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1950 - 1999: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about 1950 - 1999?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to 1950 - 1999. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about 1950 - 1999.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about 1950 - 1999, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Through My Eyes to popular sellers like Smile to some of our favorite hidden gems like Brown Girl Dreaming.

We hope this list of kids books about 1950 - 1999 can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Top 10 Books About 1950 - 1999

#1
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I Have a Dream
Written by & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Presents the text of the famous speech given on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. by Martin Luther King, Jr., complemented by paintings illustrating the ideals the civil rights leader described.

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#2
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Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Written by Dee Romito & illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This stunning picture book looks into the life of Georgia Gilmore, a hidden figure of history who played a critical role in the civil rights movement and used her passion for baking to help the Montgomery Bus Boycott achieve its goal. Georgia decided to help the best way she knew how. She worked together with a group of women and together they purchased the supplies they needed-bread, lettuce, and chickens. And off they went to cook. The women brought food to the mass meetings that followed at the church. They sold sandwiches. They sold dinners in their neighborhoods. As the boycotters walked and walked, Georgia cooked and cooked. Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from “nowhere” to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders. This picture book highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement who fueled the bus boycotts and demonstrated that one person can make a real change in her community and beyond. It also includes one of her delicious recipes for kids to try with the help of their parents!

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#3
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Dream Big
Written by Deloris Jordan & illustrated by Barry Root
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Olympic dreams come true in this inspiring picture book from Michael Jordan’s mother, author of the New York Times bestselling Salt in His Shoes. Long before he became a professional All-Star basketball player, Michael Jordan had dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal—and with dedication and perseverance, that’s exactly what he did. This heartwarming picture book, written by Michael’s mother and illustrated by Barry Root, gives a rare glimpse into a sports hero’s childhood and emphasizes the role that good values play in success. An ideal companion to the New York Times bestselling Salt in His Shoes and releasing in time for the 2012 Olympics, Dream Big is an inspiration to all.

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#4
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Rosa Parks
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Marta Antelo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the incredible life of Rosa Parks, ‘ The Mother of the Freedom Movement’, in this inspiring story. In this true story of an inspiring civil rights activist, Rosa Parks grew up during segregation in Alabama, but she was taught to respect herself and stand up for her rights. In 1955, Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

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#5
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Let the Children March
Written by Monica Clark-Robinson & illustrated by Frank Morrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, children and teenagers march against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

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#6
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I Am Rosa Parks
Written by Brad Meltzer & illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Recounts Rosa Parks’ daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.

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#7
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Grandmama's Pride
Written by Becky Birtha & illustrated by Colin Bootman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

While on a trip in 1956 to visit her grandmother in the South, six-year-old Sarah Marie experiences segregation for the first time, but discovers that things have changed by the time she returns the following year.

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#8
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Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon
Written by Kelly Starling Lyons & illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-9
You've seen the building. Now meet the man whose life went into it.
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#9
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The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
Written by Julia Finley Mosca & illustrated by Daniel Rieley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

If you’ve ever felt different, if you’ve ever been low, if you don’t quite fit in, there’s a name you should know… Meet Dr. Temple Grandin—one of the world’s quirkiest science heroes!

When young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe!

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin is the first book in a brand new educational series about the inspirational lives of amazing scientists. In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Temple herself!

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#10
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Go for the Moon
Written & illustrated by Chris Gall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

For the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, a step-by-step explanation of how the Apollo 11 spacecraft worked as told by a young enthusiast.The Apollo 11 astronauts have prepared carefully for their attempt to be the first men to land on the moon. The young narrator of this book has prepared carefully, too: he explains the design of the spacecraft, the flight from the earth to the moon, and the drama of touching down - while shadowing the astronaut’s voyage with one of his own. Go for the Moon! captures the fascinating detail and inspiring adventure of the moon landing. It is a captivating celebration of one of humankind’s greatest technical achievements and most extraordinary feats of exploration.

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Table of Contents
Scroll to books about 1950 - 1999 and...

Books About 1950 - 1999 and 1960's

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I Have a Dream
Written by & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Presents the text of the famous speech given on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. by Martin Luther King, Jr., complemented by paintings illustrating the ideals the civil rights leader described.

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$18.99
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$16.14
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$13.40
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Let the Children March
Written by Monica Clark-Robinson & illustrated by Frank Morrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, children and teenagers march against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

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Go for the Moon
Written & illustrated by Chris Gall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

For the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, a step-by-step explanation of how the Apollo 11 spacecraft worked as told by a young enthusiast.The Apollo 11 astronauts have prepared carefully for their attempt to be the first men to land on the moon. The young narrator of this book has prepared carefully, too: he explains the design of the spacecraft, the flight from the earth to the moon, and the drama of touching down - while shadowing the astronaut’s voyage with one of his own. Go for the Moon! captures the fascinating detail and inspiring adventure of the moon landing. It is a captivating celebration of one of humankind’s greatest technical achievements and most extraordinary feats of exploration.

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story - The true story of how a ride on a carousel made a powerful Civil Rights statement
     
    _A Ride to Remember_ tells how a community came together—both black and white—to make a change. When Sharon Langley was born in the early 1960s, many amusement parks were segregated, and African-American families were not allowed entry. This book reveals how in the summer of 1963, due to demonstrations and public protests, the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time. Co-author Sharon Langley was the first African-American child to ride the carousel. This was on the same day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Langley’s ride to remember demonstrated the possibilities of King’s dream. This book includes photos of Sharon on the carousel, authors’ notes, a timeline, and a bibliography.

  2. Brown Girl Dreaming - In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, an award-winning author shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South.

