Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems

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Author: Joyce Sidman

Illustrator: Beckie Prange

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: April 4, 2005

Awards: Caldecott Honor Book, Lee Bennet Hopkins Poetry Award, Horn Book Fanfare, Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book, Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year, Kirkus Best Book of the Year, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editors’ Choice

Age Range: 6 – 11 years

Grade Level: 1 – 5th


As the seasons go by the pond is a living and breathing thing at every point. Life spills over the edge, from duckweed to painted turtles, all captured in stunning illustrations and beautifully versed poetry. The illustrations are hand colored woodcuts, a worthy winner of the Caldecott award based on ingenuity, creativity, and craft alone. You may pick this book up expecting only poetry and pretty pictures, but this book is also strong in its science and facts and you will definitely close its cover having learned so many new things. Poetry is a wonderful art for all ages, but young students and children will delight in its natural rhythm and complementing art. This book only serves to remind us of nature’s beauty and balance, a deep inhale in the form of a book,

Me… Jane

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Author/Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell

Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers

Date of Publication: April 5, 2011

Awards: 2012 Caldecott Honor Book, Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner, Horn Book Fanfare Book, New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book

Age Range: 4 – 11 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 5th


This book exudes warmth, love, and inspiration. It offers a wonderful introduction to the life of the incredible Jane Goodall. From her beginnings alongside Jubilee her stuffed monkey, to her important work as a naturalist later on it life. This story is told through adorable and whimsical illustrations and never loses sight of its informative nature with bits and pieces of Jane’s actual journals, and photographs from her childhood. This is an incredible book because it highlights the importance of believing in one’s dreams and the path to fulfilling such dreams. It’s an incredible book to instill a love for the world, a love for the outside, a love for the living beings of this earth. It’s for readers of every kind, because who can live on this earth and not fall in love with its creatures?

The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs

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Author: Kate Messner

Illustrator: Matthew Forsythe

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Date of Publication: April 3, 2018

Awards: Only published earlier this year and hasn’t received any rewards yet… School Library Journal starred review, Shelf Awareness starred review.

Age Range: 4 – 11 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 5th


The struggle of the coral reef is an important one to know, this is the true story of the beauty of nature and the human ingenuity involved in preserving it. An extremely important part of our oceans is slowly disappearing, and Ken Nedimyer is one of those innovators working so hard to save what is quickly degrading. All it takes is one coral gamete to start a colony, on each person to make a difference, one idea to change the world. Not only does this book present its subject matter in an interesting and informative way, but the illustrations are unbelievably beautiful and immersive. The flowing style of the paintings are perfect for a book about the beauty of the deep blue sea. This book serves as a wonderful lens into a story that needs to be told to everyone, young or old. It will encourage curiosity much like that of Ken Nedimyer, and remind young children and students that they alone have what it takes to make a difference,

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

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Author: Debbie Levy

Illustrator: Elizabeth Baddeley

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: September 20, 2016

Awards: 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner, 2016 National Jewish Book Award, 2017 Orbis Pictus Award Honor Book for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, California Reading Association’s 2016 Eureka! Gold Award, New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) 2017 Carla Cohen Free Speech Book of the Year, Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Book, Virginia Library Association’s Jefferson Cup Award, Margaret Wise Brown Prize Honor Book, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Crystal Kite Award, 2017 Amelia Bloomer Top Ten, ALA-ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Notable Book 2017

Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3


Ruth Badger Ginsburg, also known as the Notorious RBG, has spent her whole life standing up for what’s right, and not only disagreeing with injustices but fighting for what isn’t fair and equal. This is the first picture book about her life and it walks us through her famous dissents. This book is important based on the subject matter alone, but the way it is presented through marvelous recounts and illustrations only adds to the charm that RBG could have held on her own. An important book for anyone to experience, but especially for young girls everywhere whose society sends the message that they are meant to stay meek and quiet. There is a lesson to be learned here, that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable, and that battles need to be fought by strong people, in this case a very strong woman.

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives

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Author: Dashka Slater

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Date of Publication: October 17, 2017

Awards: ALA Stonewall Book Award, YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist


Age Range: 12-17 years

Grade Level: 7 – 12


  1. Activity guide featuring 24 questions that are ordered chronologically to the chapters in the book
  2. Support Materials ordered from easiest to hardest
  3. Lesson plan with The Hate U Give and Dear Martin as anchor texts

The 57 Bus tells the true story of a 2013 assault in Oakland, California, when an African American public school teen boy named Richard set fire to a sleeping, gender-nonconforming white private school teen named Sasha on that bus. This fire left third degree burns of 22% of Sahsa’s body. It is split into four parts, Sasha, Richard, The Fire, and Justice. This is a deeply emotional and thought provoking view at the event in its entirety. It elicits discussion on race, gender identity, the criminal justice system, and empathy for others. Anyone who is looking to widen their worldview will gain something from this book. It can be an important tool for parents to discuss with their child experiences that they themselves have not had, and how to foster empathy for those they do not identify with. What does it mean to be agender? What is life like for an incarcerated teen? What is a hate crime? Why does society make it so easy to harm and ridicule those that do not conform? This book is special because its topic is in no way easy, but its target audience is the young, and it knows that there’s no topic that young people cannot understand and empathize with.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

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Author and Illustrator: Duncan Tonatiah

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

Date of Publication: May 6th, 2014

Awards: 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor, 2015 Robert F. Sibert Honor, Jane Addams Award

Age Range: 6 – 9 years

Grade Level: 1 – 4


  1. Literature Guide with pre-reading, reading, and post-reading activities
  2. Read aloud lesson plan using elements of Bloom’s taxomony
  3. Book review using a Latino lens

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation tells the true story of young Sylvia Mendez and her family’s move to Westminster, California and being denied enrollment at the neighborhood school. Instead they had to attend the segregated Mexican school, even though Sylvia and her relatives were U.S. citizens and fluent in English. The Mendez family decided to takes matters into their own hands and organized a lawsuit when the school board was unable to give them a satisfactory reason for such discrimination. Duncan Tonatiuh’s classic illustration style, combined with his incorporation of personal interviews with Sylvia Mendez, court files, and news reports, all come together to tell the inspirational civil rights story of the Mendez family, an often overlooked but very important story. It is for people of all ages that do not believe in standing idly by in the face of injustice. Young children who are beginning to grapple with the unfairness of the world can find inspiration in this real world example of overcoming such a great injustice.