Best of 2013 in Print


 Curriculum Connections

 

Best Books 2013         Non Fiction

           Picture Books

     Fiction

 

Picture Book Biographies | Portals to the Past
By Joy Fleishhacker

Well-researched and enlightening, these recently published picture book biographies pair outstanding artwork with stellar storytelling to describe the lives and times of an assortment of noteworthy individuals. Whether written from the viewpoint of a beloved family member, told like a swashbuckling adventure tale, or zeroing in on a particular experience or event, each title takes a unique and creative approach to conveying information. Use them to explore the motivations and accomplishments of remarkable men and women and invite further research, introduce studies of historical periods and social movements, and engender enthusiasm for a literary genre that offers insights about ourselves and the world around us. more›››
 

 

House-Houghton Sweeps 

 

Setting Life to a Soundtrack | New YA Novels
By Amanda Mastrull
Cover of This Song Will Save Your Life
The power of music in people’s lives is not to be underestimated, as the authors of the following three young adult novels deftly show. Many titles for this audience seek to tackle the challenges and changes that come with one’s teenage years, which these books achieve through smart explorations of the main character’s musical expression.

The young adults use their love of music, be it pop or punk or classical, as a means self-discovery and a bridge to connect with others. Each, though facing challenges from bullying to childhood trauma to familial pressure, comes to realize important truths about his or her self—truths which are set to a soundtrack. more››› 

 

 Teddy Roosevelt's 'Mighty Things' | A Conversation with Doreen Rappaport
By Jennifer M. Brown
Cover of To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt
In her writing, Doreen Rappaport champions those who have wrestled with authority figures and great personal challenges—often risking their lives for a greater good. Her book To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt, illustrated by C.F. Payne, joins her other standout picture-book biographies, including Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others on Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. As Rappaport remarked, "I only write about resistance, empowerment, and struggling to overcome obstacles." more›››

 

 From Comic-Book Burnings to Dinosaur Searching | Nonfiction Notes, December 2013
By Daryl Grabarek

It may be difficult to believe the extent to which some adults and the U.S. Government went to correlate comic books to crime, and to try to regulate (and ban) them during the years 1948 to 1955. Or not. In the docu-comic Bad For You, Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham take a look at comics, games, and technology once viewed harmful to children to expose the "fallacies behind the fears." Other titles of note this month cover the search for dinosaur fossils, a meteorite that fell to Earth, and our "Founding Mothers," among others. more›››

 

Inquiry and Integration Across the Curriculum | Secondary Science
By Myra Zarnowski and Mary Ann Cappiello

Steve Jenkins’s book Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution raises two intriguing questions about the millions of plants and animals on Earth: Why have so many forms of life developed? Why have some died out while others survived? These questions are also central to the Next Generation Science Standards’ middle school curriculum for the life sciences.

In this month’s column, we discuss specific nonfiction titles that can be used to investigate these questions about the development of life on our planet, and offer a lesson plan. more››› 

 

Kindness Counts | Great Books for Nurturing Compassion
By Joy Fleishhacker
 Cover of This Song Will Save Your Life

 

These superb picture-book offerings for youngsters about caring and kindness make fitting choices for sharing as we enter the holiday season. Perceptive but never preachy, they also present children with enlightening instances of empathy, generosity, and compassion, demonstrating a standard of positive behavior that will go far in preventing bullying. more››› 

 

Inventions: What’s the Big Idea?
By Steven Engelfried

What does it do? That’s usually the first question we ask about an invention. But that’s just a beginning. We also want to know who made it. And once concocted, what difference did the discovery make in the world? Did it lead to greater independence for women? Or make gold miners less smelly?

The inventors featured in the books presented here range from an innovative Silicon Valley pioneer to the mischievous son of a comic-book superhero. The titles address questions about innovation in a variety of entertaining and informative ways, invite critical thinking and analysis, and incorporate some interesting stylistic approaches—making them excellent choices for a Common Core—or any—curriculum. more››› 

 

 SLJ's Top Ten Apps of 2013
By Daryl Grabarek

Whether it’s happenstance or the fact that digital producers have heeded the call for more nonfiction materials across formats, it’s been a robust year for informational apps. Top developers such as Touch Press continue to create innovative works of stunning quality and depth, and a host of newcomers have joined the game. What follows is a list of some of our favorite productions, selected to represent the range and variety of materials available for children and teens reviewed by School Library Journal since late 2012. more›››

 

Lasso a Daydream | Behind the Books
By Nikki Grimes
Nikki Grimes
Daydreaming becomes a strong muscle if you exercise it often enough. By the time I was ten, I could lasso a daydream and ride the wind. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

There were no lassos where I grew up in the inner city, of course, but there were daydreams to be had, if you knew where to look. That’s the secret I shared with Gabriella, the main character in Words with Wings. Like Gabby, I was a girl who lived inside her head. more››› 
 

 

THE KIRKUS STAR

Awarded to Books of Exceptional Merit

 

Your Common Core Connection

 

Lexile Reading and AR Levels

 

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