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Children’s Literature

covers of next 4 books on list

History Diet for Growing Kids

Carter G. Woodson who started what later evolved to be Black History Month once said “if a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated”.

It seems fairly straightforward to record that history, spotlight it, and teach it so that it becomes a part of our consciousness.    Unfortunately, history is pretty complicated.   History doesn’t have an immutable existence and there can be multiple perspectives, developing in light of new information (both true and false) and cultural shifts.  History can be vulnerable to bias, rewriting, and to being lost altogether.

It is often the case that students learn a “set narrative” (see Michael Conway’s article, “The Problem with History Classes”) and students often come away with what they end up believing to be the only narrative and a list of bullet points to slog through and memorize.  In the US, struggles, accomplishments, and the role minority populations play in the building of the US are condensed into a handful of bullet points.  And things that aren’t on the list are relegated to insignificance and obscurity.

Of course, it is impossible to teach the entire story of humankind and all historical perspectives, but learning more about the people who lived in times and places –some incredibly different from what we know- and who acted, reacted, and felt in completely human ways can lead to more understanding and empathy.  And there is no better time to develop them than when you’re young.

Below are just a few children’s and YA books featuring stories about those who once lived and who probably won’t make it into the usual history diet.  Included also are a few historical fiction stories based on true people, situations, and events.  This list has an emphasis on black historical figures as it is currently Black History Month.

covers of the first 4 books on the list

Come all you brave soldiers : Blacks in the Revolutionary War by Clinton Cox.  About the soldiers who fought for independence from England.

The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson.  In 1998 when the Kosovo hostilities escalate, an ethnic Albanian girl and her family flee for their lives and make their way to the US, where they encounter new challenges.

Genius of Islam: How Muslims Made the Modern World by Bryn Barnard.  How Islam and Muslims played an essential role in the development of the modern world.

Inside out & Back Again by Thanhha LaiA young girl and her family leave Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and resettle in Alabama.

covers of the next 4 books on the list

Landed by Milly Lee ; pictures by Yangsook Choi.  A fictional story based on the true experiences of the immigration process for young Chinese boys who come to the United States via San Francisco’s Angel Island in the early 20th century. 

Liberty or Death: The Surprising Story of Runaway Slaves Who Sided with the British During the American Revolution  by Margaret Whitman Blair.  About the black men who sided with the British who had promised freedom in exchange.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.  Based on the life of Salva Dut, a Sudanese refugee who led hundreds of boys to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya during the second Sudanese civil war.

My Brother’s Keeper by Israel Bernbaum.  Bernbaum, a Holocaust survivor, describes the horrors of the Holocaust through art.

covers of next 4 books on list

Run, Boy, Run : A Novel by Uri Orlev.  A nine-year-old Jewish orphan boy’s struggle to survive in Nazi-occupied Poland, based on a true story. 

She Loved Baseball : the Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick; illustrated by Don Tate. She owned a baseball team and was the first and only woman to be inducted to the baseball hall of fame.

Sylvia and Aki by Winifred Conkling.  Set at the beginning of WWII, the story of two girls – a Japanese-American girl sent to a Japanese internment camp and a Mexican-American girl at the center of a real life landmark desegregation case.

Voice of Freedom : Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement  by Carole Boston Weatherford ; illustrated by Ekua Holmes.  A voting rights activist who fought for and protected the voting rights of African Americans and helped many register to vote.

book cover images of next 5 books in list.

Welcome to Josefina’s World, 1824 : Growing up on America’s Southwest Frontier by Yvette LaPierre.  Part of the American Girl series of books and one of several books featuring the heroine, Josefina Montoya.  It provides an overview of how Mexican Americans lived in the 1820s – their daily lives, activities, and culture.  We hold

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March.  About the 4000 black children who marched for civil rights and demonstrated in non-violent protest.  The violent reactions of the police officers spurred the government to take action in desegregate Birmingham and to outlaw discrimination on the basis of race.

The Winter People by Joseph Bruchac.  Set during the French and Indian War, an Abenaki boy’a journey to rescue his mother and sisters, who were kidnapped by the English during a raid.

X : A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon.  Follows human rights activist, Malcolm X, from his childhood to age 20.

Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi.  A young Korean girl and her family’s experiences during the Japanese and Russian occupations of North Korea in the 1940s and their escape to South Korea.

And a special shoutout to Frederick Douglass (inexplicably, some people seemed to be unsure about who Frederick Douglass was):

Frederick Douglass for Kids : his Life and Times with 21 Activities by Nancy Sanders.  An interactive biography of Frederick Douglass, former slave, abolitionist, and human rights activist.

cover of Frederick Douglass for Kids book


WINNER: Pumpkin Decorating Contest

And the winner is…

*drum roll*

IT & CAMPUS SERVICES!

