September always means back-to-school time for my family, and that’s something very different this year across the country. Many kids are learning remotely–and books can be a great way to supplement their virtual schooldays. Books can even help students do the hands-on science experiments or art projects they’re missing from the in-school experience. So today, I’d like to highlight some educational middle grade books coming out this month. They’re filled with ideas to challenge and engage students about different subjects they may be learning in school this year.
Jennifer Swanson: Workman Publishing, Sept. 1, 2020
This Big Fat Notebook covers everything you need to know during a year of high school chemistry class, breaking down one big bad subject into accessible units. Learn to study better and get better grades using mnemonic devices, definitions, diagrams, educational doodles, and quizzes to recap it all.
Including: Atoms, elements, compounds and mixtures, the periodic table, quantum theory, bonding, the mole, chemical reactions and calculations, gas laws, solubility, pH scale, titrations, Le Chatelier’s principle …and much more!
Connie Goldsmith: Twenty-First Century Books, Sept. 1, 2020
“Our camp, they tell us, is now to be called a ‘relocation center’ and not a ‘concentration camp.’ We are internees, not prisoners. Here’s the truth: I am now a non-alien, stripped of my constitutional rights. I am a prisoner in a concentration camp in my own country. I sleep on a canvas cot under which is a suitcase with my life’s belongings: a change of clothes, underwear, a notebook and pencil. Why?”―Kiyo Sato
In 1941 Kiyo Sato and her eight younger siblings lived with their parents on a small farm near Sacramento, California, where they grew strawberries, nuts, and other crops. Kiyo had started college the year before when she was eighteen, and her eldest brother, Seiji, would soon join the US Army. The younger children attended school and worked on the farm after class and on Saturday. On Sunday, they went to church. The Satos were an ordinary American family. Until they weren’t.
On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The next day, US president Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan and the United States officially entered World War II. Soon after, in February and March 1942, Roosevelt signed two executive orders which paved the way for the military to round up all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast and incarcerate them in isolated internment camps for the duration of the war. Kiyo and her family were among the nearly 120,000 internees.
In this moving account, Sato and Goldsmith tell the story of the internment years, describing why the internment happened and how it impacted Kiyo and her family. They also discuss the ways in which Kiyo has used her experience to educate other Americans about their history, to promote inclusion, and to fight against similar injustices. Hers is a powerful, relevant, and inspiring story to tell on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Sandra Markle: Millbrook Press, Sept. 1, 2020
Acclaimed science author Sandra Markle offers a fascinating look at Gobi bears―the rarest bears on the planet. These adorable animals face threats ranging from illegal gold miners to climate change. Find out more about these bears, which are considered a national treasure in Mongolia, and learn what scientists are doing to help this critically endangered species.
Lauren Tarshish: Scholastic, Sept. 1, 2020
The people of Northern California were used to living with the threat of wildfires. But nothing could have prepared them for the devastating 2018 fire season, the deadliest in 100 years and the most destructive in history.
In the 20th I Survived book, readers join eleven-year-old Josh as he leaves his New Jersey home for the rural northern California town where his cousins live. Still reeling from the life-changing challenges that propelled him and his mother across the country, Josh struggles to adapt to a more rustic, down-to-earth lifestyle that couldn’t be more different from the one he is used to.
Josh and his cousin bond over tacos and reptiles and jokes, but on a trip into the nearby forest, they suddenly find themselves in the path of a fast-moving firestorm, a super-heated monster that will soon lay waste to millions of acres of wilderness and — possibly — their town. Josh needs to confront the family issues burning him up inside, but first he’ll have to survive the flames blazing all around him.
MaryAnn F. Kole and Kim Solga: Chicago Review Press, Aug. 4, 2020
Fun and easy art-appreciation activities abound in this resource that features over 60 great artists across the ages. A concise biography for each artist tells why his or her work is important, and a kid-tested art activity tries out the artist’s approach. Young artists will sketch inventive designs in the style of da Vinci and draw in a nature notebook like Audubon. To understand Rodin, they will create a clay carving. Picasso will inspire a fractured friend, and Kahlo shows the magic in self-portraits. Projects stress the creative process and encourage kids to try unusual techniques such as block printing, pointillism, and mixed media artworks as they learn about architecture, drawing, painting, photography, and sculpture. Discovering Great Artists includes easy-to-follow icons to indicate the experience, preparation, and materials necessary for each project, as well as guides to the style, movement, or era of each artist. Introducing children to the greatest artists has never been more engaging!
Rebecca Stanborough: Compass Point Books, Aug. 1, 2020
Discover 25 women who challenged the stereotypes of what it means to play like a girl. These women worked to even the playing field and steppped up to score points for women all around the world.
Rachael Teresa Hanel: Capstone Press, Aug. 1, 2020
The artifacts of Ellis Island tell the story of millions of immigrants who passed through its halls on their journey to a new life in the United States. A 1900 photograph of the Statue of Liberty, an antique stethoscope, and a jigsaw puzzle are some of the primary sources that can help students better understand the experience of journeying through Ellis Island in the early 1900s. Explore these and more in this Time Capsule History book!