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Books and activities for summer reading and learning from Reading Rockets

Start With a Book: Books and activities for summer reading and summer learning

Children's books and activities

Heroes and Superheroes

Many kids are fascinated by superheroes, with their extraordinary powers and awesome adventures. We also celebrate the lives of real-life heroes — athletes, artists, activists, and government leaders — role models who stood up for what's right and fair. We've gathered up a great collection of books, activities, apps, and websites for learning all about heroes and superheroes.

Try pairing fiction with nonfiction books and exploring different genres (like poetry and biographies) and formats (like graphic novels and audio books). You'll be creating your own "text sets" — collections of texts focused on a specific topic, such as heroes and superheroes. Reading widely in this way helps children build background knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

Heroes and Superheroes

Is your public library closed?

See if your public library offers OverDrive where you can borrow and read free ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines on your phone or tablet — all you need is your library card to get access. There are also a number of online services that offer high-quality audiobooks and ebooks: Audible for Kids, Tales2Go, and Epic!. Learn more: Finding Audiobooks and Ebooks.


Great Fiction & Nonfiction Books

Age Level: 3-6 years old

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A Is for Activist

By: Innosanto Nagara

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Each spread presents a letter and a bit of social commentary urging children to take a stand...

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Awesome Dawson

By: Chris Dall

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Dawson has been collecting and reusing everything ever since he was a baby but he must rescue the...

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Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909

By: Michelle Markell

Age Level: 3-6 years old

In the early 20th century, Clara Lemlick and her family immigrated to the United in search of a...

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Helpers in Your Neighborhood

By: Shira Evans

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Nonfiction

Get to know the everyday heroes in your community! From firefighters to teachers, mail carriers...

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John Henry

By: Julius Lester

Age Level: 3-6 years old

John Henry's talent was evident at an early age when he helped his daddy, but was cemented...

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More Than Anything Else

By: Marie Bradby

Age Level: 3-6 years old

More than anything else, young Booker T. Washington wanted to read. This fictionalized account...

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Rosa's Bus: The Ride to Civil Rights

By: Jo Kittinger

Age Level: 3-6 years old

No one knew that when "Bus #2857 rolled off the assembly line in 1948 ... [that it] would...

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cover of "Tasty Baby Belly Button" showing a dog and girl with a sword

Tasty Baby Belly Buttons

By: Judy Sierra

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Uriko is small but brave, determined, and smart. In fact, she saves the town’s children when...

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cover of "The Adventures of Sparrowboy" showing young boy with his hands on his hips

The Adventures of Sparrowboy

By: Brian Pinkney

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Mild-mannered paperboy Henry collides with a sparrow and turns into Sparrowboy just like his...

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The Impossible Patriotism Project

By: Linda Skeers

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Fiction

Caleb's class is making projects that represent patriotism but Caleb can't think of a way to...

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Age Level: 6-9 years old

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A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson

By: David Adler

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A portrait of a true American sports hero, Jackie Robinson, who was the first African American...

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A Picture Book of Jesse Owens

By: David Adler

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Jesse Owens was a breakthrough athlete — an African American who captured the world stage (...

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A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.

By: David Adler

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Born in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up to become a civil rights leader whose philosophy...

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Abe's Honest Words

By: Doreen Rappaport

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

A straightforward overview of Lincoln's life is punctuated by Lincoln's words and...

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Annie and Helen

By: Deborah Hopkinson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Anne Sullivan arrived at the Keller home in 1887, writing letters to a friend about how she worked...

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Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy US Marshall

By: Vauda Micheau

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Formerly enslaved in the 19th century, Bass Reeves escaped Texas and lived with Indians. It was...

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Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote

By: Kirsten Gillibrand

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Here are the stories of 10 leaders who strove to win the right to vote for American women--a...

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Bright Path: Young Jim Thorpe

By: Don Brown

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Jim Thorpe's childhood was a mix of hard work in the outdoors and a succession of military-...

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Captain America Joins the Mighty Avengers

By: Rich Thomas

Age Level: 6-9 years old

How Captain American becomes one of the Avengers — superheroes that included Thor and the...

