How to Become the Change | Social Justice Series Nonfiction

This season, publishers are enabling youth to make a difference in their world by equipping them with insights into pressing concerns and ways to address them.


This season, publishers are enabling youth to make a difference in their world by equipping them with insights into pressing concerns and ways to address them. These series delve into important and sometimes contentious topics, such as civil rights, politics, and climate change. After delving into these titles, it will be clear to readers that, though they are young, they have the power to create change.



Bashford, Lucy. Extreme Weather.ISBN 9781774768952.
––––. Habitat Loss.ISBN 9781774769034.
––––. Ocean Pollution.ISBN 9781774769942.
Harvey, Sarah. Climate Change.ISBN 9781774768839.
Jones, Kari. Shrinking Wetlands.ISBN 9781774768990.
Lee, Ashley. Air Pollution.ISBN 9781774768877.
ea vol: 32p. (Our Changing Planet). Engage Bks. Aug. 2023. Tr $24.99.
Gr 2-4–This series explains the impact our actions have on the planet. Each book examines a consequence of human activity such as habitat loss and ocean pollution. The first few pages give a general overview of the problem before going deeper into its negative impacts on the planet, animals, and people. Readers will also learn about causes and solutions, as well as read examples of people trying to reverse the damage already done. The pages are filled with images of ecological tragedy and humans trying to find solutions. Most keywords are defined in text boxes. The books end with text-based questions. VERDICT Not as strong as “What on Earth Is...” (Enslow), but this series still covers valuable information.

Collins, Anna. The Life of Osceola.ISBN 9781642825251.
Green, Meghan. The Life of Red Cloud.ISBN 9781642825282.
Lombardo, Jennifer. The Life of Red Jacket.ISBN 9781642825312.
Reynolds, Donna. The Life of Tecumseh.ISBN 9781642825374.
Thorpe, Judy. The Life of Sitting Bull.ISBN 9781642825343.
Washburne, Sophie. The Life of Geronimo.ISBN 9781642825220.
ea vol: 24p. (Heroes of Native American History). Rosen/PowerKids. Aug. 2023. Tr $25.27.
Gr 1-3–Both legendary figures and unsung heroes are featured in this series. Readers learn about Native American leaders who fought valiantly to preserve their communities against government interference. Nearly every individual spotlighted foresaw the danger of signing treaties over ancestral land and battled over the disastrous consequences. Though military prowess contributed to much of the heroes’ statuses, readers will also learn about leaders who were respected for their speech-making skills. Large text appears on a soft, patterned background inspired by Indigenous art. Maps, portraits, and beautiful aerial photos of Native territories can be found throughout the series. Each book has a glossary, additional resources, and an index. VERDICT Informative and easy to read. A worthy resource for libraries looking to beef up their biography sections, especially where there’s a lack of Native American representation.

Holmes, Kirsty. Eat Smart!ISBN 9781534544598.
––––. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!ISBN 9781534544659.
––––. Save Energy!ISBN 9781534544680.
McHale, Brenda. Emissions Mission!ISBN 9781534544628.
ea vol: 24p. (Take Action!). Greenhaven/KidHaven Aug. 2023. Tr $26.23.
Gr 2-4–While some climate series examine large-scale solutions to human-caused climate change, this series focuses on empowering kids to make a difference. It introduces children to manageable actions well within their control, or at least actions they can advocate for with their parents. Authors guide kids toward eating smart by consuming local produce, minimizing food waste, and growing home gardens. The series also emphasizes reducing waste by repairing and upcycling items, as well as cutting emissions through practices like turning off lights and biking. Though children might not wield influence over all these choices, the series prompts them to think about their actions and discuss them with their parents. The pages have a scrapbook-style layout, with bite-size portions of text and large images. The back matter includes a glossary and index. VERDICT Simultaneously empowering and enlightening, this series accurately assigns responsibility for climate change to adults while equipping children with the tools to affect change.

