Back to the Future: Books for Back-to-School

With the first “normal” school year in two years about to start, educators, librarians, parents, and—of course—children, are looking forward to it with some trepidation. The major spikes in the pandemic seem to be in the rearview window, and the prospect of an uninterrupted school year appears more assured. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be without its challenges.


With the first “normal” school year in two years about to start, educators, librarians, parents, and—of course—children, are looking forward with some trepidation to its commencement. But the major spikes in the pandemic seem to be in the rearview window, and the prospect of an uninterrupted school year in 2022-2023 appears more assured. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be without its challenges.

Fallout from the pandemic is still very much with us. The youth mental health crisis has rightfully gotten a great deal of attention during the pandemic, with a surge in anxiety and depression among students. And a McKinsey Institute analysis found that students were on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

But publishers are stepping up their game to help. With their 2022 back-to-school titles, publishers are aiming to strike a balance between books that can help students navigate the complexity of today’s world and works that will inspire them to grow and learn during a new school year.

For instance, there are titles that help children learn to face their fears, make new friends, find their inner strength, and deal with the loss of someone they love. There are also books that celebrate the splendor of fall and energize young people to make a real difference in the world.

It’s time to look forward again. Here’s a peek at what’s new and notable in back-to-school publishing this fall.


A premier French publisher of science fiction and graphic novels, Humanoids opened an American office in Los Angeles in 1998 and moved its headquarters there in 2013. The company publishes both original content and works adapted from Europe. Its BiG imprint publishes graphic novels for children ages 8–14.

“We’re seeing a trend toward socially conscious publishing, especially since the pandemic began,” says executive editor Jake Thomas. Many students have experienced anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues as a result of COVID, and publishers have responded with books that help young readers develop resilience and other social-emotional skills.

An example from Humanoids is Shy Ninja by the father-daughter team of Ricardo and Adara Sanchez, art by Arianna Florean, June 2021, ISBN 9781643378633. It’s about a young girl who has a social anxiety disorder that keeps her from engaging with the other kids at school. When she’s recruited for a ninja program, she feels as if she finally has a place to be herself. But then she learns that the ninjas are being used for nefarious purposes, and she must overcome her shyness and stand up for herself. “You really feel her emotion as a reader,” Thomas says.

New from Humanoids this fall is Young Agatha Christie by William Augel, September 2022, ISBN 9781643378251. It’s the third book in a series that originated in France, called “Young Geniuses.” Young Agatha Christie is a fictional account of the famous author’s life as a young girl, as told through an amusing series of vignettes. Throughout the book, there are puzzles that readers can solve along with the young Agatha.

Ghosts of Science Past by Joseph Sieracki, art by Jesse Lonergan, June 2022, ISBN 9781643378008, is about high school student Trevor who lacks motivation for his studies. With a failing grade looming in biology, Trevor is visited during the night by the spirits of great scientists throughout history in a takeoff of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. He is also visited by the Ghost of Science Future, who shows him that science offers the solution to global problems such as climate change. As a result of these visits, Trevor rediscovers the love of science that he had as a boy.

The Oates & the Elphyne by Canadian author/artist Michael Walsh, May 2022, ISBN 9781643376790, is a fantasy about a family who move to Newfoundland to be closer to an orphaned relative. Shortly thereafter, the youngest child is kidnapped by a mysterious creature. Her older siblings set out to bring her back and find themselves in the Elphyne—a magical world that exists between the ordinary world and the afterlife. “It’s a powerful story about coming to terms with death,” Thomas says.

Urban Legendz by Paul Downs and Nick Bruno, art by Michael Yates, June 2019, ISBN 9781594657146, is another story about coming to terms with loss. After their mother’s death, young Dwayne and his brother are forced to uproot themselves and move into a shabby apartment in Brooklyn. Dwayne’s personal problems are cast aside when he discovers that the urban legends he grew up with are coming true—like giant alligators wreaking havoc from the city’s sewers. Of course, none of the adults in Dwayne’s world believe him, so it falls to him and his new friends to investigate.