  3. Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still - Nadia Comaneci was a feisty and fearless little girl who went from climbing trees in the forests of Romania to swinging into history at the 1976 Olympic Games, where she received an unprecedented seven perfect scores in gymnastics. But as readers will see in this first-ever illustrated picture book about Nadia’s journey to Olympic gold, the road from small-town girl to world-class athlete was full of many imperfect moments. Expert illustrations that capture the energy and fluidity of Nadia’s exuberant gymnastic routines and referential back matter round out this inspirational story of determination and overcoming adversity. A perfect 10.

  4. Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 - Here is the story of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon – a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away by steady astronauts in their great machines.

Books About 1950 - 1999 and 21st Century

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Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon
Written by Kelly Starling Lyons & illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-9
You've seen the building. Now meet the man whose life went into it.
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The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
Written by Julia Finley Mosca & illustrated by Daniel Rieley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

If you’ve ever felt different, if you’ve ever been low, if you don’t quite fit in, there’s a name you should know… Meet Dr. Temple Grandin—one of the world’s quirkiest science heroes!

When young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe!

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin is the first book in a brand new educational series about the inspirational lives of amazing scientists. In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Temple herself!

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The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come
Written by Sue Macy & illustrated by Stacy Innerst
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

“Stunning.”​ —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Inspired…[a] journalistic, propulsive narrative.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

From New York Times Best Illustrated Book artist Stacy Innerst and author Sue Macy comes a story of one man’s heroic effort to save the world’s Yiddish books.

Over the last forty years, Aaron Lansky has jumped into dumpsters, rummaged around musty basements, and crawled through cramped attics. He did all of this in pursuit of a particular kind of treasure, and he’s found plenty. Lansky’s treasure was any book written Yiddish, the language of generations of European Jews. When he started looking for Yiddish books, experts estimated there might be about 70,000 still in existence. Since then, the MacArthur Genius Grant recipient has collected close to 1.5 million books, and he’s finding more every day.

Told in a folkloric voice reminiscent of Patricia Polacco, this story celebrates the power of an individual to preserve history and culture, while exploring timely themes of identity and immigration.

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  1. Work It, Girl: Mae Jemison: Blast off into space like - In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girl series, discover how Mae Jemison became the first African American woman in space in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life. When Mae Jemison was a little girl, she loved science, dancing, and dinosaurs. She watched the Apollo moon landings and wondered why none of the astronauts were women—and she just didn’t buy the answers she was given Work It, Girl is an empowering series of biographies featuring modern women in the world of work, from designers and musicians to CEOs and scientists. Each of these vibrantly illustrated books tells the story of a remarkable woman in 10 chapters that highlight transformative moments in her life, following the ups and downs that she faced on her road to success. At the end, 10 key lessons show what you can learn from these moments, and self-reflection questions help you apply these lessons to your own life. Brightly colored photo illustrations of 3-D cut paper artwork featuring inspiring quotes from these amazing women bring their stories to vivid life. Learn how to work it as you lay the foundations for your own successful career.

  2. Work It, Girl: Michelle Obama: Become a leader like - In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girl series, discover how Michelle became an inspirational leader, FLOTUS, lawyer, author, and role model in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life. Michelle Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a little bungalow with a close-knit family. She loved going to school, and she knew that, one day, she would use her voice to empower other young girls, just like her. Young Michelle was a brilliant student and wonderful daughter. With hard work and talent, she propelled herself into the universities of Princeton and Harvard. She qualified as a lawyer and life was going smoothly…Then she met a guy named Barack. Work It, Girl is an empowering series of biographies featuring modern women in the world of work, from designers and musicians to CEOs and scientists. Each of these vibrantly illustrated books tells the story of a remarkable woman in 10 chapters that highlight transformative moments in her life, following the ups and downs that she faced on her road to success. At the end, 10 key lessons show what you can learn from these moments, and self-reflection questions help you apply these lessons to your own life. Brightly colored photo illustrations of 3-D cut paper artwork featuring inspiring quotes from these amazing women bring their stories to vivid life. Learn how to work it as you lay the foundations for your own successful career.

  3. A Long Walk to Water - The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

  4. Who Was Nelson Mandela? - Describes the life of the South African president and revolutionary, from his childhood and his work as a peaceful protestor to his twenty-seven-year imprisonment, his election as president, and his work to end apartheid in South Africa.

Books About 1950 - 1999 and Sports And Recreation

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Anybody's Game
Written by Heather Lang & illustrated by Cecilia Puglesi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

In 1950, Kathryn Johnston wanted to play Little League, but an unwritten rule kept girls from trying out. So she cut off her hair and tried out as a boy under the nickname “Tubby.” She made the team—and inspired future generations. An inspiring and suspenseful story about what it means to want to do something so badly you’re willing to break the rules—and how, sometimes, breaking the rules can lead to change.

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Dream Big
Written by Deloris Jordan & illustrated by Barry Root
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Olympic dreams come true in this inspiring picture book from Michael Jordan’s mother, author of the New York Times bestselling Salt in His Shoes. Long before he became a professional All-Star basketball player, Michael Jordan had dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal—and with dedication and perseverance, that’s exactly what he did. This heartwarming picture book, written by Michael’s mother and illustrated by Barry Root, gives a rare glimpse into a sports hero’s childhood and emphasizes the role that good values play in success. An ideal companion to the New York Times bestselling Salt in His Shoes and releasing in time for the 2012 Olympics, Dream Big is an inspiration to all.

