Making Sense of the World: Social Sciences | Series Nonfiction

It’s exciting to see children start to understand the world around them—from health and wellness to media literacy—and books are a wonderful way to ease transitions and answer questions.

SMS1511SocSciIt’s exciting to see children start to understand the world around them, and books are a wonderful way to ease transitions and answer questions. The series below not only offer concrete information and analysis but also serve as springboards for discussions about potentially difficult topics. More importantly, they can help readers realize that they are not alone and that there are resources out there for dealing with problems they may encounter. These resources can help kids and teens deal with the good, the bad, and the complicated while fostering a love of learning—and providing a little fun, too.


Asselin, Kristine Carlson. What You Need to Know About Concussions. ISBN 9781491448342.

Forest, Christopher. What You Need to Know About Cancer. ISBN 9781491448311.

Gray-Wilburn, Renée. What You Need to Know About Meningitis. ISBN 9781491448328.

Kolpin, Amanda. What You Need to Know About Diabetes. ISBN 9781491448335.

ea vol: 32p. (Focus on Health). charts. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. 2015. lib. ed. $26.65.

Gr 3-5 –This series presents information on medical conditions in a concise yet enlightening way, educating children about specific conditions that they may or may not encounter at some point in their own lives. The history of each disease is covered, as well as symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and short- and long-term effects. The authors employ short sentences and clear language to discuss these complex topics, and features such as comparison charts, “Health Fact” boxes, and captioned color photos (which often take up half the page) are used to supplement the text in an eye-catching way. The series strives to demystify these ailments and raise awareness of them, because, as the authors point out, “learning about [these diseases]—and knowing what to do about [them]—is the best defense.” VERDICT Solidly informative.

Bailey, Gerry & Felicia Law. World Money. ISBN 9781599537207.

––––. Your Money. ISBN 9781599537184.

Whitehead, William & others. Country Money. ISBN 9781599537191.

Whitehead, William. Family Money. ISBN 9781599537177.

ea vol: illus. by Mark Beech. 64p. (How Money Works). chart. further reading. glossary. index. websites. Norwood. 2015. lib. ed. $29.27.

Gr 4-6 –Talking about money can be difficult, even for adults, but it is essential if one is to become financially independent and economically savvy. Using simple language in short, labeled paragraphs, this series contextualizes the way money works in communities, households, and the world at large, demonstrating that monetary issues don’t exist in a vacuum. The authors delineate what countries, states, and cities spend money on, such as social programs, education, housing, and healthcare, and who is responsible for making broad financial decisions. The series also explains factors that affect families, such as budgets, credit, loans, insurance, taxes, rent, and much more, in an accessible way. Colorful, simply drawn graphics enhance the text, and helpful graphs and charts are employed to add perspective and illustrate more abstract concepts. VERDICT A comprehensive start to getting students to think about money and become responsible spenders and savers.

Bloom, Paul. Rules at Lunch. ISBN 9781482426397.

––––. Rules in the Classroom. ISBN 9781482426434.

––––. Rules in the Gym. ISBN 9781482426472.

––––. Rules in the Library. ISBN 9781482426519.

––––. Rules on the Bus. ISBN 9781482426557.

––––. Rules on the Playground. ISBN 9781482426595.

ea vol: 24p. (The School Rules). glossary. index. photos. Gareth Stevens. 2015. lib. ed. $22.60.

PreS-Gr 1 –This series for young children and very beginning readers outlines the “do’s and don’ts” of functioning within a school environment and helps prepare kids to become part of a school’s community. The text is very basic and succinct, with one or two short sentences per page faced by a full-page color photograph. Each title is comprised of basic instructions, such as “be nice to people in class” and “do not run around,” with very minimal explanation. The series covers a wide variety of situations kids may encounter, such as riding the school bus, eating in the cafeteria, and participating in gym class. VERDICT A useful jumping-off point for beginning discussions on what to expect during a school day and for preparing kids to be good school citizens.

