Media Reviews: Recommended Books for Kids

Laura Nawojchik
Columbus Parent

Learn the truth about hippos, crocodiles, elephants, dolphins, hawks, butterflies or bears in this series of comics-style nonfiction picture books. The illustrations are hilarious, with many visual jokes and funny speech bubble asides by the featured animals. The main text, while brief, is full of fascinating facts. Young readers will enjoy these on their own, but they also make great read-togethers. Adults will be learning, too. FOR AGES 3-8 

The makers of the excellent Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls mini-biography compilation series have expanded into historical fiction chapter books. Each follows the life of a remarkable woman starting in childhood and detailing her accomplishments. Inspiring subjects so far include mathematician-programmer Ada Lovelace, mountaineer Junko Tabei and visually impaired ballerina Alicia Alonso. Engaging activities are included at the end of the book, and the color illustrations throughout are charming. FOR AGES 8-12

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Another new biography series, Trailblazers is the perfect step up for young readers of the Who Was?/Who Is? series. These titles are nonfiction and rich with detailed information and educational asides. For example, “Jane Goodall: A Life with Chimps” includes simple maps, multiple sections of chimpanzee facts, historical context and more. Other subjects include Stephen Hawking, Jackie Robinson and Beyoncé. FOR AGES 9-13 

Immerse yourself in another time and place in award-winner Wolk’s latest novel. Struggling during the Great Depression, Ellie’s family moves to Echo Mountain in rural Maine. But their plans to farm there are soon dashed when Ellie’s father is injured and falls into a coma. Ellie finds solace and purpose in the forest, getting to know the plants, animals and isolated people who live there, while fighting to save herself and her family. The place and the people of this story are fully alive. FOR AGES 10-14

Youth fiction superstar Reynolds has adapted scholar Kendi’s nonfiction masterpiece “Stamped from the Beginning” for young readers. The result is an accessible and eye-opening tour of U.S. history through the lens of race. A wide array of individuals and events are discussed, as are behaviors described as segregationist, assimilationist or antiracist. The writing style is always engaging, never dry. It’s hard to imagine more essential reading for American youth and adults. FOR TEENS

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

Try This App

Peep and the Big Wide World
This adorable site will engage and entertain your little ones. Join feathered friends Peep, Chirp and Quack as they explore their park home and learn about simple science and math concepts. Live-action videos show kids experimenting with these same concepts. There also are family activities, many simple games and free Peep apps to play with. The content is funny, well thought-out and, as an added bonus, narrated by Joan Cusack. FOR AGES 3-6