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.

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Reading with the Stars

Running out of books? Looking for a fun new way to experience children’s literature? Celebrities have got it covered. Many famous people, including authors, actors, athletes, and more, are taking this unique opportunity to share their love of reading with the world. Check out the resources below for lots of fun celebrity read-alouds.

Storyline Online
https://www.storylineonline.net/
This Emmy-nominated website hosts tons of videos from celebrities reading children’s books aloud. While little ones may be more interested in the stories than the famous voices sharing them, adults and kids alike will enjoy hearing classics such as Harry the Dirty Dog, read by Betty White, and contemporary books such as Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies!, read in both English and Spanish by Jaime Camil. Other famous voices include Oprah Winfrey, Rami Malek, Kristen Bell, and many more.

NorthSouth Books
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu8dRphdp3YmL4LbxN7KD2w
Children’s book publisher NorthSouth maintains a YouTube channel containing many read-alouds, and some of these stories are read by the authors who wrote them. Of special note is author and illustrator Marcus Pfister reading his timeless tale, The Rainbow Fish.

#savewithstories
https://www.instagram.com/savewithstories/
Actors, authors, musicians, hosts, firemen, teachers, and more have contributed to this charity-driven project popularized by Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams and dedicated to feeding hungry children. From Mr. Met to Mrs. Kasha Davis, from Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex to “Weird Al” Yankovic, the list of celebrities reading picture books on this account is virtually endless. You can even listen along with Fiona the baby hippo as the director of the Cincinnati Zoo reads Fiona, It’s Bedtime. Please note that an Instagram account is required to view the videos.

Wizarding World
https://www.wizardingworld.com/
Is there a better way to experience Harry Potter than to have the book read to you by Harry Potter himself? Join Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who portrayed Harry Potter in the films, as he reads aloud the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Each of the seventeen chapters will be read by a new famous friend of the Wizarding World, such as Noma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger, London and Broadway productions of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), and Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander, the “Fantastic Beasts” film series). Listeners are encouraged to send in their fan-art for upcoming chapters, which may be featured throughout the readings. Please note that as the Wizarding World site updates, some chapters may require users to sign up for a free account for access.

Gruffalo World
https://www.youtube.com/user/GruffaloWorld/featured
Several of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s beloved picture books have been adapted almost word for word into visually stunning short films. Clips from these films are available on the Gruffalo World YouTube channel, and can serve as a wonderful supplement to the books. Some featured clips are from The Highway Rat, starring David Tennant, Stick Man, starring Martin Freeman, The Gruffalo, starring James Corden, and Oscar-nominated Room on the Broom, narrated by Simon Pegg. Most of the full-length films are also available for purchase or rental via YouTube and other online platforms.

Read-Along with PBS KIDS!
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLa8HWWMcQEGStVxurBtLn8nkDxGc3j3ow
Join PBS KIDS authors as they read aloud their own books, answer questions, and share what they are doing during the quarantine. Marc Brown (Arthur), Victoria Kann (Pinkalicious and Peteriffic), Angela Santomero (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood), and many more are in on the fun. PBS KIDS has also recently started hosting “Mondays with Michelle Obama,” a series in which the former first lady reads aloud some of her favorite picture books once a week.

Chicago Public Library: Live from the Library
https://cplfoundation.org/coming-to-you-live-from-the-library/
Many famous Illinoisans have participated in the Chicago Public Library’s virtual story times, including actress Jane Lynch, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and the Obamas. Interspersed among these are more traditional library story times from expert Chicago librarians. (For more librarian-run story times, check out the New York Public Library. Many local libraries are hosting online story times as well.)

Dr. Seuss Raps Over Dr. Dre Beats
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqvBBK0pPLrU9O6aGdGvD4ICXTGOH6FTa
Although not traditionally famous (yet), Milwaukee artist Wes Tank’s raps of requested Dr. Seuss books to beats by Dr. Dre have marked him as an up-and-coming performer, and he has been featured on many local news stations. With new raps posted about once a week, this engaging and rhythmic YouTube playlist puts a fun twist on Dr. Seuss and is nothing short of delightful.

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COVID-19 Resources for Kids

Kids will inevitably have questions about the global pandemic. Luckily, there are many resources out there specifically designed to answer their questions, and more are being created every day. Find below several free resources made for children all about COVID-19.

Book

Jones, Malia
A Kids Book About COVID-19
https://akidsbookabout.com/products/a-kids-book-about-covid-19
Simple in style, this freely downloadable book comes from a social epidemiologist. It expertly breaks down the basics of coronavirus to be digestible for kids, and adult readers might learn something too! This book is also available in Spanish.

Comic

Gharib, Malaka
Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/28/809580453/just-for-kids-a-comic-exploring-the-new-coronavirus
This silly and informative comic from NPR is accompanied by a three-minute audio snippet from Morning Edition directed specifically at children. Both do a great job of explaining about the virus and how it spreads, and give suggestions on what kids can do to help and stay safe. Also available in Chinese and Spanish, the comic can be printed out and folded into a zine.

