Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales

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May has been designated both Personal History Month and Latino Book Month, and our book of the day, Yuyi Morales’s Viva Frida, could be used effectively for either celebration. In this passionate celebration of Frida Kahlo for very young readers, ages 2-8, Morales captures the spirit of an artist who has been her inspiration from […]

Art, Award Winning, Caldecott, Latino, Multicultural, Women
Featured on May 26

The Right Word by Jen Bryant
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

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March has been designated Women’s History Month and the Almanac features many titles, such as Laurie Halse Anderson’s Independent Dames that address the topic of women and history. But while hunting for a different slant on an author study for the elementary level, I realized there might be another way to approach Women’s History Month. […]

19th century, Art, Award Winning, Caldecott, History
Featured on March 11

The Iridescence of Birds by Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrated by Hadley Hooper

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As all who closely follow the children’s books world know, around this time of year the major children’s book awards (Newbery and Caldecott) get announced at the annual ALA meeting. Many enjoy the process of Mock Caldecott or Newbery award events, a way to get everyone involved. In my case I sit down every year […]

Featured on January 19

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 Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös by Deborah Heiligman
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

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Today we can celebrate Wonderful Weirdos Day, created by the citizens of Austin, Texas. The organizers suggest that we all need to recognize those individuals in our lives who are not normal or average. Our book of the day does just that; even its subtitle suggests that it celebrates a wonderful weirdo as it chronicles […]

History, Science, Technology
Featured on September 9

Monsieur Marceau by Leda Schubert
Illustrated by Gerard Dubois

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December has been designated Read a New Book Month. During this month many hunt for new books to give as gifts. If you are one of those people, take a look at the picture book biography, Monsieur Marceau, written by Leda Schubert and illustrated by Gerard Dubois, winner this year of NCTE’s Orbis Pictus Award. […]

History, Theater, World War II
Featured on December 10

A Nation’s Hope by Matt de la Peña

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December has been designated Read a New Book Month, and this week we are celebrating Kwanzaa. The book of the day, A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, fits for both holidays and combines the talents of Matt de la Peña and Kadir Nelson in one of the best new offerings of […]

African American, Boxing, History, Multicultural, Sports, World War II
Featured on December 27

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

Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell

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September 1 has been set aside to celebrate International Primate Day. I can think of no better way to mark this day than look at the life of Jane Goodall, who has devoted herself to the study and the conservation of chimpanzees. In 2011 Patrick McDonnell published an exquisite picture book Me . . . […]

Animals, Monkeys, Science, Women, Zoology
Featured on September 1

Clemente! by Willie Perdomo
Illustrated by Bryan Collier

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On August 18, 1934, one of the most revered National League baseball players of all times, Roberto Clemente, was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico. Considered something of a saint in his native land, Clemente made his fame in America, after being drafted in 1954 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He brought new life to the team […]

Baseball, History, Latino, Multicultural, Sports
Featured on August 18

John’s Secret Dreams by Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by Bryan Collier

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On July 6, 1957, in Saint Peter’s Parish Church in Woolton, England, a young musician performed with his band, The Quarrymen. Another young guitarist attended the event. As Elizabeth Partridge writes in John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth, the guitarist “was dressed to kill. He’d come to the garden fete hoping to pick […]

History, Music
Featured on July 6

You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer! by Shana Corey
Illustrated by Chesley McLaren

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On May 27, 1818, Amelia Jenks was born in Homer, New York. She married an attorney named Dexter Bloomer, who encouraged her to write for his paper, the Seneca Falls Country Courier. Amelia became a strong voice for both temperance and women’s rights. She also had the good fortune of having a piece of clothing […]

History, Politics, Women's Suffrage
Featured on May 27

Escape! by Sid Fleischman

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On March 24, 1874, Harry Houdini was born in Budapest, Hungary. Some figures from history endlessly fascinate adults—and some remain perpetually interesting to children. Certainly Harry Houdini, magician, escape artist, performer, actor, and film producer, has garnered his share of biographies for children over the years. Newbery Award–winner Sid Fleischman, in one of his last […]

20th Century, History, Magic
Featured on March 24

The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin

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In February we celebrate American History Month. When I was a child, I was almost exclusively educated about American history through a series of books, with reddish-orange spines, that told stirring tales about our heroes and heroines. The series was Landmark Books, with titles such as Sterling North’s Abe Lincoln: Log Cabin to the White […]

Adventure, History, Revolutionary War
Featured on February 25

Honus & Me by Dan Gutman

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On February 24, 1874, Honus Wagner was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Called “The Flying Dutchman,” because of his great speed and his German heritage, Wagner played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, won eight batting titles, and became one of the first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Because Wagner disliked smoking, when […]

Baseball, History, Sports
Featured on February 24

Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman


Today I feel sorry for George Washington. He is, after all, the father of the country, yet he has to share a birthday celebration with Abraham Lincoln on President’s Day. Of the two, Lincoln has received the best treatment in children’s books, so today we’ll celebrate his accomplishments. Of all the hundreds and thousands of […]

Award Winning, Civil War, History, Holidays, Newbery, President's Day
Featured on February 21

