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Classroom Picks . . . Informational Texts

The following fun and educational books, all available in paperback and e-book formats, present amazing facts about nature and the world.

This Month's Picks

Becoming Ben Franklin
How a Candle-Maker's Son Helped Light the Flame of Liberty
by Russell Freedman

Grades: FIFTH

4: RL.4, 7
4-8: SL.1
5-6: L.5, RL.10, SL.2, 4, W.1-3, 7, 9
6: RI.2-3, 8, SL.1, 4-5
6-8: RI.2, 6-7

In 1723 Ben Franklin arrived in Philadelphia as a poor and friendless seventeen-year-old who had run away from his family and an apprenticeship in Boston. Sixty-two years later he stepped ashore in nearly the same spot but was greeted by cannons, bells, and a cheering crowd, now a distinguished statesman, renowned author, and world-famous scientist.

Freedman's riveting story of how a rebellious apprentice became an American icon comes in an elegantly designed book filled with art and includes a timeline, source notes, bibliography, and index.


★"A superb addition to Freedman's previous volumes on the Revolutionary period."-Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★"Freedman . . . is a master at taking primary sources and turning them into engaging narratives that draw readers into the subject."-School Library Journal, starred review

★"Handsomely designed, solidly researched, and beautifully written, this is the go-to biography of Franklin for young people."-Booklist, starred review

IRA Teachers' Choice
Society of School Librarians International Best Book Award
Kirkus Reviews Best Book
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Book Links Lasting Connections in Social Studies
Booklist Editors’ Choice Top of the List
California Reading Association Eureka! Non-fiction Children’s Honor Book
Booklist Top Ten Biographies for Youth

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World
by Laurie Lawlor
Laura Beingessner, Illustrator

Grades: THIRD

3: RI.2-3, 7, SL.1-2, 4, W.7

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22!

"Once you are aware of the wonder and beauty of earth, you will want to learn about it," wrote Rachel Carson, the pioneering environmentalist. Rachel found many adventurous ways to study nature. She went diving to investigate coral reefs and tracked alligators through the Florida Everglades on a rumbling "glades buggy."

However, one of the bravest things she did was to write and publish Silent Spring, a book pointing out the dangerous effects of chemicals on the living world. Powerful men tried to stop publication of the book, but Rachel and her publishers persisted, and Silent Spring went on to become the book that woke people up to the harmful impact humans were having on our planet.


"This book is a worthy introduction to a woman [the author of Silent Spring] whose work still influences environmental decisions today."—School Library Journal

"Carson emerges as a proud, conscientious woman who never allowed the constraints of her era to interfere with her convictions."—Publishers Weekly

Check out the official press release.

For activities and more on Rachel Carson, featured on Smithsonian's History Explorer, visit the Smithsonian site.


Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
by David A. Adler

Grades: SIXTH

6: RI.4, SL.5

Born a slave, Harriet Tubman was determined not to remain one. She escaped from her owners in Maryland on the Underground Railroad in 1849 and then fearlessly returned thirteen more times to help guide family members and others to freedom as the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad. As she proudly claimed, she "never lost a passenger." Her bravery served her well in the Union Army, where she was a cook, a nurse, and then a spy. During and after the war, she helped hundreds of freed slaves begin new lives, and she later founded a home for elderly former slaves and became active in the woman's suffrage movement. She was one of the best known women of her time.

Illustrated with pictures and photographs and filled with excerpts from primary sources, this is a thrilling and accurate telling of her life and accomplishments. A time line, notes, bibliography, and index are included.

David A. Adler has written more than two hundred books for children, including Frederick Douglas: A Noble Life which was a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a VOYA Nonfiction Honor List title, and a Society of School Librarians International Honor Book. It also received starred reviews in School Library Journal and Booklist. He lives in the New York City metropolitan area.

Click here for the Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad press release!

Frederick Douglass
A Noble Life
by David A. Adler

Grades: FIFTH

6: RI.4, SL.5

Popular biographer David A. Adler recounts the exciting life of escaped slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery in 1818 and raised on a Maryland plantation under brutal conditions, Frederick Douglass against all odds grew up to become a famous orator, journalist, author, and advisor to U.S. presidents. Many contemporaries found it hard to believe that he was an escaped slave with no formal education. Douglass was also controversial. He urged slaves to revo0lt and befriended the abolitionist John Brown. A pivotal figure in U.S. history, he helped Abraham Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation and was an ambassador to Haiti. Timeline, chapter notes, bibliography.

Starred Reviews!

"A thoroughly researched, lucidly written biography . . . Adler does an excellent job of exploring the atrocities and dehumanizing indignities that America's 'peculiar institution' visited on those who lived in slavery . . . clearly demonstrates that Douglass was, indeed, one of the great men of the nineteenth century."—Booklist

"Adler presents a compelling exploration . . . This well-written and absorbing read is an important inclusion for all collections. Extensive notes, important dates, and a thorough index are appended."—School Library Journal

Colonel Theodore Roosevelt
by David A. Adler

Grades: SIXTH

RI.5-8.3, 4, 6, 8, 9
W.5-8.1, 2, 4, 7
WHST.6-8.2, 4, 7, 8, 9

Master biographer David A. Adler has created a meticulously researched portrayal of the 26th president of the United States.

Theodore Roosevelt seemed an unlikely head of state to many. Some called him the cowboy president because of his experiences as a Dakota Territory rancher, adventurer, and head of Rough Rider Regiment in the Spanish-American War. Yet as president, he was anything but a hayseed. He increased the country's stature in the international sphere, built the Panama canal, and won the Nobel Peace Prize. A tireless crusader for causes he held dear, he was known as the "trust buster" for breaking up powerful monopolies and was one of the most significant conservation activists of his time.

This handsome portrait of perhaps our most colorful and energetic president includes over fifty photographs and pictures, copies of historical documents, and a time line.

"An absorbing portrait of an iconic president known as much for his adventurous nature as his robust political life. . . . A valuable addition to the presidential-biography shelf."—Kirkus Reviews
"Well researched and clearly written, Adler’s account offers a good introduction to the man and his times."—Booklist

by David A. Adler

Grades: FOURTH

4: RI.3, SL.4

At the age of twenty-two, Benjamin Franklin wrote his own epitaph. Scientist, inventor, and statesman, and the only man who would sign the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the treaty with France that helped win the Revolutionary War, and the treaty with England that ended it, wanted to be remembered simply as "B. Franklin, printer."