Children's Reading Suggestions

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Nature Fiction

Looking for a story about wilderness conservation, exploring (or surviving) nature, or protecting the environment?  Try these…

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline KellyThe evolution of Calpurnia Tate

In central Texas in 1899, eleven-year-old Callie Vee Tate is instructed to be a lady by her mother, learns about love from the older three of her six brothers, and studies the natural world with her grandfather, the latter of which leads to an important discovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead GeorgeMy side of the mountain

A young boy relates his adventures during the year he spends living alone in the Catskill Mountains including his struggle for survival, his dependence on nature, his animal friends, and his realization that he needs human companionship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call of the Wild by Jack LondonThe call of the wild

Presents the adventures of an unusual dog, part Saint Bernard and part Scotch shepherd, that is forcibly taken to the Klondike gold fields where he eventually becomes the leader of a wolf pack. Also: White Fang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-PorterA girl of the Limberlost

Of all the books written by Hoosier writers, Gene Stratton-Porter’s A Girl of the Limberlost is unquestionably the most cherished: the timeless story of an impoverished young girl, Elnora Comstock, growing up on the edge of the Limberlost swamp. Elnora Comstock has served as a role model for successive generations of independent young readers.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoot by Carl HiaasenHoot

Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy’s attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site.  

Environmental conservation is a theme in Hiaasen’s other children’s and young adult novels: Scat, Flush, and Chomp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hatchet by Gary PaulsenHatchet

After a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the Canadian wilderness, learning to survive with only the aid of a hatchet given him by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents’ divorce. Includes an introduction and sidebar commentary by the author.

Paulsen is an award-winning author of many other wilderness survival stories.

 

 

 

 

Everest by Gordon KormanThe contest

A group of kids are going to compete to break the record for the youngest person ever to climb Mount Everest. Some are not ready for what they will face. And some will stop at nothing to get to the top.

Other series by Gordon Korman include Dive and Island.

 

 

 

 

 

Operation RedwoodOperation Redwood by S. Terrell French

In northern California, Julian Carter-Li and his friends old and new fight to save a grove of redwoods from an investment company that plans to cut them down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Man Island by Will HobbsWild Man Island

After fourteen-year-old Andy slips away from his kayaking group to visit the wilderness site of his archaeologist father’s death, a storm strands him on Admiralty Island, Alaska, where he manages to survive, encounters unexpected animal and human inhabitants, and looks for traces of the earliest prehistoric immigrants to America.

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Orbus Pictus Awards

NCTE Orbis Pictus AwardAwarded by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the Orbis Pictus Award is given annually to  promote and recognize excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children. The name Orbis Pictus commemorates the work of Johannes Amos Comenius, Orbis Pictus—The World in Pictures (1657), considered to be the first book actually planned for children.

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2014 A Splash of Red:  The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa SweetA SPLASH OF RED : THE LIFE AND ART OF HORACE PIPPIN

Presents an illustrated introduction to the life and work of artist Horace Pippin, describing his childhood love for drawing and the World War I injury that challenged his career.

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2013 Monsieur Marceau: Actor without Words by Leda Schubert, illustrated by Gérard DuBoisMonsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words

Marcel Marceau, the world’s most famous mime, enthralled audiences around the world for more than fifty years. When he waved his hand or lifted his eyebrow he was able to speak volumes without ever saying a word. But few know the story of the man behind those gestures . . . 

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2012 Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa SweetBalloons over Broadway : the true story of the puppeteer of Macy's Parade

A tribute to the first creator of the giant helium balloons that fill the sky during the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade traces the work of pioneering artist Tony Sarg, whose innovative “upside-down puppet” creations have become the parade’s trademark.

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2011 Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring  by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian FlocaBallet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring

Martha Graham : trailblazing choreographer

Aaron Copland : distinguished American composer

Isamu Noguchi : artist, sculptor, craftsman

Award-winning authors Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan tell the story behind the scenes of the collaboration that created APPALACHIAN SPRING, from its inception through the score’s composition to Martha’s intense rehearsal process. The authors’ collaborator is two-time Sibert Honor winner Brian Floca, whose vivid watercolors bring both the process and the performance to life.

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2010 The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B. LewisThe Secret World of Walter Anderson

Enter the fascinating world of reclusive nature-lover Walter Anderson — perhaps the most famous American artist you’ve never heard of. Residents along the Mississippi Gulf Coast thought Walter Anderson was odd, rowing across twelve miles of open water in a leaky skiff to reach Horn, an uninhabited island without running water or electricity. But this solitary artist didn’t much care what they thought as he spent weeks at a time on his personal paradise, sleeping under his boat, sometimes eating whatever washed ashore, sketching and painting the natural surroundings and the animals that became his friends. Here Walter created some of his most brilliant watercolors, work he kept hidden during his lifetime. In a beautifully crafted picture book biography, writer Hester Bass and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis pay homage to an uncompromising American artist.

