Read a Book with Your Child this Summer

May 18, 2012

Read a book with your child this summer – every day, enjoy book-time!

Think about chosing a few picture-book biographies to look at together, no matter how old your child is. Try biographies about people you haven’t heard of or people you know almost nothing about, especially people from other countries, ethnicities or eras than your own.

For suggestions, take a look at – May is biography month!

Looking for a different sort of GOOD book, a page-turner? These lists are remarkable!

Notable Books for a Global Society 2012 Award winners for 2012. This is an amazing and diverse selection of books.  Each book is described at the website of Notable Books for a Global Society.

Also, in the spring issue of The Dragon Lode, the society’s journal, each book is summarized with teaching suggestion and recommended additional reading. More about this annotated list of amazing books is available at the IBBY Google map website. The 2012 Outstanding International Books List* is now available as a Google Map! 
 Cover art and annotations are included. 
Outstanding International Books is a project of the United States chapter of the International Board on Books for the Young.

More biography suggestions

Here are a few new biographies that are unusual and interesting to think about:

IT JES’ HAPPENED: WHEN BILL TRAYLOR STARTED TO DRAW By Don Tate, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, shows the life journey from slavery to artistry of Bill Traylor. His story is not always a happy one, but it is full of courage and “making do” when life goes in unexpected directions. Bill Traylor used bits of paper and cardboard and drew his unusual pictures while sitting on the sidewalk of Monroe Avenue of Montgomery, Alabama. People bought his drawings for a few pennies a piece. Others helped him with art supplies. This biography tells the story of an artist, but also of a time when this country needed healing and blacks and whites were learning a new way of working together. Lee and Low, 2012 – honor book of the New Voices Award

SILENT STAR: THE STORY OF DEAF MAJOR LEAGUER WILLIAM HOY By Bill Wise, illus. by Adam Gustavson. Strike three; you’re out! William Ellsworth Hoy, one of the first deaf players in major league baseball, scored 100 runs or more in nine different seasons and had over 2,000 lifetime hits. Hoy lost his hearing from meningitis when he was three but he didn’t lose his determination or talent for “playing ball.” William Hoy has been recognized as key to the development of sign language or baseball hand signals for a variety of plays such as bunt, steal, take a pitch, ball, or strike. Enjoy a step back into baseball history. The illustrations by Adam Gustavson show baseball and players as they appeared during the early 1900s – handlebar moustaches, classic Cincinnati Reds uniforms, inside panoramas of the old ballparks and even baseball headlines. Batter up – and enjoy this baseball biography. Lee and Low, 2012.

QUEEN OF THE TRACK, ALICE COACHMAN, OLYMPIC HIGH-JUMP CHAMPION, written by Heather Lang and Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. This is a beautiful book. Heather Lang tells the story of Alice Coachman, the first African-American woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal.

“From the very first gold medal I won in 1939, my momma used to stress being humble. You’re no better than anyone else. The people you pass on the ladder will be the same people you’ll be with when the ladder comes down.” — Alice to New York Times, April 27, 1995

“When the going gets tough and you feel like throwing your hands in the air, listen to that voice that tells you ‘Keep going. Hang in there.’ Guts and determination will pull you through.” -Alice to The New York Times, April 27, 1995

“It’s my wish that every young person read this inspiring book. Alice Coachman is truly a hero and her accomplishments remind us all to never give up when the odds are against us.” -Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic gold medalist. From – Published by Boyds Mills Press, 2012.

BEATRICE’S DREAM, A STORY OF KIBERA SLUM By Karen Lynn Williams, photographs by Wendy Stone. Jambo! Hello from Beatrice, an orphan, who lives in one of the toughest, poorest slums of Africa in Kibera, Kenya. “Near the railway track you can look out over the slum and see it stretching on and on to where the earth meets the sky.”

Beatrice has a dream. She wants to become a nurse and help other children who are ill or hurt. She knows that the way to get out of the slums and become a nurse is to study hard at school.

Beatrice’s school is made of tin. “When the wind blows, the loose tin on the roof crackles and pops. Ping. Ping.” Beatrice walks to school every morning and is proud that she will soon graduate and attend boarding school in Nairobi. It’s her dream –and she is making it happen.

The words and photographs bring you to a muddy crowded slum but they also show you the people’s hope and courage. Beatrice’s warm smile and penetrating eyes reassure you that even if Beatrice’s school has few books and many students, she will make her dream a reality. This is a wonderful book to share with any child.

BEATRICE’S DREAM, published by Francis Lincoln Children’s Books, 2011, is included in the 2012 Outstanding International Books List chosen by IBBY, International Board on Books for the Young.

HIS NAME WAS RAOUL WALLENBERG; COURAGE, RESCUE AND MYSTERY DURING WWII By Louise Borden. This book for older readers presents the true account of how Raoul Wallenberg from Sweden, educated in the US and working in Hungary when World War II broke out, repeatedly risked his own life to save thousands of Jews. Free verse is combined with clear strong narration, quite the combination of emotion and information for describing Wallenberg’s deeds. The appendix is full of information, including a multimedia bibliography. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012.

Louise Borden has authored many award-winning picture books including: THE JOURNEY THAT SAVED CURIOUS GEORGE: THE TRUE WARTIME ESCAPE OF MARGRET & H.A.REY. Each turn of the page is filled with surprising information and historical photos, a gem for any child or parent who has enjoyed the Curious George books. Both books by Louise Borden give the reader a sense of the people who responded to the harsh demands of life and war. Both books provide a rich experience to be shared with parents, teachers, and children.

PAIUTE PRINCESS: THE STORY OF SARAH WINNEMUCA Written and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray. Sometimes Sarah dressed as an Indian Princess so people would pay attention to what she had to say. Sarah was articulate, fluent in English and well-educated. She used her skills and talents to fight for the welfare and rights of her people. Praise from the publisher includes the following: “Few native women are recognized for their roles in our country’s history. Among them, Sarah is unique. Sarah Winnemucca faced a white world where the fate of the native people was in the hands of the new rulers of the land. This book has many levels of information and is an important document, as both an autobiography and a history of events seen through eyes of a native woman.” The story of Sarah Winnemuca offers a new perspective rich with questions as well as information. Foster/Farrar, 2012

BLACK ELK’S VISION, A LAKOTA STORY By S.D.Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of the Dakotas, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2010. A vision of peace, a vision of hope, those were the dreams of Black Elk. He worked to have all people see through new eyes and see that we are all connected. No one group of people carry the privilege of domination or control. No one is above or separate from the world. Awareness of the interconnectedness of life will offer hope and harmony.

S.D. Nelson has created a stunning book of illustrations, images, photographs and words. They invite the reader to open the book, turn the pages, explore the words.

“A vision comes as a thunderstorm in summer. Its gift is like rain upon a thirsty little tree.” -S.D. Nelson

“If you look with your heart, you will see the thirsty little tree before you. In your hands is the power to help it grow.” Black Elk

Have a lovely summer of adventures, rest and reading,
Nancy Bo Flood

Nancy Bo Flood

As a fish-brain surgeon or a rodeo poem wrangler, I have loved stories. I strongly believe that words – in poetry or prose – help heal our hearts and give us new eyes to see the world. I was first a research psychologist studying brain development at the University of Minnesota and London University before following my passion – writing for children. Learn more...