True stories fascinate and inspire
Offer your child a steady diet of thought-provoking nonfiction
Children have long enjoyed fictional stories, but it's equally important to expose them to a steady diet of nonfiction. Today's reviewed books are excellent examples of true stories that are certain to fascinate, inspire and provoke thought. What a great way to start the new year.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"Seeker of Knowledge — The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs" written and illustrated by James Rumford, Houghton Mifflin, 32 pages
Read aloud: age 6 — 7 and older
Read yourself: age 7 — 8 and older
Jean-Francois Champollion was born in France in 1790. When he was just 7 years old, he was filled with an unquenchable desire to travel to Egypt and discover more about its ancient past. At the young age of 11, while gazing at ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs that no one could yet decipher, Jean-Francois knew then that he wanted to be the first person to discover the key and read what the ancients had written.
While various scholars tried to translate the mysterious Egyptian writing, Jean-Francois devoted himself almost entirely to this one quest. He was truly a seeker of knowledge, not resting until he had found the answer and, at long last, at age 30, he accomplished what he had set out to do.
Outstanding illustrations provide the perfect backdrop for this magnificent story of a remarkable man whose thirst for knowledge enabled him to fulfill his dreams.
Library: Gridley Branch, Butte County Library, 299 Spruce St., Gridley
Library Director: Linda Mielke
Branch Librarian: Cynthia Pustejovsky
Children's Services: Christy Cooke-Williford
Choices this week: "Kitten's First Full Moon" by Kevin Henkes; "Louise: The Adventures of a Chicken" by Kate DiCamilo; "Artemis Fowl" series by Eoin Colfer
Books to Buy
The following books are available at your favorite bookstores.
"Titanic Sinks!" by Barry Denenberg, Viking, 2012, 72 pages, $19.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 9 — 10 and older
Read yourself: age 10 — 11 and older
Sparing no expense, the ultra-luxurious Titanic was considered the most lavish, opulent vessel in the world. Noted as practically unsinkable, a technological miracle and dubbed "The Queen of the Ocean," Titanic's momentous maiden voyage would be her last, never reaching her destination of New York City.
After striking an iceberg on April 14, 1912, the ship sank to the bottom of the ocean in a matter hours, taking 1,517 of its 2,223 passengers and crew to their watery graves. For the 706 that survived, their experience was horrifying, and the tragedy of it all shocked the entire world.
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Titanic's fateful voyage, critically acclaimed author Barry Denenberg has created a powerful tribute that's certain to engage readers of many ages.
"Titanic Sinks!" is written as a special edition of the fictitious Modern Times Magazine. Meticulously researched and brimming with photographs, first-hand accounts and fascinating details, this seamless blending of fact and fiction provides readers with a riveting experience of what it was to build such a ship, who its passengers and crew were, what it was like to be aboard and what it was like for survivors to watch the majestic Titanic sink before their eyes.
"Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London" by Andrea Warren, Houghton Mifflin, 2011, 156 pages, $18.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 11 and older
Read yourself: 12 and older
In 1835, 23-year-old Charles Dickens was beginning to make a name for himself as a journalist and author in his native city of London. While London and many of its residents enjoyed great wealth, Dickens was well aware of the vast numbers of poor people whose lives were brutal.
Born into a middle-class family, Dickens enjoyed a relatively easy life until his father was thrown into debtors' prison when Dickens was just 12. His quick descent into poverty forced Dickens to labor long, hard hours alongside other children in a factory. It was an experience that forever changed Dickens.
When Dickens began writing, much of his work focused on the poor, and especially poor children, describing his characters as he knew the poor in real life — as good, worthy people. His stories inspired readers to work for social changes that would help the poor in many important ways.
Expertly researched and written, his flawless book is not only fascinating to read but also provokes intelligent thought about the abuses of power.
Kendal A. Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached at her website: greatestbooksforkids.com.