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Joltin' Joe DiMaggio
Written by Jonah Winter & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Bestselling author Jonah Winter and award-winning illustrator James E. Ransome knock it out of the park with this tribute to one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived, Joe DiMaggio. In the golden age of baseball, sports announcers ruled the radio, winning and losing was front-page news, and just about every young boy wanted to grow up to wear Yankee pinstripes, including Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio, Jr., a first generation Italian from San Francisco. “Baseball is not a job,” said young Joe’s dad, but through hard work and dedication, Joe grew up to make headlines as a top centerfielder and ace hitter—Joltin’ Joe, the Yankee Clipper. And when the paychecks started rolling in and the newspaper reporters wouldn’t stop calling, you can bet Pop was mighty proud! During the Depression and WWII the country needed something to cheer for, and Joe was the star player who outshone the rest, even marrying movie star Marilyn Monroe—all by keeping his mouth shut and his eye on the ball.

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  1. Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay - The first illustrated telling of the Everest story that equally features Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. On the morning of May 29, 1953, the sun was shining brightly and a gentle breeze was blowing on the highest elevation of the world–and for the first time ever, people were there to witness it. Their names were Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, and they had ascended Everest. This is the breathtaking story of how these two men battled frost- biting temperatures, tumbling ice rocks, powerful winds, and death-defying ridges to reach the top of the world’s highest mountain. Combining fresh and contemporary illustrations by Joe Todd-Stanton with Alexandra Stewart’s action-packed text, this unique narrative tells the complete stories of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay–from their births right up through their final days—and the lasting impact they’ve had on the world.

  2. Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail - “Emma Gatewood’s life was far from easy. In rural Ohio, she managed a household of eleven kids alongside a less-than-supportive husband. One day, at age 67, she decided to go for a nice long walk. . . and ended up at the other end of the Appalachain Trail. With just the clothes on her back and a pair of thin canvas sneakers on her feet, Grandma Gatewood hiked up ridges and down ravines. She braved angry storms and witnessed breathtaking sunrises. When things got particulary tough, she relied on the kindness of strangers or sheer dumb luck to get her through the night. When the newpapers got wind of her amazing adventure, the whole country cheered her on to the end of her trek, which came just a few months after she set out. A story of real resilience and hardcore lady power, Grandma Gatewood proves that no peak is insurmountable. After all, at age 83, she hiked the whole trail again (sneakers and all)”–

Books About 1950 - 1999 and 1980s

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Epic Athletes: Serena Williams
Written by Dan Wetzel & illustrated by Sloane Leong
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

An inspiring middle-grade biography of the most celebrated women’s tennis player ever, Serena Williams, from acclaimed sports journalist Dan Wetzel! Serena Williams is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. From growing up in a tough neighborhood to combatting racism to weathering severe health issues, there is no challenge she can’t defeat, no hurdle that will get in the way of her unwavering desire to be the best tennis player in the world. As a little girl, Serena spent years training at her local court with her father and older sister, Venus, dreaming of one day winning Grand Slam titles and earning the number one ranking in the world. In this exciting biography, young readers will discover what it takes to become a champion. Bestselling author Dan Wetzel brings to life the story of an athlete and trailblazer who broke records and racial barriers. Publishing right between Wimbledon and the US Open, and featuring action-packed comic-style interior art, this uplifting biography of the most celebrated women’s tennis player of all time is sure to be a hit with young sports fans across the country.

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Sisters
Written & illustrated by Jeanette Winter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Celebrated picture book biographer Jeanette Winter shares the story of champion tennis players—and sisters—Venus and Serena Williams. Before they were famous tennis stars, Venus and Serena Williams were sisters with big dreams growing up in Compton, California. In the early mornings, they head to the tennis courts, clean up debris, and practice. They compete in their first tournament and they both win. From there, the girls’ trophy collection grows and grows. Despite adversity and health challenges, the sisters become two of the greatest tennis players of all time. This inspiring story of sisterhood, hard work, and determination is perfect for budding athletes or any young reader with a big dream.

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Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Venus and Serena Williams. Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters. Six days a week they awoke before the sun came up to practice their serves and returns, to learn to run faster and hit harder. They were unstoppable. At age fourteen, Venus played her first professional match. Three years later, it was Serena’s turn. It wasn’t easy. Some tennis fans cheered for these two fresh faces, while those who were unhappy to see two black girls competing in a nearly all-white sport booed and taunted them. But they didn’t let it stop them. With vibrant mixed media art, nonfiction superstars Lesa Cline-Ransome and Coretta Scott King Honor winner James E. Ransome share the inspirational story of two tennis legends who were fierce competitors on the courts, but close sisters above all.

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  1. We Dream of Space -

  2. The Unabomber - A new true-crime series that follows FBI agents behind the scenes as they work to keep Americans safe. A case of homegrown terrorism: the Unabomber. Agent Kathleen Puckett was a successful linguist and a highly trained psychologist before she was recruited for the UNABOMB investigation. The Unabomber had evaded capture for 17 years, carried out 13 bombings, and killed three men. Agent Puckett was a catalyst in understanding the psychology behind the Unabomber crimes. She led the team to make the arrest of Theodore Kaczynski on April 4, 1996, bringing down one of the most notorious domestic terrorists in American history.

  3. A Symphony of Whales - Glashka is the only one in her village who can hear the voice of Narna, the whale. That gift leads her to great responsibility one day, when she discovers thousands of whales trapped in an inlet. The narrow route to the sea is rapidly icing over, and every day ice covers more of the open water the whales need to breathe. There seems to be no way out. . . . This story, based on an actual event, tells of a dramatic rescue–a tale of bravery and faith and the power of music.

  4. Story of Rap - Lay down a baby beat and learn all about the history of rap! From Grandmaster Flash to Kendrick Lamar, rap has shaped generations and brought a voice to the voiceless. Bop along with the greats in this adorable baby book that introduces little ones to the rappers that started it all! Parental Advisory: May cause toddlers to develop excessive amounts of swagger.

