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Using Books

Bringing books and people together.

Life under siege

Growing up amidst political turmoil and war can have profound effects on any individual. These memoirs and biographies offer nuanced explorations of lives in such uncertain places and times. In How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, Congolese refugee Sandra Uwiringiyimana recounts life before, during, and after war. Growing up in the […]

Outta this world

In these middle-grade and middle-school science-fiction novels, aliens variously come in peace or seek to destroy humanity — but either way, their existence forces characters to ponder deep philosophical questions and experience life-changing journeys. Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth begins with narrator Prez Mellows (who is electively mute) opening the front […]

Summer’s here

Climbing trees, getting wet, having outdoor adventures. The following picture books capture the mood of summertime exploration and fun. Even though he’s warned to stay safely inside the icebox, the titular star of Ice Boy escapes to the outside (“Hello, world!”). He loves the outside with its beach and its sun…and he soon becomes Water […]

Books mentioned in the July 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Kate and M. Sarah Klise Stay: A Girl, a Dog, a Bucket List by Kate Klise, illus. by M. Sarah Klise, Feiwel, 5–8 years. Summer’s here Ice Boy by David Ezra Stein, Candlewick, 4–7 years. Wet by Carey Sookocheff, Holt/Godwin, 3–6 years. Another Way to Climb a Tree by Liz Garton Scanlon, […]

Unprecedented daring: awe-inspiring picture book biographies

Are you a daredevil at heart? Ready to take on a challenge? Are you passionate about causes and willing to jump in when you see injustice, even in the face of possible danger? If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’ll find a kindred spirit in the subjects of these two books. If you […]

Share your summer reading lists

With schools finished for the season, most have posted summer reading lists. Back in my school days, I remember two kinds of lists: the ones with required reading (classics to be read before grade 9) and the much-preferred lists of books we were encouraged to read just for fun. At the Horn Book, we create […]

Using picture books to teach adolescents about genre

I teach a course every spring about methods in teaching writing, and one topic we learn about is teaching genre. Adolescents need a fairly broad understanding of a variety of genres, both reading and writing them, though often English classrooms focus heavily on reading novels and writing analytical essays. So every year, I make the […]

Love stories with Pride

Two intense, nonlinear explorations of love and loss; one surprising, sweet romance; and one high-stakes, swoon-worthy romp. What these very different (in genre and tone) love stories have in common are nuanced portrayals of a spectrum of sexual identities and experiences, making them welcome new additions to the canon of queer YA. Happy Pride Month! […]

Growin’ up is hard to do, audiobook version

The preteen years are full of new experiences and challenges. These four audiobooks — three novels, and one book of advice — all involve aspects of growing up and exploring one’s identity. For Archer Magill, main character of Richard Peck‘s 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book The Best Man, sixth grade is full of changes: […]

The birds and the bees…and the arachnids and more!

Four entertaining nonfiction picture books provide young readers with solid scientific information about the birds and the bees — and other insects and arachnids, too! — in friendly, accessible formats. In Eileen Christelow’s humorous, informative Robins!: How They Grow Up, two young robins reminisce about the events of their (very recent) youth. The details covered […]