Social Conscience

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The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters

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Around this time of year, I like to alert Almanac readers to some new titles, ideal for holiday gift-giving, that they might have missed. Today I want to sing the praises of the second novel by Cat Winters, The Cure for Dreaming. Now, I have been an active part of the children’s book world since […]

20th Century, History, Politics, Social Conscience, Women, Women's Suffrage
Featured on October 29

Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Today I’d like to wish a very happy birthday to Helen Oxenbury, one of our most accomplished children’s book illustrators. Helen turned to illustration as a second career when her own child was born. An accomplished set designer for theater, television, and film, she had already observed the pleasure her husband, John Burningham (whom she […]

Animals, Ducks, Politics, Social Conscience
Featured on June 2

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? by Tanya Stone
Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

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Since 1987, Women’s History Month has been celebrated in March—a time to look at all the unsung heroines and their contributions over the years. In 2013 the talented duo of Tanya Lee Stone and Marjorie Priceman teamed up to create a picture book perfect for Women’s History Month, Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The […]

History, Science, Social Conscience, Women
Featured on March 10

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

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Many make reading resolutions for the New Year, and I do as well for the Almanac. Last year, a consulting project I worked on made me painfully aware of how few of our best books for children focus on other than English-speaking countries. So this year I intend to write more Almanac entries with an […]

Award Winning, Family, History, Social Conscience
Featured on January 14

Unspoken by Henry Cole


December has been designated Read a New Book Month. I look forward to this celebration because I can present some new gems of the last couple of years. In 2012 Henry Cole published a remarkable wordless picture book, Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad. In artwork created only with charcoal, paper and pencil, Henry […]

Civil War, History, Social Conscience
Featured on December 5

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

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On June 15, 1836, Arkansas became the 25th state admitted to the Union. Hence today marks Arkansas Admission Day. Certainly in the last part of the twentieth century, Arkansas has loomed large in American politics: It’s the home state of President Bill Clinton and also the site of the highly contested 1957 attempt to integrate […]

Civil Rights, History, School, Social Conscience
Featured on June 15

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine A. Applegate
Illustrated by Patricia Castelao


April has been designated Pets Are Wonderful Month (PAWS), which all pets are, of course. As I write, my dear Lance snoozes not far from my feet. They provide inspiration and attention. People have kept all kinds of animals, as pets or objects of curiosity, over the years. And the treatment of these animals lies […]

Animals, Social Conscience
Featured on April 18

Eleanor Roosevelt by Russell Freedman

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Today marks the birthday of both Russell Freedman and Eleanor Roosevelt. Originally a West Coaster, Russell was born in San Francisco and studied at the University of California at Berkeley. Russell’s long-time editor Dorothy Briley once said that he made the most perfect dinner guest she had ever encountered. He could make intelligent conversation about […]

Great Depression, History, Social Conscience, World War I, World War II
Featured on October 11

Swimmy by Leo Lionni


September has been set aside as a month to “Be Kind to Authors and Editors.” On the Almanac, I could use that as my moto 365 days of the year. Authors and editors are the people who make our best books possible, who work to provide quality content for children, and they deserve kindness and […]

Animals, Award Winning, Caldecott, Fish, Social Conscience
Featured on September 10

The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton
Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon


August 23 of each year has been designated by UNESCO as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition. This date was chosen because from August 22–23, 1791, an uprising began on the island of Saint Domingue, now Haiti, which helped bring about the end of the slave trade. If […]

African American, Folktale, History, Multicultural, Slavery, Social Conscience
Featured on August 23

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

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Seventy-six years ago on July 30, 1935, the modern paperback revolution began when Sir Allen Lane published the first Penguin paperback. I have always been grateful that he was knighted for this achievement—and that in the United States, beginning in the sixties, paperback books for children became a staple of publishing lists. Although I love […]

Award Winning, History, Jewish, Multicultural, Newbery, Politics, Social Conscience, World War II
Featured on July 30

