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Using Books

Bringing books and people together.

STEM apps

These STEM-oriented nonfiction apps can help intermediate students brush up on knowledge for the coming school year — or invite them to explore an engaging new subject. What if we measured our lives in units other than hours, days, months, and years? Would life “feel shorter? Longer? More absurd? More precious?” Input your birthdate into […]

Family ties

Maya Angelou wrote, “Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.” For many teens, adolescence includes contending with changing sibling relationships. Four new novels explore the joys and challenges of these shifting dynamics. Suzette and Lionel, the protagonists of Brandy Colbert’s Little & Lion, are close teen step-siblings in a happy, blended, […]

Just the two of us

Four funny, episodic books for emerging readers feature dynamic duos — human, invertebrate, and everything in between. Laurel Snyder’s beginning chapter book Charlie & Mouse is filled to the brim with sincere, slice-of-life sibling moments. In four chapters, the two eponymous brothers have a party on the playground, attempt to sell rocks to the neighbors, […]

OH! AH! WAAHOO! Concept books!

Learning about colors, numbers, sounds, and the ABCs can be a blast (“WAAHOO!”) with these concept books for preschoolers-and-up. Say Zoop!, the latest old-school interactive picture book by Hervé Tullet (author of Press Here), plays with sounds, primary colors, and creativity. The book begins: touch a small blue dot “and say a little oh!” Press […]

Books mentioned in the August 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Mitali Perkins You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins, Farrar, 12–16 years. Family ties Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, Little, 14 years and up. Juniper Lemon’s Guide to Happiness by Julie Israel, Penguin/Dawson, 14 years and up. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertali, HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, 14 years and […]

Reading Is LIT: How a Classroom Project Can Impact an Entire Community

As a school librarian, I strongly believe in the importance of books as mirrors and windows for students, especially with so many divisive things happening in our society. Using these sorts of books in the classroom helps to start tough dialogue that’s necessary for educators and students alike. That doesn’t happen all the time with […]

Challenge your students to activism

I was too young in the 1960s to join the activist movement, and the narrow-minded family in which I grew up wouldn’t have tolerated it. But I feel as if I’ve been given a second chance. Today’s political and social atmosphere simply won’t let me be silent to the injustices I see being committed all […]

On our own

Children make their own homes and families in these middle-grade novels. The stories range in tone from zany to poignant and highlight important elements of any family dynamic: love, loyalty, understanding, and, once in a while, cookies for dinner. For more on how child characters define their own versions of “home” in fiction, look for […]

Life under siege

Growing up amidst political turmoil and war can have profound effects on any individual. These memoirs and biographies offer nuanced explorations of lives in such uncertain places and times. In How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, Congolese refugee Sandra Uwiringiyimana recounts life before, during, and after war. Growing up in the […]

Outta this world

In these middle-grade and middle-school science-fiction novels, aliens variously come in peace or seek to destroy humanity — but either way, their existence forces characters to ponder deep philosophical questions and experience life-changing journeys. Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth begins with narrator Prez Mellows (who is electively mute) opening the front […]