October 18, 2017

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Explore Your World: Social Sciences | Series Made Simple

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Studying the social sciences gives young readers an opportunity to understand and cope with things that occur in their everyday lives. It also helps them relate to their friends, families, and neighbors as they start to realize their role in the world around them. Not only do most of the series offered this season fill curriculum gaps and support Common Core standards (as well as help with those ubiquitous projects and reports), they also present important topics to young readers in engaging, informative, and interesting ways. While the subjects of these titles tackle a multitude of topics—environmentalism, bullying, healthy habits, economics, community helpers, survival—they are all threaded with positive and empowering themes: learning about personal responsibility, helping other people, and becoming productive members of society.

Preschool to Grade 4

Bellisario, Gina. Be Aware!: My Tips for Personal Safety. illus. by Renee Kurilla. ISBN 9781467713511; ISBN 9781467723978; ISBN 9781467725378. LC 2013019755.

––––. Choose Good Food!: My Eating Tips. illus. by Holli Conger. ISBN 9781467713504; ISBN 9781467723947; ISBN 9781467725347. LC 2013014299.

––––. Keep Calm!: My Stress-Busting Tips. illus. by Renee Kurilla. ISBN 9781467713542; ISBN 9781467723930; ISBN 9781467725330. LC 201308077.

––––. Move Your Body!: My Exercise Tips. illus. by Renee Kurilla. ISBN 9781467713498; ISBN 9781467723954; ISBN 9781 467725354. LC 2013011159.

––––. Poison Alert!: My Tips to Avoid Danger Zones at Home. illus. by Holli Conger. ISBN 9781467713535; ISBN 9781467723923; ISBN 9781467725323. LC 201324308.

––––. Take a Bath!: My Tips for Keeping Clean. illus. by Holli Conger. ISBN 9781467713528; ISBN 9781467725361. LC 201308078.

ea vol: 24p. (My Healthy Habits Series). further reading. glossary. illus. index. websites. Millbrook. Apr. 2014. lib. ed. $23.93. ebk. $17.95.

K-Gr 2 –These books present tips for children about how to develop healthy and safe habits. Each story is told from the perspective of a child who is dealing with a specific issue (a picky eater who realizes that he needs to eat more healthy foods, a girl giving her brother advice on staying safe) and shows how he or she learns more about it with the help of friends and family. Though the first-person narratives, which flow easily and contain clear, direct language, are not conventional nonfiction in format, they still convey useful information. Eye-catching full-color illustrations match the text and aid comprehension, while red text boxes emphasize important points. An engaging series that deals with everyday problems kids may face.

Boothroyd, Jennifer. How I Care for My Pet. ISBN 9781467736329; ISBN 9781467736459. LC 2013026970.

––––. How I Do My Homework. ISBN 9781467736336; ISBN 9781467736510. LC 2013028494.

––––. How I Pack My Lunch. ISBN 9781467736350; ISBN 9781467736534. LC 2013031507.

Nelson, Robin. How I Clean My Room. ISBN 9781467736343; ISBN 9781467736497. LC 2013028495.

––––. How I Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. ISBN 9781467736367; ISBN 9781467736435. LC 2013030154.

––––. How We Clean Up a Park. ISBN 9781467736374; ISBN 9781467736473. LC 2013027015.

ea vol: 24p. (First Step Nonfiction–Responsibility in Action Series). glossary. index. notes. photos. Lerner. Apr. 2014. lib. ed. $22.60. ebk. $16.95.

PreS-Gr 1 –These small books won’t take up a lot of shelf space, but they will provide value to your collection. Targeted toward the youngest of readers, these series titles offer step-by-step solutions to specific issues and concerns that children deal with, such as doing homework, cleaning their rooms, and recycling. The first-person narratives draw in readers and make the very simple texts (about one sentence per page) clear and relatable. Full-color photographs that directly match the action assist in reading comprehension. At the end of each book, activity ideas are provided that can help kids make smart choices and help themselves and their communities. A solid way to start kids out on the road to personal responsibility.

Cupp, Dave & Cecilia Minden . Television Reporters. ISBN 9781626870192. LC 2013947295.

Minden, Cecilia & Mary Minden-Zins . Auto Mechanics. ISBN 9781626870093. LC 2013947287.

Minden, Cecilia. Coaches. ISBN 9781 626870109. LC 2013947289.

Minden, Cecilia & Linda M. Armantrout . Dentists. ISBN 9781626870116. LC 2013947288.

––––. Electricians. ISBN 9781626870123. LC 2013947292.