News Article

Scholastic News
5 Big Questions About Coronavirus
https://sn56.scholastic.com/issues/2019-20/031620/coronavirus.html#On%20Level
Kid-friendly magazine Scholastic News may be familiar to those who had access to it in school. This particular article seeks to answer some common questions about the coronavirus. The text is available in two different reading levels and has a text-to-speech function.

Podcasts

Brains On!
Staying home: How social distancing helps fight coronavirus
https://www.brainson.org/shows/2020/03/24/staying-home-how-social-distancing-helps-fight-coronavirus
American Public Media’s award-winning science podcast, Brains On!, tackles kids’ questions about the coronavirus in 35 minutes. Listen to actual kids share their questions and concerns, which are then answered by scientists.

Pineapple Street Studios
The Kids are All…Home
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-kids-are-all-home/id1503542662
By kids, for kids, listeners are encouraged to submit their own mini segments to this fun podcast that showcases what children are doing while stuck at home. Topics covered vary from astronomy, to coronavirus facts, to a very silly rendition of Old Town Road. For more information on how to record your own segment for this podcast, check out Pineapple Street Studios’ website here: http://pineapple.fm/stuck-at-home

Santa’s Podcast
Santa says hello and shares why his workshop has closed for a little while
https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/santas-podcast-2/santas-podcast/e/68177854
Worried about Santa Claus? Have no fear; he and the elves are doing just fine. In this charming 8-minute podcast, the jolly man himself explains what he and his workshop are doing to maintain social distancing, and offers suggestions to kids on what they can do to be good (and still have fun) during this novel time.

Videos

BrainPOP
Coronavirus
https://www.brainpop.com/health/diseasesinjuriesandconditions/coronavirus/
Many kids already know and love Tim and his robot pal Moby, but anyone can learn from their witty and informational video on the coronavirus. This video not only covers the basics of what the virus is and how it spreads, but also encourages kids to think critically about sensationalist news stories, talk to adults if they feel scared, and avoid judging others based on their appearance.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Elmo & Rosita: The Right Way to Sneeze!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW1yodZJpG8
This catchy little ditty from a couple of Sesame Street favorites explains how to sneeze properly to avoid spreading germs. Posted over ten years ago and only about 30 seconds long, this cute song, which is also available in Spanish, is more apt than ever. (Parents might also enjoy browsing the PBS parents website for more coronavirus resources: https://www.pbs.org/parents)

Other

Schoolman, Autumn
Hey kids, coronavirus has changed everything. Here’s what you need to know
https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/graphics/2020/03/20/coronavirus-kids-has-changed-everything/2864140001/
This article from USA Today is essentially an incredibly interesting infographic that reads like a picture book. Of special note is a fantastic swimming pool analogy that shows the value of social distancing.

‘Gruffalo stayed in the cave’: Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson’s coronavirus cartoons
https://www.theguardian.com/books/gallery/2020/apr/04/gruffalo-axel-scheffler-and-julia-donaldsons-coronavirus-cartoons
Fans of The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom will adore Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s new illustrations of their beloved characters explaining how they are social distancing. Each page comes with a caption in the form of a couplet.

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Free E-books for Youth

Stuck inside? Fortunately, there are still lots of ways to access books for kids. Many public libraries have a large number of e-books available for checkout. Some are even making it possible to get a library card online. Many academic libraries have children’s books available to those with a library account. To see what is available from the University of Illinois library, use the advanced search tool and the key terms “juvenile fiction” for fiction or “juvenile literature” for nonfiction, add a search term for what you are interested in, and limit the search to electronic.

Don’t have access to a library? No worries! Find below three resources that provide free access to numerous children’s books. All that is needed is an internet connection.

International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL)
http://en.childrenslibrary.org/
As the name suggests, the ICDL provides access to books in a wide variety of languages from all over the world. The search function is kid-friendly and provides a great opportunity for kids to start learning how to use library tools. Searches can be limited by suggested age, length, and even cover color. The ICDL also has virtual “exhibitions” containing books with specific themes, such as “celebrating differences” and “forever friendship.” This library is a lot of fun to explore, but here are a few choice reads to get you started:

Brumbeau, Jeff
The Quiltmaker’s Gift. 2001 (Picture Book).
In this fantastically bright and colorful story, a master quiltmaker tells a greedy king that if he wants one of her quilts, he must give away his worldly possessions to those in need. Frustrated, he chains her inside of a bear cave. Will she escape? Will this selfish king ever see the error of his ways? Vivid and intricate illustrations are sure to keep little ones engaged.

Dixit, Kanak Mani
Adventures of a Nepali Frog. 2003 (Chapter Book).
Travel vicariously through beautiful Nepal with Bhaktaprasad Bhyaguto, a daring young frog. Follow along as he floats down the Bishnumati river in a tin can. Join him as he meets the fascinating animals of Chitwan National Park. There is no telling where Bhatktaprasad will end up next!