Clavis Publishing

Clavis is a Belgian-based publisher of children’s books with a U.S. office in New York. The company publishes about 35 titles per season in the United States; most are English-language versions of content published overseas, although Clavis is steadily increasing the number of works that it publishes from North American authors.

Clavis publishes both fiction and nonfiction for readers up to age 12, mostly hardcover picture books with a strong concentration on books for toddlers. The company’s books focus on helping young children with skills such as language development, understanding the world around them, and navigating their emotions.

An example of the latter that’s perfect for the back-to-school season is Emma’s First Day of School by Federico van Lunter, August 2022, ISBN 9781605377834. In this book for children ages 3–7, Emma is uneasy about going to school for the first time. To calm Emma’s nerves, her mother lets her dress up like a flamingo—and when the other kids at school see Emma’s costume, they all want to dress up as various animals themselves.

“It’s a very relatable story for young children who are just beginning school, as well as a good conversation starter for talking about how to face your fears,” says marketing consultant Carolina Schwarz.

Another fitting back-to-school title from Clavis is Benny Goes to School by Judith Koppens, illustrated by Marja Meijer, August 2022, ISBN 9781605377803. Aimed at children ages 4–9, this fourth book in a series is about a young girl named Sam and her dog, Benny, who wants to do everything humans do. When Benny follows Sam to school, Sam finds herself trying to hide him from her teacher—and this results in some very amusing situations.

The World of Worm: Shapes by Esther van den Berg, September 2022, ISBN 9781605377933, is a concept picture book for children starting preschool or kindergarten. The story introduces children to a variety of shapes through the character of Worm, who imitates the shapes he encounters with his body. Children will have fun identifying the numerous examples of each shape found within the illustrations—such as the triangles hidden in trees, mountains, kites, and other objects.

“This book lends itself to being very interactive,” Schwarz says, “and Worm will put smiles on a lot of young faces.”

Lerner Publishing Group

Based in Minneapolis, Lerner Publishing Group is one of the largest independently owned children’s book publishers in the United States. Lerner is releasing 213 new Fall 2022 titles across multiple formats, including print, digital, ebooks, and audiobooks.

As a celebration of autumn, On a Gold-Blooming Day by Buffy Silverman, September 2022, ISBN 9781728442983, fits perfectly within the back-to-school season. It’s the second book of poetry from longtime science writer Silverman, following her book On a Snow-Melting Day. On a Gold-Blooming Day uses stunning photography and evocative language to bring fall alive for students in grades preK–3: “On a gold-blooming, bee-zooming, sun-dazzling day . . . / Snakes glide. / Spiders hide. / Crickets chirp. / Butterflies slurp.”

“It’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve seen in a long time,” says School and Library Marketing Director Lois Wallentine. “And it’s a great book for discussing how children might describe something in creative ways.”

Lerner also partners with Sesame Street® to produce content. An example is Let’s Talk About It! A Sesame Street Guide to Resolving Conflict by Marie-Therese Miller, September 2022, ISBN 9781728456225. In this book, children in grades preK–2 learn age-appropriate strategies for solving disagreements with help from their favorite Sesame Street characters.

For students in grades 5–9, Teen Innovators by science teacher and nonfiction author Fred Estes, September 2022, ISBN 9781728417189, is an inspiring read. It profiles nine young people who are engineering a better world with creative inventions—from a new way to test for lead in water to a talking glove that can translate American Sign Language. “Their stories are really moving,” Wallentine says. “It’s a super engaging read for starting the school year and inspiring kids to think about what kinds of projects they might want to work on."

This fall, Lerner is issuing a new brand aimed at students in grades K–2, called Read for a Better World™. “What’s unique about this brand is that we’ve worked with reading consultants to keep the reading levels low and put in supports to help emergent readers,” Wallentine explains, such as a picture glossary.

The new brand is launching with 23 titles across four series: “Read About Ocean Animals,” “Read About Senses,” and “Read About Space,” which all feature STEM connections, as well as “Read About School,” which highlights social and emotional learning and helps students successfully navigate back to school.

