• ADHD books published by NorthEast Books & Publishing, by Association for Youth, Children and Natural Psychology
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Best Books for Children and Teens

All of these books have been carefully selected and not selected at random. About 95% of them have been personally evaluated by board members of the AYCNP. They represent some of the finest books for children and teens, teaching positive lessons for children of all ages. They have been selected from a variety of sources, including school classrooms and libraries, teacher's and librarian's recommendations, and awards listings.


Have You Seen My Duckling? Nancy Tafuri

Early childhood, Caldecott Honor Book


A Gardener's Alphabet Mary Azarian

Early childhood alphabet book worth having through third grade. Illustrations are of woodblock prints, Mary Azarian is a Caldecott Honors medalist.


Count Your Way Through Brazil James Haskins

This is a beautifully illustrated and crafted book that introduces children to foreign cultures and language. It teaches children to count in Portuguese and also tackles different aspects of Brazil’s wonderful culture. This would be great for first grader or kindergartener practicing their numbers


The Shoe Book Kate Mason

Teaching your child how to tie his/her shoe laces? This is a great book for them! Kids will enjoy learning to tie their shoe laces as they read the story of Zach who loves his new sneaker but doesn’t know how to tie it. This book will teach kids how to tie their shoes in six easy to follow steps and in full color.


Explore a Tropical Forest - Hardcover Pop-up Book by Peggy D. Winston , also Strange Animals of the Sea

Part of a series of books, as described on the main books list page here, kids love this series and are attracted to it, being somewhat interactive.


White Snow, Bright Snow Alvin Tresselt, Roger Duvoisin (illustrator)

From the best early childhood booklist of a Newark, NJ public school librarian.


Footprints in the Snow (Hello Reader! Level 1) by Cynthia Benjamin

This is a perfect book for a young naturalist. This book will introduce young kids what kind of tracks does an animal leaves in the snow as they go to their home. The book is set in a way that kids will first see the tracks of an animal example a deer, an owl, and a bear then follow their footprints to their home.


All I See by Cynthia Rylant

A good story about friendship between a child and an artist who sees and paints only whales. The artist is teaching a child to see beyond what eyes can see and is illustrated in beautifully colored book. Unlock your child’s imagination and buy this book now.


The Rainbow Fish Marcus Pfister

Love this book for early childhood, great lesson. Kids love it too, colorful and captivating. One of the best early childhood books for children.


Rainbow Fish Colors by Marcus Pfister

A book with vivid eye catching colors that will make your kids hook on reading the story. A red starfish, a blue whale, an orange seahorse and the rainbow fish himself are some of the creatures that this book has to offer.


Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho, Holly Meade


A Walk in the Rainforest by Kristin Joy Pratt


Rain Forest Counts - Pbk by McCourt


Over in the Meadow by Olive A. Wadsworth, Anna Vojtech


Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, Caldecott Honor Book


I Am an Artist Janet Carson

PreK book of value.


Johnny Appleseed Reeve Lindbergh, Kathy Jakobsen

Good version of this classic America legend-tale based on a true person and his works.


The Little Engine That Could
by Watty Piper, George Hauman, Doris Hauman

"I think I can, I think I can..." Read this book a few time to your young child, and the positive flow may stay with him or her forever. You can do it if you try hard enough.


Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? Eric Carle

Nurturing, early childhood book found in most early childhood classrooms.


From the classroom of a very thoughtful Kindergarten teacher, Begin at the Beginning: A Little Artist Learns about Life by Amy Schwartz

A cute story for children about a little girl with a big assignment, produce a great piece of artwork for her class the next day. She has a small idea that turns into a big idea, but unfortunately, she gets a bad case of artist's block, and can't seem to get even a scribble down on the paper/canvas. How will she resolve this problem? Cute story with cute pictures for cute Kindergarteners.


The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller

Good early childhood choice for girls through third grade. Girls do like this book (in class).


Here Is the African Savanna (Web of Life) Madeleine Dunphy, Tom Leonard

Delightful poem with delightful pictures through 3rd grade.


Noah and the Ark Paul Guernsey, Lori Lohstoeter, Kelly McGillis

Based on Biblical account, accurate in most details, delightfully written for children, imparting good moral lesson on doing good rather than bad.


Almost Gone: The World's Rarest Animals Steve Jenkins

Grade 2 book of immense interest and importance for children. This is very nicely done for children.


Secret Place by Eve Bunting

Almost all of Eve Bunting's books are of worth and superior quality. This early childhood book takes children on a journey with a city boy who finds a "secret place" of wilderness.


The Lost Lake by Allen Say

Allen Say is a fine children's book writer. This is no exception with a father and son story, soft and gentle, almost zen-like in its cadence.


Handsigns: A Sign Language Alphabet, by Kathleen Fain

This is a clever book to teach children sign language. Some school children and teens delight in learning the sign language alphabet.


The Library, by Sarah Stewart

Children through the third grade love this book!


Helen Keller by David A. Adler, John C. Wallner

A short biography of this inspiring true story for readers grades 1 through 3.


Count Your Way Through China James Haskins, Dennis Hockerman

Wonderful series for children, many languages.


Reader's Digest Illustrated Great World Atlas by Editors of Reader's Digest

One of the top world atlas'. Great book for teens and children.


Once Upon a Springtime (Hello Reader! Level 2) Jean Marzollo, Jacqueline Rogers

Beautiful (non-violent) "Bambi alternative" featuring deer and fawn for early childhood, grades 2 and younger.

All About Deer (All About Series)
All About Deer
is a great concept book teaching positive values and love of nature. The book is good for children from 1st through the 3rd grade, even some 4th graders. The illustrations are a bit skimpy, as are the graphics. It is a good book for parents to read to children.


Into the Sea Brenda Z. Guiberson, Alix Berenzy

Strikingly and colorfully delightful, educational for young children.


Polar Bears (Animal Predators) by Sandra Markle


David's Drawings Cathryn Falwell

See review on this page for this fictional, perhaps inspiring story.


Paint Brush Kid Clyde Robert Bulla

Clever story with Mexico setting. Kids will enjoy this book from the author of the acclaimed The Chalk Box Kid.


When the TV Broke Harriet Ziefert, Mavis Smith

Clever story children love, and that would solve a lot of problems if it actually happened.


Alejandro's Gift Richard E. Albert, Sylvia Long


Draw 50 Animals Lee J. Ames

For children with a little artistic interest, a good place to start.


Silent Music James Rumford

The human side of Iraq! Good illustrated children's book.


Akiak: A Tale From the Idiatrod by Robert J. Blake

Adventure picture book for young readers


Snowflake Bentley Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Mary Azarian

Based on true life work of American snowflake photographer. Ages 5 through 8.


The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and E. B. Lewis

Nicely Illustrated fiction for grade school children. Two children, one black, one white, work towards “breaking down” the literal fence that separates them. Their efforts towards friendship are fruitful. This is a nice book for children to sow seeds of unity and take down walls of prejudice.


The Piano William Miller, Susan Keeter

Warm, barrier breaking book of inter-racial, inter-generational friendship.


Jamaica's Find, by Juanita Havill, Anne Sibley O'Brien (Illustrator)

Cute story with human-oriented soft illustrations. The book teaches a nice lesson for 1st (or K) through 3rd grade children.


Grandparents Song, by Sheila Hamanaka

Warm and inspired by American folk art.


Linnea in Monet's Garden, by Cristina Bjork, Lena Anderson, Joan Sandin


Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

When asking the adult general public which book they would recommend for young readers that inspires positive values in children, this classic work wins hands-down. The story is set in Victorian era, far removed from Western culture today, however, girls who read Anne of Green Gables bond with and remember Anne and the other characters of this story for the rest of their life.


One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale, by Demi

Charming folktale from India for grade three or thereabout.


Orphan Train Rider: One Boy's True Story, by Andrea Warren

Marvelous non-fiction revealing a poignant slice of American history. Lots of photos to capture interest of children through the 5th grade, as early as 2nd grade.


Life in the Rain Forests (Life in the Series), by Lucy Baker

Interesting and nicely illustrated, worth having for third and fourth grade.


Hana's Suitcase, by Karen Levine

If you or your child has not read this touching illustrated Holocaust story, or if this book is not a part of your school library or 3rd or 4th grade classroom, by all means pick up a copy.


Facing the Lion: Memoirs of a Young Girl in Nazi Europe, by Simone Arnold Liebster

An inspiring Holocaust story of a Jehovah's Witness girl in Nazi Germany won in the ideological mental battle of integrity. This is inspiring for children, teens (and adults) of all faiths.


Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-li Jiang

(older version demonstrated here, to show face on cover photo which newer version lacks). Story of China's cultural revolution through a girl's eyes. Serious work for older children, through middle school, to contemplate.


100 Award-Winning Science Fair Projects , by Glen Vecchione

How often are children stumped for ideas for their science fair project? This is a great library or home book for any child. (A grade school and middle school library find).


A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations--and How You Can Find Them in the Sky, by Michael Driscoll, Meredith Hamilton

This is for children eight-years-old and older.


National Geographic Encyclopedia of Animals Karen McGhee, George Mc Kay Ph.D.

Kids are enthralled with this beautiful book! Good for children through the 7th grade.


The Young Artist, by Thomas Locker

Inspiring fictional work, interesting reading for third or fourth grade, good lessons for children to think about.


I Saw Your Face Tom Feelings, Kwame Dawes

African motif, book that is both interesting, educational and artistically, humanly inspirational.


Dealing with Lying (Conflict Resolution Library), by Don Middleton (Author), Lisa Adams

Excellent book used in the classroom, simple for children Grades Kindergarten-6th Grade, to teach them the facts about lying and why and how to tell the truth. Vital character education lesson that makes for a great class. From a school library in Newark, NJ, good for preteens of all ages.


Save the Everglades
by Judith Bauer Stamper, Allen Davis

Non-fiction inspiring work about the success of environmental activism in the Florida Everglades. Good for around fourth grade.


Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, by Paul Fleischman, Eric Beddows (Illustrator)

Delightful illustrated poetry book for young readers, 3rd grade and earlier.


Louis Braille: The Boy Who Invented Books for the Blind (Scholastic Biography), by Margaret Davidson


The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Langston Hughes, Arnold Rampersad

The rhythmic flow of Langston Hughes' poetry is something that today's youth can connect with decades later. Reading Langston Hughes is an essential part of American education.


Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets,
by Paul B. Janeczko

Seeing the Blue Between provides fine encouragement from a number of seasoned poets to young people, on how to write poetry, providing abundant examples from the poets themselves. It includes an appendix with brief biographies and photos. Excellent book, best in its class.


Dorothea Lange: The Crucial Years


The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards


Drawing Faces: Internet-linked, Rosie Dickins, Jan McCafferty, Fiona Watt, Carrie A. Seay, Howard Allman

Drawing the human face is one of the highest forms of art. It is good therapy and can help a person who has developed antisocial tendencies to learn to love. Also, it is good therapy for pornography addiction as it can help some to learn to view humans, not as sex objects, but to see them with the eyes of love. Other than have good therapeutic use, Drawing Faces is a fine way for young people to develop their artistic and creative potential.


Learn Calligraphy, by Margaret Shepherd

Margaret Shepherd has a number of fine books on this subject, which can be found in high school graphics and arts classrooms.


