In many parts of the world, this time of year starts getting colder and darker … but that doesn’t mean the spark of your imagination needs to grow dim! Whether you love building model robots, preparing a meal for the family, or dreaming up changes to our government, these books for “makers” of all sorts have you covered!
If you want to create something but aren’t sure where to start, check out Spark: A Guide to Ignite the Creativity Inside You from American Girl. It busts through the myth that creativity is only about being artistic to show how science, sports, architecture and more all use your creativity. Then it will guide you through the idea, creation, and revision phases of the creative project that interests YOU.
And when you’re ready to put that inspiration into action, pick up a copy of Chelsea Clinton’s book, Start Now! You Can Make a Difference. It explores health, hunger, climate change, endangered species and bullying, pointing you toward how you can make a difference in the areas that matter most to you. It also includes lots of stories of real kids who are already making a difference.
Once the “maker” bug has bit you, you might want to try DK’s Star Wars Maker Lab: 20 Craft and Science Projects. Even if you’re not a fan of the Star Wars movies, you have to admit that making your own hologram projectors, slime, crystals, and model rockets sounds pretty cool!
And speaking of movies … why not make your own? With DK’s Video Ideas book, you can pick up tips for every aspect of the movie-making process, from writing the script to getting the best sound effects to choosing locations and costumes. Not ready to go full-length? No problem — start with making the perfect time-lapse short video or shooting some great footage of your pet!
All this “making” is bound to work up an appetite! Head to the kitchen with a copy of The Healthy Teen Cookbook: Around the World in 80 Fantastic Recipes by Remmi Smith to make yourself something delicious! While most cookbooks are organized by type of food (breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks), this one is organized by continent — so you can take your tastebuds around the world without ever leaving your kitchen!
If all that activity has you ready to curl up and relax with a good book, try one of these novels about girl “makers.”
Elara is excited to be enrolled at the Seven Systems School of Terraforming Sciences and Arts, where she hopes to learn to be a top designer … of planets! The science behind the story in Project Terra: Crash Course by Landry Q. Walker is real, but that doesn’t keep it from going into some fun and hilarious territory that includes a sponge for a roommate and a planet so far out in the boonies it’s named “Nowhere.”
In The Inventors at No. 8 by A.M. Morgen, 12-year-old Ada Lovelace has invented a flying machine, which she uses to help her new friend George to hunt down a treasure map so his family won’t lose their house … hoping she’ll find her own father along the way. While the fantastical events in this book are made up, Ada Lovelace WAS a real person, who is often referred to as the “first computer programmer” even though she lived in the 1800s!
What about you? Do you have favorite “maker” books, whether how-to, inspirational, or just a good story about someone who made cool things? Share your thoughts and recommendations of your own in the comments!
Wow, it feels like just yesterday I was writing my summer book recommendations column, and now it’s already time to start thinking about going back to school! Whether you are looking forward to or dreading it, these books can help get you “in the mood” for another year of teachers, homework, and classes!
Did you know that reading for fun has one of the biggest impacts on whether you’ll do well in school? That’s some school prep I can definitely get behind — and so can Elizabeth Gorcey and Liv Amiri, the mother-daughter team behind Read, Read, and Read, a celebration of all the places books can take you!
If your school does science fairs, you probably know the stress and excitement that comes from choosing a project every year. You can find inspiration in How to Be an Engineer, which is full of projects like building bridges, catapults, and even a robot arm! In addition to step-by-step instructions, you’ll find lots of photos and profiles of inspirational engineers, like austronaut Mae Jemison and chemist Stephanie Kwolek. For even more ideas, check out How to be a Scientist in the same series.
And what if … your science fair project could send you back in time? That’s what happens to 13-year-old Charley Morton when she attempts to duplicate Leonardo da Vinci’s design for a time machine in Edge of Yesterday by Robin Stevens Payes. You can follow up Charley’s adventures through time in the second book, Da Vinci’s Way, coming soon.
Of course school isn’t all about classes and learning. Relationships with your friends and other classmates make up a big part of your school experience, too. If you’re frustrated with cliques and constantly worrying whether you are in the “in” or the “out” group, check out Cliques, Phonies & Other Baloney by Trevor Romain and Elizabeth Verdick. This book can help you be true to your authentic self, find friends who are the right “fit” for you, and even get “out” of a bad friendship group. The same authors have also written Stress Can Really Get on Your Nerves, which can help you pinpoint the source of your school (or non-school) stress and make a plan to tackle it.
