Investigating Our World | Social Science Series Nonfiction

Each stage of life brings new challenges and these series are available to help children approach them with understanding and excitement.


Each stage of life brings new challenges, and these series are available to help children approach them with understanding and excitement. This season, young readers can learn about kindness, school, and their community and the places in it. Older readers can challenge conspiracy theories and learn life skills. Overall, these series help students interact with the people and the world around them.



Anthony, William. Building Places to Explore. ISBN 9781534540996.
––––. Building Places to Learn. ISBN 9781534541030.
––––. Building Places to Play. ISBN 9781534541078.
––––. Building Places to Shop. ISBN 9781534541115.
ea vol: 24p. (Community Helpers and Builders). Greenhaven/KidHaven. Aug. 2022. Tr. $25.60.
K-Gr 2 –Young readers contemplate the places in their towns while reading this series. Each book opens with an empty map waiting to be filled with places to explore, play, learn, or shop. Every chapter introduces a new building, its function and why it is needed. These could be a grocery store, a gym, or even a hedge maze. After each building is added, the map fills in, giving this series a unique interactive feel. The illustrations are charming and make this a delight to read. At the end of the story, kids are asked to draw their own map. The back matter includes a glossary and index. ­VERDICT The subject of this series easily leads to a wide variety of vocabulary words. The fact that it is cute and fun to read is a bonus. Recommended.

Bureau, Vicky. Maevis Follows the Rules. ISBN 9781638974598.
––––. Maevis Has Good Attendance. ISBN 9781638974604.
––––. Maevis Is Kind. ISBN 9781638974635.
––––. Maevis Minds Her Manners. ISBN 9781638974581.
––––. Maevis Shares. ISBN 9781638974628.
––––. Maevis Takes Turns. ISBN 9781638974611.
ea vol: 24p. (Manners Matter to Maevis). Crabtree/Seahorse Publishing. Sept. 2022. Tr. $27.93.
K-Gr 2 –Maevis the unicorn goes to a school with other fantastical creatures. Her classmates are a cyclops, a fairy, and a ­mermaid. Each book describes good ­manners and how Maevis demonstrates them in school. She is kind to classmates, shares with others, and follows the rules. The ­illustrations have a dream-like softness with pale and bright colors intermixed. While most of the text is easy to read, headings are written in script and could confuse early readers trying to follow along. All of the characters are non-human, including one male centaur teacher who does not wear a shirt. Young readers might be startled by the appearance of a half-naked teacher. Each book includes tips for parents and teachers, a glossary, an index, and comprehension questions. VERDICT While some of the illustration choices are questionable, young children will enjoy learning about manners from a unicorn. Additional selection.

Gates, Margo. The 100th Day of School. ISBN 9781728459288.
––––. The First Day of School. ISBN 9781728459271.
––––. The School Bus. ISBN 9781728459301.
––––. The School Library. ISBN 9781728459295.
––––. School Recess. ISBN 9781728459325.
ea vol: 24p. (Read about School (Read for a Better World ™)). Lerner. Aug. 2022. Tr. $27.99.
K-Gr 2 –New learners will enjoy the conversational tone of this introductory series about school. Written by certified literacy specialists, each book is designed to help educators and readers get the most value out of the text. The titles begin with a ­section called “Educator’s Toolbox,” which helps tap into readers’ prior knowledge and prepare them for the information on the pages. The text is presented in a clear, bold font adjacent to bright images. Questions are scattered throughout the pages to engage students. For example, they are asked to think about what their friends like to do or why they think some libraries are quiet. The text is followed by a section called “You Connect,” which includes more questions to build reader confidence. Back matter includes a photo glossary, ­index, and further reading. VERDICT Reader engagement and relatable subject matter make this a great selection for young students.

