JUST LIKE RUBE GOLDBERG: THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF THE MAN BEHIND THE MACHINES, by Sarah Aronson and illustrated by Robert Neubecker, is a fabulous new book about the power of following your dreams, even when others try to steer you astray. Check it out!.Read More
If you are looking for books about strong girls to share with your daughters (and your sons!), you’ve come to the right place. Keep on reading to find a huge list of some of our very favorite children’s books about mighty girls including amazing picture book biographies and anthologies about the strongest, smartest, coolest ladies — both from world history and today!Read More
If your kids love books about strong girls who have overcome considerable odds to achieve lasting success, then you must read this fabulous nonfiction picture book biography, How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine!Read More
Looking for great picture books about Martin Luther King, Jr. to read with children of all ages? Look no further.
I was in Mr. Terry’s seventh grade civics class when I found it. Just weeks away from my Bat Mitzvah, I walked into the crowded classroom, headed to my desk, and sat down to find a note waiting for me. It was a folded up piece of paper, and it had my name, Lauren, scribbled on the front. I remember smiling as I opened it up, because what kid doesn’t love getting notes, waiting with anticipation to discover the sender? But when the paper was spread out in front of me, I inhaled sharply. I vividly remember trying to fight back the tears that flooded my eyes, the fear that paralyzed my body. I recall my hands shaking as I tried desperately to catch my best friend’s attention, all while wondering which of my other classmates were laughing at me as I suffered.
What was inside this awful note? A crude, black swastika.
As a Jewish child, I grew up learning about the evils of religious persecution and racial discrimination, but this was the first time it hunted me down and stared me in the face, the first time I was personally affected by such despicable hatred. This experience left an indelible scar on my heart, right before the momentous day I was meant to rejoice at becoming a Jewish young woman. It was on this day I truly understood that people would engage in abhorrent behavior simply because they don’t like how you look or agree with what you believe.
As you know, sharing #booksforbetter has become a true passion of mine. I love sharing books that help us bridge divides and teach kids that we are all one and the same — all of us human beings with beating hearts and big dreams and a thirst to learn and grow. It has also become important to me to share books showcasing the dangers of hatred — and how love, communication and understanding can help assuage this dark stain on our world.
And so it is that I have always had a deep appreciation for stories about Martin Luther King, Jr. Every time I read about or watched his powerful “I have a dream” speech following that hateful act in civics class, I believed he was also speaking to me, a young Jewish girl seeking to understand why someone would want to hurt me because of my religion, just as people wanted to hurt him because of his skin color. I hoped his vision included a world where black and white children played together alongside children of all other races and religions, too. After all, one of the core tenets of Judaism is to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” a commandment which comes with no qualifications or asterisks. MLK’s words and brave actions in the face of extreme danger gave me hope at a time when I was terrified, hope that we would all — White, Black, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Gay, Straight, you name it — find a way to love one another wholly and unconditionally. His words continue to bring me hope today, especially in light of recent events in our country like the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and the horrific murder of eleven Jews worshiping at Shabbat services in a Pittsburgh synagogue.
While many believe we have made significant progress both as a society and as a country, racial and religious discrimination still lurk behind dark corners. It is sickening — and thus vitally important that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy is taught to and celebrated by children around the globe. Why? Because MLK is a hero to us all, and his legacy will continue to motivate future generations to carry out his great vision. His mighty words can find a home within every person’s heart and soul. They have the ability to inspire each and every one of us to reject prejudice and strive for a society where equality, compassion and respect reign supreme.
I sincerely hope that if you do one thing on Monday, January 21st or during Black History Month this February, you read a story about Martin Luther King, Jr. with your children and students. There are phenomenal picture books about MLK’s life that can be discussed with kids of all ages, and I cannot stress how important it is to share this one lesson with the next generation: Hate is a learned behavior. Only when we listen to one another and embrace our glorious differences can we eradicate hate and replace it with love.
We hope you enjoy these remarkable books as much as we do.
Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by James E. Ransome: I love reading this beautiful book with my youngest students, for it imparts all of the values MLK stood for, without going into the more painful details of his journey. This book encourages a new generation of young people to be kings by emulating MLK’s remarkable character traits and actions. The lovely illustrations show kids how they can reenact his teachings in their own lives by always standing up for peace, breaking the chains of ignorance, and stamping out hatred by putting a foot down and standing tall.
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier: Through his own famous quotes, this beautiful picture book brings MLK to life. Beginning with his life as a young boy and his vow to one day get “big words” like his father, to his death at a garbage worker’s strike, this biography is a fabulous introduction to one of the most prominent voices of the Civil Rights Movement. This is one of my favorite books to read with early elementary students, for its simple narrative that doesn’t stray from the gritty facts but hits all the right notes for younger readers. Age appropriate, powerful, and elegant.
I Have a Dream, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and illustrated by Kadir Nelson: On August 28, 1963, MLK stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. during the March on Washington. It was there he delivered one of the most powerful speeches our nation has ever witnessed. His words from this monumental speech are paired with Nelson’s exquisite paintings, making this a magnificent book to be treasured, memorized and honored for generations to come.
I am Martin Luther King, Jr., by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulous: We absolutely love the Ordinary People Change the World series for the way it tackles big stories and remarkable heroes in a kid-friendly, accessible manner. Through comic illustrations and word bubbles, this story gives voice to MLK as a child, then subsequently showcases his journey to changing the American landscape through peaceful protests and powerful words. This series is a favorite of my students.
As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Herschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom, by Richard Michelson and illustrated by Raul Colon: We all know the story of Martin Luther King, Jr., a black boy who grew up to witness horrifying racial discrimination in America. He became a minister like his father before him, and subsequently rose to become one of the most visible and vital voices of the Civil Rights Movement. Abraham grew up years earlier in Europe, and as a Jewish man, he too, faced atrocious persecution. Abraham fled to America where he became a rabbi, and like MLK, he became a voice for equality. This is the story of how these two remarkable men came together as victims of discrimination, formed an unbreakable friendship, and used their voices to fight for peace and social justice. An extraordinary story, and a favorite to read to tweens.
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Did you like this post? Hooray! Make sure to check these out, too — we think you will love ‘em! Amazing Books for Black History Month, Ten Favorite Books to Evoke Change, and Twenty Picture Books About Amazing Women.
Another year, another incredible array of nonfiction picture books for your youngest readers! The nonfiction picture books for kids released in 2018 were simply unbelievable. The stories were engaging, the facts intriguing, and the illustrations truly remarkable.Read More
Here’s another one of our favorite books about strong girls for your kiddos. We adore this one about a very favorite author of ours here at Happily Ever Elephants!
Another one to add to our collection of books about strong girls! Picture book biographies are flooding our shelves these days, and each one seems to be better than the next. The women and men I have learned about from these books are both inspiring and courageous, and their legacies - their stories of hope and determination and perseverance -- are ones I love to share with my boys and students. But the one I've been most excited about recently is Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Erin McGuire. Because, of course, as cliche as it may sound, To Kill a Mockingbird is my all time favorite book (yes, I still have my original version from 9th grade). And this new biography hit a perfect note - here’s to amazing books about strong girls.
Alabama Spitfire tells the story of Harper Lee, born Nelle Harper Lee, on April 28, 1926 in segregated Monroeville, Alabama. An overall-wearing, tree-climbing tomboy, Nelle would spend afternoons at the courthouse watching her father, an attorney, fight for justice. From him, she learned to fight for what was fair and always took up for the underdog, including her good friend Truman Capote (yes, that Truman Capote!) Nelle and Tru both loved books, and with him, she began to embrace her love for words. What follows is Nelle's evolution from feisty child to famous writer: her move to New York City, her dream of becoming an author, and the events that inspired her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the seminal books of the twentieth century.
Alabama Spitfire is such a phenomenal picture book to pair with any child holding To Kill a Mockingbird in their hands for the first time. It is also a wonderful story of being true to yourself and following your dreams. With famous quotes from To Kill A Mockingbird woven throughout the text, this gem of a book is a testament to the power of words and an ode to the writer whose story become a classic in American literature. Two trunks up!
Looking for more amazing books about strong girls? Check these out!
