Voices of the past
Nonfiction reads for all ages
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Saving the Countryside by Linda Elovitz Marshall: In this book, Marshall chronicles the experiences that shaped Beatrix Potter into the artist and author best known for her beloved books about Peter Rabbit and friends. With perseverance and savvy business skills, Potter published 23 little books and sold them at lower prices so families could afford to buy them. Later in her life she grew concerned about the growing urbanization of the idyllic countryside that inspired so much of her work. To protect it for future generations, she amassed more than 4,000 acres and bequeathed them to the U.K.’s National Trust. (Ages 4-9)
Wood, Wire, Wings by Kirsten W. Larson: Larson’s picture book biography tells the story of Emma Lilian Todd, an inventor who used ingenuity and perseverance to design a better airplane. Growing up during a time of great technological progress, Todd was fascinated particularly with the Wright flyer, but she thought it was an impractical model. “Imagine,” Larson writes, “if pilots today still lay on their stomachs and slid their hips back and forth to help control the plane.” Todd’s efforts centered on creating an airplane that could be flown and steered like a car or bike. (Ages 4-9)
My Survival: A Girl on Schindler’s List by Rena Finder with Joshua M. Greene: Inside the walls of Plaszow concentration camp, Rena Finder’s future looked bleak. But when Rena and her mother start working at Oskar Schindler’s factory, they and hundreds of other Jewish workers receive food and protection. As Finder recounts her experiences, she notes that although Schindler was not a saint, he took a stand against evil at great personal cost. Finder encourages young readers to do the same and have “the courage to stand up for the innocent. Be an upstander, not a bystander.” An excellent book for introducing more sensitive readers to the horrors of the Holocaust. (Ages 9-13)
We Had to Be Brave by Deborah Hopkinson: Hopkinson introduces middle-grade readers to the World War II Kindertransport that rescued Jewish children from the Nazis and brought them to England. The book focuses on the stories of three children but incorporates the voices of many others to capture the courage it took them to say goodbye to families and face an uncertain future in a country where they didn’t even speak the language. The chapters feature numerous historical photographs, and endnotes tell what happened to the children after the war. (Ages 9-14)
Greta Eskridge wrote Adventuring Together (Thomas Nelson, 2020) to help parents learn How to Create Connections and Make Lasting Memories With Your Kids. She urges parents to be “diligent about carving out consistent time to adventure” with their children while cautioning them from filling up their schedules with lots of extracurriculars that prevent families from spending quality time together. As she shares about her struggles to pursue adventures with her kids, Eskridge challenges families to embrace new or hard experiences as a way to build confidence and grow empathy. She also offers encouragement and advice to moms who may feel overwhelmed or ill-equipped for solo adventuring with their little ones.
In the vein of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, Melissa Kruger’s Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know (The Good Book Company, 2020) encourages kids to dream big about their futures while remembering their most important call: loving Jesus with all of their hearts. The rhyming text pairs well with Isobel Lundie’s whimsical illustrations. —K.C.
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