The Great Depression for Kids

The easily accessible text and the fun related activities make The Great Depression for Kids by Carol Mullenbach (Chicago Review Press, July 2015) a fantastic choice for the young student in upper elementary school or older that is interested in learning more about the era in our history. The text covers life before the Great Depression, the causes of the Great Depression, and then life during the Great Depression, both in cities and rural areas. It ends as it talks about how the nation recovered at the start of Word War II. Each chapter in The Great Depression for Kids covered a lot of information, but I felt it easily accessible to the younger reader.

This volume includes 21 activities related to the things happening in the text. For example, there is an explanation on how to “play the stock market” when the text talks about the stock market crash. Paper airplane making is the activity as kids learn about the new developments during the era. An erosion experiment is the activity during the chapter about the dust bowl. In all, the activities seem like simple but engaging ones for upper elementary students to enjoy doing!

As a personal note, I found myself wishing I’d asked my grandparents more about the era before they passed away. The book contained lots of details about life during the era, but I know my grandparent’s stories were unique. It’s interesting how this definitive historical era is now so distant from children’s lives today, even though it was only three generations ago.

Note: I read a digital copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.

 

Two Chapter Books about Africa by Atinuke

Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke is a series of short chapter books (actually related short stories) about a young girl’s lifestyle in Africa and her family.  I really enjoyed Anna’s playful and delightful personality. She is a character to enjoy. Her large family living in an African city is quite different from those of children in the USA, and I think that is a fabulous way for kids to get to know another culture. Even Anna herself must earn about her own privilege in the course of this first book: she decides to make money selling the oranges from her family’s tree, only to learn that the street children have become even more impoverished because she has taken away their own livelihood. Anna Hibiscus is the first in a series of four books. Others include Hooray for Anna Hibiscus!; Good Luck, Anna Hibiscusand Have Fun, Anna HibiscusPicture book stories have also been written for the youngest of children as well, including Anna Hibiscus’ Song; Splash, Anna Hibiscus; and a new release, Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus.

The No. 1 Car Spotter by Atinuke places a young boy in a rural African setting. Once again, I love how the life he lives is so different and eye-opening to the American child. The boy, known as No. 1 Car-Spotter, spends his free time watching for cars on the main road by his town. He is so good at spotting cars that he can often name the car only by hearing the engine! In this first volume, No. 1 saves the day when the family’s wagon breaks and they need to get their goods to the market. My son is eager to read The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird, a sequel to this volume.

I am a new independent consultant for Usborne Books and More, which provides these books for those in the USA! If you are interested in these books, send me a note at books at rebeccareid.com and I will send you a free copy of one of these when you book a qualifying book party (on Facebook!).

Kids Who Are Changing the World by Anne Jankeliowitch

Kids Who Are Changing the World by Anne Jankeliowitch (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, September 2014) is an inspiring volume of brief biographies of young children from around the world who took action to fight for ecological awareness. The author shares how each child was inspired, what he or she did as a result, and the end result of their action, including what they currently are doing to promote awareness and make a difference.

Some of the children used their talents to promote ecological awareness. Some painters sent artwork to those who donated to a cause. Others made music videos that have made a difference by raising awareness world wide to those who see the video. Others began locally in planting trees or inspiring recycling or petitioning to ban plastic water bottles at their schools. These small movements became larger as their cause spread throughout their towns, countries, and (now) the world.

It’s amazing to me to see what very young children can accomplish when they are determined to do so. I appreciated the note along with most of the biographies in which they acknowledged the roles their parents played in helping them be successful. I do think it is important to encourage our children to make a difference in what they see as important, and parental support was obviously a big part of helping these kids meet their dreams for “changing the world.”

If I have one complaint it is that the gorgeous photographs of places around the world did not always match the locality that the children’s biographies described. For example, a child worked to plant trees and discourage deforestation in Africa, and the photograph showed the rain forest in Brazil. This is a small matter, however. The photographer, Yan Arthus-Bertrand, President of the GoodPlanet Foundation which emphasizes children’s education of these ecological matters, has ecological awareness at heart. The photographs selected simply emphasize the need for ecological awareness and delight at the beautiful world we all live in.

Note: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. 

Teaching Kids to Think by Darlene Sweetland and Ron Stolberg

At first, I thought Teaching Kids to Think by Darlene Sweetland and Ron Stolberg (Sourcebooks, March 2015) had a deceptive title. I had thought it would be  about helping kids learn and logic through academics. Rather, Teaching Kids to Think is focused on helping parents raise children that think through the basics of everyday survival and life, emphasizing confidence, independence, and thoughtfulness during the everyday simple (and not-so-simple) decisions of sociability in this world. Truly, this type of “thinking” is the basis of any success in academics!

After reading the book, I can only say that this The book that parents needs in order to help a child succeed in school, business, or everyday socialization. How can our kids learn to work in a workplace if the basics that Drs. Sweetland and Stolberg emphasize are not learned at a young age?

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