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Cut from the Same Cloth: American Women of Myth, Legend and Tall Tale

By: Robert San Souci

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

From the Northeast to the West, the United States is filled with stories of wise, strong, and...

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Daring Dozen: The Twelve Who Walked on the Moon

By: Suzanne Slade

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Spare, poetic text and luminous, realistic illustrations chronicle the Apollo missions....

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Elizabeth Started All the Trouble

By: Doreen Rappaport

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Women could not attend college, enter politics or vote when the United States was established....

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Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods and Heroes Pop-Up

By: Matthew Reinhart, Robert Sabuda

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Six beautifully illustrated full-page spreads, each including a dramatic paper-sculpture...

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Family Is a Superpower

By: Michael Dahl

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have many extraordinary abilities, but their greatest...

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Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

By: Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Martin shares the remarkable life story of former professional basketball player Will Allen,...

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Fight of the Century: Alice Paul Battles Woodrow Wilson for the Vote

By: Barb Rosenstock

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

When Woodrow Wilson was elected President, he didn't know that he would be participating in one...

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Flight: The Journey of Charles Lindbergh

By: Robert Burleigh

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Charles Lindbergh was only 25 years old when he made his historic non-stop flight across the...

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Float Like a Butterfly

By: Ntozake Shange

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Visually stunning and informative, Ali’s early life, how it influenced him, as well as his many...

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Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

A girl and her mom want to have a sweet treat on a hot day but cannot sit at the soda fountain...

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Go for the Moon: A Rocket, a Boy, and the First Moon Landing

By: Chris Gall

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

A boy looking out his bedroom window into the night sky begins, “The moon is out tonight. In the...

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Grandad Mandela

By: Zazi Mandela, Ziwelene Mandela, Zondwa Mandela

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Zazi and Ziwelene’s great-grandad is called Nelson Mandela. Once day, they ask their grandmother...

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Greta and the Giants

By: Zoe Tucker

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

This picture book retells the story of Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg—the Swedish...

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Harvesting Hope: The Story of César Chávez

By: Kathleen Krull

Age Level: 6-9 years old

As a young boy, César Chávez grew up on a an 80-acre ranch in Arizona in the midst of joyous family...

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I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

By: Debbie Levy

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with...

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Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told

By: Walter Dean Myers

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Ida B. Wells worked bravely as an activist, educator, writer, journalist, suffragette, and...

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John Henry: An American Legend

By: Ezra Jack Keats

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

John Henry was born to be a hero – strong, competitive and determined. The legendary steel-...

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Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters

By: Andrea Pinkney

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Brief sketches of the lives of both well-known (for example, Harriet Tubman) and lesser known...

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Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes

By: Jarrett Krosoczka

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Can the Lunch Lady protect the Breakfast Bunch of Thompson Creek School from evil mutants posing as...

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Magic Pickle

By: Scott Morse

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Sophisticated readers will appreciate the over-the-top adventures of a cryogenic pickle that...

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Major Taylor, Champion Cyclist

By: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

A picture-book biography of Marshall Taylor, an African American who became a great bicycle...

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Malala's Magic Pencil

By: Malala Yousafzai

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Malala's first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around...

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Malala: Activist for Girls' Education

By: Raphaële Frier

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Malala’s story is one of the resilience that comes from strong conviction. It is told through a...

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Martin's Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

By: Doreen Rappaport

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Martin Luther King Jr. grew up fascinated by big words. He would later go on to use these words...

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Meet the Marvel Super Heroes

By: Scott Peterson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

The comics have produced many heroes with very special powers. Male and female superheroes, an easy...

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Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School

By: Janet Halfmann

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Lilly Ann Granderson,, who was enslaved, secretly learned to read and write as a child and...

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Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman

By: Alan Schroeder

Age Level: 6-9 years old

This beautifully written book, illustrated by four-time Caldecott Honor recipient Jerry Pinkney,...

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My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth

By: Ann Turner

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Isabella Baumfree was born into slavery but she would not remain enslaved. Instead, she took the...