ReferencePoint Press

Founded in 2006, ReferencePoint Press is an independent educational publishing house focused on high-quality series nonfiction for students in grades 6–12. ReferencePoint titles include primary sources, source notes, statistical illustrations, and other pedagogical features that support Common Core standards and present multiple points of view.

“Our core purpose is to cover timely, controversial subjects in a comprehensive way for students,” says Publisher Daniel Leone.

A new series for this fall that’s particularly timely is "Challenges for Democracy," a five-volume collection that aims to help students understand our system of government in the context of current events—and “how dysfunction threatens our democracy,” says Managing Editor Lori Shein.

Titles include Clash of Powers: The President Versus Congress (Meryl Loonin, ISBN 9781678203023), Media Literacy: Information and Disinformation (Kathryn Hulick, ISBN 9781678203047), Political Parties: Division and Distrust (Kristina Castillo, ISBN 9781678203061), The Supreme Court: Activism Versus Restraint (John Allen, ISBN 9781678203085), and Voting: Rights and Suppression (Stuart A. Kallen, ISBN 9781678203108).

In a recent Harvard University poll, 39 percent of young Americans described the United States as “a democracy in trouble.” Challenges for Democracy, available in September 2022, tries to explain this sentiment—while helping students realize what they can do to change that.

"Thinking Critically" is an ongoing series from ReferencePoint that looks at controversial topics in a “pro vs. con” format. Five new titles in this series are coming out in September: Addiction (Carla Mooney, ISBN 9781678203122), The Black Lives Matter Movement (Olivia Karson, ISBN 9781678203146), The COVID-19 Pandemic (Kathryn Hulick, ISBN 9781678203160), Mass Shootings, New Edition (Stephen Currie, ISBN 9781678203184), and Police and the Use of Force (John Allen, 9781678203207).

The goal of these books is to help students understand both sides of topics in the news. “If you don’t understand other points of view, you can’t understand your own,” Shein says. The book about COVID, for example, examines questions such as whether Americans should be willing to sacrifice some individual freedom for the common good; for each position, there is an infographic with supporting data.

ReferencePoint also publishes single titles about social issues of interest to teens. A new single title being published in September is Racial Bias: Is Change Possible? by Barbara Diggs, ISBN 9781678203504. The book examines where racial bias comes from, whether implicit bias is hardwired into our DNA, and how it can be overcome. “It’s a very practical look at a challenging topic,” Shein says.

In 2019, ReferencePoint launched a new imprint, BrightPoint Press. It publishes nonfiction for struggling readers, written at a reading level of grades 3–4. “When you think of Hi-Lo, it’s typically heavy on topics such as sports,” Leone says. “We publish unique Hi-Lo books on serious topics of interest to teens.”

For instance, "Exploring Jobs in the Gig Economy" is a new BrightPoint series of five titles coming out in September: Gig Jobs in the Creative Arts (Clara MacCarald, ISBN 9781678203849), Gig Jobs in Gaming (Clara MacCarald, ISBN 9781678203863), Gig Jobs in High-Tech (Heidi Ayarbe, ISBN 9781678203887), Gig Jobs in Social Media (A. W. Buckey, ISBN 9781678203900), and Gig Jobs in Transportation and Delivery (A. W. Buckey, ISBN 9781678203924).

These books “look at the pros and cons of this type of work, versus full-time work for a single employer,” Shein says. “We chose jobs that we thought would be of interest to teens in particular.”

Yen Press

Based in New York, Yen Press is an American publisher of manga and graphic novels. Many of the best-selling graphic novels for middle-grade readers today focus on authentic middle school experiences that students face every day, says sales and marketing Director Mark de Vera—such as bullying, making friends, and struggling to fit in socially.

For instance, Enemies by Svetlana Chmakova, September 2022, ISBN 9781975312794, a new release coming out during back-to-school season, focuses on middle-school student Felicity, who sees longtime friends turn into enemies when she commits to winning a contest at her school. Enemies is the fifth book in the “Berrybrook Middle School” series from Yen Press imprint JY (short for Junior Yen).

