A List of Trade Books for Social Studies Themes and Concepts

|     Shoes    |    Houses and Homes    |    Families    |

These are just a few of the many books (sorry I don't have time to fully annotate all of them) that can be part of a topic or thematic study (remember there is a difference between the two!). In one case the "topic" might be "cars". An typical conceptual level to work on might be "transportation". In both, I'd argue working from and with children's interest (the "W" part of the "KWL") is important. But it's also important to think about the kinds of conceptual development that can be enhanced through these studies. There is a content as well as a process to inquiry. These are directly linked to the kinds of broad goals you want to assist in developing through lessons that lead logically (even if it feels "intuitive", there is a set of principles and ideals - a "logic" behind it!) one from another to form a coherent unit.

A good example of a concept book with a multitude of possibilities for thematic study is Norah Dooley's Everybody Cooks Rice***, put out by Carolrhoda Books (one of my favorites) in Minneapolis (also one of my favorites). In a short jaunt around the neighborhood, looking for her brother, a young girl tastes the many ways in which the families (from Barbados, Vietnam, India, China, Haiti, and her own Italian ancestors) cook rice.  There's a lot there about family life, commonalities and differences,
immigration, as well as some yummy recipes.

(*** means I have copy of this book)

Badt, Karin Luisa. (1994). On your feet! Chicago: Children's Press.
     Information book, 32 pages. Well illustrated, covering a wide range of
     geographical areas and historical eras. Includes glossary and index.
     It's part of the "A world of difference" series, which addresses many
     useful topics directly related to children's lives in an interesting,
     cross-cultural format. Most are available in paperback for about $6.00.
     Titles include:

     Animals and Us (Sara Corbett)
     Good Morning, Let's Eat! (Badt)
     Greetings! (Badt)
     Hair there and everywhere (Badt)***
     Hats off to Hats! (Corbett)
     Hold Everything (Corbett)
     Let's Go! (Badt)
     Masks! (Alice K. Flanagan)
     Pass the Bread! (Badt)***
     Shake, Rattle, and Strum (Corbett)
     Sleep on it! (Kevin Kelly and Erin Jaeb)
     Toys Everywhere (Cynthia and David Greising)
     Welcome Home! (Sylvia White)
     What a Doll! (Corbett)

Morris, Ann. (1995). Shoes Shoes Shoes. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard.***
     Information book, 32 pages. Uses poetry to teach concept. For young
     children. The index includes information on where in the world the
     photographs of a wide variety of shoes were taken. Examples are from the
     U.S., Europe, South American, Africa, and Asia. Map shows the location
     of the examples. Series of books by Morris includes:

     Bread, Bread, Bread***
     Hats, Hats, Hats***
     On the Go
     Houses and Homes*** (see below for more information)

Miller, Margaret. (1991). Whose Shoe? New York: Greenwillow Books.
     Information book, 40 pages. Concept taught through repeated pattern of
     asking "Whose shoe?" on one set of pages and then showing both children
     and adults wearing those shoes on the "answer" pages. Focus is on
     different kinds of shoes worn, from baseball, hockey, running, and
     horseshoes, to clown and baby shoes, ballet slippers, hip waders and
     flippers. Photographs have a good balance of males and females and show
     people of racial/ethnic groups.

Roy, Ron & Hausherr, Rosmarie. (1988). Whose Shoes are These? New York:
Clarion Books.
     Information book, 40 pgs. Same question-answer format as the Miller
     book, but for slightly older readers. Black and white photographs
     accompany questions and answers which draw attention to the ways in
     which shoes differ according to their uses.

Rowland, Della. (1989). A World of Shoes. Chicago: Contemporary Books.
     Information book, 24 pages, illustrated. World tour, showing traditional
     shoes of Japan, Western U.S., Northern Canada, MOrocco, England,
     Holland, Soviet Union, Lapland, and Mexico. It would be important to use
     the U.S. example of Western boots to develop the idea that while there
     are distinct shoes across cultures, there is also diversity within
     societies. Book makes statements like "Everyone in Morocco wears these
     pointy slippers" which need to be addressed to avoid stereotypes.

Horenstein, Henry. (1993). How are Sneakers Made?  New York: Simon & Schuster.
     Information book, 32 pages. Text and photographs show the making of a
     canvas sneaker in the Converse factory in North Carolina. Book could be
     used to teach economics concepts to younger or older children. The books
     is interesting in that while the overall focus is one the sneaker-making
     process, the workers are not invisible. The take breaks, work on an
     assembly line, etc. Lots of good discussions are possible from this.