Want the link? Get it here! Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, by Bethany Hegedus. HEE received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. However, all opinions contained herein are entirely our own.
Is your child an animal lover? One of those who adores the zoo and loves reading and learning about all of nature's biggest and tiniest creatures? If this sounds like someone in your house or classroom, you must check out one of our new favorite non-fiction picture book, Animals Do, Too! How They Behave Just Like You, written by Etta Kaner and Illustrated by Marilyn Fauchner.
In this fascinating book, little ones will learn that animals do many things just like them. Do they like to dance? So do honeybees! Do they love blowing bubbles? So do gray tree frogs! How about jumping on a back for a piggyback ride? Marmosets do that too! This fascinating book presents delightful illustrations of kids and animal alike and provides short but informative explanations as to why the animals behave the way they do. Children and adults alike will marvel at the ways that some of our favorite-- as well as some of the most unusual -- animals engage in the same habits and games as we do. A perfect read aloud for your fact loving family- and a fabulous addition to any of your animal units for those early elementary years.
Want the book? Get it here! Animals Do, Too! How They Behave Just Like You, by Etta Kaner. *This is an affiliate link. Happily Ever Elephants received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are our own.
One of the things I've been passionate about since becoming a mom-- and, more recently, a school library media specialist-- is raising global citizens. In light of the intolerance, hate and divisiveness in the world, I want my children - and my students - to be educated about the world around them and to respect differences. My goal is to nurture empathetic young men and women who embrace every opportunity to build bridges in our increasingly interconnected society.
This is why I fell hard for This is How We Do It, by Matt Lamothe. This is How We Do It tells the story of seven children living in various countries around the world: Italy, Peru, Uganda, Russia, Japan, India and Iran. It is a study in culture, daily routines, family, cuisine, and education, giving kids a peek into the lives of other children abroad: they way they live, the way they go to school, they way they sleep and play and eat.
They say books serve as windows and mirrors, right? Mirrors, because every child should be able to find themselves in a book, and windows because books give us glimpses into the lives of people living oceans away. This is How We Do It is a perfect "window" book, transporting kids around the world and back again, all the while allowing them to see that while the details of our days may differ, we share the same foundations and the same passion for family, friends, education and recreation. This is a multicultural beauty that would be an excellent addition to every school classroom and every family with an eye on introducing kids to multiculturalism and global citizenship.
Want the book? Get it here! This is How We Do It, by Matt Lamothe. *This is an affiliate link. Happily Ever Elephants received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are solely our own.
I've been gripped by Susan Hood's Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, with illustrations by Sally Wern Comport, ever since my first reading of the book. Maybe because it is such a testament to the fact that beauty can be found even in the bleakest of places, but definitely because I'm mesmerized by the devotion and ingenuity of the children in this story and their ability to make something from nothing.
Ada's Violin tells the story of Ada Rios, a young girl growing up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. The community feeds themselves by sorting through the trash that arrives from the capital city of Asuncion, and they make money by salvaging items which they promptly recycle and sell. Ada dreams of music, and when a music teacher by the name of Favio Chavez arrives, he begins to hold music classes for the children in the town. But musical instruments were short, so Chavez and the town's recyclers begin to fashion all sorts of beautiful instruments from the treasures they find in the dump. With their refurbished instruments, tons of dedication, and a whole lot of heart, Ada and the other children form the Recycled Orchestra. Their orchestra eventually garners national and international attention, bringing their music - together with a message of beauty and resourcefulness - to audiences worldwide.
Ada's Violin is a gorgeous work of nonfiction, especially for those of you with older readers at home (the story was a bit too mature for my three year old, but I loved it so much that I couldn't help but review it). The collage illustrations are expressive and beautiful. The extension activities and ideas this book can spark are unquantifiable. But mostly, I love how this story speaks to the heart - to the power of longing and dedication and working towards a goal that will summon light from darkness. There is a transcendent power in music, and Ada's Violin captures this power and runs with it to create such a stunning read. The narrative is steeped in hope, and it conveys the significant message that children have the power to turn their dreams into reality.
Want the book? Get it here! Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, by Susan Hood.
Interested in learning about more #booksforbetter? CLICK HERE!