March 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Keeping It Current: Social Sciences | Series Made Simple Fall 2014

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The study of social sciences and current events is crucial for students. These fields not only align with Common Core State Standards—they reflect and help shape the way we all live our daily lives. Books that deal with current events can be used to personalize complex and challenging issues. The series listed below explore topics familiar to children and young adults. They can help students become more informed, empathetic, and engaged with the world around them as well as broaden their comprehension of their own roles within it.

Preschool to Grade 4

Harper, Leslie. How to Contact an Elected Official. ISBN 9781477766897.

––––. How to Give a Speech. ISBN 9781 477766972.

––––. How to Organize a Rally. ISBN 9781 477766934.

––––. How to Raise Money for a Cause. ISBN 9781477766835.

––––. How to Stay Informed. ISBN 9781 477767016.

––––. How to Write an Op-Ed Piece. ISBN 9781477766859.

ea vol: 32p. (Be a Community Leader). glossary. index. websites. PowerKids. 2014. lib. ed. $25.25.

Gr 3-5 –The youth of today will be the voters and community leaders of tomorrow. In that spirit, this series strives to instill in young readers the skills they’ll need to become engaged, informed, and active citizens. The topics addressed here (such as how a state government runs, how to find valid information online, how to appropriately email an elected official) are ones that may not necessarily be covered in depth elsewhere, and they should help students become aware of their role in their communities and start them on the path to civic awareness. Short paragraphs and clear language, along with a jazzy, eye-catching layout with full-color, captioned photos, make these appealing choices.

Grades 5 & Up

Abramavitz, Melissa. Online Privacy and Health Care. ISBN 9781601526526.

Henderson, Harry. Online Privacy and Government. ISBN 9781601527264.

McDonough, Judy. Online Privacy and Hacking. ISBN 9781601527288.

Mooney, Carla. Online Privacy and Business. ISBN 9781601527240.

––––. Online Privacy and Social Media. ISBN 9781601527301.

ea vol: 80p. (Privacy in the Online World). ebook available. further reading. index. notes. photos. websites. ReferencePoint Pr. 2014. lib. ed. $28.95.

Gr 9 Up –This series covers important and timely topics relating to online privacy concerns and provides information about how people can protect themselves from identity theft and scams (as well as other more general information, including some historical background about the Internet). There is lot of content here, with discussion about how online privacy issues pervade many aspects of our lives; an extensive index will assist with sifting through it all. An “Online Privacy Tips” feature at the end of each book is useful for condensing material. However, like “Cell Phones and Society” (Reference Point Pr.), the books contain huge blocks of dense text, an abundance of footnotes, and a dry narrative style; they also lack relevance for most kids and teens. Though these titles are possibilities for older readers doing in-depth research on online privacy, they aren’t ideal for general purchase.

Allman, Toney. Food in the Schools. ISBN 9781599536040.

Haugen, Hayley Mitchell. Video Games. ISBN 9781599536019.

Mooney, Carla. Recycling. ISBN 9781 599536033.

Parks, Peggy J. Smoking. ISBN 9781 599536026.

Szumski, Bonnie. Cheating. ISBN 9781 599536057.

ea vol: 64p. (Matters of Opinion). bibliog. glossary. index. photos. websites. Norwood House. 2014. lib. ed. $27.93.

Gr 5-9 –In alignment with Common Core standards, this series explores four topics relevant to the lives of young readers with the intention of helping them strengthen their critical reading, argument formation, and essay-writing skills. A clear, engaging narrative presents opposing sides of the issues, and “Examine the Opinions” sections at the end of each chapter pose questions, encouraging students to analyze and form their own arguments. A “Wrap it Up!” section asks students to write a persuasive essay, backing up their opinions with facts, and gives six specific steps for doing so effectively. “Did You Know?” text boxes, along with full-color captioned photos, will keep readers engaged and informed. Students will respond to the interactive elements while learning how to find trustworthy sources and studying the nuances of complicated and controversial issues. Useful titles for provoking independent thought.

Bodden, Valerie. Club and Prescription Drug Abuse. ISBN 9781624034190; ISBN 9781629683089.

Felix, Rebecca. International Adoption. ISBN 9781624034206; ISBN 9781629683096.

Higgins, Melissa. Teen Self-Injury. ISBN 9781624034237; ISBN 9781629683126.

Kenney, Karen Latchana. Teen Pregnancy. ISBN 9781624034220; ISBN 9781629683119.

Lanser, Amanda. Adapting to Climate Change. ISBN 9781624034169; ISBN 9781629683058.

Perdew, Laura. Bullying. ISBN 9781624034183; ISBN 9781629683072.