Realistic drama at the high school level is a common theme among “light novels,” or short illustrated novels that serve as quick reads for young adult audiences. A recent example from Yen Press is Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle, Vol. 1 by Hiromu, illustrated by raemz, March 2022, ISBN 9781975339050.

The main character, Saku Chitose, is a popular student who has everything going for him. When a teacher asks Chitose to check on another student who hasn’t been to class in a while, Chitose finds that the student has cut himself off from society. Chitose resolves to help him rediscover his zest for life. With the mental health crisis affecting teens today, this is a very timely story that should resonate with a lot of readers.

“At a time when there is a lot of cynicism among youth, it’s nice to have a work like this that combats that,” de Vera says. “It’s also a fun read.”

Shadow Mountain Publishing

Shadow Mountain Publishing is a general trade publisher of fiction and nonfiction. The company publishes about 30 titles per year, roughly half of which are children’s books. “We’re a publisher of clean content for children, meaning our books don’t contain any foul language, drug use, sex, or violence,” says director of sales and marketing Ilise Levine.

In what is a new trend for Shadow Mountain, the company this year began publishing Young Readers adaptations of its best-selling adult works. For example, The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright, October 2022, ISBN 9781639930548, is an adaptation of the author’s original 2016 work, written specifically for middle-grade readers. It’s based on the true story of a young boy from India who is kidnapped and sold for adoption. Through a series of remarkable coincidences, he reunites with his family later in life.

In spring 2023, Shadow Mountain is coming out with another Young Readers edition of a book that is based on real events. The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore and Allison H. Merrill, April 2023, ISBN 9781639930944, is a powerful historical fiction novel that takes place in late 19th-century San Francisco, where an underground slave trade buys and sells young Chinese women. The story is told from the alternating points of view of one of these women, who arrives in California thinking she’s about to be married, and a missionary who aims to help her.

“This book fits in perfectly with our list of empathy-building titles,” Levine says. “It gives young readers a sense of how immigrants were treated during this largely unknown chapter in the nation’s history.” Content from the original book has been rewritten to be age-appropriate for middle-grade readers, and the adapted version also includes background information for students to learn about Chinese culture.

Virtually Me by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown, February 2023, ISBN 9781639930531, is a timely middle-grade novel that raises some interesting questions for a post-pandemic world. It’s about three seventh-grade students who enroll in a new virtual reality school, where they can change how they look and even choose new identities if they want to. It’s a perfect way to start over again…or is it?

“The premise of this book has really struck a chord with a lot of people,” Levine says. “How much do we want to give kids these safe spaces to grow up in? One aspect of learning is about confronting your fears and navigating difficult situations, because life is going to throw you some curveballs.”

The Rosen Publishing Group

The Rosen Publishing Group is an independent publisher established in 1950. It publishes educational books for readers in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, mostly series nonfiction. This fall, the company has nearly 700 new titles coming out across its five separate publishing houses.

Among Rosen’s biggest releases this fall is a new fourth edition of its "Cultures of the World" series from publishing house Cavendish Square. Aimed at students in grades 5–8, these books take readers on an engaging and informative trip through a different nation, with fun facts, figures, maps, recipes, travel tips, and stunning full-color photography. “It’s our best-selling series,” says Vice President of Sales Jim Marshall.

The fourth edition of "Cultures of the World" is being released in groups of six books at a time. Group one, ISBN 9781502666512, which includes India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore, was released in May 2022. Group two, ISBN 9781502666529, which features Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela, is coming out in August 2022. In each book, students learn about that nation’s culture, including its arts, sports, and foods.

In partnership with Scientific American magazine, Rosen Publishing has created a brand-new imprint called Scientific American Educational Publishing. The imprint is launching with two new educational series this fall.

"Bring Science Home," ISBN 9781684169900, which targets students in grades 4–6, features science projects that use everyday items found in students’ homes. There are eight titles in the series involving activities such as fun chemistry experiments, “food physics,” and optical illusions. "Scientific American Explores Big Ideas," ISBN 9781684169931, encourages high school students to think critically about big concepts such as confronting racism, how COVID changed the world, the effects of smartphones on teens, and the science of climate change. Each of the eight books in this series includes articles pulled directly from the pages of Scientific American, repurposed for high schoolers, with thought-provoking questions.