Carole, Bonnie. Junk Food, Yes or No. ISBN 9781634303507; ISBN 9781634304504; ISBN 9781634305495.

––––. School Uniforms, Yes or No. ISBN 9781634303484; ISBN 9781634304481; ISBN 9781634305471.

Palmer, Erin. Recycling, Yes or No. ISBN 9781634303477; ISBN 9781634304474; ISBN 9781634305464.

––––. Video Games, Yes or No. ISBN 9781634303491; ISBN 9781634304498; ISBN 9781634305488.

Picou, Lin. Pink Toys, Yes or No. ISBN 9781634303460; ISBN 9781634304467; ISBN 9781634305457.

––––. TV, Yes or No. ISBN 9781634303453; ISBN 9781634304450; ISBN 9781634305440.

ea vol: 24p. (Seeing Both Sides). glossary. index. photos. websites. Rourke. 2015. Tr. $25.64. pap. $7.95. ebk. $19.95.

Gr 1-4 –Forming opinions and creating cogent arguments are important skills for students to learn, and this series strives to develop these abilities in young readers. Each book centers on a different issue, offers two opposing sides, and asks readers to choose one. The presentation is simple. Each page features two to three sentences, which sometimes take the form of questions (“Is it fair to say a color is just for girls or boys?”). Color photos are used heavily, taking up more space than the text. At the end of each volume is a set of “Writing Tips” (which are more advanced in level than the rest of the text) to help students write an opinion paper; these prompts stress the importance of using facts rather than feelings. VERDICT An uncomplicated look at complicated topics, but not necessarily a must-purchase.

Fields, Jan. Asking Questions About How Hollywood Movies Get Made. ISBN 9781633624887.

Mooney, Carla. Asking Questions About How the News Is Created. ISBN 9781633624894.

Perdew, Laura. Asking Questions About Food Advertising. ISBN 9781633624870.

Powell, Marie. Asking Questions About Video Games. ISBN 9781633624917.

Rissman, Rebecca. Asking Questions About Body Image in Advertising. ISBN 9781633624863.

Roesler, Jill. Asking Questions About Violence in Popular Culture. ISBN 9781633624924.

Weil, Jamie. Asking Questions About What’s on Television. ISBN 9781633624931.

Weiss, Nancy E. Asking Questions About Political Campaigns. ISBN 9781633624900.

ea vol: 32p. (Asking Questions About Media). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cherry Lake. 2015. lib. ed. $20.95.

Gr 4-6 –Asking questions is the first step to forming an opinion about a topic, and this series urges readers to think more deeply about and challenge assumptions about the media. The authors deconstruct the issues and encourage students to contemplate who might be behind the commercials, pop culture, political ads, and other forms of media they are consuming and what they might be trying to accomplish (or manipulate). A “Think About It” page at the end of each volume attempts to keep audiences asking questions and analyzing their perspectives. Although the subjects are as relevant as they are important, at 32 pages each, the books are almost too brief to effectively explore the issues. However, the series could be a useful jumping-off point for discussion about approaching media with scrutiny. VERDICT Fine options for exploring media literacy.

George, Liz. Conflict Resolution: When Friends Fight. ISBN 9780531215135.

––––. Empathy: I Know How You Feel! ISBN 9780531215128.

––––. Thankfulness: A Gratitude Attitude! ISBN 9780531215142.

Shepherd, Jodie. Kindness and Generosity: It Starts with Me! ISBN 9780531215166.

––––. Optimism: Sunny-Side Up! ISBN 9780531215159.

––––. Perseverance: I Have Grit! ISBN 9780531215111.

ea vol: 32p. (Rookie Talk About It). glossary. index. photos. Children’s Pr. 2015. lib. ed. $23.