Anonymous
The Cries of London. 1821 (Picture Book).
Looking for something completely different? Take a walk through the bustling streets of early 19th century London in this introduction to community people. You might even pick up some old-timey English slang along the way.

Project Gutenberg
https://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Category:Children%27s_Bookshelf
Some readers may be familiar with Project Gutenberg, a massive compilation of free digitized works, most of which are out of copyright. But did you know that the project has an entire children’s bookshelf? While many of the books on this site predate 1924, it’s a great way to catch up on classics such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and Little Women. Here are a few other hidden gems you may enjoy:

Cowper, William
The Diverting History of John Gilpin. 1878 (Picture Book).
This hilarious rhyming story follows John Gilpin, a luckless man who finds himself trapped on a speeding horse as he tries to meet his wife for dinner. Notably, this book is illustrated by Randolph Caldecott, whose name is honored in the award given each year to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book. The image engraved on the Caldecott medal is in fact the unfortunate John Gilpin.

Nesbit, E.
The Book of Dragons. 1899 (Chapter Book).
An early pioneer of the Fantasy genre, E. Nesbit has crafted a wonderful compilation of stories in this book that has withstood the test of time. These eight different tales, which tell the stories of creatures both evil and good, are sure to delight dragon fans of all ages.

Anonymous
The “Punky Dunk” Series. 1912 (Picture Books).
In a style similar to the Little Golden Books (although published 30 years earlier), these wholesome picture books follow Punky Dunk, a mischievous little kitten who always ends up getting into trouble. Readers will enjoy seeing their own pet’s antics reflected in Punky Dunk.

Librivox
https://librivox.org/
Audiobooks more your thing? Librivox provides access to many of the same titles as Project Gutenberg, that is, titles no longer under copyright, however these are all read aloud by volunteers. In addition to listening, readers can also volunteer to record a book themselves. To find children’s books, simply go to the catalog and click on “Genre/Subject.” The first several entries are subsets of children’s fiction. Listed here are a few fun picks to check out:

Burgess, Thornton W.
The Adventures of Reddy Fox. 1913 (Chapter Book).
From conservationist and prolific children’s author Thornton W. Burgess, nicknamed the “Bedtime Story-Man,” comes this story of a rambunctious young fox living with his grandmother. Granny Fox knows all the tricks of the trade, from stealing Farmer Brown’s chickens to evading hound dogs, and she is eager to share them with Reddy. Laugh along as Reddy learns from the best!

Jenks, Tudor
Galopoff, the Talking Pony. 1901 (Chapter Book).
For one day a year, animals are able to talk to humans, and on this day Galopoff the pony regales his owner with tales of his marvelous adventures in Russia. Paced surprisingly well for modern audiences, Galopoff’s action-packed account of his life is sure to please.

Ozaki, Yei Theodora
Japanese Fairy Tales. 1908 (Fairy Tales).
In compiling and editing these stories, Ozaki’s goal was to reframe traditional Japanese fairy tales to be more accessible to Western children while maintaining accuracy. Each of these 21 tales tells a colorful story of a lesson learned.

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Award Season

Did you know that Illinois has not one, but four major awards for children’s literature? The Monarch Award (grades K-3), Bluestem Award (grades 3-5), Rebecca Caudill* Award (Grades 4-8), and Lincoln Award (teen) each carefully select 20 nominees every year, and students across the state vote on their top picks. The winners are announced in March.

Find below several recent winners from the past few years.

To find more information about these awards and to see the current nominees, visit their websites:
Monarch Award
Bluestem Award
Caudill Award
Lincoln Award

The S-Collection houses many materials about these and other children’s awards; search “children’s literature awards” in the catalog to get started. You can also find resources on the S-Collection page here.
(*Fun fact: Rebecca Caudill, who is honored with the use of her name for the middle grade award, was an Urbana-based children’s book author who received a Newbery Honor in 1950.)

Monarch Award:

Barnett, Mac
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole. 2014 (Won 2018).
Sam and Dave are bored and decide to dig a hole. They dig, and they dig, and they find nothing at all. Yet somehow, the day does not seem wasted. This Caldecott Honor book is perfectly paced, with a kind of side-eyed humor that leaves readers wanting more, yet feeling satisfied.
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DiPucchio, Kelly
Gaston. 2014 (Won 2017).
In this heartwarming tale of what it means to be family, Gaston the bulldog tries very hard to fit in with his poodle siblings. When, in a chance encounter in the park, it becomes clear that Gaston was accidentally switched with Antoinette the poodle puppy, the two try swapping families. But even though it looks right, does Gaston belong in the bulldog family?
[Q. SE. D626ga]

Biedrzycki, David
Breaking News: Bear Alert. 2014 (Won 2016).
Packed full of puns and sneaky nods to other famous bears, this hilarious story is told entirely as a news broadcast covering the antics of a pair of bears loose in the city. Observant readers may notice that in the bright and colorful illustrations, a second, more sinister plot is afoot. How will these two stories converge?
[Q. SE. B475b]

Bluestem Award:

O’Connor, Barbara
Wish. 2016 (Won 2019).
Charlie Reese makes the same wish every day, but when she moves to North Carolina, it seems less and less like her wish will come true. As new characters come in to her life, Charlie soon realizes that what she has been wishing for may not be what she actually needs.
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Jamieson, Victoria
Roller Girl. 2015 (Won 2018).
When Astrid first encounters a roller derby match, she is hooked. Upon trying it out for herself, however, she discovers that not only is it significantly harder than she thought, but also that her best friend is really not interested. On top of that, she’ll soon be starting middle school. Is Astrid strong enough to stay true to herself? Find out in this Newbery Honor graphic novel.
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Bell, Cece
El Deafo. 2014 (Won 2017).
This funny and heartfelt graphic novel details author Cece Bell’s experiences growing up with hearing loss, and the clunky and awkward hearing aid that came with it. When Cece discovers that she can hear her teacher even after she has left the classroom thanks to her Phonic Ear, Cece revels in this new superpower and becomes El Deafo. But even superheroes get lonely, and Cece wonders if she will ever find a true friend.
[S.741.5973 B4132d]

Rebecca Caudill Award:

Reynolds, Jason.
Ghost. 2016 (Won 2019).
When he was very little, Ghost’s father chased him and his mother out of their apartment with a loaded gun. Ghost has been running, and causing trouble, ever since. Then he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic medalist who heads the middle school track team and can see the untapped potential in Ghost. In this first installment of the Track series, Ghost must come to grips with his past in order to plan for his future.
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Alexander, Kwame
The Crossover. 2014 (Won 2017).
This recipient of the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award tells the story of twin basketball players Josh and Jordan. In this coming of age novel in verse, the boys struggle to make sense of the world as they begin to grow apart for the first time.
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Lu, Marie
Legend. 2011 (Won 2015).
In a dystopian North America, notorious criminal Day and prodigy soldier June unexpectedly cross paths when June’s brother is murdered and Day becomes the main suspect. In a surprising twist, the two discover that they may not be as different as they thought when a powerful common enemy comes to light. This action-packed adventure is sure to keep readers on their toes.
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Lincoln Award:

Lockhart, E.
We Were Liars. 2014 (Won 2016).
Cadence Sinclair can’t remember what happened during the fifteenth summer she and her family spent on their private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Between the migraines, painkillers, and amnesia, Cadence tries to piece together fragmented memories. Suspenseful, romantic, and with a shocking twist ending, this one will be difficult to put down.
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Asher, Jay
Thirteen Reasons Why. 2007 (Won 2013).
This controversial novel, popularized by the television series of the same name, contains several dark themes and depictions of events that may be upsetting to some readers. When Clay Jensen opens the mysterious box sent to him in the mail, he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah, his crush, who committed suicide two weeks previous. Each tape details one reason why Hannah decided to take her life. One of them is about Clay.
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Dashner, James
The Maze Runner. 2009 (Won 2012).
Thomas wakes up in an elevator, and the only thing he can remember is his name. He finds himself in the Glade, a deadly and dangerous location surrounded by an enormous maze that no one has ever escaped alive. Who did this to Thomas and the others that have been sent to the Glade? Will Thomas live long enough to find out?
[S. D2609m]

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From Here to There: Stories of Immigration and Emigration

To immigrate is to enter a foreign country to live there. To emigrate is to leave a country to live in another. Think of it this way: immigrating is to coming as emigrating is to going.

Uprooting one’s life and moving to a foreign land is rarely an easy process. Sometimes people move by choice, while other times they leave for their own safety. Once arrived, learning how to live in a new culture can be almost as difficult. Below are several stories of people who immigrated all over the world.

If you’re interested in finding more books about immigration and emigration, search the catalog using keywords such as “juvenile fiction” for fiction books, “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books, and an additional term such as “immigration,” “emigration,” or “refugees.”

Ewald, Wendy
America Border Culture Dreamer. 2018 (Nonfiction).
Eighteen immigrant teenagers define their experiences using the alphabet. In this unique approach to exploring immigration, each story is accompanied by an impactful photograph.
[S.305.23092 Am3511]

Fox, Mem
I’m an Immigrant Too! 2018 (Picture Book).
Set in Australia, this colorful book celebrates the diversity that immigrants bring to a new place and how they make communities wonderful. This joyful story is a fresh look at immigration from a non-American perspective.
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Gratz, Alan
Refugee. 2017 (Middle Grade Novel).
Intense and action-packed, this book is really three stories in one. Josef, a Jewish boy in 1930’s Nazi Germany, Isabel, a young girl living in Cuba in 1994 during great political unrest, and Mahmoud, a boy living in Syria in 2015 where the death count increases daily, all must flee their home countries for the safety of their families. While each story is different, every character experiences the same fear and uncertainty, making this a narrative that transcends decades.
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Lorenzi, Natalie Dias
A Long Pitch Home. 2016 (Middle Grade Novel).
When Bilal leaves Pakistan to come to America, he finds it difficult to adjust. Speaking English is exhausting, cricket is definitely not the same as baseball, and he wishes more than anything that his father could move to America too. In this endearing tale, Bilal must learn to find his courage.
[S. L8877l]