From Rosen’s Gareth Stevens publishing house comes a unique new series that takes the concept of escape room games and applies them in book format. "Escape!," ISBN 9781538281451, is a set of five books that ask readers in grades 3–6 to find clues and solve a series of puzzles in order to escape from interesting places, such as a computer hacker’s hideout and an artist’s cabin. To escape from the hacker’s hideout, for instance, students learn about programming concepts such as binary and ASCII code—and they use these concepts to figure out the clues interspersed throughout the book.

For all these new series from Rosen, libraries can purchase individual titles—or they can buy the entire series for a discounted price.

Red Chair Press

Red Chair Press began in 2009 as a publisher of educational series for pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade readers. In 2018, the company expanded into the trade market with single-title novels for students in the middle grades.

“All of our books are tied to the curriculum at the level of their target audience,” says Keith Garton, publisher and general manager. “We try to be a partner with educators.” There are also free, reproducible guides for teachers available on the company’s website for each title.

A new series for students in grades 2–4 is "What’s So Scary?" by Joanne Mattern, August 2022, ISBN 9781728476933. Each of these four 32-page books, part of Red Chair’s Core Content Science collection, explores a different “scary” animal and presents fun facts and important information that explains how these fascinating creatures help make the world a better place. The books cover bats, sharks, snakes, and spiders.

Another four-book series coming out in August is "Wildlife Rescue" by various authors, ISBN 9781728476957. Also aimed at students in grades 2–4, these books show simple yet innovative ways that people have tried to make the world safer for animals. 

For instance, in Caution: Turtles and Frogs Ahead!, children learn how a group of people in southern New York State helped snapping turtles cross a busy highway safely—and these activists also created a new nesting site on the same side of the road so that the turtles wouldn’t have to cross over anymore.

As children read these books, Garton says, they are also learning about the natural habitats of animals, why these animals are endangered, and what the kids can do in their own community to help out.

Math and Me,” August 2022, ISBN 9781728476940, is a new six-book series in Red Chair’s line of LOOK! Books, which are nonfiction books geared toward emerging readers in pre-kindergarten through second grade. Each of the books in the "Math and Me" series examines how math is used in a different, everyday context, such as at school, in a store, in the kitchen, in the garden, or on a trip.

In Math at the Game, for instance, students learn how to apply math skills when buying tickets or keeping score. Each book focuses on early math skills and concepts typically taught in the first grade.

For each of these series, librarians can buy the books as separate titles, or they can purchase the entire set. “They’re very well suited for use in classrooms and school libraries,” Garton says.

Orca Book Publishers

Founded in 1984, Orca is an independent Canadian children’s publisher of everything from board and picture books to middle grade and young adult fiction. “We are focused on making our content as accessible as possible to as many readers as possible,” says web manager Michelle Simms.

Orca is launching a new digital subscription platform for the 2022 back-to-school season. Called Orca Digital, it includes unlimited, multiuser access to Orca digital content, so that all students in a class, school, or district can access books 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere they might go with their phone or tablet.

Accessible via a web browser or through a native Android or iOS app, Orca Digital is completely customizable, Simms says. Orca offers prebuilt, curated collections, but teachers and librarians can also build customized subscriptions with virtually any combination of titles, to create collections based around a specific reading level, age range, or theme. Teachers can also create enhanced versions of each book for their classrooms by adding quizzes, links, polls, discussion questions, or multimedia files.

The goal of Orca Digital is to get more students reading by making it simple to access content from anywhere, Simms says. When students use the app version, they can download books for reading while they’re offline as well.

Orca is also well known for its Hi-Lo titles for struggling or reluctant readers, and the company is bringing out many new Hi-Lo books this fall. 