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2009 Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator by Shelley Tanaka, illustrated by David CraigAmelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator

Ever since Amelia Earhart and her plane disappeared on July 2, 1937, people have wanted to know more about this remarkable woman. Amelia Earhart follows the charismatic aviator from her first sight of an airplane at the age of ten to the last radio transmission she made before she vanished. Illustrated with original artworks, contemporary photographs, quotes, and details, this is a great introduction to the famous pilot. 

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2008 M.L.K. Journey of a King by Tonya BoldenM.L.K. : journey of a King

Brings words and pictures together to tell the life story of one of America’s greatest figures and his important philosophy of selfless love for one’s neighbor.

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Quest for the tree kangaroo : an expedition to the cloud forest of New Guinea2007 Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea by Sy Montgomery, Photos by Nic Bishop

Follow a group of explorers and scientists as they travel to Papua New Guinea to find a type of kangaroo that lives in trees.

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2006 Children of the Great Depression by Russell FreedmanChildren of the Great Depression

As he did for frontier children in his enormously popular Children of the Wild West, Russell Freedman illuminates the lives of the American children affected by the economic and social changes of the Great Depression. Middle-class urban youth, migrant farm laborers, boxcar kids, children whose families found themselves struggling for survival . . . all Depression-era young people faced challenges like unemployed and demoralized parents, inadequate food and shelter, schools they couldn’t attend because they had to go to work, schools that simply closed their doors. Even so, life had its bright spots–like favorite games and radio shows–and many young people remained upbeat and optimistic about the future. Drawing on memoirs, diaries, letters, and other firsthand accounts, and richly illustrated with classic archival photographs, this book by one of the most celebrated authors of nonfiction for children places the Great Depression in context and shows young readers its human face.

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2005 York’s Adventures with Lewis and Clark: An African-American’s Part in the Great Expedition by Rhoda BlumbergYork's Adventures with Lewis and Clark: An African-American's Part in the Great Expedition

Did you know that an African-American man participated in Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition? Working alongside free men, Clark’s slave York played an important role in the journey’s success. This award-winning book draws on extensive research to give a gripping and insightful account of York’s significant contribution to this landmark historical event.

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2004 An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim MurphyAn American plague : the true and terrifying story of the yellow fever epidemic of 1793

1793, Philadelphia. The nation’s capital and the largest city in North America is devastated by an apparently incurable disease, cause unknown . . . In a powerful, dramatic narrative, critically acclaimed author Jim Murphy describes the illness known as yellow fever and the toll it took on the city’s residents, relating the epidemic to the major social and political events of the day and to 18th-century medical beliefs and practices. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Murphy spotlights the heroic role of Philadelphia’s free blacks in combating the disease, and the Constitutional crisis that President Washington faced when he was forced to leave the city–and all his papers–while escaping the deadly contagion. The search for the fever’s causes and cure, not found for more than a century afterward, provides a suspenseful counterpoint to this riveting true story of a city under siege. Thoroughly researched, generously illustrated with fascinating archival prints, and unflinching in its discussion of medical details, this Newbery Honor-winning book offers a glimpse into the conditions of American cities at the time of our nation’s birth while drawing timely parallels to modern-day epidemics.
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When Marian sang : the true recital of Marian Anderson : the voice of a century2003 When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson: The Voice of a Century by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick

An introduction to the life of Marian Anderson, extraordinary singer and civil rights activist, who was the first African American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera, whose life and career encouraged social change.

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2002 Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850 by Susan Campbell BartolettiBlack potatoes : the story of the great Irish famine, 1845-1850

In 1845, a disaster struck Ireland. Overnight, a mysterious blight attacked the potato crops, turning the potatoes black and destroying the only real food of nearly six million people. Over the next five years, the blight attacked again and again. These years are known today as the Great Irish Famine, a time when one million people died from starvation and disease and two million more fled their homeland. Black Potatoes is the compelling story of men, women, and children who defied landlords and searched empty fields for scraps of harvested vegetables and edible weeds to eat, who walked several miles each day to hard-labor jobs for meager wages and to reach soup kitchens, and who committed crimes just to be sent to jail, where they were assured of a meal. It’s the story of children and adults who suffered from starvation, disease, and the loss of family and friends, as well as those who died. Illustrated with black and white engravings, it’s also the story of the heroes among the Irish people and how they held on to hope.

