Holidays, Food, and Fun | Social Science Series Nonfiction

Information and ideas about how we can act, as communities and individuals, for a better and cleaner world can be found in this season’s social justice selections.



Global diversity takes center stage in this season’s social science series. These captivating books not only explore a range of countries, cultures, and political practices, but provide valuable insights into holidays, culinary traditions, and festivals around the world. Whether for research material or simple curiosity, there is something here for a wide range of readers.



AMSTUTZ, Lisa, J. Wesak. ISBN 9780756576905.
FOXE, Steve. Pride Month. ISBN 9780756576950.
––––. Valentine’s Day. ISBN 9780756576943.
KOSTER, Gloria. Passover. ISBN 9780756576929.
MANSFIELD, Nicole A. Easter. ISBN 9780756576912.
RAMKUMAR, Ranjeeta. Holi. ISBN 9780756576936.
ea vol: 32p. (Traditions & Celebrations). Capstone/Pebble. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.32.
Gr 1-3–Vibrant photos transport readers around the world as they explore special celebrations observed by people from various faiths and cultures. To ensure a clear understanding of the holidays, the authors provide detailed histories leading up to the observance, including the stories of Passover and Siddhartha, and others. The books vividly describe how these holidays are celebrated in diverse locations, highlighting the variations in observance. Students will discover that even holidays they observe can take on a different appearance in another country. Readers will then delve into the numerous traditions associated with each holiday. The back matter includes a glossary, additional resources, and an index. VERDICT Eye-catching, informative, and celebratory. Recommended.

ANDREWS, Elizabeth. Bon Festival. ISBN 9781098245344.
––––. Diwali. ISBN 9781098245351.
––––. Earth Day. ISBN 9781098245368.
––––. Easter. ISBN 9781098245375.
––––. Hanukkah. ISBN 9781098245382.
––––. Spring Equinox. ISBN 9781098245399.
ea vol: 32p. (Cultural Celebrations Set 2).ABDO/DiscoverRoo. Jan. 2024. Tr. $32.79.
Gr 3-5–This series explores both secular and religious celebrations. Each book kicks off with a short, engaging story of a child eagerly preparing for the holiday festivities, setting the tone with anticipation for music, food, and activities. Following this, a concise history section delves into the holiday’s origin and the migration of beliefs. The subsequent chapters focus on how people currently celebrate, covering preparations, traditional foods, music, and activities. Visuals like maps, timelines, and infographics, along with highlighted vocabulary words, enhance the text. QR codes connect readers to videos, links, and activities. The back matter includes text-related questions, a glossary, and an index. VERDICT A well-rounded exploration of diverse celebrations.

COLLINS, Anna. Kenya. ISBN 9781502669964.
LOMBARDO, Jennifer. Australia. ISBN 9781502670021.
––––. Italy. ISBN 9781502669933.
PIERCE, Simon. South Korea. ISBN 9781502670052.
REYNOLDS, Donna. Zimbabwe. ISBN 9781502669995.
WASHBURNE, Sophie. Afghanistan. ISBN 9781502669902.
ea vol: 32p. (Exploring World Cultures (Second Edition)). Cavendish Square. Dec. 2023. Tr. $31.64.
Gr 3-5–This offering from Cavendish Square complements their “Cultures of the World” series, written at a lower reading level for younger readers. It follows a similar structure, examining the nations’ geography, economy, and government in the first half, followed by an exploration of cultures, including sections on fun and play, arts and festivals, and food. The pages come alive with captivating images of currency, food, people, and landscapes, accompanied by informative captions and fact boxes. The back matter features a glossary, an index, and additional resources. VERDICT A thorough study of world cultures.

FINN, Peter. What Is Civics? ISBN 9781499443837.
––––. What Is Culture? ISBN 9781499443868.
––––. What Is Economics? ISBN 9781499443899.
––––. What Is Geography? ISBN 9781499443929.
––––. What Is Government? ISBN 9781499443950.
––––. What Is History? ISBN 9781499443981.
ea vol: 24p. (Social Studies Matters!). Rosen/PowerKids. Dec. 2023. Tr. $25.27.
Gr 1-3–Citizenship is a responsibility, and this series provides young citizens with an early education in the essential knowledge they will need. The books explain the importance of various topics by demonstrating how they impact our lives. While subjects such as history, economics, and geography may initially appear mysterious and distant to a young child, the author effectively builds a case for their relevance to every life. Each chapter is succinct and complemented by a large photo. Vocabulary words are highlighted in bold for easy reference. The back matter includes a glossary, additional resources, and an index. VERDICT This topic remains important, and the content is presented in a straightforward, easy-to-understand fashion. Recommended.

GOLKAR, Golriz. Foods from Italy. ISBN 9781503885325.
––––. Foods from Mexico. ISBN 9781503885271.
HALE, K. A. Foods from Germany. ISBN 9781503885349.
KEHOE, Rachel. Foods from China. ISBN 9781503885288.
SHAW, Mary. Foods from India. ISBN 9781503885295.
––––. Foods from Ukraine. ISBN 9781503885332.
VENTURA, Marne. Foods from Cuba. ISBN 9781503885318.
––––. Foods from Nigeria. ISBN 9781503885301.
ea vol: 24p. (Foods around the World). Child’s World/Wonder. Jan. 2024. Tr. $32.79.
Gr 3-5–This delectable series beckons readers to embark on a culinary journey to explore diverse world traditions. Each title showcases three recipes, typically featuring two savory dishes and one dessert. Before delving into the recipes, readers are introduced to the nation’s geographic location, climate, and the role of food in its culture. The authors weave interesting facts about the featured foods and their preparation methods. For instance, did you know borscht has been enjoyed in space since the 1960s? Or that mole can take up to three days to cook? The series also incorporates cooking techniques and ingredient variations, enhancing the already mouth-watering descriptions. The back matter includes a recipe, a phonetic glossary, additional resources, content-related questions, and an index. VERDICT A culinary treat for young chefs.