Orca Currents are short, high-interest novels with contemporary themes written for middle-grade students reading below grade level. Orca Soundings are short, high-interest novels written for teens at a second- through fourth-grade reading level. And this year, Orca introduced a new Hi-Lo series for teens called Orca Anchor; these books, under 100 pages, are written below a second-grade level. An example is Careful What You Wish For by Mahtab Narsimhan, August 2022, ISBN 9781459834002, a cautionary tale about what happens when things seem too good to be true online.

Chooseco LLC

Based in Vermont, Chooseco was founded in 2003 by author R.A. Montgomery and publisher Shannon Gilligan. The company publishes updated versions of Montgomery’s popular Choose Your Own Adventure books initially published by Bantam in the 1980s and 90s, as well as original titles that follow the same format.

These original titles include Classics aimed at students ages 8–12, as well as a series for younger readers ages 5–8, called “Dragonlarks.” Chooseco even publishes a few board books for children up to age three that feature two choices and three different endings.

“All of our books are interactive, with multiple choices and endings,” says Editor Rachel Hullett. “They’re all written in the second person, putting the reader at the center of the story.”

A new fall release in the Classics line that Chooseco is particularly excited about is Antarctica!, October 2022, ISBN 9781954232099. In this book by Congressional Service Medal winner and first-time author Lily Simonson, the premise is that the reader is a young scientist working in Antarctica. “After a routine day out in the field, you’re about to board a helicopter back to your research base, when you receive word that one of your colleagues has gone missing.” Depending on the choices the reader makes, the story has 17 different endings.

In writing the book, Simonson drew from her extensive experience living in a research facility in Antarctica herself, where she spent months scuba diving beneath the sea ice and photographing and painting what she saw. Antarctica! has a strong STEM focus, as Simonson “introduces microbiology concepts in a very organic and accessible way for students,” Hullett says.

And in a wholly original release, Chooseco is pioneering a new concept that it hopes can help with learning recovery in the wake of the pandemic. The Dregg Disaster: An Algebra I Gamebook by Chris Matthews, October 2022, ISBN 9781937133931, combines education and entertainment in a fun and innovative way by integrating math into the story. Written by an Algebra I teacher, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure book for students ages 12–16.

Something fishy is going on at Dregg Corporation, the biggest employer in town, and the reader must get to the bottom of the mystery. To continue the story at each point where a choice is required, however, students must solve an algebraic equation, so they know which page number to turn to. The back of the book contains an answer key with step-by-step guides to solving each problem. A digital workbook with more practice problems is also available as a free online download with each purchase.

“This is such a departure for us, and we’re very excited about it,” Hullett says. “Teachers and librarians can send kids home with a book that extends learning beyond the classroom.”

Sequoia Kids Media

Sequoia Kids Media is an imprint of Phoenix International Publications that produces content specifically for the school and library market. Sequoia publishes 80 to 100 books per year.

“We take titles from other Phoenix imprints, such as Sunbird Book and PI Kids, and publish them with a library binding,” says Marketing Manager Casey Griffin. “We also publish original series, such as our Active Minds line of educational titles.”

This fall, Sequoia is releasing a new Active Minds series called "Active Minds Explorers: Baby Animals." Written by Ellen Lawrence, these books for children in prekindergarten through third grade are stylized in a journal format, with fun facts, illustrations, and photos about baby animals that are sure to appeal to young readers.

There are six books in the series: Baby Cockatiel (ISBN 9781649962332), Baby Orangutan (ISBN 9781649962225), Baby Iguana (ISBN 9781649962201), Baby Ostrich (ISBN 9781649962218), Baby Moose (ISBN 9781649962188), and Baby Panda (ISBN 9781649962195).

Another new fall release, Active Minds: Kids Ask About, is aimed at students in grades 2–5. This eight-book series provides information about animals that aren’t so cuddly, such as Birds of Prey by Bendix Anderson, illustrated by Mike Maydak, ISBN 9781649967756, and Wild Cats by Diane Muldrow, illustrated by Greg Harris, 9781649967817.

"Active Minds 2-in-1 Books" is yet another STEM-focused series from Sequoia. These innovative picture books for students in grades 2–5 combine informational and narrative nonfiction within a single book. “Some kids prefer straight facts, while others prefer a story,” Griffin says. “With these books, we’re hitting both options.”