Origami 101

This is a complete work with book, CD with PDF version and video. Good place to go if you would like to try out origami with your child or teen. Origami is a centuries old Japanese artform.


Art: An A-Z Guide, by Shirley Greenway

A better and gentler escape than movies, interest in art can lead to better mental health. This is an interesting, well-developed and well-illustrated reference book that can stir up interest and understanding in fine art.


Yellow Star, by Jennifer Roy

This is a fascinating collection of poems that will teach any teen or mature older child a valuable lesson of history and make him or her feel the emotions of being a Jew in a Polish ghetto.


Shooting Kabul, by N. H. Senzai

Historical Fiction of an Afghanistan family's illegal departure from Afghanistan to California, right before the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.


Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide,
DK Publishing

Over 2,000 species are profiled. Produced with the Smithsonian Institution and more than 70 expert zoologists. This book is "profusely illustrated" with beautiful and breathtaking photos.


Image: Phaitoon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Page updated December 19, 2015


200 of the Best Books for Children and Teens


From Teachers, Librarians, and Awards Lists

For Children, Teens, Parents, Teachers, and Librarians


Children's and teen literature, fiction and non-fiction children's books
Carefully selected from tens of thousands of books


Introduction of 200 of the Best Books for Children and Teens by Dr. Louise Kane, BA Hons, MA (University of Oxford), PhD (De Montfort), assistant professor of English literature at University of Birmingham.


"Mom! Can I watch a movie before I go to bed?” "No, you have plenty to read in your room. Get a good book and read before you go to bed." Roy stomps up to his room, but feels secretly happy: every night as a child his parents read to him, and now that he is almost a teenager, he quite enjoys reading himself to sleep each night.

Children should learn to find delight in reading. There are hundreds of wonderful books for your children.
Teach your child to learn to love reading. Well-selected books can mold your child's mind and heart in positive ways. Reading can be a part of a child's life that may divert from a TV and screen infatuation or addiction and can contribute to a lifestyle conducive to good mental health.

This is the key to developing your child's reading skills. Sure, it involves more effort, but it will pay off. Does your child have a television in their bedroom? By all means, take it out. Television, video games, and open-access Internet in the bedroom are invitations to stay up late, and are distractions that foster passive viewing, rather than the positive, active learning involved in reading.

Teachers have noticed a link between televisions in children’s bedrooms and problems in the classroom. One girl who could not focus in class admitted that she had a wide-screen TV in her bedroom. Night after night she’d stay up watching music videos until 3 or 4am, each morning waking up more tired and irritable than the last, unable to converse or complete homework on time.

Another tween presented similarly: barely able to keep his eyes open in class, as he’d watch horror movies on his X-Box until the wee hours, totally unbeknownst to his parents. Another very distracted teen with open-access Internet stayed up late watching videos on YouTube and other sites. In school he was unsettled, unable to sit still or maintain concentration. But he could bang out a beat on a table without missing a single word in his favorite rap songs.

This is a familiar scenario for many children and young teens diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed stimulant medication. In many cases, it may well be that their brains are simply overloaded with stimulation, often at inappropriate times. How much better, then, to encourage your child to be a reader from an early age? Below you will find a list of 200 excellent books for children and young people that teach positive life lessons, instill wholesome values, and help build character. After all, "a reader is a leader!"


Presented on this page is a carefully selected list largely from Newark Public School classrooms, Newark public libraries, book awards lists, and librarians' best books lists for children. Nearly all books were read for review purposes by representatives of the AYCNP.

Organized from early childhood books through books
for older children and teens


The small amount of commission the AYCNP receives from Amazon for books provides limited funding and contributes towards its non-profit activities, which include distributing books to inner-city children and teens, and to school and public libraries.


Early Childhood Books


Alphabet and Counting


A Gardener's Alphabet by Mary Azarian

Best Books for Children - A Gardener’s Alphabet
A great ABC book that will teach your child about garden plants and vegetables for ages K and older. As with many children’s books, adults will learn too! The illustrations are wonderful, hand-colored woodblock prints, and each page provides a new and colorful country scene. Mary Azarian is a Caldecott medalist.



One Child, One Seed: A South African Counting Book
by Kathryn Cave, Gisele Wulfsohn

A story about Nothando and her life in a rural South African community. Little readers can count with the little heroine as she plants a pumpkin seed and watches it grow. This is a cultural picture book to teach children counting.


Count Your Way series by James Haskins
Would you like your child to develop an interest in being bi-lingual? How about being multi-lingual? If you do, this series is for you. The Count Your Way series features books such as Count Your Way Through Brazil, which teaches children to count in Portuguese. Count Your Way Through France will prepare your child for a trip to France, mingle with Haitians, or journey through North Africa.

Then there is Count Your Way Through Africa, which will introduce you and your child to the Swahili language, spoken by some 50 million people in that part of the world. Count Your Way Through India encourages cultural diversity. Learn how to count (simply and enjoyably) in Hindi, the national language of India and the fourth most-spoken language in the world (Only Chinese, English and Spanish are spoken by more people on this planet). There is also Count Your Way Through the Arab World, which shows children to count in Arabic.

Also in the series is Count Your Way Through China, Count Your Way Through Israel, (which teaches counting in Hebrew), and, can you believe it, Count Your Way Through Afghanistan.

This is a marvelous collection of books that are designed for children grades 1 through 3, but can be used through to the fifth grade. These can are even be suitable for adults who really want to learn to count in another language. Numbering in all books is basic (from one to ten).

In addition to teaching you to count in each language, there are interesting and diverse cultural information and illustrations provided on each page, giving you a panoramic sampling of each country. It is a little more than a casual introduction.


The Shoe Book by Kate Mason
The Shoe Book is an out-of-print book that is available used on Amazon.com, and is listed for its use in a kindergarten classroom. It is a clever book that has a cute story about tying one's shoes from the perspective of a child, and an actual oversized shoe with laces for children to really learn how to tie their shoes. Clever book that K, pre-K, and even some 1st graders, will love.


Handsigns: A Sign Language Alphabet by Kathleen Fain
This is a non-fiction book for children that teaches the alphabet and sign language alphabet using illustrations of animals. Because it teaches the sign language alphabet, it can be used for any age, although the book itself was designed for young children.


Early Childhood Fiction and Stories


Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? by Eric Carle
Even though this book is a bit repetitive, its value can be found in its closing sentences, with the assurance that "animal mothers love their babies just as yours loves you." It is a book that provides a measure of security to a child, and stirs up feelings of warmth and positive emotions.

The book is in many children's classrooms for the aforementioned reasons, and is to be recommended. Though repetitive, that in itself can be helpful for young children to foster the retention of information and word-phrases.

Two other books by Eric Carle to consider for young children are: "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," said the Sloth and Mister Seahorse: board book (World of Eric Carle).


White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt, Roger Duvoisin
This is a pre-K and kindergarten book from a Newark school librarian's best books list. It is a poetic book highlighting children's fascination and delight with falling snow. Roger Duvoisin’s pictures engender feelings of humor and happiness that merely add to the book’s imagery.


Footprints in the Snow (Hello Reader!, Level 1) by Cynthia Benjamin
Another illustrated book focusing on the beauty of snow. This book contains soft and pretty illustrated winter scenes. The illustrations within the book are prettier than even the cover. It concludes with a positive message of comfort and love. This type of book builds positive emotions in children, helping them feel secure and loved.

This can also help kids get to know different types of animals and their habitats. It is a warm, loving book for young children worth having at home or in the classroom. This is good to read to pre-K children, or for early readers in kindergarten or early 1st grade.


The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
There are a number of versions of this classic story for children. Talk about the power of positive thinking and perseverance "I think I can, I think I can…" This is a win-win book about a train engine that teaches children the value of hard work and optimism.


All I See by Cynthia Rylant
This is the story of a young boy who awakens artistically through his friendship with a seasoned painter. This book is suitable both for early childhood and older grade school children. It can help encourage the artist in a child, and contribute to developing an appreciation for painting and creativity, and the peace and serenity in producing works of art. With so much media violence, art is a wonderful skill for children and teens to develop, and for parents and educators to encourage.


The Rainbow Fish and Rainbow Fish Colors by Marcus Pfister

Best Books for Children – Rainbow Fish


There are seven or eight books with the Rainbow Fish themes. For ekids ages four through seven, these are colorful books that children love which teach good lessons about sharing and getting along with others. The illustrations capture young eyes and hearts!


Once Upon a Springtime (Hello Reader, Level 2) by Jean Marzollo
Once Upon a Springtime teaches young children about little deer, and is the realistic fictional account of a deer's first year of life, including the difficulties of eating in winter and the joy of plenty when spring comes. It is a touching story and wonderful Bambi alternative.


Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho, Holly Meade
Hush is a children's poem/lullaby with a Thailand theme. It shows the love a mother has for her baby, wherein she tries to quiet the numerous creatures of the house and forest so her baby won't wake. The art is culturally enriching, simple, yet deep, and pleasing to the visual senses. This is a lovely book for a mother to read to her child, or for kindergarten or pre-K children.


A Walk in the Rainforest by Kristin Joy Pratt
This is a non-fiction picture book for young children written and illustrated by a 14-year-old. Children learn about rainforest animals through a walk in the forest accompanied by an ant. This is a great read for all early childhood grades.


The Rain Forest Counts - Pbk by Lisa McCourt
The Rain Forest Counts is an innovative counting book with lovely illustrations for pre-K through 1st grade. It can also be enjoyed on another level by children in the 2nd and 3rd grade because of the lively text through which they will learn about exotic animals, plants and insects of the rainforest. The book contains brightly colored collages and interesting facts.


Over in the Meadow by Olive A. Wadsworth, Anna Vojtech
From the Newark, NJ public school librarian's best early childhood books list, this is a classic nursery poem for pre-K and kindergarten children, ages three and up. The book is current, but the poem was written in the 19th century. It contains soft and sweet illustrations that will appeal to the very young, and will teach them to count.


Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri
This is an interesting Caldecott Honor Book in that there are few words other than "Have you seen my duckling" on several pages. The story is told in pictures, similar to the way Chinese characters convey an idea. If you rush through the book it can be easy to miss the point of the story.

In that respect, this is very good for early childhood readers. Kids who read this book will learn from observing the pictures rather than the words. This stimulates the right-hemisphere of the brain, and thus good mental/cognitive training for young children. So, while the story has few words, there is a lesson on a mother's love.


Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Another Caldecott Honor Book, McCloskey wrote this classic, early childhood work in 1941. It is still going strong, and the warmth that is found in this cleverly spun animal-human tale set in Boston still touches children’s hearts.

While Boston streets are much too dangerous for a duck family attempting to land, a friendly police officer comes to the rescue, and the duck family finds a safe haven amidst clamoring and impatient cars a nice island home with plenty of water. The sketched illustrations are soft and simple, realistic and idyllic.

The book imparts a feeling of warmth, and a sense of belonging and security to a child. The reading level is up to eight years old, but younger children from pre-K will enjoy the book being read to them.


Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh, Kathy Jakobsen
Jon Chapman was the real-life Johnny Appleseed who traveled through the United States from Massachusetts to the Midwest planting apple seeds. The story is related by a grandmother to her grandchildren, and is a poetry book that depicts Chapman as a gentle, reverent, and religious man on a mission; a person who loves the land and has the will to do something about it.