West, Oliver & David West. What on Earth Is Climate Change? ISBN 9781978534322.
––––. What on Earth Is Happening to Our Oceans?ISBN 9781978534353.
––––. What on Earth Is Intensive Farming?ISBN 9781978534384.
––––. What on Earth Is Polluting Our Planet?ISBN 9781978534414.
––––. What on Earth Is Renewable Energy?ISBN 9781978534445.
––––. What on Earth Is Threatening Our Wildlife?ISBN 9781978534476.
ea vol: 32p. (What on Earth Is...). Enslow. Aug. 2023. Tr $26.93.
Gr 1-3–Do not be fooled by the playful fonts and illustrations; this series is deceptively frank and packed with information. Each book tackles one aspect of the climate crisis with colorful graphics to help explain the more scientific ideas conveyed. The author does not sugarcoat the current state of the planet, and neither do the illustrations, which depict dirty water, dead bees, and fish floating belly-up. Readers get the full scope of what human actions are doing to the planet, but possible solutions are also included. Back matter includes a glossary and index. VERDICT This extremely important series is a must for all collections.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Bates, Mary. The Climate Crisis in Hawaii and US Island Territories. ISBN 9781637396292.
Hutter, Carollyne. The Climate Crisis in the South. ISBN 9781637396346.
Katz, Susan B. The Climate Crisis in the West. ISBN 9781637396384.
Kentner, Julie. The Climate Crisis in the Northern Rockies and Plains. ISBN 9781637396315.
––––. The Climate Crisis in the Upper Midwest. ISBN 9781637396377.
Lowell, Barbara. The Climate Crisis in the Ohio Valley. ISBN 9781637396339.
Morris, Heather C. The Climate Crisis in the Southeast. ISBN 9781637396353.
Perdew, Laura. The Climate Crisis in the Northeast. ISBN 9781637396308.
Rossiter, Brienna. The Climate Crisis in the Northwest and Alaska. ISBN 9781637396322.
––––. The Climate Crisis in the Southwest.ISBN 9781637396360.
ea vol: 32p. (The Climate Crisis in America). North Star/Focus Readers. Aug. 2023. Tr $31.35.
Gr 3-6–This series examines the profound impact of climate change on the different regions of America. Each title sets the tone with images and descriptions of ecological disasters like Hurricane Ida, the Mosquito fire, and Hurricane Harvey. The author delineates the regions’ typical climates and the shifts occurring due to climate change. These include hotter temperatures, drying lakes, droughts, and more dangerous storms. The author explains the difference between climate and weather and how human-made climate change creates a chain reaction leading to wildfires and mudslides. The books also describe the impact on the region’s economic welfare. Readers will learn about measures being taken to stop climate change but will notice the lengthy list of solutions not yet being implemented. Back matter includes a quiz, glossary, additional resources, and index. VERDICT Eye-opening and informative. Highly recommended.

Bradford Edwards, Sue. Overturning Roe v. Wade.ISBN 9781637396438.
––––. Voting and Elections.ISBN 9781637396452.
Budd, Anitra. Racism.ISBN 9781637396445.
Head, Tom. Mass Incarceration.ISBN 9781637396421.
Rebman, Nick. Gun Laws in America.ISBN 9781637396407.
Sutton, Patricia. Immigration.ISBN 9781637396414.
ea vol: 48p. (Focus on Current Events). North Star/Focus Readers. Aug. 2023. Tr $34.21.
Gr 5-9–Readers will delve into hot news topics in this series. Each book kicks off with a current news story before diving into the topic’s history, including Supreme Court decisions, legislation, and other pivotal moments. The subject matter is broken down into key points of debate. Voting and Elections thoroughly examines aspects like voter ID laws, gerrymandering, and voter turnout. In Racism, the distinction between interpersonal, institutional, and systemic racism is clarified, along with the consequences of racism in areas such as health care and housing. Overturning Roe v. Wadethoughtfully presents both sides of the debate and their counterarguments. The use of infographics, charts, and maps is particularly effective. Throughout the text, readers are prompted to consider their own perspectives on the material. Back matter includes a quiz, glossary, additional resources, and an index, but no source notes. VERDICT Well laid-out and even-handed, but the lack of source notes is a serious flaw.

