Posts Tagged book list

#JewishandProud –Kidlit Fights Bias


KIdlit always fights bias, and today is definitely a day to stand up. Today is #JewishandProud day.  This is a time when members of the Jewish community are encouraged to publicly display Jewish identity and faith in the face of ongoing and escalating anti-Semitic violence in this country and around the world. A recent survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee found that 31% of respondents reported feeling uncomfortable wearing or displaying anything would identify them as Jewish. That’s 31% too many people who are afraid to show pride in or belonging to or respect for the tenets of their faith because of a world that isn’t fighting back hard enough to stamp out hate.

jewish and proud day january 6

Kidlit fights bias — and we here at MUF are committed to inclusiveness and diversity. We stand with our Jewish family. Furthermore, in order to support and be an ally of the Jewish community, I’m dedicating my post to a wonderful anti-bias children’s book list maintained by the Anti-Defamation League.

What is the ADL?

I think most are aware of the ADL, but for those who haven’t had the chance to become acquainted with them, they’re an advocacy and education organization dedicated to creating a country where discrimination is a thing of the past. Their mission statement envisions stopping “…the defamation of the Jewish people, and (securing) … justice and fair treatment to all.” To be clear: their scope is all-inclusive—they lobby for anti-bias and anti-discrimination laws for ALL underrepresented groups, run education programs in schools to help fight hate speech and bullying, and work in all aspects of criminal justice reform, from sentencing procedures to law enforcement training.

As part of their work in education, they provide extensive programs and training for educators, parents, and families: this is where the booklist comes in.

Books Matter

“Books Matter” is an incredible book list and resource for fighting bias and hate. It’s carefully curated by subject, pulling together the best kid lit on diversity and social justice. You have a choice of 11 sections for book suggestions, with subjects such as Jewish culture and anti-Semitism, and also bias, discrimination, and hate.

ADL Assistant Education Director Michelle Magner notes that “Educators and families can use books with their students and children as a mirror to affirm who they are and enable them to see themselves portrayed with accuracy, depth, and complexity.  Books can also be used as a window to teach children about people with whom they are unfamiliar which can lead to understanding and building bridges.  Both mirror and window books can build empathy which is such an important tool in combating intolerance. ”

Each section includes options from picture books to young adult, and each book suggests an appropriate reader age range.

books matter reading list

Among the many drill-down features includes a “book of the month” section; this month it’s Jacquelyn Woodson’s HARBOR ME.

Each book of the month selection is accompanied by coordinated lesson plans for classrooms as well as suggested tools and strategies for difficult conversations.

The ADL is committed to the belief that books are a critical component in the effort to create a more tolerant, just world. Having a list like this and resources available to help us all in that mission gives us better, stronger tools, and also a sense that we’re not alone.

KidLit Community Can Help

What I love about lists like this is that they’re always growing. And we can be part of that! For those of you MUFers who are also authors … keep writing, keep adding to that body of literature! For inspiration, read here for  Jonathan Rosen’s recap of the TENT program for Jewish children’s literature, And … here’s an interview with author Leslie Kimmelman, who also went to Israel. Waiting eagerly to see what comes of her inspiration from that trip!

But even if you can’t travel, you can support authors by reading their work and supporting it publicly. You can be part of conversations that push back against hate and bias. You can refuse to accept a biased, intolerant world, and instead model a society that includes, accepts, and celebrates all religions, ethnicities, races, genders, and sexual identities.


Starman – A Space-Themed Middle Grade Book List

Starman A Space-Themed Middle Grade Book List | https://fromthemixedupfiles.comOn February 6, Elon Musk and his SpaceX team had hundreds of thousands of people looking up at the stars again (or at least looking at the live stream) as he successfully launched his Falcon Heavy rocket on its maiden voyage. To add a little pizazz to the whole event, he sent his cherry red roadster and a mannequin dressed in a space suit on a little cruise – through space.

Musk’s event generated interest and excitement across the globe. (It also generated some healthy debate). The best parts of the historic launch reminded me of the excitement and wonder surrounding past space missions and our hopes for future exploration. Of course, all if it got me thinking about books and the people who write the stories that help us all imagine life beyond our little planet. So, I put together a list of books to help inspire the Starkid in your life.

The Countdown Conspiracy by Kate Slivensky

Starman - A Space-Themed Middle Grade Book List |The Countdown Consipiracy |

Ambassador, you are go for launch in T- minus 5…4…3…2…. Get ready to blast off with this high-action, high-stakes middle grade adventure that’s perfect for fans of Chris Grabenstein and Peter Lerangis!

Miranda Regent can’t believe she was just chosen as one of six kids from around the world to train for the first ever mission to Mars. But as soon as the official announcement is made, she begins receiving anonymous threatening messages…and when the training base is attacked, it looks like Miranda is the intended target. Now the entire mission—and everyone’s lives—are at risk. And Miranda may be the only one who can save them.

The Martian meets The Goonies in this out-of-this-world middle grade debut where the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Holy Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy by Gareth Wronski

Starman: A Space-themed Book List |Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy |https://fromthemixedupfiles.comGuardians of the Galaxy meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in this laugh-out-loud funny debut novel about a girl’s journey into space and beyond to find her place in the universe.

Holly Farb is not the Princess of the Galaxy. She may be top of the class in every subject, but she can’t even win a school election, never mind rule the Milky Way. The aliens who kidnapped her have gotten it all wrong.

Unfortunately Holly’s alien pirate kidnappers believe that she’s the princess they’ve been looking for, and so she finds herself hurtling through space on an alien pirate ship together with her teacher, Mr. Mendez, and Chester, the most annoying boy in her class. Now all she has to do is escape the pirates, find the missing princess, and get back to Earth in time for her big test on Friday.