If sports are a big part of the school experience for you, you might enjoy the Zach & Zoe Mysteries by Mike Lupica, which features twins Zach and Zoe solving sports-related mysteries. In the first book in the series, The Missing Baseball, the twins are on the hunt for a missing, signed baseball, and in The Half-Court Hero, they make it their mission to find and thank the mysterious benefactor who is making repairs to their favorite basketball court between practices. If you enjoyed the first two mysteries, you can continue with the third book in the series, The Football Fiasco.
Have you ever been homeschooled? In the novel The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty, 12-year-old Lucy has been homeschooled since a lightning strike left her with genius-level skills. Even though she’s smart enough for college, her grandma wants her to pass one test first: going to middle-school for one year, where she must also make one friend and join one activity. Check out this book about what can happen when you step outside your comfort zone!
In Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina, Merci enters sixth grade knowing she’ll be different from her classmates, who have bigger houses than hers and don’t have to do community service hours to make up for their tuition costs. But things really get rocky when her classmate, Edna, targets Merci just because Edna’s crush was assigned to be Merci’s “buddy” in class. Things are hard at home, too, where Merci’s grandfather is starting to forget things he’s always known. Can Merci’s family help her get through the toughest year of school so far?
If you’re reading this, you can probably take going to school for granted. But not all girls throughout the world or history have been able to do the same. This Noble Woman: Myrtilla Miner and Her Fight to Establish a School for African American Girls in the Slaveholding South by Michael M. Greenburg spotlights one woman who fought for the right for all girls to get an education. Although she came from a poor family herself, Myrtella was dedicated to establishing a school for African American girls in the South during the time of slavery, and she fended off stonings, arson, and other threats to make her dream a reality!
What about you? Do you have favorite books that get you in the “back-to-school” mood or help get you through the stressful days? Have you read any of the books listed above? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Imagine my delight in checking our Instagram recently and finding this awesome comic drawn by our former reader Kelly Abeln, now a professional artist based in Minneapolis. See more of her fabulous art at KellyAbeln.com . When I got in touch, she said:
So glad you like my comic, it’s a true story 🙂 I really loved New Moon growing up, and now as an adult I see how important it was and is to have positive media for girls.
Kelly remembers her feminist awakening with an issue of New Moon, “New Moon opened my eyes to feminism and what sexism looked and sounded like so I could spot it and say NO!”
This guest post is from Mike Reynolds, EverydayGirlDad on his blog, Twitter and Facebook.
In January I started cross-stitching. In February I decided I would learn how to design my own cross-stitch patterns as well. In the months since then I have taken on all kinds of projects. Some have been for friends and the public and some I’ve just kept for myself.
I started what I called the Rad Women in Cross-stitch Form Project and then just kept going.
I have learned two things: One, cross-stitching is really great for management of my anxiety. I can focus my mind on a piece when it wants to go down a road that leads to self-doubt. Having this focus is wonderful. Two, I love cross-stitching and should have started it sooner. I have put off doing too many things for fear of what other might think. Doing this is a harmful way to live a life.
Here’s a collection of some of my favourite pieces, and the patterns I made for them so that you can try them out too if you want!
Where do YOU want to go this summer? Whether the answer is beyond the stars, to the bottom of the ocean, or to a fantastical world, a book can take you there! Here are just a few suggestions to take you someplace new — without ever having to leave your home!
Journey to Tibet with 12-year-old Tash in “Running on the Roof of the World” by Jess Butterworth. To avoid trouble with the Chinese soldiers occupying her country, Tash has to keep her Buddhist religion secret and never mention its leader, the Dalai Lama. But when her parents are captured, she travels with her best friend Sam across the mountains. They face blizzards, hunger, a dangerous landscape and more as they attempt to reach India and get help from the Dalai Lama himself.
For another mountain adventure, join 12-year-old Lily in “Lily’s Mountain” by Hannah Moderow. Lily refuses to believe that her dad died while climbing Mt. Denali, the highest mountain in North America. She has grown up hiking with him, and she’s sure she can find him. So she sets off with her sister to climb Mt. Denali herself, crossing rivers, glaciers, and wild animals in her quest to find what really happened to her dad.
