Noteworthy Books

Year: 2016

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey

Author: Margriet Ruurs

Rama and her family live an idyllic life where Papa worked in the fields, Mama sewed silk scarves, and Jedo (grandfather) fished. Near the village they loved Rama and her brother Sami played freely with their friends. But they weren’t allowed to follow their customs and soon war came to their country. When bombs fell close to their home, the family decided to join the long line of others who left their home behind in search of freedom and safety. After an arduous journey, the family arrived at their new home to start life all over again. 

Year: 2015

Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People

Author: S. D. Nelson

This book is the biography of the Lakota Indian chief, Sitting Bull written from the chief's point of view. He was born Jumping Badger of the Hunkpapa, one of the tribes of the Lakota (Sioux) nation. At 14, for his bravery in battle against another Lakota tribe, his father passed down his own name to him. From then on, Jumping Badger was known as Sitting Bull. He tells of how the white men (wasichu) led the Indians to believe that they only wanted commerce when they really wanted the land. Sitting Bull tells of the Battle of Killdeer Mountain where the wasichu soldiers marched on several Lakota tribes and unleashed cannons and gunfire. Many tribes signed treaties with the wasichu giving up their lands. Sitting Bull resented his fellow Indians who drank wasichu's whiskey and turned away from Wakan Tanka, their sacred spirit. However, Sitting Bull refused to give into the wasichu.

The wasichu didn't understand that the Lakota nation was made of a variety of tribes. They Indians the wasichu selected to negotiate with the Lakota didn't represent each of the tribes. The leaders of the Lakota tribes chose Sitting Bull to represent their entire nation. Sitting Bull led his nation to victories over the wasichu. A large force of soldiers forced the Lakota to retreat to Canada where the Lakota suffered through the winters, nearly starving. In 1881, Sitting Bull surrendered his people in present-day North Dakota. Sitting Bull and his people were forced to give up their way of life and to live on a reservation. At the end of his life, Lakota Indians who had become reservation police officers arrested Sitting Bull. The wasichu feared that he would rally his people to try to overthrow the people that were running the reservation. Sitting Bull was shot and killed by a Lakota police officer in an exchange of gunfire. 

Year: 2014


Author: Brian Floca

Locomotive received recognition with a Caldecott Medal and was noted as a Robert Sibert Honor Book. Locomotive chronicles the emergence of the U.S. Transcontinentail Raiload providing a brief look at who built it before quickly moving to passengers who will ride from Omaha to Sacramento. Floca provides readers with many close-ups of the trains, jobs performed on the train, as well as the accommodations for passengers. Most notable is the scenery of the western plains. 

Year: 2007

Henry's Freedom Box

Author: Ellen Levin

Henry is a young slave. At the beginning of the story, Henry's mother warns him that slave children are like leaves blowing in the wind, "torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families." Henry's master gives Henry to his son at his death. Henry had to leave his family and work in a factory for his new master. As time passes, Henry becomes an adult and meets a woman he'd like to marry. The two have to ask their masters' permission to do so. As Henry and his wife begin to raise a family, Henry learns that his wife and children have been sold. There is nothing Henry can do to stop this from happening. Henry is desolate at losing his family, and decides to leave his home. Henry gets the idea to mail himslef to a state that does not believe in slavery with help from a white doctor that doesn't believe in slavery. Henry is shipped in a big box and arrives safely in a place he can live his life as a free man. 

Year: 2004

Coming On Home Soon

Author: Jacqueline Woodson

During World War II, a young girl named Ada Ruth must learn to be brave after her mother goes far away to make money for the family. Ada Ruth is kept company by her grandma and a stray kitten as she waits for a letter from her mother. Ada Ruth begins to lose hope when her mother doesn't write for awhile, but eventually she receives a letter with some money that reassures her that her mother will be coming home soon. 

Year: 2004

My Name Was Hussein

Author: Hristo Kyuchukov

A young boy named Hussein lives in a small village in Bulgaria with his Roma family where soldiers invade and force him and his family to completely change their lives.  The soldiers take their identity cards and make them choose a Christian name, completely stripping them of their Muslim faith.


Year: 2001

The Other Side

Author: Jacqueline Woodson

Clover is a black girl who tells the story about not being allowed to go to the other side of the fence near her house. Every day Clover grows more and more curious about the white girl who lives on the other side of the fence. One day the two girls meet and Clover discovers the other girl's name is Annie. Both girls' mothers told them never to go to the other side of the fence. The two girls end up sitting on the fence together and talk. Their mothers each watch from their own homes and find that the world does not come to an end because a little black girl and a little white girl are becoming friends. The story ends with the wisdom that someday the fence will come down. 

Year: 2000

The Butterfly

Author: Patricia Polacco

During World War 2, the Nazi’s occupied France.  Young Monique, a French citizen, is worried for the fate of her country.  When she discovers her mother is hiding a Jewish family in their basement, she befriends the daughter, Sevrine, and the two girls become friends.  However, Monique’s neighbors discover that her family is hiding the Jews in their home which leads to Monique’s mother needing to evacuate Sevrine’s family.Monique and Sevrine become separated, but not before Sevrine gifts Monique with a Star of David necklace and Monique gifts Sevrine, Pinouff, her cat. Monique believes that Sevrine and her family make it out alive because she gets a sign from Sevrine when there are many butterflies flying all around her.