PHILLIPS-BARTLETT, Rebecca. Animals. ISBN 9781534546158.
––––. Buildings. ISBN 9781534546189.
––––. Food. ISBN 9781534546219.
––––. Sports. ISBN 9781534546240.
ea vol: 24p. (Our Wonderful World Of…). Greenhaven/KidHaven. Dec. 2023. Tr. $26.23.
Gr 1-3–This book series offers a lively exploration of the world through an examination of animals, sports, food, and landmark buildings. Each tour includes eight countries with cartoon guides leading the way. Large images and interesting facts keep the energy level high and interest piqued. Landscape illustrations serve as a background. Maps are provided at the beginning and end of the books. Vocabulary words are underlined. The back matter includes a glossary and an index. Overall, the book series is an engaging and informative read that is sure to delight inquisitive young readers. VERDICT A unique celebration of diversity in the world.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

FELDSTEIN, Stephanie. How Agriculture Changed the World. ISBN 9781668938003.
––––. How Digital Communications Changed the World. ISBN 9781668938010.
––––. How Energy Changed the World. ISBN 9781668938027.
––––. How Fast Fashion Changed the World. ISBN 9781668938034.
––––. How Pets Changed the World. ISBN 9781668938041.
––––. How Plastic Changed the World. ISBN 9781668938058.
ea vol: 32p. (Planet Human). Cherry Lake. Jan. 2024. Tr. $32.07.
Gr 4-6–This series starkly emphasizes the environmental toll of human activity, focusing extensively on the devastation caused by agriculture, communications, energy, fashion, and plastics. Children will even learn how their pens are harming the planet. Unlike other hopeful climate narratives, this collection centers predominantly on the challenges. While acknowledging changemakers and potential solutions, the overall tone is sobering. The visually striking pages, composed of large photos and a vibrant layout, contribute to the impactful presentation. The back matter includes an activity, a glossary, additional resources, and an index. VERDICT There are many climate series this year, consider alternatives if looking for a series that leave children with a more optimistic perspective.

BODE, Heather L. Indigenous Peoples’ Day. ISBN 9781098292614.
CLINCH, Shasta. Juneteenth. ISBN 9781098292621.
CRAWFORD, Bev. Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. ISBN 9781098292638.
KAISER, Emma. Christmas. ISBN 9781098292584.
LEE, Jean Kuo. Chinese New Year. ISBN 9781098292577.
MARGITICH, Hilary. Rosh Hashanah. ISBN 9781098292645.
MEMTOMBI, R. K. Diwali. ISBN 9781098292591.
WILLIAMS, Haley. Halloween. ISBN 9781098292607.
ea vol: 48p. (History of Holidays and Festivals). ABDO/Core Library. Jan. 2024. Tr. $35.64.
Gr 4-8–Young readers are treated to a thorough history of many of America’s popular celebrations. Each title answers the basic questions a novice researcher or curious mind would ask about a holiday. When did it start? How is it celebrated? Why is it important? A detailed history of each holiday is provided, along with vivid descriptions of traditional clothes, foods, dances, and activities. Readers will be able to trace the evolution of traditions through generations. Sprinkled throughout the text are primary source quotes and chapter questions that ask readers to put into practice strategies for reading informational text. The books conclude with a timeline, a glossary, an index, links to the publisher’s online resources, and critical thinking questions with writing prompts. VERDICT A strong presentation of research material with the added benefit of built-in information literacy exercises.


Upper Middle School to High School

HAYNES, Danielle. Iraq. ISBN 9781502669810.
KENNON, Caroline. Israel. ISBN 9781502669834.
KEPPELER, Jill. Iran. ISBN 9781502669797.
MORLOCK, Rachael. Egypt. ISBN 9781502669759.
NEVINS, Debbie. Saudi Arabia. ISBN 9781502669858.
SHEA, Therese M. Canada. ISBN 9781502669773.
ea vol: 144p. (Cultures of the World (Fourth Edition). Cavendish Square. Dec. 2023. Tr. $49.21.
Gr 6-9–This series is a comprehensive resource for researchers, offering a one-stop exploration of each nation. Divided into 13 chapters covering aspects like geography, history, government, economy, and more, the books provide nuanced insights. Readers delve into topics such as Canada’s Indigenous people and Iraq’s economic dependence on oil. The latter half focuses on the nations’ cultures, bringing subjects to life with details like Egyptian coffeehouses and popular sports in Iran. Each chapter concludes with links for more information, and the well-organized layout includes photos, fact boxes, maps, timelines, glossaries, indices, and additional resources. VERDICT A valuable tool for in-depth understanding. Purchase where research material is required.

“History of Holidays and Festivals” (ABDO/Core Library), “Cultures of the World”(Cavendish Square), and “Exploring World Cultures” (Cavendish Square) offer comprehensive, up-to-date research material for school libraries. “Cultural Celebrations” (ABDO/DiscoverRoo) and “Traditions & Celebrations” (Capstone/Pebble) provide vibrant explorations of special days. “Foods around the World” (Child’s World/Wonder) will appeal to any young culinary enthusiast. These series will leave children with a greater appreciation of the diversity of cultures.


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