Newman, Lesléa
Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story. 2019 (Picture Book).
Based on a real immigrant’s experiences at Ellis Island, this story follows a young girl and her mother as they make their way to America. When her mother does not pass the health inspection, Gittel is forced to enter the country on her own, which becomes an even more frightening prospect when she realizes that she does not have the address of the cousin with whom she is supposed to stay!
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Raúf, Onjali Q.
The Boy at the Back of the Class. 2019 (Middle Grade Novel).
Set in England, this book follows the story of new kid Ahmet, a nine-year-old refugee from Syria. Highlighting the power of an ally, Ahmet’s classmates work together to come up with a plan to help reunite him with his family.
[S. R191bo]

Rim, Sujean
Chee-Kee: A Panda in Bearland. 2017 (Picture book).
When Chee-kee moves to Bearland, he is worried that he will never fit in. He doesn’t know how to use a fork, or how to skateboard, and he prefers wearing hats to sunglasses. Soon, however, Chee-Kee finds that he might have more to offer than he realized.
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Tan, Shaun
The Arrival. 2007 (Graphic Novel).
This stunning and totally wordless graphic novel tells the story of a man who leaves his home to build a better future for his family. No specific countries are named, and the foreign is presented as totally foreign to both the man and the reader. This story captures the emotional highs and lows of an immigrant’s journey.
[Q. S.741.595 T153a]

Van, Muon
The Little Tree. 2015 (Picture Book).
When a little tree realizes that her forest is becoming smaller and smaller, she sends her seed off with a bird friend in hopes that it may find a new forest and one day grow big and strong. Based on the author’s own mother, this heartwarming tale is both colorful and sweet.
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Wallace, Sandra Neil and Wallace, Rich
First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great. 2018 (Nonfiction).
Giving brief biographies of immigrants and refugees from all over the world, this book explores the lives of many people who have helped shape their respective fields, as well as the United States in general. Included are famous figures such as Albert Einstein, as well as change-makers you may not have heard of before.
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Weston, Robert Paul
Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms. 2018 (Picture Book).
Sakura loves spending springtime sitting underneath a tall cherry tree with Obaachan. When Sakura’s family moves from Japan to America, she worries she will never feel at home again. A beautiful tale of love and loss, this story is told entirely in Tanka, a style of poetry similar to haiku.
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A Time for Reflection: Books about Peace

With the stress of the holiday season now passed, now is the perfect time to pause, reflect, and once again find peace. “Peace” may refer to a time without war or disagreement, or it may mean a sense of calmness and tranquility. Find listed below several children’s books about all kinds of peace to help you to define what peace means to you.

If you’re interested in finding more books about peace, search the catalog using keywords such as “juvenile fiction” for fiction books, “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books, and an additional term such as “peace,” “peacemakers,” or “mindfulness.”

Cali, Davide and Serge Bloche
The Enemy. 2009 (Picture Book).
A deep yet surprisingly simple look at the mindset of war, this saddening story explores the ugliness of hate, and the hopefulness of peace. The plain line-drawing illustrations mixed with real photographs make a powerful impact.
[Q. SE. C128en]

Klein, Carol Swartout
Painting for Peace in Ferguson. 2015 (Nonfiction).
Entirely kid-friendly, this account of a modern-day peace movement showcases some of the art and artists of Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of a frightening and saddening event. Boarded up buildings became works of art as local community members worked together to paint messages of peace.
[Q. S.917.7866 K6721p]

Kor, Paul
The Hawk and the Dove. 2019 (Picture Book).
Through clever paper cuts, this book follows the story of a feisty hawk who feels tired and sad from all of the war he has wrought, and decides to change into a dove. Suddenly, weapons of war all over the world turn into beautiful things, leaving the dove to wonder if it will last.
[Q. SE. K8423ha]

Lebox, Annette
Peace is an Offering. 2017 (Picture Book).
Explore all of the subtler, quieter moments throughout the day in which one can find peace with others. This tender-hearted book shows that even in times of great sadness, peace can be found.
[SE. L4933p]

Meng, Cece
World Pizza. 2017 (Picture Book).
When Mama sneezes while wishing for world peace, suddenly the entire globe is covered in pizzas. But could it be that Mama still gets her true wish? Fans of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs will love this silly tale of flying food.
[Q. SE. M524wo]

Mirza, Sandrine
People of Peace: 40 Inspiring Icons. 2018 (Nonfiction).
This cute and colorful book provides quick biographies and interesting infographics about forty peacemakers, including many recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.
[S.327.172092 M679pe]

Moore, Sandra
The Peace Tree from Hiroshima: The Little Bonsai with a Big Story. 2015 (Picture Book).
Follow the story of a little tree, nicknamed “Miyajima,” as it continues to grow through generations of a Japanese family. When the bomb is dropped and the tree survives, it suddenly becomes a symbol of something much greater: Peace.
[Q. SE. M7866p]

