The Playbook: 52Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander

“There is no magic to achievement.  It’s really about hard work, choices, and persistence.”–Michelle Obama

Kwame Alexander provides inspiration for life through quotes from notable sports figures and other important figures combined with great graphics and photographs.  Alexander shares personal stories of triumph and disappointment focusing on the learning experiences from mistakes and defeat to grow and prepare for what comes next.  He also shares stories of athletes who overcame great obstacles to rise to the top of their sport.

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” –Oprah Winfrey

Shipwrecked! by Rhoda Blumberg

Shipwrecked! shares the adventures of Manjiro Nakahama who in 1841, as a fourteen-year-old fisherman, was shipwrecked along with four other fishermen on the desolate island of Torishima. After five months of surviving on the island, they were rescued by the American whaling ship, the John Howland. Because of Japan’s strict laws that isolated its people from the rest of the world, the Americans could not return Manjiro home. The highly-intelligent Manjiro spent his teens and young adult life learning about the customs and culture of the United States and the other countries he visited while working on whaling ships. Manjiro always hoped to return home to his family and share what he learned with the government of Japan, but Japanese’s laws condemned travelers from overseas to death. Manjiro lived an amazing life. Shipwrecked! contains maps, illustrations, and photographs of Manjiro’s travels.

Ten Days A Mad Woman by Deborah Noyes

Ten Days a Mad Woman follows the life of Elizabeth Jane “Pink” Cochran beginning in 1887 when she left Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at age twenty-three to make her name in journalism in New York City.  At this time there were very few women newspaper reports in the journalism field.  Through her drive and daring Elizabeth Jane “Pink” Cochran evolves into the famous reporter Nellie Bly.  Nellie Bly becomes the most famous female reporter of her time.  Ten Days a Mad Woman is an entertaining biography with additional input about the time period featured in bright blue text boxes throughout Nellie’s story.  

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky is a beautifully illustrated work which presents the lives of 50 women in the science field who broke barriers and made significant contributions to the world.  Their stories of determination, perseverance, and courage are each told in a two-page spread with informative side graphics.  Katherine Johnson, a physicist and mathematician, whose work recently was celebrated in the film Hidden Figures, is featured among other brilliant women.  Some are well-known like Marie Curie and Jane Goodall but others not so much like Jane Cooke Wright and Sau Lan Wu.  All should be known and celebrated for their contributions to science.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

3 cups of teaAs he returns from an unsuccessful climb of Mt. Everest, Greg Mortenson becomes lost in Afghanistan and wanders in to the village of Korphe. Here Mortensen meets Haji Ali. Ali’s family takes care of Mortenson and finds him a way back to Pakistan. Before he leaves the little village of Korphe and Ali’s hospitality, Mortenson promises to return and build the village a school. This promise will change Mortenson’s life forever.

One Child by Torey Hayden

one childAuthor Torey Hayden teaches specials needs students at her public school. It’s a new school year and her students are doing well and getting along. That is until six-year-old Sheila arrives. Sheila’s violent and unpredictable behavior sets the class on edge and it is up to Torey to break through Sheila’s tough exterior. Sheila has issues. Sheila was abandoned on the side of a road by her mother and is now being raised by her alcoholic father. She is one angry little girl. If you enjoy books by David Pelzer such as A Child Called It, then you might try this one

The Secret of Priest’s Grotto by Peter Lane Taylor with Christos Nicola

secret of priest's grottoThis is an amazing story of survival. Cavers Peter Lane Taylor and Christos Nicola heard tales of Jews who survived the Holocaust by hiding in Ukrainian caves. Nicola, determined to find out if these tales were true, began investigating the Popowa Yama story. In 2002, four years after beginning his investigation, Nicola received an e-mail from a man claiming to know a Priest’s Grotto Holocaust survivor. Nicola and Taylor visited the Stermer family in Montreal, Canada to learn more of this incredible story of survival. From 1943-1944, three Jewish families survived the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine by living underground in caves. Read The Secret of Priest’s Grotto to find out how they survived.

Check out this National Geographic article to learn even more.

The Children of Alcatraz by Claire Rudolf Murphy

children of alcatrazChildren of Alcatraz: Growing Up on the Rock portrays what it was like for children to grow up on Alcatraz Island. The book covers different time periods in the island’s history from use as a light house, a military post, disciplinary barracks, U.S. penitentiary, site of a Native Amerian occupation, and to its current status as a National Park. Murphy provides interesting photographs of the children who lived on Alcatraz including one of actor Bejamin Bratt who took part in the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz as a child. This book is a perfect non-fiction companion to Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko.

Guys Write for Guys Read edited by Jon Scieszka

guys readJon Scieszka has put together a collection of guys writing for guys about being guys. The entries a short and “sweet” to borrow a term from Napoleon Dynamite. Each includes a biography and bibliography about the author. So you guys will enjoy pieces by Chris Crutcher, James Howe, Anthony Horowitz, Gordon Korman, Walter Dean Myers, Kenneth Oppell, Darren Shan and other favorite authors. It’s an entertaining read. Check it out!

Blizzard! by Jim Murphy

BlizzardOn Sunday afternoon , March 11, 1888 the Great Blizzard hit the East Coast. Snow and wind whipped through cities and farms for four days dumping 40-50 inches of snow. Winds swept through the cities at up to 45 miles an hour snapping powerlines. Snowdrifts, some up to 50 feet high, blocked buildings. Transportation was shut down when trains could not move along the blocked tracks. Big cities like New York looked like ghost towns. Jim Murphy relates first person accounts of how different people experienced the storm that confined people to their homes for a week and froze the East River solid for a short period. If you find natural disasters intriguing, you should enjoy reading Blizzard!