––––. Firefighters. ISBN 9781626870130. LC 2013947291.

––––. Letter Carriers. ISBN 9781626870147. LC 2013947293.

––––. Nurses. ISBN 9781626870154. LC 2013947389.

––––. Pilots. ISBN 9781626870161. LC 2013947390.

––––. Restaurant Owners. ISBN 97816268 70178. LC 2013947294.

––––. Teachers. ISBN 9781626870185. LC 2013947392.

––––. Veterinarians. ISBN 9781626870208. LC 2013947296.

ea vol: 24p. (People in Our Community Series). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. The Child’s World. 2014. lib. ed. $25.64.

Gr 2-5 –Going beyond the “usual suspects” when it comes to community helpers, this series profiles 12 different careers in 12 separate books, which will be sure to help fill in any collection gaps. Simple, clear writing is used to paint a complete picture of the community helpers, who are presented as real people. Stressing “who, what, when, where, and why” questions, the titles describe job responsibilities in particular fields (clothes, tools, work environments, etc.) and the steps that one might have to take in order to enter the field, including any schooling/special training. Full-color photos supplement the text, as do captions and text boxes. At the end of each book, readers will find sections for “Learning more” and “Why Don’t You Try Being….” Not only will these informative offerings help kids with projects about community helpers, but they might also encourage young readers to think about their own future career prospects.

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Donovan, Sandy. Does My Voice Count?: A Citizenship Book. ISBN 9781467713665; ISBN 9781467725224. LC 2013019161.

––––. How Can I Deal With Bullying?: A Book About Respect. ISBN 9781467713627; ISBN 9781467725231. LC 2013010879.

––––. When Is It My Turn?: A Book About Fairness. ISBN 9781467713641; ISBN 9781467725255. LC 2013022634.

Nelson, Robin. Am I a Good Friend?: A Book About Trustworthiness. ISBN 9781467713610; ISBN 9781467725200. LC 2013026105.

––––. Can People Count on Me?: A Book About Responsibility. ISBN 9781467713634; ISBN 9781467725217. LC 2013018367.

––––. How Can I Help?: A Book About Caring. ISBN 9781467713658; ISBN 9781467725248. LC 2013013616.

ea vol: 32p. (Show Your Character Series). further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Lerner. 2014. lib. ed. $26.50. ebk. $19.95.

Gr 1-3 –This ambitious series emphasizes development traits such as responsibility, respect, honesty, and empathy and strives to help kids learn how to be good citizens and improve both their own lives and the lives of those around them. Real-life topics, ranging from the specific (“How can I make sure I don’t forget my band instrument?”) to the general (“Why does everyone need a turn?”), are presented in a clear question-and-answer format that is instructive but not overly didactic. Readers will see examples of how to cope with bullying, be a good friend, become civically responsible, and more. Full-color photos accompany the narratives, while text bubbles provide additional information in an engaging way. Challenging vocabulary words are not differentiated on the page, but important concepts are bolded in red, which might be slightly confusing. A solid series dealing with important subjects for modern kids.

Higgins, Melissa. I Am a Good Citizen. ISBN 9781476540719; ISBN 9781476551753. LC 2013029181.

––––. I Am Caring. ISBN 9781476540702; ISBN 9781476551746. LC 2013029370.

––––. I Am Fair. ISBN 9781476540696; ISBN 9781476551739. LC 2013029995.

––––. I Am Respectful. ISBN 9781476540672; ISBN 9781476551715. LC 2013029994.

––––. I Am Responsible. ISBN 9781 476540689; ISBN 9781476551722. LC 2013029993.

––––. I Am Trustworthy. ISBN 9781476540665; ISBN 9781476551708. LC 2013029991.

ea vol: ed. by Gail Saunders-Smith. 24p. (I Don’t Bully Series). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Capstone. 2014. lib. ed. $21.43. pap. $5.95.

PreS-Gr 1 –This series strives to promote character development and show children at an early age that bullying is unacceptable. The first-person narration from a child’s point of view lessens the didactic qualities of the themes, and the clear, straightforward writing helps make concepts such as fairness, responsibility, and respect easily comprehensible to young readers. There isn’t much text here, but the messages about how to be a good citizen and friend are clear (“I tell the truth. Kids who bully lie.”). Although these are very slim volumes, they are effective ways to make children aware of bullying and its negative effects.

Marsico, Katie. City. ISBN 9781624315640; ISBN 9781624315886; ISBN 9781 624315800. LC 2013025644.