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2001 Hurry Freedom: African Americans in Gold Rush California by Jerry StanleyHurry Freedom

Among the thousands drawn west by the California Gold Rush were many African Americans. Some were free men and women in search of opportunity; others were slaves brought from the slave states of the South. Some found freedom and wealth in the gold fields and growing cities of California, but all faced the deeply entrenched prejudices of the era.  To tell this story “Hurry Freedom!” focuses on the life of Mifflin Gibbs, who arrived in San Francisco in 1850 and established a successful boot and shoe business. But Gibbs’s story is more than one of business and personal success: With other African American San Franciscans, he led a campaign to obtain equal legal and civil rights for Blacks in California.

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2000 Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges, Margo LundellThrough my eyes

Ruby Bridges recounts the story of her involvement, as a six-year-old, in the integration of her school in New Orleans in 1960.

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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance1999 Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance by Jennifer Armstrong

In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 men sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross Antarctica from one side to the other. Five months later and still 100 miles from land, their ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. The expedition survived another five months camping on ice floes, followed by a perilous journey through stormy seas to remote and unvisited Elephant Island. In a dramatic climax to this amazing survival story, Shackleton and five others navigated 800 miles of treacherous open ocean in a 20-foot boat to fetch a rescue ship. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World vividly re-creates one of the most extraordinary adventure stories in history. Jennifer Armstrong narrates this unbelievable story with vigor, an eye for detail, and an appreciation of the marvelous leadership of Shackleton, who brought home every one of his men alive.

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1998 An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly by Laurence PringleAn Extraordinary Life

Introduces the life cycle, feeding habits, migration, predators, and mating of the monarch butterfly through the observation of one particular monarch named Danaus.

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1997 Leonardo da Vinci by Diane StanleyLeonardo da Vinci

A biography of the Italian Renaissance artist and inventor includes notebook sketches that reveal his observations of anatomy and science, his ideas for a flying machine, and such paintings as the Mona Lisa and Last Supper.

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1996 The Great Fire by Jim MurphyThe Great Fire

A veritible cinematic account of the catastrophe that decimated much of Chicago in 1871, forcing more than 100,000 people from their homes. Jim Murphy tells the story through the eyes of several survivors. These characters serve as dramatic focal points as the fire sweeps across the city, their stories illuminated by fascinating archival photos and maps outlining the spread of fire. 

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1995 Safari Beneath the Sea: The Wonder World of the North Pacific Coast by Diane SwansonProduct Details

Illustrated with full-color photographs from the Royal British Columbia Museum, this book introduces some of the North Pacific’s most fascinating aquatic inhabitants, spotlighting their unusual characteristics and habits.

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1994 Across America on an Emigrant Train by Jim MurphyAcross America on an Emigrant Train

An account of Robert Louis Stevenson’s twelve day journey from New York to California in 1879, interwoven with a history of the building of the transcontinental railroad and the settling of the West.

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1993 Children in the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp by Jerry StanleyChildren of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp

Illus. with photographs from the Dust Bowl era. This true story took place at the emergency farm-labor camp immortalized in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Ostracized as “dumb Okies,” the children of Dust Bowl migrant laborers went without school–until Superintendent Leo Hart and 50 Okie kids built their own school in a nearby field.

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1992 Flight: The Journey of Charles Lindbergh by Robert Burleigh illustrated by Mike WimmerFlight : the journey of Charles Lindbergh

Describes how Charles Lindbergh achieved the remarkable feat of flying nonstop and solo from New York to Paris in 1927.

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1991 Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Russell FreedmanFranklin Delano Roosevelt

Photographs and text trace the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt from his birth in 1882 through his youth, early political career, and presidency, to his death in Warm Springs, Georgia, in 1945.

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1990 The Great Little Madison by Jean FritzThe great little Madison

Traces the life and contributions of the sickly child with the small voice who grew up to become the fourth president of the United States.

 

 

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Free Admission to State Parks May 4 for all Hoosier families

May 3-May 4 is Welcome Back Weekend at Indiana’s state parks and reservoirs!  Veterans receive free admission on May 3, and all visitors enter for free on May 4.  Admission to most state parks is ordinarily $5 per in-state vehicle.

Welcome back weekend

Find your nearest state park or reservoir using this interactive map.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources has a lot of fun ways to connect with our natural heritage.  Kids and families can participate in Hoosier Quest, which is designed to introduce young Hoosiers to the diversity of natural and cultural resources in the state parks.  Upon completion, participants earn certificates and patches.

Discover patchConnect patchExplore patch

Geocaching is another popular outdoor activity.  Find out more about geocaching safely and legally in Indiana state parks here.

Geocaching in Dunes State Park

The Indiana Recreation Guide lists special events happening all across the state, including 5K and adventure races, summer solstice celebrations, native plants sales, and family fall festivals.

2014 Indiana Recreation Guide

Be sure to check out DNR’s monthly magazine Outdoor Indianasubscribe or check it out at the library!

 

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