History & Historical Fiction
March is Women’s History Month, so I am highlighting books about women and their roles in history and the world today. Though I hope that young readers are exposed to books about a variety of people and places all year long, the focus of a history month provides an opportunity to pay closer attention to groups of people who have been underrepresented in literature and the study of history. As usual, I had a hard time choosing my favorite books for this theme, so instead I’ve selected titles that exemplify a few of the ways women’s stories can be presented.
Books that contain a collection of profiles or short biographies can be a great way to learn a little bit about several people in a short amount of time and are also helpful in gaining a big-picture view of what that group of people have in common. Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, both by Kate Schatz, present short profiles of women from history and today who have made an impact in their professions, their countries, or the world. Some of the women, such as Sonia Sotomayor, Nellie Bly, and Malala Yousafzai, are fairly well-known, but many are not, a reminder to readers that women have often made significant contributions that have gone unrecognized.
Leo Dillon was fascinated by Diane Sorber before he ever laid eyes on her. It was one of her paintings that caught his attention. For he did not know of any other student who had that deft, expressive technique. He was curious and a little jealous. He had a rival, and he knew it.
Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Rappahannock Reads runs throughout the month of February and is an opportunity for everyone in the community to read and discuss the same book. CRRL’s 2017 Rappahannock Reads title is Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly, which tells the true story of the African American female mathematicians who went to work as “human computers” at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in Hampton, Virginia, during World War II.
James was a slave in Virginia when the American Revolution began. Wanting to earn his freedom while helping the new country, he volunteered for the Revolutionary Army, with the promise of his freedom at the war’s end—if the Americans were victorious.
He was assigned to work for the young and brilliant French commander who was helping George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette had a special job for James. He wanted him to become a spy. James agreed and appeared at a British camp in tattered clothes, asking for work. The British, discovering how clever James was, asked him to spy for them!
Poems by Cynthia Grady with illustrations by Michele Wood
Cynthia Grady and illustrator Michele Wood have crafted a book to share with children where each poem, together with its picture, is a thoughtful illumination of some aspect of slaves’ experiences.
"I was unhappy for a long time, and very lonesome, living with my grandmother. Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books — where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas." (From The Big Sea, one of Hughes’ autobiographies)
The ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) media awards are announced every January during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. Read about the winners and honorable mentions below. The Youth Media Awards, announced in January include several awards for teen literature as well.
2017 Newbery Medal Winner
The Newbery Medal is awarded for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature the previous year.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. The acclaimed author of The Witch's Boy has created another epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to become a modern classic.
This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.
Elizabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor by Kathryn Lasky
In a series of diary entries, Princess Elizabeth, the eleven-year-old daughter of King Henry VIII, celebrates holidays and birthdays, relives her mother's execution, revels in her studies, and agonizes over her father's health. (catalog summary)
Check out these other Royal Diaries titles:
Anacaona, Golden Flower by Edwidge Danticat
Beginning in 1490, Anacaona keeps a record of her life as a possible successor to the supreme chief of Xaragua, as wife of the chief of Maguana, and as a warrior battling the first white men to arrive in the West Indies, ravenous for gold. (catalog summary)
Anastasia, the Last Grand Duchess by Kathryn Lasky
A novel in diary form in which the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II describes the privileged life her family led up until the time of World War I and the tragic events that befell them. (catalog summary)
It’s the early 20th century, and Molly and her family have moved to the small town of Winter Hill from New York City. In the city, there were many immigrants like themselves, but, in Winter Hill, Molly is constantly teased by her classmates for the way she looks, talks, and dresses.
Everything is new to her, and some days are very hard. When the teacher gives the class an assignment to make a pilgrim doll from a clothespin, Molly’s mother helps her make it, but it doesn’t look like the others. The doll looks like a member of Molly’s family because Molly’s mother knows they are pilgrims, too. As Jews, they faced danger when they were no longer allowed to live peacefully in Russia because of their faith—much like the pilgrims leaving England for the New World.
This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse other book matches here.
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father--the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids. (catalog summary)
If you like Bud, Not Buddy, check out these other book titles:
Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine
When his father dies, Dave knows nothing will ever be thesame. And then it happens. Dave lands in an orphanage—the cold and strict Hebrew Home for Boys in Harlem—far from the life he knew on the Lower East Side. But he's not so worried. He knows he'll be okay. He always is. If it doesn't work out, he'll just leave, find a better place to stay. But it's not that simple. Outside the gates of the orphanage, the nighttime streets of Harlem buzz with jazz musicians and swindlers; exclusive parties and mystifying strangers. Inside, another world unfolds, thick with rare friendships and bitter enemies. Perhaps somewhere, among it all, Dave can find a place that feels like home. (catalog summary)