There are a slew of books about Jon Chapman, some of which take the view of a conquering hero-giant. This book takes it a bit further down to earth, and is worth having for children in early childhood from pre-K through 3rd grade.


The Lost Lake (Houghton Mifflin Sandpiper Books) by Allen Say
This is a fictional picture-story of a father and son and their short hiking/backpacking adventure. The story wants to shift the young reader's interest away from the developed/commercial sun-bathing lake, to finding enjoyment in exploring the wilderness. Positive values of father and son on a shared adventure, accompanied by positive values of rejecting the commercial in favor of natural beauty make this a great read.

Allison by Allen Say
This is another Allen Say story of interest. It is a little girl’s story of being adopted, told through her expressions of emotion in the form of anger and frustration, but ending on a happy note. This is a good book for any children experiencing frustration or trouble coping with anger. This is a recommended children's realistic fiction for ages 7 through 12.


Secret Place by Eve Bunting
This is an interesting book well worth having for girls and boys. It takes you to the hustle and bustle and traffic of the city,where a young boy with an older companion, manages to find a "secret place" where ducks and other common animals had found a little oasis to continue the life they had before industrialization took over. Another lovely, interesting Eve Bunting book with positive values for children in 1st through 3rd grade (ages 7 to early 9).


How Much? Visiting Markets Around the World by Ted Lewin
How Much? takes the child all over the world to places such as Egypt and Bangkok, and closer to home, like Brooklyn and Southern New Jersey. It is painted in the manner of photography; the artwork is very realistic and eye-catching. Children will get a good education about many different cultures through this book. It is recommended for the second or third-grade classrooms, for home-schooled children, or as a gift.


Let's Eat: What Children Eat Around the World by Beatrice Hollyer
Another culture photo-book for early childhood that is good for children up to the fourth grade. One of those “child-adult books” where children of all ages, and even adults, are taught about different types of food from all corners of the world.


Early Childhood Non-Fiction


The 5 Senses (Let's Learn about) by Nuria Roca
The 5 senses is a valuable early childhood book for children. It contains cartoonish illustrations accompanying basic information on the five senses, which is at an appropriate reading level for 1st and 2nd grade children, but can also be used in kindergarten or possibly pre-K classes. The book not only cites facts, but makes sure everything is easy to follow, captivating the attention of the average 1st or 2nd grader. There is a two-page section in the book of the book with teaching guidelines for parents.


Bicycle Book by Gail Gibbons
Bicycle Book is non-fiction for 2nd and third grade children. It teaches them the ins and outs of bicycles, with a brief history lesson, information on the various types, how they work and are used, as well as ideas on safety and maintenance.


Century Farm: One Hundred Years on a Family Farm by Cris Peterson, Alvis Upitis
A warm picture book for early childhood up to the 2nd grade that describes a bit of the history of a family farm, up to the present day. It is family-oriented, teaches positive values - such as unity and the value of hard work - as well as the day-to-day workings of a farm life.


An Elephant in the Backyard by Richard Sobol
Through this picture book for ages 5 and older, readers will learn about the life of children in Thailand through the eyes of brother and sister, Jak and Muay. It is a fascinating look at another culture that will surely enamor young hearts.


Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
An innovative book for children, Actual Size is for children preschool through 5th Grade. The book contains 18 animals and insects(or parts of their bodies) in actual size, all in paper collages.

The book is one of contrasts in size between different animals; a foot-wide squid eye occupies one page, for example. Miniscule termites, a mouse lemur, one of which is two and a half inches tall, contrast with the portrait of a 600 pound Gorilla, all in "actual size." It is an interesting book for kids as it introduces them to the world of nature, helping them grasp the notion of comparisons, measurement, and observation, as well as the scientific method of record keeping. Engaging text also adds to its appeal.


Bridges are to Cross (Picture Puffins) by Philemon Sturges, Giles Laroche (Illustrator)
Bridges are to Cross is a delightful little picture book for first grade children, or a supplementary social studies book for children up to the 3rd grade. It has bright pictures that teach children about bridges (like the Golden Gate Bridge) near and far, from diverse cultures and time periods. It exposes them, therefore, to different cultures in a captivating way. The only issue is the print of the main text that, while interesting, is a little small. In any case, it is an interesting addition to a child's (or classroom) library collection.


Early Childhood Science and Nature


Into the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Best Books for Children - Into the Sea
Into the Sea has bright, beautiful pictures. The text is accurate natural science that provides many details about the sea turtle’s life. The book ends with the sea turtle, after 20 years, returning to the beach where she herself was hatched to lay eggs.

It gently introduces the idea of the food cycle in which only two out of an entire brood of hatchlings will survive to lay eggs. A nice nature and science book with an introduction to environmental conservation for children up to grade three.


In the Swim by Douglas Florian
Second or third grade poetry with simplistic paintings / illustrations that but it work. On a couple of occasions the book drifts into needless negativism - about fish no-less - but all-in-all, is upbeat. Some of the fish poeticized in this interesting kid's book are: catfish, salmon, piranhas, eel, sawfish, seahorse, whale starfish, ray, flounder, sharks, blenny, flying fish, and many others.


Here Is the African Savanna (Web of Life) by Madelene Dunphy

Best Books for Children – Here is the African Savannah
A rich book of poetry and prose for early childhood. In the style of the poem from decades ago, that many of us remember ("I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly, I don't know why she swallowed a fly”), the story of the African savanna is developed, with animals and scenes warmly introduced. Kindergarten children will be enthralled. It contains captivating artwork, bright and vivid-lifelike at times, and artistic in others.

Younger children will enjoy having the book read to them, and children who can read well will enjoy poring over it and examining the art on their own. One page with artwork of an African elephant is breathtakingly beautiful.

This book is part of a small series that includes:
Here Is the Coral Reef (Web of Life),
Here Is Antarctica (Web of Life),
Here is the Tropical Rainforest,
Here Is the Wetland (Web of Life),
Here Is the Southwestern Desert (Web of Life),
Here Is the Arctic Winter (Web of Life)
(All were not reviewed by AYCNP, with the exception of Here is the African Savanna). See: www.mdunphy.com

Not part of this series, but a book of interest interestfor early childhood (up to 3rd grade) is: Life in a Coral Reef (Ranger Rick Science Spectacular Series) by Melvin Berger. It has beautiful photos and is worth a read. The current cost for a new one is a little pricey (2012 version) on Amazon, but used, it is a good deal.


If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian, Barbara Hirsch Lember
Not that the book isn’t nice for girls, but this is a great book for little boys who don’t mind playing in the dirt. There is something comforting about rocks. Studying rocks is very stabilizing. There are no serious ethical issues with rocks (such as genetic engineering and mutations). Rocks evolve and then de-evolve into a simpler form in a wonderful cycle.

This book, of course, does not get into all that, but basically poetically teaches children about the different categories of rocks, and that rocks are...well, your friends. You can have a lot of fun with rocks. It has photos and more or less poetry for kindergarten and first grade boys and girls.


The Reason for a Flower (Ruth Heller's World of Nature) by Ruth Heller
The illustrations are bold and beautiful, even for children who cannot read. If they are readers up to 8 or 9, this will hold their attention. It is an early childhood book, but can be one that adults can learn from. Six-year-olds who read this book, in their special education class loved, loved, loved it. They read along, and listened. It is a book for all children but will especially interest girls.


Pop-Up: Hide & Seek (National Geographic Action Book)
by National Geographic Society

This is a clever 12-page book with interesting pop-up animals that enthralls grade school children. It is as much a game as it is a book. It is part of a series of books from National Geographic that children will love as it shows in great detail how various animals camouflage themselves in the wild.

Explore a Tropical Forest (Pop-up Book) by Peggy D. Winston This is another bright, colorful, fun, and educational book that explores the beauty of a tropical rainforest. Grade school children will be engaged by the beautiful illustrations of plant and animal life in such a unique ecological community.

Strange Animals of the Sea by National Geographic Society This is wonderful children's non-fiction book that is beautifully illustrated, as well as contains pop-ups. Kids love it, and it is well worth the purchase for any classroom, from kindergarten to 6th grade. There are several books in this series, and children will love learning about unfamiliar sea life.

Other books in the series are: Pop-Up: African Animal Giants (National Geographic Action Book) by James Dietz , Pop-Up: Amazing Monkeys , Pop-Up: Animal Homes (National Geographic Action Book) by Jeffrey Terreson, Wonderful Animals of Australia (National Geographic Action Book) by Jane R. McCauley, Pop-Up: Animal Acrobats, along with other similar titles.


Under the Sea (Usborne Lift and Look Board Books) by Jessica Greenwell, Peter Scott
This has a few pop-ups, though not on the same level as the National Geographic books listed above. The illustrations in the first two chapters are good but not so striking, though the rest of the illustrations are vibrant and colorful. Kids will surely enjoy this book, as it is a good launching tool to learn to draw their own pictures. This is a nice book all in all for kindergarten into the 1st grade.


Spots: Counting Creatures from Sky to Sea by Carolyn Lesser, Laura Regan
Kids really enjoy reading this simple book about animals with spots. It is a good book to read to children in class or at home, and expands a first graders knowledge of animals. It helps them see a pattern in nature; categorizing animals in a way they normally might not, and serves as a cognitive bridge for early childhood.

Use Spots Counting Creatures From Sky to Sea for an art/science lesson after reading, as many of the kids will surely enjoy drawing and coloring pictures of animals with spots. Early childhood or grade school science teachers can use this book for a one-period lesson.


The Rainforest Grew All Around by Susan K. Mitchell, Connie McLennan
This is a rainforest version take on the song, "The Green Grass Grew All Around." A Teacher's Choices Reading List, 2007, this book teaches about rainforest animal life, such as jaguars, boas, leafcutter ants, toucans, bats, sloths, as well as rainforest flora such as kapok trees and bromeliads. The book also includes a three-page “For Creative Minds” educational section that will help children further broaden their knowledge of the rainforest.


Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea by Chris Butterworth
This is an endearingly illustrated book for children from kindergarten through third grade that teaches about seahorses. It is a nature book of information that even adults will enjoy.


Butterflies and Moths (World Discovery Science Readers) by Kris Hirschmann
This is one of an excellent series of science and nature books for children. The books are suitable for early childhood through 4th Grade. Other books in the series include Ants, Bees and Other Social Insects, Dolphins, Sharks, Rocks and Minerals, Water, and the Solar System


Dolphin Talk: Whistles, Clicks, and Clapping Jaws (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2) by Wendy Pfeiffer, Helen F. Davie
Dolphin Talk is a pleasant paperback for children in kindergarten up to 3rd grade. Soft but unsophisticated artwork with pretty colors of water and underwater scenes can be a base from which children can design their own art. The science is simply explained, and focuses on such topics as how dolphins create sounds like whistles and clicks, how a mother dolphin warns and scolds its calves, and draws parallels with the sounds a human baby makes. Echolocation is also discussed, and there is a two-page spread on the internal anatomy of a dolphin.


Red-eyed Tree Frog (Scholastic Bookshelf) by Joy Cowley
Red-Eyed Tree Frog is a book that boys love. This is suitable for first or second grade kids, and teaches children to love nature. This is great for kids, in part because of the bright, colorful pictures that will captivate little boys, who usually love frogs to begin with (one request of a first grader was a book on frogs). Good for the home library or the classroom.