Just a few listed here, to show a bit of the range possible. This topic can include issues of homelessness, for which I'll send a separate list. There is also a video for upper grades, "The wonderful world of houses", (42 min., "Let's Explore" series; Barbara Lawrence Productions, 1995). While it is pretty U.S./North American based, it gets beyond the simplistic "Houses are different because of climate and natural resources" idea to include "socio-cultural, economics, beliefs. Presented well to highlight those influences.  While this is very much a "knowledge as given" rather than inquiry mode, it could be used as one perspective to examine.

Bial, Raymond. (1993). Amish Home. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.***
     Information book, 40 pgs., includes references list. Well composed
     photographs and clearly written text make the lives and beliefs of the
     Amish very accessible to children. Covers the reasons for their social
     practices as well as some of the difficulties they have encountered
     because of them.

Buchanan, Ken. (1991). This House is Made of Mud (Esta casa esta hecha de
lodo). Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Publishing.
     Picture book, 32 pgs. This is a very beautiful, bilingual book which celebrates the beauty of the
     round adobe houses, the animals of the area,
     and the southwest in which they are built. The illustrations by Libba
     Tracy are stunning.

Morris, Ann. (1992). Houses and Homes. New York: Mulberry Books.***
     Information book for young children, 32 pgs. I like this book for the
     rich discussions it could facilitate over a number of areas. Like the
     "Shoes" book, it covers a wide range of peoples around the world. It
     shows diversity within the U.S., and unlike some other similar books
     I've seen, doesn't show the U.S. all neat and pretty, with most of the
     rest of the (non-western) world implicitly poor and shabby. The variety
     of climates and materials affecting houses are clear, with the book
     ending, "Fill it with love and make it a home."

Kalman, Bobbie. (1994). Homes around the world. New York: Crabtree
     Information book, younger readers, 32 pgs., includes index and glossary,
     as well as key to origins of the photos - very useful. Very similar
     format with each two page section looking at different kinds of homes:
     city, country, mountain, tropical, etc. A little problematic in how it
     addresses "simple homes"/huts, but great photos of interesting places
     and a wide variety of people.

Rosen, Michael J. (1992). Home: A Collaboration of Thirty Distinguished
Authors and Illustrators of Children's Books to Aid the Homeless. New
York: Harper Collins.
     Wonderful collection of stories, narratives, poems, and illustrations by
     some of your favorite authors and artists. All capture a "special vision
     of Home", with the donated work on the book providing income for the
     Share our Strength group's aid to the homeless.

Our concept maps/thematic webs done in class covered a broad conceptualization
of family. Here are some trade books which address some of those diverse understandings.

Pellegrini, Nina. (1991). Families are Different. New York: Holiday House.
     Picture book, 28 pages. The book is told in first person narrative, by
     Nico, a young girl. It focuses initially on her family as her parents,
     her dog, herself and her sister, but shifts subtly back and forth from
     issues of friendship, her pet, her parents' age, to issues surrounding
     the children as children from Korea adopted as babies. Her feelings, and
     the conversation with her mother let her look more carefully at the
     kinds of families around her. She sees lots of differences in families
     (bi-racial, single parent, nuclear - looking alike, nuclear - but
     looking different, divorced, children living with grandparents) and sees
     a common bond of love. The author's own experiences with her daughter
     inspired the author. The child in the book bears her daughter's name and

Ryan, Pam Munoz. (1994). One Hundred is a Family. New York: Hyperion Books.
     Counting book, 26 pages. I like the "Eight is a family quilting strong
     stitches that last", but the rest of the 1-10, and counting by twenties
     to a hundred, also show a good progression from implicitly nuclear to
     extended families, and on to neighborhoods, larger communities and
     finally the hundred as "a family caring for the fragile universe",
     coming full circle to: "and making life better for every ONE on earth".
     Good conceptually. The illustrations make a good attempt to get beyond
     mono-cultural representations.

Stiltz, Carol Curtis. (1995). Grandma Buffalo, May, and Me. Seattle: Sasquatch
     Picture book, 30 pgs. Good book to use as an introduction to an
     oral/family history topic. A young girl, Poppy, travels to her
     grandmother in Montana and along the way, finds places in her great-
     grandmother's life. Continuity is a concept very much present in the
     book, both in the central character's life, but also more tangentially,
     in the Native Americans who are part of the story.