K-Gr 2 –This series emphasizes compromise, hard work, patience, and the importance of considering others’ points of view and provides tools and exercises for honing social skills. Through the simple writing, bullet points, information boxes, and full-color photos, readers see realistic examples of kids in different situations making the choice to incorporate positive thinking when facing everyday situations, such as persevering despite setbacks and disagreeing with friends. A “What Would You Do?” section guides children into thinking about solutions, and a “Character Quiz” at the end of each book allows kids to put skills to use. A glossary with corresponding photos from earlier in the book helps build vocabulary. VERDICT A solid introduction to conflict resolution and communication.

Kreisman, Rachelle. Being a Good Citizen: A Kids’ Guide to Community Involvement. ISBN 9781939656957; ISBN 9781939656964; ISBN 9781937529505.

––––. People Who Help: A Kids’ Guide to Community Heroes. ISBN 9781939656896; ISBN 9781939656902; ISBN 9781937529352.

––––. Places We Go: A Kids’ Guide to Community Sites. ISBN 9781939656919; ISBN 9781939656926; ISBN 9781937529369.

––––. Things We Do: A Kids’ Guide to Community Activity. ISBN 9781939656933; ISBN 9781939656940; ISBN 9781937529512.

ea vol: illus. by Tim Haggerty. 32p. (Start Smart: Community). further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Red Chair. 2015. lib. ed. $26.65. pap. $7.99. ebk. $39.99.

Gr 3-5 –As many librarians know, community helper projects are ubiquitous during the school year, and resources related to this subject are always in demand. This series details the who, what, and where of communities, describing what everyday life is like as well as the experiences of helpers such as police officers, firefighters, doctors, and trash collectors. The series also underscores the importance of education and training for specific careers and allows readers to see their own place in society and how people must work together to help a community function (and have some fun while they’re at it). Text boxes with supplemental facts (and some jokes) pepper the narratives, which are clear, well flowing, and informative. A “What Did You Learn?” section with true/false questions at the end of each book helps readers recap and absorb the material. VERDICT A useful series that deals with community issues in an engaging way.

Squire, Ann O. Allergies. ISBN 9780531214701.

––––. Asthma. ISBN 9780531214718.

––––. Autism. ISBN 9780531214732.

––––. Cancer. ISBN 9780531214725.

––––. Ebola. ISBN 9780531214695.

ea vol: 48p. (A True Book: Health). glossary. photos. websites. Children’s Pr. 2015. lib. ed. $29.

Gr 4-6 –Through well-researched, coherent narratives, this series explores five specific ailments. These conditions vary in terms of how common they are but are all pertinent to modern life. Each book starts with an introduction to a “real” person either indirectly or directly affected by the respective disease or affliction, which makes the subject matter relatable, and then delves more deeply into origins, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, side effects, and treatment. Some of the books are told in part from an outsider’s perspective, with the intent of helping others understand the condition; for example, Autism opens with a chapter that describes the thoughts and feelings of the sibling of a child with autism. Each book begins with two statements and asks students to discover which is true and which is false; this feature primes readers to pay attention to details, while captioned color photos help hold that attention and add context. VERDICT Written with an optimistic slant, this educational and realistic approach to medical conditions is appropriate for all nonfiction collections.

Middle to High School

Byers, Ann. Sexual Assault and Abuse. ISBN 9781499460421.

La Bella, Laura. Dating Violence. ISBN 9781499460308.

––––. Living in a Violent Household. ISBN 9781499460346.

––––. Stalking. ISBN 9781499460469.

Meyer, Terry Teague. Female Genital Cutting. ISBN 9781499460506.

––––. Sexual Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery. ISBN 9781499460384.

ea vol: 64p. (Confronting Violence Against Women). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Rosen YA. 2015. lib. ed. $32.95.