Tiger Trail by Kay Winters, Laura Regan
This is a nicely illustrated children's book about a tigress’s life with her cubs hunting, and teaching her little ones to swim, hunt, and survive. This is a good introduction to one of the most fascinating creatures on earth.


Early Childhood Poetry and Music


Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman, Eric Beddows

Best Books for Children – Poetry – Joyful Noise


Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices is an illustrated poetry book (rather than a picture book with poetic lyrics) for young readers (early childhood) on the music insects make. It is a delightful book that won the 1989 Newbery Medal.




How We Make Music (Rosen Real Readers) by Roland Graham
How We Make Music is a non-fiction, early-childhood picture book that inspires children to learn how to play a musical instrument, or to get used to the idea. Designed for pre-K through 2nd Grade.


Bein' with You This Way by W. Nikola-Lisa, Michael Bryant
Bein' with You This Way is an interesting poem-song-rap for third grade and younger that helps children to unite! Message: We are all different, yet the same. This is a good lesson for children to learn, and teachers or parents can use it to initiate discussions on getting along with other people, and viewing people who might be different from us different color, different likes or interests, different race or country on an equal level. The Golden Rule can even be highlighted when applying the idea behind the message of Bein' with You This Way.

If people were the same as us while looking different, shouldn't we treat them the same way we would like to be treated? Children will enjoy the bop-be-do-bop-bop phrasings interjected in the book, and the teacher or parent can have fun teaching it.

Another idea to impart is to help children realize that rap can be considered a form of poetry, making the kids find pleasure in reading and writing poems.


101 Rhythm Instrument Activities: for Young Children
by Abigail Flesch Connors, Deborah Wright
With a world filled with passive entertainment, this book teaches children music from the perspective of active participants. Because music is approached from the rhythmic point of view, it is something in which all children can participate. The book is geared towards parents and early-childhood teachers.

The author is an early-childhood music specialist who includes dance, rhythm instrument activities, music literacy, and listening games in her book.


Early Childhood Arts, Art Stories, and Craft


I Am an Artist (Rosen Real Readers: Early Emergent) by Janet Carson
This is a simple book with pictures for kindergarten and pre-K children that will inspire them to be artists. It is a customizable book that lets the reader become the hero/heroine, thus inspiring them to be creative.


Let's Draw! (Real Readers - Upper Emergent) by Carlie Todoro
A nice 12-page pre-K or kindergarten book that encourages children to draw. A small book of worth in the classroom or home.


The Sign Painter by Allen Say
This is an interesting fiction picture book for 2nd or 3rd grade children with nice artwork a Western motif. It is a story of a child/teen mural artist and his work painting billboards in the desert. It is an inspiring story for children, helping them to think in terms of their own artistic development.

The story is written in an almost Zen-Buddhist, soft-spoken way; not that there is anything religious here, but that the manner in which the story is delivered reflects an American theme delivered by an Oriental writer. This is a good book worth having in the classroom, and one that will enrich your child's education.

David's Drawings by Cathryn Falwell
A gentle fictional story with illustrations that impart positive values about cooperation with other classmates, contentment, modesty, and the value of simplicity. It also shows how, by pulling together, more can be accomplished. It is a nice book for the early childhood classroom, up to the 2nd grade. Kindness and good values are highlighted.

Paint Brush Kid (Stepping Stones) by Clyde Robert Bulla, - This is another work of fiction about a boy who works to save his "uncle's" house by painting pictures. It is a book of positive values, and certainly inspire potential young artists.


The Brigham Young Library recommends:

Origami 101: Master Basic Skills and Techniques Easily through Step-by-Step Instruction by Benjamin John Coleman
In its Young Adult, Non-Fiction category recommended books, Origami 101 provides 50 projects arranged from simple to most difficult, with numbered instructions and photos. It also includes an instructional DVD with step-by-step instructions, printable Origami papers, as well as the entire book in PDF format.

Origami is a sublime Japanese art of paper folding that children, teens, and adults can find delight in. Parents, replace video game time with Origami time! Your child's life and creative mind will be culturally enriched forever.


Fun with Easy Origami: 32 Projects and 24 Sheets of Origami Paper (Dover Origami Papercraft) by Dover
Paper airplanes are many a boy's passion. Origami is the art of folding paper into myriads of creations, paper airplanes being one of them! This Japanese art is captivating for children, and is practiced in Japan by both children and adults. This book provides a good introduction to Origami, and comes with 24 sheets of origami paper in 12 colors.

Another similar book is Fun with Paper Folding and Origami (Dover Game & Puzzle Activity Books) by William D. Murray, Francis J. Rigney


Big Book of Playtime Activities by Ray Gibson, Fionna Watt
This is a great book of arts and crafts activities for children. It uses step-by-step pictures with instructions, and teaches a diversity of number skills for young children while creating various crafts. Included are finger-painting, animal-drawing, adding, and other number games. The book is true to its name at 224 pages, and contains a wide variety of interesting art projects for children. Why let children be bored? Keep them busy with fun and simple art ideas and projects. The book is suitable for children up to 3rd grade.


Children's Atlas


Reader's Digest Illustrated Great World Atlas
Many children will find this children's atlas very interesting, and will certainly enjoy the many interesting facts, maps and artwork.

Picture Reference Atlas (Picture Reference Atlas Series) by Mel Pickering
This is one of the best children's picture atlases available. There are colorful maps and illustrations that will capture the attention as well as teach a wealth of information to children grades 2 through 4.

National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers, Third Edition

Best Books for Children – National Geographic Atlas
Another good choice for a children's atlas. Booklist states that the "introductory material is one of the strong points in this atlas." The 25 maps to start with demonstrate such themes as climate, vegetation, population density, endangered species, and world economies. This atlas is for children grades 3 through 7.



Children from Australia to Zimbabwe: A Photographic Journey around the World by MajaAjmera
Not quite an atlas but along the same lines, Children from Australia to Zimbabwe: A Photographic Journey around the World is a beautiful hardcover book that describes children from all over the world with photographs and text. Each section contains about 265 words, with a synopsis, or profile, of each country, especially as it relates to children. Countries such as Brazil, France, England, are showcased, as well as lesser known ones such as Qatar and Oman.

Each chosen country contains a map indicating where the country is located in the world, its major languages, total population including the population of children in each country as well as the popular sports and environmental facts. A few other countries that begin with the same letter are also listed.

Interestingly, Xanadu is included as an imaginary country of peace and kindness, a Shangri-la or Utopia of children's imagination, which can be a good springboard for classroom discussion or conversation fodder with parents.

All of the illustrations are striking and beautiful, so the book does grab the attention of children. There are some minor issues, like why Calcutta and not Kolkata, the current name of the prominent Indian city, or why Buddhist children featured as part of the main photo in the India section when the majority of Indians are Hindu, are notable. Besides these few questionable details, this is an excellent library or home book, and will make a nice gift for any family with grade school children.


Grade School Children's Books


A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme by J. Patrick Lewis
A book for second through fourth grades, this is an interesting poetry book with unique illustrations. There is much that children can learn from thisas it is largely an educational book on history that will help children learn about the world's historical explorers, as well as gain knowledge on world geography.

Any book that takes children to different parts of the world and history, and does it in a way wherein they can easily digest facts is worth it. Parents or teachers may need to explain some of the information to children as not all of the poems are excellent, but otherwise, this book will still provide a good stage for the learning.


1001 Things to Spot on the Farm (Usborne 1001 Things to Spot) by Gillian Doherty
Like Rainbow Fish, this is part of a series of books that includes, 1001 Things to Spot on the Farm, 1001 Things to Spot in the Sea, as well as Spanish versions of the same. With a myriad of small illustrations to captivate children, some of the themes are the safari, desert, arctic, woods, ocean, rainforest, garden, swamp, mountains, etc. This will holds their attention and imagination. Designed for early childhood through third or even fourth grade.


One Hundred One Questions About Desert Life by Alice Jablonsky
This book has nice illustrations and photos. Each page has three or four questions like: 17. Why do cactus plants have sharp spines? 19. Can people eat desert plants? 59. What is the largest lizard in the United States? 77. What is the smallest bird in the Southwest?

It is also chock-full of facts, and each question is supplied with concise answers of only one or two paragraphs. These Twitter-like answers are a good way for readers to absorb information.

This is a good supplementary science book for grades three to seven (it’s another one of those books adults will also learn from). It is worth having for the classroom, science class, library, home schooling or as a small gift.


Almost Gone: The World's Rarest Animals (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)
by Steven Jenkins.
This is a marvelous book for children grades two through that which will open minds and hearts to the plight of the world's most endangered species. Species such as rare butterflies and insects thought to be extinct, to rare dolphins of China, the Javan Rhino, as well as the world's rarest animal, the Galapagos Giant Tortoise, are presented to the reader.

Not only are these rare species highlighted, several pages are likewise devoted to animals which are in fact extinct, as well as animals which, through intervention, have been snatched from the brink of extinction. This is a rare book that will entertain both young and old, and provides a concise yet heart-touching look at this interesting topic.

The one drawback of the book, depending on one’s viewpoint, is that the illustrations are rather simplistic and child-like. The content, however, more than makes up for any lack in illustrative production, and the book is highly recommended.

Another of Jenkin’s noteworthy books for children is What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? A Caldecott Honor Book (not reviewed here).


Endangered Animals (Hello Reader! Level 3) by Faith McNulty and Carol Schwartz
This is another good choice for a children's book on this subject. Recommended for early childhood level, from kindergarten through third grade, the book is nicely illustrated with bright watercolors, and is designed to raise awareness on the value of conservation for the future generation. This book is of particular note because it was found in a Newark, NJ third grade classroom applauded for the extent, organization, and care reflected in its classroom library.


Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters
A photo book of a real life nine-year-old girl from 1627 (Sarah Morton) in a Plymouth colony in Massachusetts, year 1627, reconstructed through the reenactment in a plantation by Amelia Poole on weekends and after school. A highly-educational book that makes social studies and history concerning this time period come to life, and highly recommended for grade school children in 1st through the 4th grade. The nice reenactment photos throughout the book draws girls of the 17th century to life, and young readers will perhaps identify with some of the struggles of Sarah Morton as well as find her to be a positive role model of faith.


Three Award-Winning Noah's Ark Books


Rabbit Ears Beloved Bible Stories: The Creation, Noah and the Ark by Rabbit Ears
This is a beautiful book with gentle illustrations based on the Bible account. The book does not mention the word “Bible,” but it does mention God and Lord in the narrative. The book is based accurately on the biblical account, and is very nicely illustrated. It is tactfully prepared for children by not dwelling on any negative or scary aspects of the story.

The only inaccuracy in the story is the pointed bow and stern of the ark, which the Bible narrative describes as chest-shaped. The author embellishes a little on the story as well. The story of Noah and the ark is a part of Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith, and the flood story in some form is a part of almost all major world religions, and is suitable for all children ages 6 to 9.

Best Books for Children – Noah’s Ark
Another worthy Noah's Ark story is Noah's Ark by Jerry Pinkney

This Noah's Ark storybook for preschool through seventh-grade kids won the 1978 Caldecott Honor, and is suitable for school libraries or home use. It contains little text, but instead has rich, creative illustrations that depict the Bible (or Torah) account of Noah and the Ark, the Great Flood, and the rainbow. Illustrations are in water-color and pencil.