Lost & Found by Shaun Tan

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Over the last week we have been exploring superb books about our furry friend, the bunny rabbit. This year a book by Shaun Tan, Lost & Found, takes an entirely original look at this beloved creature. Containing three separate books that were previously unavailable in the United States, Lost & Found presents The Red Tree, […]

History, Politics, Social Conscience, Trendsetting
Featured on July 20

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel

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July 1 was Canada Day and in its honor I’m celebrating two Canadian authors and events this month. On July 5 the Almanac featured Tim Wynne-Jones. Today we’ll look at another Canadian writer, Kenneth Oppel. I first encountered his work in the Airborn series and loved his voice, imagination, and ability to write page-turning science fiction. […]

Family, Science, Social Conscience
Featured on July 7

Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures by Menno Metselaar and Ruud van der Rol, translated by Arnold J.Pomerans

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On June 12, 1929, a young German girl was born. Had history played out differently, she might well have been celebrating her 82nd birthday today. Anne Frank lived in extraordinary times—and in recording those times, she ultimately became the world’s most famous young writer. Scores of books providing supplementary reading for The Diary of Anne […]

Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, History, Jewish, Multicultural, Social Conscience, World War II
Featured on June 12

Imogene’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming
Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter


In England, May has been designated Local and Community History Month to “increase awareness of local history, promote history in general in the local community, and encourage all members of the community to participate.” This is such a great concept that I want to advocate that we celebrate local history month in America as well. […]

History, Politics, Social Conscience
Featured on May 22

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin

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Born on May 9, 1906, in West Haven, Connecticut, Eleanor Estes worked in the New York Public Library until her first book, The Moffats, was published in 1941. Although she won the Newbery Award for Ginger Pye in 1951, Estes’s earlier book, The Hundred Dresses, has emerged as one of our most unusual and powerful […]

School, Social Conscience
Featured on May 9

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

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On May 1 we celebrate a relatively new holiday, Immigration Day. Except for Native Americans, the United States is a nation of immigrants; consequently, hundreds of books for children present the experience of our ancestors from different perspectives. But none enable readers to experience the emotions of an immigrant to a strange country as brilliantly as Shaun […]

Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Social Conscience
Featured on May 1

Marching for Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge

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On March 21, 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began the five-day protest march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama—a triumphant event in the Civil Rights Movement. A few months later the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, outlawing literacy tests and other measures used to keep African Americans from registering to vote. A remarkable […]

African American, Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Civil Rights, History, Multicultural, Politics, Social Conscience
Featured on March 21

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

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On February 22, 1819, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams signed the Florida Purchase Treaty, making the Spanish territory part of the United States. When I think of recent books set in Florida, Carl Hiaasen’s Newbery Honor Book Hoot, an exciting, page-turning mystery, immediately comes to mind. Roy Eberhardt, new kid in town, has arrived […]

Animals, Award Winning, Ecology, Nature, Newbery, Politics, School, Science, Social Conscience
Featured on February 22

Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by Bryan Collier

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Today marks Martin Luther King Day. When we come to the third Monday in January, I am often reminded that I did not celebrate this holiday as a child. But I did have an opportunity to witness the incredible life and amazing accomplishments of Dr. King. When I was a student in rhetoric at Indiana […]

African American, Award Winning, Caldecott, Civil Rights, Coretta Scott King, History, Multicultural, Social Conscience
Featured on January 17

The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose

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Today marks a relatively new holiday on the calendar, National Bird Day–set aside to think about the birds people keep as pets and how owning them affects the bird population on earth. Our attitudes toward animals and birds and how we treat them has changed dramatically over time. No one has ever captured the changing mores […]

Animals, Birds, History, Nature, Science, Social Conscience, Zoology
Featured on January 5

Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon
Illustrated by Henri Sorensen


On December 24, 1818, a Christmas carol with a beautiful melody and words of peace—one created by an Austrian priest and a headmaster—was first performed in the Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, Austria. Of all my own childhood memories, the ones of singing this song, known in English as “Silent Night,” remain the most […]

Christmas, History, Holidays, Music, Social Conscience, World War I
Featured on December 24

Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.

Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics . . .

The new books on their way to becoming classics . . .

And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large.