––––. Farm. ISBN 9781624315695; ISBN 9781624315930; ISBN 9781624315855. LC 2013025645.

––––. Fishing Village. ISBN 9781624315657; ISBN 9781624315893; ISBN 9781 624315817. LC 2013028552.

––––. Mining Town. ISBN 9781624315664; ISBN 9781624315909; ISBN 9781 624315824. LC 2013028551.

––––. Small Town. ISBN 9781624315671; ISBN 9781624315916; ISBN 9781 624315831. LC 2013026731.

––––. Suburb. ISBN 9781624315688; ISBN 9781624315923; ISBN 9781624315848. LC 2013028550.

ea vol: 24p. (What’s It Like to Live Here? Series). bibliog. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cherry Lake. 2014. lib. ed. $25.64. pap. $8.95.

Gr 3-5 –With each book written from the perspective of a child living his/her day-to-day life, this series gives an insider’s point of view of six different types of communities. Readers will learn about a variety of topics for each place, such as population, types of homes, activities, responsibilities and chores, and what drives the economy. The structure of the books is designed for easy comprehension: one side of each spread is text, and the other side is a full-page captioned color photo (that mostly matches the texts) with an interactive note urging readers to “ask questions,” “make a guess,” or “think” about the information they are reading. Each title has a contents page, an index, and a glossary (words are bolded throughout the text). This series will be useful for student projects about different kinds of living environments and should also help kids expand their minds about how other people live.

Miller, Connie Colwell. Monster Knows Excuse Me. ISBN 9781479522026; ISBN 9781479529537.

––––. Monster Knows I’m Sorry. ISBN 9781479522019; ISBN 9781479529520.

––––. Monster Knows Please and Thank You. ISBN 9781479522002; ISBN 9781479529513.

––––. Monster Knows Table Manners. ISBN 9781479522033; ISBN 9781479529544.

ea vol: illus. by Maira Chiodi. 24p. (Monster Knows Manners Series). further reading. illus. websites. Picture Window. 2014. lib. ed. $23.99. pap. $5.95.

PreS-Gr 1 –Presenting nonfiction in unconventional formats can be an effective way of making complex concepts easily understandable and relatable to young readers. This series attempts to do so through picture books that feature kid-friendly monsters as protagonists, with rhyming narratives that explore manners, responsibility, and politeness. The idea has child appeal, and the illustrations are colorful and engaging, although the rhyme seems a little forced in parts and often overshadows the points being made. In addition, the use of Dr. Seuss–like nonsensical words is amusing but may be confusing to some children who have comprehension issues (“Teacher asks, ‘What color is flarp?’ A monster blurts out… ‘BLUE. Oops! I should have raised my hand. I’M SORRY. I was rude.’”). Cute and visually appealing, but not a must-buy for nonfiction collections.

Parker, Vic. Breakfast. ISBN 97814329 91166; ISBN 9781432991210. LC 2013015688.

––––. Dinner. ISBN 9781432991180; ISBN 9781432991234. LC 2013015691.

––––. Lunch. ISBN 9781432991173; ISBN 9781432991227. LC 2013015689.

––––. Snacks. ISBN 9781432991197; ISBN 9781432991241. LC 2013015692.

ea vol: 32p. (Healthy Food Choices Series). bibliog. glossary. index. photos. websites. Heinemann-Raintree. 2014. lib. ed. $26.65. pap. $7.99.

Gr 1-3 –With childhood obesity an ever-growing problem, the subject of this series (helping kids make wise choices when it comes to eating) is an important one. The series details different and varied kinds of food for specific times—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack—and shows kids how one meal choice can be more healthful than another, e.g., eating bran cereal instead of sugary cereal. The format is reminiscent of the “Eat This, Not That” series (Rodale), which compares meals in a similar way, and the books also discuss issues such as the downside of processed foods, the problem with too much sodium, the advantages of whole grains, and the importance of drinking water. The language is clear and accessible, while the full-color photos, text boxes, and labels attractively supplement the narrative. A food quiz at the end of each title helps drive the points home. While kids likely don’t have that much control over what they eat in the first place, these volumes may still provide value in helping them change their thought processes and habits when dealing with food.

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Grades 5 & Up

Coster, Patience. Bullied by Girls. ISBN 9780716620730. LC 2013030505.

Green, Jen. Bullied by Groups. ISBN 9780716620747. LC 2013024686.

Regan, Lisa. Bullied to Belong. ISBN 9780716620761. LC 2013024684.

Rooney, Anne. Bullied in Cyberspace. ISBN 9780716620754. LC 2013024680.