Gr 10 Up –Many teens today, particularly young women, face myriad issues related to violence in different contexts. This series takes an in-depth look at topics that readers (or someone they know) might be experiencing. The information is well researched and very detailed, and the authors cite studies and provide examples of real-life scenarios. The books are text-heavy, but the content is broken down in an easily readable way, with color photos and supplemental pages of text. “Myth and Facts” helps teens wade through misconceptions about these complicated and often dire situations and may also prompt them to seek help if they are struggling. The goal of the series is to educate but also to reassure readers that they are not alone, and the titles emphasize legal rights, self-protection, and the importance of not blaming the victim. VERDICT A significant and unique discussion of potentially life-or-death situations.

Currie-McGhee, Leanne. Teens and Marijuana. ISBN 9781601529145; ISBN 9781601529152.

Nakaya, Andrea. Teens and Sex. ISBN 9781601529121; ISBN 9781601529138.

Netzley, Patricia. Teens and Sexting. ISBN 9781601529169; ISBN 9781601529176.

Snyder, Gail. Teens and Smoking. ISBN 9781601529183; ISBN 9781601529190.

Stewart, Gail. Teens and Bullying. ISBN 9781601529084; ISBN 9781601529091.

––––. Teens and Drinking. ISBN 9781601529107; ISBN 9781601529114.

ea vol: 80p. (Teen Choices). bibliog. illus. index. notes. photos. websites. ReferencePoint. 2015. lib. ed. $28.95. ebk. $28.95.

Gr 10 Up –This series deeply analyzes several of the issues teens face today and give readers the opportunity to make informed decisions. While the slant is cautionary, the topics are presented realistically, with a discussion of the potential consequences teens may face when engaging in risky activities. The titles are well researched, and each text-heavy narrative is rife with statistics, quotes from experts, and anecdotes from real teenagers describing their experiences. However, these offerings do not seem to be directed at teen readers themselves; rather, they study them from a distance. In addition, some of the works contain photographs that might be considered unnecessarily mature: no worse than what’s found on the Internet, but possibly inappropriate for some collections (for example, a photo of Miley Cyrus wearing a revealing costume). VERDICT While the series takes an in-depth look at the subjects, it’s best suited for older students doing research.

Donovan, Sandy. Media: From News Coverage to Political Advertising. ISBN 9781467779098.

––––. Special Interests: From Lobbyists to Campaign Funding. ISBN 9781467779128.

Grayson, Robert. Voters: From Primaries to Decision Night. ISBN 9781467779111.

McPherson, Stephanie Sammartino. Political Parties: From Nominations to Victory Celebrations. ISBN 9781467779104.

ea vol: 64p. (Inside Elections). bibliog. chart. ebook available. further reading. diags. glossary. index. photos. Lerner/Hungry Tomato. Nov. 2015. lib. ed. $26.65.

Gr 7 Up –Though this series contains only four books, they are rich with information about all aspects of the election process, going beyond a traditional discussion of the electoral college process and looking more deeply into topics such as media accountability, attack ads, campaigning, and special interest groups. While these titles are text heavy, the layout facilitates ease of reading, with text boxes, diagrams, and captioned color photos breaking up the narrative and providing more information. This set offers an unbiased look at the historical context of elections along with the modern significance of the process and helps young people analyze the topics with the intent of becoming informed citizens and voters. VERDICT Timely additions on an important subject.

Felix, Rebecca. Eating Ethically. ISBN 9781624038617; ISBN 9781629697277. LC 2015931587.

Laine, Carolee. Food Safety Basics. ISBN 9781624038631; ISBN 9781629697291. LC 2015931972.

Lusted, Marcia Amidon. Gluten-Free and Other Special Diets. ISBN 9781624038655; ISBN 9781629697314. LC 2015931578.

Reinke, Beth Bence. Nutrition Basics. ISBN 9781624038662; ISBN 9781629697321. LC 2015931585.

Rissman, Rebecca. Eating Organic. ISBN 9781624038624; ISBN 9781629697284. LC 2015931586.

––––. Genetically Modified Food. ISBN 9781624038648; ISBN 9781629697307. LC 2015931577.