––––. Internet Addiction. ISBN 9781624034213; ISBN 9781629683102.

Watson, Stephanie. Brain Injuries in Football. ISBN 9781624034176; ISBN 9781629683065.

ea vol: 112p. (Essential Issues Set 4). chron. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. ABDO. 2014. lib. ed. $34.22. ebk. $34.22.

Gr 5-9 –This informative series focuses on eight issues that could negatively affect teens. The texts are both credible and readable: the authors employ an engaging narrative style supplemented by text boxes and footnotes, relying upon both research and anecdotal evidence from teens. An attractive layout, featuring full-color, captioned photos, enhances these books. The series is marred by some flaws, such as problematic phrasing that may alienate readers , and other sections border on the didactic. Overall, though, this is a clearly written and well-organized series.

Byers, Ann. Immigration. ISBN 9781477775127.

Hand, Carol. Abortion. ISBN 9781477775103.

Hollander, Barbara Gottfried. Marriage Rights and Gay Rights. ISBN 9781477775141.

Kemper, Bitsy. The Right to Privacy. ISBN 9781477775066.

Mapua, Jeff. Taxation. ISBN 9781477775042.

Porterfield, Jason. The Separation of Church and State. ISBN 9781477775080.

Wolny, Philip. Gun Rights. ISBN 9781477775165.

ea vol: 112p. (Understanding the United States Constitution). bibliog. further reading. index. photos. websites. Rosen Young Adult. 2014. lib. ed. $34.60.

Gr 7 Up –This series explores the Constitution in terms of how it was created: how it applies to history and current society and how it shapes policy, law, civil rights, and the way we live today. The series highlights seven different subjects that are affected by the way the Constitution is interpreted, with background information and modern-day applications provided. Students will come away with a broad picture of how important the Constitution was and remains. The authors collectively strive to maintain an objective voice, even when dealing with heavily debated topics such as abortion and gun control. Though the books are text heavy in parts, the language is concise and straightforward. Chapters are broken down with clear subject headings and text boxes containing additional information. Overall, a solid series.

Chambers, Catherine. How to Handle Discrimination and Prejudice. ISBN 9781599208275.

Coster, Patience. How to Handle Low Self-Esteem. ISBN 9781599208282.

Head, Honor. How to Handle Bullying and Gangs. ISBN 9781599208251.

––––. How to Handle Cyberbullying. ISBN 9781599208268.

ea vol: 48p. (Under Pressure). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Black Rabbit/Smart Apple Media. 2014. lib. ed. $35.62.

Gr 5-8 –This helpful series explains some challenging issues with which modern teens and kids are often confronted. Students will appreciate the short, easily digestible paragraphs of text and the engaging layout, supplemented by captioned, color photographs and text boxes with features such as “Under Pressure Q&A,” which help contextualize the topics and make them relatable. Practical tips are provided for dealing with problematic situations, and there is an emphasis on personal safety and getting help if necessary. A reassuring tone runs through this series, and readers who find themselves in these situations will come away realizing that they aren’t alone. Useful and relevant books.

Colson, Mary. The Race to Feed the Hungry. ISBN 9781477778463.

Hardyman, Robyn. The Race to Control the Population. ISBN 9781477778500.

––––. The Race to End Epidemics. ISBN 9781477778401.

Hunter, Nick. The Race to Find Energy. ISBN 9781477778425.

Levete, Sarah. The Race to Fix the Global Economy. ISBN 9781477778449.

Royston, Angela. The Race to Survive Climate Change. ISBN 9781477778487.

ea vol: 48p. (World in Crisis). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Rosen Young Adult. 2014. lib. ed. $29.95.

Gr 5-8 –While the title of this series might seem sensational, the subjects covered are ones that readers young and old should be paying attention to. Offering dire yet realistic information about issues such as global warming, world hunger, and pending economic crises, the goal here is to get students thinking about issues beyond their immediate worlds and brainstorming ways in which they can possibly contribute to solutions (or at least raise awareness of the issues). Pages are broken down into easily read paragraphs punctuated by full-color, captioned photos and text boxes that supplement the narrative. Frequent and clearly labeled headings will help students find specific information. An engaging layout and voice further enhances appeal, and readers will find useful facts and arguments for either browsing or more in-depth research. A solid series.

Gagne, Tammy. Helping Our Veterans. ISBN 9781612285726.

––––. Preserving Human Rights Around the World. ISBN 9781612285740.

––––. Support for Education. ISBN 9781612285771.

Kjelle, Marylou. Conquering Disease. ISBN 9781612285764.

ea vol: 48p. (Charity and Philanthropy Unleashed). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Mitchell Lane. 2014. lib. ed. $29.95.