Senker, Cath. Bullied by Friends. ISBN 9780716620723. LC 2013030501.

Wolf, Alex. Bullied by Boys. ISBN 9780716620716. LC 2013024681.

ea vol: 48p. (Anti-Bullying Basics Series). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. World Book. 2013. lib. ed. $199 (set).

Gr 6 Up –Bullying is a pervasive problem for modern children. This series identifies six different forms of bullying, and in a straightforward manner offers ways to help readers fight against it themselves and get help if they need it. All angles of bullying are covered, such as the bystander effect, peer pressure, homophobia, cyberbullying, and more. Real-life examples are given, as well as a feature called “Bullying Q&A,” which helps put the issues into relatable context. The books are text heavy, but they are broken down into easy-to-read blocks. Captioned photos of teens help frame the narratives, and text boxes provide supplemental information. This comprehensive, clear look at the causes and effects of bullying would be beneficial to all readers.

Flounders, Anne. Friends in the Wild. ISBN 9781939656414; ISBN 9781939656292; ISBN 9781939656483. LC 2013937160.

––––. Getting from Here to There. ISBN 9781939656421; ISBN 9781939656308; ISBN 9781939656490. LC 2013937161.

––––. Growing Good Food. ISBN 9781939656438; ISBN 9781939656315; ISBN 9781939656506. LC 2013937162.

––––. Healthy Trees, Healthy Planet. ISBN 9781939656445; ISBN 9781939656322; ISBN 9781939656513. LC 2013937163.

––––. Power for the Planet. ISBN 9781 939656452; ISBN 9781939656339; ISBN 9781939656520. LC 2013937164.

––––. Reducing Waste. ISBN 97819396 56469; ISBN 9781939656346; ISBN 9781939656537. LC 2013937165.

ea vol: 32p. (Our Green Earth Series). bibliog. chart. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Red Chair. 2014. lib. ed. $26.60. pap. $8.95.

Gr 4-6 –Environmental issues are a constant and growing concern, so it’s important for children to become aware of how they can become responsible for taking care of the world around them. This series helps achieve that goal by stressing the old adage “reduce, reuse, recycle” as well as by discussing modern concerns and possible solutions to problems like global warming, carbon footprints, dependency on oil, and endangered species. Complex concepts are presented with clear language. Color charts, graphics, text boxes, and photos all work together to provide information in an appealing way. A “Try It Out” project at the end of each volume encourage kids to participate in helpful activities (taking a bus to school, planting a tree) and see with their own eyes how environmental issues can be dealt with. A solid, engaging series that makes the topic interesting and accessible to young readers.

Gagne, Tammy. Immigration in the US. ISBN 9781612284460; ISBN 9781612285061. LC 2013023007.

––––. Your Guide to Becoming a US Citizen. ISBN 9781612284491; ISBN 9781612285092. LC 2013023025.

Leavitt, Amie Jane. US Immigration Services. ISBN 9781612284477; ISBN 9781612285078. LC 2013023008.

––––. US Laws of Citizenship. ISBN 9781612284484; ISBN 9781612285085. LC 2013023020.

ea vol: ed. by Stephanie Kondrchek.48p. (My Guide to US Citizenship Series). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. notes. websites. Mitchell Lane. 2014. lib. ed. $29.95.

Gr 6 Up –The issues of immigration and naturalization are directly relevant to the lives of many children currently living in the United States. These titles offer a look into the services available to those who may wish to earn U.S. citizenship, explain the complicated laws, and provide a history of immigration. In particular, Your Guide to Becoming a US Citizen gives specifics on the actual naturalization process: who is eligible, what forms must be filled out, and how to prepare for tests and interviews. Real people are shown as examples, and photos and text boxes contain context and supplemental facts. However, while the content is valuable, readers might find the presentation daunting; the pages are dense with text, and it is sometimes difficult to wade through to find specific material. Would be good for certain collections, but beware of information overload.

Gagne, Tammy. A Teen Guide to Buying Goods and Services. ISBN 9781612284729; ISBN 9781612285283. LC 2013023028.

––––. A Teen Guide to Earning Income. ISBN 9781612284705; ISBN 9781612285269. LC 2013023026.

––––. A Teen Guide to Protecting and Insuring Assets. ISBN 9781612284736; ISBN 9781612285290. LC 2013023029.

––––. A Teen Guide to Saving and Investing. ISBN 9781612284712; ISBN 9781612285276. LC 2013023030.

ea vol: ed. by Stephanie Kondrchek. 48p. (Practical Economics for Teens Series). bibliog. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. Mitchell Lane. 2014. lib. ed. $29.95.

