After three years of maintaining our isolationist resistance to entering World War I, in 1917 we heeded the call to Come On In, America (Abrams, $17.95). Richly detailed with period photographs, news articles, and propaganda posters, Linda Barrett Osborne’s broad but deep examination of America’s participation in the Great War makes a compelling case for why this epoch deserves more attention from the young history lover in your house. Osborne meticulously documents how the first modern war changed America’s position in the world and highlighted government hypocrisy and societal injustice on the home front. Ages 11-14.
As a child, legendary congressman John Lewis was in charge of the chickens on his family’s sprawling Alabama farm. He got up early every morning to feed them dried corn, line their nests with straw, and talk to them. Inspired by the music and ministers of his family’s church, John also began Preaching to the Chickens (Nancy Paulsen, $17.99). He didn’t mind that his brothers and sisters mockingly called him Preacher: he hoped that one day his words really would move people to action. Jabari Asim provides a glimpse into the roots of Lewis’s activism, which began with the civil rights movement and continues today. E.B. Lewis’s watercolor and gouache illustrations gloriously emphasize the lighting of each scene and perfectly match the tone and mood of this simple yet prophetic story. Ages 5-8.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is perhaps as well known for her objections as she is for her dedication to fairness and equality. I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes her Mark (Simon and Schuster, $17.99) documents Ginsburg’s lifelong ease with raising concerns about the status quo. From academics to hobbies and family life, she didn’t believe in adhering to restrictive social norms for girls and minorities, a conviction that made history as she ascended to the bench of the highest court in the United States. Debbie Levy narrates Elizabeth Baddeley’s comic-book-like illustrations to tell this amusing and inspirational tale, with a refreshing emphasis on the fact that constructive disagreement is a vital part of life. Ages 7-10.