Tag Archives: children’s nonfiction

Join the No-Plastic Challenge!, by Scot Ritchie

Join the No Plastic ChallengeNick and his friends live by the seashore, and today they are going to have a picnic for Nick’s birthday. Unfortunately, they have seen the devastation that single-use plastics are causing for the land and animals around them, so they are attempting to have an outing without using any plastic. This diverse group of kids spends time in a home, a store, a fast-food restaurant, and the outdoors, offering elementary-school level information and suggestions for alternatives.

Although most people are unaware of how terribly severe this problem is, the positive tone of this title will motivate readers from knowledge into action. Plastic bags, disposable water bottles, and other single-use plastics are ending up in the stomachs of birds and fish, as well as other animals, and when we eat them, we ingest microplastics, too. As noted in the book, “every piece of plastic ever made is still around today!” (p. 22) However, the book’s goal is not to induce guilt, but rather to change habits. After describing the manufacturing process to produce plastic, the author notes the many excellent uses of plastic, particularly in medical needs. He even points out that some people with disabilities depend on plastic straws for drinking, removing some of the hysteria over plastic straws.

Ritchie gives many child-sized recommendations for alternatives to single-use plastics, and as an adult, I continued with online research, as well. We have been recyclers for decades, but I am concerned with the amount of plastic packaging we receive that cannot be recycled. After reading this book, I ordered a set of mesh bags for buying produce at the grocery store. Along with our canvas shopping bags, it’s one small step that we can take to reduce the growing demand for single-use plastics. Reading this book will help your kids to start thinking about conservation, but it will also cause the adults in the room to become much more aware of the ubiquity of plastic in our lives, and awareness is the first step to solutions.

Remember the Jeopardy champion who said that his secret to success was reading children’s books? As someone who selects children’s nonfiction for a large library system, I couldn’t agree more. We are all seriously fascinated by a few subjects, but we have a lively interest in hundreds more! Life is too fun and too short to be a world-renowned sage on all things. Well-written children’s nonfiction fills this gap perfectly. In addition to this book, also check out You Are Eating Plastic Every Day: What’s in Our Food?, by Danielle Smith-Llera.

If it can cause each reader to make one small change for the better, Join the No-Plastic Challenge is very highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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The World Jesus Knew, by Marc Olson

World Jesus KnewHow could they light lamps in the Bible if there was no electricity? Why were there Roman soldiers when they were in Israel? Did Jesus read the Bible, too?

Christian parents want to read scripture to their children, but we live in such different times that the New Testament is often hard to understand. If we want to reap the greatest benefits from our reading, a broad understanding of Middle Eastern culture in the first century is a big boost. This large-format volume, subtitled A Curious Kid’s Guide to Life in the First Century, is thoroughly illustrated and directed to upper elementary and middle school kids, although adults may find new nuggets of information here, too. Each chapter is a two-page spread explaining one topic, such as first-century clothing, the Jewish calendar, the Temple, crucifixion, the role of women, occupations, and much more. An introduction with a timeline and map sets the stage, and the small font throughout packs in a lot of text. Despite the serious subject matter, Marc Olson writes in everyday language with even a hint of humor at times. This book has been chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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13 Architects Children Should Know, by Florian Heine

13 ArchitectsSometimes, all you need to know is in a children’s book. I have often been interested in a famous person of the past, only to find a shelf full of 800-page tomes about him at the library. I don’t need to know about his grandparents, I don’t want to read all of his letters or diary entries, and I don’t care how often he changed his socks. I just want to know why this person is famous, and why I should care.

Children’s nonfiction is excellent for this— plus, it usually has better pictures. 13 Architects Children Should Know is a great example. On two- or four-page spreads for each architect, it takes the reader from Brunelleschi to Zaha Hadid, showing clear photos of their work and explaining how each one heralded a change in the world’s understanding of architecture. There are also small pictures of the details of their buildings that seem so ordinary now, but at the time were amazing and brilliant.

Love Palladian windows? You can thank Andrea Palladio, from the sixteenth century. Thomas Jefferson, who seems to have done everything well, rebuilt and remodeled his beloved Monticello all of his life. I learned about Antoni Gaudi in a teen novel about Barcelona. I think his buildings look like a dream, but some people think they look like nightmares. Frank Lloyd Wright somehow built Fallingwater so that it won’t actually fall into the water, which it constantly threatens to do. Architect Frank Gehry made a guest appearance on The Simpsons to talk about his buildings, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which looks as if it is taking off for outer space. So many treasures in the world!

Happily for you, this book is part of a series by Prestel Publishing, including 13 Artists Children Should Know, 13 Buildings, 13 Sculptures, and so on. Click on the link to see them all. Very enlightening for adults looking for a quick art history brush-up, as well!

Recommended.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own, and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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