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Culture Children's Books

Daring dreamers

Children’s Books

Daring dreamers

Nonfiction books for middle graders

Courageous World Changers by Shirley Raye Redmond: In this book, Redmond introduces readers to 50 True Stories of Daring Women of God. The one-page cameos feature women from the past and present, showcasing how God equips women to serve in diverse ways. The profiles highlight well-known Christian leaders but also feature lesser-known women such as social worker Josephine Butler, missionary pilot Elizabeth Greene, and doctor Mary Stone. Although sometimes seemingly focused more on the women’s achievements than their faith, the vignettes altogther aim at inspiring young women to use their unique gifts for God’s glory. (Ages 8-11)

Beyond Words by Carl Safina: This young reader’s version of the same-titled New York Times bestseller follows Safina as he sets out to discover What Elephants and Whales Think and Feel. His fascinating research and anecdotes will delight middle graders who want to learn more about how these massive creatures communicate and interact with each other. But the adaptation falls short of highest praise due to choppy writing and Safina’s bent toward evolution. Rather than affirming our separate and unique role as humans, Safina instead asserts that man, elephant, and whale are “essentially the same” and that “beneath the skin … we are kin.” (Ages 10-14)

Susan B. Anthony by Teri Kanefield: 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. This fourth book in The Making of America series is an engaging biography that incorporates photographs and illustrations as it traces Susan B. Anthony’s role in women’s suffrage and abolition. In her final pages, however, Kanefield takes aim at conservatives, alleging that the late 20th century “saw a conservative backlash to the women’s movement.” She also bemoans Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential loss as an Electoral College casualty. (Ages 9-14)

Child of the Dream by Sharon Robinson: Child of the Dream is Robinson’s memoir about coming of age during the height of the civil rights movement. Sharon, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, shares her struggles to fit in as an African American teen in the white, upper-class world of Stamford, Conn. Meanwhile, her father works alongside key civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., and her parents host fundraisers at their home to support the cause. As Sharon watches the events of 1963 unfold, the courage of her Southern peers inspires her to make her own stand for freedom. (Ages 8-12)

Afterword

In One Earth (Worthy Kids, 2020), Eileen Spinelli encourages budding environmentalists to treasure the natural world while becoming better stewards over our resources. The book’s rhythmic cadence and vibrant illustrations will delight preschoolers, but parents may be disappointed that Spinelli doesn’t delve deeper to point readers to a Biblical understanding of creation care.

Nya’s Long Walk (Clarion, 2019) is a companion picture book to Linda Sue Park’s best-selling A Long Walk to Water. Nya and her young sister Akeer live in South Sudan where they, like other girls their age, must walk a long way to draw water from a watering hole. On the journey, Akeer falls ill and Nya must carry both Akeer and the water jug home. Overloaded and exhausted, Nya pushes herself to do more than she thinks she is able, one step at a time. The book, which concludes by highlighting the work of Salva Dut’s Water for South Sudan, provides a launching point to discuss with younger children the realities of life in other parts of the world.