Gr 4-8 –This series discusses different worldwide problems related to human rights and also introduces organizations that were created to assist with these issues. The authors make topics relatable to young readers. These are text-heavy volumes, with some pages broken up by sidebars and full-color captioned photos. A “What you can do to help” page, which outlines what students can do now, is potentially the most relevant section of each book. While the subject matter is indeed important, the information tends to get lost in the dense text. In addition, the writing quality is uneven between volumes. However, as the subjects discussed are of importance and a lot of specific background information is provided, it would be an adequate series for projects involving philanthropy or charity work and for encouraging students to think more globally.

Howell, Sara. Famous Immigrants and Their Stories. ISBN 9781477767504.

––––. First-Generation Americans. ISBN 9781477767474.

––––. Immigrants’ Rights, Citizens’ Rights. ISBN 9781477767399.

––––. The Path to Citizenship. ISBN 9781477767368.

––––. Refugees. ISBN 9781477767412.

––––. Undocumented Immigrants. ISBN 9781477767443.

ea vol: 24p. (The American Mosaic: Immigration Today). glossary. index. websites. PowerKids. 2014. lib. ed. $22.60.

Gr 4-6 –This solid series celebrates the diversity of the United States and explores the contributions immigrants have made to the culture and economy. Giving practical reasons for why the study of immigrant issues are important, the authors strive to put a human face on the subject of immigration and help readers think more deeply about the topics. Using clear, simple language, the series condenses complicated issues into easily understandable parts and provides information on relevant subjects, including how to become a U.S. citizen and the rights of undocumented immigrants. The texts are informative, though never intimidating, and full-color, captioned photos enhance the narratives. A valuable series.

Nakaya, Andrea C. How Do Cell Phones Affect Society? ISBN 9781601526724.

Netzley, Patricia D. Cell Phones: Threats to Privacy and Security. ISBN 9781601526687.

––––. How Do Cell Phones Affect Health? ISBN 9781601526700.

Stewart, Gail B. Cell Phones and Distracted Driving. ISBN 9781601526427.

Wilcox, Christine. Cell Phones and Teens. ISBN 9781601526663.

ea vol: 80p. (Cell Phones and Society). ebook available. further reading. index. notes. photos. websites. ReferencePoint Pr. 2014. lib. ed. $28.95.

Gr 9 Up –This series explores the various ways, both positive and negative, in which cell phones affect society and shape our modern lives and interactions with others. Readers will be drawn in by real-life examples and text boxes with supplemental information and quotes. Research is cited, but some statements that are presented as fact are not always supported. Although there is discussion about how children and teens are influenced by cell phones, particularly in Cell Phones and Teens, these are definitely aimed at high school readers. The large blocks of unbroken text and small type may be overwhelming to reluctant readers. Suitable choices.

Parker, Vic. Let’s Think About Animal Rights. ISBN 9781484602911.

––––. Let’s Think About Sustainable Energy. ISBN 9781484602928.

Raum, Elizabeth. Let’s Think About the Power of Advertising. ISBN 9781484602904.

Woolf, Alex. Let’s Think About the Internet and Social Media. ISBN 9781484602935.

ea vol: 48p. (Let’s Think About). further reading. glossary. index. websites. Heinemann-Raintree. 2014. lib. ed. $32.65.

Gr 4-7 –This series strives to strengthen critical thinking skills by encouraging readers to consider both sides of various issues. The authors present advantages and disadvantages of current and compelling topics, such as the effects of social media, pitfalls of advertising, and pros and cons of animal testing. The language is simple and straightforward, but this series isn’t as engaging as others on the subject, and while it does ask questions (“What do you think?”) and gives five short tips for forming arguments in a “Debate It!” section, it does not go too deeply into rhetorical devices. In addition, the set sometimes makes unsupported claims (such as “Advertising may be partly to blame for the piles of trash in the world’s landfills.”). Not an essential purchase for collections that already cover these topics.

There is no one standout series in this season’s batch, but there are several solid sets that hit the mark in their specific subject areas and will boost collections. Powerkids’ “The American Mosaic: Immigration Today” covers an increasingly relevant topic in an objective, compassionate way. Norwood’s “Matters of Opinion” is a strong choice because of its clear directions and appealing layout. Black Rabbit/Smart Apple Media’s “Under Pressure” will help young readers troubleshoot issues like bullying and low self-esteem. Rosen Young Adult’s “Understanding the U.S. Constitution” would be a great supplement to library collections. Lastly, Powerkids’ “Be a Community Leader” offers new perspectives on how children and young adults can become members of their own communities.

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