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Fact-filled books for young readers!

Bones in the White House

Bones in the White House By Candice Ransom; illustrated by Jamey Christoph

A little-known, fascinating story about Thomas Jefferson and his obsessive quest to find America's first complete mastodon skeleton.

Thomas Jefferson: Third president of the United States. Author of the Declaration of Independence. Obsessive prehistoric mammal hunter?? It's true! In this little-known slice of American history, see Thomas Jefferson as never before!

In the late 1700's, America was a new nation, with a vast west that held age-old secrets: Bones! Massive tusks and enormous animal skeletons were being discovered and Thomas Jefferson - politician AND scientist - was captivated. What were these giant beasts? Did they still roam on American soil? Jefferson needed to find out. Funding explorers, including the famed Lewis and Clark, Jefferson sought to find a complete prehistoric mastodon skeleton - one which would advance the young science of paleontology, but would also put this upstart young country on the world stage. Follow along on the incredible journey - full of triumphs and disappointments, discoveries and shipwrecks, ridicule and victory.

Author Candice Ransom researched this amazing story for years before telling this tale, closely collaborating with Jefferson scholars and natural history experts. Jamey Christoph's moody, luminous illustrations paint the scene: A young country, a president with a thirst for knowledge, and an obsessive, years-long quest to find the prehistoric bones that would prove the importance of a growing nation.

The Bug Girl

The Bug Girl By by Sophia Spencer, the Bug Girl Herself, with Margaret McNamara; illustrated by Kerascoët

Real-life 7-year-old Sophia Spencer was bullied for loving bugs until hundreds of women scientists rallied around her. Now Sophie tells her inspiring story in this picture book that celebrates women in science, bugs of all kinds, and the importance of staying true to yourself.

Sophia Spencer has loved bugs ever since a butterfly landed on her shoulder--and wouldn't leave!--at a butterfly conservancy when she was only two-and-a-half years old. In preschool and kindergarten, Sophia was thrilled to share what she knew about grasshoppers (her very favorite insects), as well as ants and fireflies... but by first grade, not everyone shared her enthusiasm. Some students bullied her, and Sophia stopped talking about bugs altogether. When Sophia's mother wrote to an entomological society looking for a bug scientist to be a pen pal for her daughter, she and Sophie were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response--letters, photos, and videos came flooding in. Using the hashtag BugsR4Girls, scientists tweeted hundreds of times to tell Sophia to keep up her interest in bugs--and it worked! Sophia has since appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and NPR, and she continues to share her love of bugs with others.

Gross as a Snot Otter

Gross as a Snot Otter By Jess Keating

Animal Planet meets Captain Underpants in the ickiest, squickiest, most fart-filled World of Weird Animals book yet, from the creators of Pink Is for Blobfish.

The creators of Pink Is for Blobfish are back, and they've brought 17 of their most revolting friends: there are slippery, slimy snot otters, gulls that projectile-vomit on command, fish that communicate via flatulence, and chipmunks that cultivate healthy forests by pooping a trail of seeds wherever they go. But there's more to these skin-crawling creatures than meets the eye, and as zoologist Jess Keating explains, sometimes it's the very things that make us gag that allow these animals to survive in the wild.
     The perfect combination of yuks, yucks, and eureka!'s, this latest installment in the World of Weird Animals series will inspire budding scientists and burp enthusiasts alike!

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read By Rita Lorraine Hubbard; illustrated by Oge Mora

Imagine learning to read at the age of 116! Discover the true story of Mary Walker, the nation's oldest student who did just that, in this picture book from a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator and a rising star author.

In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge More comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who--with perseverance and dedication--proved that you're never too old to learn.

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist By Julie Leung; illustrated by Chris Sasaki

An inspiring picture-book biography of animator Tyrus Wong, the Chinese American immigrant responsible for bringing Disney's Bambi to life.

Before he became an artist named Tyrus Wong, he was a boy named Wong Geng Yeo. He traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and a few papers. Not papers for drawing--which he loved to do--but immigration papers to start a new life. Once in America, Tyrus seized every opportunity to make art, eventually enrolling at an art institute in Los Angeles. Working as a janitor at night, his mop twirled like a paintbrush in his hands. Eventually, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime--and using sparse brushstrokes and soft watercolors, Tyrus created the iconic backgrounds of Bambi.

Julie Leung and Chris Sasaki perfectly capture the beautiful life and work of a painter who came to this country with dreams and talent--and who changed the world of animation forever.

Ashley Woodfolk Author Essay

When You Were Everything

When You Were Everything By Ashley Woodfolk

For fans of Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay and Adam Silvera’s History Is All You Left Me, this heartfelt and ultimately uplifting novel follows one sixteen-year-old girl’s friend breakup through two concurrent timelines—ultimately proving that even endings can lead to new beginnings. In the essay below, author Ashley Woodfolk explores why friendship breakups can be so painful and are an important topic to discuss.

Top 5 Reasons Platonic Breakups Hurt More than Romantic Ones

High Fidelity is one of my all time favorite books and movies. It has great music and relatable angst and messy romance—a few of my most favorite things. And the Top 5 format is one I’ve often tried to use to organize the chaos of my own tastes, my own life, my often overwhelming thoughts. As I recently watched the gender-bent High Fidelity remake on Hulu with Zoe Kravitz (the uncontested number one on my Top 5 Hottest Girl Crushes of all time), I began thinking about my own Top 5 Most Memorable Breakups. As an empath, an uber-dramatic Pisces, and a very sensitive soul, my heart’s been broken more times than I can count. But my Top 5? They were all breakups with friends.

