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Children's Books--Content Area Themes and Topics

Education Librarian

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Alison Lehner-Quam
Leonard Lief Library
250 Bedford Park Blvd. West
Bronx, NY 10468

Author and Illustrator Websites

Biographies and Memoirs


"This book begins with a little girl, Nina Simone, who has a gift and a passion for music, whether gospel, jazz, or classical. As Simone grows up, she begins to notice more inequities and injustices. Her anger grows, and the focus of the book shifts to issues of the civil rights movement and Simone's role within it." --School Library Journal

Review Citation and Link: Salazar, C. (2021). Nina: A Story of Nina Simone. School Library Journal, 67(11), 88–89.

Intended Grade: PK-5

Awards: Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book

A History of Me

"Theodore experienced being "the only brown person in class," which meant having to hear the history of African Americans from enslavement to civil rights and having to shoulder that burden, the stares, whispers, and racist comments from classmates. Now, 30 years later, history is repeating itself as the narrator's daughter is facing the same challenges." -- School Library Journal

Review Citation and Link: Scott, J. (2022). A History of Me. School Library Journal, 68(2), 68–69.

Intended Grade: PK-2

Zion Unmatched

"Part memoir, part photo-essay, Zion Clark’s story is completely inspirational. Born without legs due to a rare medical condition known as caudal regression syndrome, African American Zion also faced abuse and neglect in the foster care system, with his mother in jail and his father absent. Undeterred, he became a winning wrestler, even against nondisabled opponents, and a state champion in seated racing competitions. Now Zion wants to serve as a role model and help young people overcome adversity." --Booklist

Review Citation and Link: Leeper, A. (2021). Zion Unmatched. Booklist, 118(1), 70.

Intended Grade: 4-8

Exquisite (eBook)

"Poet Gwendolyn Brooks' life is chronicled for young readers. Growing up with a love for poetry that's fed by her father's recitations and her mother's affirmations ("You are going to be the lady Paul Laurence Dunbar"), young Gwendolyn begins writing as early as 7." --Kirkus Reviews

Review Citation and Link: EXQUISITE: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. (2020). Kirkus Reviews, 88(4), N.PAG.

Intended Grade: 1-5

Awards: Coretta Scott King Book Award Illustrator Honor Book and Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book

Above the Rim (eBook)

"Bryant and Morrison team up to honor 11-time NBA All-Star and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor (b. 1934). This captivating account chronicles Baylor's rise to basketball stardom in spite of the obstacles he faced in the segregated cities of his childhood and throughout his career." --School Library Journal

Review Citation and Link: Van Auken, L. (2020). Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball. School Library Journal, 66(10), 91.

Intended Grade: PK-5

Awards: Orbis Pictus Award

Gender Queer: a Memoir

"Kobabe, who uses the pronouns e, em, and eir, was assigned female at birth but never felt that this designation fit. In this memoir, Kobabe chronicles eir life from the time e was very young through eir coming of age and adulthood." --School Library Journal

Review Citation and Link: Gender Queer: A Memoir. (2020). School Library Journal, 65(12), 69.

Intended Grade: 7-12

Awards: Stonewall Honor Book, Alex Award

Brown Girl Dreaming (eBook)

"What is this book about? In an appended author’s note, Woodson says it best: 'my past, my people, my memories, my story.' The re­sulting memoir in verse is a marvel, as it turns deeply felt remembrances of Woodsons preadolescent life into art, through memo­ries of her homes in Ohio, South Carolina, and, finally, New York City, and of her friends and family." --Booklist

Review Citation and Link: Cart, M. (2014). Brown Girl Dreaming. Booklist110(22), 60–64.

Intended Grade: 4-8

Awards: Newbery Honor Book, National Book Award for Young People's Literature, and Coretta Scott King Author Award

Almost American Girl

"Transitioning from life in Korea to America, a young woman struggles with change and figuring out where she fits. After her mother's decision to marry a man in Alabama, 14-year-old Chuna, who thought she was just going on another mother-daughter trip, grapples with culture shock, bullying, and integrating into a new family." --Kirkus Reviews

Review Citation and Link: Almost American Girl. (2019). Kirkus Reviews, 87(22), N.PAG.

Intended Grade: 7-12

Mario and the Hole in the Sky

"Growing up in Mexico, Mario Molina loved exploring the world around him and performing experiments with his microscope. After attending boarding school in Switzerland and receiving his PhD, Molina began work in the United States, where he made a horrific discovery" --School Library Journal

Review Citation and Link: Paz, S. (2019). Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet/Mario y el agujero en el cielo: Como un quimico salvo nuestro planeta. School Library Journal, 65(10), 78.

Intended Grade: 1-5

Sonia Sotomayor

"Winter chronicles the life of the first Latina Supreme Court justice, from her childhood in the Bronx to her historic nomination." --School Library Journal

Review Citation and Link: Landrum, M. (2010). Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que creció en el Bronx. School Library Journal, 56(1), 94.

Intended Grade: 1-8


"An introduction to the life of Julio C. Tello, one of the most important Peruvian archaeologists and the first Indigenous archaeologist in the Americas." --Kirkus Reviews

Review Citation and Link: SHARUKO: El arqueólogo peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello. (2020). Kirkus Reviews, 88(7), N.PAG.

Intended Grade: 1-5

Awards: Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book


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