 “The Three Little Pumpkins and the Big Bad Gourd”

the-3-little-pigs-3

Congratulations to the IT & Campus Services departments. This is their second consecutive pumpkin contest win! This year’s voting results were SO close, and all submissions deserve a huge round of applause. Make sure to join in the fun next October to see if you can out-craft the reigning champions.


Open eBooks: Books for Low-Income Children

On February 24th  2016 Open eBooks, an initiative to make thousands of books freely available to children in need, was launched nationwide.

Open eBooks is an app containing thousands of new and popular reading titles that can be accessed digitally by low-income children who may not have access to materials at home, in school, or in their communities. This app will empower children to expand their knowledge, improve their reading skills, and develop digital literacy.

open ebooks

Open eBooks in the App Store

President Obama first announced the Open eBook initiative in April of 2015. Since then, literary
organizations from around the country have worked tirelessly to make the project a reality. The app was developed and curated by the Digital Public Library of America, The New York Public Library, First Book, and digital book distributor Baker & Taylor. It received funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, as well as contributions from many major publishers, including Bloomsbury, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, National Geographic, and Candlewick.

At the Wheelock College Library, we are excited about this new advancement in digital access to children’s books, not only because it goes a long way towards improving the lives of children and families, but because it supports one of the core values of all libraries. After all, aren’t libraries the original open eBooks? Providing public access to information is hugely important to our society, as is summed up by this quote from the America Library Associations’ website:  “Libraries help ensure that Americans can access the information they need – regardless of age, education, ethnicity, language, income, physical limitations or geographic barriers”. Projects like Open eBooks create additional opportunities to reach communities that are geographically isolated from a public library system.

Are you involved with an organization that serves low-income children and are interested in getting access to the Open eBooks app? Learn more about eligibility requirements HERE.


Read Across America 2016

Volunteer Poster Small FINALDo you love to read?  Want to inspire a love of reading in children?  Volunteer to read your favorite Dr. Seuss book to a small group of preschoolers during story hour at Wheelock’s annual Read Across America event.

Sign up for a time: 10:15-11:00 am OR 10:45-11:30 am
Thursday, March 3rd. Campus Center
To sign up contact Maric: MKramer@Wheelock.edu

Read Across America is an annual, national celebration held on the birthday of beloved children’s book author, Dr. Seuss, and promotes the importance of reading in the lives of children.  If you can’t make it to our Story Hour, please stop by our other two Seuss-related, Read Across America events at the Campus Center:

  • all day long : Dining Services will be serving items inspired by Dr.Seuss stories all day long.
  • 10:00 AM – 12:00 P.M.: Seuss-themed photo booth.  Take some wacky seusstastical photos to share with friends.  #WheeRead #ReadAcrossAmerica

Event Poster Small FINAL

Brought to you by the Wheelock College Library, with a special thanks to Dining Services and the Office of Spiritual Life


A collage of book covers

“I’m looking for a children’s book on…”

One of our most-commonly asked questions at the library service desk starts with those seven words: “I’m looking for a children’s book on…” So we’ve built a bunch of research tools to help you find just what you’re looking for.

Children’s Literature Research Guide

Find children’s books at the Wheelock College Library by using the special search box on this page. If you have a few minutes, we recommend looking at some of our annotated bibliographies of children’s literature– these can help you to find books by topic, subject, or reading level. These bibliographies mostly live in the library building, and librarians are always happy to help you navigate them to find just what you’re looking for.

A collage of book covers

Just a few of the children’s books you can find at the Wheelock College Library.

Multicultural Children’s Literature Research Guide (built for MLE 301; useful for anyone!)

Although we put together this guide for the MLE 301 class, we think it’s really handy for anyone who is looking for children’s books that reflect our diverse society. Find award-winning books, reviews and recommendations, and (yes) annotated bibliographies to help you choose books for your particular interest or need.

Guided Reading Research Guide

Guided reading is an instructional method designed to help teachers to develop readers by introducing them to increasingly challenging texts.  If you’re looking for leveled books, or for more information on how to implement guided reading in the classroom, the resources on this page are for you!

Stop by the front desk of the library to pick up a quick list of children’s book titles on frequently-requested topics, such as Hospitals & Medical Care, Food & Nutrition, LGBTQAI families, books featuring racially and culturally diverse characters, and more.  These lists are not comprehensive, but they should help to get you started… especially if you only have a few minutes to spare!

I’d be remiss if I did not note that Stacy Collins, Library Public Services Assistant, spent many hours doing research and design for these guides and title lists.  Many thanks to you, Stacy!