Noah's Ark by Peter Spier
This third Noah's Ark story is by another Caldecott Honor medalist, Peter Spier. Spier opens the book with a translation from Dutch to English of a seventeenth-century poem on the subject. Few words adorn the remainder of the book, which is told in softly painted colors, helping the reader to visualize the scenes and possibly the feelings of the characters.

My Book of Bible Stories by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society
This book contains Bible stories for children and pre-teens, ages 2 to 10. Old and New Testament stories, accurate and easy to read, with Bible references and simple illustrations. It also provides character education lessons of value. Some stories may need further explanations from parents, but otherwise a simple read. This is also available at no cost from itinerant ministers.


More Grade-School Level Children's Books


The Young Artist by Thomas Locker

Best Books for Children -  The Young Artist

This is an illustrated book for children, grades 3 to 6. A nice piece of fiction with a little bit of fairy tale appeal with the young artist painting the princess instead of his real commission. The paintings in this book make it appear to be an actual biography of a serious English artist. The story is interesting and holds your attention, with a few unexpected twists and turns, plus an exciting climax. The plot has a kind of ‘Daniel in the Lion’s Den’ feel to it. It helps direct a child’s psyche towards high ideals and an interest in art.


In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers
by Javaka Steptoe
In Daddy's Arms I am Tall is a nicely Illustrated book of short poems celebrating African American fathers. There are twelve poems in this book that can help the reader develop an appreciation for fatherhood. It is a book that can hold bonding moments between fathers and their children. This is a good book for children into the fourth grade.


This Is Our Earth by Laura Lee Benson
This is Our Earth is an upbeat environmental book for children up to grade four, but more likely to interest 2nd and 3rd grade children. It is based on a rhyming poem / song, with musical notes inscribed at the end that children can sing to accompaniment (great if you can play an instrument).

The song teaches caring for the earth, and can be enjoyed at an early childhood level(it is brightly illustrated), or for fourth graders, an interesting cross-section of ecology with the snippets of facts on each page.


Eagles (Kids Can Press Wildlife Series) by Deborah Hodge, Nancy Gray Ogle
"Don't judge a book by its cover" holds true with this book. The simplistic cover of rather unimpressive art belies the much more impressive and detailed artwork in the interior of this non-fiction children's book.

The subject of eagles is given full consideration here, with pages filled with details, including an introduction to the idea of conservationism. This is a fine addition to any nature-book collection. It is good for children from the 2nd through 4th grades.


Wildlife (Mapworlds) by Molly Perham
Filled with interesting facts, this is a nice, well-organized book for children up to 4th grade possibly young 5th graders to flip through. Children from K or 1st grade will enjoy the pictures. Each section has about 100 words of main text, with descriptions of 10 animals per section. There are some helpful features such as a scale inset that gives perspective on distance. Some endangered animals are mapped out on the last page of the book, as well as a small section specific to tigers. The only shortcoming of this book is that the colors and photos are not so vibrant.


Horse Dictionary: An A to Z of Horses by Don Harper
Horse Dictionary from Scholastic contains descriptions and illustrations of 109 horses. The illustrations are excellent and accurate, the descriptions simple, but detailed enough to obtain an understanding of the nuances of the world's different types of horses. There are some excellent features, such as a size-scale inset, providing the maximum height of the horse in feet and "hands," as well as a small world map on each page indicating the geographic area of each horse species.

There is a glossary indexing terms, and a listing each species of horse. Descriptions for each horse are about 60 words in length. This is an excellent addition to a library, a home collection of books for children, and a beautiful gift (new); the used copy in the school library from which this review was obtained was worn to the point of losing pages, maybe an indication of the popularity of this particular book. (Some religiously conservative parents might object to the opening two pages that discuss horse evolution dating back tens of thousands or millions of years).


The Library by Sarah Stewart
An interesting book that encourages children to read more. There are great illustrations and an interesting story, good for the second and third grades, or for children around eight-years-old. It trails the life of a book enthusiast from childhood until her old age, and how she establishes a library with her collection. The book is fiction and not overly serious, but makes a good point which is to learn to enjoy reading!


If Your Name Was Changed At Ellis Island by Ellen Levine
Nicely illustrated book that tells the story of turn-of-the-century through 1920s immigrants who made their way through Ellis Island. The book reads like a script from Ellis Island tour guides. A tour of Ellis Island, by the way, is a wonderful day trip for visitors to the United States, for classrooms within 100 miles of Ellis Island, or for any U.S. citizen, especially those with roots from overseas. A good, serious, and informative non-fiction book for children ages 7 to 10.


Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur
This is a delightful, interesting, mind- and eye-engaging series of books good for the home or classroom, and discovered in one of the most well organized third-grade classrooms ever developed, as far as a classroom library goes. Nice book for kids 5 through 8 years old that even adults will find engaging. Nice poetry/rhymes, almost Haiku in style, with bright, well-defined, high-quality illustrations.

Also check out the three other books in the series, which are Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic, and Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic


The Boy Who Ran with the Gazelles by Marianna Mayer and Leonid Gore
An interesting children's story about an African boy raised by a herd of gazelles. A fictional account of interest, and teacher or parent-guided story in that the book breaks some rules to get back to his herd escaping from jail and so on after he is captured by unethical rescuers.

The artwork is simple but interesting, with a good view of the African-Arabic-Muslim world and a happy ending. What was most interesting in the book beyond the far-out theme, is a page that provides a detailed short list of true and documented accounts of children in history having been raised by or among herds of wild animals such as by wolves and ostriches. This account is based on a story believed to be a legend, but that might have some basis in truth. Perfect for children 4 and up.


Grandparents Song by Sheila Hamanaka

Best Books for Children –Grandparents Song
Grandparents Song is a simple, delightful book for girls (and boys) from K to 3rd grade. The artwork is wonderful and colorful, with an American Indian and somewhat African motif. The story teaches a wonderful lesson about roots, the protagonist’s ancestors and grandparents, where they were from and a bit about their stories, plus the mixed heritage of a little girl. It might make children think about their own roots, where their grandparents were from, and their stories.

Grandparents might obtain this book to read to their grandchildren, and use it as a springboard to explain the grandchild’s ancestral heritage. The story incorporates cultures from Mexico, the U.S., African American and American Indian. Japanese author Sheila Hamanaka wrote this especially for girls ages 5 to 7.


Jamaica's Find (Reading Rainbow) by Juanita Havill
Cute story with a nice lesson for children about returning things you find or that don’t belong to you. You can ask the child after reading with them this story what he or she learned from it. It can be the theme of a class assignment. It relates values associated with inter-racial friendships, cooperation, honesty, and the happiness in giving. It teaches a child that they will find pleasure in doing the right thing. The illustrations are simple, but fit the theme. This is ideal for early childhood through second grade.


I'm Telling the Truth: A First Look at Honesty (First Look at Books) by Pat Thomas
Every child age 4 and up will find an important lesson in this simple and attractive character education book for young children.

Other books in the series include: Don’t Call Me Special — A First Look at Disability; I Can Be Safe — A First Look at Safety; I Miss You — A First Look at Death; I’m Telling the Truth — A First Look at Honesty; Is It Right to Fight? — A First Look at Anger; My Amazing Body — A First Look at Health and Fitness; My Family’s Changing — A First Look at Family Break-Up; My Manners Matter — A First Look at Being Polite; My New Family — A First Look at Adoption; The Skin I’m In — A First Look at Racism; Stop Picking on Me — A First Look at Bullying


10-Minute Life Lessons for Kids: 52 Fun and Simple Games and Activities to Teach Your Child Honesty, Trust, Love, and Other Important Values by Jamie C. Miller

10-Minute Life Lessons contains easy-to-understand activities for parents to teach children aged 5 to 13 moral lessons and principles such as honesty, trust, generosity, love, as well as other good attributes. This book makes activities and fun games readily available, some of which you can play riding in the car.


Share and Take Turns (Learning to Get Along, Book 1) by Cheri J. Meiners M.Ed.
This is a Learning Magazine’s Teacher’s Choice Award Finalist that describes it as "A good choice for teachers seeking books that reinforce familiar classroom messages." Share and Take Turns is part of a series of 15 books that was among Booklist's ‘Top 5 Character Education Series.’ Several of the books are currently translated into Portuguese, Arabic, Korean, Slovak, Indonesian, and Greek. This is a good series for the early childhood classroom.

Some other related positive-character education books for young children are: Talk and Work It Out; Join In and Play; Be Polite and Kind; Cool Down and Work Through Anger; Know and Follow Rules; How to Be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends; When I Feel Angry (Way I Feel Books) by Cornelia Maude Spelman; Sharing Time (Toddler Tools) by Elizabeth Verdick; Hands Are Not for Hitting (Board Book) by Martine Agassi Ph.D.; and Feet Are Not for Kicking (Board Book) by Elizabeth Verdick.


The Children's Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett)
This is a character building (character education) book for children kindergarten through 2nd grade. It is a follow-up to the book, The Book of Virtues, which some readers might enjoy too. Some of the values this endeavors to impart to children are courage and perseverance, work ethics and responsibility, compassion for others, faith and honesty, loyalty, self-discipline, and friendship. The lessons are developed through stories collected from many sources, Aesop's fables, Bible stories, Native American, and African folklore, to name a few.


Alejandro's Gift by Richard E. Albert and Sylvia Long
This fictional story is for children grades one through four. Good educational fiction that teaches children about desert life and life lessons. The colorful illustrations will be sure to capture their interest.


Gangs and Your Neighborhood (Tookie Speaks Out Against Gangs Violence)
by Stanley Tookie Williams, Barbara C. Becnel

Best Books for Children and Teens -  Gangs in Your Neighborhood: Tookie Speaks Out

Former Crips founder and death-row inmate Stanley Tookie Williams speaks out from jail to young people and children against gang violence. There are a number of books on this and similar topics for children of all ages. This book provides information on gangs, prison, consequences of wrongdoing, being involved with the wrong crowd, as well as how people can change for the better.


Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
A Caldecott Medal book, Snowflake Bentley is a historic story of a nature photographer whose work still defines snowflake photography. This is a nicely illustrated book recommended by a 2nd-grade class in Newark, NJ for children grades 2 to 4.


Akiak: A Tale From the Idiatrod by Robert J. Blake
Akiak is realistic fiction for children grades 2 through 4. The story is based on the AlaskanIdiatrod, and teaches children about survival skills. Akiak is the lead sled dog among fifty-six sled dog teams who will some 1,151 miles in a rugged Alaskan race that commences in Anchorage and ends in Nome. This story is about a dog that will not give up. (“I think I can, I think I can...”)


Map Math: Learning About Latitude and Longitude Using Coordinate Systems (Powermath) by Orli Zuravicky
This is a children's book for grades 3 through 7 on learning math in different contexts, and applying it in real. This is an excellent book that will encourage an interest in numbers and their practical everyday usage.


I Saw Your Face by Tom Feelings, Kwame Dawes
This is a wonderfully inspiring book for grades 2 through 6 that contains charcoal and pencil portraits created by a West African artist accompanied with verse.

The book takes the reader on a global tour of young black faces from Africa, North and South America, Europe, and the Caribbean. The book can help African American and other black children appreciate the interconnected relationships of people with African ancestry. Some African American children do not have insight into their roots. This is a fine way for children to appreciate their ancestral origins.

