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Culture Children's Books

Resilient reads

Children’s Books

Resilient reads

Nonfiction books for middle graders and teens

Torpedoed by Deborah Heiligman: This riveting but tragic World War II story chronicles the 1940 sinking of the SS City of Benares as it sailed for Canada with evacuee children aboard, all fleeing the German air raids on England. The government evacuation program had successfully relocated hundreds of English children to safety before a German U-boat torpedoed the Benares in stormy, frigid waters. Only 13 of the 90 children would make it home alive. Heiligman’s meticulous research showcases survivors’ courage and determination while black-and-white photos and illustrations help illuminate the story. (Ages 10-14)

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore: During the early 1900s, hundreds of young women eagerly applied for factory jobs painting watch dials with glow-in-the-dark radium. The pay was good and the work easy. But after they started suffering from odd ailments that mystified doctors, they would eventually discover their jobs came at a terrible cost. Moore’s gripping account follows the women’s fight for justice amid overwhelming odds. Because this young readers’ edition discusses the tragic and sometimes graphic details of radium poisoning, it is best suited for more mature readers. (Ages 13 and up)

Bee Fearless by Mikaila Ulmer: Teenager Mikaila Ulmer’s path to entrepreneurship started with a bee sting and the discovery that bee populations were disappearing. Ulmer decided to raise money for bee research: Using her grandmother’s secret recipe, she launched a lemonade stand. Over the next several years her lemonade business grew, culminating with an appearance on Shark Tank where she landed a business deal. Ulmer’s memoir weaves in business tips and strategies for budding entrepreneurs, encouraging kids and teens to find ways to make a difference. Note: Includes a brief reference to evolution. (Ages 10-14)

A Hopeful Heart by Deborah Noyes: Before Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy, there were Louisa, Anna, Lizzie, and May. A Hopeful Heart charts the arc of Louisa May Alcott’s early life, with its many highs and lows, and her winding path to becoming a literary icon. It also profiles her parents and the family’s extremely hard life due largely to her father’s pursuit of visionary ideals rather than industrious work. Note: The book discusses Louisa’s earlier, financially lucrative writings, which many considered risqué for the time and she herself labeled “rubbishy.” (Ages 13 and up)


Two offerings from Ed Drew provide a format for families to mark the Easter season. The Wonder of Easter (The Good Book Company, 2019) uses Luke’s Gospel and Old Testament passages to explore the people and events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection. Written with busy families in mind, the devotional provides suggestions for object lessons and question prompts for all ages. Drew’s 2021 follow-up Meals With Jesus (The Good Book Company) employs the same format but focuses on nine meals Jesus shared with others in the Gospel of Luke. Two suggested schedules give guidance for reading the book during Lent or any time of the year. 

In A Tale of Two Kings (Harvest House, 2021) Gloria Furman contrasts the first and second Adam, explaining how Adam’s sin brought death but Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross reversed the curse to give life. Even though the world is still broken, Furman reminds children that they can have great hope in “the King who is making all things new.” Note: Natalia Moore’s colorful illustrations artfully veil Jesus’ face under a glowing orb of light. —K.C.