Whether you plan a real-life trip to the United Kingdom or are just looking to “armchair travel,” pick up a copy of “Women’s London: A Tour to Great Lives” by Rachel Kolsky. While most tour guides focus on history surrounding men’s achievements, this one is ALL about London’s great women. Learn about Great Britain’s female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, known as the “Iron Lady,” or the pink-haired designer Zandra Rhodes, founder of London’s Fashion and Textile Museums. If a great woman ever lived or worked in London, this book will tell you where to go to chase down her legacy!
You don’t have to stay in your own house, state, or country when you read — or even your same time era! Explore a new country AND another time in “Cleopatra and Ancient Egypt for Kids: Her Life and World, with 21 Activities” by Simonetta Carr. Learn about Cleopatra’s 22 years leading Egypt, her love of literature and science, and her romances and relationship with her family — PLUS explore how the ancient Egyptians lived by making your own Egyptian breath mints, writing an Egyptian love poem, or creating Egyptian-style artwork.
Even though the ocean covers 70 percent of the earth, we have explored only 5 percent of it! That leaves a lot to discover. Get started on your own deep-sea adventure with “Squidtoons: Exploring Ocean Science with Comics.” In this book, you’ll find out whether sharks are REALLY dangerous to humans (or is it the other way around?), how aquariums create sea-like environments for the creatures on display, and the anatomy of squids, salmon, and more — all told in fun pictures and cartoons.
Who says you have to stay on earth when you read? Check out “To Pluto & Beyond: the Amazing Voyage of New Horizons” by Elaine Scott to journey with the New Horizons space craft, which launched in 2006 to explore Pluto closeup for the first time. Even though Pluto was considered a planet when the piano-sized spaceship left earth and had been designated a “dwarf planet” by the time it arrived, that doesn’t change the amazing nature of what was discovered here. For example, did you know that Pluto, like the earth, has a blue sky? New Horizons spent just three minutes snapping photos as it passed Pluto, and you can see many of those amazing photos in this book that comes out this month!
No one said we had to limit the places we want to go to the ones that really exist, right? If you’re in the mood for something a bit more fantastical, join Marabel on her adventure through Magikos with her best friend and an ornery unicorn to track down her kidnapped twin brother. You’ll encounter trolls, swordplay, and a few surprises in “Marabel and the Book of Fate” by Tracy Barrett.
In Lauren DeStefano’s “Dreaming Dangerous,” you won’t just travel to Brassmere Academy for the Extraordinary, a school for orphans with wonderful gifts, but you’ll also journey deep inside 12-year-old Plum’s dreams to battle monsters and go on quests with her three best friends. When one of them goes missing, the others must search both the dreaming and waking worlds to find her … and along the way, they uncover secrets about Brassmere Academy.
The Runaway Carnival
Tess is visiting her aunt in England when something strange happens to her in a psychic’s wagon at a carnival in “Carnival Magic” by Amy Ephron. The wagon seems to move, and suddenly Tess and her brother Max are off on a magical adventure. This book is a standalone companion to “Castle in the Mist,” a recommendation from a previous column. If you like one, make sure to pick up both!
The Great Montgomery Book Emporium
And what better way to end a list of recommendations about books taking you away than with … a book about books taking you away! In “The Bookshop Girl” by Sylvia Bishop, 11-year-old Property Jones’s family wins the greatest bookshop in Britian. But this isn’t an ordinary bookshop. The pull of one lever reveals the Room of Woodland Tales, where squirrels and mice frolic, while the Room of Ocean Tales has an aquarium ceiling. But the bookshop holds secrets, too, and it’s up to Property to uncover them and save her beloved bookshop from a nasty villain.
What about you? Where do YOU want to travel through books this summer? Leave a comment with your recommendations below!
Long lazy days, family trips and later bedtimes all make summer great for reading. I was a voracious reader and often raced through my huge stack of library books before our next visit. Then I scoured my parents’ bookshelves for things that might interest me.
Whether the girls you care about love reading or are more reluctant, New Moon Girls back issues are great summer reading. The magazines are full of relevant articles that don’t go out of date.