Starry Messenger by Peter Sís

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Born on February 15, 1564, Galileo Galilei, Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher, has often been called the man responsible for the birth of modern science. Even his name indicates his rock star status in the scientific world—he’s known by a single name only, just like Cher or Madonna. In 1996, Peter Sís, an artist […]

Astronomy, Award Winning, Caldecott, History, Politics, Science
Featured on February 15

Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman

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Today is the birthday of Charles Darwin. He has the distinction of being not only one of the most controversial figures of his era but also someone who still causes discord two hundred years later. Or more accurately, his theories have been controversial—often obscuring Darwin the human being. Around Darwin’s 200th birthday some excellent books began […]

19th century, History, Religion/Spirituality, Science, Zoology
Featured on February 12

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrated by Mary Azarian

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On February 9, 1865, close to the end of the Civil War, Wilson Bentley was born in Jericho, Vermont. As a young boy he loved snow and began to keep a record of the weather. Studying snow crystals under a microscope, he discovered that each one was unique, with its own shape and design. He […]

Award Winning, Caldecott, Nature, Science, Seasons, Winter
Featured on February 9

Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker

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Today marks the birthday of Jackson Pollock, the American painter born in 1912 in Cody, Wyoming. Killed in an automobile accident in 1956, Pollock struggled with alcoholism and depression and has been the subject of hundreds of adult studies, biographies, and movies. Given his lifestyle, he does not seem a natural subject for a picture […]

Featured on January 28

The Daring Nellie Bly by Bonnie Christensen

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On January 25, 1890, stunt newspaper reporter Nellie Bly arrived in New Jersey, after managing to travel around the world in 72 days. She had set out to beat the record of Jules Verne’s imaginary hero, Phineas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days. This feat was only one of Bly’s accomplishments. In Nellie […]

Adventure, History, Transportation, Women
Featured on January 25

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 Story of Joan of Arc by Maurice Boutet de Monvel

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On January 6, or close to it, in 1412, a peasant girl destined to become a saint was born in Domrémy-la-Pucelle, France. As a teenager, Joan of Arc experienced visions, heard voices, and set out to save the King of France. She delivered Orleans from a siege during the Hundred Years War and paved the […]

History, Middle Ages, Religion/Spirituality
Featured on January 6

The Great and Only Barnum by Candace Fleming

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On January 4, 1838, Charles Sherwood Stratton, probably the most famous small person in history, was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was discovered in 1842 by another resident of the city, P.T. Barnum, and named “General Tom Thumb.” Because the General performed for years for Barnum, the two men are inextricably linked in history. Showman, […]

19th century, Animals, History
Featured on January 4

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! by Jonah Winter
Illustrated by Andre Carrilho

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December 30, 1935, marks the birthday of Sandy Koufax, left-handed pitcher for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. When inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, Koufax became the youngest player to receive that honor. But 1972 happened in the dark ages if you are six to ten. How can a baseball player of that […]

Baseball, Jewish, Multicultural, Sports
Featured on December 30

Ben and Me by Robert Lawson

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On December 28, 1732, the first issue of Poor Richard’s Almanack was advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette. Published from 1733–1758, this brainchild of Benjamin Franklin has been imitated and copied many times. Franklin, like so many of the Founding Fathers, was a Renaissance man—inventor, printer, ambassador, and the delight of the French ladies. He has […]

Animals, History, Mice, Revolutionary War
Featured on December 28

The Wright Brothers by Russell Freedman

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December 17 was declared Wright Brothers Day in 1963 by Presidential Proclamation. Certainly these two Buckeyes, who lived their lives in Dayton, Ohio, have inspired numerous books for children. But the best remains Russell Freedman’s The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane, a Newbery Honor book published two decades ago. Few in the history […]

Award Winning, Flight, History, Newbery, Planes, Technology, Transportation
Featured on December 17

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose


Today has been designated Rosa Parks Day, marking her arrest on December 1, 1955, for refusing to give up her seat on a bus. The incident sparked the yearlong Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott and is considered the beginning of the Modern Civil Rights Movement. But today, because of the research of author Phillip Hoose, we […]

Award Winning, Civil Rights, History, National Book Award, Newbery, Sibert
Featured on December 1

Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin
Illustrated by Wendell Minor

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On November 18 for National Aviation Month, we looked at Almost Astronauts, the story of some of the astronauts who did not make it into space. To round out the month, let’s take a look at a man who actually traveled to the moon. In an autobiography of one of our most accomplished astronauts of […]

Autobiography, History, Space
Featured on November 27

Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Audelaire

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On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln helped dedicate seventeen acres of the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Orator Edward Everett delivered the main speech that day. He spoke for two hours; Lincoln’s short address lasted about two minutes. Although contemporaries thought little of the president’s address, today we consider “The Gettysburg Address” one […]

Award Winning, Caldecott, Civil War, History
Featured on November 19

Jean Fritz by Jean Fritz

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On November 16, 1915, Jean Fritz was born to American missionaries in Hankow, China. She spent the next thirteen years there—and observed another culture while “wondering what it was like to be an American.” Fritz would write about that childhood in the 1980s for her compelling autobiography, Homesick: My Own Story, a Newbery Honor Book, […]

Award Winning, History, Newbery
Featured on November 16

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.