Media Reviews: Inspirational Books for Kids

Laura Nawojchik
Columbus Parent

“Oh, what a ride!” Bear’s antics bring adventure to an at-first sedate river, as more and more animals join Bear on an impromptu log flume ride downstream. Adventures are more fun with a friend, and each animal brings its own personality to the journey. The gorgeous illustrations become more colorful as the story flows along. A Caldecott Honor winner. FOR AGES 2-6 

Teresa’s parents teach her to play the piano, and by age 6 she is already composing. Political unrest in their native Venezuela causes the family to flee to America, but their new home is also the scene of violent conflict: the Civil War. Making music brings Teresa comfort and joy. Can her music do the same for a grieving President Lincoln when she is asked to play for him? This inspiring true story is beautifully illustrated. FOR AGES 4-8

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Graphic novel star Jamieson (Roller Girl) collaborates with Somali refugee Mohamed to tell a story inspired by his life. In this deeply affecting memoir, Omar and his disabled little brother have spent most of their lives in a Kenyan refugee camp after their family is destroyed by violence and civil war. Life is very difficult, partially because of the endless sense of waiting. But there is also family, friendship, moments of joy and hope for a better life. The gentleness of the text and the graphic novel format make this difficult but essential story accessible to young readers. FOR AGES 9-13 

When Bea’s dad came out as gay and her parents got a divorce, they gave her a list of things that would not change: namely that they still loved her, and they were still a family. Now Bea is 12 and she is thrilled that her dad will be marrying his longtime partner, and that she will be gaining a sister close to her age. Unfortunately, things don’t go as perfectly as Bea imagines as she deals with complicated feelings from her new family, homophobia and her own anxiety. Even with these troubles, Stead’s newest book is an uplifting and ultimately reassuring slice of modern life. FOR AGES 9-13 

Teenage mother Emoni is a wonderful parent to her young daughter and granddaughter to her abuela. But cooking is what she does for herself, and her gift is enormous, with her creations bordering on pure magic. This novel in prose follows Emoni as she balances her many responsibilities with the pure talent she has to share with the world. National Book Award winner Acevedo has achieved another triumph. Several recipes are included for inspired readers. FOR TEENS

Tami's Tower: Let's Think About Engineering

TRY THIS

Tami the golden lion tamarin is hungry for some fruit hanging just out of reach. Can your young learner stack blocks correctly to reach the fruit? When alligators and pandas rush by, shaking the ground, will the tower fall? This simple, free app geared to ages 5-8 rewards perseverance and teaches basic engineering skills as children move through increasingly difficult levels. If kids play on their own, you can view the summary to see what they achieved.

Laura Nawojchik is a youth services librarian at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.