Books About 1950 - 1999 and 1970's

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Flight for Freedom: The Wetzel Family’s Daring Escape from East Germany
Written by Kristen Fulton & illustrated by Torben Kuhlmann
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

An Inspiring True Story about One Family’s Escape from Behind the Berlin Wall!

Peter was born on the east side of Germany, the side that wasn’t free. He watches news programs rather than cartoons, and wears scratchy uniforms instead of blue jeans. His family endures long lines and early curfews. But Peter knows it won’t always be this way. Peter and his family have a secret. Late at night in their attic, they are piecing together a hot air balloon—and a plan. Can Peter and his family fly their way to freedom? This is the true story of one child, Peter Wetzel, and his family, as they risk their lives for the hope of freedom in a daring escape from East Germany via a handmade hot air balloon in 1979.

• A perfect picture book for educators teaching about the Cold War, the Iron Curtain, and East Germany
Flight for Freedom is a showcase for lessons of bravery, heroism, family, and perseverance, as well as stunning history.
• Includes detailed maps of the Wetzel family’s escape route and diagrams of their hot air balloon

For fans of historical nonfiction picture books like Let the Children March, The Wall, Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon.

• True life escape stories
• For picture book readers age 5–9
• For teachers, librarians, and historians

Kristen Fulton is a children’s book author. She can always be found with a notebook in hand as she ventures through historical sites and museums. Most of the time she lives in Florida—but she can also be found traveling the country by RV.

Torben Kuhlmann is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. Starting in kindergarten he became known as “the draftsman.” Flying machines and rich historical detail often adorn his work. He lives in Hamburg, Germany.

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Hard Work, but It's Worth It: The Life of Jimmy Carter
Written by Bethany Hegedus & illustrated by Kyung Eun Han
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The first picture book about the inspiring life of humanitarian Jimmy Carter, the thirty-ninth president of the United States and a Nobel Prize winner—from Alabama Spitfire author Bethany Hegedus.

Even before Jimmy Carter became president, he knew the value of hard work. Living on his family’s peanut farm, Jimmy saw how hard work yielded strong results.

At least it did for some people. But growing up in the segregated South, Jimmy also saw firsthand how white people and black people were not treated equally. None of it was right. None of it was fair.

So Jimmy created a list of Good Mental Habits to help him navigate life’s challenges. The list guided his thoughts and actions and helped him fight for change, whether working with civil rights leaders to end racial discrimination in his home state of Georgia, helping to negotiate peace in the Middle East, or building homes for the poor through Habitat for Humanity.

From the statehouse to the White House and beyond, Jimmy has worked to make change for all people, devoting decades to public service and becoming one of the most respected humanitarians of our time. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

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Junko Tabei Masters the Mountains
Written by Rebel Girls & illustrated by Montse Galbany
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

From the world of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes the historical novel based on the life of Junko Tabei, the first female climber to summit Mount Everest.

Junko is bad at athletics. Really bad. Other students laugh because they think she is small and weak. Then her teacher takes the class on a trip to a mountain. It’s bigger than any Junko’s ever seen, but she is determined to make it to the top. Ganbatte, her teacher tells her. Do your best

After that first trip, Junko becomes a mountaineer in body and spirit. She climbs snowy mountains, rocky mountains, and even faraway mountains outside of her home country of Japan. She joins clubs and befriends fellow climbers who love the mountains as much as she does. Then, Junko does something that’s never been done before… she becomes the first woman to climb the tallest mountain in the world.

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  1. Soccer on Sunday - Next stop for the New York Times bestselling Magic Tree House series? The World Cup in Mexico City! Goal! Jack and Annie have tickets to one of the most exciting soccer games ever–the 1970 World Cup! They are sure the famous soccer player Pelé will tell them a “secret of greatness.” The game is nonstop action and the stands are packed. But how will they find Pelé in a crowd of 100,000 soccer fans? Have they failed their mission? Or will the answer come when they least expect it? Have more fun with Jack and Annie on the Magic Tree House® website at MagicTreeHouse.com. From the Hardcover edition.

  2. The Rainbow Flag: Bright, Bold, and Beautiful - Flags are brilliant and clever works of art and design, and they bring people together under a common banner. This colorful story follows a group of friends who helped dye and sew strips of cloth to create the first Rainbow Flags for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in 1978. Led by a young artist named Gilbert Baker, the friends set out to create a flag that people could march behind during the Pride Parade. They knew the flag needed to be bright, in order to be seen by everyone as they marched. It needed to be bold, to lead the crowd. And it needed to be beautiful, like the love celebrated by the parade! The result is an iconic flag that has become an international symbol of the gay pride movement.

  3. The Liberation of Gabriel King - Gabriel King was a born chicken. He’s afraid of spiders, corpses, loose cows, and just about everything related to the fifth grade. Gabe’s best friend, Frita Wilson, thinks Gabe needs some liberating from his fears. Frita knows something about being brave— she’s the only black kid in school in a town with an active Ku Klux Klan. Together Gabe and Frita are going to spend the summer of 1976 facing down the fears on Gabe’s list. But it turns out that Frita has her own list, and while she’s helping Gabe confront his fears, she’s avoiding the thing that scares her the most.

  4. The Way to Stay in Destiny - Moving in with his resentful Vietnam War veteran uncle, young Theo devotes his time to playing the piano and helping a new friend, baseball fanatic Anabel, investigate a local mystery about famous ballplayer residents. Simultaneous eBook.

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Books About 1950 - 1999 and Activism

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Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford & illustrated by Ekua Holmes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A collage-illustrated collection of poems and spirituals inspired by the life and work of civil rights advocate Fannie Lou Hamer.

