Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Social Studies Books for Use in the Classroom

The Children's Book Council works with several organizations to create reading lists to help familiarize teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents with some of the newest and best books available for children. Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People is a reading list selected by twelve social studies educators who decide on the best books of the year based on the hundreds submitted each year by publishers. This bibliography features K-12 annotated titles published in the previous calendar year. Titles are grouped by subject, including: Biography; Contemporary Concerns; Environment and Ecology; Folktales; Geography, Peoples, and Places; History, Life, and Culture in the Americas; Reference; Social Interaction and Relationships; World History and Culture; and Economics. Each annotation contains bibliographic data and a brief description. This is an annual project of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and CBC that began in 1972.

On Saturday, my colleague Rachel and I hosted the selection committee for the 2011 Notables list at our office in New York City and facilitated the discussion the ultimately produced a list of around 116 or so notable books. The list will be available in June and can be downloaded from the CBC website at (past lists are available here as well). Consistent with its past history, this year's list was rich in quality and diversity. This is a great list for teachers and librarians who can turn to it to give students ideas of resources they may want to use for research papers.It is also a list that makes it easy to match up thematic lessons in class with books.

The selection committee was passionate about books and passionate about kids. They contemplated their choices carefully and, as a result, it's a list with integrity. It's fun to be part of this process. I encourage people to share this list with their kids' teachers and librarians. It's a great resource. A social studies class is so much richer when trade books are introduced. When teaching about the Depression era, teachers may encourage older students to read the recent Newbery Medal winner, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. A teacher or librarian with an elementary school student that loves dance may want to recommend Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring to that student to help him or her connect with books. This list is like a great cheat-sheet, narrowing down the best of what's new and available to help great teachers do what they do best.

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