An example is Rocket and Rover/All About Rockets by Emily Skwish, illustrated by Henry W. Ng, ISBN 9781649961679. When held in a portrait orientation, the book relates the story of a rocket that lands on the moon. When read in landscape orientation, it includes real-life photography and facts about rockets. Other books in the series focus on sloths, otters, and electric cars.

Flyaway Books

Founded in 2018, Flyaway Books is an imprint of Westminster John Knox Press, a publisher affiliated with the Presbyterian Church that has more than 175 years of publishing history. Flyaway Books publishes six to 10 titles per year, mostly picture books for children ages 3–7.

“Flyaway Books embraces diversity, inclusivity, compassion, care for each other, and care for our world,” says editorial director Alicia Samuels. “Many of our books explore social justice and other contemporary issues. Some retell familiar religious stories in new ways, while most others carry universal themes appealing to those with any, or no, religious background.”

Flyaway’s lead title for fall 2022 is One Thursday Afternoon written and illustrated by Barbara DiLorenzo, September 2022, ISBN 9781947888371. The book follows a young girl, Ava, as she struggles to express her fear and uncertainty after a lockdown drill when she discovers that school might not be the safe place she thought it was.

“Unfortunately, lockdown drills will be more frequent than ever this school year, and educators, school counselors, and parents need resources to help children understand the feelings these experiences may evoke,” Samuels says. “Ava’s touching conversations with her grandfather and their use of art to rediscover the beauty of the world even in the midst of her fear, make this such an endearing and thoughtful book about a very relevant issue.”

In The Coat by Séverine Vidal, illustrated by Louis Thomas, October 2022, ISBN 9781947888388, a young girl named Elise has been longing for a certain red coat for what seems like forever. Then a chance encounter changes everything, revealing that the pleasure that comes from material goods is no match for the joy of helping others.

The Coat offers children a glimpse into the hardships confronting those experiencing homelessness, inspiring young readers to treat them with compassion and respect. Flyaway Books is creating a downloadable discussion guide for the book in partnership with the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Sidney the Lonely Cloud written and illustrated by Tim Hopgood, October 2022, ISBN 9781947888395, is about a cloud named Sidney who only wants to make people smile. But instead, everyone says, “I wish that cloud would go away!” Searching for a friendly face, Sydney drifts for days before finally arriving in a hot, dry land—where everyone welcomes what he has to offer.

“Sidney’s search for belonging affirms that we all have valuable gifts to share and that a new perspective may be all we need to discover our place in the world,” Samuels observes.

Nomad Press

An independent educational publisher based in Vermont, Nomad Press is a trusted source of nonfiction books that keep kids engaged long after the last page. All of the company’s books include hands-on challenges that encourage students to deepen their learning.

One of the lessons from the pandemic is that learning can occur anytime, anywhere, says Senior Editor Andi Diehn—including from home as well as school. 

“Our books lend themselves for use in any learning environment because of the embedded activities in each chapter,” Diehn observes. “These activities use common materials that kids already have in their homes, reducing the barriers to participation.”

Essential questions at the end of each chapter encourage kids to think beyond the page, and embedded QR codes link readers to additional resources. “Students learn in vastly different ways,” Diehn says. “These resources offer another point of access for kids who learn better by watching videos, for example.”

New for the back-to-school season is Electricity: Circuits, Static, and Electromagnets with Hands-On Science Activities for Kids by Carmella Van Vleet, illustrated by Micah Rauch, October 2022, ISBN 9781647410032. Intended for students in grades 3–6, the book explores where electricity comes from, how it works, and how we can use it more efficiently.

Questions get kids thinking about the impact of electricity on our daily lives, such as “Can you come up with solutions to problems caused by a lack of electricity? For example, how would you cook food?” Activities challenge students to count the number of devices in their home that use electricity, record how often they turn on switches in a day, and even build simple electronic circuits.

“It joins our lineup of science books that take an inquisitive look at the world around us and make it more accessible to kids,” Diehn says.


