Celebrations, Amazing Edifices, and Stories of the Past | History & Landmarks Series Nonfiction

This season has readers delving into the accomplishments of ancient civilizations, marveling at incredible feats of architecture, and exploring the history and celebration of holidays.

Prepare for a trip around the world and back to ancient times! This season has readers delving into the accomplishments of ancient civilizations, marveling at incredible feats of architecture, and exploring the history and celebration of holidays. U.S. history topics include a look at landmarks for very young readers, setting the record straight on popular historical myths, and reviews focused on early American topics, such as the Articles of Confederation. For older readers, the Read Woke imprint looks at groups or individuals usually left out of history narratives, and “The Shortest History” series tackles Greece and the history of Israeli/Palestinian conflicts. All the series make good use of text features, such as sidebars, captions, and images to support reader comprehension and engagement.



Andrews, Elizabeth. The Ancient Chinese. ISBN 9781098243241.
––––. The Ancient Greeks. ISBN 9781098243258.
––––. The Ancient Romans. ISBN 9781098243265.
––––. The Aztecs. ISBN 9781098243272.
––––. The Inca. ISBN 9781098243289.
––––. The Mesopotamians. ISBN 9781098243296.
ea vol: 32p. (Ancient Civilizations). Pop!/DiscoverRoo. Jan. 2023. Tr. $32.79.
Gr 2-5 –The glamor and mystery of ancient kingdoms from around the world are described in these titles. Readers can learn about the Epic of Gilgamesh or Chinese mythology, as well as emperors, dynasties, and the extent of the territories they ruled. Most pages contain an illustration or sidebar to break up the text and provide extra details on the Colosseum or Aztec ball games. Each book also includes QR codes to access videos, online articles and essays, and activities such as puzzles and coloring pages. These resources can also be accessed through a provided URL. Questions help readers make connections between the text and themselves, other texts, and the world. VERDICT A helpful introduction for intermediate grades, and the online extras make it especially appealing to students.

Carlson Berne, Emma. Hanukkah. ISBN 9798885241311.
Gobin, Shantel. Kwanzaa. ISBN 9798885241311.
Nayar, Nandini. Diwali. ISBN 9798885241250.
Oviedo, Claudia. Day of the Dead. ISBN 9798885241229.
Spanier, Kristine. Christmas. ISBN 9798885241199.
––––. Halloween. ISBN 9798885241281.
––––. Thanksgiving. ISBN 9798885241373.
ea vol: 24p. (Holiday History). Jump!, Inc/Pogo Bks. Jan. 2023. Tr. $26.99.
Gr 2-5 –What is the background of holidays? What traditions are associated with them? How are they celebrated around the world? This series addresses these questions in short paragraphs and large-scale images with helpful labels. Text boxes ask “Did you know?” or “What do you think?” and then explain where the name of Halloween came from, or encourage readers to consider whether Kwanzaa should be a national holiday. A final “Quick Facts” page includes the date and place of origin, and a review of common symbols, foods, and traditions associated with the holiday. Sidebars focus on particular aspects, such as how to play dreidel during Hanukkah or common altar offerings for the Day of the Dead. Additional support includes tips for teachers and parents, and access to the Factsurfer website to learn more. VERDICT Recommended for those looking to add variety to their collections or update existing titles.

Culliford, Amy. The Gateway Arch. ISBN 9781638979586.
––––. Pearl Harbor. ISBN 9781638979593.
ea vol: 16p. (U.S. Landmarks). Seahorse Pub./Pelican. Jan. 2023. Tr. $23.75.
PreS-Gr 1 –Books in this series start with tips for teachers and caregivers to support kids before, during, and after reading. A list of sight words and a picture glossary with thumbnail images from within the book are also included. Glossary words appear in bold text. Short sentences with a controlled vocabulary make the content suitable for young readers. Each spread has a large ­image, either a photo of the landmark or a map showing its location. The Pearl ­Harbor title includes a historical photo from the battle, while the Gateway Arch title shows a view from the top of the arch. A table of contents, index, and labels make this a useful series to introduce nonfiction text features in primary classrooms. ­ VERDICT This is a useful series for lessons on famous landmarks and early practice with reading nonfiction.

Rathburn, Betsy. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. ISBN 9798886871036.
––––. Saint Patrick’s Day. ISBN 9798886871043.
––––. Veterans Day. ISBN 9798886871050.
Sabelko, Rebecca. Eid al-Fitr. ISBN 9798886871005.
––––. Independence Day. ISBN 9798886871012.
––––. Juneteenth. ISBN 9798886871029.
ea vol: 24p. (Happy Holidays!). Bellwether Media/Blastoff! Beginners. Jan. 2023. Tr. $25.95.
K-Gr 2 –As with other Blastoff books, this series is bright and visually attractive. A sight word list appears at the beginning to prepare readers. Every spread has a balance of concise text and large-scale images (many with labels). Photos show a diverse range of children and adults celebrating the holiday with food, parades, and community service. Glossary terms appear in bold within the text. Each book ends with a “Facts” page featuring a labeled photo of a holiday celebration along with three thumbnail images of various holiday activities with short descriptions underneath. The glossary also uses thumbnails with short descriptions. This series includes recent addition to the national holiday calendar, Juneteenth. VERDICT Perfect for introducing primary grades to holidays or for young readers to explore on their own.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Bellanger DeGroat, Cayla. The Real History of Thanksgiving. ISBN 9781728475844.
Butler-Ngugi, Anitra. The Real History of the Gold Rush. ISBN 9781728475851.
Kim, Carol. The Real History of Angel Island. ISBN 9781728475820.
Lewis, Cicely. The Real History of the White House. ISBN 9781728475875.
Nnachi, Ngeri. The Real History of the Transcontinental Railroad. ISBN 9781728475868.
Smith, Elliott. The Real History of Juneteenth. ISBN 9781728475837.
ea vol: 32p. (Left Out of History). Lerner/Read Woke. Jan. 2023. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 4-8 –These titles take a famous event from history and highlight figures often overlooked in other accounts. Readers will learn about immigrants processed through Angel Island, enslaved people who helped build the White House, and how the Transcontinental Railroad affected Native peoples like the Cheyenne. The Thanksgiving title includes information about Tisquantum, while the Juneteenth book offers ideas on how to celebrate the holiday. Captioned images, time lines, a glossary, and source notes provide additional support for readers. All “Read Woke” books include a caution to think critically about the images, questions to help readers reflect on and connect to the information, and a suggested reading list. VERDICT A strong series that provides a fuller representation of historical events.