Ortner, Nick and Alison Taylor
My Magic Breath: Finding Calm through Mindful Breathing. 2018 (Nonfiction).
Find inner peace through the power of your own breath, and feel your worries fade away. This introduction to mindful breathing is simple yet effective, and completely kid-friendly.
[S.158.12083 Or88my]

Parr, Todd
The Peace Book. 2004 (Picture Book).
From taking a nap, to learning another language, to giving shoes to someone in need, this book explores many definitions of peace using the bold and colorful illustrative style that all Todd Parr fans enjoy.
[SE. P246p]

Pinkney, Andrea David
Peace Warriors. 2013 (Nonfiction).
This chapter book provides biographies of six prolific peacemakers from across the globe: Mahatma Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu, Dalai Lama, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Complete with pictures and lots of information, this is a great book for those interested in learning about people of peace.
[S.327.172 P6565p]

Verde, Susan
I am Peace. 2017 (Picture Book).
This gentle journey from worry and anxiety to peace and serenity teaches readers that it is okay to slow down and find one’s feet again. A lesson in mindfulness applicable to readers of all ages, this is a great read for anyone who feels stressed from time to time.
[SE. V583iape]

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It’s Time for a Good Book

December 8th is “Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day.” This is a hilarious day to act confused by modern technology, wear futuristic or period clothes, or just do anything a time traveler might do. Even though it’s an early holiday, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate all month long (just think of Ebenezer Scrooge shouting at a random boy in the street, “You there, what day is this?”). For some inspiration to help you celebrate, check out these great reads all about time travel.

If you’re interested in finding more books about time travel, search the catalog using keywords such as “juvenile fiction” for fiction books, “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books, and an additional term such as “time travel,” “space and time,” or “wormholes.”

Bloom, Suzanne.
A Mighty Fine Time Machine. 2009 (Picture Book).
An aardvark, an armadillo, and an anteater discover a cardboard box and realize that it would make a perfect time machine. But will they actually get it to work? Laugh along with them as they craft thingamabobs and hoozie-doozies to make their time machine perfect.
[Q. SE. B62311m]

Chapman, Jared
T. Rex Time Machine. 2018 (Picture Book).
When two dinosaurs use a time machine to travel to modern day America, they discover a wonderful world of pizza, donuts, and other amazing things. But while they may be ready for the modern world, the modern world just might not be ready for them. Hilarity ensues when these larger-than-life dinos realize they may be in over their heads.
[SE. C3668tr]

Gibbs, Stuart
The Last Musketeer. 2011 (Middle Grade Novel).
Not every family trip goes as planned, and that goes triple for Greg Rich. When his parents disappear, he ends up traveling four hundred years to the past in order to find them. Things get even wilder as he soon finds himself a member of the legendary Three Musketeers!
[S. G35512l]
For more in this trilogy, check out The Last Musketeer: Traitor’s Chase [S. G35512t], and The Last Musketeer: Double Cross [S. G35512d], also located in the S-Collection!

Long, David
Diary of a Time Traveler. 2015 (Nonfiction).
Augustus is really bored in history class until his teacher hands him a magic notebook that takes him back in time! Follow his journey as he meets some of history’s most influential people, from the Paleolithic people who discovered fire to Albert Einstein.
[Q. S.909 L853d]

Nelson, Peter and Rohitash Rao.
Herbert’s Wormhole. 2009 (Middle Grade Novel).
When Alex is forced to hang out with his inventor neighbor Herbert, the two end up traveling to the 22nd century, battling aliens, and trying to save the world! Described as “a novel in cartoons,” this is a book even the most reluctant readers will enjoy.
[S. N3362h]
For more in this series, check out Aerostar and the 3 ½-Point Plan of Vengeance [S. N3362a], and The Rise and Fall of El Solo Libre [S. N3362r], also located in the S-Collection!

Rapkin, Mickey
It’s Not a Bed, It’s a Time Machine. 2019 (Picture Book).
Like many children, our young narrator is afraid of the dark, and is apprehensive about going to bed. But when his stuffed bunny tells him that the bed is really a time machine, a whole world of adventure opens up, and he even gets to meet a real T. Rex! This exciting story teaches little ones that bedtime is nothing to be afraid of.
[Q. SE. R1819it]

Stokes, Jonathan W.
The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers. 2018 (Nonfiction).
Planning a vacation to ancient Rome? This handy guide is all you’ll need to help you find a place to stay, save money, see the best sights, and even stay alive! You’ll want to be sure to pack this one on your next time travel adventure.
[S.937 St676tgar]
For more in this series, check out The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece [S.938 St676tgag], and The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution [S.973.3 St676tgam], also located in the S-Collection!