Schuh, Mari. Dana’s Visit to the Doctor. ISBN 9781636909219.
––––. Diego’s Visit to the Dentist. ISBN 9781636909240.
––––. Fiona’s First Day of School. ISBN 9781636909271.
––––. Nasir’s New Sister. ISBN 9781636909301.
––––. Rya’s First Recital. ISBN 9781636909332.
––––. Sammy’s First Sleepover. ISBN 9781636909363.
ea vol: illus. by Daniela Massironi. 16p. (First Experiences). Jump!/Grasshopper Books. Aug. 2022. Tr. $26.99.
PreS-Gr 2 –This adorable series will help young children overcome their fear of new situations. Each book is narrated by a child facing an unfamiliar experience. They express their feelings to a parent and receive advice to help them cope. In the end they discover that there was nothing to be afraid of after all. The books begin with techniques parents and teachers can use before, during, and after reading to guide the student developing their reading skills. Following the text is a review question and picture glossary. VERDICT Simple, joyful illustrations and hopeful stories make this a good choice for reading practice and preparing for those scary first experiences.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Thompson, V. C. Civilization Was Reset. ISBN 9781668909485.
––––. The Earth Is Flat. ISBN 9781668909447.
––––. The Illuminati Controls Everything. ISBN 9781668909508.
––––. The Moon Landing Was Fake. ISBN 9781668909454.
––––. The Reptilian Elite Rule Us. ISBN 9781668909478.
––––. The Simpsons Predict the Future. ISBN 9781668909430.
––––. Time Travel Is Real. ISBN 9781668909461.
––––. We Live In an Alternate Universe. ISBN 9781668909492.
ea vol: 32p. (Conspiracy Theories: DEBUNKED). Cherry Lake. Aug. 2022. Tr. $32.07.
Gr 5-8 –The world is awash in conspiracy theories these days and some are even being prodded along by politicians and celebrities. This helpful series explains how to identify a conspiracy theory and objectively examine it for truth. Each book breaks the conspiracy into supporting arguments and opposing evidence. The final chapter is the verdict which brings all the evidence together to rationally debunk the theory. Believers of the theories are not belittled and no judgment is made about them or their beliefs. Within each chapter a section titled “Spotlight” highlights important ideas like blind spots, the Socratic Method, and confirmation bias. While the topic is an important one, there are flaws in the execution. The language can get dry and, while discussing the triangle on the back side of the dollar bill, the author states unequivocally that the founders were Christian and that the triangle is a Christain symbol. The book design is reminiscent of 1984, with retro graphics and simple pages. Vocabulary words are defined on the page and included in the glossary. The books end with suggested activities, an index, a glossary, and further reading. VERDICT Though not without its flaws, this series provides a nuanced examination of conspiracy theories.


Upper Middle School to High School

Saddleback Educational Publishing. Business Leaders. ISBN 9781680217513.
––––. Hacking for Good. ISBN 9781680217469.
––––. Military Might. ISBN 9781680217520.
ea vol: 60p. (Space 8). Saddleback. May 2022. Tr. $11.95.
Gr 7 Up –This series is a catch-all of information. The topics range from military weaponry to hacking, to sports superstitions. Readers will learn about business leaders in various industries, White Hat hackers and the reason they hack, and the history of rocket systems. The books provide a wealth of information in short sentences and chapters making this a good choice for hi-lo collections. Plenty of charts are included for visual learners and text boxes help to break up the pages. These might display the phases of flight for ballistic missiles or chart the average age of hackers. The text never takes up more than half a page and high-interest images complete the rest of the page. Back matter includes a glossary but no index. VERDICT Only purchase if you need to fill some holes in the collection. Other ­series can offer more substantial information.

Saddleback Educational Publishing. Car and Driver. ISBN 9781680219821.
––––. Community Resources and Safety. ISBN 9781680219913.
––––. Consumer Spending. ISBN 9781680219838.
––––. Everyday Household Tasks. ISBN 9781680219845.
––––. Getting Ahead at Work. ISBN 9781680219852.
––––. Health and Wellness. ISBN 9781680219869.
––––. Managing Money. ISBN 9781680219883.
––––. Moving Out on Your Own. ISBN 9781680219890.
––––. Transportation. ISBN 9781680219906.
––––. Workplace Readiness. ISBN 9781680219876.
ea vol: 120p. (Life Skills Handbooks). Saddleback. May 2022. Tr. $19.95.
HighSchool –Adulting is hard. This comprehensive series uses fictional characters in realistic life situations to demonstrate how to tackle the daily challenges and big milestones adult life will throw at you. Readers will learn how to use the public library, how to interpret a car sticker on the lot, what a voter registration form looks like, among many other useful topics. The books make good use of fonts to clearly mark section headings and keep the pages clean and easy to read. Large images break up the pages and plenty of charts and visuals make important information stand out. Extensive glossaries are included in each title. VERDICT An excellent resource for special education and life skills classrooms.

Young children will be a little less frightened of new situations after reading the strategies for coping in “First Experiences”(Jump!) and what to expect at school in “Read About School” (Lerner). Older children will learn real-world lessons in “The Life Skills Handbook” (Saddleback) and “Conspiracy Theories: DEBUNKED” (Cherry Lake). Young and old students will be more prepared for the next stage in life after reading these titles.

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