Chandler, Matt. The Lewis and Clark Expedition. ISBN 9781666339598.
Kim, Carol. Sutter’s Mill and the California Gold Rush. ISBN 9781666339659.
Peterson, Megan Cooley. Benjamin Franklin and the Discovery of Electricity. ISBN 9781666339536.
––––. Thomas Edison and the Invention of the Light Bulb. ISBN 9781666339710.
ea vol: 32p. (Fact vs. Fiction in U.S. History). Capstone. Jan. 2023. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 4-6 –American history is full of myths and legends. This series explores common misunderstandings as well as figures and events that may have been omitted from most narratives. For instance, many people believe that Edison invented the light bulb, unaware of other inventors in the field, or they may think that everyone who participated in the Gold Rush became wealthy. Text boxes highlight extra facts like Ben Franklin having coined the term “electrician.” Sidebars offer additional details, such as Sacajawea’s involvement in the Lewis and Clark expedition. Photos and other images accompany the text. Many of the titles have a final page with statements paired as “fiction” and “fact” to set the record straight. A glossary and recommendations for further reading also support readers. VERDICT A ­series that will spark vigorous discussion in the classroom.

Gish, Ashley. Taj Mahal. ISBN 9781637394823.
Jopp, Kelsey. Colosseum. ISBN 9781637394786.
––––. Giza Pyramids. ISBN 9781637394793.
Lawrence, Blythe. Great Wall of China. ISBN 9781637394809.
Mitchell, KS. Machu Picchu. ISBN 9781637394816.
Ross, Melissa. Angkor Wat. ISBN 9781637394779.
ea vol: 32p. (Structural Wonders). North Star/Focus Readers. Jan. 2023. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 4-6 –This title offers a glimpse into amazing structures around the world, describing their construction methods, purpose, and the civilization that built them. Accompanied by photos and images of the exterior and interior, diagrams label features of the Taj Mahal and chambers inside the Great Pyramid, while maps show the extent of the Great Wall and layout of Machu Picchu. Sidebars offer information on the use of computer imaging to uncover new details in Angkor Wat, or how the Colosseum was flooded to stage naval battles, and discuss current preservation efforts and archaeological investigations. Impacts of tourism, such as benefits to the local economy and damage from crowds, are also discussed, and focus questions in the back matter check reader comprehension. VERDICT This is a solid addition to update collections and support social studies lessons.

Silva, Sadie. The American Revolution. ISBN 9781978529007.
––––. The Articles of Confederation. ISBN 9781978529045.
––––. The Civil War. ISBN 9781978529083.
––––. The Declaration of Independence. ISBN 9781978529120.
––––. The Thirteen Colonies. ISBN 9781978529168.
––––. The U.S. Constitution. ISBN 9781978529205.
ea vol: 32p. (U.S. History in Review). Enslow. Dec. 2022. Tr. $26.93.
Gr 3-6 –From the original 13 colonies to the Civil War, this series covers important events in the early years of the United States. Layout features a page of text balanced by a facing page with a large illustration. Text pages have a short paragraph with glossary terms in bold print. The narrative includes major figures of the time period often accompanied by their portraits. “Learn More” text boxes add even more details, such as the date of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Each title ends with a time line highlighting the major events. Back matter includes a glossary, and ­recommended books and websites for further information. VERDICT Useful to introduce social studies lessons or for student reading assignments.


Upper Middle School to High School

Heneage, James. The Shortest History of Greece. 272p. Mar. 2023. ISBN 9781615199488.
Scott-Baumann, Michael. The Shortest History of Israel and Palestine: From Zionism to Intifadas and the Struggle for Peace. 288p. Feb. 2023. ISBN 9781615199501.
ea vol: (Shortest History). The Experiment. pap. $16.95.
Gr 9 Up –This series continues to offer complete histories of specific topics in just a few hundred pages. One title covers Greece from the Homeric Age to the present, and the other explores the conflict between Israel and Palestine. This is advanced reading material due to its subject matter and condensed format. The Israel/Palestine title begins with a chronology of pivotal dates, and both titles include images such as diagrams, maps, artwork, and photos to support the text. The authors are content specialists who draw parallels between current events and events in Greek history, while skillfully explaining what has come before. VERDICT A useful reference set, or a possible classroom purchase for Honors or AP courses.


Publishers continue to expand on diversity and add features that appeal to readers and classroom teachers. The seriesAncient Civilizations” (Pop!) includes QR codes that connect readers to videos from TED Ed or National Geographic, articles from The Met, and PDFs of activity sheets (great for classroom use). Both “Happy Holidays!” (Bellwether Media) and “Holiday History” (Jump!, Inc.) include holidays such as Diwali, Eid-al-Fitr, and Juneteenth, making it possible for a wider range of students to find their own traditions represented.Left Out of History” (Lerner) uses primary source quotes and archival images to share forgotten perspectives. Personal connections and quality resources make these series solid.

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