The book can also help kids develop an interest in drawing faces. Portraits can be considered a high form of artistic expression, and the talent to design portraits can be cultivated in children from early years. We ran across this book in the children's section of a Newark, NJ library.


When the TV Broke (Easy-to-Read, Puffin) by Harriet Ziefert
An easy-read book for children in first through the third or even fourth grade. It would be so boring without the TV, or so a child would think, but within a short time, all sorts of interesting activities begin to fill the vacant hours of this child, so much so, that he scarcely cared that the TV was repaired. This is an invaluable lesson for parents and children. Do we really need what one Newark educator referred to as "the one-eyed monster" to entertain our children? This is a great book to spark an ongoing discussion.


Silent Music by James Rumford

Best Books for Children – Silent Music
When you think of Iraq what comes to mind? No doubt war and strife. This excellent book about an Iraqi boy contains the calligraphy from this country, with the backdrop of war. It will help a child develop an interest in foreign countries, and cultures and to come to the conclusion that Iraqi boys are no different than American or British boys. It gives children an opportunity to practice Arabic calligraphy, as well as learn a little Arabic.


The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and E. B. Lewis
Nicely illustrated fiction for grade-school children. Two children-one black, one white-work towards “breaking down” the literal fence that separates them, and their efforts towards friendship are fruitful. This is a nice book for children on sowing seeds of unity and taking down walls of prejudice.


The Piano by William Miller
A story of music and love that is warm, positive, and nicelyillustrated. It teaches positive values of racial harmony, self-sacrifice, the value of hard work, and the friendship between black and white, old and young. It guides children towards loving relationships, and encourages an interest in music.

It has simple illustrations, but with sufficient detail to interest a child (grades 2 to 3) or adult. 100% positive message, great for children, girls, African American viewpoint. Good for grades 2 to 3. It can also be read by teacher or parent to a 1st grader.


How Sweet the Sound: African-American Songs for Children, with Cassette
by Wade Hudson, Cheryl Hudson
This book for pre-teens highlights African American songs/lyrics from gospel to jazz to key periods in African American history. This is especially good for African-American children to gain an understanding of their American cultural heritage. It contains 23 songs, including "Kum Ba Ya," "Follow the Drinking Gourd," "This Little Light of Mine," along with spirituals such as "Go Down, Moses," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and "Get on Board, Little Children." Protest songs and one popular soul music song are also included.


One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi
Great folktale that will surprise most adults as well. A short story with exotic illustrations that will make it a great introduction to India. This engrossing book for grades one to four is one that will be read several times.


For You Are a Kenyan Child by Kelly Cunnane
With an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award, this book about life in a Kenyan village just draws you in as you can almost feel and smell the setting. This is a story for children ages 3 to 8 that will capture the senses. Swahili phrases intermingled for true authenticity.


Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (Frances Foster Books) by Claire A. Nivola

Best Books for Teens - Planting the Trees of Kenya
Wangari Maathai was the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize who founded the Green Belt Movement. She grew up in the pristine highlands of Kenya, but over the decades, the land was gradually stripped of its trees and beauty; the Kenya Maathai grew up with disappeared. When Wangari returned from college in the U.S., the people were malnourished, the gardens were infertile, and the land stripped of its trees. Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (Frances Foster Books), a 2008 Teacher’s Choice Selection, is a colorfully illustrated book based on this true story of a successful East African movement to repopulate the depleted tree-population in Kenya. One person can make a difference!


Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing (Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor (Awards) by James Rumford
Sequoyah is an illustrated book about the Cherokee Indian who invented the alphabet for the Cherokee language in the 1800s, which previously was only oral. The entire book is written in both English and Cherokee. It is for children from 1st through 5th Grade, but a story that will fascinate adults as well, as it opens an interesting page in the history of America.

Interestingly, the reader will learn that unlike alphabets based on individual sounds, written Cherokee is a syllabet, meaning that individual symbols stand for syllables rather than simple letters. This true story teaches children (and adults) an additional lesson on perseverance.


Life in the Rain Forests by Lucy Baker
This is a book filled with photos, some full-page, that includes fascinating close-ups of rainforest wildlife. It is easy to read and suitable for children from grades 3 through 7. It teaches on conservation, and why it is crucial for the survival of the rainforests. There are also several pages devoted to rainforest peoples and tribes, although only a few are referred to by name.

Interesting facts in the book: 1/4 of all the worlds medicines come from rainforest plants and animals, and that 80 tribes of the Amazon rainforest have died out in Brazil since 1900.

The book includes an index, bibliography, and a further reading and research section. It will be an interesting addition to the classroom or home library.


India: The People (Lands, Peoples, & Cultures) by Bobbie Kalman
Non-fiction picture and facts book for children interested in learning more about India and its culture. For children ages nine and into early teen years, India will surely ignite an interest in travel and different cultures.


Polar Bears (Animal Predators) by Sandra Markle
Animal Predators: Polar Bears is a book for children from 2nd to 5th grade, small, but filled with beautiful photographs capturing the essence of polar bears and their hunting / food habits. It is enthralling for boys, and is educationally oriented from the standpoint of photos with a bit of descriptive text.


Bones: Our Skeletal System by Seymour Simon
This is an interesting science and health-oriented book by an author well-known for his natural-genre picture books for children. It contains lots of full-page photos and close-ups of bones, marrow, joints, and of course skeletons, along with illustrations. The photos and illustrations will ceratinly hold any child's interest. The text is factual and a bit dry, but the interesting pictures spice up the book enough to make up for that.

The book has value for children in 2nd through 5th or even 6th and 7th grade in that it can help them develop an understanding of health and health issues, as well as what some adults and younger ones go through in terms of potential skeletal problems. It can also help them develop self-awareness and a health-oriented view of their body, as well as make them take precautions when playing or engaging in sports. This is a book worth having in the classroom or in a home-school environment.

Simon also has books on the heart, solar system, and volcanoes similarly focused (but not reviewed here by the AYCNP).


Constellations (True Books: Space) by Paul B. Sipiera, Diane Sipiera
A science book for children between grades 2 through 5 which teaches about the stars and constellations. It is simple enough for young readers, but everyone, including most teachers and parents, will learn a little something from the information here. It is nicely illustrated with photographs and can be obtained online.


100 Award-Winning Science Fair Projects by Glen Peter Vecchione
Every child or young teen asks when confronted with a science fair project, "What should I do?" If that is the case with your child or student, this is a great book that can be found in a grade school/middle school library. It contains nicely illustrated projects, some very simple that can be put together on a shoestring budget and some very complex that will suit the future Einsteins among us. This is a must-have library book, and a great gift for any grade school or middle school student looking for science fair ideas.


Molly Bannaky by Chris K. Soentpiet, Alice McGill
Based on the true story of scientist and innovator Benjamin Banneker's grandmother, who was unjustly convicted of stealing and who escaped death because she could read the Bible (English law at that time). Molly Bannaky was sent to the U.S. where she worked as an indentured servant, and married a slave with royal heritage. Molly persevered and prospered on her farm in Maryland, which during the Civil War was a state that had both free African Americans as well as slaves.

One day she had the pleasure of writing her new grandson's name on her cherished Bible: Benjamin Banneker. Banneker was a renowned scientist of his time who wanted to prove that black people were not inferior in intelligence, and by all accounts, that case was settled in Thomas Jefferson's day. Banneker wrote Jefferson, and Jefferson, while still possessing slaves, wrote back positively to Banneker, furthering the cause of equality for African Americans in the U.S.

This book has some beautiful and majestic art, and is suitable for children 2nd grade through 4th.

Benjamin Banneker (Black Americans of Achievement) from the Black Americans of Achievement collection by Kevin Conley, B. Washington, Nathan I. Huggins
A historical book for children and teens from the 6th grade through high school. Banneker became accomplished in mathematics, astronomy, and clockmaking, as well as creating almanacs and assisting in the original survey of Washington, D.C.

Part of Banneker's needed mission was to prove that blacks were not inferior in intellect to whites. Case closed. An inspiring book that will help provide positive cultural roots for African American young people.


Welcome to Kaya's World, 1764: Growing Up in a Native American Homeland (American Girl) by Dottie Raymer
Welcome to Kaya's World is from series of books which focuses on various points in history. Kay's World, describes the inner life and culture of the Nez Perce Indians from the perspective of a 11 or 12-year-old girl in 1764. The Nez Perce Indians are from the Americannorthwest, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. As one reviewer states, "These books are rich in historical details... and are lavishly illustrated with drawings, archival photographs, and well-researched. It couldn't be stated better. The book may be out of print, but you can still find new and used copies on the Internet and in libraries. A nice gift for pre-teen girls 7 or 8 years old and older.


Pioneer Life from A to Z (Alphabasics) by Bobbie Kalman
Pioneer Life from A to Z (Alphabasics) is part of a series of alphabet books that, with this particular book, provides a synopsis of the life of hardworking pioneers in the American Midwest. It is fully illustrated and an interesting that helps to develop the imagination of children.

Children may find another book in the series, Colonial Times from A to Z (Alphabasics) of interest as well. There are colorful illustrations that take the reader back to the 18th century. Both books are suitable for grade school children from the 3rd through 6th grades.


Dealing with Lying (Conflict Resolution Library) by Don Middleton, Lisa Adams
Being honest is one of the most important lessons that parents and teachers need to impart to children from an early age. This book is part of a character education series that has much value for pre-teen children. It is simple, straightforward, and fully illustrated. It helps children learn the value of being honest through an understanding of why and how it affects character, which makes it easier for this book to touch the heart of a child.

Children respond very well to this book; one gradeschool teacher said that she spends two days in the beginning of each school year devoted to character education. This book can help impart the importance of honest right from the beginning of the school year. This is an important part of education. Of course, parents and teachers need to be honest themselves in order to effectively teach this lesson.


Grandfather and I by Helen Elizabeth Buckley
This is a bonding book for young readers up to the third grade made especially for grandfather and child. Cozy is a good word for it. Everyone is in a hurry except grandfather, who makes time for the boy and girl. A book with an African American theme, it contains a good mix of portrait illustrations and scenery that highlights the special love a grandfather has for the children.


Linnea in Monet's Garden by Christina Bjork
A European girl, Linnea, provides a gentle lesson in art history surrounding Monet, with lots of photos and illustrations. Children through grade six will enjoy this interesting and illustrated historical, work, about an inspiring artistic journey.


Helen Keller (A Holiday House Reader, Level 2) by David A. Adler, John C. Wallner This is a good mini-biography on the life of Helen Keller for readers in the second grade. Helen Keller’s inspiring journey from deaf-mute child to speaker and teacher will motivate young ones to persevere through any hardship.


The Boy Who Loved to Draw: Benjamin West by Barbara Brenner

Best Children’s Books – The Boy Who Loved to Draw
This is a most interesting story told with simple words, and good for any reader grades 2 through 4. It is the true story of Benjamin West, who some regard as the father of American art. From Pennsylvania as a young boy, Benjamin's parents were amazed at his adeptness in drawing the face of his baby sister. He got into some trouble with his parents at times because of his preoccupation with art, but his parents still sent him to Philadelphia to work with a master artist and develop his skills, which he did.

He then moved to England around the time of the American revolution, and painted the portraits of Benjamin Franklin and British royalty. He became a famous artist, and his paintings can be seen in museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is also a museum containing some of his works in Swathmore, Pennsylvania.