But it turns out that space is a pretty big place, and before they can go home, Holly, Chester, and Mr. Mendez must face down space cruise liners, bounty hunters, giant worms, perky holograms, cosmic board games, sinister insectoid librarians, and a robot who is learning how to lie.

Between running from space pirates, defying the President of the Universe, and meeting a host of rather unusual new friends, Holly starts to wonder if there might be more to life than being top of the class after all.

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Starman - A Space-Themed Middle Grade Book List | See You In the Cosmos |

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.

Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins and illustrated by Lucy Knisley

Starman - A Space-Themed Middle Grade Book List | Margaret and the Moon |

A true story from one of the Women of NASA!

Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. She knew how many miles it was to the moon (and how many back). She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world.

Soon math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She handwrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Apollo 8. Apollo 9. Apollo 10. Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed.

Dean Robbins and Lucy Knisley deliver a lovely portrayal of a pioneer in her field who never stopped reaching for the stars.

Beep and Bob by Jonathan Roth

Starman: A Space-Themed Book List |Beep and Bob |

Astro Elementary is a school near Saturn attended by the bravest, brightest, most elite kids in the galaxy…and Bob. Bob never wanted to go to fourth grade in dark, dangerous space. He even tried to fail the admissions test by bubbling in “C” for every answer—and turned out to be the only kid on Earth to get a perfect score!

Bob feels he couldn’t be more misplaced at his school—until he meets Beep. Beep is an alien from the planet Orth who was kicked off his home world for being too small. The instant Bob finds him, Beep adopts Bob as his new mother. Soon Bob can’t turn around without bumping into Beep’s squishy little body. Together, they make the perfect team. And Bob logs their adventures on his space blog, or SPLOG, with Beep providing the illustrations.

In their first adventure, Bob is humiliated on a field trip to Pluto when his tongue gets stuck to the ice. Not even Beep can keep Bob from becoming the laughing stock of the school. Bob has to find a way to completely change his personality, just in time for their next treacherous field trip—to the gaping mouth of a super massive black hole.

I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Starman: A Space-Themed Middle Grade Book List | I Love You Michael Collins |

It’s 1969 and the country is gearing up for what looks to be the most exciting moment in U.S. history: men landing on the moon. Ten-year-old Mamie’s class is given an assignment to write letters to the astronauts. All the girls write to Neil Armstrong (“So cute!”) and all the boys write to Buzz Aldrin (“So cool!”). Only Mamie writes to Michael Collins, the astronaut who will come so close but never achieve everyone else’s dream of walking on the moon, because he is the one who must stay with the ship. After school ends, Mamie keeps writing to Michael Collins, taking comfort in telling someone about what’s going on with her family as, one by one, they leave the house thinking that someone else is taking care of her―until she is all alone except for her cat and her best friend, Buster. And as the date of the launch nears, Mamie can’t help but wonder: Does no one stay with the ship anymore? With I LOVE YOU, MICHAEL COLLINS, Lauren Baratz-Logsted has created a heartwarming story about family and being true to yourself.

Do you have a favorite space book that didn’t make my list? Or one that’s coming out soon that I should keep an eye out for? Let me know in the comments section below. Happy reading!

I Have a Dream…

MLKToday we honor Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights leader who encouraged people to use peaceful protests to fight injustice. Listen to one of his famous speeches, I Have a Dream. King dreamed of a world where all people could live in peace and harmony. To find out more about Dr. King, his beliefs, his speeches, and his life, check out at this selection of books.

King’s niece, Angela Farris Watkins, has written several books about her famous uncle. Using his speeches and beliefs, she provides information about his public and private life. Although these are picture books, the content is better suited for elementary school students.

LoveLove Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs

After describing each principle, Watkins gives an example of how King followed that principle in his own life.

Angela 2

My Uncle Martin’s Words for America: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Niece Tells How He Made a Difference

Watkins focuses on key words, such as justice, freedom, and equality, to tell the inspirational story of King’s civil rights efforts.

big heart

Uncle Martin’s Big Heart

In this heartwarming account of King and his family, Watkins shows her uncle’s caring spirit and her own love for him as she runs into his arms after church.March

King’s sister, Christine King Farris, has also written books about her brother, including March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World, an account of the 1963 March on Washington.

I amOther biographies for middle-grade readers include the I Am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Grace Norwich. Part of the I Am series, this book includes King’s words, interesting facts, maps, sidebars, and a timeline. A good introduction to King’s important contributions. Free

Free At Last: The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Angela Bull details King’s life and contributions. This short book contains excellent pictures, comprehensive facts, and fact-filled sidebars.



Martin Luther King Jr. by Dona Herweck features informational text, good pictures, and a timeline of King’s life. Best for younger readers.

Nat Geo

National Geographic Readers: Martin Luther King, Jr. by Kitson Jazynka is a high-interest biography that explains King’s life and accomplishments in an easy-to-understand format. Colorful design and illustrations help hold reader interest.

CapstonespeechOne book contains King’s writing and speeches, and the other makes them accessible to middle grade readers.

For more great information on King, visit the King Center online or in Atlanta, Georgia. A booklist from the center includes suggested titles, which provide excellent reference materials for teachers, librarians, and parents who are planning programs or presentations.

Books by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Collections of Dr. King’s Writings & Speeches
Books about Martin Luther King, Jr. – Extended Citations
Books about Martin Luther King, Jr.
Books by Family Members
Books about The Civil Rights Movement
Books about Nonviolence