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Ella Queen of Jazz
Written & illustrated by Helen Hancocks
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Ella Fitzgerald sang the blues and she sang them good. Ella and her fellas were on the way up! It seemed like nothing could stop her, until the biggest club in town refused to let her play… and all because of her colour. But when all hope seemed lost, little did Ella imagine that a Hollywood star would step in to help. The inspiring, true story of how a remarkable friendship between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe was born – and how they worked together to overcome prejudice and adversity.

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Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Written by Dee Romito & illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This stunning picture book looks into the life of Georgia Gilmore, a hidden figure of history who played a critical role in the civil rights movement and used her passion for baking to help the Montgomery Bus Boycott achieve its goal. Georgia decided to help the best way she knew how. She worked together with a group of women and together they purchased the supplies they needed-bread, lettuce, and chickens. And off they went to cook. The women brought food to the mass meetings that followed at the church. They sold sandwiches. They sold dinners in their neighborhoods. As the boycotters walked and walked, Georgia cooked and cooked. Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from “nowhere” to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders. This picture book highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement who fueled the bus boycotts and demonstrated that one person can make a real change in her community and beyond. It also includes one of her delicious recipes for kids to try with the help of their parents!

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  1. Rosa Parks - New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the incredible life of Rosa Parks, ‘ The Mother of the Freedom Movement’, in this inspiring story. In this true story of an inspiring civil rights activist, Rosa Parks grew up during segregation in Alabama, but she was taught to respect herself and stand up for her rights. In 1955, Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

  2. I Am Rosa Parks - Recounts Rosa Parks’ daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.

  3. Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe - Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. On the outside, you couldn’t find two girls who looked more different. But on the inside, they were alike–full of hopes and dreams and plans of what might be. Ella Fitzgerald’s velvety tones and shube-doobie-doos captivated audiences. Jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington couldn’t wait to share the stage with her, but still, Ella could not book a performance at one of the biggest clubs in town–one she knew would give her career its biggest break yet. Marilyn Monroe dazzled on the silver screen with her baby blue eyes and breathy boo-boo-be-doos. But when she asked for better scripts, a choice in who she worked with, and a higher salary, studio bosses refused. Two women whose voices weren’t being heard. Two women chasing after their dreams and each helping the other to achieve them. This is the inspiring, true story of two incredibly talented women who came together to help each other shine like the stars that they are.

  4. This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality - In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann–clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students—found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.

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Books About 1950 - 1999 and Prejudice And Racism

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Grandmama's Pride
Written by Becky Birtha & illustrated by Colin Bootman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

While on a trip in 1956 to visit her grandmother in the South, six-year-old Sarah Marie experiences segregation for the first time, but discovers that things have changed by the time she returns the following year.

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Rosa Parks: My First Rosa Parks
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Marta Antelo
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

This board book version of Rosa Parks—an international bestseller from the highly acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the “Mother of the Freedom Movement.”

Rosa Parks grew up in Alabama, where she learned to stand up for herself at an early age. Rosa went on to become a civil rights activist. In 1955, she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her courageous decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. She never stopped working for equal rights. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating icon, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children.

Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

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Strange Fruit
Written by Gary Golio & illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-12

The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called “”Strange Fruit.”” In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn’t either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever.

Discover how two outsiders–Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants–combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.””The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called “”Strange Fruit.”” In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn’t either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever.

Discover how two outsiders–Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants–combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.

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  1. Grandad Mandela - Two great-grandchildren ask their grandmother 15 questions about the man they remember as Grandad, and the world remembers as Nelson Mandela, the global icon of peace and forgiveness who spent 27 years in prison. They learn that he was a freedom fighter who put down his weapons for the sake of peace, and who then became the President of South Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize-winner, and realise that they can continue his legacy in the world today. Seen through a child’s perspective, and authored jointly by his great-grandchildren and daughter, this amazing story is told as never before to celebrate what would have been Nelson’s Mandela 100th birthday.

  2. National Geographic Readers: Rosa Parks - Find out about the life of Rosa Parks and how her actions in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 helped end racial segregation in America. This book follows the same standards as other National Geographic Readers with the same careful text, brilliant photographs, and fun approach that kids love. The life story of Rosa Parks has enduring lessons to teach us and this biography should appeal to kids, parents, and teachers.

  3. Finding Lincoln - In segregated 1950s Alabama, Louis cannot use the public library to research a class assignment, but one of the librarians lets him in after hours and helps him find the book that he needs. Includes an author’s note with historical information about library segregation in the South.

  4. The Soccer Fence - As a boy, Hector loved playing soccer in his small Johannesburg township. He dreamed of playing on a real pitch with the boys from another part of the city, but apartheid made that impossible. Then, in 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and apartheid began to crumble. The march toward freedom in South Africa was a slow one, but when the beloved Bafana Bafana national soccer team won the African Cup of Nations, Hector realized that dreams once impossible could now come true.

Books About 1950 - 1999 and 20th Century

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A Dance Like Starlight
Written by Kristy Dempsey & illustrated by Floyd Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by.

But the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins, did make her dreams come true. And those dreams inspired ballerinas everywhere, showing them that the color of their skin couldn’t stop them from becoming a star.

In a lyrical tale as beautiful as a dance en pointe, Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper tell the story of one little ballerina who was inspired by Janet Collins to make her own dreams come true.

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Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace
Written & illustrated by Ashley Bryan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army. He endured the terrible lies white officers told about the black soldiers to isolate them from anyone who showed kindness—including each other. He received worse treatment than even Nazi POWs. He was assigned the grimmest, most horrific tasks, like burying fallen soldiers…but was told to remove the black soldiers first because the media didn’t want them in their newsreels. And he waited and wanted so desperately to go home, watching every white soldier get safe passage back to the United States before black soldiers were even a thought. For the next forty years, Ashley would keep his time in the war a secret. But now, he tells his story. The story of the kind people who supported him. The story of the bright moments that guided him through the dark. And the story of his passion for art that would save him time and time again. Filled with never-before-seen artwork and handwritten letters and diary entries, this illuminating and moving memoir by Newbery Honor–winning illustrator Ashley Bryan is both a lesson in history and a testament to hope.