This book, written for children, contains simple illustrative artwork throughout, which adds to the idea that the art produced by West as a child was significant, and that children can be inspired by West and his childlike drawings, which gradually evolved into some of the finest art produced by an American.

This is a nice gift to add to the cultural development of young children.

For the more serious reader Benjamin West: A Biography by Robert Alberts, 1978, will give the adult and older teen insight and inspiration. The Paintings of Benjamin West (A Barra Foundation book) by Helmut von Erffa and Professor Allen Staley will also be of interest.


Childhood of Famous Americans Series by various authors
An interesting series of books for pre-teen and young teen readers by various authors. The books are easy reading, accurate, and true stories of well-known Americans. Some interesting books for young readers in this series of biographies are:

John Muir: Young Naturalist (Childhood of Famous Americans),
Teddy Roosevelt: Young Rough Rider ,
Sacagawea: American Pathfinder ,
Helen Keller: From Tragedy to Triumph ,
Harriet Tubman: Freedom's Trailblazer ,
Rosa Parks ,
Pocahontas: Young Peacemaker ,
Frederick Douglass: Abolitionist Hero
Frederick Douglass: Abolitionist Hero ,
Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Social Justice ,
Sitting Bull: Dakota Boy
Langston Hughes: Young Black Poet

Which leads to our next section...


Poetry for Teens and Young Adults


A Portrait of a Brazilian-Dominican, American Teen: in 100 Poems, and a couple more by Jessica Simmons
Turn young people on to poetry. Creating poetry proves to be a great hobby/pastime, tool of creativity, self-expression, and effectuation, and can be a means of catharsis, therapy, and emotional outlet. In the case of reading poetry, it can be a peaceful, lifetime interest that helps expand a young person's cultural horizons.

Teachers and parents can provide positive poetry books for children and especially teens in the classroom and at home. Some young people are outstanding poets. Encouraging and showcasing their work, even helping them self-publish, can contribute toward providing them with self-identity.

This self-published work is one effort from an older pre-teen, who provides insight into her own difficult childhood of abuse, as well as her varied interests, love of life, interest in knowing God, and her relationships with friends and family.


Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets
compiled by Paul B. Janeczko

This is a delightful book and fine gift for any young person interested in poetry. The book consists of both letters and poetry from established poets that provides advice, guidance, and encouragement. The book is warm, with the poems from each of the contributing poets sometimes providing encouragement along with teaching lessons.

The appendix contains brief biographies and photos of each of the contributing poets. This is a class A book, and recommended. Teachers should think about their students who are gifted in poetry (there are usually one or two in every class), and give the book as a gift. They should also encourage students who have a large enough collection of poetry to self-publish.


The Haiku Handbook -25th Anniversary Edition: How to Write, Teach, and Appreciate Haiku by William J. Higginson

Best Books for Teens – Haiku Poetry
Haiku is a marvelous form of poetry; quiet, succinct, with a new universe unfolding in (approximately) 16 syllables. This book contains Haiku poems in English, Spanish, French, German, and five other languages, along with Japanese (translated into English). Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki are four master Haiku poets whose work is represented here.

The section "Haiku for Kids" will inspire children to learn this delicate art. Reading and writing Haiku poetry is meditative and mind-altering. The fact that the Haiku is deliberately restricted in length forces the reader/writer to think in pictures, thus quieting the mind. This is a nice book not commonly found in the classroom.

For those interested in more fully exploring the Haiku poems of the Japanese masters, The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology (Dover Thrift Editions) by Faubion Bowers showcases a generous sampling of these classic poetic works. The book contains Haikus spanning 400 years of history (1488–1902).


Pass It On: African American Poetry for Children by Wade Hudson
This is a collection of poetry from fourteen African American poets such as Langston Hughes, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Elois Greenfieid, among others. The portraits in this book are also of note and add to its value. Whether your child is African American or not, this is a book that adds to cultural America, and is worthwhile for children to read. If they enjoy music or get caught up in songs, exposing them to poetry is a logical connection that will enrich their lives.


Phillis Wheatley: First African-American Poet (Rookie Biographies) by Carol Greene
This book introduces children to Phillis Wheatley's life and works. Wheatley was a former slave from Africa who was educated in the U.S. and earned her freedom through her poetry. She even met George Washington, yet reflected humility and modesty in her successes and works.

Wheatley's story and her poetry is something that can help contribute to a balanced and rounded view of slavery in the United States. Her story provides a positive example of someone who humbly rose above adversity. Reading her poetry can also contribute to the cultural development of any American, or anyone who is interested in learning more about the development of poetry in diverse contexts.

This is a fine, illustrated book for young readers.

For more mature readers, and for those interested in reading Wheatley's poetry on a personal and more in-depth level, the book Phillis Wheatley, Complete Writings by Phillis Wheatley, with Vincent Carretta, contains both her letters and poems.


Voices : Poetry and Art from Around the World by Barbara Brenner
This is a marvelous children's world-cultural book that teaches children about different cultures through poetry and art. This is a highly recommended book! It is great for 2nd Grade all the way to high school, and can be appreciated at different levels. Simple, lively, and fast-paced, world cultures shine in this children's book that provides interesting information for the classroom, homeschool, or coffee table.


The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Arnold Rampersad

Best Books for Teens, Poetry – The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes poems can be short and pithy; short enough to capture the attention of young people with a limited attention span, but interesting and diverse enough to stimulate intellectual and poetic contemplation.

Langston Hughes’s poems are an essential part of any American's education, and for anyone in the worldwide cultural community interested in broadening their understanding of African American culture and heritage. Hughes wrote most of his poems in Harlem in the 20th century, and his poetry provides glimpses of the heritage of most African Americans in slavery and protest of inequality, although Hughes only touches on these subjects in some of his poems. Some of his poetry captures a feeling of jazz-blues while others express profound delight in God and spirituality.

Hughes's poetry is something every teen should become acquainted with which can help satisfy the urge for lyrical expression in this rap and hip-hop age. Turn young people on to some of the great poets of the past centuries and you may help enrich their cultural lives.

Selected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes contains a more concise collection of Hughes’s works, which first hit the press in 1926. This is a fine collection of poems for teenagers to enjoy, and for African American teens to delight in.


More Books for Older Children and Young Teens


Draw 50 Animals by Lee J. Ames
This is a book for children 10 years old and up, from approximately fourth grade through early high school, or that even adults can use to get started in drawing. It is a great book that can launch an interest in art and the pleasure of drawing.



The Dore Bible Gallery
Containing One Hundred Superb Illustrations & A Page of Explanatory Letter-Press Facing Each by Gustave Doré

Gostave Doré was a superb French illustrator from the mid to late 1800s who, as a young man, illustrated the works of Rabelais, Balzac, Milton, and Dante. He remained single, thoroughly engrossed as he was in his artwork. The Doré Bible Gallery may be out of print, as it dates from the 1890s, but there are still copies available on Amazon, Abe Books, and other online places. It is a must-have.

Each of the 100 woodcuts are marvelously designed, rich in texture, with the facing page providing a brief story of the Bible account. The family copy has remained since it was first given as a gift to a relative in the last decade of the 1800s. Five generations have found pleasure in the marvelous artwork of Gostave Doré since that time.

Also from Doré, and perhaps easier to obtain, are Doré’s Bible Illustrations by Gustave Dore, introduction by Millicent Rose and The Doré Gallery of Bible Illustrations, Complete

The Doré books are suitable for children, teens, and adults.


Islamic Art: Recognizing Geometric Ideas in Art (Powermath)
by Janey Levy

This is an interesting, illustrated, non-religious book that highlights mathematical geometrical concepts with a backdrop of historical Muslim architecture. Muslims throughout history were strong innovators of mathematics, and this is a fitting book for learning geometrical concepts whilstcreating cultural bridges in ethnically diverse communities.


Louis Braille: The Boy Who Invented Books for the Blind (Scholastic Biography)
by Janet Compere, Margaret Davidson
This is an out-of-print book that you can get used online or through the library. It is a non-fiction work that tells the simple, but fascinating story of how one boy, Louis Braille, became blind, and invented the Braille tactile system for the blind as a result of his unfortunate accident. This is ideal for children grades 3 to 5.


Living Free by Joy Adamson
Living Free inspired the movie Born Free, and is an interesting story for grade school children from the 3rd through the 6th grades. Living Free is the story of a mother lioness named Elsa and her cubs.


Fire on the Mountain by Jane Kurtz
This is a story exposing children to foreign cultures, and made with girls and boys ages seven to twelve in mind. It is a book about an Ethiopian boy who overcomes adversity to succeed in life.


Orphan Train Rider: One Boy's True Story by Andrea Warren

Best Books for Children -  Orphan Train Rider
A book of historical interest, 81 pages, that contains some modern photos. It is the story of orphans (from the biographical perspective of Orphan Lee) on the orphan trains from 1924 through 1930 to the West, Midwest, and South. Orphan boys in orphanages in the east were sent to farms to work with families and escape a dismal existence.

Over 300,000 boys rode the orphan trains in that short time period, and as could be expected, the fate of the boys turned out to be mixed, depending on the type of families they worked with when they arrived at their final destinations.

This story is moving, and adds to the historical background of the United States. This book is a great read for children, teens, and even adults. It is an excellent book for good readers from fourth grade through middle school or 9th grade.


Several Essential Holocaust Books for Children and Young Teens


Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
This is a heartwarming and exciting book recounting Nazi occupation in Denmark. A Newbery Medal winner and American Library Association, Association for Library Service to Children recommendation, this is a historical fiction which recounts the bravery and discreet actions of the Danes who saved their Jewish neighbors; helping them escape to the safety of non-occupied, nearby Sweden, so relatively few Jews were captured by the Nazis as a result. This is a must-read for children from eight through teenage years.


Facing the Lion (Abridged Edition): Memoirs of a Young Girl in Nazi Europe
by Simone Arnold Liebster
This is a similar story of a little girl's courage and resoluteness in the face of Nazi opposition. Her parents were sent to concentration camps, while she was sent to a "reform school" where she would be taught the Nazi ideology. It is a little girl’s ideological triumph over Nazi oppression, and a reminder of religious and moral integrity in the face of tyranny. This is good reading for fourth grade through adult.


Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Diary of Anne Frank is, of course, the most well-known of these three stories of females during the Holocaust. This poignant account of this Jewish girl in Amsterdam is usually a part of grade school literature courses, but if a child or teen does not have the opportunity to read Anne Frank's work in school, parents should want their children to be exposed to this heart-touching story.

These three books provide a well-rounded biographical backdrop for understanding the suffering during the Holocaust, how it touched the lives of individual children, in this case girls, as well as our obligation to stand firm against individual injustices and atrocities committed in the name of the state.


Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine

Best Books for Children -  Hana’s Suitcase.
This is another Holocaust account that switches between a Japanese teacher (and her Holocaust Memorial Museum work in Japan with students) and a girl named Hana, who was a victim of the Holocaust, eventually sent to Auschwitz.

This is, like many Holocaust stories, a joyful/sad, bitter-sweet account of this girl who was 11 years old when she went to Auschwitz. An exciting, touching, well-written, suspenseful, sad yet joyful glimpse into another of Holocaust’s heroines. Highly recommended book for children (and adults), from 15 years old and younger, who can read reasonably well (around third grade).