Collins, Anna. The Story of the Disability Rights Movement. ISBN 9781502668110.
Green, Meghan. The Story of the American Civil Rights Movement. ISBN 9781502668059.
Holt, Amy. The Story of the Chicano Movement. ISBN 9781502668202.
Lombardo, Jennifer. The Story of the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement. ISBN 9781502668141.
––––. The Story of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. ISBN 9781502668172.
Washburne, Sophie. The Story of the Native American Rights Movement. ISBN 9781502668080.
ea vol: 32p. (The Inside Guide: Movements for Equality). Cavendish Square. Aug. 2023. Tr $30.21.
Gr 4-6–This series sheds light on America’s civil rights movements. Readers explore the conditions that led ordinary people to organize for change and what methods these groups used to achieve their goals. Young readers will recognize intimidation tactics the opposition used throughout the various decades and movements. Half-page gradient boxes provide extra details that give greater context, while text boxes labeled as fast facts list statistics, dates, and locations. Milestone events and famous individuals are highlighted. Each title includes a graphic organizer that starkly visualizes the injustices these movements fight against. Back matter includes a glossary, index, and further reading. VERDICT An excellent series for historical content knowledge and understanding the importance of organizing for change.

Dixon, Jr., Robert P. Black Achievements in Business.ISBN 9781728486659.
Smith, Elliott. Black Achievements in Arts and Literature. ISBN 9781728486642.
––––. Black Achievements in Entertainment.ISBN 9781728486635.
––––. Black Achievements in Music.ISBN 9781728486581.
––––. Black Achievements in Sports.ISBN 9781728486628.
Tyner, Dr. Artika R. Black Achievements in Activism.ISBN 9781728486611.
––––. Black Achievements in Politics.ISBN 9781728486604.
––––. Black Achievements in STEM.ISBN 9781728486598.
ea vol: 32p. (Black Excellence Project). Lerner. Aug. 2023. Tr $30.65.
Gr 4-8–This biography series showcases the achievements of Black Americans. Each book focuses on a field and provides brief biographies of individuals who were early pioneers and those who made an impact in that field. Readers will learn about their contributions to both the Black community and society at large. Each chapter includes reflection questions and text boxes titled “Did You Know?” Back matter includes a glossary, source notes, and “Read Woke” reading list. Libraries in need of research material will be well served by this series. Unfortunately, it reads like a recitation of facts and fails to build any excitement for the subjects of the biographies. VERDICT Purchase only where there is a lack of biographies of Black Americans.


Upper Middle School to High School

Hudak, Heather C. Misinformation, Disinformation, and Censorship. ISBN 9781039815186.
––––. Pandemic Strategies.ISBN 9781039815209.
Hyde, Natalie. International Alliances and Treaties.ISBN 9781039815179.
––––. Nationalism.ISBN 9781039815193.
ea vol: 48p. (Get Informed—Stay Informed). Crabtree Forest. Sept. 2023. Tr $33.27.
Gr 6-9–This informative series presents a wealth of information in easily digestible subtopics while also encouraging independent research. It brings readers up to date with background information before delving into the current status of the issue, offering short yet informative insights. Visual aids include charts, graphs, and maps. Text boxes feature pertinent vocabulary, quotes, and thought-provoking questions that stimulate critical thinking. In addition, the text provides strategies for readers to stay informed on the topic even after reading. Back matter includes a glossary, additional resources, source notes, and an index. VERDICT This series is informative yet acessible. It not only teaches the content, but also how to interact with it. Highly recommended.

Mooney, Carla. Exploring Solutions: Online Disinformation and Misinformation. ISBN 9781678205508.
Nardo, Don. Exploring Solutions: Climate Change.ISBN 9781678205423.
Stephan, Jennifer. Exploring Solutions: Gun Violence.ISBN 9781678205461.
ea vol: 64p. (Exploring Solutions). ReferencePoint Pr. Sept. 2023. Tr $32.95.
Gr 6 Up–Some societal problems seem insurmountable. This series examines a few such problems and explores potential solutions. Each book begins with an analysis of the topic and the damage it causes to individuals and society, including examples in recent history. A number of solutions are offered, such as using AI to combat the spread of misinformation or switching to renewable energy to fight climate change. But the downside to each solution is also thoroughly laid out. Readers are left with the opportunity to compare the intent of the plan versus weaknesses. Large images break up the text and brightly colored text boxes feature quotes and extra information. Source notes and additional resources are included. VERDICT Well considered and laid out, this series provides helpful research material.


Reading about Black pioneers in the “Black Excellence Project” (Lerner), fighters in “Heroes of Native American History” (Rosen), and civil rights icons in “The Inside Guide: Movements for Equality” (Cavendish) will pave the way for students to find their own voice to combat the societal ills presented in “Focus on Current Events” (North Star), “Get Informed—Stay Informed” (Crabtree), and the numerous climate change offerings available this fall.



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