TeachingBooks was founded more than 20 years ago with a simple goal in mind: to let every reader have the chance to learn directly from the author of the book they are reading, at that very moment of impact.

Toward that goal, founder and company head Nick Glass took it upon himself to interview authors and illustrators in their homes, so that students, teachers, librarians, and others could have the likes of Mary Pope Osborne, Barbara Park, and J.K. Rowling in their classrooms.

Today, TeachingBooks offers every reader a vast library of materials that help bring books to life. The company’s resources—used in more than 33,000 schools and thousands of public library branches—are designed to support literacy instruction and engage readers more deeply with the texts they’re reading, while nurturing a joy of reading.

These resources include interviews with almost 10,000 authors and illustrators through Meet-the-Author recordings, giving students the opportunity to connect with authors and illustrators who look like them and share similar interests. There are also video book trailers, read-along audiobook performances, lesson plans, discussion questions, vocabulary lists, and other materials that can change the way a reader relates to a book—creating “personal connections between students and the texts they’re reading,” Glass says.

Users can browse these resources by title, author, reading list, series, and awards. The materials are directly aligned with state and national reading programs and core book sets, and educators can create customized collections of supporting materials for any set of books their students are reading.

TeachingBooks has also created tools that make it easy for teachers and librarians to share these supporting resources with students, families, and other educators via email or text messaging, or by embedding them directly into any learning management system or other website. “We want to support whatever technologies people are using,” Glass says.

In addition, TeachingBooks includes tools to help teachers and librarians build diverse book collections, match students with appropriate texts, and enrich their instruction using various texts. For instance…

  • A Literacy & Standards Connections resource helps educators connect reading to their curriculum.
  • A Diverse Books Toolkit includes a BIPOC search tool. By searching on any topic, educators can get a list of related books, for example, written by or about Black, Indigenous, or Persons of Color. And if they upload a list of their collections, librarians can get a detailed report on how diverse their titles are and where they might be lacking.
  • A Text Complexity Toolkit helps put the right book in each reader’s hands with tools that provide comprehensive text analysis.
  • A Reader’s Advisory helps users discover books that match their interest by identifying books that are similar to a favorite title, books about certain subjects, and books that match a particular reading level.

K-12 schools and districts can purchase a yearly license for the service that is based on a rate per building. Every license comes with unlimited use of the resources for an unlimited number of people, as well as training and support. All of the materials on TeachingBooks are fully accessible, with translation services and video transcriptions.

“TeachingBooks enriches reading programs, furthers students’ enthusiasm for reading, and elevates the power of books for students, teachers, librarians, and families,” Glass concludes.

Sounds True Kids

Sounds True Publishing was founded in 1985 by Tami Simon with a clear mission: to disseminate spiritual wisdom. Since its modest beginnings as a project with one woman and her tape recorder, it has grown into a multimedia publishing company with more than 100 employees and a library of more than 3,000 titles. 

Sounds True produces adult nonfiction and children’s books. Its children’s imprint, Sounds True Kids, publishes about eight books per year, mostly picture books and board books. 

“We plant the seeds of mindfulness, kindness, and self care,” says Children’s Acquisitions Editor Jennifer Adams. With the pandemic taking a big toll on children’s mental health, these books are more important than ever for schools.

Slow Down, Tumbleweed! by Haven Iverson, illustrated by Robert Sayegh Jr., October 2021, ISBN 9781683647393, is about a tumbleweed named Mabel who thinks the world is interesting only if you rush through life. Then she gets caught on a barbed-wire fence and is forced to slow down. As she learns to sit in stillness and quiet, Mabel notices the beauty of the world around her.

“It’s a good mindfulness lesson for children,” Adams says. “It teaches kids that it’s OK to run and play, but it’s also important to take those moments of introspection.”

Today I Am a River by Kate Coombs, illustrated Anna Emilia Laitinen, April 2023, ISBN 9781683649823, is a picture book poem that encourages children to imagine the world from a variety of perspectives other than their own, such as a river, a tree, a stone, an owl, and a snake. “It instills in them an appreciation and reverence for the natural world,” Adams says.


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