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Stonewall
Written by Rob Sanders & illustrated by Jamey Christoph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising with the very first picture book to tell of its historic and inspiring role in the gay civil rights movement. From Rob Sanders, author of the acclaimed Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, comes this powerful and timeless true story that will allow young readers to discover the rich and dynamic history of the Stonewall Inn and its role in the gay civil rights movement–a movement that continues to this very day. In the early-morning hours of June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was raided by police in New York City. Though the inn had been raided before, that night would be different. It would be the night when empowered members of the LGBTQ+ community–in and around the Stonewall Inn–began to protest and demand their equal rights as citizens of the United States. Movingly narrated by the Stonewall Inn itself, and featuring stirring and dynamic illustrations, Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution is an essential and empowering civil rights story that every child deserves to hear.

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  1. The Race to Space: Countdown to Liftoff - In this second installment of the Epic Fails series, explore the many failures that made up the Space Race, paving the way for humanity’s eventual success at reaching the stars. Today, everyone is familiar with Neil Armstrong’s famous words as he first set foot on the moon: “one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” He made it look easy, but America’s journey to the moon was anything but simple. In 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, into orbit, America had barely crossed the starting line of the great Space Race. Later that year, our first attempt was such a failure that the media nicknamed it “Kaputnik.” Still, we didn’t give up. With each failure, we gleaned valuable information about what went wrong, and how to avoid it in the future. So we tried again. And again. And each time we failed, we failed a little bit better. The Epic Fails series by Erik Slader and Ben Thompson explores the humorous backstories behind a variety of historical discoveries, voyages, experiments, and innovations that didn’t go as expected but succeeded nonetheless, showing that many of mankind’s biggest success stories are the result of some pretty epic failures indeed.

  2. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain - “I was born at the beginning of it all, on the Red side―the Communist side―of the Iron Curtain.” Through annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes, Peter Sís shows what life was like for a child who loved to draw, proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, stood guard at the giant statue of Stalin, and believed whatever he was told to believe. But adolescence brought questions. Cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain, and news from the West slowly filtered into the country. Sís learned about beat poetry, rock ‘n’ roll, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola. He let his hair grow long, secretly read banned books, and joined a rock band. Then came the Prague Spring of 1968, and for a teenager who wanted to see the world and meet the Beatles, this was a magical time. It was short-lived, however, brought to a sudden and brutal end by the Soviet-led invasion. But this brief flowering had provided a glimpse of new possibilities―creativity could be discouraged but not easily killed. By joining memory and history, Sís takes us on his extraordinary journey: from infant with paintbrush in hand to young man borne aloft by the wings of his art. This title has Common Core connections. The Wall is a 2007 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, a 2008 Caldecott Honor Book, a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children’s Book of the Year, the winner of the 2008 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, and a nominee for the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids.

  3. A Hitch at the Fairmont - An intrepid boy teams up with Alfred Hitchcock himself in this rollicking mystery rife with action, adventure, intrigue, and all the flavor of film noir. After the mysterious death of his mother, eleven-year-old Jack Fair is whisked away to San Francisco’s swanky Fairmont Hotel by his wicked Aunt Edith. There, he seems doomed to a life of fetching chocolates for his aunt and her pet chinchilla. Until one night, when Aunt Edith disappears, and the only clue is a ransom note written…in chocolate? Suddenly, Jack finds himself all alone on a quest to discover who kidnapped Aunt Edith and what happened to his mother. Alone, that is, until he meets an unlikely accomplice—Alfred Hitchcock himself! The two embark on a madcap journey full of hidden doorways, secret societies, cryptic clues, sinister villains, and cinematic flair. Including an author’s note about the real Hitchcock and an appendix of film references, this “fine read” is a “love letter to all that Hitchcock stood for” (Kirkus Reviews).

Books About 1950 - 1999 and 1990s

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River Friendly, River Wild
Written by Jane Kurtz & illustrated by Neil Brennan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This winter was snowy, this spring brought a terrible blizzard, and now the river is rising. Sandbags don’t stop it, the dikes don’t stop it, and late one night sirens warn everyone to evacuate. A girl and her family don’t expect to be gone more than a couple of days, so they leave their cat and race for shelter with only a suitcase each. But as days stretch into weeks they worry: Is the cat safe? Will they have a home to return to? And how will their lives be changed? In searing, personal poems, Jane Kurtz explores what it’s like to struggle through a flood and pull your life together afterward. Inspired by Kurtz’s own flood experience, this tale is realistic and unforgettable. Not just a moving story of one girl’s courage, River Friendly, River Wild is a tribute to everyone who’s ever faced great loss.

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Proud (Young Readers Edition)
Written & illustrated by Ibtihaj Muhammad
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this “compassionate, timely novel” (Booklist, starred review) from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns. Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized. Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

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Flowers for Sarajevo
Written by John McCutcheon & illustrated by Kristy Caldwell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Young Drasko is happy working with his father in the Sarajevo market. Then war encroaches. Drasko must run the family flower stand alone.
One morning, the bakery is bombed and twenty-two people are killed. The next day, a cellist walks to the bombsite and plays the most heartbreaking music Drasko can imagine. The cellist returns for twenty-two days, one day for each victim of the bombing. Inspired by the musician’s response, Drasko finds a way to help make Sarajevo beautiful again.
Based on real events of the Bosnian War, award-winning songwriter and storyteller John McCutcheon tells the uplifting story of the power of beauty in the face of violence and suffering. The story comes to life with the included CD in which cellist Vedran Smailović accompanies McCutcheon and performs the melody that he played in 1992 to honor those who died in the Sarajevo mortar blast.