Taylor, Janet
Into the Dim. 2016 (Young Adult Fiction).
Hope Walton is devastated when her mother is killed in an earthquake, but when she travels to Scotland she learns that her mom was a member of a secret society of time travelers, and is actually still alive, trapped in the twelfth century. When Hope travels back in time to save her, she meets a mysterious boy who could derail her entire mission.
[S. T2156i]

Turetsky, Bianca
The Time-Traveling Fashionista. 2011 (Middle Grade Novel).
12-year-old Louise receives an invitation to a vintage clothing sale. Unexpectedly, when she tries on a beautiful gown, she is transported back in time and takes the place of the original owner of the dress, a silent film starlet in 1912 traveling aboard a luxury ship. Louise loves the glamor and the drama in her new surroundings, until she realizes that the ship she has arrived on is the Titanic! With full-color illustrations from a professional fashion illustrator, this fresh take on time-travel stories is one you won’t want to miss.
[S. T844t]

Welford, Ross
Time Traveling with a Hamster. 2016 (Middle Grade Novel).
When twelve-year-old Al receives a letter from his deceased father, he isn’t expecting directions to a time machine! Al’s father asks him to travel back to 1984 and prevent the go-kart accident that killed him. This fast-paced, witty novel is full of heart.
[S. W4579ti]

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The Write Way to Read

Did you know that November is National Novel Writing Month? With the weather getting chillier, it’s a great time to buckle down and get to work on putting that story in your head to paper. Need some inspiration? Would you rather just read? Either way, be sure to check out the titles below for some awesome stories about people who love to write and some tips for how you yourself can be an even better writer. For more information about National Novel Writing Month, take a look at the website for the nonprofit organization that started it all: https://www.nanowrimo.org/.

If you’re interested in finding more books about writing, search the catalog using keywords such as “juvenile fiction” for fiction books, “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books, and an additional term such as “authorship,” “writing,” or “writers.”

Detweiler, Katelyn
The Undoing of Thistle Tate. 2019 (Young Adult Fiction).
Thistle Tate has it made. At seventeen, she’s already the author of a bestselling series and has millions of fans. There’s only one problem: she didn’t actually write the books. As fans clamor for the final book in her series, Thistle’s guilt starts to unwind her relationships, career, and identity. With an insider’s look into the publishing world, this makes for a fascinating read.
[S. D486un]

Eaddy, Susan
Poppy’s Best Paper. 2015 (Picture Book).
When Poppy grows up, she is going to be a verrryyy famous writer. But despite what she thinks are her best efforts, the teacher never chooses her paper to read to the class! Will Poppy ever learn that it takes more than just saying you’re going to be a great writer in order to actually be one? Find out in this story that all ages will find relatable.
[SE. Ea22pobp]

Fletcher, Ralph
How to Write Your Life Story. 2007 (Nonfiction).
Not sure what to write about? Why not write about yourself! After all, you are the expert on you. This comprehensive book will guide you through telling your own story, proving that you don’t have to be famous to have a life that’s already worth reading about.
[S.808 F637h]

Gutman, Dan
My Weird Writing Tips. 2013 (Nonfiction).
From the bestselling author of the My Weird School series comes this hilarious guide to writing well. Full of genuinely useful tips and tricks as well as inspiring quotes from real authors, this is a book that will definitely encourage you to pick up a pencil and give you a few laughs along the way.
[S.808.042 G985m]

Kuipers, Alice
Polly Diamond and the Magic Book. 2018 (Young Readers Chapter Book).
For Polly Diamond, words really do have power. When she receives a magic book, everything that she writes down becomes reality! But what should she write about? Chocolate? A new TV? World peace? When things get out of hand, Polly learns what it means to choose her words carefully.
[S. K9577pdma]

López Ávila, Pilar
Ayobami and the Names of the Animals. 2017 (Picture Book).
Follow the story of little Ayobami, an African girl who dreams of learning to read and write. On her way to school, however, a series of dangerous animals threaten her until she promises to learn to write their names. Will she ever make it to school and achieve her dreams? Imaginative illustrations by Mar Azabal bring to life this beautiful story that teaches us that education is not always easy to obtain, but is a path to hope.
[S-Collection SE. L8811ay:E]

MacLachlan, Patricia
Someone Like Me. 2017 (Picture Book).
This semi-autobiographical picture book follows snippets of a child’s life as she grows up to become an author, showing that everyone has an interesting story to tell, and anyone can be a writer. Beautiful illustrations by Chris Sheban give this story a nostalgic feel.
[SE. M22so]

Ryan, Pam Muñoz
The Dreamer. 2010 (Biography: Chapter Book).
This fictionalized biography of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda comes from award-winning author Pam Muñoz Ryan. Follow the story of a deeply shy child as he goes on a journey of self-discovery that will allow him to grow up to change the world.
[S. R957d]

Van Draanen, Wendelin
The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones. 2016 (Middle Grade Novel).
Lincoln Jones has always preferred fiction to the messiness of real life. In his stories, he can make anything happen (or not happen), but when a fellow sixth grader named Kandi Kain starts badgering him about his stories, Lincoln may finally be forced to open up.
[S. V2871sel]

