 (Teen).
Jasmine and Chelsea have big plans this year at their progressive New York City high school. But when the clubs they join turn out to be less than what they had hoped, the two create their own club dedicated to writing and creating artistic works that support women’s ideas. Their online work goes viral, and they find themselves both praised and attacked, even in the real world. Soon the school administration steps in and threatens to shut them down, but Jasmine and Chelsea refuse to be silent.


Black Children’s Authors and Illustrators

As the field of children’s literature slowly diversifies and titles like Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give gain national recognition, more and more phenomenal books from Black authors and illustrators are being published. Below are just a few of the notable titles from the past few years, all of which also feature Black protagonists who are as diverse as the authors who create them.

For more, check out the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, which are “given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.”

Andrews, Troy
Illustrated by: Bryan Collier
Trombone Shorty. 2015 (Picture Book Autobiography).
Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews tells the story of his musical and colorful life in this fun and festive autobiography. Picking up the trombone at a very young age, Andrews gained his nickname when others noticed the instrument was nearly twice as tall as he. Now an accomplished musician, Trombone Shorty reflects on the New Orleans roots that made him who he is today.

Atta, Dean
The Black Flamingo. 2019 (Teen).
As a mixed-race gay teen living in London, Michael feels that he is never “enough” of any part of his identity; he feels he is not Black enough, not Greek enough, not gay enough. Even his coming out is only a part of his story as he begins his journey to find himself. When Michael discovers the Drag Society, he finds a new sense of belonging he never felt before and emerges as the Black Flamingo. This powerful story is told in verse.

Barnes, Derrick
Illustrated by: Gordon C. James
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. 2017 (Picture Book).
This multiple-award-winning, joyful book is a celebration of the confidence and pride that accompany a new haircut. Dynamic illustrations by Gordon C. James depict a boy feeling like a new person after his visit to the barber, and showcase his appreciation for cool haircuts on others, too.

Cherry, Matthew A.
Illustrated by: Vashti Harrison
Hair Love. 2019 (Picture Book).
Adapted from the Academy Award-winning short film of the same name, this heartwarming book explores the love between a father and daughter as he tries to style her hair before Mom comes home. Zuri loves her hair, and she waits patiently as Daddy does his best to give her a perfect ‘do.

Emezi, Akwaeke
Pet. 2019 (Teen).
In the seemingly idyllic town of Lucille, monsters no longer exist, or at least that is what teenagers Jam and Redemption have been taught. But when Jam meets a creature named Pet, who is hunting a monster that is after Redemption, everything that Jam has been told comes into question. This Stonewall Award-winning novel features a transgender protagonist and explores how to save a society in denial.

Grimes, Nikki
Ordinary Hazards. 2019 (Teen Autobiography).
In this memoir in verse, Grimes details a traumatic childhood with her mother, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and a father who was hardly ever around. Between her unstable home life, terrible babysitters, and ever-changing foster families, Grimes found solace in writing, and this beautifully crafted message of truth and courage is in itself a testament to her resilience.

Nyong’o, Lupita
Illustrated by: Vashti Harrison
Sulwe. 2019 (Picture Book).
Little Sulwe does not feel beautiful. Her midnight-colored skin makes her look different from everyone else she knows, and she desperately wants it to be a lighter shade. But when a shooting star shows her the importance of being dark, Sulwe finds her inner brightness and begins to love herself. This story is gorgeously illustrated by Vashti Harrison.

Reynolds, Jason
Long Way Down. 2017 (Middle Grade Novel).
Based on a real experience of Reynolds, this novel in verse follows fifteen-year-old Will, whose brother was recently killed, as he begins his journey to seek revenge, gun tucked in his waistband. Will gets on an elevator on the seventh floor and on each floor on the way down a new person enters the elevator with a story to tell him, all of whom are already dead and, in some way, are connected with his brother. Like all Jason Reynolds novels, this story is incredibly authentic with realistic characters and a meaningful message.

Rhodes, Jewell Parker
Ghost Boys. 2018 (Middle Grade Novel).
Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot and killed by a white police officer. Now a ghost, he watches the aftermath of this horrific event and the rippling effects on those who loved him. He speaks with the daughter of the officer who killed him, and also meets the ghost of Emmett Till. Poignant and heartbreaking, this story sheds light on today’s race relations.

Weatherford, Carole Boston
Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez
Schomburg: The Man who Built a Library. 2017 (Picture Book Biography).
Arturo Schomburg was a law clerk with a passion for collecting works from Africa and the African diaspora. His hope was to bring the accomplishments of people of African descent back into the narrative of history. Eventually, his large collection became part of the New York Public Library, and today is known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. This fascinating biography points out that those who write history books may not be writing for everyone.