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  1. Kerri Strug and and the Magnificent Seven - “Team USA had never won Olympic gold. Until now. In 1996, seven U.S. gymnasts are ready to change everything. Kerri Strug and her teammates are called the Magnificent Seven. Together, they are America’s best chance to win its first team gold medal. After years of training, Kerri wants to do her best for the team. But the competition is tough–and full of surprises! Can Kerri help Team USA make history? After you’ve read the story, don’t miss the bonus content that emphasizes Common Core and today’s renewed interest in nonfiction. Perfect for home, school, and library bookshelves!”

  2. True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn't - Zippy Chippy is descended from the leading legends of horse racing. He is destined for greatness and glory. But . . . when the starting bell rings, it’s anybody’s guess what Zippy will do. Will Zippy go for a gentle trot around the track or stop and smell the roses? Or, perhaps, never even leave the starting gate?! With mischief in his makeup, he’s known to stick his tongue out at people and chew up the hats of passersby. And he’s always trying to break out of his stall. What’s an owner to do? Try and try again! After all, he believes in Zippy–and, besides, the horse is now a part of the family. But as Zippy’s losses mount, a funny thing happens. People start to take notice of the hapless, cupcake-eating horse. Could it be that they’re betting on Zippy to win? This remarkable story of the famed racehorse who lost every race is sure to win your heart!

  3. Gervelie's Journey: A Refugee Diary - Gervelie was born in the Republic of the Congo in 1995. This is the true story of her flight from her home in Africa to seek refuge in the United Kingdom and is told in her words. It is the honest and heartrending story of a family torn apart by war and their courageous decision to seek a life of peace in the West. Other titles in the series: Hamzat’s Journey, Mohammed’s Journey, Meltem’s Journey This is the first book in an accalaimed series highlighting the true stories of refugee children. Chosen as a Scholastic Book of the Year and as an Outstanding International Book by USBBY. CLICK HERE

  4. Cat Who Ruled The Town - Dip a toe, paw, or fin into history with this fact-tastic Level 2 Ready-to-Read, part of a new series all about pets and the people who loved them! In this story, learn all about a sweet kitty who was voted the mayor of a town in Alaska! Stubbs was the mayor of a small town in Alaska. He was friendly and well respected by the townspeople. But there was one thing that set Stubbs apart from any other mayor: he was a cat!

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Astronauts
Written by Jim Ottaviani & illustrated by Maris Wicks
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

A nonfiction graphic novel for middle grade readers about notable female astronauts.

America may have put the first man on the moon, but it was the Soviet space program that made Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space. Meanwhile, in the United States, NASA’s first female astronauts were racing toward milestones of their own. These trail-blazing women were admitted into Group 9, NASA’s first mixed-gender class. They had the challenging task of convincing the powers that be that a woman’s place is in space. But once they’d been admitted into the training program, they discovered that NASA had plenty to learn about how to make space travel possible for all humans.

In Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier, Jim Ottaviani and illustrator Maris Wicks capture the great humor and incredible drive of Mary Cleve, Valentina Tereshkova, and the first women in space.

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When Bill Gates Memorized an Encyclopedia
Written by Mark Andrew Weakland & illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Bill Gates is known as the richest man in the world. But do you know what he was like as a child? From selling peanuts to memorizing entire encyclopedias, Bill used his brain. This playful story of his childhood will help young readers connect with a historic figure and will inspire them to want to achieve greatness.

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Katherine Johnson (You Should Meet)
Written by Thea Feldman & illustrated by Alyssa Petersen
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Get to know the woman who made many of NASA’s early missions possible in this fascinating, nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read, part of a series of biographies about people “you should meet!” Meet Katherine Johnson, a brilliant mathematician who worked at NASA in the early 1950s until retiring in 1986. Katherine’s unparalleled calculations (done by hand) helped plan the trajectories for NASA’s Mercury and Apollo missions (including the Apollo 11 moon landing). She is said to be one of the greatest American minds of all time. A special section at the back of the book includes extras on subjects like history and math, plus inspiring careers for math lovers. With the You Should Meet series, learning about historical figures has never been so much fun!

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  1. I Am Albert Einstein - Presents the life of the world-renowned German scientist, describing how his life-long curiosity and ability to question accepted theories led him to develop his famous theory of relatvitiy and win the Noble Prize for Physics.

  2. Look Up with Me: Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Life Among the Stars - A 2020 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12! **With an introduction from Neil DeGrasse Tyson about the importance of kid-like curiosity, this lyrical picture book biography on the beloved astrophysicist and host of Cosmos is the perfect gift for young astronomers and fans of all ages.** Neil deGrasse Tyson was born curious. And the secrets of a billion galaxies lay there—waiting for him to explore its cosmic mysteries. He just had to look up. Up beyond the city lights, up at the shining stars, up through the Milky Way, and past the veil of the night sky. Follow young Neil’s journey as he discovers the wonders of space, the thrill of science, and the joy in sharing the beauty of our amazing universe. Read his favorite mind-blowing facts and learn what mysteries are left to solve. From On a Beam of Light author Jennifer Berne and debut paper illustrator Lorraine Nam comes the inspiring true tale of Neil’s life and how he became a world-famous astrophysicist. The future of discovery lays with you. Look up with Neil and begin your own journey into the cosmos.