Teaching About the Holocaust - The Holocaust for Kids
Eleven books recounting the Holocaust for children and teens (on-site AYCNP webpage).


More Books for Older Children and Young Teens


Women of Our Time Series by various authors
This is comprised of concise biographies of exceptional women for readers, ages eight to sixteen. Good non-fiction, especially for girls (and for some boys also). Some of the biographies in this series are Rachel Carson: Pioneer of Ecology (Women of Our Time); Helen Keller: A Light for the Blind (Women of Our Time); Grandma Moses : Painter of Rural America (Women of Our Time); Eleanor, First Lady of the World [VHS].


Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji-li Jiang
This is an interesting book for young adults that is found in some middle school classrooms, and can also be a good book for children as young as fifth grade. Like many books for youth that have a serious message, this is suitable for adults as well.

This provides a good education for young people and children on China and the Cultural Revolution. It will help children understand that not everyone in the world is "free" to do as he or she pleases. It is a character-building book of value for young people, and should be one of those must-read books for the summer.

The book has some rough edges, like China itself, and younger readers should read it along with guidance from an adult.


National Geographic Encyclopedia of Animals by Karen McGhee, George McKay, PhD
A book worth getting for children and young teens. This is an anti-ADHD book at its best. The most restless child in sixth grade found a half-an-hour of absolute stillness and quiet at the detailed illustrations in this book. Every page is simply illustrated, with up to 18 animals of all genres. Detailed, with small and easy-to-assimilate factual blurbs, it is the kind of non-fiction book that a child or young teen (especially boys, but many girls also) can use for several years and still learn from.


China the Land (Lands, Peoples, & Cultures) by Bobbie Kalman
This is a beautiful book with interesting photos. It gives a concise review of each aspect of China's culture, including its religion, food, arts, symbols, horoscope, festivals, and traditions. It also includes games and hobbies. It is clear and easy to understand, logical, and provides enough historical information on certain historical incidents like the Cultural Revolution and how it affected the cultural development during that time period. It is good for grade school or junior high school children/teens.


Steck-Vaughn Stories of America: Student Reader Save the Everglades
by Judith Bauer Stamper

A non-fiction, inspiring reading book for children ages 9 through early teen years about how a new airport in Miami was started, but which was eventually halted due to efforts from concerned friends of the Florida Everglades.

The story is exciting, gripping, and will be enjoyable for any grade school or middle school child. It teaches about responsibility to the planet, lessons about the environment, hunters and how their interests in preserving the Everglades played a role, and how hunting alligators ended in the Everglades until the species recovered some years later. Additionally mentions the Native Americans of the Everglades whose ancestral land was somewhat desecrated by the bulldozers for the up-and-coming airport. A true story worth a read.


Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot (Scientists in the Field Series) by Sy Montgomery, Nic Bishop
This book is recommended by the New York Public Library Best Books of 2010 list. The story revolves around the kakapo parrot of in New Zealand, a flightless bird, and one of the most endangered species on earth. Only 91 parrots remain, and scientists are working hard to try to ensure their survival.

The book takes you on a 10-day excursion with those working to save the kakapo.

The text is both readable and conversational, and provides interesting reading for young readers from 3rd grade through middle school, while teaching them positive values of respect for living things and the earth's resources.


The Sierra Club Book of Our National Parks by Donald Young
This is a 64-page book with an index, glossary with descriptions of all 49 U.S. National Parks and activities, along with maps of U.S. National Parks. It starts off where a book on U.S. National Parks should, with the Grand Canyon, and provides a synopsis of the history of the U.S. National Parks, which is of much interest in all its details.

Historical, modern, and scenic photographs are shown throughout. This is good reference work, as well as a book of interest for young people; helping mold character towards respecting nature, and an appreciation, knowledge, and education on the high value America has placed on national parks in its history especially since the early 1900s until today.

(There are other Sierra Club Guides to various U.S. National Parks, so don't be confused).


Guidance for Teens


The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens by Sean Covey
This is a secular (non-religious) book guiding teens, by teen-at-heart, best selling author Sean Covey. He encourages teenagers to work hard at their schoolwork, stay off drugs, and maintain good morals, while including an excellent section on why and how to avoid pornography all presented in a format that teens can relate to. The book contains myriads of humorous cartoons and graphics, making it easy to read for most teens.


Questions Young People Ask, Answers That Work, Volume 1 (unrevised version) and Volumes 1 and Volume 2 by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
Similar themes as Covey's book, the original volume from 1989 (now updated version) covers most aspects of teen's questions and issues. Positive, interactive, and illustrated, every teen will benefit from this information. This book contains Bible citations, and is also available at no cost or voluntary donation basis from door-to-door ministers. Volume 1 (revised/updated version) is not available online, and must be personally requested.


Excellent Art and Design Books for Teens


The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence by Betty Edwards
This bestseller is worth giving to most teens, (adults), or older children. It is likewise a good book to have in the home, school library, library or classroom. It teaches the basics of art, from perspective to portraits, using simple techniques to help unlock the artistic potential in your brain. It is clear, simple, illustrated throughout, making it easy to progress from a "stick-figure" artist to an accomplished one using the methods here.


Essential Techniques Drawing & Painting More Than 200 Techniques and Step By Step Projects by Sarah Utridge
This is a great book for those who want to get involved in creating art, and a good beginners-to-intermediate book for drawing and painting a variety of subjects.


Drawing Faces: Internet-linked (Usborne Art Ideas) by Rosie Dickins, Jan McCafferty, Fiona Watt, and Carrie A. Seay

Best Books for Children and Teens -  Usborne Drawing Faces



Drawing Faces is a good beginner's book for older children and teens that teacheshow to draw faces. Nicely illustrated and well-developed, this is a recommended book for teaching this artform.



Learn Calligraphy: The Complete Book of Lettering and Design
by Margaret Shepherd
Margaret Shepherd has a series of books on learning calligraphy that is simple and easy to follow. It teaches basic techniques to those who are more advanced. If you are interested in learning calligraphy, or trying to interest a teenager or older child who has some aptitude, this is a good book to have.

The Calligraphy Book by Peter Grislis
Another calligraphy book that teaches calligraphy simply and clearly. This how-to book is good for 3rd grade through high school as it is full of concise instructions.


Art: An A-Z Guide (Reference) by Shirley Greenway
This book focuses on art terms (in alphabetical order) 59 in all, and provides descriptions, definitions, illustrations, photographs, examples, and paintings. It contains information on individual artists and different art periods.

The book can effectively help an older pre-teen or teenager gain knowledge and interest in art. It is a book pleasing to the intellect as well as to the eye. From a Newark grade-school library in the heart of Central Newark, get your children off of the video games and into art!


The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: Understanding the Concepts of Parallel and Perpendicular (Powermath) (Powermath) by Janey Levy
This is a fine addition to any 4th to 9th grade classroom, or of interest for children and teenagers not to mention adults in the home. Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture is timeless and really, a form of art. It helps children and teens develop an understanding of how design, artistic skill, and mathematics combine in the field of creative architecture. It can be an inspiration for some promising teens.


Dorothea Lange: The Crucial Years by Oliva Maria Rubio, Jack von Euw, Sandra Phillips, Dorothea Lange (Photographer)
Dorothea Lange's photographs are catalogued and described in this interesting book, which documents her poignant photography during from the 1930s through the 1940s.

The images she captured during the Depression era of suffering and restless Americans is soul-stirring. There are a number of other books that document Lange's work that teens can benefit from reading and perusing: Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits by Linda Gordon is one, Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange by Elizabeth Partridge is another. Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange's Photographs and Reports from the Field by Anne Whiston Spirn presents some of Lange's lesser-known work.


More Books for Teenagers


All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
The first of James Herriot's books will be a delight for all from 12 years old to adult. And all the books following as well; they are warm, humorous, entertaining, positive, heartfelt, adventurous, and good character-education builders. These are of a veterinarian in the English countryside and his day-to-day adventures caring for animals, birthing calves and horses, and otherwise learning his way through the rougher side of Dales farming.

Also from Herriot:
All Things Wise and Wonderful
James Herriot's Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales by the Author of All Creatures Great and Small
James Herriot's Dog Stories: Warm And Wonderful Stories About The Animals Herriot Loves Best
The Lord God Made Them All
Every Living Thing
All Things Bright and Beautiful


One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Realistic fiction set in Las Vegas about a girl who ends up in foster care, her resistance to her foster family {the Murphys), and finally bonding with her new family. The girl is otherwise torn when it becametime to return to her real mother. The story presents a satisfactory resolution to the serious issues raised. It is an appropriate book for older preteens and young teens, teaching them about the less than ideal realities of life that many experience on an ongoing basis. The book can help teach compassion for classmates who may be undergoing difficult circumstances, or can be helpful for children who have been in foster care.


Wringer by Jerry Spinelli This is an engaging novel with a great lesson for young people. The book is filled with constant emotional turmoil, dilemmas, and the mental tug-of-wars of an older child faced with a moral dilemma (as he confronts a tradition that involves an annual wringing-the-necks-of-pigeons spree).

What can be done when you become fond of a pigeon, something you try hard to keep secret from parentsbullying friends and expectant parents? This is a great book for older children and young teens up to 13 or 14 years old.


Shooting Kabul by N.H.Senzai

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Best Books for Teens - Shooting Kabul
A 2011 Teacher's Choice for Young People, this is historical fiction about an Afghanistan family's illegal departure from Afghanistan to California right before the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. The book has roots paralleling experiences of the author's husband who fled Afghanistan, which was then under Soviet control. In the mayhem of their exodus from Afghanistan, the six-year-old girl, sister of the protagonist Fadi, is lost in the crowd and left behind. How will they retrieve her? This is a book of courage, hope, love, and perseverance for readers aged 8 to 12.


Smithsonian Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide by DK Publishers
DK Publishing is renowned for its high-quality books filled with stunning photos of their subject. This is no exception. Page after page of stunning nature photography makes this the definitive gift to teenagers or older preteens about the animal kingdom.

Like many books of high quality, this book can be appreciated at many levels; children can simply enjoy gazing at the pictures of 2,000 different species, while older children and teens can find facts and information that will contribute to their basic knowledge of science and biology. For those who wish to delve more deeply, the book contains information that will help the reader gain a fuller understanding of the wide variety of animal life on the planet, insight into endangered species, and understanding of the many new species that are being discovered annually.

A book like this enriches the lives of children and young adults and is therefore a must-read.


References for 200 of the Best Books for Children and Teens


1. Newbery and Caldecott Medal Books, 1976-1985: With Acceptance Papers, Biographies, and Related Material Chiefly from the Horn Book Magazine, (1986). Lee Kingman (Editor).

2. 1998 Best Books for Young Adults. Young Adult Library Services Association. http://www.ala.org/yalsa/booklistsawards/booklists/bestbooksya/1998bestbooks

3. Rasheeda Baldwin's Best Early Childhood Books list, (2009). - Public School Librarian, Newark, NJ.

4. Teachers’ Choices Reading List, (2007). K-2 5-8. International Reading Association
http://www.reading.org/Resources/Booklists/TeachersChoices.aspx
5. Young Adult Non-Fiction, 2011. Brigham Young City Library. http://library.booksite.com/5889/nl/?list=CNL16


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