I won’t bore you with the details of all of my bestie breakups. Just know they were each quietly devastating in their own ways, and I’m still dealing with the fallout of a few of them in therapy. But I will tell you this: There are many reasons platonic breakups are gut-punches in ways romantic ones just aren’t, at least for me. Here are the Top 5:

 

Number 5: Platonic toxicity is harder to see.

Toxic relationships take up a lot of space in our zeitgeist. We’re bombarded with TV shows and movies, books and essays about what a toxic romance looks like. We all know what to look out for when examining our own relationships, and even the warning signs to look for if we’re worried our loved ones might be in a troublesome relationship. But there isn’t much time or energy dedicated to having similar conversations around toxic friendships, though much of the behaviors can be the same. As a result, platonic toxicity is harder to identify. You might notice right away if you have a partner who constantly belittles you, but if it’s a friend you’ve known since kindergarten, it’s easier to dismiss the bad behavior as a personality trait. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Oh that’s just the way they are,” only to later realize that that doesn’t make it okay. Over time, that toxicity, whether it’s emotional manipulation, teasing, codependency or something else, will breed resentment. And because the toxicity is harder to see, we often don’t even know why we’re feeling negatively toward a long-time friend. The time is what makes these breakups so much worse than romantic ones–we can stay in toxic friendships for years longer than we’d stay in a toxic romance. The longer someone’s around, the harder it is to get used to them being gone.

 

Number 4: Friendship is a choice that isn’t always a choice.

We become friends with people for all kinds of reasons, but often, even though befriending people can be a choice, it’s usually something much simpler, like proximity or timing. With romantic partners there’s always a clear moment when a choice is made–I like this person, I would like to date this person, I enjoy spending time with this person, or even just I’m ridiculously attracted to this person and I can’t stay away.  But with friendship it could just be that you’re in the same class with someone, they move in next door, your parents are friends, or your friends are friends. And in cases like these we fall in with people we otherwise might not have chosen.  When we later realize that we don’t want to be friends with someone, it’s hard to extricate ourselves because we wonder why we chose them in the first place (even when we didn’t, at least not consciously). We don’t want to think of ourselves as bad decision makers, bad people-choosers, especially when we don’t even have the excuse of being blinded by attraction to excuse our poor decision making. So deciding to leave a friendship can ruin our sense of self in ways leaving a relationship doesn’t.

 

Number 3: Mutually Assured Destruction.

Friends share secrets. And once you’re not friends anymore, those secrets are no longer safe. The power we give our friends to destroy us when we’re sure that power will never be used against us is…downright terrifying. Much scarier than anything an ex could ever do.

 

Number 2: Mutual Friends.

Mutual friends make letting a friendship go so much more complicated. When you dump someone or they dump you, more often than not you can arrange your life so you’ll never have to see that person again. But with friends it’s different. Awkward parties, group outings, and hearing those mutual friends complain about how difficult you and your ex-friend are making their lives makes the wound of a friendship loss take even longer to heal.  It adds all this additional, unavoidable pain. It’s the worst.

 

Number 1: The “Best Friends Forever” Myth.

I don’t know where this came from, but it’s so pervasive in our culture. We hear it from the time we’re really young kids and it makes us feel like we’re failing at something if our best friends aren’t our best friends forever, when the truth is: separation is natural. People grow up and grow apart and everyone is constantly changing. Sometimes a friend doesn’t change at the same rate as you. Sometimes a friend stops being a positive force in your life. Sometimes a friend is just a jerk, and it’s okay to not want to be around them anymore. Having a best friend forever isn’t always realistic. And when a relationship you’ve loved for so long breaks, it sucks, but it’s totally normal.

Best friends for now, is more like it. And I’ve started trying to think about the people in my life this way. I tell myself: You’ll be friends with this delightful person for a while, maybe a very long while, and you’ll love and enjoy each other while it lasts.

 

Friendship is messy. But the best, most beautiful things in life are. If you run into trouble, be honest, be open, and be kind. That’s really the best any of us can do.

Ashley Woodfolk

Ashley Woodfolk has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated from Rutgers University with a BA English and currently works in children's book publishing. She wrote her first book, The Beauty That Remains, from a sunny Brooklyn apartment where she lives with her cute husband and her cuter dog. When You Were Everything is her second novel. Find her online at ashleywoodfolk.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @AshWrites

Women’s History Month 2020

Celebrate women's stories all year long!

Board Books

Picture Books

Middle-Grade Books

Young Adult Books

Get Mindful This March

Make your classroom a happier one.

  • Teach a lesson on emotions—talk openly about what they are and how to regulate them.
  • “Build a calm corner, a positive “take a break”  space. Fill it with items that encourage self-regulation, such as books, bean bags, and visual timers.
  • Read books that feature friendships built on acceptance.

Dealing with Feelings

Books designed to give voice to what’s brewing inside. Children will learn how to identify and attend to their emotions as they learn to read.

For the Calm Corner

Manage body, breath, and emotions through mindfulness activities, movement, and yoga.

Teach Kindness

Address introversion with stories about patience and perseverance.

IT’S TIME FOR SUMMER READING!

Summer Reading FUN, approved by teachers AND students!

As you put together your summer reading list, take a look at these new series for younger readers and classics-in-the-making for established readers.

Download these Reading Checklists for your students!