Jenness, Aylette. (1990). Families: A Celebration of diversity, commitment,
and love. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
     Information book, 48 pages. Begun as a photographic exhibit at the
     Children's Museum in Boston, 17 kids tell readers about their families.
     The author, working from a definition that "Your family is the people
     who take care of you, who care about you", includes photographs and
     narratives of children who are adopted, who live with one parent, whose
     parents are divorced, who have foster parents, who feel part of an
     extended family, etc. Families are from a wide variety of nationalities,
     races, ethnic groups, social classes, and represent both traditional and
     non-traditional roles. A child who lives in a religious community is
     included as well one who lives in a commune, a boy who has two fathers,
     a child whose parent is deaf, and a girl whose mother is a lesbian. The
     format of the book is for older children. Throughout the book, the
     voices of the children and their understandings of the meaning of family
     are really good. Although the book clearly show changes in the
     "traditional" family unit, some of which are very painful for children,
     the continuity of "love" as part of family is well shown.

Super, Gretchen. (1991). What kind of family do you have? Frederick, Maryland:
Twenty-First Century Books.
     Concept book for younger grades, 56 pages, with glossary and index. Each
     chapter of the book looks at a different family arrangement: Nuclear,
     extended, adoptive, single-parent, blended, and foster. Ends with
     definition related to love, taking care of each other, sharing their
     lives: "The place where you belong".

Kroll, Virginia. (1994). Beginnings: How families come to be. Morton Grove,
IL: Albert Whitman.
     Concept book for younger grades, 30 pgs. Stories of the various ways
     children come to be a part of families. "Natural", overseas as well as
     domestic adoption are included, along with reasons people want to have
     children. Stories are multiracial, and include one handicapped child.

Hoobler, Dorothy and Thomas. (1994). The Mexican American Family Album. New
York: Oxford University Press.
     Information book, 128 pages, with index, time line and "further reading"
     suggestions. Done both topically and chronologically, the book brings to
     life the stories of "strangers in their own land". This is part of a
     series of books focusing on the stories of immigrant families. Includes
     lots of pictures and original documents which could be used for studies
     by children, as well as interviews with families. Doesn't ignore issues
     of prejudice and discrimination.

Strickland, Dorothy S and Michael R. (Eds.). (1994). Families: Poems
celebrating the African American Experience. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong,
Boyds Mills Press.
     Picture book, Poetry collection, 30 pgs. History, humor, everyday life,
     warmth, and courage are wonderfully clear in these poems celebrating the
     diversity of African American families. Includes many poems by prominent
     African American authors. Great Illustrations by John Ward.

Leedy, Loreen. (1995). Who's Who in My Family? New York: Holiday House.
     Concept picture book for younger children, 30 pgs. The animals in
     Woodlands elementary are making family trees, showing the generations of
     their families and telling a little about the members. Includes adopted,
     divorced, as well as nuclear families. Includes glossary.

Super, Gretchen. (1991). What is a Family? Frederick, MD: Twenty-First Century
     Concept book for younger children, 56 pgs., including glossary and
     index. The chapters of the book address many kinds of families, family
     values (not as the politicians use the term!), the good times as well as
     the conflicts they face.

Cooper, Melrose. (1993). I Got a Family. New York: Henry Holt.
     Patterned, rhymed, concept book for young children, 30 pgs.

Gunner, Emily & McConky, Shirley. (1985). A Family in Australia. New York:
Bookwright Press.
     Information book for younger children, 32 pgs., including "facts about
     Australia, glossary and index. Everyday life of a family on a sheep
     ranch in Victoria. Part of the "Families around the world" series

Adams, Jeanie. (1991). Going for Oysters. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.
     Picture book, 30 pgs., includes glossary of Australian words. The story
     of an Aboriginal family in Australia. Has beautiful illustrations by the
     author and conveys a great deal of Aboriginal life and values.

Kalman, Bobbie. (1982). The Early Family Home. New York: Crabtree Pub.
     Information book for older readers, 64 pgs. with glossary and index. So
     we don't forget that you can look at families historically, as well as
     culturally or sociologically... The book has lots of period
     illustrations as well as photos taken at an open air museum. While it
     does focus only on the settlers who moved westward in the early 1800s
     (and not on those who were already there) there is a good use of
     original source material, presented in a way which makes them accessible
     to children. Contains much about children's everyday lives and
     experiences. Good one for "prairie days". Even has a bit on "the romance
     of quilting"!, part of a section emphasizing people working together