April 15, 2014

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The Great War: A Somber Centennial | Focus On


This compilation of fiction and nonfiction titles presents a variety of viewpoints and an array of social, historical, political, and cultural aspects of what was described at the time as the war to end all wars.

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

Tough Stuff: Books to Get Kids Talking About Life Issues| Focus On


A compilation of recommended titles that work well as vehicles for book discussion. The books cover a variety of tough life issues and offer even reluctant readers a chance to discuss characters and their motivations, make connections to plot and setting, and craft some sophisticated arguments and analysis

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

Spotlight on Musicians and Fine Artists | Focus On


Here’s a collection of picture-book biographies that introduces musicians and fine artists to children. The authors and illustrators have created engaging, child-friendly profiles that will hopefully lead readers to explore and seek out other materials about these amazingly talented individuals.

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

Inventions: What’s the Big Idea? | Focus On


The titles included here address questions about inventions in a variety of entertaining and informative ways. They also address the life and times of the inventors themselves, making many excellent choices for Common Core concepts.

This article was published in School Library Journal's December 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Resources and Kid Lit About American Indians | Focus On


From Louise Erdrich’s Chickadee to Eric Gansworth’s If I Ever Get Out of Here, the books on Debbie Reese’s list of titles by Native and non-Native authors, and the accompanying digital and multimedia resources, will enrich and strengthen your library’s collection on American Indian cultures and peoples.

This article was published in School Library Journal's November 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Memoirs: Stories From a Life | Focus On


These first-person narratives introduce readers to the subjects’ lives and experiences and help to preserve history through the eyes of someone who was there. They make for compelling reading—and are great choices for meeting the Common Core requirements for nonfiction.

This article was published in School Library Journal's October 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Children of War: Tales of Child Refugees and Safe Havens | Focus On


A look at the impact of war on young people, this article focuses on children whose parents have been deployed to war zones, those who are refugees, and those who are victims of ongoing conflicts, including child soldiers.

This article was published in School Library Journal's September 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Books to Enhance Class Trips and Learning Adventures | Focus On


The books presented in this month’s collection development column have been selected to support and enhance expeditions to favorite preschool and elementary-aged destinations: farms and other food-producing enterprises; museums (both natural history and art); nature reserves and outdoor-observation areas; community institutions; and zoos and aquariums. A mix of fact-filled offerings and fictional adventures, all of these titles give kids a break from the routine and encourage interactive learning experiences.

Exploring the Universe | Focus On


An assortment of recent books that examine both historical milestones and current research in exploring our solar system and beyond.

Books About Ocean Life and Undersea Exploration | Focus On


A survey of outstanding nonfiction titles about ocean life and food chains and the challenging science of marine exploration.

Humor That is Seriously Funny | Focus On


Writing about humor is a good way to suck all the fun out of it, so please—feel free to skip straight to the booklist.

The Holocaust: Rescue and Resistance | Focus On


Stories of resistance, rescue, courage, ingenuity, and survival are beacons of light amid the dark horrors of the Holocaust. These titles document the events, help to promote understanding, and inspire a new generation of readers.

The 1920′s: The Decade That Roared | Focus On


The books below will effectively sharpen readers’ knowledge and understanding of the Roaring 20′s, from carefully researched nonfiction to perceptive examples of historical fiction.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?: Tales of the Heart


Filled with unlikely but enduring attachments, ostensibly incompatible Romeos and Juliets, and unexpected instances of true animal camaraderie, these books prove that affection can allow individuals to look beyond their differences and forge long-lasting bonds. Use these books to expand Valentine’s Day and friendship storytimes; tease out overarching themes; and initiate discussions of tolerance, compassion, and community.

Books to Celebrate the Everyday Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement

Illustration by James Ransome from This Is the Dream (HarperCollins, 2006).

Fifty years ago this May, people around our country turned on their televisions to the sight of children being viciously assaulted with fire hoses and snarling dogs by uniformed grown men, their faces twisted with hatred. The violence in Birmingham, Alabama, stirred a swelling of national conscience and raised questions demanding an answer: Do we really believe that “all men are created equal”? What would our country look like if we really did? What has to change to make that dream a reality?

Healthy Lifestyles: A Balancing Act | Focus On


It seems as though not a day goes by without the media covering a story about children’s health. Fast-food restaurants decide to list the nutritional information of their entrees. School districts ban soft-drink vending machines in their cafeterias. Childhood obesity is at epidemic levels.

Middle–Grade Fantasy: Believe It! | Focus On

Illustration of knight with dragon

In this Article

On the Web

A visit to the children’s section of any large bookstore might leave the impression that current fantasy consists almost entirely of lengthy Harry Potter or Percy Jackson clones, entries in a trilogy or longer series. Happily, some deeper digging uncovers a wonderful variety of middle grade, stand-alone fantasy novels which exemplify some of the best qualities and possibilities of the genre. While all fiction faces the challenge of making the reader believe in [...]

Nail-biters: Gripping Tales | Focus On

Gripping Illustration


In this Article

On the Web

Just what constitutes a “nail-biter” is certainly open for debate, but librarians know they are highly sought after titles. Suspense and action are two main requisites, and a good thriller is structured to keep readers hanging at the end of almost every chapter, leaving them hungry for more. For those serving reluctant readers, these titles are gold. Fortunately, nail-biters can be found in almost every genre. Since YA lit has been dominated by [...]

Politics: We the People | Focus On

Book Covers

If the pundits and talking heads are to be believed, politics in America is dirty business. Lobbying, partisanship, pork-barrel spending, and mudslinging make up no small part of it. There is much more to politics, though. Beneath the necrotic layers of scandal and corruption are the birth-bright essentials of policy, governance, civics, and people. This collection of books, websites, and films attests to that with content, style, and format that are ideal for children and teens.

Showtime: Theatre | Focus On

Book Covers

In this Article

On the Web

“All the world’s a stage,” proclaims Jaques in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Judging by the numerous sources available for would-be thespians, he knows of what he speaks! With the popularity of Glee and the many versions of High School Musical, it seems clear that, no matter the odds, there will always be a modern-day Mickey Rooney or Judy Garland hustling to put on a show.

What makes the world of [...]