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Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

By: Barack Obama

Age Level: 6-9 years old

In this tender letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to...

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Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott

By: Dee Romito

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

The life story of Georgia Gilmore, a woman whose pies and delicious homemade cooking helped...

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Preaching to the Chickens: the Story of Young John Lewis

By: Jabari Asim

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

As a child, John Lewis always practiced his deep religious convictions, even with his much loved...

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Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World

By: Laurie Lawlor

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Rachel Carson was a shy child, always drawn to nature. She grew up to become a professional...

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Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of John "Appleseed" Chapman

By: Esme Raji Codell

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, changed his world "seed by seed, deed by deed"...

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Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World

By: Susan Hood

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

This book of poems introduces fourteen revolutionary young women—each paired with a...

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illustrated cover of "Sidekicks" showing animals in superhero costumes

Sidekicks

By: Dan Santat

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Captain Amazing, superhero and savior of Metro City, is getting old — he needs a sidekick!...

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Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride

By: Andrea Pinkney, Brian Pinkney

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Lively language and energetic illustrations create a memorable portrait of a woman who was to...

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Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx / La juez que crecio en el Bronx

By: Jonah Winter

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Poverty didn’t stop this girl from working hard, reading lots of books, and graduating top in...

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Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson Against the Odds

By: Robert Burleigh

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Lush, realistic illustrations combine with a simple text to suggest what it must have been like...

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Superhero School

By: Aaron Reynolds

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Leonard is disappointed in superhero school; the only thing his teacher, The Blue Tornado, talks...

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Susan B. Anthony

By: Alexandra Wallner

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Susan B. Anthony lived and worked as a teacher when women were paid less for the same jobs...

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Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt

By: Deborah Hopkinson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Clara is born into slavery but learns an important skill when she becomes a seamstress. Her...

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Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers' Rights

By: Deborah Hopkinson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

After Frances Perkins witnessed the Triangle Waist Factory fire in 1911, she decided to...

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cover of "The Boy Who Harnesses the Wind" sowing boy and a windmill

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

By: William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer

Age Level: 6-9 years old

When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba's Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone's crops...

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The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial

By: Susan E. Goodman

Age Level: 6-9 years old

More than a century before Brown v. Board of Education, there was Roberts v. City of Boston....

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The House That Jane Built: A Story About Jane Addams

By: Tanya Lee Stone

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

The story of Jane Addams who transformed a poor neighborhood in Chicago by opening up her house...

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The Incredible Life of Balto

By: Meghan McCarthy

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A dog saved the people of Nome, Alaska in 1925 when a sled team was the only way to fetch...

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The Mighty 12: Superheroes of Greek Myth

By: Charles Smith

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Greek gods and goddesses are the stuff of contemporary superheroes. Dramatic full-color,...

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The Story of Harriet Tubman

By: Christine Platt

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Explore how Harriet Tubman went from being an enslaved person on a plantation in Maryland to one...

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The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist

By: Cynthia Levinson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and...

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Thunder Rose

By: Jerdine Nolan

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

In this tall tale, Thunder Rose vows to grow up to be more than just big...

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What Lincoln Said

By: Sarah Thomson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Lincoln's own words punctuate this overview of his life and times including lighter moments...

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cover of "Wings" showing boy flying with white wings

Wings

By: Christopher Myers

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Stunning, bold collage illustrations carry the action in this reworking of the traditional Greek...

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Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass

By: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A young Frederick Douglass narrates this handsome, moving, and authentic story of his early life as...

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Young Zeus

By: G. Brian Karas

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Young Zeus — the Greek god who grew up to rule on Mount Olympus — is introduced with...

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illustrated cover of "Freddie Ramos Makes a Splash" showing boy in swim goggles

Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Makes a Splash

By: Jacqueline Jules

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Freddie Ramos' super running and jumping powers and his confidence disappear after the loss of...

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Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off

By: Jacqueline Jules

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Product Description: One day Freddie Ramos comes home from school and finds a strange box just...

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Age Level: 9-12 years old

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12 Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali

By: Charles R. Smith, Jr.