Gr 6-8 –The subjects discussed here are fundamental when it comes to instilling a sense of fiscal responsibility in today’s young adults. However, because of the presentation and structure of these books, teens likely won’t find themselves engaged with the material. Though the information is solid, the sheer amount of text on the pages is daunting. While the chapters have distinct headings and some pages with full-color photos and supplemental text boxes add variety, the chapters are not subdivided or broken down into sections, making quick browsing difficult. A contents page and an index will help with looking for specific keywords, but even so, the content may seem overwhelming. The series would be useful for specific projects, but it isn’t an essential purchase.

Kenny, Karen Latchana. The Hidden Story of Drugs. ISBN 9781477728031; ISBN 9781477728048. LC 2013021950.

––––. The Hidden Story of Gangs and Crime. ISBN 9781477727997; ISBN 9781477728000. LC 2013022783.

––––. The Hidden Story of Homelessness. ISBN 9781477727973; ISBN 9781477727980. LC 2013021953.

Levete, Sarah. The Hidden Story of Eating Disorders. ISBN 9781477727959; ISBN 9781477727966. LC 2013021951.

––––. The Hidden Story of Family Breakups. ISBN 9781477728017; ISBN 9781477728024. LC 2013021952.

Newell, Ella. The Hidden Story of Alcoholism. ISBN 9781477727935; ISBN 9781477727942. LC 2013021949.

ea vol: 48p. (Undercover Story Series). bibliog. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Rosen Central. 2014. lib. ed. $29.95.

Gr 6-8 –This series explores the causes and effects of serious societal problems that may affect teens and their friends and families. The books use a combination of straight narrative, facts, and realistic examples to explore difficult issues in a way that is accessible to young people. Detailed information is provided, including background material on each subject, signs and symptoms of certain problems (e.g., drug addiction, eating disorders), and how to help someone struggling with the issue. The format is engaging, with easy-to-read blocks of text and supplemental text boxes (though many of the photos are obviously staged). While the writing is mostly clear and concise, there is some unevenness in quality among different authors. Overall, however, these titles will be useful for teens wanting to explore these issues either for school-related purposes or personal ones.

Lusted, Marcia Amidon. Surviving Accidents and Crashes. ISBN 9781467714396; ISBN 9781467725101. LC 2013025292.

––––. Surviving Natural Disasters. ISBN 9781467714389; ISBN 9781467725194. LC 2013021104.

Marciniak, Kristin. Surviving in the Wilderness. ISBN 9781467714372; ISBN 9781467725163. LC 2013022844.

Mooney, Carla. Surviving in Cold Places. ISBN 9781467714341; ISBN 9781467725149. LC 2013019868.

––––. Surviving in Wild Waters. ISBN 9781467714365; ISBN 9781467725187. LC 2013024312.

Newman, Patricia. Surviving Animal Attacks. ISBN 9781467714358; ISBN 9781467725118. LC 2013022636.

ea vol: 32p. (ShockZone–True Survival Stories Series). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Lerner. 2014. lib. ed. $26.60. ebk. $19.95.

Gr 5-8 –This high-interest series provides fast-paced stories of survival in different scenarios and also offers solutions for readers if they ever find themselves facing dangerous situations. Each chapter is a different suspenseful (and true) tale. The narratives are not connected, but they do relate in theme. Though all of the stories in the series end well, there are some mature themes explored. The structure of the books is engaging and allows for easy browsing. Photos, graphics, and information boxes are effectively used to supplement the text. At the end of each book is a “10 Tips” section tailored for different situations. There is no glossary, but difficult words are defined on the pages. Though this entertaining, informative series does not discourage adventure, it reminds readers to use caution and good sense.


The most effective series offered this season combine an interesting interface, engaging narratives, and intriguing topics that are relevant to the lives of children (both in terms of school projects and personal/social development). Bullying came up several times, for various age groups: “Anti-Bullying Basics” gives late tweens and early teens a comprehensive look at the topic, while “I Don’t Bully” and “Show Your Character” both target the younger set. “Responsibility in Action,” also aimed at younger readers, focuses specifically on how kids can help their communities while simultaneously building character. Other series will help students with researching projects: the “Our Green Earth” series is a colorful and thoughtful look at environmental issues, breathing new life into a topic that has been written about for decades. “People in Our Community” presents an interesting examination of community helpers, while “What’s It Like to Live Here?” shows the different types of communities in which they might live. Happy reading!

This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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