Books About 1950 - 1999 and Social Themes

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Orange for the Sunsets
Written & illustrated by Tina Athaide
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From debut author Tina Athaide comes a soaring tale of empathy, hope, and resilience, as two best friends living under Ugandan President Amin’s divisive rule must examine where—and who—they call home. Perfect for fans of Half from the East and Inside Out and Back Again. Asha and her best friend, Yesofu, never cared about the differences between them: Indian. African. Girl. Boy. Short. Tall. But when Idi Amin announces that Indians have ninety days to leave the country, suddenly those differences are the only things that people in Entebbe can see—not the shared after-school samosas or Asha cheering for Yesofu at every cricket game. Determined for her life to stay the same, Asha clings to her world tighter than ever before. But Yesofu is torn, pulled between his friends, his family, and a promise of a better future. Now as neighbors leave and soldiers line the streets, the two friends find that nothing seems sure—not even their friendship. Tensions between Indians and Africans intensify and the deadline to leave is fast approaching. Could the bravest thing of all be to let each other go?

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Smile
Written & illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.

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Inside Out and Back Again
Written by Thanhha Lai
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. When You Reach Me - “Like A Wrinkle in Time (Miranda’s favorite book), When You Reach Me far surpasses the usual whodunit or sci-fi adventure to become an incandescent exploration of ‘life, death, and the beauty of it all.’” —The Washington Post This Newbery Medal winner that has been called “smart and mesmerizing,” (The New York Times) and “superb” (The Wall Street Journal) will appeal to readers of all types, especially those who are looking for a thought-provoking mystery with a mind-blowing twist. Shortly after a fall-out with her best friend, sixth grader Miranda starts receiving mysterious notes, and she doesn’t know what to do. The notes tell her that she must write a letter—a true story, and that she can’t share her mission with anyone. It would be easy to ignore the strange messages, except that whoever is leaving them has an uncanny ability to predict the future. If that is the case, then Miranda has a big problem—because the notes tell her that someone is going to die, and she might be too late to stop it. Winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Fiction A New York Times Bestseller and Notable Book Five Starred Reviews A Junior Library Guild Selection “Absorbing.” —People “Readers … are likely to find themselves chewing over the details of this superb and intricate tale long afterward.” —The Wall Street Journal “Lovely and almost impossibly clever.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer “It’s easy to imagine readers studying Miranda’s story as many times as she’s read L’Engle’s, and spending hours pondering the provocative questions it raises.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred review

  2. Kira-Kira - kira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister Lynn makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people s eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare. And it’s Lynn who with her special way of viewing the world teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill and the whole family begins to fall apart it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering – kira-kira – in the future.

  3. Little Cliff's First Day of School - Little Cliff’s great-grandmother, Mama Pearl, and his great-grandfather, Poppa Joe, are so excited for him to start first grade.  But Little Cliff doesn’t want to go to school, especially if it means leaving behind his toys, his home, and his family.  When the first day of school comes, Mama Pearl walks Little Cliff to the schoolhouse.  As they draw nearer, Little Cliff hears laughter and looks up to see that all of his friends are there.  Hmm, maybe school will be fun. . . .

Books About 1950 - 1999 and Culture

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Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph
Written by Roxane Orgill & illustrated by Francis Vallejo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

What happens when you invite as many jazz musicians as you can to pose for a photo in 1950s Harlem? Playful verse and glorious artwork capture an iconic moment for American jazz. When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day. Francis Vallejo’s vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. Includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author’s note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane’s famous photograph.

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Lost Boys
Written by Darcey Rosenblatt
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Based on historical events, this unforgettable and inspiring tale for middle-grade readers is about a young boy torn from the only life he’s ever known and held captive as a prisoner of war. In 1982, twelve-year-old Reza has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, assured by the authorities that he will achieve paradise should he die in service to his country. War does not bring the glory the boys of Iran have been promised, and Reza soon finds himself held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq, where the guards not only threaten violence—they act upon it. Will Reza make it out alive? And if he does, will he even have a home to return to? In this unforgettable tale of friendship and survival against the odds, Reza finds solace through music and forges his own path, wherever that might take him. Lost Boys is a stunning debut from Darcey Rosenblatt. It is perfect for readers interested in current events, history, and the Middle East. Praise for Lost Boys: “In Rosenblatt’s ambitious debut novel, Reza, a 12-year-old Iranian boy, clings to friendship and his love of music as the Iran-Iraq War tears his world apart. . . . Reza’s story is compelling . . . .” —Kirkus Reviews “This hard-hitting first novel opens in Iran in 1982 during the Ayatollah Khomeini’s oppressive rule and that nation’s war with Iraq. . . . The larger political context becomes personal when a devastating public rejection of Reza and his fellow survivors by Iran leaves the boys without a country. . . . [T]he resilience of Rosenblatt’s protagonist strikes a strong chord.” —Publishers Weekly

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Candy Bomber
Written & illustrated by Michael O. Tunnell
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

“World War II was over, and Berlin was in ruins. US Air Force Lieutenant Gail Halvorsen knew the children of the city were suffering. They were hungry and afraid. The young pilot wanted to help, but what could one man in one plane do?”–Dust jacket flap.

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. La nina de los gorriones / The sparrow girl - When the ruler of China declares a “Sparrow War” against the birds that are eating the farmers’ crops, little Ming-Li makes it her mission to save the unwanted birds from certain destruction.

  2. Sparrow Girl - Ming-Li looked up and tried to imagine the sky silent, empty of birds. It was a terrible thought. Her country’s leader had called sparrows the enemy of the farmers–they were eating too much grain, he said. He announced a great “Sparrow War” to banish them from China, but Ming-Li did not want to chase the birds away.
    As the people of her village gathered with firecrackers and gongs to scatter the sparrows, Ming-Li held her ears and watched in dismay. The birds were falling from the trees, frightened to death! Ming-Li knew she had to do something–even if she couldn’t stop the noise. Quietly, she vowed to save as many sparrows as she could, one by one…

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