Age Level: 9-12 years old

From the moment a fired-up teenager won 1960 Olympic gold to the day when a retired legend...

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Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights that Changed America

By: Russell Freedman

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Fifty years ago well-known civil rights leaders came together with other lesser known but key...

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Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony

By: Nikki Grimes

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Underground Railroad “conductor” Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, a staunch proponent of...

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Civil Rights Pioneer: A Story About Mary Church Terrell

By: Gwenyth Swain

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Terrell worked to gain equal rights for herself and other African Americans, and is best-known...

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Coretta Scott King: I Kept on Marching

By: Kathleen Krull

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Before she married Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott was known for her beautiful singing voice...

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Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barack Obama's Inspiring and Historic Presidency

By: Pete Souza

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

With behind-the-scenes anecdotes of some iconic photos alongside photos with his family,...

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Finish the Fight! The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote

By: Veronica Chambers Staff of the, New York Times

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Who was at the forefront of women's right to vote? What about so many others from diverse...

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For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai's Story

By: Rebecca Langston-George

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

A straightforward, illustrated narration tells the story of the brave Pakistani girl who fought...

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Henry Aaron's Dream

By: Matt Tavares

Age Level: 9-12 years old

In spite of growing up in the 1940s before the United States was integrated, in a segregated...

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History Smashers: Women's Right to Vote

By: Kate Messner

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Susan B. Anthony wasn't even alive when the 19th Amendment was ratified. The truth is, it took...

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How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Their Big Idea

By: Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in America with this story of the little-...

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I Am Gandhi: A Graphic Biography of a Hero

By: Brad Meltzer

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

The life of the man whose name is associated with nonviolent protest is presented in graphic...

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Independent Dames: What You Never Knew about the Women and Girls of the American Revolution

By: Laurie Halse Anderson

Age Level: 9-12 years old

This fact and fun-filled look at female contributions to the American Revolution provides a...

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Lives: Poems About Famous Americans

By: Lee Bennett Hopkins

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Well-known figures in American history are presented by diverse poets in a range of styles,...

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Illustrated cover of Lost In Outer Space showing spaceship and debris in space.

Lost in Outer Space: The Incredible Journey of Apollo 13

By: Tod Olson

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

From "Houston, we've had a problem" to the final tense moments at Mission Control, Lost in Outer...

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March: Book One

By: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin

Age Level: 9-12 years old

John Lewis, son of a sharecropper, grew up to become an activist and later, a U.S. Congressman....

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Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Dramatic full-color illustrations (which won a Caldecott Honor) and splendid, poetic language...

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Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

By: Rob Sanders

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Have you ever wondered where the rainbow flag comes from? It all began with the first openly gay...

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She Stood for Freedom: The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

By: Loki Mulholland

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Early experiences brought the inequality of America into focus for young Joan, a white...

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The Breadwinner

By: Deborah Ellis

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Eleven-year-old Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in...

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The Escape of Robert Smalls: A Daring Voyage Out of Slavery

By: Jehan Jones-Radgowski

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

In the midst of the deadly U.S. Civil War, an enslaved man named Robert Smalls was about to...

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The Hero's Trail

By: T.A. Barron

Age Level: 9-12 years old

What is a hero? Using the metaphor of a hiking trail, this book showcases the great variety of...

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cover  of "The Wright Brothers" showing photo of Wright brothers' plane

The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane

By: Russell Freedman

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Using excerpts from Wilbur's and Orville's journals and letters, young readers will find a...

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Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Stirring poems and vibrant collage illustrations combine to celebrate the life of Fannie Lou...

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We Were There, Too!: Young People in U.S. History

By: Philip Hoose

Age Level: 9-12 years old

From the boys who sailed with Columbus to today's young activists, this unique book brings to...

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Words That Built a Nation: Voices of Democracy That Have Shaped America’s History

By: Marilyn Miller

Age Level: 9-12 years old

From the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex...

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Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist

By: Philip Dray

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Journalist Ida B. Wells faces the greatest challenge of her life as a tireless crusader for...

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