One Million Trees

Balouch, Kristen. One Million Trees: a True Story. New York: Holiday House, 2022.
This is the true story of how the author – when she was ten years old – spent a summer planting trees. She and her parents and her sisters flew from California to B.C. to join a crew planting seedlings between the stumps of trees cut down by loggers. Camping in the wilderness, they worked for forty days until they had planted one million trees. This intriguing picture book – filled with informative details – is highly recommended for readers 7 to 12 years old. Or for anyone curious about the life of a tree planter.

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The Hike

Farrell, Alison. The Hike. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2019.
Three sisters and their dog, Bean, set off on hike through the woods. Along the way, they spot snowberries, lupines, ferns, black morel mushrooms, and violets. A Western toad, a Cascades frog, a beaver, a porcupine, and a damselfly. All the way to the top of the mountain, there is more and more to discover. Set in the Pacific Northwest, this is a perfect picture book for sharing with a few people who can sit close enough to examine all the drawings of plants and animals and read all the labels. Highly recommended for nature lovers who might like to start their own illustrated journals.

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Wonder Walkers

Archer, Micha. Wonder Walkers. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2021.
Gorgeous double-page illustrations help tell this story of two children on a nature walk. Minimal text – in the form of imaginative questions – will inspire students to see the world with fresh eyes. Teachers will want to use the story to introduce personification. Artists will be reminded of all the colours in Brian Wildsmith’s picture books. A 2022 Caldecott Honor Book. Highly recommended!

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Osnat and Her Dove

Samuel, Sigal. Osnat and Her Dove: The True Story of the World’s First Female Rabbi. Montclair, New Jersey: Levine Querido, 2021.
Almost five hundred years ago in the city of Mosul, a little girl grew up learning how to read. How astonishing! Girls were supposed to do household chores, not study books. But Osnat’s father – a respected rabbi – was willing to teach his daughter how to decipher the Hebrew letters of the Torah. She poured herself into studying and when it was time to get married, she accepted a husband only on the condition that she could keep studying. Eventually, she became a teacher of the Torah and finally the head of a yeshiva. Today, legends are told in Iraq about the miraculous woman who became the first rabbi in history. This picture book – illustrated by Vali Mintzi – is recommended for readers 9 years old and up. 

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Rain School

Rumsford, James. Rain School. New York: Clarion Books, 2010.
It’s the first day of school and everyone is excited. But where is the schoolhouse? It’s been washed away by the rains. The teacher shows the children how to make mud bricks, dry them in the sun, and build a new classroom. And then they are ready to start reading and writing and learning about the world again. Set in Chad – and based on a true story – this cheerful and colourful picture book is especially recommended for children 5 to 9 years old. Older students will enjoy using this book for a literary analysis.

Literary Analysis 

Another story by James Rumsford

And another story by James Rumsford

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One Wish

Yuksel, M.O. One Wish: Fatima al-Fihri and the World’s Oldest University. New York: Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2022.

This is the true story of a little girl from Tunisia who grew up to “build a school where students, especially the poor and the refugees, could live and study for free.” Fatima loved learning. Even after she and her family had to flee their home due to war, she continued to study. After her father and her husband died, leaving her a wealthy woman, she decided to use her fortune to help her new community in Morocco. She designed and supervised the building of an educational institution of higher learning to which students came from around the world. This university has now been in continuous operation for over one thousand years!

A brilliant picture book with illustrations by Miriam Quraishi and supplemented with additional information, including a glossary, bibliography and timeline. Most highly recommended for all readers who like learning.

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