Wilde, Jen
Going Off Script. 2019 (Young Adult Fiction).
This contemporary romantic story follows seventeen-year-old Bex as she lands an internship at her favorite TV show. When she realizes her job involves little more than getting coffee, she decides to submit her own script, which is promptly stolen, reworked, and straight-washed by the head writer! Bex and her almost-girlfriend decide to take on the studio for the representation they deserve.
[S. W6443go]

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Books that Go Bump in the Night

The air is getting crisp, leaves crunch underfoot, and a sense of spookiness can be felt all around. It’s the time of year again when witches cackle and werewolves howl, and we crawl under the covers with a flashlight and a book, hoping that the scratching at the window is just a tree branch. If you’re ready for a frighteningly good read, sink your claws into one of these great titles.

If you’re interested in finding more books that will give you the shivers, search the catalog using subject terms such as “juvenile fiction” for fiction books, “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books, and an additional term such as “Halloween,” “ghost stories,” or your favorite scary monster.

Becker, Bonny
The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael. 2018 (Picture Book).
Little Michael McMichael is on a trip to deliver something to his beloved grandmother. But as soon as he steps on the Thirteen bus, something feels very off. The creepy driver only gets creepier, and the bus only gets more abnormal as the other passengers disembark! With eerily silly illustrations by Mark Fearing, the twist ending will leave you gasping!
[S-Collection Q. SE. B388fr]

Becker, Helaine
Monster Science: Could Monsters Survive (and Thrive!) in the Real World? 2016 (Nonfiction).
Think you know all there is to know about monsters? Think again! This fun, engaging book delves into the real-life science behind the creatures we all know and love. Discover the history of sea monsters. Learn if electricity really could make human organs function after death. Complete with jokes, trivia, and a whole lot of science, this is one you won’t want to miss.
[S-Collection S.001.944 B38845m]

Brendler, Carol
Not Very Scary. 2014 (Picture Book).
Melly the monster does not scare easily. In fact, she doesn’t get scared at all! So when she sets out to her cousin’s house for a big surprise, it doesn’t frighten her one bit when more and more creepy creatures start to follow her on her way. Or does it…?
[S-Collection Q. SE. B7504n]

Caswell, Deanna
Boo! Haiku. 2016 (Juvenile Poetry).
Colorful pictures and creative poetic riddles will keep little ones guessing about which spooky character will appear on the next page. Each hint is told in the form of a haiku, a traditional Japanese style of poetry that includes 5 syllables on the first line, 7 on the second, and 5 on the third. This is a real page turner because you never know who you’ll find next!
[S-Collection SE. C2799bo]

Cuyler, Margery
Skeleton Hiccups. 2002 (Picture Book).
Is there anything scarier than hiccups you can’t get rid of? Poor Skeleton is afflicted, and despite his best efforts, they won’t go away! Will they ever leave his rattling bones in peace? Clever illustrations by S. D. Schindler make this a classic you’ll return to year after year.
[S-Collection SE. C99sk]

Fleming, Candace
On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave. 2012 (Young Adult Fiction).
Set in an actual (and allegedly haunted) cemetery outside of Chicago, this distinctly Illinoisan set of ghost stories follows the tales of several teen spirits recounting how they died, all involving the supernatural. Each ghost belongs to a different era in history from 1860 to the present, and together they paint a marvelous picture of some of the most exciting events in Illinois history.
[S-Collection S. F629o]

Howard, Martin
How to Slay a Werewolf. 2014 (Nonfiction).
Plagued by a lycanthrope? No problem! In this hilarious guide to werewolves, Professor Van Helsing teaches you all the tips and tricks you’ll need to rid yourself of that bothersome beast once and for all. Complete with a history of werewolves, this is your one stop shop for all things lupine.
[S-Collection S.398.2454 H835h]

Monahan, Hillary
Mary: The Summoning. 2014 (Young Adult Fiction).
Four teen girls link hands to summon the spirit of Bloody Mary. But when one of the girls takes it too far, Mary is released from her mirror and seeks revenge. Friendships are challenged and lives are changed as the girls struggle to escape Mary’s grasp. Easily the scariest book on this list, it is not for the faint of heart.
[S-Collection S. M7412m]

Sloat, Teri
Zip! Zoom! On a Broom! 2017 (Picture Book).
One by one, ten witches jump on a broom, and one by one, they drop off again! Illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet, this rhyming story all about counting up and down makes for a great read-aloud with a witchy theme.
[S-Collection Q. SE. Sl52z]

Tan, Shaun
The Singing Bones: Inspired by Grimms’ Fairy Tales. 2016 (Young Adult Fiction).
Explore Grimms’ fairy tales as you’ve never seen them before. Eerie sculptures by visionary artist Shaun Tan accompany snippets of 75 tales, leaving you with a strong sense of foreboding. Complete with an introduction by Neil Gaiman, fans of fairy tales and folklore won’t want to miss this one.
[S-Collection S.398.210943 T1535si]

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