––––. Processed Foods. ISBN 9781624038679; ISBN 9781629697338. LC 2015931601.

––––. Urban Farming. ISBN 9781624038686; ISBN 9781629697345. LC 2015931589.

ea vol: 48p. (Food Matters). chart. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO. 2015. lib. ed. $32.79. ebk. $32.79.

Gr 4-7 –Although all people need to eat, not all of us tend to think about where our food comes from and what goes into producing it. Providing pros and cons related to the issues, this series outlines ways in which people can become well-informed, responsible, and safe food consumers. Each book begins with a chapter that addresses readers in the second person, making the topic relevant to the audience. Socially responsible food matters are discussed, such as genetically modified organisms and animal rights, as well as topics related to health, including serving sizes, nutrition, and exercise, in order to guide readers into making healthful and ethical choices. Appealing captioned color photos, charts, and sidebars provide additional information that supplements the main text. A “What’s the Big Idea?” feature urges students to do a close reading and answer text-based questions, and a “Consider Your Audience” feature prompts them to adapt text and write a blog post. VERDICT A well-rounded, engaging series.

Poole, H.W. Alzheimer’s Disease. ISBN 9781422233658; ISBN 9781422285664.

––––. Anxiety Disorders. ISBN 9781422233771; ISBN 9781422285787.

––––. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ISBN 9781422233665; ISBN 9781422285671.

––––. Autism Spectrum Disorders. ISBN 9781422233672; ISBN 9781422285688.

––––. Bipolar Disorder. ISBN 9781422233696; ISBN 9781422285701.

––––. Depression. ISBN 9781422233702; ISBN 9781422285718.

––––. Disruptive Behavior Disorders. ISBN 9781422233689; ISBN 9781422285695.

––––. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. ISBN 9781422233719; ISBN 9781422285725.

––––. Eating Disorders. ISBN 9781422233726; ISBN 9781422285732.

––––. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. ISBN 9781422233733; ISBN 9781422285749.

––––. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. ISBN 9781422233740; ISBN 9781422285756.

––––. Schizophrenia. ISBN 9781422233757; ISBN 9781422285763.

––––. Sleep Disorders. ISBN 9781422233764; ISBN 9781422285770.

ea vol: 48p. (Mental Illnesses and Disorders: Awareness and Understanding). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. 2015. lib. ed. $20.95. ebk. $26.95.

Gr 9 Up –By providing straightforward, well-researched information, this series fosters tolerance and understanding of different mental illnesses and disorders and discusses their possible causes, effects, and treatments. Each title begins with the sentence “People who cope with mental illness and disorders deserve our empathy and respect”: a poignant statement that reflects this set’s compassionate perspective. The books present relatable examples in order to shed light on these disorders, while at the same time demystifying some of their more uncommon aspects and dispelling stereotypes. Each chapter starts with a “Words to Understand” section, which points out important vocabulary, and ends with “Research Project” and “Text-Based Question” portions that expand upon what has already been discussed and encourage students to search more deeply for evidence in the text. VERDICT A detailed, respectful, and thoughtful look at mental health topics.

Many titles this season focused on themes of interpersonal relationships, health, and being a good citizen in general. For younger children reading about health, Children’s Press’s “A True Book—Health” offers accessible information about common illnesses in an easily navigable format. Red Chair’s “Start Smart: Community” will be useful not only for school projects related to community helpers but to help kids realize how communities work and how they fit into them. Children’s Press’s “Talk About It” emphasizes communication and compromise and the importance of helping to foster healthy relationship habits in younger children and teaching them problem-solving techniques.

For the older set, Mason Crest’s “Mental Illnesses and Disorders: Awareness and Understanding” is a strong series that educates students about mental illness and takes strides to demystify and destigmatize often-misunderstood conditions. Finally, Rosen YA’s “Confronting Violence Against Women” highlights an important topic that many teen girls face every day and provides resources and coping mechanisms.

Rita Meade, Brooklyn Public Library

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